Fairmont Chateau Laurier – Tea at Zoe’s Lounge…

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.
Afternoon Tea at Zoe's Lounge, Chateau Laurier - Group
Chateau Laurier - Afternoon Tea - MenuThere 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!
Afternoon Tea at Zoe's Lounge, Chateau Laurier - Tea TrayI 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.
Afternoon Tea at Zoe's Lounge, Chateau Laurier - Alex, Cathie, GuillaumeThe 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.

Afternoon Tea:
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.

***

Afternoon Tea at Zoe's Lounge, Chateau Laurier - Cathie Maud

Fascinator:  Monsoon ‘Vivian’ velvet pillbox fascinator (2015)

Coat:  DKNY cascading ruffle wool ¾ length coat (2013) [buy here]

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!

Do you have any favourite afternoon tea spots?

Speak soon!

— C.x

Bridal Shower Tea Party [Maison Birks Café Montréal]…

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!
Cathie - Pink Penny Flower FascinatorI 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!
Cathie Maud - Tea Party Outfit 2015

Top:  Aritzia ‘Ainsley’ blouse in Mauve Chalk (2015)

Skirt:  Club Monaco ‘Talley’ lace skirt in Eclipse/Lotus (2014)

Shoes:  Salvatore Ferragamo platform pump in metallic calfskin, Dusty Gold (2013)

Jewellery:  Tiffany heart key charm with enamel finish (2014)

Fascinator:  Fashion Addict ‘Penny’ pink flower fascinator (2015)

***

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

2 scones

Devonshire cream

Homemade jam

A dessert in a verrine

A macaroon

A chocolate from our selection

A bag of sweets to take homeBirks Afternoon Tea PartyI 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 photo posted by Cathie Maud (@cathiemaud) on

 xoxo,

— Cathie

Adorabelle Tea Room — Another Afternoon Tea Adventure…

It’s almost March, but it is still so très, très cold….

Let us just say that today, the sky sent down rain mixed with wet snow, in-between slush, and then big fat, fluffy flakes.  But em and I had an Afternoon Tea date, and we don’t cancel our GDO’s (girls’ day out) lightly, if ever!  So I reluctantly got out of my warm hole in the middle of my covers and started rooting through my closet.  I just wanted my outfit to be warm for the weather yet simple because I didn’t feel like fussing, but still pretty.

I dashed out the door, and was already in Richmond by the time I realised that I had left my umbrella and gloves on the hallway stairs… I guess they need to keep warm somehow, too.  😛
We headed to Steveston, and got there an hour early; with an hour to kill, we peeped into bakeries, smelt fish-n’-chips every ten steps that we took –causing me to not-really die of hunger and a watering mouth– and my fingers got frozen, and my hair got wet.  So I used my scarf the Grace Kelly way, but looked more like a disheveled babushka!
Adorabelle Tea RoomFinally, it was 2:00!!  We marched back into Adorabelle Tea Room –it is a historical building and was once a courthouse, so I joked that we were rabble-rousers who were going to hear the judge pronounce our sentences over cups of tea.  😛
Adorabelle SignageWhile we were waiting to be seated, we took many photos –the place may be butter yellow on the outside, but it is pure pink and white goodness on the inside!
Adorable Entryway

Snowy Day at Adorabelle
Still snowing…!

Adorabelle Tea Room -- Peeking InAdorabelle Tea Room - DecorI found the decor to be refreshing, girly, but not overdone.  Cute touches such as business cards in teacups were simply enchanting, and who could resist a mini pink Eiffel tower?  I also adored the signs in French… although ‘toilette’ is a feminine word, so it should be ‘la toilette’, not ‘le toilette’… ah dear.  It’s a good thing that I am not 100% fluent in French yet, because otherwise both English and French grammatical errors would drive me crazy!!  At any rate, the sign certainly doesn’t detract from the charm, so do not mind me!  😉
Adorabelle Tea Room - FurnitureWe were seated quite quickly, and our server brought us their teas in cute little tins, and let us sniff which ones we wanted to have for our afternoon tea.  em picked Paris, and I picked Sakura.

