It’s that time of year again: October in Joburg. Jacaranda trees all over Joburg (and Pretoria, too — more on that in a future post) are exploding with purple blossoms and everything wrong with the world feels right again (mostly). To make matters better, Joburg’s hospitality industry actively promotes jacaranda season and there are some really cool promotions on, like the jacaranda-themed “Bubbles & Sweets” menu at the Four Seasons Hotel in Westcliff.
I don’t do a lot of fine dining these days. But let me assure you: This fine-dining experience is worth doing. I would love to go back to Flames and experience Bubbles & Sweets a few more times before this year’s jacaranda season is over.
Bubbles & Sweets is basically a fancy afternoon tea with purple-bedecked pastries, exotic teas, and bubbly. (Sorry, Four Seasons — I know you don’t officially brand this experience as afternoon tea. But hard-core afternoon tea fan that I am, I want the other afternoon tea fans out there to know that this Bubbles & Sweets offering is legit. Don’t miss it.)
Bubbles and Sweets in Westcliff
Thorsten and I arrived at Flames at 3:30 p.m. and settled in on the terrace overlooking the view. We started with tea; I ordered the Rooibos Cream Orange, which tastes like an orange creamsicle, and Thorsten ordered the Assam Bari. The tea was followed by bubbly and we decided we had no qualms about drinking both at the same time.
And then, the pièce de résistance: A tower of purple sweets.
The top level of the tray had buttermilk scones, which were served with a separate plate of toppings.
The bottom two levels contained a collection of purple pastries that, visual perfection aside, were all incredibly good. Kudos to the Flames pastry chef, Jaymee-Lee Young, and her team. They outdid themselves.
I did not eat the violet Swiss roll with blueberry French butter cream and coffee ganache because I was too full by the end. So that’s the only item on the sweets menu that I can’t review.
The Bubbles & Sweets menu only lasts through the end of jacaranda season — probably mid-November — and it’s only available from 12 to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday. I feel sad for people with actual jobs who can’t get off work to eat pastries and drink bubbly on a weekday. But the experience is worth taking an afternoon off for, if you can.
The price is R595 ($32) for bubbly, sweets, and tea, and there are various extras you can order like caviar, cheese, and oysters. Click here for details on how to book.
Thanks to the Four Seasons Westcliff and Flames for this fabulous afternoon. My Bubbles & Sweets experience was complimentary but opinions expressed are my own.