Every year when Mother's Day comes around, I start thinking of places to take my mother to. The first idea always starts with afternoon tea (hmmm I must admit that many food ideas start with afternoon tea) and starting a day's eating with an afternoon tea is really the best sort of start you can have. One our recent trip to the Yarra Valley, Mr NQN and I decided to go back to place of one of our favourite stays a couple of years ago. Chateau Yering was where we participated in our first truffle hunt, had a delicious dinner by candlelight after a blackout and vowed that we would definitely come back.
Afternoon tea needs to be booked ahead of time and it is a $55 a head including sparkling wine. We take our tea in the Drawing Room, a blue hued room filled with restored antique furniture and we sit on the lounge opposite the fireplace. The menu for the high tea changes regularly according to the pastry chef Simon Docherty's ideas and it starts with a glass of Yering Station's Yarra Bank Late Disgorged sparkling wine. The 2004 drop is delicious with delicate bubbles and a true honeyed sweetness to it.
The sandwiches and savouries come out first-on three plates no less (and yes, this is the typical serving size for two!). The first plate contains three items: a divine prosciutto wrapped duck roulade with beetroot gel, a creamy rich feta mousse tart and a petite squirt of duck liver parfait on crouton-delicious but I would have loved a bit more on the bread.
There are two types of triple decker sandwiches on the plate: a Mediterranean char grilled vegetable and cheese sandwich and a Virginia ham, Yarra Valley Cheddar and tomato sandwich. Each sandwich type comes in a white and wholemeal bread. The bread is super fresh, there are no crusted over portions here and the fillings for both are generous. The char grilled vegetables are moist and full of flavour but I think the wholemeal ham and cheddar sandwiches spread with mayo just pipped them at the post for me. What can I say? I'm a ham for ham! And Mr NQN notes that while afternoon tea often leaves him hungry, having one and a half triple decker sandwiches per person left him patting his stomach happily.
The third plate features two individual portions of the chicken, tarragon and mayonnaise rolls. The chicken is finely shredded and blended with the mayonnaise and it's served on a freshly baked rectangular roll. The only thing would be just a bit more chicken in the sandwich to make the ratio fit.
I always secretly hope for tiers, and there's nothing quite as attention grabbing as when the tiered display comes out. People checking in point and whisper at the stand, their eyes widened and they make plans to book an afternoon tea. This one's a beauty. There's a passionfruit tart on top with a crispy shell filled with tart passionfruit and soft meringue. Next to it is the raspberry almond friand, moist and tender crumbed with a surprise half raspberry hiding under the swirl of cream, pink sugar and fresh raspberry on top.
The second layer holds an intriguing cake-a Schneewitechen or Snow White cake is a cake that was said to emulate the rolling water of the Danube River. With a vanilla and chocolate marble layer on the bottom and a cheesecake top it is finished off with a layer of chocolate ganache and a brandy cherry on top and within the cake itself. The other cake with a chocolate mousse layer atop a thin layer of violet jelly on joconde sponge. This one is my favourite-I'm a big lover of violet sweets as they add a delicate perfume to cakes.
On the bottom is a layer of six scones. They're served warm with thick, whipped cream swirls and an excellent berry jam. I preferred the bottom halves of the scones as the top had flour baked into them. And to finish? A pot of Earl Grey tea to soothe one's sensibilities. A better start to the food day could not be had.
So tell me Dear Reader, what sort of thing will you do this year for Mother's Day? And what's your favourite "extra" meal of the day? Brunch, morning tea, afternoon tea or supper?
NQN and Mr NQN travelled to the Yarra Valley as a guest of lastminute.com.au and Tourism Victoria but this meal was independently paid for.
42 Melba Highway, Yering, Yarra Valley, Victoria
Tel: +61 (03) 9237 3333