In Love With the Three “S’s”: Sandwiches, Sweets & Scones – Afternoon Tea at Annona at the Park Hyatt in Yorkville!

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This past week has been bitterly cold (by Toronto’s standards; folks from Edmonton or Winnipeg are free to chuckle and/or roll their eyes) so it’s no surprise that I’ve been guzzling cup after cup of hot tea to warm me up from the inside out: milk oolong, apple custard herbal, green dragon pearls, and birthday cake rooibos just to name a handful.  All warm and cozy, all yummy.  I’m making a nice dent in my tea collection which makes me super happy because the more my family and I drink, the more room there is for new ones!  So amidst all the jolly tea chugging, I thought to myself, “hmm, I’m really behind on afternoon tea blogging, I should get on that.  Like, now.”  I have folders upon folders of photos I have yet to post just waiting to be shared with you guys so I hope y’all are in the mood for some afternoon tea posts because there’s going to be a generous amount of them in the coming weeks and months!

I’ve done afternoon tea about 15 times now and it’s become one of my favourite things in life, not just because I’ve enjoyed many of them with my best friend but because they’re such luxuries.  Some folks go on trips.  Others buy shoes.  Or nice electronics.  I do afternoon tea.  It’s a treat, one that delights me and inspires me, so much so that I’ve devoted an entire bulging scrapbook to it with a sequel waiting in the wings.  The tranquility that comes from pouring hot tea from a beautiful teapot into an equally charming and dainty teacup; the anticipation of the tiered stand being placed on the center of the table, brimming with finger sandwiches, scones, and sweets; and the utter joy that comes from appreciating pretty things, yummy things, and the awesome company and friendship that’s right in front of you.

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While I’ve enjoyed each and every single afternoon tea experience for different reasons, my favourite place, hands down, is Annona inside the swanky Park Hyatt hotel in Yorkville on Avenue Rd.  I’ve been to Annona twice and both times were absolutely fantastic.  Not only is the food delicious and the space relaxing, the service is beyond gracious.  One of the things I love about having afternoon tea here is the sense of balance.  Their dining room feels luxurious without being too formal or stiff, their dainty china is colourful and whimsical, and their menu, which changes every so often, is chock full of variety.  You can tell how much effort they put into their menu because it’s unlike anything you’d see or get at any other place.  You can tell that they’ve made a conscious effort to give you a different type of experience and taste sensation with each finger sandwich and dessert: there are pinwheels, savoury tarts, sweet tarts, savoury cones, white bread, wheat bread, pumpernickel, cakelets, cupcakes, macarons, different cheeses, meats, vegetables, fruits, the list goes on.

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Their afternoon tea, available on Saturdays and Sundays from 3pm-5pm for $36 per person, is comprised of a gorgeous assortment of five different finger sandwiches, three small scones, and SIX different sweets and desserts in addition to the loose leaf tea from their tea menu and clotted cream, jams, jellies and preserves for the scones.  There are 12 loose leaf teas to choose from including several different greens, blacks, and herbals, my favourite being the Eros, a yummy orange and vanilla dessert tea.

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They bring you your plate of finger sandwiches first, followed by a silver tiered stand containing the scones and sweets.  While their menu does change periodically (which you can view on their website here), here’s an idea of the type of savouries you can expect based on the delicious assortment I enjoyed the two times I went: crispy cone filled with a creamy Boursin cheese mixed with cranberries and crushed walnuts; smoked salmon and chives with cream cheese on pumpernickel bread; chicken and asparagus salad pinwheel; watercress and cheddar cheese whole wheat pinwheel; shredded cucumber and carrot with hummus on white bread.

And if five different scrumptious finger sandwiches weren’t enough to tickle your variety-loving self, the desserts surely will!  There is seriously no shortage of awesomeness when it comes to all the different types of sweets you get with your afternoon tea.  There’s a mix of fruit desserts, chocolate ones, and ones with nuts (just a note to those with allergies – which I’ll actually get to later on in the post) including a lemon white chocolate vanilla cupcake, mixed berry tartlet, plum tart, raspberry macaron, peppermint white chocolate layer cake, and a decadent pistachio double chocolate eclair with chocolate custard filling, chocolate drizzle, and plenty of crushed pistachios on top.  I just love how Annona mixes things up, plays with different flavour combinations and textures, keeping things fresh and exciting.  Their afternoon tea is, in my opinion, so modern, contemporary, and fun.

