Tea With Antiquities

BannerResized quote

1BlueResized

I have found that museums are enjoyable places to take tea.  Virtually every one has a restaurant, tea house, or coffee shop.  Usually, the food proves delicious.  I can’t think of a better combination than a day admiring art and a delicious cup of tea with a bite to eat.  If the gallery has a decorative arts wing, so much the better.

threePieceResized

Did you know that there are entire museums dedicated to porcelain, silver, and china?  One of the best I’ve seen is the Silver and Crockery Museum in the Hofburg Palace (Winter Palace) in Vienna.  When I visited, the Hofburg tour — then available only in German — proved sparse (I’ve learned it has since improved).  However, the Crockery museum, located below the palace, was amazing and well worth the price of entry.  It turned out to be one of our favorite sites.  Even my husband enjoyed the experience!

BannerBorderResized

BannerScriptureResized quote

BannerBorderResized

NelsonCupResized

  JasperwearResized  JasperwearEarlyResized  JasperwearGreenResized

The British Museum has a magnificent array of teapots as well as some important cups and saucers, including early Jasperware.  The place is enormous, so be sure to start your day early.  We enjoyed lunch there and the unusual teabags (see photo below).  No, that’s not a tissue protruding from my teapot!  My companion chose a cappuccino as a pick-me-up.  After all, perusing a large gallery can be exhausting.

LunchResized  CappuccinoResized
Deco2PotResized  DecoPotResized

You never know what you’ll come across when exploring a museum.  At the National Portrait Gallery in London, we happened upon a special exhibit on the Brontë Sisters.  We got lucky — just a right place, right time kind of thing.  After hearing about them for my entire life, I got to see the actual tiny books and scraps of paper on which the girls wrote.  It was a treat I hadn’t anticipated and one for which I am grateful.  Read about some of what I saw here:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/art-news/12057053/National-Portrait-Gallery-to-reveal-mysteries-of-shadowy-Bronte-brother.html

BranwellPortraitResized

BronteBooksResized

BronteWritingREsized

I’m lucky to live near many world class museums.  I’ve never been disappointed with the exhibits or the tea!  So, escape the summer’s heat, find a nearby museum, and lose yourself for the day!

CrocTeapotResized

PineTreePotResized

ChinesePotResized

RoseCupResized

BannerPoemResized quote

BannerBorderResized

BannerBorder2Resized

COPYRIGHT 2017. VICTORIA BENCHLEY ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

A Bountiful Fall Tea

bountifulbannerfade

img_2894resizedcropped2

In accordance with the above quote, I’ve made an extra strong brew this afternoon.  Do come in and enjoy a cup (or two) of Ginger Tea from TrueBrit.  It’s a blend of Ceylon and other black leaves mixed with ginger.  I find it delicious!  With the increase in temperatures, we’ll take our break on the porch.

   img_2856-sized   img_2877resized

One of my children will soon be reading 1984 for his English class.  I got excited when I saw it on the required book list.  I’m wondering if it will have the same impact now that the year has long passed and a new generation of readers, unfamiliar with the Cold War, WWII, and largely protected from exposure to tyranny, has come along.  I read Orwell’s classic in high school, sometime around 1980, and found it powerful.  Do you have a favorite book that affected your own young perspective?

img_2897resized

I realize I’m rambling a bit, but has anyone else noticed that tea is just better in England, Orwell’s homeland?  I even prefer the Lipton there!  I returned from my travels this summer with oodles of tea.  That’s how I roll.  My souvenirs consist of tea leaves, tea bags, and a few sweets (those are better in England as well).  So, if you spot any in your local import store, don’t hesitate to indulge.  You might find yourself enjoying the best cuppa ever!  By the way, did you know George Orwell was the pen name of Englishman Eric Arthur Blair?  His sister ran a tea house for a time, and he also lived in India (both adding to his tea pedigree), as well as on the Isle of Jura, Inner Hebrides, off the west coast of Scotland.  He died young at age 46 of tuberculosis but lived an interesting life.  He spent time in Paris and Spain, where he was wounded fighting in the Spanish Civil War.

teapictureresized

I’ve kept our food simple today, utilizing cocktail cucumbers and pretzel rolls, along with fresh herbs.  Simple butter cookies complete the table.  I’ve mixed diced honey ham with two different flavors of cream cheese for the fillings.  Everything came together in a jiffy.

img_2870resized      img_2873resized

bountifulborder
bountifulscripture
bountifulborder

img_2880resized

Tips:

