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