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It’s crazy to think that there’s even more to love about Annona, but there definitely is.  I mentioned how gracious their service is earlier in the post and I meant it whole-heartedly.  It’s not just in the way their staff services you in person but also in the care and attention they give you when you make your reservation.  Annona is the first place I’ve ever placed a reservation for online and I absolutely love it because I’ve written notes for them regarding requests I’ve had for seating (given how I’m a blogger and obviously take photos, I always request a table beside a window so that I’ll have good lighting) and regarding my best friend’s allergies, asking them if there is any way to substitute those with other menu items and they have taken every single word to heart and have granted me everything I’ve requested with no question or hesitation on their part and with no reminders for them on my part.

I can’t even begin to express how much those gestures mean to me because it shows me that they truly care about making the experience a good fabulous and memorable one.  Not only did they grant my request for a window table each time, they actually went out of their way to make different pastries for my best friend.  We were floored.  So much time, attention and care was taken and we were never made to feel guilty or like a burden for making these requests which I really appreciate.

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If you love afternoon tea as much as I do, enjoying it at Annona will be a happy foodie experience you won’t soon forget!

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Annona is located inside the Park Hyatt Hotel in Yorkville at 4 Avenue Road, just north of Bloor St. West.  Their afternoon tea is available on Saturdays and Sundays from 3pm-5pm; reservations are not specified as absolutely required on their website but I would highly recommend making them just in case.  You can call them at 416-324-1567 and also visit their website: http://hyatt.com/gallery/torphannon/tea.html.

 

Mini Croissants, Crostini, Crème Brûlée & More – Afternoon Tea at Dessert Trends & Bistro, Part II

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“…bringing many different generations of women together in one room to share stories and memories, reminisce over old photographs, and enjoy the bonding ritual of afternoon tea.” – Melissa Placzek, Teatime magazine (March/April 2013: 55)

And bond we did as my best friend and I enjoyed a girls day out sipping mimosas and cups of tea, enjoying scones, biscuits, cookies, petit fours and savoury pastries and finger sandwiches at Desserts Trends & Bistro (DT Bistro) on Harbord Street one sunny, beautiful Saturday afternoon.  Surrounded by flowers, vibrant paintings and cushy seats bathed in creams and cappuccino browns, we laughed, took too many photos (scratch that, that’s not possible in my world), talked about our friends, our family, and memories.

We argued over who would get the last finger sandwich and the last petit four (“no, YOU take it…no, you take it!”), we ordered mimosas on a whim, we drank so much tea we rolled out the patisserie like watermelons, we rummaged through our wallets and coin purses for those darn extra loonies and quarters to split the bill as evenly as humanly possible (the last time I stole the bill I chased down our server when she wasn’t looking and when she found out she tried to shove monies at me as we were leaving – it was about as aggressive as I’d ever seen her in our 13 going on 14 years of friendship) and we gushed about how much fun it was.

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For 3 hours.

Yes, you read right.  THREE HOURS.  I’m not kidding.  By the time we had paid our monies and were grabbing our bags, my best friend checked the time and gasped, “oh my gosh it’s 5!”.  “IT’S FIVE?!”  She looked at me.  I looked back at her.  We both wore the same incredulous yet amused expression.  We sputtered giggles.  “We stayed for the entire duration of afternoon tea!”

And it had truly felt like nothing.

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I know a food blog isn’t a food blog without, well, food on it.  And stories about food.  And photos of food.  But every so often, it’s worth it to step away from that – even for just half a post – to reflect.  To reflect on why we food bloggers do what we do.  I know we all have our own motivations, reasons and intentions, all of which make us who we are.  But I can truly say, from the happiest corners of my heart, that blogging has transformed so many of my relationships for the better and created lasting new ones.  And I continue to blog because it strengthens them.

