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One of the things I really wanted to do in Chicago was afternoon tea. Strange I know, but whenever I go somewhere I always check out the possibility of afternoon tea and when I checked out Chicago do you know what I found? There were a LOT of places that served afternoon tea. There might have been a ridiculously loud *squee* released all the options I had. It was a long shot, but I had a list of potential spots on my phone just in case. After exploring Lincoln Park, Andy and I had some time so with a quick call to The Allis, we were a short Uber away from tiny sandwiches and awesomeness.
The Allis was what I think Anthropologie would look like if it were a hotel restaurant. Initially I was a little worried because we were dressed fairly casually, but once we got there we saw everything from yoga pants to luxury label cocktail attire. We opted for the non “sparkle” option since, well, my love of sparkle aside, I can’t drink, but I can have chocolate and the “Chocolate Pu-erh” was the delicious love child of my beloved hot chocolate and really good tea. Andy ordered off menu, and got “Emperor Green” which was wonderful, but mine was better. I won at the game of tea. The only criticism, if it can be called that, that I read about this place was that their food options were “traditional” and.. .that may be true. However, not a single option on those three delightful tiers was anything less than exceptional. I mean the scones, the scones guys, I am usually okay sharing food with my husband, but damn if I didn’t want to smack his hand and take them both. The tiers were so treat laden that we ended up taking needing a to-go box, best left over breakfast ever let me tell you. We has such a wonderful time at this trip bonus. Yet another spot I could see myself frequenting if it wasn’t a three hour plane ride away. One of the best afternoon teas I’ve ever had.
I love flowers and tea and teacups, so I’m sure it surprises no one when I talk about how much I like Floral Story series by artist Marina Malinovaya. Each image is created with a table, a tea set, and a lot of flowers. I’d also imagine a lot of patience. In addition, I suspect that the artist is some sort of wizard because I’ve seen her Instagram account and she appears to have a cat. I would never EVER be able to lay something like this on the table with out there being fluffy paws all up in everything.
I need that teeny spoon. It’s really cute, plus it might be the source of her cat control magic.
Images from My Modern Met.
One of the best things about Savannah is the amazing food. Southern, fusion, experimental – you name it; they’ve got it. What makes things even more interesting is that the best food in town is usually from a small local place. I’ve discovered a few over the years and this past trip yielded a delightful new addition, Mate Factor.
This little gem was located not even a three minute walk from our Air BnB, and initially, we weren’t sure we were going to be able to try it out since it is closed on Saturdays. Fortunately, we are both fairly early risers, and we were able to grab a quick bite before getting on the road Sunday morning. One of the reviews I read online described this place as something out of a fairy tale, and I have to say the description is pretty accurate. While it looks like a cozy cottage on the outside, the inside actually holds a few small structures that give the place the feeling of an enchanted market. The cold case and ordering “cottage” are off to one side, and seating space has been maximized by creating a loft as well as lower recessed seating. Of course we decided to sit in the loft. I started my day with an egg & cheese sandwich and a “Dandy Remix”, and Rebecca went with a cranberry orange scone paired with a hazelnut vanilla latte. I also picked up a scone and a mini sweet potato pound cake to take home for Andy. Everything was delicious, and ultimately I was annoyed with myself for not ordering a larger beverage and more baked goods. I absolutely adored this little cafe, and it will absolutely be at the top of my “must see” list from now on. I can’t wait to take Andy there the next time we’re in town.
One of the coolest things I got to do on my recent trip to Charlotte, NC was going to Christmas Tea at the Ballantyne Hotel with my college roommate Rebecca.
Had to do a quick selfie with my pretty dress and my festive flower crown on; you can’t see it here obviously, but I am also wearing a really kick ass pair of peep-toe booties from Poetic License. I’ve had them for years, but I hardly ever get the chance to wear them. The Ballantyne was holiday perfection, rich elegant seasonal pieces adorned most every surface, and the tea room, right off the lobby, was perfectly appointed yet cozy and inviting. While perusing the tea selection, we were offered celebratory class of cranberry accented champagne. I’ve been to plenty of afternoon teas of all shapes and sizes, and there has been some really great food, but this was without a doubt the best afternoon tea spread I’ve ever encountered. Everything we ate was delicious and left me wishing for just one more piece. Since there were two holiday inspired teas in addition to their usual offerings, we each selected one to try. Rebecca went with the cranberry tea, and I had the Christmas spice blend. Just to say we tried everything, we each sampled a cup of the other’s brew; the cranberry was poppy and wonderfully fruity, but it couldn’t hold a candle to spice blend. The only thing I can say to describe the spice blend was that is tasted like Christmas. It was dark, with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg with just a hint of citrus. I would drink it for the entire month of December, from now til forever if I could. I think this is how most people feel about the PSL. Oh yeah, and there was a harp player playing classics and Christmas carols. A. HARP. PLAYER. Does it get any fancier than that?
After finishing our tea, we took a leisurely stroll around the hotel to enjoy the decorations and check out the Gingerbread Lane contest they do every year. Meh on the gingerbread houses, but we decided that at least one of Rebecca’s daughters needed to get married there. Also, that she would need to start saving for that now.
Last week Andy and I went to a tea and chocolate tasting class at our favorite local tea shop All Things Tea. I’m not going to lie; I felt incredibly grown up and sophisticated going to a tasting. Seriously, I wrote it on all my calendars and told everybody I talked to, which probably counteracted some of the “grown-up” points, but I couldn’t help it. Plus, it acted as sort of a “date night”, and goodness knows Andy and I spend way too much time with take out and Netflix.
We showed up for class a little early so we got the added bonus of getting to peek at all of the different things being set up. I was very impressed that they had brought in an actual tea plant for us to look at.
The evening kicked off with a brief history of tea. We discussed types, growing conditions, processing practices, and how certain blends are put together. I knew a little bit about tea already, but it is really incredible to think about all the things that have to happen from clipping to sipping.
The blends ranged from the more familiar flavors like Scottish Breakfast Tea and went all the way to smoked and fermented teas. Some I liked more than others, but there wasn’t a single cup that I didn’t find interesting and enjoyable.
Since I’d never attended a serious tasting class before, I was absolutely delighted by how much the addition of the chocolates enhanced the different teas. We all followed the pattern of brew, sniff, sip and pair. The instructor would suggest an initial paring or two, but we were really encouraged to explore different blends and to talk about what we were tasting. Since there were only four of us, the instructor and her assistant, the ice quickly melted, and before long we were suggesting pairings to one another and coming up with funny comparisons to describe what we were experiencing. My favorite quote of the evening came from Andy (shocker) “It tastes like American cheese slices, but not in a bad way.” The funny thing was we all agreed that we understood what he was talking about.
There may have been a few mis-haps with the tasting cups, and I might have been the first one to spill something. I really thought it would have been Andy, but that honor went to yours truly.
All and all it was a great evening, and we were a little sad when it was over. I’d love to do this again when we have guests in town, and we are thinking about taking the Tea 101 class the next time it is offered.