The MET X Maharani Afternoon Tea
A Delicious Fusion Of Cork and Kerala
|Spices from Kerala.
The successful local Rebel City distillery, whose lead product is Maharani gin (with Indian botanicals), and Cork’s Metropole Hotel joined forces to celebrate last week’s Cork on a Fork Fest with an Afternoon Tea.
But one with a difference. The Met's new head chef Vasil Baci took inspiration from the gin and its ingredients to create a taste of India over 3 plates! And that was extended by an Amuse Bouche and we were also treated to a Maharani Gin (with some black pepper cracked in on top, a favourite hack of Pierce Lowney, the hotel’s Food & Beverage Manager).
Distillery co-founders Robert Barrett and his wife Bhagya set up Rebel City in Cork in early 2020. The Maharani is copper pot distilled and, along with the usual suspects, including the essential juniper, distiller Robert has added three botanicals from Kerala.
One is Pomelo Fruit, officially Citrus Grandis. Then you have Cassia (Cinnamomum Cassia) and also Nutmeg Mace (Myristica Fragrans). All three are sourced from the women’s farming cooperative in Kerala, Bhagya’s home state. Robert is very happy with the Maharani (means high queen): “a fusion of two creative cultures, a gin of truly transcendent taste”.
|Scone with Rice Pudding!
And so here we are in the beautiful tea rooms of the Met, relaxing in a Sunday afternoon as two southern cities come together on a series of plates. That relaxation is part of the afternoon tea ritual and so too is the tea (and that wasn’t forgotten here).
The usual formula, savoury, scones and sweet was followed but there was certainly a difference, thanks to the Indian inputs, and here Chef Baci, using the freshest of local produce, was absolutely spot on with the combinations. That skilfully applied enhancing spicy touch of the east was a factor for sure but a subtle one. Very well balanced, as is said in the world of wine tasting.
The Amuse Bouche was a good indicator of what was to come, local and exotic coming together to put us on the way to perhaps the best Afternoon Tea we’ve enjoyed in years. Loved the Star Anise and cinnamon sweet shell tart, Ardsallagh Goats Cheese, roasted red peppers, basil beetroot gel and crushed chili; here the spices and the soft flavours of the cheese and beetroot waltzed gently and satisfactorily on the palate.
Now for the first plate, the Finger Sandwich Selection:
Smoked bacon and egg mayo, garden chive mini sweet slider.
Mini spiced chicken tarragon cracked poppadum wrap.
Market Smoked salmon, saffron lemon mayo, Indian style pickled red onion, brown home-made treacle soda bread, Maharani gin spritz.
Aloo Masala bite, Vienna sourdough bread, Mango chutney.
Started that quartet with the lovely slider and then found the following ones as good as the other.
Next up was the Dressed Scone, a homemade buttermilk chai spiced fruit mini scone, whipped vanilla double cream, raspberry jam. Another winner from the kitchen.
|Pic by Rebel City.
Now for that final sweet lap, the Sweet Treats.
Vanilla & Passion fruit set lassi, fresh raspberry and mint.
Homemade mini banana bread, pistachio strawberry cream.
Mini coconut and honey pancake roll.
Spiced Rice Pudding.
Mini 73% Chocolate delice.
And there was also an unlisted Macaroon on the plate!
Some really excellent treats here, starting with the lassi, and the banana bread was also a beauty (especially with that cream!). The chocolate lived up to its name. But that Spiced Rice Pudding was my favourite, enhanced no end by the hidden treasure of generous fruit. Terrific end to a lovely relaxing afternoon in one of the most comfortable rooms in the city.
Cheers to Cork and to Kerala and here’s hoping we’ll all meet again with a plate somewhere!
This was my final outing of the Cork on a Fork Festival, a very enjoyable few days indeed. Here's to 2023!
|The Met. A place to relax. (pic by the Met)