Douglas has been a professional food writer since 1986. He is also an award-winning actor and director in Community Theatre and has been for many years. His blog may be found at: www.urbaneguerilla.wordpress.com
Published May 7th 2013
The Best Chocolate Cake In The World
My granny was born in late Victorian times. Her parents lived their whole lives within Victoria's influence. Consequently, she was steeped in gentility. When she served afternoon tea, it tended to be Madeira Cake, served on a paper doily. No armchair lived without its antimacassar, no table-cloth without its frill.
Visiting her was like wandering into a living museum of everyday ephemera of Victorian and Edwardian times.
Visiting her was exactly like going into Maddison Cottage in Guildford, a Tea Shoppe and purveyor of shabby chic bric-a-brac and furniture, converted from one of the old Colonial workmen's cottages.
Maddison Cottage offers a range of teas and coffees, snack lunches and, their specialty, High Teas.
Angela and I dropped in to sample this, my most favourite afternoon pastime. The Cottage is small, with perhaps ten tea tables and roughly ten thousand items on display and for sale.
Given my size, I edged gingerly round looking at the vast range of clocks, frames, mirrors, teapots, cutlery, crockery in all sizes, shapes and degrees of whimsy. I must have looked exactly like a slightly nervous bull in a china shoppe.
The items are delightful and well worth a browse but, for me, the real attraction is the food and drink.
The Tea Rooms are owned by mother and daughter team Jan and Claire. Together they run the place and bake every single thing sold in it.
You can order single orders of scones served with jam (home-made) and cream ($4) and a flat white coffee ($4) or any of the obvious variations - cappuccino, macchicito, latte, long black (all $4), espresso, affogato, mocha etc, etc, all $4.
There's also a range of cold drinks, one of which we had as part of our High Tea ($32 per head, weekdays) and that was the iced tea, home brewed and infused with herbs, sweetly aromatic and absolutely delicious. Ideal for a hot day.
We were offered a very wide range of teas to accompany our High Tea, all from T2, Australia's widest range of quality loose leaf teas. We chose Melbourne Breakfast Tea, which came in an elegant floral tea pot, hot water in a similar pot, individual tea strainers in shining chrome, sugar cubes in a bowl, and sugar tongs, a sight redolent of the 4711 granny used to wear.
The actual High Tea came on a three tier server, each with a meticulously cut doily. The biggest, lowest tray held savoury treats; triple decker fingers and triangle sandwiches (with the crusts cut off, naturally) filled with salmon, cream cheese, gherkin and lettuce, or chicken, chives and whole egg mayonnaise (home-made for sure). These came with mushroom and white wine vol-au-vents, and miniature cheese and herb quiches.
The second tier held scones, whipped cream, home-made mulberry jam from the mulberry tree in Jan's back yard. It also held an extra treat I've never had - a strawberry lamington.
I have to say that these all were delicious, especially the lamingtons, and all incredibly fresh, having been baked earlier that day by either Jan or Claire. The scones in particular, were unbelievably light and superb.
The top layer had the sweet treats - vanilla cupcakes with butter cream icing, caramel slices, a truly wonderful meringue basket filled with cream and three blueberries making a little face, and finally a glossy, magnificent macaron, flavoured with raspberries and a white chocolate filling. Close to the very best I've ever had, anywhere.
The macarons were close, but the chocolate cake I was given to try was without doubt, the best I've ever eaten. Rich, light, moist and without peer. Don't delay, try today ... or as soon as possible.
High Tea? How wonderful ,what a great time to get some English dame,s together .
Looking forward to go to to the historic Guilford.
And maybe to the chocolate factory in thebSwan valley.
Ingrid and friends.