Last month I visited the Empress Hotel in Victoria, B.C. Although the hotel was named in honor of Queen Victoria, the portrait above the tearoom fireplace is of her daughter, Princess Louise, whose husband was the Governor General of Canada. As I researched the 19th century and Princess Louise, who is a secondary character in my manuscript, I continued my pursuit of the perfect Victorian afternoon tea.
Haley Whitehall, one of my critique partners, and I were escorted to plush cushioned chairs at a large round table in the corner near the fireplace. Enjoying the beautiful Victoria harbor view, we sipped our tea and ate fresh fruit with Empress cream.
Next we devoured an array of sandwiches from the three-tiered silver tray. My favorites were the smoked salmon with herb cream cheese pinwheel and the cucumber with saffron loaf. The rest of the selection included cognac pork on sun dried tomato bread, free-range egg salad croissant, and mango with curried chicken on dark rye.
After testing the consistency of the clotted cream, I applied generous dollops to a fresh baked raisin scone and took a bite. Absolutely scrumptious!
For the last course we sampled a variety of desserts. I loved the lemon curd meringue tart and dainty cappuccino chocolate teacup. The delicious Devil’s chocolate pistachio Battenberg reminded me of the chess-like banter between my hero and heroine, but I was too full to consume the rose-petal shortbread and Parisian macaroons. Don’t worry. I savored them later.
Before we departed for the Royal B.C. Museum, the waiter presented each of us with a complimentary box of tea. Thanks to the Empress Hotel I can claim I visited the same place as Edward, Prince of Wales, and King George VI. Makes me wonder what complimentary gifts they received.
What’s your favorite place, sandwich, scone, or dessert for afternoon tea?
Video of the Empress Hotel including tearoom: