Show your body you love it with high tea at The Table Bay

Photo supplied

A GOOD high tea is a necessary luxury, something to be indulged in, something with which to treat yourself. The phrase “guilt-free” in relation to food has been on my mind a lot lately, and got me to thinking that if anything we eat makes us feel emotionally bad then it’s time to question that relationship with food.

Much is said about body shaming and body positivity on social media, but it’s nothing new. Even in Ancient Egypt, the “ideal” woman’s shape was described as slender with narrow shoulders and high waist. By the time the Italian Renaissance rolled around, plump and full bodied was in. Impossible standards fluctuated in the 20th century from the skinny 60s and heroin chic of the ’90s (hardly something to be glamourised), curves in the ’50s and athletic in the ’80s. Today, it’s skinny but not too skinny, big breasts and butts, a flat tummy and thigh gap. No wonder there is a proliferation of those Instagram Photoshoppers who post such ridiculous pictures trying to meet these demands.

Photo by Bianca Coleman

We’ve been brainwashed and conditioned to be all these shapes and sizes when each and every one of us has a unique body. Most of the time it’s not going to look like one on a magazine cover but it’s ours. The best we can do is try not to abuse it too much, keep it as healthy as possible, forgive it, love and accept it. Food is delicious and wonderful, and deprivation, punishment and self-loathing should not be the price to pay for that. I am currently the proud owner of the body of an ancient goddess, and that’s okay.

So yes, relax. Go have high tea somewhere nice. Don’t ruin it by stressing over how many cakes you have. The Table hotel at V&A Waterfront certainly fulfils the “somewhere nice” requirement. The lounge with its soaring ceiling (where birds swoop) and massive glass windows overlooking the harbour and Table Mountain is quite magnificent. The centrepiece is the table laden with cakes, large and small. Honestly, I salute the person who is able to sample everything, because they are not even the beginning. Or the middle.

Photo by Bianca Coleman

We took our seats in deep comfortable armchairs at a table by the window. There, we were served the first and second courses of savouries. These included vetkoek with smoked salmon and rare roast beef, tomato relish and caramelised onion on Nordic bread. There were two types of scones: traditional, and beetroot and feta. I’m so old school when it comes to scones. It must be strawberry jam first, whipped cream on top. Apparently there is some debate as to the order of this and I cannot understand it. Obviously the jam will smoosh the cream over the side if you do it the other way around. If it’s apricot jam, then it must be topped with grated cheddar. But marmalade? This was a new one for me so I gave it a try (with cream on top) and it was actually really nice.

Photo by Bianca Coleman

After the savouries, you’re let loose on the cake buffet. My selection includes orange meringue (as opposed to the more prevalent lemon), raspberry profiteroles and lemon panna cotta. The waitress asked me which was my favourite and after much thought I said it had to be the chocolate mousse cake. Among the array of bright colours and riot of exciting flavours it seems almost pedestrian to favour the chocolate but it was truly light and fluffy and, yes, moist, the mousse soft and creamy.

The man behind the cakes is Thabile Mlonyeni who says he loves the freedom patisserie allows him to be creative: “It is decorative and creates beauty,” he says.

Thabile Mlonyeni, photo supplied

Cooking with his grandmother from a young age is what inspired Thabile to pursue a career in chef’s whites, but it was his flair for baking which led to him specialising in pastries. His lecturers at False Bay College could see his potential, singling him out for his passion and creativity. One of his signature dishes is a Turkish delight cheesecake, a winner whenever it is on Table Bay’s dessert menu. “Guests at our high tea can expect something different, such as raspberry profiteroles and mirror glazed mini desserts,” said Thabile, “but when I am at home with my kids, who are 11, six and three, I keep it simple, making them pancakes served with ice cream.”

Photo by Bianca Coleman

With his focus is on the sweet elements of the high tea only (not the savouries), Thabile is also involved in the creation of desserts in the Lounge and conferencing, and he enjoys implementing new ideas together with his food hero, Table Bay’s executive chef Wesli Jacobs. “Bringing joy to our customers through food is what makes our jobs worthwhile,” says Thabile.

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