How did you feel while you were watching the national celebration of The Queen's Diamond Jubilee 2 weeks ago?
I was envious. Not only because the Brits got a 4-day long weekend, but more because they have a fashionable yet grandmotherly queen (who was also once OUR queen!! Aargh...) whose anniversary of accession is worth celebrating. Whereas we have no real public holiday in June this year and our so-called motherland is ruled by a bunch of poker-faced old men. Hmm... :(
I decided to manage my bitterness through getting involved in the Diamond Jubilee celebration - there's nothing to envy if you become part of it, isn't it? ;) I knew I had found the perfect way to celebrate when I learnt about the royal afternoon tea set designed by Uwe Opocensky. You may have known Chef Opocensky for his acclaimed culinary magic at The Krug Room, but did you know he had cooked for the Queen and Prince Philip's 50th anniversary dinner? This time, he takes a break from molecular gastronomy and employs more conventional cooking methods to offer guests a truly British tea experience. When Chef Opocensky meets traditional food, you know that modern twists are in store!
Getting accessorized for the celebration! :D
Throughout the period of royal afternoon tea, Clipper Lounge doubles as a tea lounge and gallery. Exhibits on display are no ordinary stuff - they are artworks by the Prince of Wales, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, as well as photographs by Lord Snowdon.
To be frank, the exhibits are not displayed in a viewer-friendly manner. They are all small in size and mounted on walls next to the tea tables, so it's not easy to get a good look of them once the seats are filled. Thankfully, with this beautiful catalogue, everyone can admire the Royal Collection of Art comfortably in his/her own sofa. :)
*Drum rolling* Diamond Jubilee Royal Afternoon Tea, proudly presented by MOHK!! *Applause*
Top tier (clockwise from top): Royal Victoria sponge, mini Eton mess, millionaire's shortbread, Battenberg cake, fairy cake
Middle tier (clockwise from top): Mini Yorkshire pudding, roast beef, horseradish, watercress; Welsh leek tart; grilled York ham and Montgomery cheddar; salmon Wellington
Bottom tier (clockwise from top): Rhug Estate coronation chicken, poached Scottish salmon, mini organic pork pie, English cucumber and cream cheese
Organic Welsh egg with caviar
Mini cherry trifle
Oolong (Formosa-Taiwan): malty and nutty
The tea set was just as pretty as promised... BUT something was wrong. There's only 1 piece of everything, and the middle and bottom tiers were hideously spacious... how could it be a tea set for 2??? Yet the waiter politely confirmed us that it was. :0 :0 :0 We were obviously not the only people in shock. We saw waiters busy assuring every table that the tea set was truly of the right portion. What disgruntled guests (like us) could only do was glancing at their neighbours' tables and taking comfort in the fact that their tea sets were equally mini. What a disgrace to the Diamond Jubilee...! :(
We grumpily started with the Welsh egg with caviar because it's the only item that came as a pair. We stopped complaining as soon as we swallowed a spoonful of the warm egg because IT TASTED SO GOOD. The egg was smoother than baby skin, and the pinch of caviar gave a bit of oomph to the eggy mass. Pacified and satisfied, we moved on to the mini cherry trifle. It was then we became mad again - how can they expect 2 persons to share this dessert in a single glass?? And it's not something you would like to share because sherry-marinated cherries plus cream is a combination to die for!
The pastries and savouries are all British favourites. If you like chocolate and caramel as much as I do, a fight with your friend over the millionaire's shortbread is inevitable. It's a sandwich of luscious chocolate, creamy caramel and buttery biscuit... just typing all these is enough to trigger my salivation reflex! :9 The mini Eton mess had a perfectly crunchy meringue layer, and the rest of the cakes were so feather-light that they simply dissolved in my mouth.
The savouries were all rather delicious, though there were a few misses like the oily leek tart and forgettable cucumber sandwich. The most regal of all was the coronation chicken, invented back in 1953 for the coronation banquet of The Queen. Chef Opocensky has given this historical recipe a new life by giving it a complete makeover, with great results! Taste-wise, however, even the blue-blooded coronation chicken was no match to the poached salmon and salmon Wellington, which were so juicy and scrummy!!
Any tea set in Clipper Lounge would be incomplete with its much adored scones and rose petal jam. The scones were lovely as always - crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Plus they were so huge that they gave me the perfect excuse to use up the jam (and ask for refill :P)! In case you were wondering what the tiny scone was, that's my prized little Q-pot ring which wanted a picture with the big stars of Clipper Lounge. ;)
Ambience: B+ (I always find Clipper Lounge a bit too noisy for English afternoon tea!)
Food: B+ (Food was yummy, but marks massively deducted for the incredibly small tea set for 2!)
Overall remarks: The thoughtfully designed tea set was as British as it could be, and everything echoed the Diamond Jubilee theme. Food was dazzling in terms of presentation and taste, but this was also why I found the size of the tea set an unforgivable problem! I'd rather pay more for a larger set than having just a bite of everything. Although the skimpy tea set would have embarrassed The Queen, it's admittedly THE quintessentially British way to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee!
Clipper Lounge (website)
Mezzanine Floor, Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, 5 Connaught Road, Central, Hong Kong
Afternoon tea: 3:00-6:00pm (Mon - Sat), 3:30-6:00pm (Sun)
* Diamond Jubilee Royal Afternoon Tea available from now to 1 July 2012.
$288 per person, $488 per 2 persons