Sunday, November 23, 2008

Afternoon Tea at Brook Lodge - Just What the Doctor Ordered

Last week, at the Brook Lodge, guests found the perfect prescription to clear a chilly, overcast November afternoon in English Tea Time at the Doctor's Cottage. Barb's TEA Shop presented "Tea and Etiquette" in the main dining room of what was the former summer residence of Dr. Upjohn, of Upjohn pharmaceuticals, and now one of the elegant event rooms at the Brook Lodge.

Tea was served using the estate's original Wedgwood china and the table was filled with gourmet treats that continued to be served throughout the event. The curried egg salad and house smoked salmon on peppered rye crisp and the lobster and crab salad on brioche were just two of the many savories included in the afternoon tea. And, although cucumber sandwiches are a mainstay for most English tea times, BTS rates the Brook Lodge's cucumber and boursin cheese finger sandwiches as one the best its ever sampled. With a fresh interpretation - both literally (all offerings were made from scratch on the premises) and figuratively - of the Afternoon tea menu, guests were treated to a meal that was as creative as it was delicious.

Look for more exciting upcoming events, including the Holiday Sunday Supper, December 14th, at The Brook Lodge.

Pat Glass, Jo English & Kay Preston enjoy tea at the Brook Lodge

And, while the temperatures here continue to delight few but the salt trucks and ski resorts, I, too, will write and fill out my own Rx for an unending pot of warm and soothing Elmwood Inn's Apple Spice Black tea - with the apple to keep the doctor away, but certainly not the doctor's cottage!

Happy Thanksgiving to All!

Tea and Friendship,


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Brook Lodge Afternoon Tea, Thursday, November 20

Greetings TEA Friends!
This Thursday afternoon, the Brook Lodge is hosting a delightful tea in the "Doctor's Cottage", the elegant, one-time home of Dr. Upjohn, of famed Upjohn pharmaceuticals. This lovely convention center is now part of Michigan State University and is located between Kalamazoo and Battle Creek.

Last Sunday, my daughter, Rachel and I were guests of Head Chef, John Merucci and the Brook Lodge team. The beer-infused buffet-style meal was served in the dining room - a stately building that blends the old architecture with the new - with spectacular views of the estate's rolling hills and the old mill pond.

On this typical Michigan November day, which of course means it's anything but predictable, we experienced sunshine, a bit of sleet and, dare I say, a hint of snow? But, sitting next to the wall of scenic window views, we were warmed by the ambiance and outstanding gourmet dinner . . . and a cup of tea, of course! We dined on steak, pork, duck, crab croquettes, and duchess potatoes (to name just a few of the offerings), all prepared with a variety of ales as a main ingredient. Even the dessert contained beer (!) and the fresh fruit parfait with the creamy custard-like sauce left Rachel and I scraping our glasses to get the very last bite!

This beautiful venue was selected as a 2008 pick for "The Knot Best of Weddings", a national bride's resource magazine. One tour around the grounds and you'll know why - even on a seasonally challenged November day, the Brook Lodge charmed us with its period buildings, winding paths, and tree-filled landscape.

The tea will feature a Barb's TEA Shop presentation and full afternoon tea menu, served on the original home's wedgwood china. The fireplaces will be glowing as you sit down to a spectacular meal inside the cottage. For more details, click on the link below. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Market That Still Yields High Interest - Tea Shopping at R. Hirts General Store

Hello Tea Friends!

With the stock market in free fall and change, for better or worse, right around the election booth corner, it's nice to know there are still a few things that are as reliable and comforting as a warm cup of tea on chilly fall day. The "market" of which I refer to is Eastern Market, located in an almost "time-stood-still" portion of Detroit and I headed there this weekend in search of tea.

Now, many of my tea trips are taken from my personal list of legendary sites I must get to, some are serendipitous and, others, like Eastern Market, come from recommendations of those who have attended Barb's TEA Shop Seminars. This summer, I met Peg D., and upon her approbation of R. Hirt General Store's tea selection, I knew I'd be down there as soon as a free weekend opened up.

And this weekend was the one! Yesterday, my husband, Chris, and I ventured down to be part of this bustling shopping populous that forsakes the warehouse stores and strip malls - at least for a Saturday morning - and conducts business like our families did generations back. Here, you get to meet first-hand the farmers who made the pies and jams and harvested the squash and strawberries displayed in the open air market. But, for tea lovers, it's yet another glorious trip back in time, as you enter R. Hirt's door and step down on the well-worn wood floor to get your first glance at a number of amply-stocked shelves of tea about mid-way down the store.

There are loose teas and bag teas from a variety of brand names including Harney, Republic of Tea and Twinings. Prices are good and there is a lot to choose from. I picked up a few tins of Twinings Darjeeling, a couple of organic teas from an English importer I've never heard of - but anxious to try - and for my college freshman daughter who seems to have been the victim of every virus/flu bug on campus, I purchased "get wellness" an "herb tea for immunity". (I can't vouch for it's authenticity, but even if it's a placebo in a tea bag, it may still have recuperative powers in knowing that it's sent from Mom).

The general store's display is downright fun and visually engaging. There are many more teas I wanted to bring home, but, considering the "other market" we're dealing with, I tried to be somewhat fiscally responsible. Next trip, though, I want to take some selections from the tins on the shelf marked "NEW" and some from the shelf of familiar Harney black containers. From the latter, Peg recommends Peaches and Ginger - - and doesn't sound delicious?

We are so appreciative of the Eastern Market suggestion! Chris and I were only sorry we hadn't, in all our years in Southeastern Michigan, been there before. Fresh produce, cinnamon rolls, gourmet cheeses, candy and tea (!) - there is something to suit, quite literally, every one's taste.

So, dear TEA friends, whether it be Darjeeling, organic, or ginger and peach, I highly recommend preparing yourself a cup of tea and use your extra hour this weekend to treat yourself to some good old fashioned rest and relaxation. (You may want to save the "get wellness" for next month's 401k statement!)

Yours in TEA and friendship,