As part of the Secrets of the Afterlife exhibition which is currently showing at the WA Museum, The Muse Café is offering an Egyptian-style high tea. A and I were invited to try it last weekend and even though I knew we’d be busy painting the kitchen and doing odd jobs around the house before our impending move to Canberra, I said yes to the opportunity as I wanted to see what an Egyptian-style high tea would entail.
I’ve been mentioning to you all that I’m Middle Eastern but I don’t think I’ve specified my heritage. My mum is Egyptian and fled Cairo over 30 years ago due to the prosecution of Coptic Orthodox Christians in Egypt. I was born in Australia but grew up immersed in Middle Eastern culture and food, mainly Egyptian or Lebanese cuisine and didn’t appreciate it until I hit my twenties – now I’m scrambling to find great Middle Eastern food to stifle my cravings!
The Egyptian-style high tea is what A and I call a “colonialised” version, as it includes a selection of finger sandwiches, savoury treats, scones and sweet delights that are made with local produce, using a variety of Middle Eastern spices and preparation techniques.
When we arrived, we were escorted to a room at the back of The Muse Café and offered a selection of tea to start with, including Moroccan Mint (sweetened black tea with fresh mint leaves) or an Espresso Coffee.
I chose the Moroccan mint tea, which has to be my favourite type of tea to drink. Unfortunately, when it arrived it had four times the amount of mint that is typically used to make it and skewed the taste. I was offered another pot but by that stage I had moved on to the Pomegranate Caprioska (made with Pomegranate Liqueur, Vanilla Vodka, Fresh Lime and Soda).
Our first plate arrived and included a trio of finger sandwiches (Moroccan Chicken with Mint & Currants, Dukkah Spiced Egg & Coriander and Cucumber, Rocket & Goats Cheese), two Bay & Cardamom Braised Lamb Pies and two Eggplant “Masaka” Tarts. I loved the moussaka tart, which was closer to the Greek version as it featured béchamel on top, but it was nice to see it on the menu. My mum’s Egyptian moussaka is my favourite dish of all time – she makes big batches before I come to stay as I would happily eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The dukkah spiced egg and coriander sandwiches worked really well and I’ll be making these for us at home.
Our second plate arrived and included Mixed Fruit Scones with Fig Compote and Fresh Cream. The flavour combination of fig compote and the mixed fruit scones was a lovely match and I enjoyed the aspect of trying a different flavour combination of scones instead of the typical strawberry jam and cream.
The palate cleanser was a Watermelon & Coconut Salad with a honey mint syrup. It was a lovely touch to have a refreshing palate cleanser and it tasted great too!
The selection of sweets included Rose Water Marshmallows, Pistachio & Apricot Baklava and Pomegranate Chocolate Cake. My favourite was the rose water marshmallow, as rose water is a very typical Middle Eastern flavour that I don’t think is used enough in Western cuisine. The pistachio and apricot baklava was an interesting take on the Middle Eastern favourite but was a little crumbly to handle. I’ve made a lot of baklava in my time and have to admit, filo pastry can be a tough ingredient to work with – my tip is to make sure it slightly thaws before trying to unwrap it and keep it moist by covering it with a wet towel while you are layering (once it dries out it starts to crumble quickly and there’s no saving it!).
The cappuccino I had ordered came out with the desserts and credit where credit is due – the coffee was made amazingly well. It was the perfect end to the high tea.
The Secrets of the Afterlife exhibition and high tea pairing is until the 22 September 2013. Three high tea sessions are available on Thursdays through to Sundays: 11am – 12.30pm, 1pm – 2.30pm and 3pm until 4.30pm.
For $65, you can get entry into the Secrets of the Afterlife exhibition as well as high tea. For $75, you can get entry into the Secrets of the Afterlife exhibition, high tea and a Pomegranate Caprioska cocktail.
An added bonus is that The Muse Café has also created vegetarian, gluten free, nut free and low risk pregnancy menu‘s to cater for those with dietary restrictions. For further information, check out the FAQs on the WA Museum’s website for more information (http://museum.wa.gov.au/whats-on/afterlife/high-tea/faqs). You can also book online here.
Special thanks to Rochelle from The Muse Café and staff for a fantastic afternoon. A and I dined with compliments.