Tag Archives: gourmet

‘The Tea Room’ at the Windsor Arms Hotel

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Since 1927, Tea at the Windsor Arms has been synonymous with elegant, afternoon indulgence. Savour Afternoon Tea or a Twilight Tea service in the French-style lobby tea room, the majestic purple room with its original working fireplace or behind the red velvet drapes in the Russian Red Tea Room.

Lounging in the ambiance of The Windsor Arms Hotel on the last long weekend of the summer, sipping tea and nibbling haute couture savoury and sweet treats was pure perfection.

Peruse a selection of teas from Russian Caravan to Sencha.  My tea of choice was Earl Grey with Blue Flowers (Organic Lavender Flowers).

The Earl Grey with Blue Flowers (Organic Lavender Flowers) was rich and creamy.  The vintage tea pot that came steeping hot to the table was elegant, pristine and ached a provincial pride.  We appreciated the tea strainer in its old world stainless steel elegance.  Even the cutlery in its polished and pure state had the Windsor Arms delicately emblazoned on both the fork and knife.  It was neatly tucked into a napkin sleeve whispering ooh’s and aah’s from previous guests.

The details were perfect, the mood right and the service gentle, accommodating and honorable.  The stained glass windows was transformative in making us feel like we were tucked away far from the city and perhaps in a country inn enjoying our tea.

The Twilight Tea Menu (from Daily – 5:30pm / 6:00pm) in which we indulged upon included of the following:

A Choice of Loose-Leaf Teas

Fresh Scones with House Made Preserves and Devon Cream

Goat Cheese and Caramelized Shallot Tart

A Presentation of Fresh Sandwiches:

Potato Blinis with Smoked Salmon Rosette

Pinwheel Egg Salad

Croque Monsieur

Vegetarian with Sundried Tomato Paste and Dill Cream Cheese

Windsor Arms Petit Fours

A snapshot of each delicacy unfolded in good measure.

The Fresh Scones with House Made Preserves and Devon Cream were buttery, flakey and all promise.  They demanded quiet moments after being softly smothered with jam.

The Goat Cheese and Caramelized Shallot Tart was savoury, robust and took us further down the garden path towards ecstasy.

The Potato Blinis with Smoked Salmon Rosette were romantic, smooth and were eaten in one bite.

The Pinwheel Egg Salad was light, airy and was certainly not your mum’s Egg Salad.  It stood alone from its other counterparts and satiated us instantly.

The Croque Monsieur, gorgeously named was beyond a simple ham and cheese sandwich.  It was warm, crunchy and luxe without being overpowering.

For an afternoon affair or an evening wind down – the Afternoon Tea or the Twilight Tea service at the Windsor Arms Hotel is a wonderful alternative to a girl’s day out, a quiet retreat away from work or just a self care few hours for one self.

Also, with TIFF around the corner, make your reservation to catch the who’s who of the film world’s elite wining, dining and looking elegant at the Windsor Arms Hotel in the weeks ahead.

http://www.windsorarmshotel.com/

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Restaurant Review: Bannock

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Tucked into side of The Hudson Bay Company at the corner of Queen Street West and Bay Street in Toronto is the home of Bannock.  This space originally housed The Bay’s signature label line, which I never saw anyone shopping in.  It’s nice to see the space transformed into a yummy eatery.

With a total of 4,348 square feet, Bannock is part grab-and-go café, part coffee shop, and part dine-in restaurant. The architecture reflects the menu – eclectic and approachably Canadian – featuring antique pine and hemlock reclaimed from one of the Queen’s wharfs that sat under the waters of Lake Ontario at York Street for over a hundred years.   The owners Oliver and Bonacini also own the likes of ‘Canoe’ and ‘Auberge Du Pommier’ in Toronto.

Bannock’s honest approach to food is rooted in familiar, wholesome ingredients that are reflective of Canada’s rich regional and cultural diversity, delivered in an innovative and playful way. Everyday classics are revitalized as the Chefs pay homage to traditional Canadian comfort foods, putting our cultural favourite’s front and centre. Bannock breads are integrated throughout the entire menu including artisan sandwiches and pizzas. Bannock garnishes are also added to soups, salads and main courses.

I have been meaning to come to Bannock for ages.  I decided to make a reservation for my best friend and I for our birthdays last week.  When we arrived we were seated at a lovely banquette table for two with a great view of the restaurant.

Marcel our waiter greeted us jovially and presented us with menus.  He provided us with some interesting recommendations for specials and left us to decide on our meal options.

My friend and I opted for the pickerel taco + cucumber apple salad on a steamed bun with caviar tartar as appetizer for each of us.  The bun was warm, doughy and indeed very comforting.  The cucumber salad had a chili punch to it.  We were advised by the server that the wine we ordered would make for a nice compliment to the appetizer.  The cucumber was fresh, crunchy and was a contrast to the softly steamed bun.  The caviar tartar was something to marvel over.  It was lush and oozed goodness throughout the taco.  Happiness.

