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It’s my third post in as many days about scones! What can I say, I have a sweet tooth :–)

As part of this year’s Melbourne Food and Wine Festival The Tea Room at NGV International is holding a special high tea called La Terre Sucree (The Sweet Earth) with food inspired by the festival’s theme of ‘earth’ and the art which surrounds the restaurant.

I was invited by Peter Rowland Catering to sample their menu which pays homage to the Neo-Impressionist artists who are currently on display as part of NGV International’s Radiance exhibition.

For $55 your afternoon tea starts with a glass of Paul Louis Sparkling before you’re presented with a triple tier of sweet and savoury delicacies to accompany your tea or coffee. I’m not sure about the quality of the coffee but the tea menu is extensive and covers black, green, white, herbal and flowering tea varieties.

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The highlight was the fairy-tale like edible garden and it drew gasps of delight and lots of curious stares from fellow diners. The whole of the top tier was an awe-inspiring arrangement of rich crumbly chocolate cake ‘earth’ dotted with popping candy (surely the most fun dessert decoration ever), fruit jelly cubes, rocks deceptively made of chocolate and honey, chocolate wafer logs,  fruit mousse encased in a white chocolate ‘fruit’, cake pops of chocolate cake, rosewater-scented vanilla sponge and decorated with sugared lavender petals, sticky ponds of caramel and peach coulis in which you’re supposed to dip your cake pops (too much sweetness in one mouthful I think) and overly-crunchy meringue mushrooms. Australian Womens Weekly birthday cakes, eat your heart out!

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Afternoon tea would not be complete without scones and each person received one savoury cheese scone and one sweet scone, the former accompanied by a cute miniature terracotta pot of herb butter and the latter with more plant pots of strawberry jam and cream. The scones were warm and fluffy, with a crunchy exterior crust just the way I like them.

La Terre Sucree High Tea, The Tea Room, Level 1 NGV International,180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Instead of traditional ribbon sandwiches the savoury dishes were a crusty oxtail and parsnip pie, a ‘garden snail’ comprising choux pastry filled with finely chopped mushrooms, onions, shallots and herbs (you can’t see the tiny little microherb antennaes in the photo!) and an edible wafer pot of mousse made of zucchini which was surprisingly fresh and spring pea-like in colour and flavour. The least successful morsel was a rather insipid hunk of poached chicken sandwiched with a slick of creamed corn.

The artistry of the La Terre Sucree High Tea exceeded my expectations and I was particularly enraptured by the attention to detail in the edible garden. It’s a much better offering than my less-than-impressive previous outing to the Tea Room so I encourage you to visit now while the afternoon tea is still available during the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.

La Terre Sucree High Tea, The Tea Room, Level 1 NGV International,180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne +61 3 8620 2431

Daily 10am-5pm (except Tuesdays) until 17 March, Bookings preferred.