Forget March Madness, the Mad March Hare or even the March winds and April showers that bring forth May flowers – March in Hong Kong means art mania… also known as any party/event/celebrity visit that-can-vaguely-be-connected-to-art mania.
Sadly I’m not really into art – or parties – but what I can get on-board with is another opportunity to stuff my face. Enter the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong’s Cake Painting Afternoon Tea, a fun collaboration with British/Japanese artist Peter McDonald. Consisting of edible treats inspired by McDonald’s art, plus several of his original works on display too (including some created especially in honour of the tea), this is probably the closest I’ll get to embracing my artistic side this March!
In what will go down in history as The Day Of Two Afternoon Teas, I actually ended up eating the Cake Painting Afternoon Tea for ummm… breakfast (I know, I know) – but what a wonderful way to start the day it was! I’m not going to be giving Brian Sewell a run for his money anytime soon, but I can tell you that Peter McDonald’s art is eye-catchingly bright, vibrant and imaginative, abstract but not in that “well now I feel stupid” pretentious way, and with a tangible sense of fun and playfulness. The Grand Hyatt’s Executive Pastry Chef David White has done a great job of translating all this to the afternoon tea, creating colourful edible creations that still taste good too. Now that’s the kind of work of art I can truly appreciate!
Although the sweets themselves are nothing revolutionary – shortbread, Swiss roll, cheesecake – they’re all done very well and come in generously super-sized portions (in afternoon tea terms). The mango Swiss roll and Victoria sponge were pretty much as good as they could be and were light, fresh and lovely, although I found the shortbread cookies too sweet and not buttery-crumbly enough for my liking.
I have never met a cake pop I liked – seriously, who the hell invented these horridly sweet icing gobstoppers? – but the Grand Hyatt’s might just be the one to break the trend. Filled with gloriously gooey, fudgy, rich chocolate cake, hell I might even go back for seconds!
Meanwhile the cheesecake is pretty textbook in terms of taste – but more interesting is that this dessert is essentially your blank canvas to paint edible colours onto. Admittedly, the raspberry, mango and kiwi “paints” are more for the visuals than for flavour but I thought this was a really fun, cute and creative idea… albeit one that reassured me that my vocation in words rather than pictures was definitely the right choice!
The savouries here might not be nearly as photogenic as the sweets but (whisper it) were probably even tastier. The lobster rillettes roulade with caviar was about as decadently delicious as teeny-tiny finger sandwiches get, the still-warm leek and truffle quichettes were just the right amounts of salty and moreish and the roast chicken with avocado on rye bread was a winning flavour combination packed with hearty honest flavours.
I also liked how the Grand Hyatt had even managed to design the savouries to reflect the unusual shapes in McDonald’s art, with some smoked salmon bagels and Comté-filled pretzels. Alas, both the pretzel and bagel were a little too tough for me, but the fillings were decent enough. However, the best thing about the savouries is that, for the Cake Painting Afternoon Tea Set, they’re served unlimited! You know that one of my biggest complaints about afternoon tea in Hong Kong is that they are so often all about the sweets, so this is a great way to redress the balance.
Tiffin’s afternoon tea is famous for its amazing unlimited ice-cream buffet… but please try to exercise more restraint than I have in the past, where I basically transformed into an un-chaperoned child at a birthday party and gorged myself to Augustus Gloop levels of silly! The ice-cream buffet plus obligatory scones with cream and jam are also all included in the afternoon tea so it really is fantastic value.
I’d highly recommend catching the Grand Hyatt’s Cake Painting Afternoon Tea while there’s still time – it’s a fun idea that’s executed well, tastes good and is great value for money. Time to go paint the town – or should that be tea – red!
Grand Hyatt Hong Kong’s Cake Painting Afternoon Tea runs until 31 March 2015. It costs $298 on weekdays or $328 on weekends.
Tiffin, M/F, Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, 1 Harbour Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 2584 7722