A few weeks ago, during the Winterlude festival here in Ottawa, Alex and I decided to break the monotony of winter in our own little way — afternoon tea. We were joined by his brother –whose first time it was– at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier, and had a wonderfully soothing and refined few hours. There are very few places (as of yet) to have afternoon tea here in Ottawa, and Zoe’s Lounge is certainly one of the most elegant places to have it in.
The experience started with a glassful of seasonal fresh fruit; delicious, and refreshing! It definitely whet the appetite, especially as I have a habit of not eating anything at all before tea, otherwise I find I get too full, too quickly to do all the tiers justice! I chose the jasmine tea –which was lovely and light in the beginning, but as time wore on, started to grow incredibly bitter. I hope that Fairmont will consider implementing a little dish or tray to put your tea strainers in so that it doesn’t get over-steeped. Apart from that, and the fact that the bread for the butter chicken salad seemed a bit dry and stale, everything was lovely. I tried not to indulge too much in the Devonshire cream and strawberry jam (too scrumptious to be sparing), and savoured every bit of my scones. The staff were very friendly and attentive, and helped to elevate the experience. Many thanks to the lovely lady (I did not get a chance to peek at her name-tag!) for patiently letting us sniff our way through almost their entire tea repertoire!
The ambiance was restful –soft music (both classical and more modern piano pieces) played in the background, although I did notice that the television on the wall was on as well; it usually isn’t, which I prefer, as it can be distracting to one’s focus on and pleasure in the moment.
All in all, such an incredibly enjoyable way to brighten one’s day and shake off the winter blues.
Monday to Friday from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday from 12:00 noon to 5:00 p.m.
*Reservations are required for Afternoon Tea. Please call the hotel directly at (613) 241-1414 to reserve.
Top: Kate Spade ‘abree’ cashmere sweater in black (2014)
Skirt: J. Crew flounce skirt in bonded wool in cerise (2014)
Shoes: ALDO ‘Loralee’ ballet flats in red (2015)
For my outfit, I went a bit farther in my choices than I normally would, even for afternoon tea. I remember feeling that day that I wanted to wear something ‘outrageous’ (for me, at any rate!) and pull it off because I liked it, whether or not anyone else giggled, smirked, or thought me odd in the belfry. Wearing a substantial headpiece definitely was a little bit out of my comfort zone, but either people in Ottawa are incredibly kind, or being confident and forgetting that I am wearing lots of fabric on my head makes other people feel that this is normal fare. I’m not sure which, but I truly felt that I had grown up just a little bit more. It’s nice to try something with aplomb!
I wore my ‘Duchess of Cambridge-esque’ ruffle coat from DKNY — love the ruffle detail on the bodice, and all that is missing is for me to add a belt to the ensemble, and then the ‘copy-Kate-ing’ will be complete. 😉
For shoes, I really wanted to wear a pair of pumps, but knowing that I would be walking through wet, slushy streets, I decided for the still not-quite-sensible, yet slightly more practical ballet flats. I was all about the pops of red as well; my skirt was the same bright hue, and it is a shame it didn’t get documented, because it has the most beautiful flouncy, ruffly hem!
There’s Thanksgiving, Hallowe’en, my birthday (and two of my family members’ birthdays!), as well as being in the swing of French classes.
There is so much fun and exciting energy that, coupled with the absolute beauty of autumn, there is no surprise that October is my favourite month.
Let’s start with my favourite picture –the pie I made for Thanksgiving! It is Jane Austen themed, with Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett cut out of the crust. I am quite proud of my ‘skills’ in making this!
If you would like these Austen themed cookie cutters, I got mine from the Jane Austen Centre’s gift shop hereand here. I could browse the lovelies there all day!
