The first time I ever ‘won’ anything was back in year 9. It was one of those unpopular gold coin donation charity events at school where we had a chance to guess the number of Easter eggs in a jar in order to win prizes. I was peer pressured into the donation and as a matter of mathematics (which rarely works in such situations) I decided to count the number of eggs across and up to work out how many eggs I thought there was.
After some careful thought, I guessed 395. I was in a state of shock when the winner was announced as it happened that I was only 2.5 eggs off. Yes there was 397.5 eggs, whoever put in that half egg must have thought it was funny. What I thought was hilarious was that no one had actually guessed 400, that would have tied with me, but of course, luck was on my side. I won first prize which was a big basket full of Easter goodies like chocolate bunnies, bunny soft toys and lots of Easter eggs. That was a momentous occasion that I probably will never forget.
Life went on and I didn’t win another prize for many years. The second time I won anything was from Lorraine’s Not Quite Nigella blog where she posted a giveaway for Le Spice spice kit. The third and final was ALSO from Not Quite Nigella and that was the most exciting of them all, the Dilmah Charitea High Tea 2012 event tickets! This goes to show that blogs are great for these things, having just held a $200 give away to a restaurant myself.
The Dilmah Charitea High Tea event is held annually to raise funds for disadvantaged Sri Lankan children through the Dilmah MJF Foundation started by the Dilmah founder Merrill J. Fernando. It was held in different states, but in Melbourne, it was at The Terrace in the Royal Botanic Gardens. I arrived nice and early to take photos of the beautiful surroundings, but the weather wasn’t the nicest and Yuye and I ended up sitting by the lake, taking in the serene atmosphere and the occasional black swan that waddles by.
It was an exciting event where white tablecloths and pretty teacups adorned every table. Yuye felt a bit under-dressed, but at this event, no one’s judging (or I hoped). I also got to meet the beautiful Daisy from Never Too Sweet For Me who is an amazing blogger.
We were served different Dilmah teas throughout the afternoon, including the Ran Watte, Media Watte, Yata Watte and Uda Watte. I don’t remember seeing these varieties in supermarkets so was intrigued by their taste. They were all red teas where some had stronger floral hints than others.
The high tea consisted of a selection of savouries and sweets. The savouries included ribbon sandwiches (1. chicken, avocado, rocket & basil 2. smoked salmon, cucumbers, baby caper, cream cheese & dill 3. Roasted vegetables & tomato relish), warm savouries (1. Goasts cheese and roma tomato tart garnished with baby basil 2. Gourmet mini beef rolls).
I only tried one of the sandwiches and I think it was the roasted veggies & tomato relish one (with ham). Although nice, I’m never a huge fan of ribbon sandwiches at high teas because they just don’t wow me like the desserts do.
I did try one of each of the warm savouries and they were oh my gosh so delicious. Being warm is a huge plus since most of the savouries at high teas are cold. I liked the moist and well seasoned filling of both savouries but my favourite would have to be the tart.
Apart from these savouries, there was also one that was part of the Charitea competition where contestants entered their recipes made using teas for a judging panel. The winners were awarded that afternoon along with including their winning dish as part of our high tea. The winning savoury was the ‘green tea with jasmine smoked duck breast with celeriac remoulade on brioche toast’ and it was quite delicious, probably my favourite element of the high tea.
Mr. Fernando’s speech was long but enriching for the soul. I loved the video we watched which highlighted the kind of work the Dilmah MJF Foundation has been doing. The smiles on those kids’ faces are of pure bliss, something that’s rare on most of our faces I’m sure.
After the speeches and awards came the long awaited desserts. There was a variety to choose from, including scones, chocolates, baklavas and other small pastries.
We were served humongous scones served with homemade strawberry jam and chantilly cream. It was so filling I thought I couldn’t eat anything else after, but of course, they were fluffy and delicious, just how I like scones to be.
Of course there was also the award winning ‘orange and almond tea baklava’. It tasted distinctly of almonds which was delicious, but not being a huge fan of baklavas in general, I preferred the smoked duck breast a lot more.
What came as a surprise was the fact that my good friend Racheese, who I have mentioned a few times on this blog, actually works for the catering company who made all these high tea goodies! So, when I bit into that macaron I knew instantly that she had made it as I have tasted it on many occasions before. It is a small world. For your information, it was a pistachio macaron which was gooey and sweet, just how macarons should be.
The evening soon ended after everyone finished their desserts but before I left, I just had to walk around the place to admire the beautiful photographs taken of Sri Lankan children and the Foundation activities. I wish I could take photos like these one day.
I also managed to take a photo with the big boss Merrill J. Fernando, but Yuye the photographer was terrible at his job and put all the photos out of focus! I did try sharpening it a lot but a blurry photo cannot be completely salvaged. I thought I’d post it up anyway. Lets hope there can be a better one next time…
The photo with celebrity chef, TV presenter and spokesman for Dilmah, Peter Kuruvita turned out a lot better though. I’ve watched his shows on SBS and they’re always so fascinating.
I had a great time amongst great company on our table. It’s also an event I will remember always so thanks Lorraine and Dilmah for the opportunity to attend this wonderful event!
The Terrace in the Royal Botanic Gardens has high tea every day from 11am to 4pm in 2 sessions. Prices are $45 per person but bookings are required as tables are set up specifically for the occasion. I have actually been for high tea at The Terrace before for a friend’s hens and it was also quite nice. The Terrace also offers a la carte items from their menu and the cafe is currently open from 9:45am – 4pm daily, although I haven’t tried their other food so I cannot comment.
Ichigo Shortcake attended the Dilmah Charitea High Tea 2012 thanks to Dilmah and Not Quite Nigella
Question time: Have you ever won anything before? What’s the most exciting thing that you can remember?
Phone: (03) 9820 9590
Royal Botanic Gardens, Alexandra Ave & Anderson St, South Yarra, Melbourne VIC 3141