The only think I like better than talking about Food is eating.
I was lucky enough to have two tasty adventures today, sans children. The first was my first visit to The Tea Project in town.
Somewhere sandwiched between yoga schools, industrial-trend pubs and other reclaimed pockets of inner city Newcastle, this cosy little haven for tea lovers is a lovely change from the coffee, coffee and more coffee, which has dominated the Novocastrian foodie landscape for much too long.
The Tea Project is a cafe and tea store, with tea ranging from your basics to the rarer, more pricey teas. Their philosophy encourages the drinking of properly-brewed tea without sugar and milk to tart it up, but both are happily available.
The décor is comfortable, relaxed but still stylish with clean, modern industrial touches which adds a level of sophistication. This place is not the crunchy granola of cafes, nor is it pretentious. It’s Zen without feeling the need to add inspirational prints of the Buddha telling you to be Zen. Even the music adds to the atmosphere without taking anything away from it. You’ll happily hold a conversation here. The incoming flow of people varied in demographic. Grandmothers, young things on first dates, friends catching up for a scone and tea during their work break. The staff were friendly and never condescending or snobbish.
The happy waitress pointed me to the tea and cake special – a one person pot of tea with one of the number of delicious-looking things to be found in the window for $14. Unfortunately and probably rather obviously, this only covers their more generic teas such as Irish or English breakfast, or one of their own blends like the Novocastrian Breakfast. I originally asked for a Keemun tea and a piece of the rather ridiculous-tasty-looking praline tart, but once pointed to the special my guilt centre kicked in and I went for the less opulent option, choosing the basic Irish Breakfast tea.
You should also know that they offer sandwiches, scones and miraculously they have DUMPLINGS. I was due to head out for lunch/dinner later, so I had to save those for another day.
The tea was served with a flourish. The tea leaves were offered for inspection. My first cup was poured and once the teapot was set down the handle was swivelled to my right. It’s definitely a contrast to be served by people with a respect for tea, rather than the overbrewed bag of Twinings in a too-full, too-hot metal pot hastily sloshed on your table. Do you want to know the reason why everyone drinks coffee? Because no one respects tea. Tea drinkers are the abstinent voters of cafe culture.
But I digress.
The waitress returned later to pour another cup and offer me a newspaper. The tea itself was fine, but I lived in tea regret having not ordered something more interesting. Irish Breakfast is fine, it’s a staple at home. But I can drink Irish Breakfast anytime. I suppose I do like to compare the way someone does a favourite, but still. *pouts* I asked for a wiff of the Keemun as I was paying and it smelled delish. Le sigh.
As you can see, my food was plated beautifully. A bit of aerated cream on the side was sprinkled with many colours of dried, edible blooms. The tart was topped with what I think were bits of candied orange rind. I could eat whatever it was by the spoonful. The tart was lovely, not sickly. Generous of portion but I happily finished it without feeling immediately hungover. But if you want decadence there was a chocolate gateaux there which I think has my husband’s name written all over it.
There were two unfortunate negatives in the experience. One was finding what looked to be an eyebrow hair on the side of the cream on my dessert plate (unfortunately they didn’t send me home with a trailer load of Apology Tea, which I assume is a thing, and if it isn’t, it should be). But the second, much more vexing complaint is that they have a $15 eftpos minimum. And a $14 special. It was fortunate that I had cash as I usually don’t and I had no plan B. Now I wouldn’t suggest that they make the $14 special a $15 special instead to stop eftpos whingers from whinging, but perhaps a sign next to the special sign at the counter would save some grief for both staff and customers come payment.
So what do I think? Lovely place to go, lovely bites to eat, quality tea, but I’ve yet to experience a brew out of the ordinary for someone who is used to properly brewed Irish Breakfast. C’est la vie.
I then went for a totter around the Newcastle mall for some window shopping. I didn’t buy any windows, but I did see some cute things on the way.
Secondsies, Coco Monde
Not really secondsies, it was lunch/dinner, but I love the opportunity to write “secondsies”.
Having been here many times, it didn’t really occur to me to take much in the way of pics, but what you need to know is that Coco Monde have freaking delicious everything. Their high teas are epic meals which you absolutely do not need to eat anything before, and possibly nothing else for the rest of the day. They are a chocolatier, and they do it well.
Anywho, husband and I went there for lunch-dinner and I had an awesome pizza with chicken, bacon, onion, mozzarella, rocket, shaved parmesan and the best bbq sauce ever. Couldn’t finish it, but oh man. Happy. What a good day.