Belmond Mount Nelson’s legendary afternoon tea in your living room

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IT’S just the saddest thing (among many sad things) that when I went to Google to check the spelling of pianist Henry Dike’s name, the box on the right of the screen the Belmond Mount Nelson search carries a red banner saying “temporarily closed”.

At least it’s temporary; too many places have already shut their doors for good, and it’s devastating. But enough of the doom and gloom for now. This is a happy story. A story about the gorgeous Nellie afternoon tea – in my own living room, which everyone these days boldly assumes is comfortable. It is, but the phrase is crumbling and fraying with overuse.

No! No more moaning. When Belmond Mount Nelson announced it would deliver an afternoon tea feast, I was all over that like icing on a cupcake. It had barely hit Facebook and I was Whatsapping the hotel’s PR manager, and by the next morning everything had been arranged.

For some context, I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy a long and extremely pleasant relationship with the hotel. Every experience over the years has been gracious and welcoming, from spa treatments to bubbly by the pool, to dinners and stay overs. And yes, quite a few afternoon teas; enough to have been through evolutions and changes. One thing that has remained consistent and constant, is the fabulousness. The last time was a few short months ago, before the world changed forever.

During lockdown, I’ve enjoyed a wide variety of new eating and cooking experiences, and what feels like more deliveries than in my whole previous life (and that was even prior to wine being permitted). But it was the promise of this luxurious afternoon tea extravaganza that filled me with girlish excitement. Spoiler: I was not disappointed.

The afternoon tea treats are sweet and savoury, and feature all the favourites – like mushroom empanadas (pop them in the oven for a few minutes for extra satisfaction) and those fiendishly good little spinach quiches, as well as the famous scones with strawberry jam and whipped cream. There are cakes and tarts and finger sandwiches – egg mayonnaise and cress, cucumber, and smoked trout, because how can you not?

There is traditional melktert with classic Cape Malay cinnamon and cardamom flavours; baked cheesecake with vanilla bean and lemon zest; opera cake with layers of soft creamy coffee and almond crunch; vanilla eclairs; earthy pecan nut tart with tropical passion fruit, and a citrus and white chocolate delice which pastry chef Craig Hibbert claims “gives you pleasure and delicacy in equal measures.” If that’s not seductive, I don’t know what is.

But wait – there is more. Included in the deal are two loose leaf tea blends , selected by the tea sommeliers. Yes, that’s a real job, and there are plans to include a personalised tasting with them via Zoom. My favourite, the signature Mount Nelson Tea, blended from Darjeeling, Kenya, Assam, Keemun, Yunnan and Ceylon teas, along with pink rose petals from the hotel’s garden is one of them; and with the earthy yet delicate Orange and Spices rooibos from the Cederberg, they are the perfect accompaniments to the sumptuous spread.

It was that stormy Saturday that we’d chosen for the event, and I was adamant that pink roses should adorn the table, and the dress code was “slippers”. Those, and of course, some bubbly, for the true sense of occasion. I had a bottle of Steenberg’s 1682 Brut MCC on hand, but you can order directly from the hotel (as well as whole cakes, to take your tea to the next level), and a non-alcoholic dry sparkling wine from Robertson Winery, which is actually jolly good.

Do not be deceived by the fact the goodies fill only two boxes; it’s easy to be spoiled by an on-site tea where you can order as much of everything as your tummy can handle. There was more than enough for us, and we didn’t finish it all at once, and all the calories were justified by it being the one meal of the day.

To make it even more special and to evoke romantic feelings of being in the hotel’s lounge, a link to a Spotify playlist of background music has been curated by resident pianist Henry Dike, to accompany your tea.

The Mount Nelson Afternoon Tea in your Living Room will be available every Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 4pm. The cost for the teas, the sweet and savoury treats and scones is R340 per person, with a R45 delivery charge to the City Bowl and Atlantic  Seaboard area. Enquire about delivery to other areas.

For every Afternoon Tea ordered, Belmond Mount Nelson will donate six hearty homemade soup meals to Extreem Kwizeen’s “Soupathon” for the homeless. Chef Rudi Liebenberg says: “The hospitality industry has taken a hard knock and our staff is delighted to be involved in preparing food for people in need”.

To find out more or to make a booking, email restaurantreservations.mnh@belmond.com. Orders need to be placed by noon on the Thursday before the weekend delivery.

PHOTO CREDIT: BIANCA COLEMAN ©

PS: The samoosas (snoek) were our own addition.

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