When the Dealfind advertisement popped into my inbox last year I jumped at the chance at buying their two for one high tea offer from The Fairmont. It turns out that so did eleven thousand other people. Naturally, when I waited and waited to make a reservation, it was pretty difficult to actually get a one. It wasn’t until the day before my coupon expired that I actually had the opportunity (and the reservation) to redeem my coupon with a friend.
High tea at The Fairmont is held at The Castle, a restaurant behind 900 West Lounge. The room was decorated in the same fashion one might expect a room at Buckingham Palace to be–upholstered wooden chairs, patterned carpets, crisp white linens, and delicate china, but without any British accents or nose in the air attitude. We were seated at our table which had cream and sugar already waiting in silver containers, and left to make our tea selection. It didn’t take very long to for me to decide on ‘maple maple’ as my tea since the list of tea was short by comparison to other tea parlours in the city.
The silver tea and cream containers met their matching tea pots when they were shortly brought to the table. Sitting prim and proper, the tea steeped while dainty finger sandwiches, pastries, devonshire cream, and tiny pots of strawberry jam joined the party moments after. Once the tea finished steeping, I added a teaspoon of the sugar crystals and a splash of cream from the refined silverware and took a sip.
Subtle aromatic flavours punctuated by the woody sweetness of the tea told me the story of its Sri Lankan origin. I began working my way through the tower of pastries, beginning with the finger sandwiches on the bottom tier. The most notable savoury pastry was the curry chicken salad on a slice of French baguette because it complimented my tea best. Next were the sweet pastries consisting of lemon tarts, chocolate cupcakes, eclairs, and raisin scones–each more charming than the next. There were enough scones for both of us to have two, but we were so numb from the sugar that neither of us were able to finish a second.
After sitting for a while longer, we summoned our server and requested that they do away with the remnants and bring us our cheque (because we were approaching our allowed seating time). Fully satiated and quenched, we headed towards the car, but stopped to view some Canstruction. When I got home I realized I was feeling sick from all the caffeine I ingested from the tea and the sugar in the pastries. Eventually the headache passed and I thought fondly of my afternoon high tea once again.
Today’s date can be marked as March 14 or 3.14, which is the official day for the mathematical symbol π (pi). In light of this mathematically significant day, I decided I would honor it by baking (what else of course?) a pie. Waitress, my favourite movie, just so happens to have a plethora of pie ideas to choose from, and I have seen it too many times not to try to bake one of them.
Jenna, the main character in the movie is (surprise, surprise) a waitress at a pie diner, and she is also the person who bakes and creates the pies. Throughout the movie she mentally bakes pies with unique combinations of ingredients and gives them names to reflect her mood. The pie that I chose to make was ‘Lonely Chicago Pie’, made up of blackberries and chocolate. There is a DVD set that comes with recipes for some of the pies she creates, but I sadly do not have that set. Instead, I put my thinking cap on and created this recipe:
Lonely Chicago Pie (Inspired by the movie Waitress)
Makes 1 Pie
- 1 Deep Dish pie shell (Recipe I used here)
- 5 Tbsp Dutch Processed Cocoa
- 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp Flour
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 50g Dark Chocolate
- 300 mL (1 can) Condensed Milk
- 4 Egg Yolks, beaten
- 1/4 cup Butter
- 340g Blackberries, washed and thoroughly dried
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly mash berries in a small bowl with a pestle or the back of a spoon. Mix thoroughly with 2 Tbsp flour and set aside.
- In a small saucepan, mix together cocoa, remaining flour, salt, and dark chocolate. Add condensed milk, yolks, butter, and vanilla, then heat over medium low while stirring constantly.
- Once the butter has completely melted, pour chocolate mixture into pie shell followed by berri es. With a spoon, carefully blend the berries and the chocolate together making sure not to scrape the raw pastry.
- Bake for 40-50 minutes or until the chocolate has centre has set. The mixture will still be slightly wobbly. Cool completely and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.
Before making ‘Lonely Chicago Pie’, I watched and studied what Jenna did and added to the her pie to try to emulate her as closely as possible. Jenna may have been a pie genius, but her pie baking methodology would not hold up without the magic of movie making, unless there was something I missed. In the movie, ‘Lonely Chicago Pie’ is made by sprinkling brown sugar into the base of an unbaked pastry shell and topped with melted chocolate and mashed blackberries. I wasn’t about to make a pie that was filled with straight melted chocolate–it would just turn out to be one big chocolate puck!
