Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Proper Afternoon Tea

You don't have to go to the Empress in Victoria, B.C. or to England, either, to have afternoon tea in style...although those are great places to enjoy tea, too.

Yesterday, as a late celebration of my birthday, my sister Natasha took me to humble Sebastopol and we enjoyed a proper afternoon tea (which some mistakenly call high tea) with a whole array of goodies.
The place was La Dolce V on Main Street http://www.ladolcev.com/home.htm, a combination chocolate shop and tea salon. Outside the noisy traffic surged by while inside it was calm and comfortable.
I was here a while back with Anna of Anna's Cool Finds, but we had limited ourselves to a single treat and beverage
(which you can read about at http://feedingmyenthusiasms.blogspot.com/2007/02/well-met.html). Now that La Dolce V is serving a full on tea, it seemed like a good idea to try it out.

We were seated at a glass topped table that had French postcards just under the glass. They were advertising chocolate and other appropriate foods. Each place was set with a bone chine teacup decorated with flowers. A small vase of flowers graced the table, too. Natasha had read about their French style hot chocolate, so she ordered some to share while we waited for our tea. It was delectable; intensely chocolate, frothy, not too sweet.

There were a number of choices of teas, including black, white, green and herbal. Instead of the usual china pot, our tea was served in glass coffee press pots. It was not the best choice since the tea cooled quickly in the press pots. The tea itself was delicious. We started catching up on news and waited to see what they would serve for the sweets and savories. Once the tiered tray arrived we knew that we were in for a treat.

On top there was a plate with tiny almond tartlettes with a ripe blueberry baked in the center. Tender heart shaped lavender shortbread cookies with a subtle lavender flavor were joined by creamy jasmine chocolates decorated with tiny white flowers and in the middle of the plate were fresh mandarin orange segments.

The next plate down had fresh tender currant scones and little dishes of lemon curd, intensely flavored house-made strawberry jam, and a mock Devonshire cream.

The final plate had some serious sandwiches, including egg salad on white and cucumber with hummus on wheat. The cucumber and hummus combination was unusual, but it worked very well. The sandwiches themselves were too large for a tea tray and still had the skin on the cucumbers and the crusts on the bread...but I guess Sebastopol is not the height of 'dainty'. There were also some tiny tarts with savory melted Gorgonzola cheese topped with a red onion confit. Crisp crostini topped with slices of brie and tart apple completed the assortment.

The afternoon was spent nibbling, sipping tea, talking, laughing, and admiring my birthday gift from Natasha and her Sweetie: Dorie Greenspan's wonderful Baking: from my home to yours. By 2 pm it was time for Natasha to head for home and were were quite satisfied. Looking at the photo, it may not seem like a lot of food, but it was just the right amount.

Taking tea has become popular, so check in your phone book and see if there are places in your area offering afternoon tea, or even just cream tea (scones, jam, lemon curd, Devonshire cream or whipped cream), then find a friend to enjoy it with. Very civilized and quite fun.

12 comments :

TadMack said...

Happy Birthday (belatedly)~ We meant to get over to that tea house before we left, but never had time when it was open! I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Our favorite tea place is the Camellia in Benicia, but the apple sandwiches and the fruit look spectacular here. And, since I rather like my crusts, I think I might have to drop in when next I'm home.

Looks lovely!

Mrs. W said...

How absoultey luscious! What a delightful way to spend time with a friend.

Elle said...

Tadmack, Natasha and I meet at the Camellia in Benicia at least twice a year. Next time you are home, I'd love to meet at either place and put a name and blog with a face or faces :)

Mrs. W, going to tea, or sharing a cup at home, has always meant comfort to me. Highly recommended.

Deborah said...

Happy belated birthday!

Mrs. L said...

We have a couple of tea places around here and it really is a nice, quiet retreat among all the hustle and bustle. I'll have to check out the one in Sabastopol.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Ooh, what a lovely way to spend the day with your sister. I love going out for afternoon tea. My mom and I did it once years ago, and we still mention it all the time. Happy belated birthday, Elle; I hope it was special.

Peabody said...

Happy belated birthday!
Oh how I love going to tea. They have a good little place to have afternoon tea in Seattle. I will have to remember where it was and tell you.

Katie said...

Sounds as though you had a lovely afternoon, enjoying afternoon tea and catching up with old friends.

Kelly-Jane said...

Happy Birthday! I'm sure you will enjoy Dorie's book a lot =)

Your tea sounds like a lot of fun, and yummy too, beautiful cup.

Annemarie said...

Happy birthday, and glad you got to enjoy a nice afternoon tea!

Anna Haight said...

Happy Birthday Elle! We've got to get a get-together on the calendar! I've just been crazy busy these days. Back in school and time is accelerating!

joey said...

Belated birthday greetings to you :) I am a solid coffee drinker but I lovelovelove afternoon tea with all the trimmings! This looks like a lovely spread :)