Chateau Laurier’s Ode to the Brits: Afternoon Tea
Every time I return to Ottawa, my University city, I fall back into a routine of the same restaurants, the same cafes, the same activities, and I rarely explore beyond that. So to change it up I took the classy route: I want for afternoon tea at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier hotel.
I’ve always loved the Chateau Laurier. With its location next to Parliament, overlooking both the park and the River I passed it frequently, but that isn’t why I loved it. I loved it because of the building – it is a castle! Any European may be thinking “Really? You call THAT a castle?”, and my response is yes, yes in fact I do. This Canadian girl LOVES castles, even ones that don’t match up to the true splendors of Europe. Being in Canada means our baby age of 150 years affects our architecture. The Brits and French influence on our architecture only affected so much – so when I see a beautiful building I am happy. And Chateau Laurier IS a beautiful building.
I was visiting my friend Kate and ever so conveniently she loves tea. This love in 100% influenced by her British heritage. So this Canadian girl treated her dear friend to Afternoon Tea at the Chateau Laurier. It was fancy and yes, there was tea. Lots of tea.
But not only tea. It was 4:15pm and we were located in Zoe’s lounge, and snagged a spot right next to the window. Prime people watching location – all the tourists traipsing down Rideau Street. Kate and I caught-up on 4 months of our lives, reminisced over University years, and imagined over our near futures.
What does afternoon tea entail and why is it so fancy?
Well, you select your premium loose-leaf tea and it is steeped in your ceramic pot. You have your teapot, your teacup, and your strainer. Milk optional.
I love bite-sized everything. Bite-sized things make life better. And so our triple-tiered platter of dainties made me squeal. First tier was butter and cranberry scones that melted in your mouth. Top those with Devonshire cream and jam, and you have Kate and I conspiring to kidnap the chef and force him to forever bake us scones in Kate’s new apartment conveniently located 1 block away. 1 block makes kidnapping seem feasible.
Second tier was finger sandwiches: salmon & cream, chicken salad, and cucumber & leek. We devoured these. I can’t say much because they disappeared so quickly; I was convinced Kate stole more than her half of the sandwiches. She wouldn’t do that at afternoon tea – but I wouldn’t put it past her any other time. We were in a fancy establishment with fancy tea. Stealing is frowned upon (but kidnapping clearly is not).
Top tier was for us sweet toothers. Banana bread and Fruit & cream tartlets. Tartlets, Tartlets, Tartlets. That was excitedly on repeat through my mind. I develop to gain tunnel vision when there is sugar around; especially tartlets. (Tartlets, Tartlets, Tartlets). Kate tried to eat the tartlet with her hands but it was so delicate and stuffed with cream it caved in on itself and she was forced to uphold a fancy demeanor and use her fork (or is that common table-manners?)
We did wonder if Chateau Laurier would kick us out for our inability to present ourselves as respectable humans with table manners. We spilled as much crumbs on ourselves as on our plates, but we licked our fingers and collected those back up on our fingers. Wait, we weren’t supposed to put our fingers in our mouths? Damn. We didn’t get kicked out, but we wondered it as we continued to gobble down our food and scooped out the tea from our teacups as we continued to forget to put in the strainer.
Minus our inability to present as respectable, tea was a joyous time for us. Re-bonding as friends over afternoon tea and our laughter reaffirming our lasting friendship.