Friday, June 24, 2022

Fort Hunter Mansion & Park - Afternoon Tea

We are fortunate to have the Fort Hunter Mansion and Park located just north of Harrisburg and situated on along the Susquehanna River. Having a history of serving as a war fort and also an exclusive private estate, it is preserved for the public and offers a variety of exhibits, musical programs, and special events throughout the year. Recently, in May, we attended an Afternoon Tea and program coordinated by the Friends of Fort Hunter and held in the stately 1876 Centennial barn.
The barn offers a lovely wide open venue to host a gathering of tea and history buffs. Prior to the Afternoon Tea, there was a program presented by Dr. Donald Koontz on the artistic talents of Violet Oakley (1874 - 1961). This amazing woman was a painter, muralist, illustrator, portraitist, writer, civic leader and advocate for world peace. She was the first female artist commissioned to create murals for the Pennsylvania State Capitol. Dr. Koontz shared the story of these murals (over 40 of them) as they depicted the history of William Penn. His enthusiastic and informative presentation was captivating.

After the program, we found our seating. The colorful centerpieces brought the garden indoors. After the event, we were encouraged to take the bouquets to enjoy at home.

Once seated, tea service began immediately, and a hot pot of English Breakfast tea was presented to each table. Once the tea pots were served, the main plate appeared. It held a generous portion of chicken salad on a crisp romaine lettuce leaf with a few pickles and tomatoes. Sweet heart shaped scones were on the plate along with a French Madelaine, and a frosted sponge cake topped with edible flower petals. Additional scones were offered by the volunteers.
Towards the end of the tea, an ice cream sundae was served to each guest. A sweet ending to a fun afternoon tea.

If you are in the southcentral PA area, the Friends of Fort Hunter typically host an afternoon tea in May and again in early December.

We were fortunate to have Dr. Koontz join us at our table. As we introduced ourselves, he fondly remembered our mother as many years ago he coordinated with her to present adult education programs about herbs and tea at the local community college. 

Monday, June 20, 2022

Passport To Africa - Afternoon Tea

Earlier this month we welcomed guest chef Faith Cohick to coordinate the "Passport to Africa" Afternoon Tea. Faith prepared a menu that was comprised of a host of African flavors and specialties for this event. Following the event, Debbie Arthur joined us for her presentation about the adventures she experienced while visiting Africa, telling her story through her gorgeous photography. Her pictures brought the animals to life!
Susanna's husband David has a unique collection of hand carved wooden animals from Africa, and they were all put into service to adorn each table.
Keeping with the theme, in the tea room before the culinary adventure began.
The first course featured a Moroccan Chickpea Salad. This brightly colored salad was filled with chickpeas, carrots, raisins, toasted pumpkin seeds, and feta cheese all dressed with a blend of Moroccan spices and served atop a bed of fresh arugula.
The sandwich assortment included South African Mealie Bread (corn bread) with a tangy cheese spread and boasting the South African flag, East African Kachumbari (onion and cucumber) Crostini, Creamy Egg Salad on White Bread with an olive pick topper, Colorful Sweet Pepper Spread atop Crostini, Turkey Apricot Tea Sandwich with Almond Poppyseed Spread, and South African Frikkadel (spiced meatball). An amazing array of flavors and textures to sample.
A Vanilla Bean Cardamom Scone and Sour Cream Banana Bread was served accompanied with orange marmalade and Devonshire Cream alongside assorted fresh fruit.
The dessert medley featured South African Condensed Milk Cookie, West African Lime Cake, and South African Milk Tart or Melktert,  .

A special thank you to Faith Cohick for another fabulous themed tea and to Debbie Arthur for sharing her interesting experiences in the wilds of Africa.

Looking for lions and tigers and bears in the gardens?

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Buckingham Palace Tea, a favor

Sharing another view of the tea room with the tables set and ready for the guests to arrive for the Queen's tea festivities. The bunting added an air of fun to the event.

Tucked in the folds of the napkin was a favor for each guest. We gifted each guest a package of the Buckingham Palace Royal Blend Afternoon Tea. The tea is a large loose leaf tea in a biodegradable pyramid shaped teabag. It can be ordered directly from the Royal Collection Trust at Buckingham Palace in London, England. The box includes a bit of history of the palace summer garden parties that were first introduced by Queen Victoria in the 1860s. This festive tradition continues to this day where, during the summer, invited guests are welcomed to the tea parties held in the palace gardens. Guests are served tea in the company of the Royal Family.
According to the packaging, regarding the Royal Afternoon Blend:  "Delicate, light and balanced, this delightful blend of high quality large leaf teas is perfect for drinking in the afternoon. It is equally good served the traditional way with a splash of milk or served chilled for perfect iced tea."

Treat yourself like a queen everyday, and enjoy a cup of hearty black tea alongside whatever sweet treat you have on hand. This darling little cupcake was available during the week leading up to the royal festivities at a local creperie in town. It seemed the perfect way to celebrate simply!

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

The Queen's Tea - 2022

As celebrations occurred throughout England in honor of Queen Elizabeth's 70 year reign, we too, had a celebration in her honor. We have held the Queen's Tea annually to celebrate her birthday, but this year was extra special. The bunting was hung, the tables were set, and the festivities in the tea room were held on Sunday, June 5th.

In addition to the guests seated in the tea room, we welcomed three recent Penn State University graduates to take tea in the garden. They donned their finest tiaras and crowns and joined in the revelry, toasting not only the Queen, but each other for their accomplishments over the past four years at Happy Valley. 

The first course featured a recipe from Eating Royally, a cookbook written by Darren McGrady, former chef to the Queen and Princess Diana. It was a Pear and Pecan Salad with Parmesan Cheese and Goat Cheese atop a bed of assorted lettuce. A fresh basil and olive oil vinaigrette dressed the salad. 

The sandwiches included a Roast Beef with Parmesan Mayonnaise on a Lemon Chive Pepper Muffin, Cucumber and French Style Cheese Round, Turkey, Havarti, & Sliced Apple on Raisin Bread, Buckingham Palace Rose Petal Sandwich, the Queen's Favorite Raspberry Jam Pennies, Coronation Chicken Salad, and Herbed Cheese with Sliced Tomato Rounds.

The scone course featured a Kensington Palace Scone (heart shaped) and a triangular scone using a recipe from the Claridge Hotel. Both were served with sweet cream and strawberry preserves alongside fresh fruit.
And the dessert medley featured a Fortnum & Mason Earl Grey Cupcake garnished with assorted gold and white sprinkles, a Victorian Poppyseed cake with a lime glaze and gold candy crown and our Chocolate Toffee Torte with gold dust and chocolate shavings. The paper with the photos of the Queen over the years held the menu.
Congratulations to the graduates! and Long Live the Queen!