Rebecca Brett swaps afternoon tea in London for the sunny backdrop of the Twelve Apostles mountain range and the Atlantic Ocean in Cape Town…
Afternoon tea in London is a quintessential treat that takes one away from the stresses and strains of every day life for a little luxury. No soggy sandwich or homemade soup can compare; the likes of The Ritz, Claridges, The Berkeley and the Sanderson make lunch special with fine teas, dainty finger sandwiches and sweet pastries.
I’ve been to my fair share of teas in London, escaping the hustle and bustle of city life, and usually the grey and miserable weather, for an afternoon of genteel refinement and a jolly good feeding. When I was invited to afternoon tea during my trip to Cape Town I wondered if the Capetonians could capture the magic of what so many places in London do so well.
Afternoon tea was to be taken at The Twelve Apostles, a five star hotel and spa nestled between the unspoiled natural beauty of The Twelve Apostles mountain range and the Atlantic Ocean. We’d driven past the hotel on our drive to the beach in the morning of our reservation and were very excited at the prospect of sitting up at the majestic hotel later that day.
We arrived at The Leopard Bar, a huge room with plush seating, a bar and a balcony with spectacular views of the sea. At first we were seated inside but how could we resist more sunshine and the cool breeze from the ocean so, without a fuss, we were moved to the balcony.
Once outside, we were served a bottle of Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Brut 2010 (R260 – approximately £18) to start our high tea. Of all the places in the world, it felt like there was nothing better than drinking Champagne with the sun beating down on us in Cape Town , certainly a huge difference to previous experiences at home.
A trio of nibbles was served next – assorted olives, spiced nuts and corn kernals, were perfect to prevent the bubbles from going straight to our head on our empty stomachs.
Those worries were short-lived; soon after the snacks were quickly demolished, a huge stack of sandwiches and sweet treats were delivered to our table. The savoury plate was a classic sandwich selection of smoked salmon and cream cheese, egg mayonnaise, cheese and tomato, beef and horseradish and a special creamy chicken sandwich with flaked almonds.
The sandwiches were all very nice, nothing out of the ordinary aside from the chicken and almond. The marriage of flavours and textures were incredible and an idea I’ll definitely be using back in Blighty.
The desserts were very special, there were strawberry cheesecakes, shortbread biscuits, macaroons, eclairs, cupcakes, chocolate brownies, carrot cake, fruit tarts and scones with cream and jam. Phew. We had quite a feat ahead of us to get through them.
With the sweets we were also served tea, a redbush (or rooibos if you speak Afrikaans) which is native to South Africa and can be served with or without milk. Rick went for a slice of lemon while I went with milk and sugar.
As the afternoon went on, our waistlines expanded with the decadent selection of desserts and as the sun shined down on us the sweets strained under the immense heat. Before completely melting we managed to make our way through most of the sweets.
The fresh fruit tart was sweet from the ripe fruit, the macaroons crisp on the outside and impeccably chewy in the middle, the shortbread better than any I’ve eaten from Scotland and brownie bites full of huge chunks of nuts and chocolate. The only let down were the scones which were a little dry and crumbly.
But how can you complain when the views are beautiful, the service impeccable and bubbles flowing. Even though it was gone 5pm by the time we’d finished eating, the sun was still very strong so we decided to retire to the lounge and take our tea inside to cool down. Inside the room was very busy with young stylish guests having cocktails, families relaxing with tea and snacks and the waiting staff seamlessly working their way around the room.
I’m a Londoner and I love London but nothing can compare to the exceptional afternoon experience that we had at The Twelve Apostles in late December. The food was delicious but perhaps the extra ingredient of sunshine made it extra special for us. There was nothing quite like taking in the breathtaking scenery around us while devouring sandwiches and sweets.
The other huge difference is the price – while at home you would expect to pay £40 upwards each for the privilege, in Cape Town this whole afternoon costs less than £40 for two and that’s including the Champagne too!
Tea by the Sea is served daily from 2-6pm and costs R220 (approximately £16) per stand.
The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa, Victoria Road, Camps Bay 8005, Cape Town, +27 (0) 21 437 9000
For more information and booking, visit: www.12apostleshotel.com
Rebecca Brett was a guest of The Twelve Apostles and writes the blog, Bon Appetit.
Photos by Rebecca Brett (The Leopard Bar by The Twelve Apostles).