Thursday, September 9, 2010

Celebrate Grandparents Day with a “High Tea” this Sunday

Top Nana’s sweet & savory menu goes great with your Darjeeling!

It’s actually a little known fact that President Carter established National Grandparents Day back in 1978. Ever since, its been celebrated the Sunday after Labor Day, and I can think of no better way to ring in this special occasion, than by hosting a High Tea.

I’m setting the stage with a tiered platter of inner lapping desserts, savory sandwiches and my best tea service (see a charming Butterfly Tea set in Nana’s Favorite Things). While balancing delicacies on our laps, my best Nana friends and I, will gab over brag books chock full of family photos. This divine High Tea menu sweetens the moment:

Nana’s High Tea
Dilled Egg and Cucumber finger sandwiches
Key Lime Pound Cake
Almond and Bacon Spiked Pimento Cheese on Rye
Ginger Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
Macerated Berry Puffs with Mascapone Cheese
Tuna Antipasti Sandwiches

Your tea can be anything from Lemon Spice to Earl Gray to Chamomile—I like to offer screaming hot water in a pot, small terrains of Clover Honey, heavy whipping cream and sugar crystals on a stick, fresh disks of lemon and tea bags in a decorative box.

This and the rest of my High Tea menu have been inspired by the 4 Seasons Hotel, with their heavy-as-clotted-cream offerings, light as air pastries, and a touch of the luxurious and unexpected. The dishes I’ve chosen for my Grandparents Day affair can be made ahead of time, and kept fresh in the fridge until day of show, or whipped up in the hour before your guests arrive.

I want Nanas to know that my recipes for High Tea can be used as a guideline—you can scale things back or kick them way up; all you really need for successful afternoon tea is a good friend and a teapot. The fabulous food is only gravy.

Look to history when it comes to setting the time for your High Tea. Interestingly enough, the woman who dreamed up the lavish tea hour—an English royal in the mid 1800s—marked what would have been her 227th birthday on September 3—just last weekend. Please join me in wishing Anna Russell, Duchess of Bedford a happy and only slightly belated BD. Anna was a girl after my own heart, deciding that the interim between the appointed lunch and dinner hour was just too long to go without a snack. Flagging—no doubt with low blood sugar between the hours of 3 and 5pm—the Duchess served an array of tea and cakes; these scrumptious offerings got she and Queen Victoria, a gal pal, through the munchies. Wouldn’t it have been great to be a fly on the wall during those conversations?

I’m thinking that the chats I’ll have at my High Tea, which I prefer to host a little earlier than the Duchess would—a light luncheon at noon—will feature talk of how fine it is to be a grandmother, and traditions I look forward to entertaining my extended family with in the near future. Daughter-in-laws are invited, and grandkids old enough to steady a teacup. I can chat with the ladies about putting together a less formal tea party for little hands (and their teddy bears) in babysitting adventures yet to come.

Just for a little Victorian Flair, I’ll put out a length of parchment—decorated at the top with a notation of “Happy Grandparents Day, 2010,” and have my guests sign in with a quill; afterwards I’ll frame it with a photo of us enjoying our High Tea.

So go out and shop your ingredients, pick up the phone and save the date! There’s plenty of time for tea! Happy Grandparents Day, one and all.


1 comment:

Deanna said...

I didn't realize there was a grandparents day... Thanks!

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