Sugared & Spiced

pâtissière in paris, now shanghai

[Paris] Tea Time at Le Meurice

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Le Dalí at Le Meurice

Add: 228 rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris
Tel: +33 1 44 58 10 10
Hours: [breakfast] 8~11:30am [lunch] 12:30~3pm [tea time] 3:30~6pm [dinner] 7:30~10:30pm
Websitewww.dorchestercollection.com/en/paris/le-meurice
Price: [tea sets] €46~64 [tea] €14~18 [pastries] €16
Visited on: Apr 2014

A dear friend was visiting Paris last week with her husband and, knowing her penchant for tea and desserts in sumptuous surroundings, I decided to have our afternoon rendezvous at Le Meurice, a historical hotel re-designed by Philippe Starck in 2007 to infuse 18th century opulence with contemporary chic. Tea time here takes places at Le Dalí, a gorgeous space named after the surrealist painter Salvador Dalí, who spent at least one month per year at the hotel. Apparently Dalí once demanded that a herd of sheep be brought to his room, then shot them with his pistol (filled with blank bullets) upon their arrival.  Another time, he asked the staff to capture flies for him in the Tuileries Garden, paying them five francs (around one euro) per fly. Yup.

sugared & spiced - tea time at le meurice

sugared & spiced - tea time at le meurice

sugared & spiced - tea time at le meurice

But I digress. Back to tea time at Le Meurice, ahem. I am fortunate to have previously met Cédric Grolet, the head pastry chef at Le Meurice, and when he heard that I was coming to tea with friends, he simply said – “Choose your tea, and I will take care of the pastries.” And there, I knew we were in good hands.

sugared & spiced - tea time at le meurice

So I did as told. For tea, I chose “fleur d’orient” (€18), which is hand-crafted green tea flavored with jasmine, and adorned with chrysanthemum flowers, jasmine, and rose. The tea came in a compressed little ball, and as hot water was added, it relaxed into flowers and leaves. Pretty.

sugared & spiced - tea time at le meurice

Then, plates of beautiful pastries appeared on our table. Oh, my.

sugared & spiced - tea time at le meurice

I was first attracted to the St. Honoré Fraise Roquette by its vibrant red. The St. Honoré flavor at Le Meurice changes regularly, and this strawberry / rocket leave ensemble only just came out on the day of our visit. I’ve never had rocket leaves in sweets before, and was very pleasantly surprised by the balance between its subtly bitter flavor and the refreshing sweetness of strawberries. Since it is now strawberry season, pastry shops all over Paris have come up with their interpretation of this fruit, but this strawberry / rocket leave combination is so far the most memorable I’ve tasted.

sugared & spiced - tea time at le meurice

sugared & spiced - tea time at le meurice

sugared & spiced - tea time at le meurice

sugared & spiced - tea time at le meurice

Then, Éclair Chocolat Épicé – chocolate éclair spiced with ginger and piment d’Espelette, which is a variety of chili pepper from Espelette, France. The spices were quite subtle, elevating the chocolate into something more complex without overpowering the palate. I also quite appreciated the bits of cocoa bean sprinkled over the glaze, providing crunch and extra flavor.

sugared & spiced - tea time at le meurice

sugared & spiced - tea time at le meurice

We were then served a lemon. A lemon? A lemon.

sugared & spiced - tea time at le meurice

Which, of course, was not just a lemon. Inside a thin coating of white chocolate molded to resemble real lemon rind, there are yuzu cream, lemon confit, and citrus caviar. Citrus caviar, also known as finger limes, is a fruit containing juicy pearls similar to caviar in size and texture, but with a flavor that’s a combination of lemon, lime, and grapefruit. I absolutely love biting into these tiny pearls, which burst with tangy citrus flavors. Needless to say, this lemon was the best lemon I’ve ever had, and also reminded me of the lemon & lemon tart from Mr. & Mrs. Bund in Shanghai, as well as the meat fruit from Dinner by Heston Blumenthal in London. Of course each is unique in its composition, but you see the resemblance.

sugared & spiced - tea time at le meurice

Now, does this look like lemon peel to you, or does it look like lemon peel to you?

R1074605sugared & spiced - tea time at le meurice

A few other delicious sweet bites we had included financiers with a strawberry heart, and hazelnut diamant cookies.

sugared & spiced - tea time at le meurice

sugared & spiced - tea time at le meurice

If you are curious about price, I can’t tell you exactly how much each pastry is because chef Grolet graciously took these off of our bill, but subsequent Googling told me that these cost about €16 each. Le Dalí also offers afternoon tea sets ranging from €46 to €64, which includes a selection of sandwiches, scones, sweets, and hot beverage and/or champagne. I haven’t tried the sets myself and have heard mixed reviews about them, but I wholeheartedly recommend the à la carte items I tasted. Other than all the lovely sweets, we were also charmed by the comfortable chairs, the live double bass performance, the warm and attentive waitstaff, and lingered for almost 4 hours. I could certainly use more afternoons like this.

sugared & spiced - tea time at le meurice

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Written by sugarednspiced

May 5th, 2014 at 1:47 pm