Friday, December 22, 2023

Hydrangea Cottage Tea & Gifts, Pottsville, PA

A Sunday afternoon road trip took us to Hydrangea Cottage Tea & Gifts for shopping and afternoon tea. They are located at 409 W. Market Street in Pottsville and serve afternoon tea on the third weekend of the month. They also have a lovely gift shop that features seasonal d├ęcor and assorted treasures that is open through the week, 10 am - 5 pm (closed Sunday and Monday). We arrived early and enjoyed walking through the many rooms in this gift shop/tea room before we were seated for tea.

Our table was on the second floor, where we were offered the opportunity to select the tea cup we wanted to use. It was a tough choice from a selection of elegant English bone china tea cups.

Various sized tables can be found in the different rooms of the gift shop, with intimate seating for two, or mixed groups at a table for 10. We enjoyed chatting with two women from the area that frequent the tea room when they have special celebrations. Both the noon seating and the 3:00 seating that day were sold out. They are currently promoting the weekend of January 20/21 for their next tea event with a new menu. 

The menu for day was at each place setting, and a Cranberry Basil Scone in the shape of a tea pot was placed on a side plate before we were seated. There was a generous bowl of 'clotted cream' for the scone that was passed around the table.

Opening a tea room has been a long held dream for the owner, Eric Tice. He helped to pour and serve during the event, along with his mother, and two other servers. He announced the teas that were being served this day which included Piper & Leaf Cherry Christmas (a black tea with coconut, almonds, and fruits) and Simpson & Veil Winter Wonderland (a green rooibos blend with cacao nibs and cinnamon).
Scone laden with clotted cream.

Once we all had our tea poured, and our scone devoured, the soup course was served. The St Nicholas Soup is made with a variety of root vegetables. Warming and hearty, topped with croutons, it was a tasty interlude before the sandwiches were served.

The assorted sandwiches were presented on pedestaled cake plates. The sandwiches included a Turkey with Cranberry Chutney, Pickle & Olive Ham Salad (garnished with a sprig of arugula on top), and Herbed Egg Salad Canapes. The egg salad canapes featured a small round toasted wheat bread topped with thinly sliced radish and egg salad. It was noted by the host that each plate included enough sandwiches for every guest to have two of each variety.

Following the sandwich course, individually plated desserts were served and included a festive variety that featured Gumdrop Cupcakes, Coconut Cranberry Bars, and Chocolate Peppermint Cookies.
We enjoyed our Sunday afternoon getaway at this relatively new tea room, and came home with a few little treasures and surprises for under the tree.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Sweet Remembrances Candlelight Tea

 The candlelight casts a subtle hue throughout the tea room in quiet anticipation of a special evening. The annual Candlelight Tea is the culmination of the month of afternoon tea gatherings that begin with the holiday teas on the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving. There is a feeling of celebration in the air. 
This festive event began with a Pear & Pecan Salad, laden with goat cheese, parmesan cheese, sugared pecans, and an oil and vinegar dressing. The recipe is from Eating Royally, a book written by the chef to the royals. Our guests were also offered a complimentary glass of wine or a Cranberry Punch.

The sandwich medley included an Artichoke Truffle, Feta Cheese Round on Party Bread with a tree cut out from a turnip, Roast Beef and Vidalia onion relish on a lemon pepper chive muffin, Turkey and Provolone on cranberry bread, CranApple Chicken Salad Triangle, a warm and cheesy Cordon Bleu Melt, and Sun Dried Tomato Caprese in a petite phyllo cup.

The scone course included a Traditional English Cream Scone and a triangular Lemon Currant Scone served with Sweet Cream and Raspberry Preserves alongside assorted fresh fruit.

Desserts included Chocolate Toffee Torte (several layers of pure bliss), White Cake with a Holiday Medley (raisins, cherries, coconut, pecans and sherry), a truffle from Brittle Bark, our local chocolatier, and a Strawberry cream profiterole. Sweet endings, indeed.

And here's a peek at some of the holiday vignettes tucked about the tea room.  

Wishing a very happy holiday season to all of our friends, both near and far!

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

A Christmas Carol Afternoon Tea

One of our holiday teas in December features the songs of the season performed by a local artist. This year, we welcomed Jeff Greenawalt as our strolling minstrel. He performed a selection of traditional Christmas carols as he moved throughout the tea room while our guests were enjoying their afternoon tea. At the end of the event, everyone joined in for a chorus of Jingle Bells and Silent Night. A video has been posted on our Facebook tea room page.
The afternoon tea began with a Cranberry Pecan Salad topped with craisins, sugared pecans, goat cheese, red onion, and a Raspberry vinaigrette.

The sandwich plate included a Veggie Confetti Round topped with a turnip cut into the shape of a Christmas tree, a Cucumber Square on Whole Grain Bread, Cranberry Bread with mascarpone filling, a Turkey and Havarti rollup on a spinach wrap, warm Brie & Apple Crostini and a Pistachio Cranberry Chicken Salad.

