It was a day worth celebrating: I had completed all the coursework and supervision requirement of my sex therapy course! In other words, I was finally done with all the Saturday classes and supervision sessions, reports and books! I desperately needed something fun and indulgent to honour my regained freedom! When it comes to celebration, is there anything better than a grand round of afternoon tea?? :)
YES THERE IS - which is learning how to create an afternoon tea set before enjoying it!
Thanks to Vivian, I had the chance to visit Rachel's Kitchen for this very unique tea experience. Hidden in a grubby industrial building, the existence of this pretty cooking studio seemed totally surreal to me.
I sincerely advise everyone to arrive at least 15 minutes earlier for class, cos you will spend the first 5 minutes oohing and aahing at the rustic design of the place, and the next 10 minutes taking pictures of every corner (maybe even the washroom, no kidding)! Yes, Rachel's Kitchen is such a spellbinding place. :)
The cooking studio doubles as a shop selling chic kitchenware and cooking ingredients. The products were so tastefully displayed that I had some trouble distinguishing them from the decorative kitchenware collected by owner Rachel Yau.
Loveramics' products for sale :)
I wish I had a cupboard like this!
Girly kitchen must-haves: pedestal cake stand with glass dome, porcelain teaware and most importantly, flowers :)
Cutlery, teapots and glassware in vintage style
Look at this wooden communal table! The quintessential accent piece for a country-style kitchen!
My camera battery was already running low before Rachel gave each of us a neatly printed set of recipes and gathered everyone to the large kitchen table. Rachel first talked a bit about the history of afternoon tea, then formally began the class by teaching us the recipe of strawberry rose jam. Making this jam was a lot easier than I had thought - basically, you only had to cook strawberries, lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar and rose oil together - the hardest part turned out to be fighting the urge to eat the French strawberries, which filled the kitchen with a candy sweet aroma as they cooked. :9
We girls were so in love with the Le Creuset casserole that we couldn't keep our eyes off it! Our class was in fact a special collaboration between Le Creuset and Rachel's Kitchen, so many items used in the class were by the French cookware manufacturer. Le Creuset cookware, which boasts a palette of gorgeous hues, can make even princessy Kong girls burn with the desire to cook! I promise to cook regularly if someone is kind enough to buy me a full set of LC cookware in coastal blue... haha :P
Next we were shown how to make macaron shells. Macarons are tiny but making the perfect shells (i.e all shells are of the same size and perfectly round, with a smooth top and a "crown" at the base) is an art that requires lots of skills and practice. I was glad that our class was mainly demonstrative, so that this daunting task was handled by Rachel and her assistants. :P
Macaron shells rising in the oven... :)
After sending the macaron shells into the oven, we finally had the chance to cook by ourselves. I paired up with a classmate and made scones for the very first time in my life. The ingredients had been prepared for us; all we needed to do was to mix everything, fold the dough, and cut out the scones. Not too difficult even for people with little baking experience. The 6 scones at the bottom of this pic were my babies, fresh from the oven and piping hot! :)
After the practical, Rachel went on to demonstrate the preparation of other sweets and sandwich fillings. Although Rachel looked kinda cool, she was actually a good teacher who explained everything clearly and patiently. Near the end of the class, we were asked to do the final touches, namely filling macarons, decorating sweets, making sandwiches, and finally, arranging everything nicely on the beautiful Le Creuset Strawberry Tea Cake Stand.
Despite my limited input, I experienced a great sense of achievement when the tea set was finally ready. Shown here was the portion for 2 persons. It didn't look too different from what you get in a 5-star hotel, did it? ;)
Sweets (clockwise from top): chocolate mini cakes, lemon tarts, strawberry rose macarons
Sandwiches: egg mayonnaise, Spanish ham, smoked salmon, mango and chicken salad
Fig scones with homemade strawberry rose jam and cream
After 3 hours that felt like eternity, I was able to enjoy my tea set with a pot of Earl Grey at last! The tea set was not perfect - the scones were in fact quite a disaster. They were crumbly but tasted totally flat and unbuttery :( The recipe needed more butter I think! Notwithstanding this unforgivable problem, I loved the tea set because everything else was delicious. The sandwiches were big, filling and yummy. The macarons had a rather rough appearance, but like any other homemade food, they tasted much better than they looked. The shells were crispy and chewy, and that rosy, creamy filling was unforgettably fragrant. And who would have expected the humble-looking chocolate cake to be a knockout? It had that half-souffle-half-brownie texture of molten chocolate cake, and a dense, moist core filled with jam (Rachel had used the strawberry rose jam I think... it went so well with everything!). The classmate who paired up with me was probably shocked by how ravenous I was, so that he told me to finish the whole tea set after eating only 1/4 of it... :P
I went home with a full stomach, a goodie bag of leftovers (the tea set was really huge), a set of recipes, tonnes of lovely pictures and memories of an enjoyable afternoon. True, the class was expensive, but it was all worth it. :)
Rachel's Kitchen (website)
Room 1301, 13/F, Hoi Yuen Industrial Building, Hoi Yuen Road, Kwun Tong
Afternoon tea class: $580 per person including cooking demonstration, a bit of practical and an afternoon tea set