High Tea … often Misunderstood …

Contemporary English afternoon tea menu...rustic scone, fritatta, fruits and black tea…lovely and not too sweet – this from Samovar Tea House in San Francisco

High tea is often confused with an Afternoon Tea; however, they are actually two distinctly different eating occasions. Each serves a relevant purpose.  Afternoon tea is said to have been inspired by the Duchess of Bedford who complained that she got famished between lunch and dinner and thus the traditional three-course “snack” of savory finger foods, scones and assorted petite sweets came into being served in upscale salons and sitting rooms all over England.  Afternoon tea can also be called a “low tea,” as it is often served in a salon or sitting room on low tables with participants relaxing in chairs or lounging on chaise’s or low furnishings.

High tea is a meal.  Often partaken by the working class; however, today, many who desire a special tea menu at a meal time blend the two.  A few months ago we put on a high tea for our niece and 20 family members which included a demonstration of scone making and tea tasting of three fancy green and oolong teas.  What was originally to be an afternoon tea turned into a dinnertime tea tasting; thus it became a “high tea” where we served a meal of multiple salads, hamsteak sliders, curried egg salad, along with scones and sweets.

The host wanted me to demonstrate two things for the group…1) how to make scones and 2) how to make a great cup of tea, which we did. We finished the meal with three petite desserts…decadent dark chocolate brownies, organic strawberries with mascarpone & cream fraiche, and, for our 8 year-old birthday girl who just loves pink, vibrant, pink frosted mini vanilla cupcakes.

The scones were a huge hit, served with raspberry jam, my tart lemon curd and creme fraiche.  The birthday girl, her sister and cousins served, and they were excellent at it, including exuding tons of personality in the process. Uncle David (my husband) oversaw everything beautifully as usual.  All had a great time and appeared to enjoy the scone making and consuming them fresh and hot from the oven, along with tasting the various oolong teas.

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The High Tea meal plating … 21 plates set to receive the ham steak biscuit slider and another salad…already plated are the egg salad stuffed rolls and the endive & watercress salad.

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One of my most favorite salads…bitter, sweet, salty, & crunch endive, watercress, bleu cheese, toasted pecans in a light champagne vinaigrette

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Grilled hamsteak with mustard on a fresh, warm yam biscuit to make a savory slider – these were a hit.

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Curried egg salad stuffed into hollowed out dinner rolls…seemed like a great idea when I saw them on a cooking show…ended up with almost everyone eating the egg salad out of the roll and leaving the roll (too much bread…particularly when you have awesome yam biscuits and scones to come).

And just a reminder, as mentioned in my last post….Next up…I am almost ready to launch my “communing with books blog”…am excited to see where delving into the classics will lead, along with contemporary “classic” authors too.  And know that many of the works include a tea time!  (such a civilized thing to do 🙂

Decadent Dark Chocolate Brownies...bite sized...from Tea With Betty...one of our desserts

Decadent Dark Chocolate Brownies…bite sized…from Tea With Betty…one of our desserts and always the favorite dessert for adults.

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I was told that the birthday girl just LOVED anything pink…the brighter pink the better, so I went for it…the pink was not a shy one…they loved them.

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Demonstration of jasmine tea  being released from my favorite diffuser into a glass tea pot

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My husband took care of the crowd…he is fabulous at doing that

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Our birthday girl and her sister were truly darling and enjoyed the entire evening…their service was excellent too

Providence L.A. – Sublime Modern American Seafood…Beautiful Food, Sustainably Sourced

 

Providence sashimi...first dish...fluke, cucumber yuzu ...Normally I don't eat raw fish...this was just stunning with flavor, freshness, and the best of the ocean

Providence sashimi…first dish…fluke, cucumber, yuzu …Normally I don’t eat raw fish…this was just stunning with bursts of flavor, freshness, and the ocean

Well, happy birthday to me! My dear husband surprised me with what he knows to be my favorite gift…awesome foods, prepared with finesse, leaning towards  healthy, made with the  best  quality ingredients – which are  creatively manipulated into flavorful, beautiful,  bites…thus was our experience at Providence Restaurant in Los Angeles the other night…and it came with gracious, comfortable, un-austentatious service.  Enjoy the photos of our  courses…each were just a few bites…making you want more, and then the next stunning dish came…and mmmmmm….we were awed again and again.

