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The Langham Melbourne’s afternoon tea is one of my favourite Melbourne food experiences, so I was curious to discover how their limited edition Sweet Envy Afternoon Tea service for the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival would compare.

Sweet Envy is a patisserie and cake shop in Hobart and owner Alistair Wise worked as a pastry chef for Gordon Ramsay in London and New York before returning home to Tassie. He’s in Melbourne as part of the Chef MasterClasses this weekend and has developed a tea service for the hotel ‘offering old time sweets and confections evoking memories of childhood’.

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As usual the afternoon tea was served in a silver three-tiered stand with your choice of leaf tea, coffee or hot chocolate. Given it was 30+ degrees outside I requested an iced tea instead. It was the perfect refreshing accompaniment and it was not too sweet as can often be the case with iced tea.

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When faced with such an array of delicacies it’s always tricky to know where to start. While it’s not traditional I actually like to begin with scones while they’re still piping hot from the oven. There was a fruit scone with sultanas and a plain scone, both light and airy, and perfect slathered with strawberry jam (I gave the clotted cream a miss).

Then back to savouries – four sandwiches consisting of smoked salmon, cucumber, egg mayonnaise and cress and cream cheese and chives. Very traditional fillings, cut into ribbons and crustless of course – and clearly freshly made as there wasn’t any telltale dryness in the bread.

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The sweets were a salty caramel chocolate tart, Lexington crepe, crouching strawberry hidden panda cake, rhubarb, poppy and blossom macaron and red velvet cupcake. Out of all of them my favourite was the not-too-sweet cupcake with a feather-light meringue swirl on top and the least successful was the overly sticky, chewy macaron (though the blossom fragrance was wonderful). Most curious was the Lexington crepe which I’d describe as a miniature berry and white chocolate lined tartlet encased in a French-style crepe wonton wrapper (my brief Google research couldn’t shed any light on its ingredients or components). A dessert version of the turducken if you will!

The Sweet Envy Afternoon Tea runs weekdays from 4 to 15 March with a special appearance from Alistair on Monday 11 March at 2.30pm. At $59 a head it’s cheaper than an airline ticket to Hobart and as with all of the Langham’s afternoon teas it is of a very high quality. However, it is $5-$10 more expensive than their usual afternoon tea menu, which is also available during weekdays, so I’d recommend choosing the Sweet Envy Afternoon Tea only if you particularly want to sample Alistair Wise’s pastries.

Sweet Envy Afternoon Tea, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2013, Aria Bar & Lounge, The Langham Melbourne, 1 Southgate Ave, Southbank 1800 641 107

Weekdays 4 – 15 March 10:30am – 4pm