I always love dressing up for my birthday weekend even if nothing grand is planned, and when it is to work, a less frilly outfit must be worn of course! I still have fun through the details –combining my love for a sleek fit-and-flare silhouette with sheer tights, polka-dots and bows. I hereby present to you my ‘practical’ birthday outfit:
Top: Kate Spade ‘abree’ cashmere sweater in black (2014)
Skirt: Club Monaco ‘Minkie’ skirt (2013)
Tights:Gap polka-dot tights (2015)
Shoes:Vaneli ‘Lenita’ pump in black Soffio patent (2013)
Jewellery: Pandora charm bracelet –birthday gift from husband (2014); wedding + engagement ring from my husband. White gold swirl ring with diamonds. (2014)
We went for sushi for my birthday lunch at 168 Sushi Buffet. It isn’t our top favourite place to go for sushi in Ottawa, but it is a convenient location, and when the staff is not too busy, the food is fresh and very tasty. If you catch them on a busy afternoon though, prepare to have missing items from your order and/or the food to not be up to its usual standards. Following-up usually leads to them bringing the order in, so if you are not in a hurry, it isn’t ideal but not truly awful either –especially if you pay the all-you-can-eat price. We sometimes simply re-order what was missing.
October was a beautiful month; I hope you enjoyed yours! I will write in soon with my November happenings…
I had the pleasure and honour of attending my sister-in-law’s bridal shower this past Saturday!
It’s always more fun of course, when it is in the theme of an afternoon tea party, and the dress code practically insists that you dress up and have fun doing so! The invitation called for a hat and summer dress, and I was more than happy to oblige. You see, not many know that in a deep, dark corner of my wardrobe, I harbour several frothy creations –hats and fascinators. Once in a while, on a rare occasion, I will take them out and wear them for the world to see. More often though, I am to be found covertly trying them on in front of the full-length mirror in our bedroom when no one is around. I suppose it’s my secret, guilty pleasure. But it is certainly nice not having to act about my collection as if it were illicit. My mum-in-law even joined in on the fun when I brought my fascinators over and wore a particularly stunning one to the party! I am notoriously picky when it comes to clothes, and I currently have only one summer dress in my possession which sadly didn’t feel quite right for the occasion. So I bent the dress code rules a bit, and went for a ruffly silk georgette blouse and a flirty skirt in pinkish hues. In the below picture, I’m posing with the two shoes I was trying to decide between. I finally went with the pink ones (which were also my wedding shoes) as they seemed more fun, but I promise I didn’t go to the shower in Pippi Longstocking mode, although that probably would have been hilarious, too!
Top:Aritzia‘Ainsley’ blouse in Mauve Chalk (2015)
Skirt:Club Monaco ‘Talley’ lace skirt in Eclipse/Lotus (2014)
The affair was held at Birks Café in Montréal, inside the jewellery store. It was like feasting among glittering chandeliers, sparkling treasures, and beautiful presentation boxes.
At $26.50 per person, the menu included:
Selection of teas from Mariage Frères
Milk and lemon
Mini sandwich with cucumber and shrimps
Finger appetizer with Duck foie gras and chutney
Finger appetizer with smoked salmon and Abitibi Temiscamingue caviar
Mini club sandwich with crispy prosciutto
A dessert in a verrine
A chocolate from our selection
A bag of sweets to take homeI chose the menthe tea, which was one of their herbal choices. I recall ‘healing’ being used in the description, and since I had a headache, thought it perfect for me. It was light, and refreshingly cooling. While the food was exquisitely delicious, they were incredibly petite, even by afternoon tea standards. For about $6 extra, you get a more substantial serving at the Fairmont Laurier and Fairmont Queen Elizabeth. However, I suppose the upside is that you go away feeling not overly full, and as a once in a while treat, say if you were shopping for a beautiful ring at Birks and wanted some refreshments, the Café is a sophisticated and convenient choice.
A few months ago, my best-est friend came down for a glorious 11 days, and we explored the nation’s capital like tourists fresh from another part of the world.
Our gastronomical adventures (not all in one day!) included nibbling on cupcakes, sampling divine Stubbe chocolates, feasting on the most amazing pizza at The Grand,and paying a visit to Smoke’s Poutinerie for some of Ottawa’s finest cheese curds and gravy on fries.
Smoke’s, by the way, is a very tiny establishment and is almost always full. It was a beautiful day outside though, and em and I were more than happy to take our poutines to the street and people-watch while we indulged.
