Thursday, April 9, 2015
Tea in the afternoon
This photo is from Tea at the Ritz in London which is my all time favorite place to go for tea in London. In Paris it is, without a doubt, the Hotel George V. It is simply the best.
Though we all think of teatime being started in England, it's a little known fact, but after its introduction to Europe in the 17th century tea was tremendously popular in France. It first arrived in Paris in 1636 (22 years before it appeared in England!) and quickly became popular among the aristocracy. . .
Wherever it started, it is definitely a lovely addition to the days meals. Most people, here in France, do consider teatime a daily ritual.
Tea was so popular in Paris that Madame de Sévigné, who chronicled the doings of the Sun King and his cronies in a famous series of gossipy letters to her daughter, often found herself mentioning tea. . . . Madame de Sévigné also reported that it was a Frenchwoman, the Marquise de la Sablière, who initiated the fashion of adding milk to tea. "Madame de la Sablière took her tea with milk, as she told me the other day, because it was to her taste." (By the way, the English delighted in this "French touch" and immediately adopted it.)
As a break between lunch and a late dinner, tea is the perfect way to entertain without the daunting experience of a full meal. I recently did just that and added some wonderful champagne to my menu.
What to serve at afternoon tea is up to you. It is normally held between 4-5 in the afternoon.
I like to serve open faced cucumber sandwiches, always with butter, a touch of sea salt on white bread. I cut everything into pieces that can be easily picked up and eaten in one or two bites.
In addition, open faced smoked salmon sandwiches are always popular. I make these on rye or wheat bread ( crusts removed) spread with herbal cream cheese and topped with a small piece of smoked salmon and a dill sprig.
For a nice presentation, garnish the plates with watercress sprigs and some radishes.
Add some sweet tea cakes, scones or whatever you like and you are good to go.
French Vintage Home has several tea sets on it's web site. Here are a couple and if you are interested in them, just click on the blue link or go to www.frenchvintagehome.com.
Limoges Tea Set
French Erquis silverplate tea set