An “Empress”-ive Tea!

DSC_0015I consider myself blessed to live on B.C.’s West Coast in the beautiful city of Victoria. Every year thousands of tourists make their way to our province’s capital to enjoy everything from the world-famous Butchart Gardens to our picturesque inner harbour. It’s fun to be a tourist in our town and those of us who live here like to take advantage of that too, as I did recently while enjoying afternoon tea at the iconic Fairmont Empress Hotel. 

If you are visiting Victoria, Afternoon tea at The Empress is almost a rite of passage and locals love it too! Recently renovated, the Empress Hotel continues to wow visitors with its unique blend of old and new.

If you are a tea aficionado, then this is the place for you! Apart from the six teas that are complimentary with your afternoon tea, there is also a wide variety of specialty teas to choose from. I tend to stick with the Empress Blend, a lovely orange pekoe tea that makes a great accompaniment to the afternoon tea experience.

While pricey, the Empress Afternoon Tea is an experience you won’t soon forget. A blend of sweet and savoury (including their famous scones with Devonshire cream and jam) the menu is truly a classic example of what afternoon tea is all about. And if you really want to indulge, they offer both a Champagne Tea or Royal Champagne Tea as well! Go ahead and indulge yourself…. after all, you’re on holiday or at least you can pretend to be!

“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”                                                                                                           Henry James – Portrait of a LadyEmpress hotel

Dishing up fun!

I LOVE dishes! It’s a great way to make a statement at any party, and the right serving platter manages to make your food look even more appealing. Summer is probably one of best times to pull out your colourful statement dishes. Here are some of my favourites.

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Somehow this dish just makes dessert even more appealing

I love a summer fiesta, so dishes that are bright and colourful really help pull the party together.

 

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And nothing quite says summer like these watermelon dishes. They look good enough to eat!

Have fun discovering which dishes work best for you! So many colours, themes, styles, shapes and sizes, which is why shopping for dishes can take on a life of its own!

 

Last but not least… there’s coffee and chocolate. I’ll leave you with two of my favourites. The chocolate dish is an original design that’s quirky and humorous, and perfect for presenting after-dinner treats. And who could resist coffee from these adorable coffee cups?

 

Hope you manage to “dish up” some great times at your summer parties!

Zesty Quinoa Salada

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If you’re like me, you are always on the lookout for a new salad, especially in summer. I tried a version of this quinoa salad recently and have tweaked it for my own tastes. I’m sure you can adjust it accordingly too, but it’s a refreshing healthy salad that is sure to be a hit with your guests.

Zesty Quinoa Salad

Ingredients  (makes 6 servings)

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup kernel corn
  • 1 carrot – thinly sliced
  • 1 cup snap peas (cut into halves or thirds) – can also use cucumber
  • 5 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Bring quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until quinoa is tender and water has been absorbed, 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. Whisk olive oil, lime juice, cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, and red pepper flakes together in a bowl.
  3. Combine quinoa, tomatoes, black beans, corn, carrots, and green onions together in a bowl. Pour dressing over quinoa mixture; toss to coat. Stir in cilantro; season with salt and black pepper. Serve immediately or chill in refrigerator.

 Enjoy – wishing you a fabulous summer!

Canada’s 150th birthday!

Here in Canada we are getting pretty excited for our country’s 150th birthday party! Red and white seems to be everywhere at the moment… from the iconic Canadian T-shirts, to trendy red and white home decor, there’s plenty to choose from if you want to transform your home, your yard, or your table for this party!DSC_0085

Check out HomeSense or Marshalls for some Canadian home decor ideas. If it’s clothing you need, then check out Roots Canada, as they are featuring some great attire for Canada’s 150th. And if you’re looking for Canadian-themed party decor, the Dollarstore is the best bet for some real bargains.

So call up your friends and plan a gathering for this July 1st – it’s bound to be extra special. And if you happen to be in Victoria B.C., see you at the fireworks show!

Here’s a throwback to a few years back when we really tried to rock the Canada Day theme! Hope you find just the right outfit this year!IMG_5694

Happy Canada Day!