It brings joy to my life when someone’s face lights up after I mention a great place I’ve been to that they love too and we then proceed to yap our mouths off about it.  My heart swells with happiness and pride when a person comes back to me and thanks me for recommending a place.  And it makes me so happy knowing I have made memory after memory after memory doing food-related things.  And now, afternoon tea has proved no different: a tradition with the bestie has been born.

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And really, Dessert Trends & Bistro (DT Bistro) is one of the most beautiful places to create those memories and make those lasting traditions and relationships.  Their dining area is just all sorts of gorgeous and while I haven’t explored the 2nd floor, their website has indicated that a beautiful rooftop patio and garden exist, ripe for the lounging, eating, and relaxing.  Known for their weekend brunch and of course, they’re desserts and catering, DT Bistro also offers afternoon tea service on the weekends from 2pm-5pm for $28 per person.  Along with bubbly like wines and cocktails (bestie ordered a regular mimosa while I took the plunge and went after the lavender passionfruit variety), their afternoon tea offers 9 loose leaf tea options including such flavours as Blood Orange rooibos, Egyptian chamomile, Jasmine green tea, Royal Earl Grey, Genmai Cha (a Japanese fusion nutty puffed rice and green tea), and my pick, the Marrakech Mint, a blend of green tea, Moroccan mint, and bergamot.

Each person receives their own pot of tea with constant hot water refills throughout the meal with a set of savoury tea sandwiches, scones and biscuit cookies with cream, jam, and lemon curd, and sweet desserts a la petit fours.  Now, a full afternoon tea follows somewhat of a consistent format that you would likely expect at any establishment, but it’s the execution and style that sets these tea services apart.  It’s absolutely fascinating to see how the different presentations and interpretations play out on the tiered tray of yummies.

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Windsor Arms makes their finger sandwiches in spiral, pinwheel style.  Le Dolci does the triangles with the crusts cut off.  Dessert Trends?  A mish-mash of everything in the best way possible!  You have the mushroom strudel wrapped in pastry, the sundried tomato and roasted goat cheese crostini, the seafood spring roll with crab and shrimp with mango and lime vinaigrette salsa dipping sauce, and the most adorable crispy, airy mini croissant filled with pickled fennel, sour cream and smoked salmon.  What’s an afternoon tea without smoked salmon, yes?  It was so very cool seeing such a wide assortment of savoury bites and was it ever delicious eating them!

Scones were accompanied by cream, raspberry jam and lemon curd and my word was the raspberry jam ever amazing!  The lemon curd is a giveaway to me; I love everything lemon so it was a love no-brainer.  But that jam.  We were both taken aback at how yummy it was!  Along with those scones sat shortbread cookies, pound cake, chocolate covered seed cookies and thumbprints.

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And no afternoon tea is complete without dessert and lots of it!  We were given an assortment of petit fours: a raspberry chocolate fudge tart, a creme brulee mini cheesecake, a rhubarb and tropical fruit cream custard, and a green tea eclair.  It was all so beautiful, different, vibrant and colourful and aside from the delicious food, what really meant a lot was not feeling uncomfortable or rushed during our tea.  Our teapots were refilled with smiles and not once did we feel like we were being shooed out.  We left with happy hearts and full tummies, knowing this would be filed away as one of the most special, fun, and delicious afternoons ever.

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*****

Dessert Trends & Bistro (DT Bistro) is located at 154 Harbord Street by the corner of Brunswick Ave., between Spadina Ave. and Bathurst Street.

Mimosas, Mini Morsels, Moroccan Mint & More – Afternoon Tea at Dessert Trends & Bistro, Part I!

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A Part I photo spotlight on one of the best ways to spend an afternoon, with food and friends.

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Adorable Tea Cups, Dishes, & Saucers and Enough Tea Sandwiches & Sweets to Last a Week! Afternoon Tea at Le Dolci!

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I always knew I enjoyed tea (I thank all those weekend dim sum brunch meals growing up for that!), but I never thought I’d love it and engage with it as much as I do now.  I drink tea every morning when I come into work (it’s such a delight rotating between my current 5 loose leaf packets from Steeped & Infused), I keep up with seasonal flavours, I read tea books, I love marrying cupcakes with a cup of hot tea, and I am absolutely amoured by tea time and afternoon teas!  The atmosphere, the food, the beautiful accessories, porcelain and china; the dining experience it affords is in a league of it own.  My dream would be to attend every imaginable afternoon tea in the land – I would be so happy!  I think my obsession with tea is definitely nearing its peak and I really don’t see it waning any time soon.

So I indulged my warm and fuzzy feelings for afternoon tea with a special Sunday afternoon tea at Le Dolci’s sweet studio!  Soft music floating in the background, adorable tea cups, saucers, and dishes, and over 5 different types of decadent desserts among other delectable eats – afternoon tea at Le Dolci is as sweet as it gets!  I was so, so excited when I found out Lisa and the team would be doing afternoon tea sessions at their new studio on Dundas West back in August.  I knew the experience would be really fun, different, and yummy, but I also knew that this was something really personal and special to Lisa.  After living and working in the UK for a decade, the tea bug is bound to bite you one way or another if you haven’t been bitten already!  Lisa, Miya, and I used to drink tea together all the time when I was interning at the studio and we’d always Ooo and ahh over sweet accessories we would find.  Aside from cupcakes and sweets, tea was a common love and it just made everything that much more mellow and relaxed when we took that time to savour it and enjoy it.

I was so excited to see what Lisa would have in store for this tea session.  Afternoon teas, held on Sundays (keep in mind that afternoon teas aren’t held every Sunday at this point though, they just happen to fall on Sundays when they are made available on the class schedule as opposed to Fridays or Saturdays for instance) from 12pm – 2pm, are non-instructional sessions that are open to anyone and everyone with a love for sweets and tea!  Non-instructional simply means that the afternoon tea is purely a “come in and stuff your face while having a lot of fun!” type of session.  There’s no workshop or seminar, no demo or crafting of anything ; it’s just pure enjoyment of food and drink.

Teas are priced at $35/person and spaces must be booked in advance, either by phone or through their website via the class schedule.  Now, I had a brain fart when I first booked my spot because I mixed myself up and thought the entire tea took 2 hours, but the 12pm-2pm tea time is completely flexible!  So long as you’ve booked your spot you’re welcome to start your tea at 12:30pm, 1pm, whatever floats your boat (within reason – obviously if you show up at a quarter to two, that’s not going to fly!) and subsequently, you can finish up any time within those 2 hours.  You simply need to book your spot in advance so Lisa and her team can plan out their tea menu and know exactly how much food to make so nothing goes to waste and so they can make sure everything is ready to go the morning of for the freshest baked goods and eats.

Beautiful sunlight streamed through the studio’s front display window and the big, long, stainless steel worktable was decked out in a white tablecloth with tea cups and saucers, milk and sugar, and small dishes to enjoy our nibbles!  The dishes and accessories were so darn gorgeous.  Enjoying the food on such pretty tableware was half the fun!  Some of these dishes were special antiques and works of art from the UK (that dish featured in the first photo?  Hand-painted!), while others were just nifty pick-ups around town.  The crazy tea accessory lover in me was lapping all this up like an eager puppy!

Okay, so what does afternoon tea at Le Dolci entail?  Hot loose leaf tea from Tealish (4 flavours on hand including Sweetie Pie, Earl Grey Classic, Sencha Organic green tea, and Peppermint!), 4 different kinds of tea sandwiches on multi-grain bread with the crusts cut off (but of course!), and literally enough sweets and baked goods to last you an entire week – no joke!  The awesome thing about the tea specifically is that you can try different kinds!  Lisa will brew a pot of whatever flavour you want at first, but if you decide that you want to try a different one middway through, she can brew another one.  Granted, I wouldn’t start asking for all 4 flavours, but it’s fine if you want to sip on another one later on in the tea.

Another thing I really loved was the sheer volume of food!  All afternoon teas are based on a per person count, but holy bejeebus, after my boyfriend and I polished off our sandwich plate with 8 portions, Lisa came by and plopped another plate of 4 in front of us!  That’s 6 sandwiches in total, 3 per person (each portion is half a sandwich).  I don’t know about you, but I have never eaten 3 sandwiches plus sweets plus a bajillion cups of tea.  I knew there would be leftovers (gut intuition) so I came prepared and brought tupperware.  It came in handy!  That day, we were given an assortment of roast beef with mustard, smoked salmon, ham, and a fantastic egg salad with crunchy green onions!  You all know I love smoked salmon to pieces, but I have to say, I loved the ham and egg salad ones a lot too!  So simple yet so good.

And the sweets.  Oh, the sweets.  Full-size frosted cupcakes (vanilla with coffee frosting and chocolate with vanilla frosting), mini cupcakes (vanilla and coffee), biscotti, little scones (cheddar and dried fruit ones), brownie squares, lemon coconut squares, macarons (coconut and strawberry), and lamingtons, an Australian and New Zealand dessert made of sponge cake and coated in chocolate and rolled in shredded coconut!  Did you get all that?!  It was such a great varied assortment and there were so many different things to try!  I loved the variety and if I had to choose, my favourites would have to be the lemon coconut squares, the cupcakes with coffee frosting, and the macarons!

It was a really fun, sweet afternoon tea and I’m so happy Lisa decided to have it as part of her fun foodie line-up.  I genuinely enjoyed all the food we were given and it’s just nice being in the studio surrounded by yummy smells and great people.  I am no doubt coming back for more – the leftovers are just the icing on the cake!

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Le Dolci brand new studio is located at 1006 Dundas Street West, right at the corner of Dundas West and Montrose Ave. The studio is across the street from Trinity Bellwoods Park and are open for business 6 days a week.  Operating hours are from 10am-6pm from Tuesday to Saturday and 12pm-5pm on Sundays.

Once Upon a Tea – A Romantic Tea of Scones & Nibbles For Valentine’s at the Windsor Arms Hotel, Part II

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Crisp white tablecloths, engraved and monogrammed silverware, a doorman opening the grand front door, lush tea rooms, and majestic crystal chandeliers.  If the Windsor Arms Hotel makes me feel like a princess, their afternoon tea is a model of royal treatment.  After the doorman let myself and my boyfriend in, I was in awe.  It wasn’t my first time at the hotel, but I was clearly seeing the hotel lobby and even other parts of the hotel with fresh eyes.  There were lush green palms in the lobby, a gorgeous, gigantic chandelier hanging  from the high ceiling, and a beautiful balcony view of the lobby and banquet hall courtyard cafe from the 2nd floor of the hotel.  I was so thrilled to be here again and I was ready to sit down to a beautiful tea full of tea sandwiches, scones, petit fours, and copious amounts of sweet tea.

I was beyond excited when I decided to go to my first afternoon tea here for Toronto’s Chocolate Festival back in 2010 and I was even more delighted with the prospect of going back for Valentine’s this month.  Not only was I looking forward to doing something sweet and romantic (and not to mention delicious) for the occasion of hearts and cupids, but after visiting the Windsor Arms tea menu page I was ecstatic to find out there were new nibbles!  I would have been happy receiving the same selection of tea sandwiches and such from the time before, but you know how I feel about new menu items.  The full afternoon tea comes with a selection of tea from their tea menu, cream, jam and preserves, scones, tea sandwiches, a mini goat cheese and caramelized shallot puff pastry tarts, fresh strawberries and whipped cream, and petit four desserts.

The menu of tea sandwiches this time around featured a mix of smoked salmon with wasabi sour cream and salmon caviar, cucumber with sundried tomato paste and dill cream cheese, and grilled chicken with granny smith apples, citrus mayo, greek yogurt, and chives.  As much as I wanted to inhale the sandwiches with grilled chicken, my allergy to raw apples (and my boyfriend’s throat tickle to raw apples didn’t help the cause either) deterred me so I kindly told the server about this and asked if we could either omit the apples in it or substitute it with something else and our server informed us that he would give us more of the other two types, which was perfectly fine with us.  The salmon lovers in us rejoiced!

