A few days ago I finished my chapter about afternoon tea for my upcoming book, “The Travel Writer’s Wife”. One may wonder, how does afternoon tea relate to travel? Well…
#1. I taught classes on this subject for several years all around Colorado and Wyoming. Teaching these classes on my own time gave me the flexibility to travel with my travel writer husband, Ron.
#2. Wherever we traveled, if the opportunity arose, we would visit a tea room.
We have partaken of this lovely centuries-old ritual in Canada, Europe, and the United States. One of the loveliest tea rooms we visited was in Shreveport, Louisiana (the Glenwood Village & Tearoom). The decor was elegant and all the tea foods served prettily presented.
We had tea at the historic Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, Canada, where our server was a very proper gentleman who had worked in the tea room for over 30 years. His serving and the tea itself was impeccable.
A unique tea was the Fashionista Tea At The Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge, London. All the tea foods served were designed with inspiration from London’s fashion week’s runways. Quite clever!
I was first introduced to afternoon tea when I was an art student in London, England. I was so impressed with the style and the distinctive foods served. To my young southern Californian eyes, afternoon tea was so unique and it was fun to share this tradition with my friends back home.
At the time, I was a single young working girl on a tight budget, so I would purchase my teapots, tea cups and saucers at thrift stores. A used and washed lace curtain made do for a pretty and elegant looking tablecloth. I sewed napkins from remnants of fabric and ironed them with a touch of spray starch. A few colorful silk flowers made a simple center piece.
As a result of serving so many teas over the years at birthdays, weddings, and baby showers, I was able to easily design a class on the subject of afternoon tea. I taught these classes over a period of several years. One doesn’t need a special occasion to have a tea. Purchase a small list of ingredients, invite a few friends, over and put on a kettle of hot water.
Traditional foods served at afternoon tea include scones with jam and cream, dainty finger sandwiches, and sweets. Add a freshly brewed pot of tea to wash it all down. Finger sandwiches can be made with an assortment of fillings. Chopped crab-meat, egg salad or curried chicken salad are just a few choices. The all-time favorite is cucumber which blends well with a cream cheese and dill spread.
I suggest three different fillings for your tea sandwiches. Use soft white and brown bread; multi and whole grain breads are too thick.Tea sandwiches are always best made on the same day. Start making them early, they do take time. Bring the filling to room temperature for easy spreading. Spread the filling on a slice of bread, almost to the edge. Top with another slice of bread. Do not cut the edges off at this time. Place sandwiches on a large tray. Wrap securely with plastic wrap. Refrigerate. About an hour before your guests arrive, trim off all edges and cut into desired shapes. These are some of the shapes you can use:
- 1 8-ounce package cream cheese
- 2 tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped
- 1 cucumber, peeled and cut into thin slices, patted dry with paper towels
- Soften cream cheese, mix with dill, blend well.
- Spread mixture on bread slices. Place one layer of cucumber slices on filling.
- Top with another slice of bread. With a serrated knife, neatly trim off edges.
The next blog-post, The Gentle Art of Afternoon Tea – Part II, will include my scone recipe that I served at all my tea classes along with a recipe for mock-clotted cream. Also simple instructions on how to brew a perfect pot of tea is presented. Cheers!
|Square Slices Triangle Slices Finger Slices|