Friday, November 19, 2010

High and certainly not dry

As part of the Crave Sydney International Food Festival last month, I dragged some girls up several flights of escalators in the city’s Queen Victoria Building to feast at the newly opened Bacco Wine Bar Pasticceria on level 2. With beautiful surrounds and Bacco’s own fitout quite impressive, we’d decided to take it all in and linger over Saturday afternoon high tea.

Sparkling wine with high tea at Bacco Wine Bar Pasticceria,
Level 2, Queen Victoria Building, Sydney
We have the sparkling wine option – a flute of something fizzy and frivolous to start the session in one of the shop’s inside booths. Most of the seating options are actually outside of the store, tables and chairs in the plush retail surrounds of the QVB’s level 2.

Bacco high tea
It was one of those days to be indoors with food – and sure, why not a drink – wiling away time with gossip, advice and all things girly. Having never had high tea before, I was mostly excited by the thought of tiers of food before me, especially the cakes.

Our second high tea stand
The descent of our high tea platters is a rather exciting moment – two three-tiered stands filled with our high tea goodies and so tall that I have to get up to view the cakes. They’ve arranged our high tea for three over two stands, although the first thing I notice is that there’s only two halves of a cannoli – that already does not bode well.

Middle tier plate of savouries
We naturally head to the centre of the stands first, savoury to start. Rather than finger sandwiches, there’s a bit of an Italian theme to these bread creations, on foccacia and looking very appetising.

Smoked salmon, cheese and dill sandwich bite
The smoked salmon item was on a little square of bread with a crumbly white cheese (feta, perhaps), topped off with a small piece of jewel-orange salmon and fresh sprigs of dill. It was a cute bite on the slightly crisp bread, the saltiness of the cheese just right with the smoked salmon.

MiddleRoast capsicum and olive tapenade
The other bite was topped with an olive tapenade and bit of roasted red capsicum – the former a little overpowering on the tiny bit of bread, while the capsicum provided some offsetting sweetness.

Prosciutto, bocconcini, tomato and basil mini sandwich
The unanimous favourite was the one most resembling a sandwich: thick squares of foccacia sandwiching prosciutto, a slice of bocconcini, tomato and basil – salad and indeed sandwich perfection. Reminds me of a deli sandwich I had on the southern Italian island of Capri.

We got through most of the sandwiches pretty well, but then realised that there was a long way to go and only limited stomach capacity left. This high tea thing was not going to end in a ladylike fashion.

Friand on bottom tier plate - carb fest
The scones plate was not just scones at all. There was a plain scone for us each with jam and cream on the side, but there were also friands, brioche slices and an apple Danish, all garnished with scattered fresh strawberries and dried apricots. This was the scary carb-loaded plate of flours and sugars.

(Clockwise from top)
Scones, brioche, friands and whipped cream
I start easy on the small brioche slice with a sugared top surface, itself rich and buttery but cut so thin as to fool me into a false texture of lightness. I’m not the hugest fan of friands so I skipped my half in favour of the apple danish, which was flakey and crisp under its sweet glaze with a filling of custard and diced apple.

Scone with strawberry jam and cream
And then it was time to take on, essentially, the main course - the scone. I’ve had many a hard and stodgy scone before, which probably contributes to my non-appreciation of them. However, after splitting this floury monster on my plate, slathering a thin layer of whipped cream and dolloping on copious amounts of strawberry jam, I realise that this is not a stodgy version but a surprisingly light one with fluffy insides. QQQ88P6QKHMD

While the outsides maintained a softly crisp layer, the insides were almost to the point of springy and simply divine with the jam (which seemed gracefully low on seeds). Definitely one of my better scone memories, but even then I could only get through half of it if I had any chance of trying the cakes.

Top tier plate of cakes
Probably more than an hour in – cake time, finally. Despite being about 85% full, I was determined to get through as much of the last plate as possible. However, it just wasn’t going to happen. I decided to stake my claim on one of the cannoli halves, knowing well the Bacco cannoli and its potentially life changing capabilities.

Ricotta cannoli
This sweetened ricotta filling was dotted with bits of fruit, glacé cherries and candied peel among others, and I simply adored the flavours. But the cannoli shell was unfortunately a little on the soft side, as if it had been filled many hours ago and had taken in moisture from the filling – a shame really.

