Delicate bites of EnglandMe, bull with china
Disclaimer: the photo here is not an actual cup and actual cookie from my "high tea" with the girls. It is for representational purposes only. Actual cup and plate designs varied, and actual tea time snacks were much smaller and prettier than my monstrous, over baked coconut biscotti. Though I think I can match them on taste, actually.
I have to admit that I was pretty skeptical when a friend suggested we visit Tea Rose's Tea Room this week for an authentic "Afternoon Tea." I've never been one to appreciate anything dainty, girly or even British. I think I'm missing the traditionally female gene that makes us long to collect dolls, tiaras, floral patterns and tiny baked goods.
Still, the outing involved lunch with good friends, tea, and an excuse to avoid the laundry for another day, so I was game.
The Tea Room was exactly what I expected -- thousands of delicate tea cups, saucers and china pots in one room, just waiting for a klutz like me to knock something over. I made a fairly good showing, as these things go -- I only tipped over one creamer-full of milk, but at least nothing chipped. The food was better than expected, too: there were the requisite cucumber sandwiches on soft round white bread, some lovely tea bread, mini quiches, an unoffensive chicken salad, and of course, there were the scones.
Oh, the scones. For those of you who know me, you may know that I have a bit of a scone addiction. And there is truly nothing like a tiny, heart-shaped, crumbly brown sugar scone with double cream, lemon curd and strawberry preserves to make a girl go weak in the knees. It took every last ounce of self-control I had not to ask for the recipes. (Somehow I felt that would be inappropriate for our day in Downton Abbey.) I can't comment on the other desserts, because I was too distracted by the scones to bother with the rest of the delicacies. My friends tell me the other sweets were lovely, and I suspect they will never let me live down The Day Tammy Refused Dessert.
One of the teas, however, did stand out. Provided by SerendipiTea, Congo Bongo is a coconut-mango black tea that somehow creates an intense, caramel-like aroma and flavor. I bought some Congo Bongo and brought it home for my tea-snob husband, and even he agreed that it paired very nicely with chocolate after dinner that night.
We left the Tea Room charmed by our experience there, full of talk about when we might be able to return. And I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm a true convert in the dainty department. Now, I have the strangest urge to bake tiny, heart-shaped scones in time for Valentine's Day. I've gone to four stores in the past two days in search of a mini-heart scone pan, but so far, no luck. If you know where I can score one, please send me a note.