A Touch of Provence

Ahhh, l’arrivée du printemps!  Happy spring!  I should be digging in the garden right now but instead, I am digging in my photo archives and found a tea party I hadn’t blogged about yet … AND it’s the perfect tea to welcome spring!
provence1 provence2To be honest, I’ve really enjoyed all the rain we’ve had this season so I’m not ready to let go of winter yet.  Every time it rains, I hear a little voice inside my head, reciting that famous poem by Paul Verlaine:

Il pleure dans mon coeur
Comme il pleut sur la ville.
Quelle est cette langueur
Qui pénêtre mon coeur ? …

If you took French literature class in high school, I’m sure you know the rest.  I know it’s not a happy poem but it’s a poignant and beautiful one.  Rain touches and moves me just like the powerful metaphor in the poem, in a good way.  Perhaps the rain makes me happy and sad at the same time because it is Nature’s way of giving me time (forcing me?) to decompress, slow down, and renew which can be a little sad.  Inevitably, the rain brings forth wonderful things both for myself (sense of renewed purpose, recharge, much needed rest) and my environment (greenery, new growth, flowers, fruits, vegetables, clean air, and RAINBOWS!).  For one who finds it so difficult to let go of winter, the prospect of afternoon tea is just the thing to get me into spring mode!

Lady J. hosted the Victorian Tea Society’s spring tea in 2014 with a touch of Provence.  Everything about the table setting screamed spring and lavender!  I especially liked the flower shaped plates which were all different.

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I loved my place setting! Sunflowers are one of my favorite flowers!

I loved my place setting! Sunflowers are one of my favorite flowers!

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I loved my place setting! Sunflowers are one of my favorite flowers!

Lavender teacup chandelier

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Appetizer: Brie with crackers

Appetizer: Brie with crackers

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Grilled chicken salad Provencal by Lady J.

Grilled chicken salad Provencal
(Adapted from Epicurious.com)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon canned unsalted chicken broth
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence, crumbled
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, well trimmed
1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise
1 beetroot, cooked and sliced
1 crookneck squash, quartered lengthwise
1 small red or green bell pepper, sliced lengthwise
1 bunch arugula
Curly endive
Additional balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar

Prepare barbecue/grill (high heat). Combine first 5 ingredients in small bowl. Brush olive oil mixture lightly over chicken, zucchini, eggplant, crookneck squash and bell pepper. Grill chicken and vegetables until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender, turning occasionally, about 4 minutes. Transfer to large plate. Slice chicken breast diagonally. Arrange chicken and vegetables on plates, garnishing each serving with arugula and endive. Serve, passing balsamic vinegar separately.

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The sandwiches and savories

Calla Lily sandwiches

Calla Lily sandwiches by Lady MH

baby eggplant stuffed with sundried tomato cream cheese and Herbes de Provence by Lady Henni

Baby eggplant “sandwich” with sundried tomato cream cheese and herbes de Provence with dill flower garnish by Lady Henni

Salmon salad sandwiches by Lady B.

Salmon salad and egg salad sandwiches by Lady B.

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Julia Child’s Provencal tomato quiche by Lady T.

Fresh berries by Lady J.

Fresh berries by Lady J.

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Lavender scones by Lady J.

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Lavender scone with butter, peach and lavender preserves, lemon curd, and Devonshire cream

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Almond croissants by Lady J.

Almond croissants
(Recipe from Sandra Lee)

1/2 cup almond paste
3 tablespoons spiced rum
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 can (8-ounce) refrigerated crescent rolls
1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water
3 tablespoons sliced almonds
1 cup French vanilla whipped topping, thawed (Cool Whip) (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. In a small bowl, grate almond paste. Stir in rum, brown sugar, and cinnamon until well mixed; set aside.
2. Unroll a crescent roll to lie flat. Spread 1 tablespoon of almond mixture in the middle and roll to make croissant. Place on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining ingredients to make eight croissants total. Using a pastry brush, brush beaten egg on each croissant.  Sprinkle sliced almonds on top.
3. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and cool completely. To serve, top with whipped topping.

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French macarons from Opera Patisserie (Thanks Lady K.!)

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Mini French desserts and cakes from Opera Patisserie (Thanks Lady K.!)

And lastly, a tour of Lady J.’s spring garden …

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These koi are over 15 years old!

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Having just returned from France, Lady J. brought back goodies from Provence for all the VTS ladies!

Having just returned from France, Lady J. brought back goodies from Provence for all the VTS ladies!

Merci beaucoup Lady J. for taking us on a vicarious adventure through Provence with your lovely afternoon tea!  The sights, smells, and tastes were so delicious that now I’m ready for spring!

“The fragrance of adventure and poetry endlessly pervades each cup of tea.”

Henri Mariage

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