Even though I don’t agree with some of Jenna’s methods, my mouth still waters every time I watch Waitress. This pie was sweet and velvety with a juicy burst of berries in every few bites. I never was a very good at it, but math sure can be delicious sometimes.
On Friday, it was almost midnight and I had a slight itch for something sweet. I thought about baking something rich and chocolatey, but it would’ve been a while before I would be able sink my teeth into it. The ‘5-Minute Chocolate Cake’ recipe which is ever so popular in the blogosphere was one I had yet to try. I was very skeptical about a cake “baked” in a microwave, and that was the main reason I hadn’t tried it. But this time I couldn’t be bothered to bake a whole batch of something, and after looking at some recipes I really needed a dessert. Bad.
Okay, so not exactly a looker. In fact, it looks like a creature from the black lagoon walked through the snow and showed up for dessert, but let’s get past all the superficial details. I would say that the flavour of the cake was better than most cake mixes, even though it was a bit sweet. I feared that it would’ve turned out very gluey and wet, but the cake was neither wet nor dry. What it was lacking was in the structure. It had rather large pockets of air (as it is clearly shown in the photo above) and was rather dense in some areas where a traditionally baked cake would have a fine and light texture throughout. The centre of this cake was dry and hard, due to overcooking, but this was something that is likely to be solved by adjusting the cooking time.
Whoever invented this recipe was either very smart or very desperate. Overall, I think this is a great recipe for anyone who is in a predicament such as I was, but I wouldn’t serve it to The Queen or The Pope if they show up at my house for an impromptu dinner. It was good enough to say that I would make it again with a few minor adjustments. But, a glass of milk or a scoop of ice cream is an absolute necessity to serve alongside this recipe.
5-Minute Chocolate Cake
Makes 1 Cake
- 4 Tbsp Flour
- 4 Tbsp Sugar
- 2 Tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (I used Dutch Processed Cocoa)
- Pinch of Salt
- 2 Tbsp Egg, Beaten
- 3 Tbsp Milk
- 3 Tbsp Oil (I used Butter)
- 3 Tbsp Chocolate Chips
- Splash of vanilla
- In a mug, combine dry ingredients followed by egg, milk, and oil/butter.
- Add chocolate chips, and vanilla and mix together.
- Microwave on high for two and a half to three minutes on high.
- Cool cake slightly before serving.
Bubble Waffle Cafe
A relatively new restaurant to make an impact on the Richmond restaurant horizon, is Bubble Waffle Cafe. A few months back, I found myself peering through the windows and admiring their posters, prior to their opening. I forgot about the restaurant completely until I noticed the lineup while driving past one evening. The other thing that caught my eye was the restaurant signage that read ‘Egg Waffles’ in Chinese characters. My instincts told me that we needed to immediately go to this restaurant, and that is exactly what we tried to do.
One of my favourite movies is Chocolat, with Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. One of the confections in the movie that I was fixated on was the hot chocolate. Ever since I’ve seen that movie, seeing drinking chocolate on any menu makes me ‘ooh’ and ‘aahh’.
A few weeks ago I returned to my favorite all you can eat sushi restaurant in Vancouver, Ebei Sushi, for my uncle’s birthday. Although baking isn’t my forte, I like to make cookies and cakes for special occasions. On this particular occasion I made a chocolate cake with egg white frosting.
I decided to make an egg white frosting instead of buttercream because it was considerably less sweet. However, because it was an egg white frosting I wasn’t able to do any fancy decorations or practice the piping skills that I learned from the Michaels ‘Cake Decorating Basics’ course. To make the cake look a bit more presentable I topped it with fresh strawberries, grown in my aunt’s garden and blackberries, from nearby bushes that I had picked myself.
"Best Ever Chocolate Cake"
The recipe for the cake was the Better Homes and Gardens ‘Best Ever Chocolate Cake’ and it turned out great. One of my uncle’s favourite things is chocolate, but he enjoys his desserts when they’re not overly sweet. That is why I took the liberty of cutting down the sugar in the recipe for both the cake and the frosting.
Frosting the Cake
I forgot to take into account that the egg white frosting would spoil quicker than a buttercream would, so I was concerned that it would deflate on the way to the restaurant, not to mention while we were eating dinner. But the thought only entered my mind after I frosted the cake. Continue reading