Tuesday, June 30, 2009

High Tea at the Empress

June 2009: Victoria, British Columbia: The Fairmont Empress Hotel is one of Victoria’s oldest and arguably most famous hotels The Empress (as it is known by purists) is a majestic establishment that has catered to kings, queens, Hollywood movie stars and many other famous celebrities since it opened for business in 1908. For more than 100 years, the opulent Tea Lobby of this landmark hotel has also been delighting visitors with one of England's much-loved pastimes - the ritual of taking Afternoon Tea. At the Empress, high tea is a major production wherein different blends of tea are deemed to be on par with a fine vintage wine.

Upon our arrival, my wife and I were led into the elegantly appointed Empress Tea Lobby and were seated in two cozy wingback chairs at a table for two in front of a large bay window that presented a majestic view of Victoria’s inner harbour. Our decadent indulgence began with a serving of fresh strawberries topped with a dollop of Chantilly cream. A silver teapot steeping with signature Empress Blend tea was poured into exquisite Royal Doulton tea cups. This rich, coppery-gold blend tea incorporates Chinese, Kenyan, Indian and Ceylon components. A magnificent, silver tiered server was placed in the center of our table with the following mouth-watering delicacies.

Afternoon Tea at The Empress Menu

Fresh Seasonal Fruit with Chantilly Cream
Warm Raisin Scones served with Strawberry preserves and Devonshire Cream

Finger-sized Sandwiches

Smoked Salmon Pinwheel Mango and Curried Chicken Carrot and Ginger (cream cheese) Cucumber with light Horseradish Mayonnaise Multigrain Crostini topped with mixed Mushroom Pate, drizzled with Truffle Oil (open-faced)

Battenburg-Vanilla and Chocolate Sponge Checkerboard wrapped in marzipan Chocolate Cake-Chocolate Cake, Vanilla Butter cream, topped with Ganache
Lemon Tart- Lemon Curd with Berry Garnish Earle Grey Tea Shortbread
Marble Chocolate Tulip- a cherry hidden under milk & white Chocolate in a Chocolate Tulip Cup

The Empress Tea Service costs $ 55.00(Canadian Dollars) plus 5% tax per person. Due to popular demand, reservations are often required one or two weeks in advance. Please remember that a “smart casual” dress code is enforced and allows for dressy jeans but no baseball caps, athletic wear, ripped jeans or beach sandals. Punctuality is recommended as reservations are only held for fifteen minutes.

High Tea at The Empress is one of life’s guilty pleasures that should be enjoyed at least once in a lifetime with a loved one, family or friends. Once you've finished your tea service, the servers will bring a complimentary canister of the "Empress Blend" tea for you to enjoy at home. Impressive!

The Empress opened her doors on January 20th, 1908 and has been serving high tea service ever since. Afternoon Tea is served daily, 365 days of the year. Reservations are required: locally (250)389-2727; within North America 1-800-257-7544 or www.fairmont.com

Thursday, June 25, 2009

It was all Farrah! R.I.P. 1947-2009

Actress, model, sex symbol extraordinaire and Hollywood bombshell, Farrah Fawcett passed away today after a 3 -year battle with cancer. Born Farrah Leni Fawcett on February 2, 1947 in Corpus Christi, Texas, she was just 62 years old.

And so we think of “the poster”. That iconic image of perhaps the most famous pin-up girl ever in a red bathing suit, brandishing a killer smile and that infamous mane of hair. Stirring the hormones, err… imagination ...of a countless number of males around the globe, Farrah’s iconic poster, which was released the same year as when she played Jill Munroe on the TV show Charlie's Angels, went on to sell a record 12 million copies making it one of the most famous pin-ups ever. Like many teenage boys at the time, I purchased one and it adorned my bedroom wall for several years. Yes, Farrah had made it big and ruled the 70’s.

When the photo was taken, Fawcett was still an unknown actress wanting a big brake into stardom. She hadn't yet signed on for her hit show Charlie's Angels but got some work doing commercials. Bruce McBroom, a freelance photographer, had worked with Farrah and wanted a bikini shot of the blond beauty. However, Farrah instead chose the now famous red one-piece swimsuit to cover a childhood scar on her stomach. Legend has it that Farrah used ice to enhance her prominent features, the photographer, McBroom, has always dispelled the rumor saying, "It was all Farrah,”

Farewell, Farrah. You came, You saw, and You conquered!

Monday, June 22, 2009


Kodak announced today that after 74 years, KODACHROME slide film will no longer be manufactured. I used Kodachrome 25 & 64, and occasionally 200, extensively in my underwater photography right up until I made the the leap into digital SLR photography in 2004. Perhaps the best way to bid a fond adieu to this iconic slide film is to quote some lyrics from Paul Simon's hit song, KODACHROME.

You give us those nice bright colors
You give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world's a sunny day, oh yeah!
I got a Nikon camera I love to take a photograph
So Mama, don't take my Kodachrome away

Sunday, June 14, 2009

"Manifesto: Denouncing Discovery Communications for Victimizing Sharks for Profit"

Just helping to spread the word for a very worthwhile cause...

Since 1987, Discovery Channel has annually presented 'Shark Week.' This week-long series of programs featuring sharks claims to present facts about sharks, and its popularity has earned the company millions of dollars. In reality, Discovery uses sharks for the horror-show effect that draws a wide audience. Shark Week dramatizes shark attacks, blood and the animals' unusual dentition, to frighten viewers.

"We call for an International boycott of all of Shark Week's programs until Discovery Communications stops using sharks dishonestly for profit in horror shows, and starts presenting them as the important marine animals that they are, now in danger of extinction."

Please everyone sign the Manifesto, and pass on the link and information to your own friends and networks: "Manifesto: Denouncing Discovery Communications for Victimizing Sharks for Profit"


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Inspiring Photography Quotes

Below is a selection of inspiring photography quotes by famous photographers about the art of making photographs.

“You don't take a photograph, you make it.” – Ansel Adams

“Consulting the rules of composition before taking a photograph is like consulting the laws of gravity before going for a walk.” – Edward Weston

“There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.” – Ansel Adams

“When people ask what equipment I use - I tell them my eyes.” – Anonymous

“It's not the camera, but who's behind the camera.” – Anonymous

“Of course it's all luck.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson

“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson

"Keep it simple." – Alfred Eisenstaedt

Amateurs talk about equipment. Professionals talk about photos. – Anonymous

“A picture is worth a thousand words.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

"If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough." – Robert Capa

"I have discovered photography.
Now I can kill myself.
I have nothing
else to learn." – Pablo Picasso

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Healthy Oceans Need Sharks