High Tea at Le Meurice : Pastries of Opulence
I was so happy to be invited by Le Meurice for a tea time tasting of their pastries, which are renowned, and rightly so given the dedication to French excellence in pastry arts and cuisine that is promoted by this Dorchester Collection hotel.
But an article about tea time at Le Meurice will no doubt spark a conversation about the recent media frenzy over the boycott against hotels owned by the sultan of Brunei, a small sovereign nation that is pocketed on a Malaysian coastline. Anna Wintour and all the celebrities have a very valid point in boycotting hotels owned by this sultan who is integrating sharia law into his country’s customs. I IN NO WAY SUPPORT SHARIA LAW IN ANY WAY. These laws are intrinsically homophobic, misogynist and inhumane. I think radical leaders like Hassanal Bolkiah should be given a taste of their very own oppression and discrimination. I support Anna Wintour and the fashion industry boycotting the Dorchester Collection hotels. But… I also support the dedicated and open minded professionals that work in and for these hotels. These people have nothing to do with the garish laws implemented in Brunei, nor its sultan’s opinions or religious inclination. These people who work in hotels such as Le Meurice, uphold the standards of luxury and tolerance of people from all walks of life. The wonderful people who work for Le Meurice support French standards of business, liberté, égalité, fraternité. I find it sad that these people are the ones being in essence hurt by this sultan’s decisions, and it isn’t fair for them at all. They do an amazing job of running a hotel with high French standards. I do hope the public opinion can put enough pressure on the sultan for him to retract his decision for sharia law without putting in danger the jobs of those who work in his hotels.
Now… can we talk about pastries!?!
I was invited last minute to the Alain Ducasse, Dali restaurant at Le Meurice hotel for tea time to taste the amazing pastries that are offered there on the menu. I entered the lavish Ara Stark crowned dining room (Ara stark pointed the art work on the ceiling) where everything looks cozy and elegant and inviting. I sat down at a beautifully set, pristine table with the social media manager for the hotel and the new attaché de presse, and a few other French bloggers for an indulgent afternoon.
We were served a little bit of salé first, finger sandwiches which are a staple on any tea time menu, and then they began bringing out the pastries. After a procession of plate after plate, our table was laden with decadent goodness! It was a plethora of incredible desserts, and they just kept coming… I didn’t see how I would be able to taste them all (but I was most certainly determined to try!).
We were given an explanation of the dining room by the director of the Dali restaurant, Souhade Chikhaoui, who is an enthusiastic French-Tunisian woman with a charming southern accent. She was a gracious host and generous with such a bountiful tea time. (She even sent me home with some of their gluten free treats for me to share with Chéri!) Her enthusiasm for the quality and excellence that comes out of the Dali kitchen was palpable and contagious. We were also given delightfully detailed descriptions of each of the masterpiece desserts that were in front of us by the pâtisserie chef Céderic Grolet‘s assistant, Maxim Frederic. I especially loved his description of the fruit pastries. These are not your every day fruit pastries my dears, these are works of culinary art! The peach, is a dream. Shaped like a real peach it is a white chocolate shell, with a fresh and fluffy cream interior, and inside THAT cream interior, there is a fruit compote of peach infused with verveine. I can’t even begin to describe the pure delight in biting into that. It had this plump juicy flavor, like a peach, that was creamy and so incredibly smooth. I have never had a dessert quite like that. There was a cherry dessert very similar to the peach, created the same way, and placed on top of a little tarlette, that was crisp and light with a slight crumble to go perfectly with the cherry flavor. I couldn’t stop gasping with wide eyes at every new dessert I tried.
My other favorite dessert was the lemon meringue tart. It was as pretty as it was incredible. (I need more adjectives to describes these desserts). A light tart crust like the cherry dessert, it had a lemon filling and a meringue topping. Now the lemon filling was made with what is called lemon caviar (or the Australian finger lime). It is a finger shaped, citrus flavored fruit that has these tiny little pearls of fruit inside the skin which are harvested, and used for flavor. These little “lemon pearls” are in the lemon tart served at Le Meurice, and the burst with flavor in your mouth as you enjoy this divine dessert. I am not kidding you, it was better than my grandmother’s lemon pie! And my grandmother made a one-of-a-kind Meyers lemon pie. I will now daydream of this lemon tarte every time I’m in the mood for lemon pie. And not to be neglected is the meringue. It takes a dexterous pastry chef to pipe out such perfect little tufts of meringue with such perfect unison and precious. It was the perfect amount of fluff and smoothness to balance the tang from the lemon caviar. I will be going back for more lemon tart!
I also tried the scones with clotted cream and jam…..oooooh heaven… one of the best combinations known to man, scones and clotted cream.
And the Saint Honoré, a vanilla caramel cream puff pastry….. indulgence at its finest and most refined.
And their home made sugar coated cookies, financier crumpets encrusted in almond slivers and on until I was so gorged on creams and sweets I was sure I couldn’t eat any more. Talk about decadence!
For a full list of the tea time menu and prices you can click her : Le Meurice Tea Time Menu.
Tea Time at Le Meurice from 3:30-6:00pm is a wonderful way to celebrate an afternoon with girlfriends, if you are on a shopping trip in Paris, or just need a good chat over some to-die-for desserts, or if you have a little occasion to celebrate… or a big one! The ambiance is luxurious, the service impeccable, the staff extremely kind and helpful, and you feel like la reine du jour when you are bathed in the dedication to excellence that is the signature of Le Meurice. I was utterly charmed by my every moment while visiting their beautiful dining room, and can’t wait to return for more. Thank you to their entire team for such an elegant welcome, and memorable afternoon.
And let’s not dismiss this high tea even as anything but ordinary, and always prepare ourselves to look our afternoon-finest… For example…