The wine we ordered was the Pinot Grigio, Argento, Mendoza for $32.  It was a perfect accent to our evening.  It  anchored our appetizer and entrees choices.  It’s a great feeling when you are sipping away at a sweet but mild white between bites.  Very soothing and amplified the flavours within the meal.

For entrees my friend ordered the Seared B.C.  Albacore Tuna.  It came with wax beans, smashed fingerlings, roots crudités, banga cauda.  The Seared B.C.  Albacore Tuna was prepared beautifully on the plate.  The tuna was generous and could be swallowed whole – it was that soft.  It looked like Turkish delights only larger in depth and quantity.  The smashed fingerlings, roots crudités, banga cauda provided the colour and the background sounds to the main meal.  It was light enough that my friend felt satiated and had room enough in her belly for more wine, martinis and dessert.  Isn’t that the best feeling after having a gourmet and pristinely prepared meal?  Perfection.

I ordered the Ontario Venison Chuck Chili which came with great northern beans and bannock.  Bannock, also known as fry bread, skaan/scone or Indian bread, is found throughout North American native cuisine.  Today, bannock is a growing culinary trend across Canada with non-aboriginal people.  The bannock in my meal was prepared on site at Bannock.  It was lovely.

My friend and I had a conversation if the venison would make a good choice for dinner.  Would it be too gamey?  It wasn’t.  Again, perfectly prepared and plated.  The Venison Chuck Chili had a kick to it.  The spring onions added a nice texture next to the chunky chili and soft northern beans.  The bannock that was placed to the side was a gentle addition to be either eaten alone or to sop up the chili.  The venison was robust and very filling.  My friend actually helped me finish my meal.  The bowl wasn’t heaping but if you do order this dish either be prepared to take some home with you or have your friend help.

After dinner we ordered two Niagara Martini’s to start us off on the right foot for our dessert journey. Additionally we ordered a warm smore’s pie and a canoe fireweed butter tart.

The Niagara Martini’s indeed were lush.  We were glad to end our evening with these martini’s as oppose to starting with them.  They were light enough and kept the giggles and celebratory mood through our desserts.  The warm smore’s pie and a canoe fireweed butter tart were supreme.  The warm smore’s pie could be enough of a trigger for choco-holic’s to land them into a Chocaholic’s Anonymous meeting.  Ecstasy.  The slightly toasted marshmallows infused with the chocolatey brownie.  Definitely campfire worthy without the sticky mess.  Civilized but also pure debauchery.

The Canoe Fireweed Butter Tart is a good choice is you slide onto the other side of the sweets scale.  I personally prefer my butter tarts with raisins.  This one did not come with raisins but regardless it was just as buttery as I expected.  The crust was flaky but also sturdy enough to hold together the treat.  Very posh and would be perfect if you were wanting something sweet and light after a heavier meal.

The service that accompanied our meal from Marcel and Jackie was genuine, warm and dedicated.  It’s nice to be seated in a nice restaurant and not feel rushed and most importantly treated like a regular after one visit.  Classy yet comfortable.

The Café/Coffee Shop is open for breakfast and stays open well past dinner hour. The dining room is open for lunch and dinner Monday to Saturday and is open for brunch on Sundays.  Check out Bannock when you have a moment – A truly Canadian and comforting experience.

Bannock

401 Bay St., Toronto, M5H 2Y4

Phone:   416.861.6996

http://www.oliverbonacini.com/Bannock.aspx

TWG Tea Jelly – 1837 Black Tea

Tea Jelly - 1837 Black Tea (290ml)

Tea Jelly – 1837 Black Tea (290ml)

I remember growing up and my mum making me tea and toast for breakfast with a side of eggs for breakfast.  The jam was always a cheap and cheerful brand from the local grocer.  Sometimes they would be watery or gloopy.  That aside, the memory of actually eating the warm toast and sweet jam made me happy.

These days I like to have a few jams on the go in my fridge.  My latest love affair is with TWG Tea’s Tea Jelly – 1837 Black Tea (290ml).  Have you heard of it?  If you haven’t and are a tea and jelly fan like me – you must check it out.  It’s a neat mix of the two.

Tea-infused with TWG Tea’s renowned signature tea, 1837 Black is a unique blend of black tea with notes of fruits and flowers from the Bermuda triangle which leaves a lingering aftertaste of ripe berries, anise, and caramel.  Pure decadence.  It’s a dead posh jelly.  Firm and with an explosion of flavour.

I loved TWG Tea’s 1837 Black Tea especially with milk.  It is always warm and a perfect summer to fall tea.  Coupling that with the 1837 Black Tea Jelly made it an even sweeter delight.

I encourage you to bring this tea jelly to work with your toast if you need a lil snack or as a midnight treat especially now since the winter is coming and we need a lil extra warmth.  You can even have this gorgeous jelly out with some yummy freshly baked breads or crackers with clotted cream if friends come over for the holidays or with your TWG Tea service on an upcoming holiday morning for family.

Other amazing TWG Tea is also available for purchase and shipped anywhere in North America through The Urban Tea Merchant website, urbantea.com

 http://www.urbantea.com/products/tea-jelly-1837-290ml

http://www.urbantea.com/products/1837-black