I love afternoon tea / J’adore le thé d’après-midi

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Afternoon tea at Montreal’s Ritz-Carlton hotel. Photo: The Ritz-Carlton

Afternoon tea is one of my favourite things in life. I keep a lookout for exceptional examples of this time-honoured indulgence when travelling, so while I’ve never stayed at London’s Ritz or New York’s Plaza, I have enjoyed a few hours at these hotels, living the life of luxury without the massive bill. Beyond five-star hotels, distinctive tearooms can also deliver memorable moments, such as Angelina in Paris and Gunners Barracks on Sydney’s majestic harbour.

I love afternoon tea close to home, too, because above all it’s a chance to press pause on ordinary life and share some special time with friends. Back in Melbourne, I regularly indulged at the historic Windsor Hotel, or at one of many unique tearooms (State Parliament’s hushed, wood-panelled dining room is one the city’s best-kept afternoon tea secrets). So I was disappointed by the comparatively limited afternoon tea options when I arrived in Montreal, but lately things have been looking up. In fact, I’d say there’s a little afternoon tea renaissance going on here. Continue reading

Sweet treats / Douceurs sucrées

Everyone's making a beeline for the maple shop at Sucrerie de la Montagne! The buckets on the tree trunk at right are collecting maple sap. Photo: Patricia Maunder

Everyone’s making a beeline for the maple shop at Sucrerie de la Montagne! The buckets on the tree trunk at right are collecting maple sap. Photo: Patricia Maunder

So, the long, cold winter seems to be behind us in Montreal – though not before we had a few centimetres of snow a couple of weeks ago. It pleased me, as I still find snow beautiful and fascinating, but long-time residents were aghast at this late burst of winter! What is there to do now snow sports are over, but before the pleasures of warm weather begin on Montreal’s buzzing terraces and in parks bursting with colour and life? Eat!

In recent weeks I’ve enjoyed three tastebud-tickling places in and around Montreal that have done nothing to help me get in shape for summer: a high-end chocolate shop; an all-day afternoon tea salon with vintage elegance; and a sugar shack, or cabane à sucre, that goes all-out traditional on the Quebec maple syrup experience. Let me put on my purple Willy Wonka coat and hat, and I’ll show you around … Continue reading