While I’m an avid tea drinker who does not discriminate by type – I find that I most enjoy red teas, bonus points if they’re French 😉.
I discovered Rouge Provence by Mariage Frères during my last trip to Paris a few years ago. I’d gone with my mother (Pre-S days) , and we ended up spending a very cold and rainy week in April fighting off some godawful version of The Crud™. My mom certainly had it worse than I did, but one day I was able to convince her to venture out from our hotel in search of tea. After encountering a big miss on the Rue Saint Honoré, we hailed a taxi and headed to Le Marais for The Good Stuff™, destination: Salon de Thé de Mariage Freres.
I honestly couldn’t tell you what tea I ordered that day – I just remembered enjoying a marble green tea (and violet?) cake, and admittedly – the eye candy (again, this was Pre-S!) – the waiters dress in full white suits with bowties. BUT, I do remember trying the tea my mother ordered – Rouge Provence, a red Rooibos. Mariage Frères officially describes it as
“The aroma of red and black berries is wed to the sweet, mild flavour of the tea leaves, underscored by wild lavender and enlivened by rose petals.”
I’ve been drinking this for years, and am surprised to see the presence of rose – for me, this is a beautiful berry with well balanced lavender. Some floral teas can be overwhelming (I think that was the aforementioned issue on the rue Saint-Honoré. Well, that and the tea was terrible quality), but not here. Even with the presence of lavender, it is something that I enjoy year round.
A few months ago, S took me out to dinner at one of our favorite local places, Theodore Rex, for my birthday dinner. They’d just undergone a reinvention of sorts – new name, decor, menu and pricing structure. But they kept the same staff, and the type of the food remained the same. We always enjoy chatting up their resident sommelier, who delivers her pairings with a lot of knowledge, humor, and wit.
During this particular dinner, we decided to pick her brain about Madeiras. We weren’t necessarily unfamiliar with dessert wines (S’s dad is a Port fan), but neither one of us had ever tried a Madeira. After a brief lesson, we sampled 2 of their 3 offerings with our last two courses, and our interest was piqued.
Things kind of got busy – we got married, had family in town, followed by the holidays… but we found ourselves back at T-Rex a few weeks ago, this time for S’s birthday. Remembering our mini Madeira tasting from the previous visit, we opted to split 2 pours of two different Madeiras again. 1 we had tried on the previous visit, but we were told was leaving the menu (we may have even been tapping the last bottle), and 1 that had been recommended to pair perfectly with our Paris-Brest – D’Oliveira 5 Years Medium Sweet Madeira.
The recommendation was perfectly on point, and we are slightly hooked now. Their version of the Paris-Brest is filled with a “sweet” Swiss cheese cream, unlike the traditional hazelnut cream filling (one of my favorites), and the D’Oliveira Medium Sweet complimented the tartness nicely. The Madeira has a beautiful nuttiness to it, as well as notes of toffee and dried fruits. Honestly, to my tastebuds – the combination tasted like an otherworldly tiramisu.
We’ve since been able to purchase a bottle locally to enjoy at home. This Madeira pairs super well with not too sweet desserts – cobblers and cheesecake for sure, but it is also nice to just sip alone or as an aperitif with some savory nibbles.
The D’Oliveira 5 Years Medium Sweet Madeira can be purchased online here or here, if you live in one of the states they can ship to. Otherwise, it should be pretty each to procure through your local wine merchant!