Marrakesh Madness @ Sandro, Helsinki

Finland is famous for many fun things – Santa Claus, Angry Birds, Finlandia Vodka to name a few….but who knew Helsinki houses several Michelin *** restaurants and many local quaint cafe’s and bars that could keep a Foodie Traveller inspired for a summer break.

Trying the local cuisine is an obvious must and there are many restaurants to choose from but for travellers with limited time I would suggest a couple of laps around the local market in central Helsinki (“Kauppatori”). All things berries are worth a bag, and a snag of a sizzling sausage or Reindeer meatball is a Scandinavian must.

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A personal favourite was the “Lihapiirakka” (or ‘lihis’ for short), sort of a doughnut meets cornish pasty……I had two!!

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For those that want a go at Helsinki’s more alternative scene I would highly recommend a visit to the workers end of Helsinki – (Kallio) and hit up a popping Middle Eastern joint – Sandro! One look at the placemat and you know you want to come back again. The menu fusion is mouth-watering with ingredients sounding super fresh and authentic rich. Spoilt for choice we deliberated for 20 minutes on how much we could try to eat and then lent upon the friendly French waiter to assist upon portion size. Basically the portions are big, order a dish each! Humous and dips are accompanied with each meal so no need to order separates. Your challenge is whether to order from the “Bai Kan to Beirut Street Kitchen” end or ‘Garden of the God’s’.

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Here’s what we ordered… and… what we left.

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Garden of the Gods lost out this time. The Batbout Burgers from Marrakesh and Za’atar Man’Ouche from Beirut were winners. We chose the Confit Duck Batbout Burger and were not at all disappointed (as you can see) – served with Sweet Potato Crisps, Harissa Mayo, Tomato Pesto, Garden Red Onion Salad, Pomegranate & Carrot Yogurt & Hummus. The Za’atar Man’Ouche Merguez were equally as tasty, served with Tabbouleh, Grilled Aubergine, Goat Cheese & Pomegranate Yogurt.  Seriously refreshing and modern Middle Eastern grub at €18 per plate. I can’t wait to go back! We are in dire need in Singapore of creative Middle Eastern restaurants – Chef Enthusiasts please assist in our much required void!

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Sandro’s Sunday brunch has won awards and is considered to be the best in town at the moment so make your reservations in advance for this modern North African fusion feast. They have a wonderful indoor lounge and outdoor terrace for those hanging Scandinavian summer nights when only a tipple will do.

Book here – http://sandro.fi  

Making a trip to Helsinki soon? A couple of other worthy pit stops:

Marimekko homeware and clothing – https://www.marimekko.com

Fazer Cafe – Finnish Chocoholics & Moomin Cupcakes

Iittala – glasswear & tablewear – https://www.iittala.com/home

Cafe Kukko – Coffee & Cake with sea views

One Stop Shop – Stockmann’s Department Store and Helsinki Design District

Boulevard Social – sharing plates great for lunch or dinner

Helsinki Senate Square

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Singapore Heritage Afternoon Tea

The recently re-vamped Clifford Pier @ The Fullerton Bay Hotel hosts a wonderful Singaporean Heritage Afternoon Tea. Full of novel tea time treats that are spun off favourite Singaporean local flavours this Tea Time does not disappoint.

Singaporean cookbook author, Shermay Lee, curates a selection of 8 savoury and 8 sweet items to reflect Singapore’s multifavoured culinary past and present. The little ‘creations are handcrafted with a nod to traditional skills and are based on heirloom recipes handed down to Shermay from her late grandmother, Mrs Lee Chin Koon, author of the famous Mrs Lee’s Cookbook and widely recognized as the doyenne of Peranakan cuisine in Singapore.’

Like all Afternoon Tea rituals we commenced ours with a selection of brew and were thrilled by the local options. The deliciously sweet Teh Tarik being the most popular on our table I opted for the strongly brewed Moroccan Mint Tea.

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In good stead we kicked off with the 8 Savoury items which were topped up galore! Firm favourites were the nostalgic Kueh Pie Tee, Bak Kwa Jam Sandwich and Chilli Crab Bao. (for novel Singaporean eaters check the menu pic for the delicious details). 

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Being a condiment connoisseur I was excited by the choice of asian dipping pots – sweet and savoury were both demolished. The fiery local red garlic chilli sauce was yumtastic when accompanied with the sweet and sticky Kurobuta Pork Kong Ba Bao and Nonya Chicken Curry Roti Jala Wrap.

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The Tropical scones were surprisingly crumbly and moist (not a norm in Singapore’s humidity), and the Pineapple-Vanilla Jam and Kaya spread were very well paired. I would say a really good scone job done by Clifford Pier!

For those who have room – 8 Sweet Singaporean treats await you! The Hainanese Roti with Kaya got my attention first as did the Sugee Financier and Bandung Macaroon. The bright green Pandan Swiss Roll unfortunately didn’t deliver for me – a bit dense which was a shame as I love Pandan!

