Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Tea Time

I think it is time to take a break and go to a nice tea shoppe for a few hours of R & R. Here in the San Fernando Valley, there's a lovely place in Granada Hills called the Gilded Rose. The rooms are decorated in a Victorian theme with lots of chinz. It has a very nice gift shop. There are common rooms and rooms for larger parties. We've often seen bridal showers or baby showers going on. There are theme teas during certain times of the year.

Going to tea became a tradition soon after I started attending San Diego Comicon for the first time in 1992. We stayed at a Victorian-era hotel in the Gas Light District called the Horton Grand which was frequented by Wyatt Earp, reputed to be haunted, and where tea was served most afternoons. The waitress looked and dressed like Jean Marsh in Upstairs, Downstairs and the food was terrific. The wives-and-girlfriends-of the comic book pros would pick an afternoon to put on hats and act like ladies. Many a time, Comicon occurs on my birthday, tea with the ladies is my only celebration.

The tea experience at the hotel went down hill, so we've tried the U.S. Grant, the West Gate, and any other place we've been able to locate. Last summer, we discovered a new place called Tea on Chatsworth, located between the Newport Avenue antique row we like to visit and the Convention Center area. We certainly hope it is still there when the end of July rolls around this year. The six of us had a delightful time, the food was very good, and the tea selection memorable.

The very best tea shoppe we ever went to was called Ticky-Boo (probably not spelled correctly) and it was in Carlsbad, California. The Victorian theme was carried as far as the clothing worn by the owners and service people. There was confetti all over the place, hats on the wall, a fairy garden for parties, and cozies on the pots. It had the best scones ever. Fortunately, the day my friends and I attended was my birthday and they bought me a copy of the the shoppe's cookbook which had the recipe. I got to go there one more time and then it disappeared. An antique shop owner down the street said it disappeared almost overnight. The scones are an important part of any tea party I host and I'm often asked to bring them to parties elsewhere. I am partial to the lemon curd recipe and the savory stilton cheese cake recipe also found in the cookbook.

I like to host tea for the third race of the Triple Crown, if there's a possibility of a Triple Crown winner. I'm convinced that Barbaro had it in the bag when the tragedy occurred at the Preakness. I had a run of about three years for it, but it's been a three years since I've held it. I've got hopes again for this year and I've been busily collecting teapots, napkins, and other accessories in horse themes for decoration. I now have a set of horse-related cookie cutters, one of which should work for the Ticky-Boo scones. It is four months before the Run for the Roses, but I have started looking at the sports pages to see just which horses may be in the running.

I'm told the Bel Air hotel has a chocolate tea at Christmas time, and that intriques me, although I've never gone. The Four Seasons in D.C. used to have a nice high tea when I lived in the area 20 years ago. The Huntington Gardens serves tea each day, but it is a buffet, which isn't quite the right atmosphere. The Rose Tea Garden in Pasadena is another lovely, traditional spot. Like a number of places, reservations are required.

The Internet has made locating tea shoppes a little easier, but it pays to look at the descriptions and evaluations before you go. There's a place in Old Orange I've thought about visiting, but it recently got scathing reviews on-line.

I ought to give a few friends a call and make a date at the Gilded Rose. That would be a lovely way to spend Saturday afternoon.


kathy said...

My absolute favorite place to have high tea in the entire world is the Pump Room at Bath. :) If tea places are not to be found at Comic-Con this year, you can at least do cake and tea of the chi-chi upscale yuppie variety at Karen Krasne's Extraordinary Desserts. I know it's not the same as High Tea, but it's awfully nice.

Ummm. Just floating an idea for your birthday--what about the races at Del Mar, post/pre-Con? They're also in San Diego every July. Wear big flowery hats, get clubhouse tix, do the outdoor dining/champagne brunch thing...

M. C. Valada said...

We've actually had to get past the crowds going to Del Mar on two or three occassions as we do the forced march to get to Comicon for the preview opening on Wednesday nights. This year, Comicon is a little later in the month, so we won't be down for the Del Mar opening.

I got e-mail from what may be a new San Diego tea room today--probably in response to last year's inquiry.

I have not been to Bath, but thanks for the suggestion. And for the one for Extraordinary Desserts. I will definitely look it up.

kathy said...

Bath is fun. You can pretend you are in Jane Austen's Persuasion in the Pump Room, because she set some of it there. There are Roman ruins cheek-by-jowl with some gorgeous sandstone Georgian architecture. (And a modern version of taking the waters). But most importantly, there's the Museum of Costume.