The entire afternoon tea was fabulous, but what really blew me away was their selection of tea this time!  When we were given the tea menu, I flipped it open and was astonished to find pages of tea choices!  Not all of their teas are listed on the website so I was taken by surprise in the best way possible.  Green tea, white tea, rooibos, the possibilities went on for pages.  Windsor Arms had expanded their tea selection ten-fold and I was rapidly reading through loose leaf tea descriptions in an effort to choose one for to enjoy with my food.

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A Cuppa Tea, A Cuppa Love – An Afternoon Tea For Valentine’s at the Windsor Arms Hotel, Part I

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The love and romance surrounding Valentine’s isn’t over just yet here on Ate by Ate!  Besides cupcakes and cake pops and heart-shaped tins of M&Ms, there was also tea – and lots of it!  Surrounded by darling tea cups and teapots, plush seats, and the softest scones imaginable, I sat back and soaked in a sweet and romantic afternoon tea in the bright and lush royal purple tea room at the Windsor Arms Hotel in celebration of Valentine’s. 

As the years go by, I often reflect on all the special memories I’ve made during holidays and special occasions and undoubtedly, memories of Valentine’s past fit into this ever-growing mental scrapbook of mine.  Valentine’s past have been chock full of movies (which have become some of my favourite movies of all time), dessert dates, delicious dinners, cupcakes, sushi, visits to my favourite garden, Allan Gardens, and most recently, even a heart-shaped pizza!  I love doing different things for special occasions and having new things to look forward to on those particular days, so I thought, “why not do an afternoon tea for Valentine’s?  It would be perfect!”  Sweet petit fours, my boyfriend’s favourite scones, my love of tea, and delicious food in a fairytale-like atmosphere.  It doesn’t get any sweeter than that.

Given how much we had enjoyed our very first afternoon tea at Windsor Arms over a year ago, my heart was set on afternoon tea with my boyfriend as a little Valentine’s treat and I had a day plan in mind all ready to go.  I love making plans and planning “fun days”.  The joy I get from concocting these elaborate schemes stems from three things.  One, I’ve been conditioned to get the most out of my public transit spending.  If I’m going to be purchasing and using tickets and tokens to be out and about anyway, I’m going to make the most out of my day and that means cramming in as many activities and errands as possible.  Two, after being at the mercy of a topsy-turvy university schedule that didn’t leave me with a lot of time to myself for six and a half years, I relish the time I have to enjoy an entire day full of my favourite things and activities and in this case.  And last, because my boyfriend surprised me with a romantic day all planned out on our very first date, I’ve loved doing multiple things in a day, especially with him.  To have a specific day to look forward to like this, centred around tea and nibbles and making Valentine’s memories, is simply wonderful to me.   

The afternoon tea ended up being more wonderful than I had expected!  I loved my first experience, but this time was even better.  Not only did I fall crazy in love with my tea and food, but I also took a mini tour of the majestic hotel (paying a visit to the ladies’ room on the 2nd floor will make you awestruck on the way there and on the way back like that) and I also found out some new information about the dining at Windsor Arms previously unbeknowst to me (hint: vegan menus abound!) that make me so much more excited about visiting the hotel again!  With a new menu, different teas and nibbles, and a tea room full of happy tea sippers, the place was abuzz with love and friendship.  Here’s a sneak peek at my Valentine’s afternoon tea.     

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The Windsor Arms Hotel is located at 18 Saint Thomas Street, just south of Bloor St. W, between Bay St. and Avenue Rd.  From Monday to Wednesday tea is served in 4 sittings: 12:30, 1:00, 3:00, 3:30, and from Thursday to Sunday 5:30 and 6:00 as well.  Teas are available at a range of prices, from $18/person to $45/person, with different menus for each price point.  Visit the Windsor Arms Hotel website for prices and menus.

Pinkies Up! Chocolate & Afternoon Tea at the Windsor Arms Hotel – Part II

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Once upon a time there was a princess who desperately wished to attend a tea party.  A tea with cute teacups, nice linens, delicious scones and sweet pastries, little cream cheese and/or smoked salmon tea sandwiches, and of course, a piping hot teapot of flavoured tea.  And as luck would have it, the Toronto Chocolate Festival held in October through November delivered the perfect opportunity to the princess: a chocolate afternoon tea at the Windsor Arms Hotel!  An afternoon tea devoted to the richness and decadence of chocolate with chocolate dessert tea and chocolate petit fours.  The princess certainly couldn’t say no! 

