On the day I stopped by the Hotel MacDonald to pick up a some of Chef Jiju Paul’s new Confederation Lounge offerings, a handful of Fairmont members stood at their curbside post, safely distanced and at the ready. We talked through our masks and over one another as we traded heartfelt hellos and nice-to-see-yous. It was a fast and furious exchange but it made me realize just how much I missed human interaction.

The hotel’s Director of Sales & Marketing, Danielle Lundy, reminded me that the last time we saw each other was in 2019. We got together¬† then for a long table patio dinner on a warm June evening and socialized without a thought or care of being too close or asymptomatic. It feels like that happened in a different era and on a different planet.

The patio at The Mac, June 2019

Aside from these work-related menu reveals of which I am immensely grateful to attend, I have happily patronized the Hotel Mac for personal events, too. It’s where I take out-of-towners to wow them with the view and some appetizers on the patio, and it’s the Confederation Lounge I seek out for a martini when I’m feeling a little Bogie-and-Bacall. I’ve celebrated special occasions over dinner in the Harvest Room, and in the months before COVID, I attended a drag brunch that was so raucous, Mrs. John A. MacDonald would surely have suffered a spell of the vapors, had she been alive to see it.

The Confederation Lounge (from @FairmontMac Instagram)

Many of you will have gone to The Mac for similar occasions, no doubt, but…have you wandered the wide, carpeted hallways and poked your head into the ballrooms to gawk at the fabulously adorned ceilings and gargantuan chandeliers? Have you excused yourself from dinner just to go look for Smudge so you can give him a good, long scratch behind the ears? Have you roamed the corridors in hopes of finding an empty powder room just to hear how great it is to belt out a show tune and let the sound bounce off the marble walls? Those powder rooms have amazing acoustics.

Adorable Smudge (photo cred: @FairmontMac Instagram)

What I’m getting at is this: that hotel is a treasure, and I’m so glad it didn’t succumb to demolition years ago because this storied limestone-clad chateau on the banks of the River Valley has at least another century of memories waiting to be made. I can’t wait to go back.

When it’s safe to do so, find a comfy spot in that lounge and relax with some fantastic food and wine. Take in the ambience and the history of this 106 year-old-grand dame; find Smudge and give him a good petting…and then go sing your heart out.

For now, enjoy Chef Jiju Paul’s new Confederation Lounge items as takeout. There are many delicious options. Have a look at the menu and feast your eyes below on some of the dishes I tried.

Strawberry and cream-filled scones (perfect for Valentine’s Day!)

Kitchen Board: Artisanal cheeses, foie gras pate encroute, locally sourced fine cured meats, smoked olives, pickles, house mustard, grapes, house made bread

Negronis, chocolate strip cake and burnt Mac honey ice cream (ice cream is part of the scones dish)

Falafel bowl: Avocado, cherry tomato, cucumber, tzatziki, organic pita bread, pickled onion, cilantro (option to add chickens or prawns).

Braised beef cheek: English peas, cipollini onions, gnocchi, buttermilk shallots, jus.

All items come assembled in take out containers but it’s no work at all to plate it up at home to make it look fancy. The point is, this food is delicious, and you didn’t have to cook it!

Do you have fond Mac memories? I’d love to hear them.