Festive aromas of ginger and spice are currently wafting throughout Sydney’s five-star Shangri-La Hotel lobby and bar, thanks to a giant gingerbread train by Executive Pastry Chef Anna Polyviou, author of the best-selling cookbook Sweet Street.
Each year the hotel coverts itself into a seasonal destination, with festive high teas and sweet-themed pop-up stores.
This family-friendly display and high tea event was the perfect city escape to take my children to for a couple of hours – while I appreciated the relaxed setting, escaping the chaos of Christmas shopping and traffic.
We couldn’t miss the four-metre long gingerbread train on arrival, with its carriage that combines over 1,000 kilograms of gingerbread bricks, 500 kilograms of lollies, 100 kilograms of fondant, giant lollipops and candy canes and topped with cherry icing. There were gasps and giggles from all the visiting children when artificial ‘white steam’ puffed from the train’s funnel.
The train includes moving elements designed by cake engineer, Verusca Walker, who has collaborated with Polyviou on the installation. The gingerbread train and pop-up store is open daily at the Lobby Lounge from 7am until 31 December 2018.
Staring at the sweets adorning the decorative train is one thing, but the real highlight came when we were ushered into the Lobby Lounge for a Christmas-themed Festive High Tea, presented on traditional tiered plates. While my children devoured their hot chocolates served in porcelain tea cups, I sipped on a rosemary and peppermint tea infusion – all of us soothed by the twinkling of Christmas tunes being played on the grand piano and the glittering baubles on the impressive Christmas tree.
The traditional afternoon tea includes both savoury and sweet options. Highlights include the Yamba Prawns Po Boy featuring Anna’s brioche roll with Cajun remoulade; and smoked turkey breast served with cranberry chutney. We all loved the sugar fix from the little Christmas in a Jar served in a small glass with layers of Christmas cake, chocolate mousse and cherry compote; buttermilk scones were incredibly light and fluffy; while decorative chocolates are served on a platter beneath a miniature Christmas tree, including mini star fruit mince tarts, salted caramel cubes, white chocolate and cherry nougat and Mohawk gingerbreads.
The Festive High Tea is available at the Lobby Lounge, Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney until 31 December 2018, from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm, 1:45 to 3:45 pm and from 4 to 6 pm. The Festive High Tea is priced at $65 per person and $32.50 per child (0 to 11 years old). Contact the hotel to book.
At the Christmas pop-up store, treats for sale include Mini Gingerbread Lolly Bag Houses priced at $65 each, Gingerbread Ninjas at $9.50 (six piece), Fruit Mince Tarts at $12.50 (six piece), Christmas Pudding at $22 each, Caramel Christmas Log at $85 each, and Christmas Trifle at $135 each.