Wedgwood Tea Room

After having our lovely wedding reception in the beautiful Gandel Hall at the National Gallery of Australia, our event manager Kate, was super nice and invited us back for High Tea in their Wedgwood Tea Room because she knew how much we love our food. We arrived at the gallery and then clearly had no idea where the high tea was held until we asked someone and was directed to the Level 2 Mezzanine, apparently this space has only recently been open to the public. When we arrived we were greeted by a friendly face and seated by the window which looked over the gallery’s sculpture garden.

We dined as guests of the gallery but all day Wedgwood High Tea is $43.00 per person, there are also lunch options: the Farmhouse Board ($25.00 per person) and the Bushman’s Plate ($20.00 per person).

Our tea orders were taken and we were left to admire the view and brush up on our tea etiquette (written in a booklet), not long after our little table with plain white linen was transformed into a high tea feast.Top tier: Dame Nellie Melba’s sublime opera cake; lemon and yoghurt curd tart with toasted meringue; petite peach Melba cake with white peach buttercream; jam drop shortbread tarts with lavender sugar.Bottom tier: soft mini brioche with cured salmon, dill creme and mustard leaves; ribbon sandwiches with citrus poached chicken and herb mayonnaise; ribbon sandwiches with cucumber, lime sour cream and fresh mint; mini asparagus, leek, and melted gruyere tartSeparate plate: freshly baked buttermilk scones with local berry preserve and double creamMy favourite picks were the chicken sandwiches and the opera cake but above all else, I fell in love with the Wedgwood china. For me, a lot of the high tea vibe comes from the atmosphere and the crockery (I’m a massive homewares fan) and I found the Wedgwood pieces were stunning. Each piece caught my eye because I liked the detail in the patterns and also liked how nothing matched. My tea cup pattern was perfectly named the ‘queen of hearts’.

We couldn’t leave without buying gift vouchers for some special people and the vouchers themselves had the beautiful blue flower pattern.

Venue: Wedgwood Tea Room

Address:  Level 2 Mezzanine, National Gallery of Australia, Parkes Place, Parkes, Canberra ACT 2600

Phone: If you would like to book for high tea or lunch at the Wedgwood Tea Room without purchasing an exhibition package please call (02) 6240 6711.

Opening hours: (until 28th March 2016)

High tea at the Wedgwood Tea Room
  • High tea is served 10.00am – 4.30pm daily
Lunch at the Wedgwood Tea Room
  • Lunch is served 12noon – 2.00pm daily
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Sculpture Garden Pop Up Summer Cafe

I had been kindly invited by The National Gallery of Australia to attend the Media Event with iconic Australian Chef Stephanie Alexander and Director Gerard Vaughan. The Sculpture Garden was opening their Pop Up Summer Cafe in conjunction with the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation with $1 being donated to the foundation from every meal (another reason to come here!).IMG_7050.JPGI thought I was running late but  apparently I was right on time as Stephanie Alexander as well as the glitterati showed up and everyone started taking photos.IMG_7053.JPGI took the opportunity to take a proper photo as the sea of people parted (L-R Gerard Vaughan, Chyka Keebaugh, Stephanie Alexander and Bruce Keebaugh).IMG_7054.JPGIMG_7084.JPGThe lunch menu complete with our favourite Frugii ice-cream for dessert. I don’t understand why the kids should get all the fun!IMG_7061.JPGThey had gorgeous little canapes floating around.

Ham hock terrine with a mango salsa. I love the bamboo boats and the terrine was delightful!IMG_7066.JPG

IMG_7065.JPGI was trying to juggle my drink, my bag and my phone at the same time when these came around. I don’t remember much except that it was some sort of fish on top of a crouton and that it was tasty.IMG_7064.JPGRefreshing lemonade in cutesy jars topped off with a ridiculous cute straw and a wedge of lemon.IMG_7071.JPGThe waiter happily obliged to hold a heavy tray of lemonade still while we all took photos. What do you expect from a foodie crowd?IMG_7067.JPG

