If ever there was a way to bid farewell to the Ritz Paris as it prepares to close for 27 months of renovations, this is it. My favourite model looks spectacular as she romps around the hotel under the watchful eye of Tim Walker. I love the image with Kate in the red: I recall sitting on that sofa in the Imperial Suite sipping champagne last year, and thinking what a phenomenal place to be, with views on to Place Vendôme. Needless to say, I wasn’t wearing anything quite as extravagant, but it was still a dream! I cannot wait to see the Ritz reformed to the glory it deserves.
“I’m expecting the tea of my life” proclaimed my friend when we made the booking. We had very high hopes for our monthly Afternoon Tea at Paris’ most renowned hotel – The Ritz.
We had hoped to have tea in the garden but that wonderful rain, in July no less, dashed our hopes. It seems the good ole British summer has a passport and rather fancies France! Bar Vendôme is not a shabby place to have as a fall back, non? Firstly, this bar/dining area is very different to any of the other locations I’ve been to on my tea travels: the ceiling are very low, it’s quite dark and it has a much older feel to it, and by “older” I don’t mean old-fashioned, I just mean old. “I feel like should order a whiskey and light a cigar” was Ashleigh’s hilarious comment, and it’s so true. The bar is incredibly masculine. One of my friends disliked the pianist’s choice of songs but personally, I really liked her playing (and have no idea which songs they were). It added a much-needed touch of glamour
We chose to go with the full Afternoon Tea – sandwiches, scones, French patisseries and so on. I’m oblivious to many things, but trust me, I know a thing or two or about tea and people, it should not be served in a bag. The sandwiches were nothing short of awful. They were so awful that for the last two, one of my fellow tea-ers, opted out completely. They were well presented as one would expect, but the pleasure ended there. One was with so much cream cheese, you couldn’t feel the texture of the bread and worse still, we couldn’t agree on whether it was turkey or ham. The other three ladies are adamant it was turkey, but I’m sticking with my ham theory solely because to admit the other option, means that the Ritz Paris served us processed turkey, and that is just beyond me. Either way, we couldn’t taste anything by cream cheese. The tomato bread sandwich with a thin slice of cucumber on top was rather pretty and what an optimist would have labelled “moist”. In reality it was soggy. Let’s put it this way: none of the sandwiches were any good. It pains me to say this but you know, I rather be honest about the good and the bad.
Fortunately, just when I was ready to wrap it up and go home, the desserts wooed me with their fresh flavours and delicious textures. I can officially state that the best madeleine I’ve ever had was at the Ritz Paris – a little buttery cake of pure heaven and the lemon cake was by far my favourite. Champagne (thank you dearest Ashleigh!), lemon cake and wonderful company – yes please! Top marks for serving clotted cream with the scones. Far too many places think butter will do but trust me, the cream make the scones!
To end on a positive note, I have to say that the service we received was faultless. The waiters were incredibly nice and accommodating, as well as being professional. Along with the desserts, the service was most definitely a highlight of our tea adventure at the Ritz Paris.
The name says it all – The Ritz Paris. Wow. I’ve walked through Place Vendôme so many times and wondered just what was behind those stunning doors. It is one of the most famous hotels in the world and as I experienced earlier this month, it takes luxury to an entire new level. Travel Onion invited myself and several other bloggers to a cooking event at the École Ritz Escoffier, and I couldn’t wait to get into my chef whites – watch out kitchen!
Our event started with a tour of the Imperial Suite, a 200-square metre space complete with two bedrooms available to you all at 13,000€ per night. From the astoundingly high ceilings to the rich opulent tones, this suite screams French royalty and was indeed inspired by the Louis XIV era. The sprawling space is ridiculously comfortable – those red chairs complete with gold embroidery should come with a “you will not want to move” warning. Now I know understand why my fellow Brit Winston Churchill enjoyed this suite.
Modelled on Marie-Antoinette’s bedroom, one of the decadent bedrooms really is fit for the queen. With the perfect view overlooking the historic Place Vendôme and a shopper’s paradise: Chanel, Boucheron and Charvet to name but a few. As nice as the bedroom is, it was the bathroom which captivated me. Can you imagine lazing is this bath-tub, glass of champagne to your left as you read a copy of Vogue Paris cover to cover? I can but unfortunately, at 13,000€ per night, my imagination is all I have.
As we made our way down to ‘our’ kitchen, we stopped by the main kitchen only to discover that all food is prepared here – pastry, chocolate, bread et al – 24/7. Gourmet room service at the press of a button, all from Marie-Antoinette’s bath tub… Yes, still dreaming! Our chef, Mr Didier Steudler is not only a great teacher, but also a very personable teacher. Look, we were at The Ritz and we were about to cook, not only in front of our fellow bloggers, but in a Ritz kitchen. Er, intimidating! Chef Steudler put us at ease and made everything very clear.
Our first mission was the preparation of the starter: Confit tomato tart, baby arugula, grated parmesan cheese and smoked ham. Who knew such a delicious and beautifully presented dish could be so simple? If you come over to my apartment for supper, don’t be surprised if I serve this. Perfectly light, tasty, pretty and you don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen. You can obviously omit the ham from the recipe as one of my fellow blogettes did et voilà, you have a scrumptious vegetarian dish.
I was a vegetarian for 10 years. Not one of those fake ones who eat fish and white meat, a real I-don’t-eat-anything-with-a-face vegetarian, and though that is no longer the case (sashimi is my friend), I have never liked the texture of meat. Up until this month, I’d never even tasted veal but we were cooking “sage-infused veal medallions with potato and celeraic gratin”, so why not! The meat was so tender, the mustard sauce divine but that perfect, succulent veal is hard to get over. The gratin full of butter, cream, milk and cheese was sublime and I cannot wait to make at home but what did I think about the politically incorrect veal? Sorry vegetarians but I beeping loved it! Culinary bliss.
Cooking classes are always fun, particularly the eating part. What attracts me most l’école Ritz Escoffieur is that you’re not just cooking with the best, but within The Ritz building itself. What a wonderful experience, which I will treasure. A big merci beaucoup to the Travel Onion team, chef Steudler and of course, The Stephanies who put the event together.
École Ritz Escoffier, Hotel Ritz Paris, 15 Place Vendôme, +33 (0) 1 43 16 30 30
Milla’s note: Whilst we ate dinner at The Ritz Paris, which we cooked ourselves (and some people burnt but no names…), these are my own opinions for which I have received no monetary compensation.