Wishing to enjoy the finer things in life, Kate Preece takes her family to the Mona Vale Homestead and Pantry. Photography: Charlie Jackson
Mona Vale Homestead and Pantry was busy the day three generations of my family chose to share High Tea. The dining area was already full of small groups, with many tables graced with a three-level stand or two. The popping of corks and regular appearance of trays of Veuve Clicquot suggested we were not alone in our choice of the Boutique High Tea ($75 per person), the crème de la crème of three offerings available at the Pantry, and we couldn’t wait to taste the treats to come.
And then it arrived. Wow. Christchurch-made stainless-steel frames and glistening white plates supported a feast of miniature savoury and sweet works of art. As we soon learnt, these treats were as complex in flavour as they were in their construction. The six-year-old was drawn to the ‘mince pie’ (Asian-spiced slowcooked
sticky beef cheek pie), while my mother’s first bite was of the butter puff galette – a combination of Kikorangi blue cheese, roasted pear, caramelised onion and walnuts. The first impressions did not lead to disappointment; these morsels proved to be as good as they looked. My favourite was the beetroot and feta
tartlet, as the complementary toasted almond, honey and fresh mint lifted it beyond the norm.
What would a high tea be without… tea? Though you can opt for coffee, chai or hot chocolate (as my daughter did), it was tea for two. My mother went for ‘pure peppermint’, and for me, I followed the personable waitress’s suggestion of a ‘springtime chocolate mint’ tea with milk. The hot drinks, playing a key part in the proceedings, were brought to the table at a time indicated by us – in this case, again upon recommendation, it was after sandwiches, scones and tarts and to accompany the dessert collection.
The presentation of the coconut sable Breton was irresistible to the six-year-old, but it was the discovery of pineapple compote inside one layer and coconut mousse in the other that made it her standout. I found the salted caramel in the pecan tartlet delicious, and it worked so well with its scorched pecans. For Mum, it was the pear Helene. Comprised of spiced pear, vanilla mousse and Belgium dark chocolate, it was a good one for someone with less of a sweet tooth.
While high tea is traditionally an afternoon affair, you can have it all day at the Pantry. Though, whatever time you do make your reservation (and you must), once you are seated at the homestead, relax and don’t be in a hurry. It took time to prepare these delights, and you will not regret sitting back for two hours making your way through the smorgasbord of delicacies, while sipping on Champagne and a cup of Dilmah.
Mona Vale Homestead and Pantry • 40 Mona Vale Avenue
03 341 7450 • www.monavale.nz