Freshly baked scones, lined up in the kitchen ready to be served next, included Traditional English Cream and White Chocolate Apricot Scone served with sweet cream and apricot preserves and a serving of fresh fruit.

The trio of petite desserts included a Raspberry Almond Puff, an Eggnog cookie, and a miniature chocolate cheesecake with a chocolate ganache topping. Yum!
Special thanks to Jeff Greenawalt for sharing his musical talents with our tea room guests.
Thanks also to Carla for sharing some of her photos for this post. 
Holiday Greetings to all!


Thursday, November 30, 2023

A Gift of Fuyu Persimmons

A friend has a Fuyu Persimmon tree growing very close to her porch - she just has to reach out to harvest this beautiful oriental fruit. We were recently the recipients of some of the fall harvest. This large bag of fresh Fuyu Persimmons offered the opportunity to discover a new fruit, and required a search on the internet to discover how to process and utilize this special gift. The fruit can be eaten directly out of hand, like an apple, but I decided to cook them down to create a pulp to be used in cooking. The directions found on the internet vary slightly, some suggest cooking them down, others simply toss them in a heavy duty processor to create the puree.
I opted for the cooked process, which involved removing the top portion of the fruit and chunking the remaining part. I tossed the chunks into a large pot with about a cup of water, and steamed them down, much like you would applesauce. No sugar necessary as they have natural sweetness already.

Once the fruit was soft, I pureed the mixture, essentially turning it into a sauce. I tried a small bowl of it, topped with cinnamon, and decided it had a flavor very similar to warm and spicy pumpkin.

 This Persimmon bread was my first baked good attempt. Laden with walnuts and raisins, it's a moist and flavorful tea bread. The recipe can be found here at Natasha's Kitchen. It is quite tasty and pairs perfectly with a malty Assam tea. A few additional bags of the pureed persimmon are in the freezer to be turned into something else equally as delicious.
 The Essential Herbal Blog has a range of interesting posts about persimmons, both the native Persimmon and the oriental Fuyu persimmon. Visit their blog, and enter 'persimmons' in the search box to find additional informative posts.

Monday, November 27, 2023

Our Annual Holiday Tea!

The tea room is decorated for the holidays, and our traditional holiday tea was held on Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving. The culinary Santa display is in the foyer again this year, and the swag garland is decorated with festive red and gold poinsettia and cheerful red bows. Reds and greens abound.

For the tea, we served a Cranberry Apple Salad complete with craisins, red onion, red and green apple pieces, feta cheese, and a cranberry dressing.

The sandwich medley featured a Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad on white bread, Spinach and Artichoke Parmesan square, Cucumber and Radish round with herbed goat cheese, sliced Turkey and Havarti cheese on Cranberry Bread, a warm and toasty Cordon Bleu on French bread, and Cranberry and Brie in a phyllo cup.

Traditional English Cream Scones and Cinnamon Chip Scones were served put in the oven to bake while the guests enjoyed the sandwiches. The fragrance of the scones baking wafted into the tearoom from the kitchen. Served with sweet cream and strawberry preserves alongside some fresh fruit, this just might be the favorite course of many of our guests.

And a trio of petite desserts rounded out the afternoon tea event. We served a miniature Peanut Butter Pie topped with chocolate ganache and whipped cream, there was a petite White Cake with whipped buttercream, cranberry glaze, and topped with a holly leaf, and a Cherry Almond Tea Cake with a white chocolate drizzle.
         Wishing you much joy and happiness this holiday season!

Sunday, October 29, 2023

A Hauntingly Delightful Afternoon Tea

The spiders are out in full force since afternoon tea during the month of October includes two very festive spooky tea time events.

The tables anticipate the arrival of witches, Halloween goblins, and other festively dressed guests. Susanna cleverly coordinates the menu to suit the theme. Tiny black coffins filled with chocolate treats and jelly pumpkins were presented as favors this year.

Once everyone had a pot of properly brewed tea, the first course was served. It featured a savory helping of fresh tasty Entrails. This slaw had everything from apples to craisins, celery to peppers and onions, sunflower seeds and grated carrots, all mixed with a base of red and green cabbage and tossed with a creamy sweet dressing.

The sandwich course included: It's Toasty and it's Cheesy Parmesan Pumpkin, Bare Bones Skull 'n Turkey with parsley & shallot mayonnaise, Pumpkin Butter & Goat Cheese on Pumpkin Bread, Anyone missing an Egg Salad Eyeball?, RIP Pimiento Cheese Coffin on Pumpernickel, and a Magikal Green Eyed Monster. 
The scones included Casper the Friendly Ghost, and the Bermuda Triangle Cinnamon Chip Scone. They were served with sweet cream and raspberry preserves. A serving of sliced granny smith apples with Caramel Apple Dip completed this course.

And for dessert, Have you ever seen a Purple People Eater? 'Tis said they have Gingerbread for Brains. and a Wickedly good Frosted Pumpkin Cookie with a ghost added for good measure.

We certainly encourage everyone to stroll the haunted gardens if they dare, as you never know what you might find out there.