Surrounded by the glamorous Palm Court in the Ritz Carlton, Kosher High Tea is served with all the pomp and circumstance one would expect. This very civilized tradition has been going on at the Ritz since 1912, serving generations of Montrealer’s.
Mrs. Danielle Medina is a supplier of kosher airline meals and owner of Food with a Conscience, founded in 2007. Three years ago, Mrs. Medina began renting the kosher kitchen at the Ritz Carlton and has never looked back. The Montreal Jewish community has been the fortunate beneficiary of this collaboration.
After some investigation, she determined that Kosher High Tea did not exist in North America. With help from the management at the Ritz, Mrs. Medina began her quest to make her dream a reality.
The British tradition of High Tea began in the mid 1700s as an afternoon meal usually served between 3 and 4 o'clock. Initially, it was a meal for the working man, taken standing up or sitting on tall stools, thus 'high'.
Tea with cakes, scones, even cheese on toast would have been served. Later, John Montagu, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, had the idea of placing meat and other fillings between two slices of bread. Thus, the High Tea sandwich was created.
The Ritz Kosher High Tea Experience
High Tea at the Ritz is served Sunday thru Thursday from 12:30 thru 3:30 pm, by reservation. Upon entering the Palm Court, one is directed to comfortable wing-backed chairs facing each other, with a beautifully appointed table between them. You can also choose to sit on the welcoming sofas or, if you desire privacy, in the upper anteroom outside the Oval Room.
The Wedgewood china for the kosher high tea has a different pattern, so as not to be mixed up with the regular Ritz china.
The waiter discreetly comes to your table, explaining the different varieties of teas offered. These are not just any teas. They come from a Toronto-based company called Sloane Fine Tea Merchants, headed by an Indian born Persian who is a certified tea sommelier.
The tea arrives as loose leaves at the Ritz and is then placed small gauze pouches. You can choose from Perfectly Pear tea, Heavenly Cream, Masala Chai or Lapsang souchong, a smokier tea. When the tea arrives at your table, the waiter places the pot in front of you, accompanied by an hourglass timer that will indicate, from your choice, when your tea is fully steeped.
Accompanying the tea is a three-tiered stand, delicately filled with mouth-watering scones on the top, small, dainty sandwiches in the middle tier and delightful bite-sized pastries on the bottom.
To try and describe the mouth-watering scones is difficult. They are fluffy yet slightly sweet, and simply melt in your mouth. Each one is made by Mrs. Medina, who perfected the recipe with the help of a London kosher caterer. The typical clotted cream is not served with the scones, as the kosher kitchen is not dairy. However, there are homemade preserves that enhance the exquisite taste.
Foodies, kosher and not, are beginning to discover this sophisticated yet very affordable interlude in their day. Articles have been written about this one and only Kosher High Tea establishment in North America and slowly, many are discovering this Montreal treasure, making reservations a must.