Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Tea Ladies of the Michigan Tea Tour

Nancy, Phyllis, Linda
Meet the cast of characters, the Michigan Tea Tour participants, and the bloggers, and the tea ladies. Representing four states; Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania, and Canada, we converged in Michigan for a memorable adventure. Four of us, Lori, Phyllis, Linda and myself originally met in 2007 for a Tea in London Tour. It's always a special time when we have the chance to see each other again. 


Our two Canadian travelers, good friends from Ontario, were Judith (L) and Gloria (R). Judith is posting about this adventure on her blog Lavender Cottage where she shares her love of afternoon tea and gardening. Gloria shares that her father's family came from England and her mother's family from the east coast of Canada, where there was always a 'cup of tea' and conversation around the table.
Teresa, our well coordinated Tea and Chocolate tasting hostess and Ohio representative, (note her felted tea pot bag), and Joanie from Michigan are shown here in the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. Joanie was the president of "The Women of Virtue Tea Society" where they would dress in Victorian apparel and visit various tea rooms. That sounds like fun!

This trip was well documented!

Lori (L), Phyllis (center), and Linda (R) are Michigan friends. Special thanks and great appreciation to Phyllis as she coordinated the trip, made all the required reservations, contacted attendees with all details, and kept us on schedule. Her detailed diary of this adventure can be found on her blog, The Relevant Tea Leaf. Lori (L), one of the Tea in London travelers brought her beautiful scrapbooks from that adventure so we could revisit that experience. 

 Linda (above, right), also from Michigan has a long tea history hosting and organizing a tea club. She continues to entertain and share her love of tea. And she loves shopping, too! Barb (far left), a Detroit native, works with estate sales and grows Monarch butterflies! She says it's easy!
My roommate for this getaway, Linda, is from Kentucky. Linda (R) and I first met as roommates on the Tea in London tour and then again for the Traveling Tea Friends trip to Kentucky. We have had the opportunity to vacation together with our families, and it was my pleasure to welcome Linda to Sweet Remembrances several years ago. Linda blogs at Friendship Tea, and you can follow her experiences about this adventure.

What a memorable teatime vacation!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Royalty Tea at the Royal Park Hotel, Rochester, MI

The Royal Park Hotel in Rochester, MI offers Afternoon Tea Wednesday through Sunday. Our group was greeted by this amazing tea table, where we enjoyed the Royalty Tea. There is an elegance about a hotel tea that makes an ordinary Wednesday a special occasion event. 

Beribboned teapots with the name of the tea attached marched down the center of the table. Mighty Leaf (loose leaf tea) is their brand of choice. The tea pot closest to me held English Breakfast. When the pots were empty, additional hot water was added and the tea leaves were steeped a second time. A glass of Sparkling Cider added a festive touch to the gathering.

Tiered trays, laden with a bounty of tea treats, were festively arranged with a wispy piece of blue netting around the base. The Royalty Tea includes a variety of tea sandwiches. Roast Beef on Rosemary puff Pastry with Cheddar and horseradish Cream, Smoked Salmon BLT on rye, Hickory Smoked Chicken with Pear Chutney, Egg Salad Tomato Bruschetta, Cucumber with Herb Cream Cheese and Aged Cheddar Cheese Creme Brulee with Orange and Date. The middle tier held the English Fruit Scones which were served with clotted cream, lemon curd, honey and preserves.  
Hot Hors d'Oeuvres were offered separately which featured Spanakopita and Chef's Pear-Almond Brie EnCroute. Crispy, warm and tasty.

And dessert yielded a bountiful plate full of assorted pastries that included Chocolate Covered Strawberries, Raspberry Tart, a large Shortbread Cookie, Cranberry Orange Bread, Orange Cheesecake Pop and Dark Chocolate Decadence. 

Linda P. (MI) and Judith R. (Canada)

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Orange Marmalade Butter

Although perhaps not the exact same recipe as was served at the Victorian Rose Tea House, I do have a recipe for Orange Marmalade Butter that is quite similar.

Orange Marmalade Butter
1/2 c. butter
1 Tbsp. confectioner's sugar
3 Tbsp. Orange Marmalade

Mix together, and enjoy. Particularly nice with cranberry scones, plain or blueberry scones. Ok, all scones!


Friday, September 23, 2016

Tea and Scones at Victorian Rose

After a morning of serious shopping in downtown Rochester, MI where the Main Street is host to a wide variety of shops, we were all ready for a morning respite in the Victorian Rose restaurant and tea house. Some people 'shop 'til you drop', personally, I shop 'til an opportunity to visit a tea room presents itself.

Phyllis, Linda, and I settled into a corner of this cozy Victorian tea room. Considering we had a full buffet breakfast already, and an afternoon tea scheduled for later in the day, we opted for the cranberry orange scone served with orange marmalade butter and tea.

Very soon thereafter, the majority of our group ended up in the tea room for the exact same purpose, to rest and enjoy tea and scones before another wave of shopping.

This tea room is up for sale as the owners are calling it quits after 20+ years of service. Their holiday teas in December will mark the end of their tea room career. If anyone is interested in owning and operating a tea room, contact the owner!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Love chocolate? Love tea?

Who doesn't! Then let's pair the two together! One of the attendees at the Michigan Tea Tour, Teresa from Ohio, presented the most delightful program on Chocolate and Tea Tasting as our first official event. It was a great way to get to know the other participants on the tour, and a casual, fun and delicious way to enjoy the evening. 

