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.

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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)

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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