We also wandered around the ByWard Market –which extends extensively around the main building itself. I’m not sure that I’m describing it as accurately as I would like, but it is a sprawling conglomeration of boutiques, salons, restaurants, bakeries, produce, meat, and cheese stands, etc. that spans across several streets. This is my impression based on the numerous ByWard Market signs that we encountered far from where we thought the market would have already ended! You cannot compare this to the Granville Island Market. There are similarities and differences, and each has its own distinctive flavour, but neither is ‘better’ than the other as I have heard some people hotly contest. They are both interesting experiences to be appreciated in their own right. We had supper at The Aulde Dubliner, which was opened in 1992 by two Irish immigrants with a big dream. I forget what em had, but I had the most comforting French onion soup imaginable. It was a cloudy, slightly damp day with a brisk breeze. I insisted on sitting outside on the balcony for the view but we finally went indoors. In a sterling case of poetic justice, em who wanted to sit indoors in the warmth, remained hail and hearty. I took sick after a few days. In my defense, there was that one evening where the skies absolutely poured and we were caught in it for hours –I with nary an umbrella.
We also stopped by Thimblecakes, and I tried one of their Ugly Ducklings, which is to say, less than perfect cupcakes that they would not sell at full price, but are still too delicious to toss. The one I had was incredibly dry and lacking in taste… and I’m not certain whether it was because it had been an Ugly Duckling for quite a while, but I was not very impressed. The decor of the place was elegantly decorated however, and I could be easily persuaded to give them another chance and try a perfect cupcake if I were to pass that way again. Now before you begin to wonder at our endless appetites, we did have other sights and interests that we pursued in our fair nation’s capital! There were paper shops… …which begged you to reconsider the notion that paper could ever be ‘plain’ or ‘boring’. In fact, I’m quite positive they made me feel as if one could gather together a tasteful collection of paper, wrap it in yet more, and present it as a very suitable and exclusive gift. And there were statues! There was one of Galahad, erected in front of Parliament to commemorate the heroic but unsuccessful attempt at saving a Miss Bessie Blount. Then there was this scandalous sculpture of young love, sitting on a bench and engaging in a subtle –yet public!–display of affection! I own I did not know where to avert mine eyes to…We stumbled upon exquisite beauty in Nature… …and revelled in it. We took a tour of the Supreme Court, and sat in on discussions in the House of Commons and the Senate, which I arbitrarily insisted on calling the House of Lords, simply to rile em‘santi-monarchist sensibilities. I suspect I only managed to irk her merely due to my inaccuracy. I am, without a doubt, the best friend a girl could have. 😛 Afterwards, we went to Parliament, which is a beautiful, stunning building. If this edifice is capable of inspiring awe in me, I can only imagine what the ancient castles and buildings in Europe will do. My favourite part of Parliament was the library, of course! It was built in the Victorian era, and survived a heavy fire in 1916. This disaster was caused by a cigarette that hadn’t been put out properly, and the library was only saved due to the quick thinking and actions of the librarians, who closed the heavy iron door leading to it. This is why you will notice a difference in architectural styles between the library and the part of the building outside of it. I can’t remember anymore whether the entirety of Parliament burned down, so I’m not sure whether the rest of Parliament is also part of the newer rebuilding completed in 1920. It is a very warm, bright atmosphere, and reminds one immediately of the library in Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’. I could have stayed in there for a very long time, except we were unceremoniously shooed out of the place after not even five minutes! This of course, went into a comment card with the polite suggestion that if the library only had one actual patron in it, surely a group of very quiet and well-behaved tourists could tiptoe ’round for a little while longer! 🙂 We then visited the Memorial Chamber, which is at the heart of the Peace Tower…It was originally built to honour the fallen from the Great War (WWI), but has since evolved into a memorial for all Canadians who have died serving their country in war and peace, since Confederation. There are several Books of Remembrance, with the list of all known Canadians who have died in service. The pages are turned every morning at 11:00, and there is a special calendar that ensures that each page of every book is displayed at least once during the year. The Peace Tower itself is a bell and clock tower, and you reach it via a golden elevator. I believe our guide mentioned that the golden ‘leaves’ on the ceiling was the number of Canadians who had died in service. I can’t seem to find this information on the internet to verify, so please take this ‘fact’ with a grain of salt. 🙂There is a picturesque view of the Ottawa River and the surrounding area from the Tower; it is not to be missed!