Paris: Paris is home to many renowned tea salons.  Their charm is recreated in our careful blend of currant, bergamot and caramel.

Sakura:  Cherry blossom green.  New harvest Japanese green tea lightly scented with the fresh taste of sakura (cherries) and rose petals.

She poured our teas, and to our surprise asked if we were right or left-handed, and then arranged our teapots accordingly… such a thoughtful touch!
Adorabelle Tea Service

The place differed in that we were not given any menus that listed out what we would be having; all the other places that we have tried so far have provided menus as well as walked us through each item.  However, that’s alright, because we still did get a little talk about what was on each tier… although it was hard to remember things midway through our meal.  I couldn’t remember what a certain sandwich was, and started to think that perhaps it was tuna with watercress, until the waitress came back and said that it was actually a Chicken Waldorf!!  Oops, what does that say about my tastebuds?? 😀  Everything was absolutely delicious though –you can trust me on that!  I dislike naming favourites in an afternoon tea service, because everything is so complementary and goes well as a whole.

Half Decent Moi at Tea

I am awful at trying to look glamorous in public places, so you get this picture of me with a skewed-up smile instead.  I’m wearing the Banana Republic x Issa dress that is the high-street version of the then-Kate Middleton’s famous Issa engagement dress.  But no Prada heels for me… just sensible opaque black tights with my ‘Beaumont’ black leather boots from DUO.
A cozy afternoon of tea and treats for a snowy day in Steveston at @AdorabelleTea.  Beautiful place, and fantastic food and service.  ❤️

At $25 per person, I think it is an affordable way to enjoy afternoon tea –especially for the atmosphere, quality of service, and attention to details that you will experience!  I am definitely planning to bring my mum there for Mothering Sunday; especially since Steveston holds so many memories for us, I know she will enjoy it there.

Hope you have a steaming cup of goodness to keep you warm today!!

xoxo,

— Mrs. Cathie

A Frilly-Sweet Expedition {Afternoon Tea at Patisserie Für Elise}…

“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” ― Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady

On the very last day of August, the very warm weather that had graced Vancouver seemed to be coming to a close.  The slightest chill hung in the shadows where the sun could not peer into, although in general, it was what would be described as ‘a very fine day’.

My dear friend ‘em’ and I wanted to usher out the last few days of ‘true summer’, as I call it, and warm weather in high form.  Now what could be posh-er than Afternoon Tea?

Patisserie Für Elise is a pastry shop and tea salon that runs out of a quaint little heritage building on the edge of Yaletown –Hamilton Street.  I had been wanting to explore it for a while, so when M agreed to the expedition, we took the Canada Line down to Stadium-Chinatown station that very weekend (really, there’s nothing nicer than having such a direct and simple route to take to one’s destination!) and walked the few blocks to the row of converted heritage homes.
Patisserie Fur Elise
Five unintended but fashionable minutes late, M hovered anxiously close to the entrance, urging me to hurry as I decided to change my footwear from the ballet flats that were worn for the transit ride into the heels that I had brought along.  Never having learned the art of being a proper woman to the full, and not wanting to verge into rudely late territory, I gave up on the idea and resigned myself to my disheveled state, and we (with some variation of grace) flung the door open.  Two sixteenths of a second later, a girl in a frilly floral apron greeted us, ushered us upstairs, and sat us down in a table of our choosing.
The place is pure eye candy, and I went giddy over all the grand opulence and little details which resulted in a few shots that could have only been taken by someone in a state of tipsiness.

Patisserie Fur Elise --the 'kitchen'
The pretty ‘kitchen’. This tiny space is where all the equally petite, delicious magic is churned out of!
Patisserie Fur Elise -- Pink & White Decor
Can’t you see the long, flouncy skirts spilling over the sides of these chairs, and the parasols leaning against the edges of the tables?

Patisserie Fur Elise -- the Details

I don’t think my camera’s shutter ever worked harder in such a short time than it did here.  But honestly, who could resist the charms of this place?  Certainly not this girly-girl, at any rate!