Uni egg...Santa Barbar sea urchin hiding beneath soft scramble eggs...ok...I almost asked for a substitution dish here...but I am a sucker for anything custard-like...so I went for it..I am now an uni fan as long as it is covered with custard :-)  This dish reminded me of my 7 year old experience eating 3 minute soft boiled eggs out of the shell in my Italian grandmother's kitchen  ..just soft and comfortingly delicious

Uni egg…Santa Barbara sea urchin hiding beneath soft scramble eggs…ok…I almost asked for a substitution dish here…but I am a sucker for anything custard-like…so I went for it..I am now an uni fan as long as it is covered with custard 🙂 This dish reminded me of my 7 year old experience eating 3 minute soft boiled eggs out of the shell in my Italian grandmother’s kitchen ..just soft and comfortingly delicious

Maine Lobster with matsutake mushrooms...in season now...porcini like and stunning...can't believe this is the 2nd time this week I was graced with the pleasure of these mushrooms...our Chef friends served them to us Saturday night...they are  just wonderful..

Maine Lobster with matsutake mushrooms…in season now…porcini-like and stunning…can’t believe this is the 2nd time this week I was graced with the pleasure of these mushrooms…our Chef friends served them to us Saturday night…they are just wonderful..

 

Possibly THE most beautiful course of the night...scallop with curry, makrut lime, mint

Possibly THE most beautiful course of the night…scallop with curry, makrut lime, mint

 

This was my favorite course of the night...striped bass, turnip, brown butter, smoked sesame ... just incredible textures and bursts of flavor...you taste buds tingled mmmmm

This was my favorite course of the night…striped bass, turnip, brown butter, smoked sesame … just incredible textures and bursts of flavor…made one’s taste buds tingle and come alive… mmmmm

…we  chose the main course …I opted  for John Dory – a white fish…David chose the Liberty Farms Duck…then…since we had eaten so “light” … the artisanal cheese cart came, just perfect for sharing…and finally elderflower sorbet and then my chocolate dessert (with a discreet birthday candle 🙂 …this was just possibly the best meal of my life – certainly a perfect one at this point in my life  …

Duck, John Dory, Cheese plate for two...green tea now...petite perfect desserts...sorbet and chocolate torte

Duck, John Dory, Cheese plate for two…green tea now…petite perfect desserts…sorbet and chocolate torte

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So, who are these guys 🙂 ?  Their website states:

“For a decade, Providence has elevated the standard of modern American seafood restaurants. We invite you to experience Chef Michael Cimarusti’s award-winning cuisine in the heart of Los Angeles, welcomed by one of LA’s legendary hosts, co-owner Donato Poto.
Chef Cimarusti is completely dedicated to procuring the finest sustainable seafood—from regional coasts and international waters—and treats those ingredients with uncompromising respect and sophisticated technique. “First and foremost, what guides us here is sustainability,” Cimarusti says. “We use only wild-caught, sustainable products, mostly from American waters, and look to highlight their finest qualities.”
The accolades for Providence include multiple James Beard Award nominations; “Top 50 Restaurants in the United States” by Gourmet magazine; “Best Seafood Restaurant” by Los Angeles magazine; the #1 ranking in “Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restaurants” in the Los Angeles Times; and two highly coveted Michelin stars.

I actually signed up to vote for them for the 2015 James Beard awards, something I’ve not been motivated to do before…

Of course, I finished with a lovely cup of green tea…beautifully vegetal and light, expertly served in an iron tetsubin pot. Just lovely!

 

 

 

Truly FRESH Herbal Infusions…Made Tableside Just For You!

The FRESHEST herbal tea…made to order, table side -- to your liking ---

The FRESHEST herbal tea…made to order, table side — to your liking —

 

The Kitchen Restaurant in Sacramento offered this unique herbal infusion menu…made with fresh herbs to order.

The Kitchen Restaurant in Sacramento offered this unique herbal infusion menu…made with fresh herbs to order.

IMG_0633One of the best dining experiences we’ve ever had was at The Kitchen Restaurant in Sacramento.  I’ll share more about the meal in a future post – Dinner was an “event” which included a unique tea service where we were offered a menu of special blends featuring a basket of fresh herbs.

As the chefs plated the dessert course, we ordered our hot beverages.   I’d never seen anything like this…fresh herbs, clipped to order and steeped at your place setting.

I opted for their green tea…but next time will go for the herbal infusion.

Tetsubin iron teapot service at The Kitchen...

