Afternoon Tea – The Royal York

Sometimes you need to be a bit fancier and take your afternoon get-togethers to the next level. For me, order this means grabbing a few girlfriends and having afternoon tea at the Royal York. I went for afternoon tea with two delightful ladies, nurse Stephanie and Claire. These girls are my friends from work that I take morning and afternoon break with every day. We head to the lunch room and have a cup of tea together. It was only a matter of time before we took our tea drinking to the next level and had proper afternoon tea.

The Royal York does not overbook their tea service, allowing you to sit and enjoy, not feeling rushed or overcrowded. As the tea service is not overbooked, the room is not loud or distracting. There is a gentle hum of conversation and the clinking of tea cups. We were seated at a small table by the window with two chairs and a couch.

We each started off with our own pot of tea. This is the only choice you have to make during the tea service. I chose the Kyoto Cherry Rose tea.

IMG_0131My tea came in a beautiful rose covered tea pot. The other girls’ tea came in different tea pots. I don’t know whether or not this is proper tea etiquette but the affect is charming and brings a little whimsy to a fussy and proper event. The tea was a Japanese green tea that was lightly infused with notes of fruits and florals. It started delicate and subtle and as the tea steeped the flavor became fuller and richer. This is the best tea I have ever had and puts all my David’s Tea to shame. It is available at the Fairmont store so I might just have to get some…

We were then presented with four finger sandwiches.

IMG_0123Center bottom, clockwise: Farmer’s Egg Truffle Chive Salad, St Mary’s Smoked Salmon with Fairmont Royal York lemonade aioli and cucumber, St. Lawrence Market Caprese with organic baby arugula, pesto, mayo, vine ripened tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella cheese and Smoked Aurora Turkey Breast with a cranberry emulsion.

I know what you are thinking – how is this enough food for anyone to eat and feel satisfied and not outraged at the price tag associated with it? Trust me it is. Since you are enjoying your food at a leisurely pace, drinking copious amounts of tea, followed by rich pastries you will feel full and satisfied.

The egg salad sandwich had a bit too much egg for the size of baguette it was on. The salad itself was creamy and had a deeper, woodsy taste to it. The eggs used had a rich, buttery flavor to them and were not overwhelmed by the mayonnaise or the truffles.

The St. Mary’s smoked salmon was a pure delight. The salmon was smoky, tender and not overly fishy. There was hints of lemon and the cucumber added a fresh, coolness to the sandwich. This was perfectly offset by the heaviness of the bread, which made the sandwich substantial and filling.

The St. Lawrence Market Caprese sandwich was easily my favourite. It was delicate and light but still rich and creamy from the buffalo mozzarella. The tomatoes were fresh and the pesto conjured memories of an Italian summer garden. I will be making a version of this sandwich all summer long.

I was least impressed with the Smoked Aurora Turkey sandwich. It lacked the depth of flavor that the other sandwiches had. I would have liked more cranberry to the sandwich and a hint of greenery to give it that much needed crunch and contrast.

Our table was then graced with a tower of sweet perfection.

Afternoon Tea IIIAfternoon Tea IVIMG_0127Top Tier: Guava and raspberry mousse
Middle Tier: French Macaron and Paté de Fruit and Chocolate Truffle Flourless Cake
Bottom Tier: Devonshire Cream to be served with Tradition Scones and a selection of Preserves

Photo Credit (desserts): the one and only Steph

This is the most elegant and extravagant presentations of desserts. It is over the top and indulgent and I absolutely love it.

We started with the scones. This was my first taste of what a proper scone is: firm on the outside, but flaky and buttery on the inside. The scone is then made all the better by slathering it in Devonshire cream and jams. My favourite part was the dusting of icing sugar on top of the scone. It is simple but has a very pretty affect and tastes sweet.

The desserts were all wonderful. My favourite was the chocolate cake. It felt heavy and dense but was smooth and creamy and all sorts of wonderful. It was the perfect way to end a delightful afternoon.

Afternoon tea is fancy treat and one I think you should all take part of. Our plan is to check out all the tea services recommended by Toronto Life here. Next one on my list is Windsor Arms!

Happy munching!

