European charm tea

My friend N. and I went to the Grand del Mar for afternoon tea and what an adventure it was!  We got there early enough to check out their gelato/tea shop/gift boutique and to admire the grounds from an upper window.

Foyer with fresh flower display. This is one of the biggest fresh floral displays I've seen. I can't imagine it getting replaced every few days!

Afternoon tea is served in one of 2 rooms: The Library or the Lounge.  We had tea in the Lounge today but won’t rule out sitting in the Library next time!

Library

Cozy table in the library

Lamp shade with old map

Pretty staircase

The Lounge was a nice, cheery, and bright area with lots of natural light.  The windows offered a lovely view of the hotel and grounds which have an Old World, European feel.

Table setting

I never understood the hype surrounding china until I experienced afternoon tea.  Ever since then, I have been fascinated by china and lamented that I did not put it on my wedding registry.  I was not concerned with such “trifles” back then but having eaten off china and drunk out of china, I now understand and appreciate its appeal.  The feel of the porcelain is so different from stoneware.  It’s delicate, yet strong, and feels nice to the touch.  The tableware at the Grand Del Mar was French in origin.  I did some research and identified it as Bernardaud from the Constance Limoges Collection.  I really liked the greens and gold of the elegant acorn and oak leaf design.  I just about fainted when I found out that the sugar bowl alone (background, below) retailed for $588!  I guess I won’t be acquiring my own set of china anytime soon! 😦

Tea cup with tea strainer

I really liked that we each got our own teapot and strainer.  The tea selection was from Tea Forte.  The tea was good but I wish they let us try another tea selection when we drained our pots.  We did get unlimited refills on hot water for our teapots.

Our first course consisted of 5 assorted sandwiches (left to right): Bacon egg salad on egg bread, ham pate with orange and fig aioli on marbled pumpernickel and rye bread, smoked salmon with cream cheese and watercress microgreens on whole wheat, cucumber and dill cream cream on sourdough with radish microgreens, and roast beef and mozzarella on rye bread.

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Since I don’t eat beef, I asked for a substitution and they offered me a plain egg salad sandwich and a spicy avocado sandwich.  I preferred the bacon egg salad but I liked the avocado sandwich.

Overall, I liked every one of the sandwiches though I wish there were a couple of savories.  I think the sandwiches are okay for summer tea but for a winter tea, some warm savories would be nice.

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I could hardly believe my eyes when the caddy came out with our next 2 courses!  Not only were there 2 types of scones but we each got 3 scones!  I think this made up for the missing fruit course.

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I really enjoyed both of these scones.  The black currant scones were almost perfection.  They had the closest texture to what I think a proper scone should resemble.  I was able to take a sample of both back home for D. to try and he agreed that the black currant scone was almost perfect, except it needed to be “just a tad bit drier.”  We both liked the Tahitian vanilla one very much.

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Then … the desserts!  Ah, the desserts.  Not only were there 4 different types of dessert but there were 3 of each!  How were we to decide who would eat what?  Toss a coin?

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Well, it turns out we didn’t have to duel for the desserts because we were so stuffed from the scones that we took home most of the desserts.  We did manage to eat the chocolate eclair that was filled with custard.  We declared it delectable and “way too easy to eat!”

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What a lovely afternoon!  We felt as if we had spent the afternoon in France or Italy.  Our server revealed that both the chef and pastry chef were French and trained in France.  The food was delicious and beautifully presented.  The desserts were excellent.  The service was impeccable and the 2-hour tea was perfectly paced.  We felt relaxed and not rushed at all.

Old World charm

“Peace, happiness, and joy is possible during the time I drink my tea.”
–Thich Nhat Hanh

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