IMG_7074.JPGThe staff from the Big Group Catering company who does the catering for the National Gallery planted all the herb boxes in and around the cafe. We are encouraged to utilise the herbs to enhance our meal to our liking. I love mint during summer, don’t mind if I do!IMG_7062.JPGEveryone crowded around as speeches are being made. I stay at the back eating my canapes and drinking my lemonade in true foodie fashion.IMG_7081.JPGThis looks wonderfully colourful. I take a glimpse of the platters going past as our buffet style lunch is being prepared.IMG_7083.JPGLunch is served!IMG_7086.JPGStalker shots of Stephanie Alexander chatting with the gorgeous Amanda Whitley from HerCanberra.IMG_7093.JPGStephanie Alexander doing an interview with Natasha Rudra from The Canberra Times.IMG_7092.JPGThe lunch is a combination of cold meats, fresh colourful vegetables and damper bread.IMG_7097.JPGA close up of my plate, I’m in love with all the colours and whatever they did with that eggplant is fantastic. Everything was fresh and crunchy but I wasn’t a fan of the damper which reminded me more of a scone. The damper I’m used to back at home is fluffy and light.IMG_7099.JPGI didn’t want to be the girl who ate the whole buffet during the Media Event so I was a little conservative, but everyone else went for seconds and by the time this slow eater had finished, most people (and food) had gone. Lucky for me, there were more substantial canapes going around and they were so good!

Semolina gnocchi. I was pleasantly surprised by this as vegetarian options aren’t my forte. I could easily eat a whole bowl of this.

Pulled pork. A beautiful pulled pork with all the juices flowing onto a bed of mashed potato. A comforting style of food that I didn’t expect at a summer pop up cafe but am happy they made it.

Passionfruit mousse with a spearmint consommé  and a vanilla meringue. The vanilla meringue was awesome! I found the passionfruit mousse was sweet with sharp acidic notes that the consommé  helped balance out but once I finished that, I picked some fresh mint leaves to help with the rest. It was ridiculously smooth.

Apple tart. I really liked this; the crunchy parts with the soft apple were spot on.

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Venue: Pop Up Summer Cafe Sculpture Garden Restaurant

Address: National Gallery of Australia Sculpture Garden Parkes Place, Parkes Canberra ACT 2600

Phone: (02) 6240 6660

Opening hours:

Breakfast Weekends 8 – 11am

Lunch Wed – Sun 12 – 3pm

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The Wedding Collection – The National Gallery of Australia

I hadn’t considered The National Gallery of Australia for wedding venue and I can’t remember exactly what I was browsing that made me think to go to the website to enquire for a tour of the space and eventually a food tasting but I remember it hit me like a eureka moment. I was very impressed with the photos that I had seen on their website and I couldn’t wait to see the space in person.

It was the very last tasting out of the venues we were looking into and the Event Manager Vince Azzopardi said that we were saving the best til last and I was hoping he was right. I wanted the tastings to get better and better and what we have tried so far had been pretty fantastic.

The very beautiful Gandel Hall with exquisitely detailed with gold-leaf doors and red ironbark floors.20140503-121113.jpgI thought the set up for the tasting was a bit odd with Vince joining us in tasting the food, but maybe it is one of the perks of his job (that would be awesome!). A table was set up all with wine glasses and white linen in the beautiful Gandel Hall. I felt bad when I had to explain that TimmyC and I don’t drink wine then someone swooped in and cleared the glasses away while filling up our glasses with sparkling water to which I had to turn and explain that we didn’t drink sparkling water either with an apologetic look on my face. We are but simple people… When it comes to beverages. 😉

The head chef of The Big Group company Mickael Renou, brought out our dishes and explained how he prepared each dish. There was a lot of slow cooking processes and thought to compliment the flavours of each dish. He had a lovely French accent and although I might not have understood everything, I liked listening to him speak *giggle*.

There was something else that I didn’t expect. Each of us received a smaller version of each of the course and placed in the middle was the full-sized portion of each option which we also got to eat. Needless to say with TimmyC barely pulling his weight, I was getting a bit full after eating 2.5 courses times two.

We chose from Autumn/Winter dinner menu.

