I really didn’t want to be wandering the steamy streets of Singapore. For a start I had just had my hair done and was worried that the hot soupiness of the city would turn my tidy tresses into a bowl of noodles. I was also in a hurry to return to the Ritz-Carlton Millenia where I had been invited to afternoon tea. Ever since my London university years, I have had this love affair with the English tradition of sandwiches, sweets and scones.
It was fuelled in part by the very basic hall of residence where the meal time offerings were indistinguishable from real food. As an Italian who grew up in a family obsessed by good cooking I found solace in seeking out the London’s best venues for afternoon tea – and after some time, I rather considered myself a bit of an expert in afternoon tea taking.
Back then London’s Ritz-Carlton hotel was widely considered among the best, not only because its three courses were among the most sumptuous I had sampled, but because it was served in such a beautiful setting and with all of the high pomp and ceremony that really forms part of the tradition.
I was therefore excited to have the opportunity to experience Ritz-Carlton Millenia’s own unique eight course afternoon tea which is served Mondays to Fridays, 2:30 to 5 p.m in the hotel’s luxurious Chihuly Lounge. As I had done so many times during my university years – I skipped lunch and arrived with a hearty appetite.
As we settled into the soft deep couch at the centre of the Chihuly lounge, we were offered a refreshing passionfruit/tea mocktail which was served with crackers with XO chilli sambal. We then got down to the task of selecting our tea, the Ritz-Carlton Millenia’s menu includes a range of over thirty blends of loose leaf teas from the Ronnefeldt tea collection which includes citrus-flavoured teas such as Morning Star and Roibosh lemon. There were also flavoured black teas – “Wild Cherries” and “Rose Tea with Petals”, fruit-infused “Raspberry Royal” and “Strawberries with Yoghurt” teas.
In a local twist on the British tradition, tea is served on elegant chic ‘Feuille d’or’ line of Bernardaud Porcelain imported from France. (I understand that guests who prefer to “perk-up” their afternoons may opt for freshly-brewed or decaffeinated coffee).
I chose my favourite, Rose Tea with Petals which was a perfect balance of rose aroma’s with not too much fruit. As I sipped my tea I watched as our hostess opened a large silver carving station trolley carved two pieces of Beef Wellington which she served on dainty gold edged china plates with horseradish cream and port wine jus (I understand Salmon Coulibiac with Sauce Gribiche is rotated on a weekly basis). The Wellington was perfect melt in your mouth rare roast with a buttery crunchy pastry.
We were then presented with a three-tiered spread which included homemade scones, sandwiches, bite-sized savouries and pastries. Though I love the traditional cucumber sandwiches I was delighted by the avocado and cream cheese whole meal finger sandwiches and of course the parma ham on olive baguette.
As I was starting to fill up, I decided to pause for a moment and enjoy the beautiful surroundings of the Chihully Lounge with its namesake sculpture swirling and curling above, plush carpets and dark wood furniture. Awaking from my meditation I started to sample a sweet tray tier consisting of melt in your mouth pistachio macaroons, chocolate praline tarts and strawberry puffs.
After another pause, I tasted the berries with Bora-Bora vanilla cream followed by a palette cleansing passion fruit sorbet which was capped off with a sweet selection of tea cakes, cookies, kueh lapis and assorted pralines – and there I hit my limit – as tempting as it all was another morsel would have seriously put me over the edge.
As afternoon teas go, the Ritz-Carlton Millenia’s would have to have been the most decadent tea indulgence I have ever experienced. For anyone thinking about giving it a go, to get the full experience I highly recommend skipping lunch (and breakfast if you can) and arriving just as the service begins at 2:30pm – don’t hurry it, just sit back enjoy, meditate and plan to spend the entire afternoon eating.
ABOUT RITZ-CARLTON MILLENIA TEA:
Located at 7 Raffles Avenue, Singapore.
The eight-course afternoon tea set menu is S$42 per person (inclusive of freshly brewed and decaffeinated coffee and a selection of teas) and is available from Mondays to Fridays at the Chihuly Lounge from 2:30 to 5 p.m.