I have always considered myself quite a nice person. I like food of all shapes, flavours and colours. From every country and continent. I don’t discriminate, I am an equal opportunity eater. It’s only the doctors who say I’m intolerant. And certain foods who refuse to tolerate me. They certainly refuse to recognise and respect my right to eat them without major physical discomfort and distress.


Gluten and lactose are not my friends.


Despite the negative attitudes surrounding me from many of those I love best, (cakes, ice cream, hot toast) I decided to become a chef. Not always easy when you live in a bread and milk filled world. I like to think that this has helped me become a better person as I embrace my differences and refuse to let the gluten get me down. I believe InTolerance. I am the InTolerant Chef.

Food should not be about what you can’t eat, but what you can and what you enjoy eating. This blog is about my journey of cooking and eating and discovery. It’s not a definitive guide to allergy awareness nor do my intolerances make me an expert. Your body is your responsibility, not mine. I only know what works for me.


I can tell you this..... No glutens were harmed in the making of this website.

May 20, 2013

Gluten Free High Tea at Raffles Hotel, Singapore





When I was little, we had a painting of Raffles Hotel hanging in our entrance hall

It was of an older Raffles, with rickshaws in the street and not a high-rise in sight. Bell shaped skirts and parasols spoke of a quieter time of elegance and sipping tea daintily to catch up on gossip and escape the tropical heat

That's what I saw when I looked at the painting anyway, and I always wanted to go to try and capture a bit of that exotic elegance for myself. When we decided to visit Singapore for our family holiday, one of the first things I did was to lock in a booking for High Tea at the Tiffin Room at Raffles- it was a must-do. I didn't care what else we missed out on, but no way was I missing out on my touch of Elegance, and I made sure to pack the posh frock to prove it!



Posh frock donned and makeup melting in the pure humidity, we arrived at the appointed time and hoped we hadn't made a mistake when we saw the line of patrons waiting to get in. But not to worry, we were ushered in quickly and efficiently within a very short time indeed

Look at the huge line up of Eager Eaters




Lucky early arrivers already seated





BigJ and littlej were dining with me, and of course they just ate standard fare, no InTolerances for them, so it was good to get some perspective from the Other Side Of The Plate

The Regular menu High Tea Stand, shown here for comparison with the Gluten Free version  - set for three although booked for two.
I guess they are just so busy that the kitchen sends out standard plates regardless of places booked. Warm Scones for the regular menu were also bought around with jam and cream from time to time in lovely baskets by the wait staff.





Now the Generous Gluten Free offering- and yes, all of this for me although we only booked for one GF seating. Lucky me I thought!





Gluten free sandwiches:
Egg salad with cucumber and tomato; Tuna mayonnaise; Smoked Salmon with cream cheese; Turkey tomato,basil and cheese



Now I had been unable to find any gluten free bread in Singapore so I was initially pleased to see these here- until I tried them. The bread was very dense and dry despite the fact that they were mostly open faced, and I ended up just eating the topping and leaving the bread bases on my plate. I always wonder if chefs try the gluten free offerings they make, or do any research with customers. There is no reason they should not taste as good as anything else in the restaurant, and if they don't find it palatable why send it out? The only topping that could compete with the bread was the egg salad as it had plenty of flavour and moisture to compensate for dry bread. The salmon on it's own was yummy, but the tuna mayonnaise was a very thin smear of tinned tuna mixed with sweet mayonnaise that tasted like one from a bottle.




Middle Layer: Caramelised apple Panacotta; Orange Jelly with fresh Berries



The Orange jelly was nice and refreshing with a lovely burst of fresh tart berries, not overly sugary which made it a nice choice to counteract the sweet offerings. But the pannacotta....was just plain weird. The jellied caramelised apple layer was really quite tasty, but the rest was dreadful indeed. I don't know if it was soy based, some type of dairy substitute I've not tried before, or just plain off- but it tasted curdled with the sour nose-wrinkling effect to go with it. I spat it out and it almost ruined the whole meal. There was no real explanation from the wait staff when I questioned them, just polite apologies and deferential smiles.




Top Sweet Level: Fresh Blueberry Marshmallow, Assorted Chocolates


The chocolates were nice and rich, very smooth and creamy, but the marshmallow was the star of the show. Light as a feather and not too sweet, it was gorgeously melt in the mouth with a lovely berry flavour



Selection of Cut-your-own-cakes (not gluten free), Fresh Fruits, and at the end Fresh Berries in Tea Broth



There was a good selection of other cakes available for gluten eaters and they certainly all looked very nice, but it was good to see a gorgeous array of sliced tropical fruits including Star fruit, Pineapple and Dragonfruit too.
Right at the end there was also a great big bowl of delicious berry flavoured 'Weekend in Shanghai' Tea Broth with masses of fresh berries macerating in it. It was unusual in that it had to be carefully spooned up like a type of soup, but it was so yummy that I didn't mind risking my blouse with red drips.



Dim Sum buffet selection for gluten eaters- it all looked and smelled very good indeed and very popular with my littlej who has a love for everything dumpling shaped



I do have to say that the Regular High Tea was fantastic. BigJ and littlej enjoyed everything so much and there was such an abundance of choice that they didn't try everything and had the luxury of picking and choosing whatever caught their fancy.

With a price tag of $58 per person, I'm glad there was no extra charge for Gluten Free. I was quite disappointed with the selection- especially as a lot of it wasn't very nice and was left languishing on the tea stand hidden by my crumpled serviette. My comments are really just related to the Gluten Free options. I certainly didn't think the food was value for money for my Gluten Free selection and I was still hungry despite having a stand for two..........but I didn't feel completely ripped off...

