Laid Back Afternoon Tea

I recently tried the afternoon tea at Ivory Road Cafe & Kitchen near Asheville, NC. It was a real treat! I didn’t know what to expect as far as atmosphere is concerned, since Ivory Road is a little bit off the proverbial beaten path, but upon arrival I was pleasantly surprised by the restaurant’s sweetly magical flavor. It’s situated in an old house surrounded by tall green trees; the fact that my visit took place on a cloudy day only made it feel more like stepping into a storybook setting.

The afternoon tea (offered Saturday afternoons by reservation only) was phenomenal. Our server, who is also the owner, took our tea order immediately and when it came I was tickled to see the cute teapots she had chosen for our selections (the Wild Earl Grey was in the elephant pot while the Echinacea Elderflower Herbal Tisane was in the pot with the purple flowers).

Shortly after our tea arrived, she brought us our scones, Devonshire cream and other house made spreads, as well as lavender shortbread cookies. The scones were wondrously light and still warm from the oven; the cookies were perfectly textured with a well-balanced flavor (not always easy with floral ingredients).

After that, the finger sandwiches and desserts arrived. The assortment of four sandwiches was fun and creative, and this is where I really appreciated Ivory Road’s willingness to accommodate special dietary needs. As a vegetarian with a mushroom allergy, stuff like this can get a little tricky, but they prepared four sandwiches for me nonetheless and they were extremely tasty. (I think I devoured all four in less than five minutes!)

As for the desserts, they were (to borrow a phrase from Mary Berry) absolutely scrummy!! All four sweets were amazing, and if I had to pick a favorite, I’d be hard-pressed to choose between the chocolate truffle cake with rosewater buttercream and crystallized ginger and the spicy chai pannacotta.

It was a truly outstanding dining experience and I’m looking forward to going back for some of their regular fare during the week!

o-high-o tea

photo by Anne Jansen

After two years of living in Columbus, I finally found my way to a place that serves a decent afternoon tea: the Cambridge Tea House in Marble Cliff (near Grandview). This little tea house had a delicious high tea for a reasonable price, and they really served up a great tea. I made reservations a day in advance (a good thing because it was packed for lunch when we went) and requested that one of the teas be made vegetarian.

photo by Anne Jansen

They were happy to oblige me, and while most of their sandwiches were veg-friendly (I’m an ova-lacta vegetarian, meaning I eat eggs and dairy — if I wasn’t, I’d have had to tell them) they did go out of their way to alter the grape and tuna tart for me, giving me a carrot and hummus tart (pictured above) instead. The other sandwiches, pictured below, included a uniquely spiced egg salad sandwich and a wonderful apple, cheese, and almond sandwich.

photo by Anne Jansen

They also had the requisite scones (pictured below), which were their currant scone (a regular fixture at the CTH) and the scone of the day. Both were delicious, baked to perfection.

photo by Anne Jansen

Finally, to conclude the tea (and by the way, the tea itself was amazing — I’d recommend the Florence tea, a hazelnut and chocolate black tea, to anyone who enjoys a sweet cuppa) there were two different desserts (both pictured below): a chocolate mini-muffin with creamy peanut butter frosting, and a refreshing lemon pastry with a fresh raspberry on top. If you enjoy afternoon tea, you should definitely give the Cambridge Tea House a try!

photo by Anne Jansen

iris’s tea delights

photo by Anne Jansen

This afternoon, I saw my friend Iris who kindly invited me to her home for a visit and made these delicious tea sandwiches. The ones right in the front of the picture are avocado and mushroom on wheat bread; the ones further back are cucumber slices on sourdough baguette with a cream cheese spread. And even further back is a tempting array of dessert cookies. The tea sandwiches were exquisite, and the simplicity : yumminess ratio was off the charts. Next time you have afternoon tea, give these tiny treats a try!

sweet little tart

photo by Anne Jansen

This raspberry dessert tart was just one of the many sweet treats at the Rose Garden Tea Room and Cafe at The Huntington in Pasadena, California. I had afternoon tea there with my sister and my brother-in-law, and the food (dessert or otherwise) was all delicious. Perhaps the best part of it was the fresh fruit adorning the desserts like this one.

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