Tetsubin iron teapot service at The Kitchen…

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Iced Jasmine Pearl, Marbled Tea Eggs, & Instructions for a Heatwave…

Yesterday was book group discussion day at my house…and, sorry to you guys who live in cold country, but it was 80 degrees here in sunny, drought-ridden, So. California….which called for a summery menu of tidbits to snack on while discussing the seriously good writing of Maggie O’Farrell in her recent novel, Instructions for a Heatwave.

We highly recommend this book…family dynamics are expertly portrayed

We highly recommend this book…family dynamics are expertly portrayed

My original thought for small bites to serve when hosting this month’s discussion included scones and hot tea (as the book is set in England and Ireland), but, alas, the weather forced me to rethink what to serve.  Ironically, the unusually hot weather we are experiencing in California paralleled the strangely hot weather setting O’Farrell had London experiencing in her novel.  Still, in the story, there was A LOT of preparing of hot tea going on.  Actually, the Irish are known to drink more tea per capita than any other nation.  Well, I decided on iced tea and prepared one of my favorites,  Jasmine Pearl Green tea…it is light, refreshing, and fragrant.  I also had been desiring my fragrant marbled tea egg (hard-boiled eggs, steeped in tea, cinnamon stick, star anise, and a bit of soy).  They are unique and tasty served sliced onto a little biscuit, of which I had a few put away in the freezer just for this occasion.  These, along with a raw coconut tea cookie (much like a shortbread, with coconut) would be the primary fare.  Some fresh organic California grown juicy raspberries made it to the discussion too.

Marbled Tea Eggs, stunning looking, fragrant with spices, yolks perfectly centered..eat alone or slice and put on bread/biscuit with a little mayo..mmmmm

Marbled Tea Eggs, stunning looking, fragrant with spices, yolks perfectly centered..eat alone or slice and put on bread/biscuit with a little mayo..mmmmm

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I’m not sure why my mind went this Asian route with the menu for our English/Irish story, but we had fun, ate it all up, and continue to be moved by how our small group discussions seem to soothe our souls in a special way.  I will post the recipe for the marbled tea eggs in a few days.  They are easy to prepare, yet just gorgeous and unusual.  It’s as easy as boiling water, but looks like you painted them. Same for the coconut cookie, easy as pie (but it’s a tea cookie 🙂 )

Coconut Tea Biscuits…I make them with raw, unsweetened coconut…even cut some into teapot shapes…not too sweet, perfect paired with green tea

Coconut Tea Biscuits…I make them with Bob’s Red Mill raw, unsweetened coconut…even cut some into teapot shapes…not too sweet, perfect paired with green tea

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Our discussion brought us closer together as we shared our own history as related to the book…and all over a cup of tea…amazing the revelations tea brings about.

Inventive, Flavorful, Whimsical & Beautiful Foods…

All you need are incredibly high quality ingredients…and a wildly creative mind, oh and some madly, outstanding skills in the kitchen – that’s what we experienced at Chef Michael Voltaggio’s L.A. restaurant, Ink. this week;

According to the Food & Wine website, Voltaggio was honored as one of 2013’s best new chefs  “because his modernist cuisine pushes boundaries — he’ll serve octopus over buttered-popcorn puree — but it is still delicious.”

Interesting flavors, great presentation, very inventive, and superb service are key reasons why I would come back, as well as bring friends and family.

Ink.'s Little Gem Salad...with anchovy puffed toast

Ink.’s Little Gem Salad…with anchovy puffed cracker and the most stunningly cool and creamy and savory frozen burrata mmmmm – who would have thought to have made an ice cream out of burrata cheese?  Voltaggio did.  And it took my favorite summer indulgence in cheese to a new level — and I always want my anchovies served this way too…flavor in a puffed cracker

little gems, burrata, anchovy cracker, lemon dressing 

Hamachi

Where’s the Hamachi?…gorgeously hidden under delectable tastes of crispy cheese, chives, & tomato – fresh and creamy and salty like the ocean

 hamachi, citrus kosho, smoked buttermilk, tomato, oaxacan cheese

Monterey Squid with cippollini onions and chanterelles

Monterey Squid with cippollini onions and chanterelles which whimsically mimic each other in shape and color…creamy, chewy, powerful flavors in each bite

monterey squid, coconut-onion soubise, chanterelles, miso

and we loved the clean, simple table setting…and the fact that they “get” that silverware should be treated with a bit of reverence and care and sanitation….

silverware carefully placed on a stone...off the table

silverware carefully placed on a stone…off the table

 

 

Ink.  We will be back.