This is the Ultimate Tea for those who love to savour the culinary delights of Singapore or for those that want an intro into Singapore’s long love affair of blended South East Asian cuisine. The Clifford Pier’s colonial feel is a well suited venue for the Heritage Tea with its oppulent deck and great views of the Singapore River.

For reservations, email cliffordpier@fullertonbayhotel.com

http://www.fullertonbayhotel.com/latest-specials/culinary/heritage-afternoon-tea

Birdcage Afternoon Tea @ W Singapore

W Singapore housed on Sentosa hosts a modern afternoon tea with their – Birdcage W T Time. Seated in the sparkly purple Woo Bar, Birdcages of sweet treats decent to each lounge @ $58 per cage (for 2 persons).

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The Savoury beginnings were plentiful with staff continually topping up. Favourites were the Tikka Inspired Salmon, Mint & Spice Poppadum, Torched Double Brie, Pickled Cucumber Nigiri and the ultra favourite Chocolate Ganache Foie Gras Tartsextremely tasty and well balanced with a sparkling gold leaf topping!

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Being a fan of Chilli Crab I was excited by the arrival of The Double Cooked Hen’s Egg, Chilli Crab Mantou, tasty they were but slightly over done. Softer buns please!

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The desserts were decent – but lacking in some scones! In replace were some sort of jam fruit filo tartlets which I didn’t waste my time trying. The Chocolate tea cup and Fresh Berry Trifle Shot were far more appealing and tasty enough to leave appeased.

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All in all a relatively reasonable Afternoon Tea overlooking some prettiness of Singapore with all the dazzle of the W Hotel.

To book your Cage…..http://www.wsingaporesentosacove.com/en/woobar

 

Ham Yard Hotel – To Tea or Not to Tea?

My London Afternoon Tea Safari broke a new record,  4 afternoon teas in 6 days. The last Tea Date took me to the newest Firmdale group opening – The Ham Yard Hotel in Soho.  The Ham Yard is defiantly one of their most flamboyant, owned by Tim and Kit Kemp with their beautiful british interiors designed by Kit. The Ham Yard describes itself as a boutique village with the hotel revolving around a tree-filled garden square. Guests are are not only spoilt in their beautifully designed bedrooms (91 rooms) but also by the array of communal areas, shops and skyline views of London from their unique rooftop bar.

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Floors of colourful glittery art and luxe aesthetics make you want to explore every room, and rooms of interest are a plenty. A quick whizz around the hotel is definitely worth it before you cosy up to your scones. The Library is a particular British beauty as was the quirky basement private bar and dining rooms. I couldn’t help myself from continually taking snaps of trinkets of art dispersed all over the hotel. Her Majesty also had her special place!

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The route to the gorgeous basement bar was guided by walls of vibrant colour, eclectic fabrics and strokes of fun pop art. It was an enjoyable four floor walk.

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Now for the private bar and dining rooms, what gorgeousness for an exclusive party. Situated next to a “wedding chapel”, “The Croc” 1950’s bowling alley and private theatre, I would assume many great PR parties are to be hosted at the Ham Yard.

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Though my party was a tea party I was neither disappointed with the beauty of the adjourning main floor bar and restaurant. Before my tea was served I took a moment to have a tipple and meet the friendly cocktail makers for a glass of Cherry Pie! I would recommend their freshly made aperitifs but get there before the Soho herds come in at 7pm, or on a warm day get a seat in the outdoor courtyard.

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Afternoon Tea was hosted by an adorable waiter who showed me the way to the pretty conservatory lounge. Modern taupe and grey macerated the walls and wooden ornaments filled the gaps.

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The menu for the Afternoon tea was flexible in that you could choose whether you desire to have the set tea menu or opt and pay for only tea addition items.  So great if you are not a sweet tooth as you can stock up on all savoury or great if you only want scones!

I opted for the set Afternoon Tea (that changes weekly) for a very reasonable 18pp. The Peppermint Tea came highly recommended so I took it and agree it was one of the better ones I have had. My tricky choice came with the bubbles –  the selection is divine and I upgraded with a smooth pink glass of Roger Pouillion Rose de Maceration Brut 1er Cru. I would again, and again!

The smiles were all out when the purple multilayered plates of savoury rolls and sweet cream morsels arrived. Particular favourites were the Chorizo Sausage Rolls and Pulled Duck Sliders. The scones were good and better then many others I have tried at other London Hotel establishments,  but their sweet green pistachio and blueberry profiterole was a master gem of the sweet items for me.

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Considering the beautiful setting, great service and tasty tea treats I would highly recommend the Ham Yard’s extremely well priced tea service. The hotel’s decor is worth the visit in itself and I would definitely drop in again for an aperitif, scone or nightcap! A gem in Soho.

Check out the Ham Yard Village……@ https://www.firmdalehotels.com/hotels/london/ham-yard-hotel/