Pain Perdu

We decided to keep it low key this weekend and by low key I mean we weren’t going out for food constantly. We are trying to be fiscally responsible and healthy by cooking more at home and going out for food on special occasions. Next weekend we are going out for Winterlicious so this seemed like a good time to start all of this.

Now that being said, we went out for breakfast on Saturday. Fail. We had to go the grocery store to pick up stuff to make lunch (more on that later!) and this was quick – Pain Perdu for croissants.

Now this is actually a GC discovery/suggestion. He first took me here in the summer and we got croissants, lattes and a piece of quiche and had a charming picnic in a roundabout’s parkette. How very French of us.

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Bobbette & Belle Artisanal Pastries

I had heard about Bobbette and Belle Artisanal Pastries a number of times – on The Marilyn Dennis Show, in an article in the Toronto Star and at the Food Network food show GC and I checked out in November at the Exhibition grounds. I first tried one of their cupcakes at the Food Show and unfortunately, I was not impressed. I had the vanilla cupcake with raspberry icing and GC had the vanilla cupcake with mango passion fruit icing. Maybe because the cupcakes had been made earlier (maybe even the day before), but the top of the cupcake had a wet texture. Almost as if there had been a glaze put on the cupcake before the icing. I don’t know how GC’s cupcake tasted, we never really talked about it but I don’t know if he is an exotic fruit-type of guy.

On New Year’s Eve day we decided to tour around Queen Street East. Queen West is a little overdone and everyone knows what can be found there – fabric stores, antique shops, paper stores, vintage clothing and a variety of bakeries and restaurants. Queen East has all of these things, just located on the other side of Yonge Street. I think I found a new neighbourhood to spend the next couple of weekend discovering.

I was craving a cupcake, GC was craving something with jam so Bobbette & Belle satisfied both of these needs with their promise of artisanal pastries.

1. This bakery strikes a balance between rustic charm with its wood tables and stools and a French salon with its fine china on the walls, stylish arm chairs and its display of delicate wedding cakes. I immediately fell in love. Whenever people tell me, “You should open a bakery” I always think about what it would look like and I think it would be comparable to this. I like cupcakes to be served on pretty things but not to be overly fussy and pretentious.

2. They sell a wide variety of baked goods that can be enjoyed in the bakery or taken home and enjoyed later. French macaroons, meringues, homemade marshmallows, cookies, salted caramels and toffees. I love the idea of going into a specialty bakery and grabbing some treats off the shelf as if it were a grocery store. Everyone should have the opportunity to have delicious, from-scratch treats whenever they want, regardless of how much time they have.

3. I ordered a vanilla cupcake with raspberry icing (again) and a hot chocolate with a homemade freshly toasted marshmallow. GC ordered a butter tart (he didn’t satisfy his jam craving!) and a specialty tea. The cupcake was made with real vanilla bean which you could see speckled throughout the cupcake. It’s refreshing when things are made with quality ingredients and you can see and taste the difference. The icing was creamy with a hint of raspberry, minus all the annoying seeds that typically come with raspberry flavoured things.

The hot chocolate. Now chocolate typically gives me a severe migraine but this doesn’t stop me from enjoying it. This hot chocolate was made with high quality chocolate which was so rich and creamy, it tasted like I was drinking liquid chocolate rather than a cup of hot chocolate. The marshmallow was homemade and toasted to order by using a blow torch. I got a blow torch for Christmas and I think it’s primary use is now going to be making amazing hot chocolates.

GC’s butter tart was rich and creamy – the filling had a perfect brown sugar taste and no raisins for those of you that hate when raisins ruin a perfectly good butter tart. The filling was a bit runny which became messy – not a treat to be enjoyed while walking or driving but rather while sitting in a comfy chair with a hot beverage. How one likes the filling of their butter tart is simply a matter of taste – for GC, it was too runny and he would have prefered it a bit thicker. It was still good nonetheless.

Bobbette & Belle is the type of bakery I am always looking for but rarely find – a cozy place with seating space in the form of arm chairs and tables, and that serves a variety of treats and beverages. I think this is what is missing from the majority of bakeries – they typically allow you to come in, pick up your treats and then rush you out because there are no seating options. This is why people go for coffee at chains like Starbucks because they can have their cake and eat it there too. Now, to find a bakery that will let me stay and enjoy my treats with a cup of tea or milk AND that is open past 6 or 7 pm.