Patisserie Fur Elise  -- Me & Pink Curtains

I even shamelessly smuggled my camera with me into the lavatory under the pretense of business that should actually be done in such a room, because it was too darling not to document.  I wonder if the girls behind the counter actually knew my true purpose! I can’t have been the first!

Patisserie Fur Elise -- Genteel Lavatory
Such a genteel looking lavatory, no?
Patisserie Fur Elise  -- Luxurious Lavatory
Inside the lavatory, with an illuminated mirror and artistic chair…

Finally returning to the business of actually ordering tea, I settled on ‘Sweetheart‘, a strawberry flavoured black tea, and M decided on ‘Lychee Garden‘, which had the mentioned fruit and peony flowers in it.  While we waited, I slipped into my ruby pumps, feeling ridiculous as two girls at the other table raised their eyebrows at my doings.  All I can say is that it is better to be absolutely ridiculous, than absolutely boring.  *ahem*

The tea came soon enough.  Along with the steaming pots, we were given an hourglass that counted five minutes and told that as soon as all the pink grains had settled to the bottom, our tea would be ready to enjoy!

Patisserie Fur Elise -- Tea has Begun...
I’ve just realised that I seem to bring my book clutch with me whenever I take tea…

Patisserie Fur Elise -- Tea!

Now I’m always very careful not to read what is on the menu when I look at afternoon tea reviews, as I prefer being surprised and having the dining experience feel new and ‘fresh’ to me.  So in case you are like me, I will skip the elaborate descriptions of every single morsel that was served, and simply let the collage below suffice.
Patisserie Fur Elise -- Afternoon Tea Repast

I feel like I need to give the food another chance, as I was honestly not head-over-heels in love as I had been with the offerings at the Fairmont Empress.  But my first impressions were that the blueberry panna cotta was divine (alright, I might be going into a few details here…) the macarons were quite good though not on par with Soirette’s, the croissants over-toasted, and the gelatinous little petits fours were like an unsuccessful melding of a European’s and Asian’s idea of a sweet.  I could be completely far off the mark here, but at first taste, that is what it seemed like to me.  If I do go back, I will pepper the girls who work there with questions regarding some of the desserts and their origins/inspiration, but this visit was purely for catching up with a dear friend, and so any curiosity regarding that topic was put off for another time.  The tea itself was very satisfying, although I did prefer the lychee concoction a bit more as the strawberry one seemed to have a slight herbal after-taste to it.

Patisserie Fur Elise -- Downstairs Shoppe
The pastry shoppe downstairs…

After a couple of hours merrily giggling and chatting away, we took our leave and went downstairs to look at the sweets ready to be sold in case one didn’t have time to partake in tea, or perhaps if one didn’t have enough of it.

Patisserie Fur Elise -- the Display Window
The display window at the front of the salon. All Patisserie Für Elise girls wear this uniform. I wouldn’t mind working here at all!

More picture-taking was indulged in out-of-doors…

Patisserie Fur Elise -- Me
Don’t my shoes just match the door perfectly?
Patisserie Fur Elise's Neigbour
Für Elise’s pretty purple neighbour even had a shot dedicated to its beautiful amethyst shade…

Patisserie Fur Elise -- Leafy Arch… and either poetically or dramatically, we took our fond leave after I snapped this picture of the trees, who with arched branches, stand in graceful watch by either side of the gate.

Later that night, I wrote to a friend the following one-and-only sentence:

I am obsessed with Afternoon Tea.

xoxo,

— Miss Cathie

Note: At $30 per lady/gent, I feel the decor and ambiance definitely figure in the cost, however, they are very generous with refilling your teapots.  I’m hoping a second visit will confirm whether the so-so croissants and desserts were simply the result of an off-day.  While it seemed to be quiet when we arrived at around 2 p.m., the place filled up quite quickly soon after, so reservations are a good idea!  I can see this being a very popular place during the wedding season, and any special holidays like Christmas and Easter.

P.S.  Ever since a certain someone said ‘xoxo, Miss Cathie’ in the manner of Gossip Girl, I’ve had the hankering to change my sign-off.  Grr.  You know who you are, you infidel!  *resumes ladylike composure*