 

I felt grown-up and special and excited and elegant all in one, as I soaked up the slightly snooty atmosphere that is exuded by Raffles. The service was first class, attentive without being cloying; the staff were lovely and were always ready with a top up of tea; and the room was spectacular with hugely high ceilings and gorgeous architecture that showed the age of building gracefully and proudly instead of trying to modernise it and cover it up with fake facades. It is what it is.

I wouldn't go back to Raffles for their Gluten Free High Tea again, but I'll always be glad that I did.


So Dear Readers, do you have any fulfilled childhood ambitions, and would you be interested in more Gluten Free High Tea reviews?






26 comments:

  1. One day we will find a decent gluten free high tea. Maybe will will have to do t, Bec? I ourselves.Such a large array of other food though. I couldn't believe the amount of people. When I went to Raffles I just had a beer.

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    1. Good idea Tania! That way I can only blame myself for any shortfalls :) I bet the beer still cost a fortune at Raffles, our Sonapore Sling was exxy indeed! x

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    2. The Gunners Barracks in Sydney (it's in Mosman near the zoo) does an amazing gluten free high tea. Everywhere else I've been has been nowhere near as good. Plus it has an amazing view of the harbour.

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  2. Oh what a shame about the bread-I wonder if they'll ever get that right? Although tasting it as you said is the best way to find out how it all goes together! :D

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    1. I live in hope Lorraine, I live in hope! It's drummed into us chefs to taste evrything, so I don't know how they think it will pass muster. Gluten free does not have to mean flavour free or poor quality either! x

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  3. I wonder if it wouldn't be better to give up on bread in these situations and go for a decent gf cracker? Raffles is lovely, but when I was there 16 years ago, they didn't have any airconditioning except in the actual restaurant or function room itself, so you went from hot to cold and back to hot again when you had to go to the loo! I'm sorry the food wasn't better, but it does sound like a fun experience! xx

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    1. I so often just eat the topping, or scrape out the filling in my sandwiches Celia, it's generally a huge improvement :) Both hotels we stayed at only had airconditioning in the 'sealed' sections of the hotel too, The lobby and hallways weren't cooled either. I did have lots of fun thanks sweetie, it was lovely to dress up and play GrownUps for a while :) x

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    2. LOL! I love the comment "dress up and play grown ups" Anais and I dressed up and played tea parties ;) at Raffles

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  4. What a shame. I've been to a few high teas lately and I've always come away underwhelmed. I think they're really overpriced for what you end up with. At least the marshmallow didn't need to be spat into a serviette! xx

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    1. I agree Charlie! A good steak dinner certainly seems better value for money, but I'm a sucker for the ritual of it all :) It's a bit sad though that the marshmallow was the best part of the meal.. :( x

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  5. I wish there was a gluten free high tea in Sydney .. or even in Canberra for when I next visit.

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    1. Hi Ista. I left a reply with a couple of options on your blog for you, otherwise let me know if you're ever down this way Ista, and we can find one together :)

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  6. It's disappointing that you realised a dream and it didn't make you feel special. Just looking at the trays it's hard to tell but surely someone could taste that and know they needed to do more work on the recipes.

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    1. You would think it was that easy, wouldn't you Maureen? I think people just have a hard time thinking outside the box sometimes. :)

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  7. I once went to a high tea in Australia, one of my lovely sisters spoilt me and took me there, that was before my gluten free adventures though, it was lovely and I was pinching myself that I was there until a waitress poured a drink all over me. I have yet to find a decent gluten free bread that can compete to the norm. They really do need to think outside the box when it comes to a gluten free high tea and not just mimic what is on everybody elses plate.

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    1. At least it must have been a memorable experience Simcha :) Good gfree bread can be tricky, but I agree that they could think things through a bit more if they are offering a specialty item

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  8. I think you need to do a world tour of all places that do gluten free high tea...yep, you really must :-) It could become a Lonely Planet book!

    Or maybe Tania's right, maybe you two need to set one up...I'd certainly be there.

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    1. Great idea Brydie! If the publishers approach me I'm so up for it :) I'm definitely going to make my own menu soon, just to show it can be done! x

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  9. That blueberry marshmallows caught my attention so bad ! I can't take my eyes off now :)

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    1. I do love marshmallows too, and I just bought a book on Artisan Marshmallow Making that I have to try out- I'll keep you posted!

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  10. sad to hear it wasnt amazing but atleast u tried it out!

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    1. That's right, I still had fun and lived a dream :)

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  11. What a great story! As you know my daughter and I did the High Tea at Raffles too, but obviously not the gluten free version. Our experience was much nicer. It must be so hard to get an equivalently lovely menu at a venue. I do agree, if they are going to offer gluten free, the establishment must ensure that it meets their standard. Not be an inferior option. Whilst I was at Raffles a lady at the next table had a similar intolerance and despite advising the kitchen prior to arrival there was very little available for her, and nothing was prepared in advance :(

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    1. I'm so glad you guys had a nice time with your high tea! It does seem odd that quality control can seem compromised for anything slightly left field. What a shame the other poor lady missed out, she would have just been left with fruit- and this happens A LOT for us InTolerants :(

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  12. That's a lot of money for very little option :( Sad face!

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  13. OMG I wish I had known about this when I was in Singapore in March! It's so hard to find good GF high tea!

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