It’s been way too long since my last post but to be honest this past month was quite uneventful in terms of new discoveries, which led me to decide to diversify this blog a bit, but more on that later. For now, let’s talk about the Ritz.
Last week I spent a few days in Paris. It was the perfect occasion to check out the newly renovated Ritz. The hotel reopened in 2016 after 4 years of renovations and it was the first time it closed since first opening in 1898. Not even World War II managed to force the Ritz to close, so this renovation was a big deal.
When stepping in, you’re immediately transported to another era. It is so traditionally french that’s it’s almost a cliché of itself. I left 2017 to travel back to a time where ladies wore impressive dresses and the country was governed by a King. It was fun!
It was 4pm, perfect timing for tea, so we headed to the Salon Proust. This room was added to the Ritz during the renovation and I instantly loved its cosiness while keeping that old school vibe.
The room hosts hundreds of books and was named after Marcel Proust, a regular customer of the Ritz who also wrote parts of “Remembrance of Things Past” while staying at the hotel. We sat next to the fireplace and relaxed to enjoy a glass of champagne. At that exact moment I decided every Monday afternoon should look like this one.
I was extremely excited by the prospect of trying pastries at the Ritz. I’ve been following François Perret, the head pastry chef, for quite a while and I’ve been drooling over his barquettes and madeleines ever since.
The whole concept of the “Thé à la Française” served in the salon, is directly connected to the history of the venue. In French, the expression “madeleine de Proust” refers to an action triggering a very strong memory. It also comes from a passage of Remembrance of Things Past. In that text, Proust wrote about remembering dipping a madeleine into a cup of tea. The seemingly unimportant action, reminded him of one of the best time in his life. As a little wink to Proust, the pastry team decided to work on treats we all used to love as children.
The whole experience wasn’t cheap. You need to count 65€ for a classic Thé à la Française and 85€ if you want to enjoy a glass of Barons de Rothschild Réserve Ritz with your tea. But the experience is worth it, the pastries are fantastic and the amount of food you get is incredible. Let me show you.
We started with a mini madeleine inflused with milk and lime. The theme was respected right from the start and I got to try a mini version of the infamous madeleine.
I always loved madeleines and whenever I eat one, I literally can’t stop until the box is empty (shout out to Dominique Ansel’s madeleines by the way). I wanted at least another 10 of these.
We then moved to a Baba au Rhum, vanilla and citrus with a 23 year old rhum. I usually hate Babas and this one didn’t look particularly nice so I wasn’t too excited about this second petit four but it was just perfect. I don’t ever want to eat another Baba in my life. It was accompanied by a vanilla and mandarine cream but you could just as well eat it on its own.
After these first two petit fours, we relaxed to enjoy our champagne and tea (it might have been my favourite jasmine tea of all time. They roll the tea in fresh jasmine leaves to make sure there is no bitterness!). When we saw the stand arrive on the table we thought there was a mistake, it was MASSIVE.
It was a (french) child’s heaven and it definitely achieved it’s goal of transporting you back to childhood (at least if you’ve been a child in France). The cake marbré (cake with spirales of chocolate that creates a marbled interior), the bigger version of the madeleine, the barquette (little boat of genoise with a jam heart), the tarte aux pommes (apple pie), the meringue, the tarte au sucre (sugar tart), the bread with cocoa nibs, the guimauve (marshmallows),… everything was perfectly executed but very close to the traditional version.
It was so much food, that we had to ask for a doggy bag. I was glad we did because I got to enjoy these treats for the next 2 days and remembering such a great afternoon.
I have to go back though because I set my eyes on a new creation from François Perret: The Pomelos cheesecake. When are we going back to Paris?
We had Thé royal à la française – 85€