Located near the posh shopping neighbourhood of Bay & Bloor, the Windsor Arms Hotel was the epitome of sophisticated and lush.  Overcome with giddiness and with her Prince Charming in tow, the princess high-tailed herself over to the quaint hotel on the 2nd of November, and braced herself for what was to be a very sweet and delicious affair.  Tucked away on Saint Thomas St., just steps away from Yorkville, the Windsor Arms is what the princess would describe as fancy-pants: grand chandeliers, a ballroom, fine dining, afternoon tea seatings throughout the afternoon, and several tea rooms to boot.  As she “oohed” and “ahhed” her way through the front foyer and adjoining bar and lounge, the princess and her Prince Charming were whisked away to the bright purple room, fit for royalty, for their afternoon tea. 

 

The princess was in awe.  Only two words could capture the essence of the purple and white tea room before her: hush and lush.  Crisp white tablecloths and linens adorned the dainty tables, lush purple love seats and sofas sat regally in each corner of the room, sunlight streamed through soft and billowy lilac curtains, and a warm fireplace greeted its afternoon tea guests.  Tea tables were set with the whitest of napkins, engraved silverware, tea strainers, and dishes of jarred jams and jellies and fresh cream for scones.  The princess was overcome with excitement as she eagerly awaited the indulgences to come.

Her tea was brought forth, a steaming teapot of Tibetan Tiger: a sweet chocolate dessert tea with hints of vanilla, chocolate, caramel, and butterscotch that smelled as divine as it tasted.  The princess’s white and floral patterned teapot sat alongside fresh cream and dainty jars of raspberry and strawberry jams for the delightful scones that were to come.  The princess poured her tea through the strainer into her teacup and took a sip: if tea was heaven, the princess was floating in it.  Rich and sweet, and at the same time refreshing, the chocolatey, buttery flavour paired perfectly with the freshly baked, fluffy scones.  The nibbles, scrumptious in every way, were arranged on a tea stand, rolled out on a cart, and daintily placed on the princess’s table.  The princess felt as though her heart would burst from happiness.  Never in her life had she experienced an afternoon tea and she was ecstatic.  So very, very ecstatic!

 

 

What lay before the princess and her prince were four large and round, sweet and fluffy, cinnamon and raisin scones dusted with powdered fairy sugar; one dozen plump tea sandwiches made with grilled cheese and citrus peel topping, baby greens, asparagus, and creamy chive cream cheese, and smoked salmon with baubles of salmon caviar and roasted tomato cream cheese; and four chocolate petit fours that looked so extremely rich and decadent.  Each one of the chocolate petit fours highlighted either a different type of chocolate or a popular chocolate combination.  There was a creamy white chocolate petit four topped with a dark juicy cherry, a chocolate truffle A warm, flaky goat cheese and caramelized shallot tart; ; salmon caviar and roasted tomato cream cheese.  The food was fresh, delectable, and oh-so-delightful.  And the grand finale?  Rich chocolate petit fours adorned with a raspberry, a maraschino cherry, or crushed hazelnuts, and a bowl of fresh strawberries and whipped cream. 

In the magical land of foodies, the experience was enchanting.  After being stuffed to the brim with such splendid delicacies, the princess and her Prince Charming thanked the staff for a wonderful afternoon tea, rolled down the street on their full tummies, and lived happily ever after.

 

*****

The Windsor Arms Hotel is located at 18 Saint Thomas Street, just south of Bloor St. W, between Bay St. and Avenue Rd.  From Monday to Wednesday tea is served in 4 sittings: 12:30, 1:00, 3:00, 3:30, and from Thursday to Sunday 5:30 and 6:00 as well.  Teas are available at a range of prices, from $18/person to $45/person, with different menus for each price point.  Visit the Windsor Arms Hotel website for prices and menus.