I had a perfectly prepared whole leaf jasmine green tea to finish off my meal too…served in a tetsubin pot.  We went home happy and raving fans…even the 60 mile drive won’t keep us away 🙂

Ink.  Subtle...cool...understated exterior and interior...the food and chefs speak for themselves

Ink. Subtle…cool…understated exterior and interior…the food and chefs speak for themselves

And YES...the chef is in the kitchen...how nice to actually have the celebrity chef really work in his own kitchen...does it make a difference in the food?  We think so.

And YES…the chef is in the kitchen…how nice to actually have the celebrity chef really work in his own kitchen…does it make a difference in the food? We think so.

Join Us For A Tea Tasting Event…@ Goin Native May 10 and May 11

Once or twice a month, I volunteer garden in the historic Los Rios area of San Juan Capistrano (California).  My “gardener” sister got me hooked on this about a year ago.  It feels good to contribute to the beauty of this historic site, where we are working to make it a destination for more and more Monarch butterflies.  The leader of this “Gardening Angels” group, Marianne Taylor, heard I wrote a book about tea and got this idea…”would I consider doing a  tea tasting for Goin Native Gardens , her incredibly neat garden business and personal home, also located in this historic area of San Juan Capistrano.   Goin Native is situated on an 1887 property and is a wonderful site for a tea tasting…the outdoor setting is under shade trees and umbrellas, in the midst of gorgeous vegetable and native plant gardens weaving themselves around their historic home.

Owners since 1990, Marianne and John Taylor restored this historic site and it’s gardens to reflect beauty and functionality.  The raised bed vegetable garden is easy to work and manage.  There are multiple garden retreat areas, along with fruit trees, native plants, and relaxed, cozy sitting areas throughout the property.

I am excited to introduce our guests to wonderful Mighty Leaf organic, whole  leaf teas – perfectly paired with savory and sweet bites from my Tea With Betty recipes …prepared by local pastry chef, Kevin Montoya, owner of Carley Cakes.

While guests will primarily eat, drink tea, enjoy the gardens and converse;  I will also briefly touch on: what tea IS …versus what it isn’t;  demonstrate how to make a good cup of tea;  and demonstrate how to make a delicious quick bread (my favorite little biscuit scone.)  We will be serving a three course menu paired with five fine teas.  It should be a fun lunchtime event with time to walk around the gardens and relax.   Check out the invite  GoinNative_invite   .

Below is our menu reflecting tea pairings and the flow of the class.

Goin Native presents EAT. BE. TEA … 

Tasting Menu for May 10 and May 11 event from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

Gathering Time

  • Organic Ceylon Iced Tea from Kenilworth Estate
  • Spiced Roasted Pecans

Tea Making (How To) and Tasting Time with The Savory Plate….

  •  Smoked Salmon Mousse in Crispy Wonton Cup
  • Polenta  Square Topped with Roasted Mushrooms
  • paired with RareTieguanyin Jade Oolong Tea
  • Roasted Tomato, Fresh Mozzarella & Basil on Crostini
  • Creamed Goat Cheese drizzled with honey
  • Paired with Organic Assam Tea from Rani Estate

Intermezzo…Biscuit Making Demonstration with Petite, Warm Biscuit Scones…

  •  Savory Pancetta Cheese Biscuit & Linda’s Favorite Biscuit Scone
  • with Vanilla Bean & Cinnamon Butter
  • Paired with Masala Chai Tea

Sweet Finale

  •  Decadent Dark Chocolate Brownie Bites
  • Lemon Curd Tartlet with Toasted Meringue
  • Paired with Jasmine Downey Pearls Tea  (Rare)

Relax and walk about the gardens and shop

Author book signing of Tea With Betty Tea Manual & Memoir

Reserve your seat by going to…. www.GoinNative.net

 

Come join the fun if you can.  We are hoping this is just the first of many tasting menus to come…we are planning on doing video of this event & photos, and post them soon on this site or my new, soon to be released blog site which I will fill you in on in the next three weeks.   (It is currently under construction right now…fyi…all of Tea With Betty info will transfer to the new site…but we will have ability to do more things, such as videos on the new site…more on this subject later).

Enjoy and Drink Tea  🙂