Sunday, April 10, 2011

reflections on a tea party: grown up style

One of the things I've always wanted to try in Victoria is High Tea at the Fairmont Empress Hotel. They serve up a healthy dose of pretentious, with some serious pastries. Totally worth a try, methinks!

I am someone who loves to organize events and get people together. I invited some girls from law school to join me for a Sunday afternoon tea. I never really did tea parties as a child, as I was more of a tomboy than anything (and the lack of friends didn't help either), so I thought I would have a grown up tea party to fulfill a childhood dream of a fancy-schmancy gathering of friends and discussing important things: like, stuff. Stuff that's cool, all the while drinking air and pretending to eat plastic treats. But this time....this time, would be real food, and REAL tea. And BOOM! Fancy tea party for grown ups. Who would or could resist?

I thought we'd turn up the hifalutin a notch or two by encouraging everyone to have some fun with this one. Wear some sort of fancy hair pieces, hairbands, fascinators and the like, and take pretentious to the next level.  How could you not? I mean if you're gonna pay $50.00 for tea and pastries, you might as well milk the experience for all it's worth! And that, I believe we did....

I also have a bit of a habit of being a little miss perfect about certain things: big events seem to be the big one. I obsessed about my dress for our law grad banquet for about 3 months...I had "a vision" about what I should look like and do my damndest to make it happen. It's pretty tragic, actually. So my hairpiece for my tea party had to be just right. I searched for a good few weeks and made sure I bought mine early...Am also a bit of an immediate gratification tool, so had to be sure I got as soon as I set the date for the tea....I clearly don't socialize enough. That or it's possibly the result of being 30, not having children and therefore more time to dwell on such things. Either way... Check out my fancy headband!!

So yes, you heard right - high tea costs around $50.00. BUT, one of my classmates told me that you can become a "Friend of the Empress" which you can apply for online and you can get reduced rates on certain services and rates at the Empress if you're a local. I signed up and got 20% off Afternoon Tea - $10.00 off. Suddenly, this is starting to look like it'll be worth the while. Being a student and all, you know. But...that didn't stop me. I mean, how many times can you say you went for high tea?....Really, Racquel? Yes most of  the reasons for many of my expenditures seem to be equally problematic. Just ask the bf.

Anywho... I was worried that no one would show. How 10 years old of me. But I was happy when we were eight of us, and everyone got into the spirit of things. Our host was super kind and attentive. I felt like a princess! We started off with a fruit salad, which was lovely - served with figs, and blackberries and the like. It wasn't the cantaloupe/grape combo you normally get. Good start! We each got to pick a tea, and they served it in the fancy tea cups which I was fairly that I'd be the only one to break one and have to pay for it by washing dishes or something equivalent because they were too pricey for me to afford. But I made it through without smashing anything. SUCCESS!

We then were served with the tiered tray of mini-sandwiches and pastries. Each person got to have one of each item, which as it turned out, made for a food hangover for many of us afterward. But well worth it!! So yummy. For starters the sandwiches were pretty phenomenal. There was a salmon and cream cheese pinwheel sandwich, which was probably the favorite around the table. There was a curry pumpernickel sandwich that was interesting, and surprisingly tasty. There was also some sort of mini croissants sandwiches. Anything in a mini croissant sandwich is tasty, really.

The tea lobby was just as you would expect it to look like....Completely over the top. There was the fancy upholstered chairs, the fireplace, chandeliers, the works. It was hilarious and wonderful all at the same time. As we ate, there was a pianist playing some tunes, which much to my surprise, I knew! The guy couldn't have been very old, b/c he was rocking some 90's songs that are very near and dear to me. At one point he was playing Smells Like Teen Spirit, and an older lady at the next table remarked, "Oh what a beautiful song". I thought that was cute...and a further testament to how great Nirvana is and always will be. Vive la grunge.

Swiped from Megan. YOINK!
The pastries - Apparently the pastry kitchen at the Empress is the only pastry kitchen in Victoria. That is a CRIME, if you ask me. But I must say what this lone pastry kitchen turns out is nothing short of fantastic: fresh scones were served with cream.....Drool. And came with our own individual tiny jar of jam. How is that not awesome? There was a custard tart with strawberry. A chocolate and vanilla cake with marzipan...I think.  There was also a hazlenut truffle cup. And I'm ashamed to say that, after 3 hours of sipping and chatting, I just couldn't finish eating everything. I applaud the Empress for actually making me turn away a dessert.

Everyone say "Tea"!!! 
The afternoon with these ladies was a great opportunity to just be girly, even if for a couple of hours. It was nice to take a break from the seriousness of school.  While not much of a girly-girl, having a close group of friends is something that I definitely have been missing out on whilst living here. Since I moved, I have found it somewhat difficult to really connect with girls out here. I had some pretty solid bonds with friends back home. I miss them terribly. They get me, and I am me when I'm with them. I am fun, I am the social coordinator of my group; people, who aren't my boyfriend (whom I'm pretty sure is paid to date me) actually like being around me.  In law school, I sometimes feel like that 14 year old that I once was. That girl who was awkward, and just didn't fit in all. Law school, I have come to find, is very much like high school; but with bank accounts! And let me be the first to tell you, I really didn't do well in high school. I wasn't all.  So here, even though I consider myself pretty rad NOW....there is still something that just doesn't seem to fit with me; that brought out that shy, afraid of just about everything, awkward, and angsty teenager who struggled with being different and would rather shave her head than speak in front of a group of people. As a result I think that I haven't attracted very many people into my social sphere or that I've been invited into the same.

Perhaps the way we interact here is different, where interaction is dictated by this program, and not by people freely living their lives. (The bf thinks this may be some of the reason). I just think I repel most people because I'm a massive jerk. LOL. The other thing that I thought was that this program is so demanding and all-consuming that people just don't seem to have the time to really invest in cultivating friendships outside of superficial hi's in the hallway, or the lunch catch-up. I am really not one for superficial friendships, but perhaps that is my downfall. It's foreign to me, but perhaps a necessary skill of being a good lawyer. That is the way I will choose to frame it.

Whoa...did I just derail my own post tea party commentary? HA, nope! Like I said, my social experiences normally revolve around food - these experiences allow me to reflect on other things happening in my life.  Despite the aforementioned gap I have experienced in the realm of friends, I still try to see all of this in a positive light and make some adjustments where necessary. As such I have tried to be more sociable and to have more fun this year. Being too serious and focusing on things that are missing, make me not see the big picture of  all of the good and beautiful things that surround my life everyday...and to be thankful for those good things. Life is too short to be so serious. I feel that I should plan something else fun...I have always wanted to do a boudoir shoot. Wheels are turning....I will get back to you.



  2. I had such a great time @ the tea party! Yay for organizing it. And for what it's worth... Paul has made some awesome friends @ law school (many of them were @ tea) and I'm so lucky to be able to consider his friends my friends too. The whole grad weekend was a little sad for me because it was the last time I saw many great people! So even though you & Shane will be in Alberta, we must keep in touch. We're looking to buy a place by the end of August & there will always be a spare bed/couch for you two!
    Also, the three months thinking about the dress paid off! You looked fabulous!