We also saw the procession for an opening session of Parliament… mace, tricorn hats, and all! One must retire for refreshments, and we went to the incredibly elegant Moscow Tea Room. They serve “award winning teas, small plates, pastries, charcuterie & cheeses, vodka, craft cocktails, champagne & caviar all within a sumptuous décor filled with art. Whether you are looking for a tea, coffee, a business lunch, martinis with the girls, make a great impression during a date or just have a great evening in a lounge, Moscow Tea Room has it all.” We tried the Vladimir Poutine, which is a dish comprised of potato and three cheese perogies, pan seared with caramelized onions and topped with beets, goat cheese crumble and spicy vodka sauce. The combination of textures and flavours was comforting, yet new and delightful. For anyone who doesn’t like perogies, do not let your experience with those frozen ones you buy at the store deter you!
Of course, no expedition of ours is ever complete if it is not rounded off by a handful of gem-coloured macarons. We paid a visit to Macarons Et Madeleines, and while I wasn’t particularly taken with most of their odd/avant-garde flavour combinations, one of them –an herbaland spice combination– was particularly soothing for my sore throat. Despite the name, it seems that macarons make up only a very small part of their offerings, sadly. It was a pleasant time, and I cherished my friend’s visit very much. If I haven’t scared her away with my predilection for scenic routes, spontaneous capers, and bus stop mishaps, I hope we shall meet for more expeditions very soon!
As a little girl, I read of Laura Ingalls’ trip to Grandpa’s for a sugaring off, where they collected the sap and turned it into maple syrup. It was a big event, and there was also work to do, but they did it with style –they dressed up, had a fine meal, played music and danced merrily.
Reading is wonderful, but getting to experience it for oneself in person is truly living.
The last week of March, we went to a sugar house in Quebec… Canada is famous for its maples, of course, and so the sugaring off tradition is a strong one in Eastern Canada.
We went to one close to where Alex’s parents live. It’s a modest family establishment, Meunier & Fils. While not one of the fancier shacks, the people there are very nice and warmhearted. I’m not sure if there is the option to help out with collecting sap, but since we went quite late in the season for it, we most likely missed the charming bustle. The food was simple, hearty fare but absolutely delicious. Their pea soup was capital, and I was starting to help myself to a second bowl when Alex reminded me that there was still plenty to come!
Here’s what their menu looked like…
Soupe aux pois – pea soup Cretons maison – pork spread Betteraves – beets Fèves au lard – beans Petits pains frais – fresh rolls of bread Omelette Jambon d’habitant – ham Grillades de lard – curly bits of fried … pork/bacon Salade de chou – coleslaw Patates rôties – breakfast potatoes Crêpes Sirop d’érable – maple syrup Grands-péres – a pudding-y dessert… Tartes au sucre – sugar tarts Tire sur la neige – maple syrup on snow!! The, café, jus et lait – tea, coffee, juice, milk After the meal, we walked to an old barn, where there was a pot of maple syrup boiling merrily away on an old wood-stove. A man poured the boiled syrup onto basins packed with snow, and I finally tasted my first maple taffy on snow. It was a realisation of one of my childhood fancies, and I waxed poetic about edible liquid gold clinging onto a bit of bark splintered off a magical birch.
I loved every bit of the experience, and hope to go sugaring off with Alex again next year. I found a lovely establishment in Rigaud, QC that is a bit fancier… Sucrerie de la Montagne. It is definitely on our list of places to go now!
As some people would say, you’re not really Canadian until you’ve gone to a sugar house. 😉 If you haven’t tried it out yet, you must put it in your calendars for next year!
Hope you are all enjoying the appearance (finally!) of Spring weather!!
A is coming home and I’m super excited. It is about time. I made an Old English Apple Pie (see Darren McGrady’s Eating Royally) at 1:30 am as a welcome back, because I know he is crazy about apple pie. I also wanted to ‘show off’ the kitchen utility table that my dad-in-law made. I gave him a quick sketch to work off of and picked out the designs, but he made some modifications that made it ten times better! Doesn’t it look like something a German woodworker would carve?? We also had a lot of fun painting the details together. I think I like working with wood… it’s another avenue of artistic expression, and the smell of freshly shaved wood doesn’t hurt, either! 😉
Scarf:Lochaven Official Warner Bros. Harry Potter Gryffindor scarf 170g (2014)
Top:Loft eyelet sweatshirt in Forever Navy (2014)
Skirt:Club Monaco ‘Talley’ lace skirt in Eclipse/Lotus (2014)
Tights:Club Monaco lace tights (2014)
Booties:DUO ‘Tova’ shoe boot with mid-heel, collar and bow in Navy (2014)
Oh, and yes. This is just what I will be wearing when I rush out into the icy cold to GLOMP him when he arrives…
As the little red bar in the thermometer continues to plummet down towards the bottom, I find myself constantly raiding my beloved tea stash. Sometimes in the evenings though, just to make myself feel a bit more sophisticated, I reach for my man’s bottle of Baileys Irish Cream, and make a tea toddy. It makes sipping tea more interesting. 😉
I’ve put my own spin on this recipe, but if you look for Baileys Tea Toddy recipes, you’ll likely find the original. While I use DAVIDsTEA’s ‘the earl’s garden’ Earl Grey blend because it has extra subtle essences in it, you can easily substitute with a Twinings’ Earl Grey tea bag, or whichever brand you prefer. Don’t be afraid to experiment and come up with your own recipe! That’s what makes this so much fun!
Without further ado, I present my Irish Tea Toddy!
1 cup Earl Grey tea
¼ teaspoon sugar/honey (optional)
1 tsp milk (optional)
1 shot Baileys (That’s 44.36 milliliters, if you want to be fussy/pretentious like me)
1 shot Scotch whiskey (In my opinion, completely optional; I rarely add this!)
1 pinch cinnamon
Your favourite cup
Brew the tea as usual, stir in the milk, then add the sugar. Pour the Baileys, and add the dash of Scotch, which should be used sparingly, as too much ruins the flavour. Sprinkle the cinnamon on top. Settle yourself on the sofa or in bed, and enjoy with a book or while daydreaming! And why not wear an Irish jumper while at it?
Mmm… chocolate… hazelnuts… wafers… I’m not sure who came up with the idea of mixing the sweet of the gods with earthy hazelnuts and crisp wafers –wait, that would be Ferrero. And their chocolates are truly divine.
Here’s my little story. This was in the 90’s (I was a wee lass back then!) and it was either just past Christmas, or just before New Year’s. The past is a little hazy, but whatever the exact date was, the fact remains that my big sister got a special present from grandma. It was a different looking present, to be sure… we conjectured the many things the mysterious package could be… from a jewelry box, to a music box, and finally to an index-card file which we settled on as being most likely. (My, but we did get useful presents regularly in those days!) When she finally opened it, my jaw dropped and I said, “Candy? That’s it?! I guess it’s better than an index-card file…” To my little, unsophisticated mind, toys were preferable to edibles. What use were edibles, anyway? You ate them, they were gone, and you had nothing to hold and play with afterwards. My dad laughed at me. “You’ll change your mind one day about getting food as presents,” he said. And oh, how right he was. (I must admit that after that childish outburst, I went on to savour 5 of those delicious spheres…)
Anyway. Back to the present day. I still love and indulge in Ferrero Rocher, so when I was contacted to see if I would be interested in a giveaway for a 200 gram box of Ferrero Rocher chocolates… well, what do you think I said? 🙂 I’m so excited and pleased to have the opportunity to give back to my lovely readers!
Unfortunately, this contest is open only to Canadian readers. Apologies to all my international friends!
All you have to do to enter is leave a comment below (and be sure to add your email address in the contact form so I can get back to you if you’re the winner!) telling me your favourite Ferrero Rocher moment, and what kinds of topics and posts you would like to see in the future on MissCathie.com. I’m always trying to improve my blog, and I would love input from you all!
Contest ends on November 16, 2012 and a random comment will be drawn to determine the winner.
I’m not asking anyone to follow me on Twitter or any other social media site, because I think if you wanted to keep in touch with me through those sites, you would have done so already. 🙂 But if you like my blog, please do consider adding me on Bloglovin’!
So treat yourself, and you might be one of the lucky ones to have something big waiting for you under the Christmas tree this year!