Teresa paid attention to every single detail. The conference room table was laid out in a beautiful presentation that featured a fall theme with placemats, colorful paper leaves, blossoming green tea centerpieces, pen and paper, and crackers and water to cleanse the palate. A sweet assortment of tasting cups was placed in front of each participant. Doesn't this just look so inviting!
Phyllis, Barb, Judith

Joan, Lori, Teresa

The key to a chocolate and tea pairing session is quality chocolate and equally good quality tea. Teresa selected a variety of Stella Leona artisan chocolates from Ohio to be paired with tea sourced from several purveyors, Harney and Sons tea, Tea Haus, Simpson & Vail, and Fortnum & Mason. It is important to take lots of notes when tasting, and consider whether the tea and chocolate complement each other, enhance the flavor of both, or provide a unique contrast. There are no right or wrong answers!

The chocolate included (L - R), Mint Tea Truffle (made from decadent dark chocolate mixed with fresh cream infused with green tea and spearmint), Lavender Fields (a lavender infused ganache enrobed with dark chocolate and finished with lavender buds) and Honey Cinnamon Truffle (mouth watering honey cinnamon ganache center enrobed with milk chocolate and finished with a dusting of cinnamon).

Gloria, Joan

Each chocolate piece, cut into smaller sections, was then sampled with three distinct teas. They were compared and contrasted, ranked according to our personal preference, and discussed among each other. Some teas enhanced the chocolate, others overpowered the chocolate, and some produced a very floral combination that was appealing to some in the group, but not to others. We studied the dry leaf and the wet, steeped leaf. We admired the color of the teas, and we sipped and savored our way through a delicious event. Special thanks to Teresa for offering to present this program, for taking the time to tote all of the necessary equipment to Michigan, and for sharing her love of tea and chocolate with us.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Fruit of the Passion Flower

We are fortunate to have a Passion Flower that has established itself in our garden. Susanna has expounded upon the Passion Flower in previous blog posts, here and here. Pennsylvania, alas, has a very short growing season as the plant doesn't resurface from the long winter until early summer. Blossoms don't begin appearing until September. It is always so exciting to discover a blossom or two on our meager plant. We have, on occasion, had large green pods develop after the bloom, but never many, and they never ripen. Growing Passion Flower in California is another story. And, thanks to a generous gift from a CA friend, I was recently able to play with the beautiful fruit of the passion flower. In August, her bountiful vine yields 50 - 100 passion fruit per day! These beautiful magenta pods are the stage of growth that our plant never achieves. Once harvested, she says to let the pods sit and continue to ripen until they turn very wrinkly. The more wrinkles, the sweeter the fruit.
 Once they are wrinkled, you can store them in the fridge for a few days, or slice the top off, and collect the juice and pips from inside the fruit. The juice may also be frozen for later use. It is tart, but a little touch of sugar sweetens it directly. The tiny seeds may be eaten, but they do have a little crunch to them.
The first way I used the fruit was to simply serve it alongside fresh fruit with marshmallow cream. I added a touch of freshly grated nutmeg also. The sweet marshmallow cream was a perfect complement to the tart passion fruit. The fruit would also be perfect served over vanilla ice cream, or even pancakes along with a touch of syrup.

My second 'experiment' featured a Minted Passion Fruit Spritzer. I muddled the pulp and pips of one passion fruit with 2 tablespoons of sugar and 6 or more fresh mint leaves, pressing the mint leaves to extract the flavor and muddling the mixture to help dissolve the sugar. Then, I added about 2 cups of water and mixed it all together. It was such a refreshing beverage on a hot summer's eve.

A second batch of the spritzer was served to a group of tea room visitors that attend tea at Sweet Remembrances every other month. They were happy to share in the harvest!

And finally, I made tea sandwiches using a cream cheese base, some crushed pineapple, and the passion flower fruit. It was a fun tropical sandwich with half of the sandwich edged with pecan pieces. Although the pineapple was the predominant flavor, the passion fruit made it interesting!

What a fun time we had experimenting with this edible treasure. Special thanks to M.E. for sharing her harvest!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A Tale of Two Breakfasts

Blogging on Rosemary's Sampler slowed down after the Fairy Festival for a quick respite and also because of a jaunt to Michigan where Nancy attended the Michigan Tea Tour coordinated by Phyllis Barkey from the Relevant Tea Leaf Blog. While on that tour, our next to the last breakfast was a fabulous experience at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. The tables were set with white linens, baskets of assorted breads, and their beautiful heavy duty green and white English china. The menu featured an amazing variety for breakfast, allowing the opportunity to order off the menu or visit the breakfast buffet or both! No one left breakfast hungry. And breakfast didn't wear off until well after three!

Waiters dressed in white jackets and black bow ties (they wore green jackets at dinner) anticipated our every need. Since we were the women from the Michigan Tea Tour, of course we requested tea with breakfast.

Lori, Phyllis, and Linda (all from Michigan)
Barb (MI), Teresa (OH), and Judith (Canada)
Nancy (PA), Linda (KY), (not shown -Joanie (MI) and Gloria (Canada))

First course included fresh orange juice, although Lori had a Mango Smoothie that she raved about, making me wish I had selected that! Fresh strawberries with birch syrup and topped with whipped cream tasted like dessert for breakfast!

Many in our group selected made to order Omelettes or the thick French Toast entrees. My plate featured Caramel Apple Cheesecake stuffed Crepes alongside breakfast potatoes a mixture of white, purple and sweet potatoes with a hint of onion and green pepper. Simply delicious.
It's back to reality now as we have all returned to home base. The dream vacation remains a beautiful memory, captured by an unbelievable amount of photographs to be relived on a variety of blogs. Back to reality, breakfast this morning included a self-serve mug of tea and a whole food plant based chocolate zucchini muffin (Recipe here) that I pulled from the freezer.