(Left to right) Triple Cioccolato, ricotta cannoli, passionfruit macaron
Next up we attacked the macarons as I thought they would be less rich than the rest of the chocolate and mousse cakes – I seem to have forgotten about the sugar content of macarons.

The white macaron was coconut flavoured; the orange we guessed as passionfruit and the pink overheard as being black cherry. Each was rather subtle in flavour that without the shredded coconut top and eavesdropping, I possibly wouldn’t have known the flavours of the first and last. The passionfruit remains a guess.

While the flavours were a little light, the textures were spot on with the chocolate ganache filling of the black cherry macaron a highlight. Further eavesdropping revealed plans for Bacco to open a dedicated macaron store directly opposite the current QVB shop – look out Zumbo.

(Left to right) Triple Cioccolato, coconut macaron, Pear Caramello
My next piece of gluttony was the pear caramello cake which had, oddly I thought, a chocolate crackle base. The middle layer of golden butterscotch mousse was sensational with pear pieces floating about, while the chocolate layer tempered the sweetness a little. The caramel, chocolate and crunchy popped rice reminded me a little of a Streets Golden Gaytime, although nothing really compares with the Gaytime biscuit crumb.

It was here the wall was hit and the only word I knew was “No”. I couldn’t have another mouthful, even a taste of Bacco's signature triple chocolate cake, and definitely not of the walnut topped Americano dark chocolate brownie. Even many minutes later and after a strong, reviving skim cappuccino, the answer was still “No”.

I did, however, avoid mortifying food wastage by requesting the leftovers to take home (well, not the smoked salmon leftover – can you imagine that next to the pear, caramel mousse?), making a lovely treat later that day and the next.

In fact, the Triple Cioccolato cake was probably ideally served cold out of the fridge as I had it later, rather than the softened, near melting texture it was taking on at the top of the high tea stand after hours of our picking at it. It was a fabulously decadent cake of milk, white and dark chocolate layers, and undoubtedly sexy. The chocolate brownie was probably my least favourite of the lot, simply as it wasn’t as spectacular as the other or unachievable at home.

The grape lights of Bacco
At the end of our high tea, with me clutching one of those gorgeous Bacco cake boxes, I’m not quite sure how it’s supposed to work, especially if it’s meant to be an afternoon tea type affair. There is just way too much food (or maybe just enough for the beefy fellows) that would result in (a) wastage, (b) skipping the next meal, or (c) stuffing oneself silly – all of which are most unladylike.

Is this specific to Bacco who might be trying to compensate for ambience and the very average service? Or is high tea really just so much food and sugar that it gets you on a consumption/sugar high?

Bacco Wine Bar Pasticceria, Qvb on Urbanspoon


Zina @ tastedbytwo said...

Dedicated macaron store... holy moly, be still my heart!

I have to say, Bacco at the QVB is way better than the original.

Tina said...

Hi Zina - I actually like both! Will be exciting to see the new store...!

Spencer @ Moo-Lolly-Bar said...

Wow! How good did that high tea look. And that plate of cakes for that matter. Absolutely awesome!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I've meant to get here for the longest time! *sigh*

Tina said...

Hi Spencer - Yep, the cakes were definitely my fave!

Hi Lorraine - Wait until the macaron store opens...!

Obesebaby said...

Wow I didn't know Bacco do high tea, Bacco cappuccino tart is like my favourite cake at the moment ummm yummy

Tina said...

Hi Obesebaby - I'm not sure if Chifley does, but the new QVB sure does ;)

Madam Wu said...

I love the detail in your photos and descriptions. It's really great to know exactly what you can expect to get as well as see close ups of those drool worthy morsels. It's making me hungry!

Marlo Perry said...

Hmmmm interesting with the Italian twist, but I prefer very traditional cream cheese, cucumber and dill. :D

Nice to see a few different options around Sydney, though.

Tina said...

Hi Madam Wu - Aww, thanks - glad to help!

Hi Marlo Perry - I was quite a fan of the Italian savouries; though you can't go wrong with traditional either.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...