An afternoon at the Red Tea Box, Toronto

I am watching Meilleur Patissier de France (Best pastry chef of France) on M6, my favourite TV station/guilty pleasure.

Today’s challenge was to make a “Voyageur” almond cake, so named because it can keep for 3 days at room temperature. The tricky bit for the 12 contestants was the fondant icing. Ah, yet another ‘false friend’: fondant is just regular glazed icing to me, while what anglos call fondant icing is pâte à sucre (sugar paste) here, and such cake decoration is almost non-existent in Paris*.

On the other hand, we saw some stunning examples when in Toronto a few weeks ago, at the Red Tea Box.

One of our favourite neighbourhoods in Toronto is the stretch of Queen St W. by Trinity Bellwood park. Our friend Fauna kindly sacrified her Friday afternoon off to battle traffic and fetch us from Pearson (when is Canada’s largest city going to have a subway line to the airport, like a normal metropolis?),  then brought us here for some mid-afternoon sustenance.

I had been here 10 years before, again with Fauna (my source of all things cool in TO), and had never forgotten the experience. It was my first time tasting white Chinese tea, and I went gaga for the savory-sweet, Asian-influenced nibblies served in bento boxes. Since then I’ve made many trips to Toronto and tried repeatedly to visit, often dragging Torontophobic, tea-loving HerrKaa to prove the city has its merits even if there are no mountains, but this place would always be closed, ultimately reinforcing entrenched stereotypes.

The server was very friendly and we enjoyed being able to banter with her unhindered by linguistic mental gymnastics. She did tend to mysteriously disappear for long stretches, but this suited us fine as we needed time to choose from the extensive tea menu and to dither between soup of the day, a tea bento, or a gooey dessert.

In the end, HerrKaa opted for a chocolate hazlenut toffeecake, while Fauna and I split a tea bento that featured along with the savouries a chocolate lavender mousse. Because I am greedy was famished I also had a cauliflower, pear and wasabe soup to start. All this was accompanied by a huge pot, practically a vat, of steeped black tea. Such a thrill compared to the minuscule pots of tepid water you get when you are order tea at a typical café in France!

The Red Tea Box (phone for opening hours as they can be irregular)

696 Queen St W, Toronto


* In Paris, you can order pretty cakes decorated with rolled fondant/pâte à sucre at the American (and I think Canadian)-run Sugarplum Cake Shop, near Contrescarpe. David Lebovitz has a good write-up here.


Waiting for Sarko

We live a block away from the Maison de la Mutualité, where a group of affluent-looking and sparklingly-white youth are gathering, many clutching French flags. Despite it’s history as a hang-out for the Left, it looks like the ruling (for now) UMP have taken it over to wait for what everyone is assuming will be a concessionary speech by Sarkozy.

Outside the Maison de la Mutualité, 18h45 May 6.

Meanwhile, traffic at the Swiss border is unusually active today in anticipation of a return to Socialist rule.

Early evening light






Some of you have noticed an uptick in postings. Ironically, this is because our Mac laptop is currently out of commission. When Herr Kaa took off skiing a few weeks ago, I found myself staring at the abyss; that is, the prospect of being without  computer & internet access for a week (work doesn’t count as our internet access there has strict limits. Often if I have to ask HerrKaa to check my gmail account from his office).

So this finally pushed me to join the 21st century & get a smartphone. Which means that I have a camera with me all the time now. And since I’m working an earlier day, this allows me to capture the incredible morning & evening skies in all their wintry  blue-mauve-lilac glory.

These pics I took on Monday evening while hustling from the Hotel de Ville metro on the Right Bank to my physio’s clinic on the Left Bank, via the Ile St Louis. I was late for my appointment but he forgave me when I showed him how pretty the sky looked….