Entree~
Salmon and prawn raviolo with caramelised fennel, wilted spinach, lobster oil and sorrel.  After trying to get the perfect shot of the beautiful food, it was no surprise that my raviolo was cold. There would be a very small window where this would remain hot to warm. By itself, the raviolo was okay but it came to life when I rubbed it in the lobster oil. For me the edges of the pasta were a tad too thick if I was nit picking but TimmyC really enjoyed it.
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Soy roasted pork belly with salted pork crackle, apple and celeriac puree, Bok Choy slaw, veal jus. When I ate my smaller portion I didn’t really get a soy flavour, it wasn’t until I ate the full-sized portion did I taste it. I liked the little crackle hat that was extremely crunchy and the puree complimented the protein flavours really well. The bigger portion of pork was very thick and meaty but was very tender and moist.
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 Our individual portions were plated really nicely.20140503-123044.jpg
The full-sized portion of the pork belly. I thought the sauce plating was a bit messy but was probably could not be helped with the runny nature of the sauce.20140503-123132.jpg
 A close up of the tender pork.20140503-123523.jpg The full-sized portion of the raviolo. I thought the sauce plating was a bit messy in comparison to the individual plated portions.20140503-123143.jpg
Mains~
Roast fillet of beef with a burnt carrot purée, potato terrine, caramelised shallots and sauce bordelaise (GF). Beef is a real crowd pleaser at weddings so we couldn’t go past choosing this dish to see how they would execute it and let me just say, it was wonderful. The meat was cooked very well and for someone who doesn’t love carrots, I really loved the burnt carrot puree. The potato terrine was probably a tad dry but I smothered it in the sauce to make up for it. The sweetness of the puree and caramelised shallots just enhanced the salty beef flavours.
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Our individual plated ports of our main course.
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Roast duck breast and confit leg with sweet potato Skordalia, green beans and Honey jus (GF). I was going to town with these purees and mashes! If I don’t love carrots but I loved their puree, just imagine the excitement in my eyes when I placed a mouthful of sweet potato (which I love) in my mouth which just had a tad bit of citrus. Mmmmm! The duck was okay, not the best I’ve had. I much preferred the confit duck leg over the breast which I found chewier and had less duck flavour.20140503-125030.jpgSuch a sexy leg!20140503-125133.jpg A close up of the very intense and rich sweet potato puree. I couldn’t fit any more of my meal in because I was getting full fast and I felt bad for the other guys having to wait so long for me to finish but I tried to eat as much of the mash as I could.20140503-123927.jpg
Dessert canapes~
When these came out I thought they were absolutely adorable!!! We were introduced to the pastry chef but I didn’t really catch his name but I think he did a fabulous job with these.
I love the beautiful slate tiles that the canapes were served on.
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 Buttermilk Bavarois, slow roasted plum and toasted almond (GF). This was ridiculously delicate and I’m not a huge fan of stone fruit in my dessert but it went together perfectly! The toasted almonds gave it an extra dimension in texture and flavour. This is my favourite pick out of the dessert canapes.
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Chocolate dipped peanut butter semi freddo. You couldn’t hold this for too long before the chocolate would start melting on your fingers but the delicious flavours of peanut butter and chocolate going so well together, I doubt that anyone will have time for that to happen. The perfect subtle taste of peanut butter meant that it wasn’t overwhelming and sticky on your palette.20140503-125226.jpgPistachio crème brûlée with a Gianduja biscuit. Believe it or not, this little beauty had a little ‘toffee hat’ that I love in brulees. It was the cutest little morsel I’ve ever had as a dessert, it made my body spasm with excitement and it took me a while to bring myself to eat it. I love how they have developed this much-loved dessert into a canape. The texture was silky smooth but I thought that the flavours of pistachio paste was too intense for my liking.20140503-125236.jpgA close up to the inside of the brulee.20140503-125404.jpg
The Big Group have been catering for the National Gallery since November 2012 and I’ve seen some amazing set ups for functions throughout the year including the pop-up Wedgwood Tea Room and Mother’s day high teas.

Potential wedding venue: National Gallery of Australia

Caterer: The Big Group

Time of tasting: 1pm

Price of tasting: $120.00 pp.