Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Delectably Ladylike

International Women’s Day is just around the corner, so how shall we celebrate being a lady? With an elegant tea, of course. Tete-a-tete over the tea cups is a particularly feminine repast, especially when served on fine bone china, complete with a delicate tea service.

One of my most memorable occasions was well over 12 years ago when my friend Monika and I enjoyed a pre-Christmas tea of Marks&Spencer goodies served by the fireside in her Zone3 apartment in London, on pretty china from her tea service collection, along with scalloped cake stand, and Christmas carols in the background. While food alone doesn’t make or break the occasion – the company and setting count too – it sure helps to hit the right notes!

I’ve always thought the Rose Verandah one of the more elegant places in town for a quiet tea. A popular spot with well-dressed Japanese ladies-who-lunch, this bastion of feminity offers a modest but charming lunch and tea spread. The tearoom, which has been around since 1991, was recently renovated to give it a more ‘contemporary touch.’

But we’re happy to say it still serves up a very ladylike afternoon tea daily. What’s not to like about a traditional English afternoon tea (S$32++ weekdays; $36++ weekends and hols) delivered on a multi-tiered cake stand piled high with scones and clotted cream, dainty sandwiches, chocolate eclairs, English fruit cake and other ‘memsahib’ delights? With pinkie raised, we get to sip on a choice of 102 tea blends served in fine Haviland Rose Centifolia Limoges chinaware. There are even tea cocktails: the Rose Verandah, a blend of Krug Rosé champagne, rose tea and Hennessy Private Resérve, sounds particularly tempting.

Even better value is the light and tasty lunch spread (S$36++, weekdays) with dishes like noodles, dim sum, sushi, sashimi, cheeses, roast carvings, salads and a selection of desserts – all served clearly with the ladies in mind. I recall enjoying their curries very much, and I hope they’re still serving it!

Rose Verandah
Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore
Tel: (65) 6213 4486 for reservations
Lunch 11.30am–2.30pm Afternoon tea 3pm-6pm
Tea spread from 11.30am-6pm weekends and public holidays

Down the road at the swish Four Seasons Hotel, The Bar and Alfresco is serving a delightfully wholesome and ladylike afternoon tea of Strawberries and Honey (S$37++) until 30 April. Start with honey oat bread salmon sandwiches, walnut bread with strawberrry jelly and boursin cheese, continue with warm scones served with double cream and strawberry preserves, and end with fresh strawberry strudel, highland honey tea cakes (don’t you just love these names? So English boarding school and Enid Blyton-ish) and bitter chocolate strawberry tartlets. With that, some freshly brewed coffee and tea, or hot thick Valhorna chocolate. Don’t you just want to dress up your pre-teen girlies in pastel-coloured, Peter Pan-collared frocks and have them play at tea time with mummy?

The Bar and Alfresco, lobby level
Four Seasons Hotel Singapore
Tel: (65) 6831 7671
Tea time from 2pm-5pm (Mon-Sat)

A trip to Inagiku, the Japanese restaurant, may not count as tea, but will definitely appeal to the ladies. With the cherry blossom season in Japan approaching, Inagiku’s Head Chef Yoshiyuki Nobukawa is serving up pretty-as-a-picture kaiseki dinners, which are truly edible works of art presented in delicate, beautifully rendered dishes. The nine-course Yozakura Kaiseki dinner (S$160++ from 18 March - 19 April) is a bit of an indulgence in these cash-strapped, retrenchment-rich times, but if you can afford to, it will be a meal to remember. The kaiseki delicacies include marinated seafood with vinegar and miso paste sauce; a myoga ginger-flavoured soup; grilled sweet fish; wagyu and bamboo shoot tossed with grated white radish and ponzu; icefish and sprout tempura; and cherry blossom sherbet. Who but the most abstemious diner could resist?
Fairmont Singapore, Level 3
Tel: (65) 6431 6156


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