Highly qualified, established food & lifestyle writer, former restaurateur, founder professional writing business, Articul8. Long, diverse writing history, passion for food culture, the land & inspired food language.
Published August 3rd 2013
Cinderella's dream come true
When does food become a food experience? When it's only one part of a multitude of other pleasant sensations.
Enter Bursaria, now serving High Tea with a Twist, featuring Soul DJ spinning vinyl motown and disco classics, along with tantalising roving entertainment by Bravo Darling, which added a delightful feathered flourish when I visited. The exciting new addition to must-do Melbourne food experiences is on at the Abbotsford Convent on the third Sunday of each month from 2pm to 4pm - and, not surprisingly, spaces fill quickly.
After a too-busy work week, "A Touch of..." by Bursaria, formerly at the Como House and Gardens, was to be my short window of fun, freedom and food frivolity to lighten the spirit and freshen the senses.
Accordingly, I decided to make the most of every aspect of it. Taking the luxury of time to dress mindfully in very 'me' clothes, I dashed off to pick up my friend and whisked us off to the unknown territory of a Bursaria food experience on a more-than-crisp winter's afternoon brightened by a clear sky and vibrant winter sun. I felt a bit like Cinderella on her way to the ball, albeit if in place of the pumpkin carriage was a small sporty 4WD with sunroof insensibly open for some extra sensory invigoration.
The convent was as majestic, yet as casual and happening, as always: the Convent Bakery Cafe bustling and busy, and deservedly so; Lentil as Anything beaming with good wholesome food, hearty people and, well, heart; and the popular Shirts and Skirts Market displaying plenty of other high quality goods too, though the stallholders had to hold onto their shirts and skirts for the winter wind that threatened to send them sailing through the air, perhaps catching on a stately convent spire and flapping in the wind like a welcoming beacon to all other travellers on their way to Bursaria. It was perfect.
We enjoyed a drink in the well-protected courtyard and, once in the beautiful Rosina Room, sat at large, round, tastefully adorned tables, warming to our High Tea companions instantly. The food served, both savoury and sweet, was flavourful, plentiful and had clearly been prepared by lovers of fine food respectful of their ingredients, their art of food preparation and their presentation.
Sink Your Teeth Into These... Mmm
I particularly loved the honey-cured salmon with remoulade on oh-so-soft dill blinis; I licked my fingers over the kataifi-wrapped citrus prawns with lemon aioli (I'm not a fan of restrictive etiquette anyway. It's so boring and stuffy.); and I paused all conversation and other distractions to fully focus my tastebuds on the King Island blue cheese and pear chutney sitting atop a square of fig and walnut bread. It was a magnificent mouthful indeed.
The mini-desserts were divine - too many for anyone watching their weight, but a perfect number for those happy to send their diet to blazes for one weeny, wonderful afternoon.
I lined mine up in decorative rows, with my friend kindly (I think...) re-filling each empty spot after one disappeared. It was like the Magic Pudding, Bursaria-style. Favourites were the vanilla, rose and pistachio panna cotta, the roving desserts featuring perfect mini-scones with raspberry jam and double cream, and the organic chocolate pots with salted caramel toffee and marscapone cream. (By the way, for those of us that need it, the paths meandering through the Abbotsford Convent grounds are just perfect for a good, brisk kilo-zapping walk.)
Yes: Bursaria also hosts beautiful weddings, events and functions in the convent's various stunning spaces, and offers offsite catering.
Need I say more still?
Yes: While I didn't have a glass slipper fitted to my foot by a dashing prince who then whisked me off into the distant yonder, I did buy a fab new skirt that was a perfect fit - despite one too many of Bursaria's Magic Puddings.