Elevating local classics into a refined experience.
When it comes to rituals associated with food and drink, few are as elegant as that of the traditional afternoon tea. Generally comprised of finger sandwiches, scones and delicate pastries accompanied by a warm brew (or cheeky glass of fizz), it’s one of those things that showcases a certain refinement – a delicacy which comes across in the arrangement of the items on offer, and is reflected in the way it is enjoyed.
The Orange Grove Brasserie, located within the lobby of the prestigious Corinthia Hotel & Spa in Attard, makes for an ideal setting. Taking in the elegant surroundings before sinking into one of the plush chairs, I was recently delighted to sample an interesting offering: the Corinthia’s Maltese Afternoon Tea. Based on the traditional notion but with a local twist to the ingredients, it made for a unique experience!
We began by choosing a pot of tea. As an ardent drinker of regular builder’s tea, I resisted the urge and ordered a flavourful Chinese tea, while my companion chose the Corinthia’s robust tea offering. Being a weekend afternoon, we chose to add on a couple of flutes of prosecco, which fizzed away (along with our anticipation) as we waited for the food to arrive.
And shortly afterwards it did, and what a spread! Beautifully presented on a multi-tiered tray, we were treated to a selection of local savories, pastries and cakes, all with a slight twist to the usual.
The first item we sampled was a smoked pork, blood orange crème fraiche and pomegranate scone, which tasted like a fresh and interesting alternative to your usual coronation chicken. Next came a mini slice of Maltese ftira, served with bigilla, chilli oil, fava beans, sweet tomato paste and mint. This brought back childhood memories of ftira biz zejt, yet all the elements were tastefully arranged so as to elevate the humble bread into something else entirely.
The theme continued with a sheep’s cheese and parsley turnover – a refined version of local favourite pastizzi – followed by a wholemeal tartlet with rabbit confit, fig chutney and almonds. Rounding off the savouries was a delectable pumpkin hummus, honeycomb and bee pollen spread over toasted crusty bread.
We moved on to the sweets next, which proved just as delectable. The date fritter with honey liquor was a miniature version of traditional local imqaret, and while these are often seen as a street food offered at village feasts, it made for a welcome addition here, and we were glad to see that it was not deemed to be beneath the occasion.
Meanwhile, a choux bun with lemon curd was soft and flavourful, while a mini pistachio and orange kannol boasted a delectable filling and crisp shell – another miniature version of a popular classic. The pièce de résistance however was a Wardija strawberry macaron, which was delicate and precisely flavoured.
Finally, the experience was rounded off with two varieties of scones – first, a dried fig and fennel seed scone which can only be described as delicious with a great consistency, and second, a fragrant orange blossom and cumin scone which was on the sweeter side. These were presented with whipped ricotta, cream and homemade jam, and while we did our best not to coat them in the stuff, it was hard to resist!
All in all, we found the Maltese Afternoon Tea experience to be a joyful take on the traditional version, and one I’d definitely recommend. Retaining an elegant feel throughout, we were delighted to come across elements that took us back to the simple eats of our childhood, albeit presented in beautiful and unexpected ways.
Have you tried the Corinthia Palace’s Maltese Afternoon Tea?