  • Keep an eye out for teas imported from England. img_2898resized You’ll want to give them a try.
  • A supply of store-bought butter cookies comes in handy when entertaining.
  • When weather permits, move your gathering outside.  Soon it will be too cold for the great outdoors.
  • Flavored cream cheeses are readily available and add a nice punch to sandwiches or crackers.
  • Check your local grocery for specialty breads.  The mini pretzel rolls I found proved perfect for small tea sandwiches and tasted delicious.
  • Use a melon baller to scoop out soft vegetables.  Stuff with your favorite filling.  Cocktail cucumbers are refreshing and tasty when filled with diced ham and herb-infused cream cheese.
  • Don’t be afraid to include fresh herbs.  They add a great taste to your creations.  Just watch the amount, so you don’t overpower any subtle flavors.

img_2888resized

Thank you for joining me, and do pop by again soon!

 img_2893croppedresized

bountifulborder
bountifulclosesized
bountifulclose1
bountifulborder

 

COPYRIGHT 2016. VICTORIA BENCHLEY ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

My Favorite European Salon de Thé (Tea)

headersized_quote

vignette5_bigsized

I have an all-time favorite Salon de Thé (see September 12 blog, A European Tea Adventure).  No doubt, Angelina remains on the top of my list.  Explaining why isn’t so straightforward.  I really wanted to love Ladurée, another well-known tea room.  I had dreamed of enjoying a cup of tea and a pastry there for so long.  Don’t get me wrong, it proved a nice experience and the brew was excellent.  However, it just couldn’t compare to the Belle Époque café. The staff seemed friendlier at Angelina, the prices lower, and the cheerful ambience just couldn’t be beat.  And, after all, there is just something about being in Paris.  The other tea rooms in Italy and Switzerland didn’t stand a chance.

angelinaexteriorsized

To be honest, Angelina had an advantage.  I’d spent many a fall afternoon there twenty years before, savoring all of their delights.  montblancsizedA favorite among Parisians, the 100 plus year-old establishment greets guests like an old friend.  The café is best known for its thick African hot  chocolate and its Le Mont-Blanc, a scrumptious pastry made with meringue and chestnut cream.  For the first time visitor, I’d recommend either or.  In other words, don’t try to combine the hot chocolate and Mont-Blanc at once.  Go for Le Mont-Blanc and a cup of their signature tea.  Not a tea lover?  Sample the decadent hot chocolate.  Then come back the next day to experience a different confection.  If it’s a meal you’re after, anything on the menu will do.  Their salads, omelets, and sandwiches are all delicious, as is the bread and butter you’ll be served.

teasized    Angelinas16sized.jpg

bordercropsized

The mercury had risen to a beastly hot temperature.  We’d spent the morning at the Louvre, just down the street.  I needed a boost and could think of nothing better than a visit to Angelina.  The café did not disappoint.  Little had changed since my last visit, except their china and the size of the crowd.  We had to wait in line, outside, for the first time—I’m guessing the price of being there in summer.  It was worth it!

pastrysized

I grappled over which sweet to choose and went with an incredible creation called the Désirée—a combination of raspberry custard, cream puff, cookie, and I don’t know what.   It proved one of the best pastries I’ve ever had and the perfect accompaniment to my cup of tea.  I’m not ashamed to admit my eyes rolled back in my head and my lashes fluttered with each bite!

angelinas2sized

angelinas4cropsized

Did I mention the salon’s beautiful decor?  The interior transports the customer to another time.  I can’t imagine a trip to Paris without a stop at Angelina.  I was thrilled to discover that it still charmed and refreshed guests, just as it did twenty years ago.

angelinas17crop-sized

salon-de-the-angelina-paris-sized1

scripturesized1_quote

rivolisized

Everyone seemed happy as they sipped their tea, chocolate, or coffee and indulged in a meal or dessert, and the mood proved catchy.  Families gathered at larger tables, engaging in pleasant conversation.  A grandfather bounced a baby on his knee, while a toddler strolled from chair to chair, smiling at aunts, uncles, and strangers.  A couple to my right, probably newlyweds, doted on each other while sharing their sweets.  My husband held my hand.

Our lovely waitress cheerfully chatted, encouraged, and served us.  She added to the fantastic, lively atmosphere.  I could have sat there for the rest of the day, blissfully observing the clientele and drinking cup after cup.

vignette2_bigsized

There are fancier places to have tea and those more of the moment.  If I have to give one reason why Angelina is my favorite spot, it would be because the place is just so happy.   That’s right.  It’s a happy place, one of my happy places.

So, when you’re lucky enough to be in Paris, visit the Louvre or the Musée de l’Orangerie.  When your feet get tired and your eyes weaken, enjoy a stroll down the Rue de Rivoli, past posh shops and tony hotels.  Or, take a route through the Tuileries.  Just be sure you end up at 226 so you can experience what Parisians have enjoyed for over 100 years!  You can check out Angelina’s delightful web page and video here:  http://www.angelina-paris.fr/fr/

angelinas3cropsized

angelinadelisized

angelinas13sized
endsized_quote
endbordersized
smallendsized

COPYRIGHT 2016. VICTORIA BENCHLEY ALL RIGHTS RESERVED