Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Simply Wonderful: Simply Gourmet AfternoonTea at the Crosley Estate in Sarasota

Visiting with Chef Larry of Simply Gourmet at the Crosley Estate in Sarasota
Less than a fortnight ago, my husband I headed south to visit his parents in Florida. In advance of our trip, my in-laws asked us what we would be interested in doing during our stay.  Chris had no agenda other than chilling out by the pool, but, of course, my automatic reflex response is always "tea room".  Lucky for me, my mother-in-law found a real gem of a tea event during our stay in nearby Sarasota - a Royal Afternoon Tea at the Crosley Estate put on by Simply Gourmet.

The Crosley Estate, built in 1929, is a bay-front Mediterranean Revival-style mansion which is beautiful venue for any event (they host weddings, showers, banquets and the like). But my good fortune, afternoon teas were being held there during the month of March by Simply Gourmet, owned and operated by the husband and wife team of Larry and Jamie Barrett.

Traditional egg salad and cucumber sandwiches were served with  turkey/sun-dried tomato pinwheels
Chef Larry met with us before the tea for an interview for The Detroit Tea Examiner (Crosley Estate's Royal Tea: Simply Wonderful from Simply Gourmet) and, then again, joined us at our table afterwards. A charming and engaging personality, Chef Larry provided the history and details of his journey from performing arts to catering, although within minutes of meeting him, one will know these occupations are not exclusive. Artistry and presentation are as important to Simply Gourmet's afternoon tea fare as are the undeniably deliciousness of every sandwich and scone.

Bay view window view

The bay views were a beautiful backdrop to the tea time treats of savories and sweets. Traditional egg salad and cucumber sandwiches were served alongside turkey and sun-dried tomato pinwheels. Current scones were served with heavenly Devonshire cream. But, the grande finale of desserts was spectacular. Cassis-soaked strawberry parfaits and double-chocolate brownies were among my favorites.

Scrumptious desserts included strawberry parfaits and double chocolate brownies
We sat with a wonderful group of ladies from the Sarasota area and enjoyed chatting with them at lovely table, set with vintage china and fresh flowers, overlooking an equally spectacular view from a bayside window.
We sat with a delightful group of woman from Sarasota
It was a simply wonderful way to spend an afternoon in Florida. Even though the outside temperatures were unseasonably cool - and not quite the contrast from Detroit we were hoping for - the tea warmed us inside and out and the Royal Tea from Simply Gourmet brightened a mostly cloudy visit to the Sunshine State.

Lovely tablescape with vintage china and fresh flowers

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Austentacious Tea at Brighton Library: A Most Amiable Time

Brighton Public Library for BTS' Jane Austen Tea last week

Last Tuesday, BTS presented an Austentacious Tea at one of the assembly rooms at the Brighton Library to a most amiable and handsome audience.  

Having a presentiment about our equipage, we brought a “Plan B” laptop, as one should always depend upon an alternative should one’s primary resource present issues, which, last week, ours did.  After a cable transfer of small consequence, we moved beyond this trifling matter to the importance of tea - along with other Regency influences - in Jane Austen’s life and novels. 

We discussed where Jane shopped for tea and, perhaps, of greater importance, the sources she certainly would have avoided for fear of poor taste, quality or, far worse, poisoning!   

We also noted – and it is always with affection, and great comfort to me -  that we may all share in tea the way Jane did over 200 years ago by just adhering to two basic components:  Twinings tea in a Wedgwood tea cup.  The Austen’s were loyal to both.

And what about the Versailles connexion?!  C'est vrais, mes amies, there is a link to Jane Austen and Marie Antoinette. Is is not a surprise, than, that a  Limoges tea cup must be part of the story? 
Jane Austen and Marie Antoinette connexion? Mais oui. (Photo of Versailles  when we visited in 2008.)
When our presentation concluded, we recommended to those in attendance to avail themselves to our recent brochures which list all of our current programs, including our most recent addition: “Downton Abbey Tea”. By a most welcome reaction, we do detect that there is a great overlap between Austen and Downton Abbey enthusiasts!

Tonight, Brighton Library continues its celebration of Jane Austen and the 200th anniversary year of Pride and Prejudice with “If You Liked the Movie, You’ll Love the Book”, presented by JASNA Michigan Chapter President, Barbara Adler.  I know all who attend will find this a gratifying experience. I attended the presentation last year and offer my highest commendation!

With much fondness and appreciation, we thank the Brighton Library for its accommodations and delightful patrons. It was truly a wonderful group of ladies who contributed to great evening of Jane Austen and tea!

Now I shall ring for Carson to bring me a cup of Twinings tea in a Wedgwood cup.
At Twinings in London where Jane purchased her tea