Afternoon tea is a centuries-old English tradition of late-afternoon indulgence: a cup of freshly-brewed tea accompanied by a selection of pastries and bite-sized sandwiches. This quintessential English tradition was introduced in many of the ex-British colonies, including Malaysia, where I grew up, where it became commonly known as high tea. It was something I always looked forward to: high tea with my family on a lazy Sunday afternoon. We made it a sport to pick the best places for high tea and which place had the best scones (in my book, the most essential part of any high tea).
High wine, The Dylan style
So, my curiosity was piqued when I was invited to experience High Wine, a variation of high tea, at The Dylan, one of the oldest and most luxurious boutique hotels in Amsterdam. The invitation described High Wine as a selection of some of the hotel’s best wines and tapas-style dishes. What? No scones and pastries? Ok, it’s a contemporary play on the high tea concept but I wasn’t sure about the absence of scones. But I accepted the invitation anyway. After all, who could resist the temptation of being fed fine wines and tapas specially selected by Dennis Kuipers, the Michelin-starred Executive Chef of The Dylan.
The Dylan is situated in a 17th century landmark on the Keizers canal in the heart of Amsterdam. A good deal of celebrities have stayed here but I was surprised to find a cosy, intimate atmosphere when I walked in. Nothing hoighty-toighty, but rather, a casual elegance that put me straight at ease. I was led to a gorgeous corner, complete with comfortable sofas and a fireplace.
A waiter showed up with a bowl of seriously delicious olives. He introduced himself and the High Wine concept: a food and wine pairing consisting of four specially-selected wines and four amuse-style bites. I couldn’t wait to get started. By this time, the absence of scones had diminished to a minor, insignificant detail.
The first wine/amuse pairing arrived soon after. A fresh, crisp, Vicar’s Choice Sauvignon Blanc from the Saint Clair estate in Malborough, New Zealand, and a delightful caesar salad with sautéed prawns and garlic croutons served in a martini glass.
Up next was another delight: wagyu pastrami with a fresh pasta salad with grilled pointed pepper, basil and a Savora mustard dressing. The wagyu was tender (as it should be) whilst the sweet pepper and the delicate mustard dressing gave the dish an extra edge. This amuse was paired with a gorgeous III B & Auromon Chardonnay from the Limoux (Languedoc) region; a flavourful Chardonnay with fleeting vanilla tones.
The next course turned out to be my favourite: sautéed duck breast with string beans, grilled potatoes and a jus of smoked-dried meat. The rich Bucaro Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, with gorgeous smoky tones, perfectly complemented the full-flavored duck breast and the jus. The food/wine pairings were spot on!
The four-course High Wine was completed by a glass of marinated strawberries with prosecco, mint and an almond wafer and accompanied by a dessert wine from the Monbazillac (near Bordeaux). The Monbazillac Grande Maison Cuvée des Agnes had a soft honey flavour which blended superbly with the strawberries, mint and almonds.
An excellent alternative for late-afternoon indulgence
At the end of the meal, I was convinced. This is not your typical high tea – aside from the time of day at which it’s served, the two have little in common. Instead, High Wine is an excellent alternative for some late-afternoon indulgence right in the heart of Amsterdam!
High Wine is served every day between 3 – 7pm at The Dylan Amsterdam (Keizersgracht 384; map). For reservations (recommended), call: +31(0)20 530 2010.
About The Dylan Amsterdam
The Dylan Amsterdam opened its doors in 1990, making it one of the first luxury boutique hotels in the world. Located in a stunning 17th century building on one of Amsterdam’s loveliest canals, the Keizersgracht, The Dylan has 40 individually designed rooms and suites. The hotel is also home to Vinkeles, a Michelin-star restaurant that offers contemporary French cuisine. There’s also a state-of-the-art conference centre that features what is arguably one of the most stunning walls I’ve ever seen.
Read about a culinary getaway from Amsterdam.
Note: A big thank you goes to The Dylan for hosting me at High Wine. Opinions expressed in this post are seriously mine.