Monday, August 17, 2009

A 'Saffa' high tea

Sunday saw a high tea at The Westcliff along with Classic fm performing some light pieces. The Terrace is one of the hotel's best kept secrets and white linen tableclothed seating was laid out on the grass as guests arrived in their various shuttle buses. My tables was like the League of Nations: 4 Serbs, 2 jetlagged souls from Los Angeles, one Zambian, one Londoner and the rest of us Seffricans. Or "Saffas" as the Brits call us. The tea was jolly fine too. Besides a croquemboche covered in spun sugar as the focal point there were tiers of savouries and scones (some with choc chip in them; "sacriligious" muttered the more mature high tea goers who were suspicious of this innovation). And behind that there was a massive buffet table of mini cupcakes and scones, fruit and strawberries, chocolate and strawberry gonache, miniature pork and chicken pies, glazed doughnuts and table after table of scrumptious goodies. Of course the guests had to pay handsomely for their high tea (Five Roses, alas) but it was miles better than the tea they lay on at the pool terrace where I remember sad, curling sandwiches and rather meagre dainties.

The former manager of the Westcliff Mark Holden was retrenched last year, sadly I thought as he was a fabulous host and manager and paid all his guests lots of attention. The new manager Andrew Cook was nowhere to be seen. He used to be with the Mount Nelson but was sent up to Joburg as Nick Seewer holds the fort at the Mount Nelson. I hear bad things about the Nelly, which seems to have lost its place as SA's best hotel and is mudsliding downhill at a rapid rate. The mature couple, who have made a hobby of having high teas in the best spots in the world (nice job) told me of a cake they ate at the Nelly which had dire consequences. Dinner engagements had to be cancelled due to the cake and its effects. It had obviously been frozen, defrosted, refrozen, defrosted, and then served to them. Nothing of the sort happened after the Westcliff tea, fortunately.

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