Sunday, June 19, 2016
An English Summer Tea Party: Part 2
Years after my sister mailed me an unexpected mangled box of bunting, I finally opened it, hanging up its Union Jacks under the stifling hot sunshine that afternoon. As some of our guests had never visited before, the bunting not only helped invite them in to our English Tea, it served as a perfect backdrop for easily spotting us from the road as well.
Any time we host such gatherings, adorning our place and the food just so is always made that much more worthwhile when thinking on just how much we'd love to be the guest on such a special occasion! After all, as in this case, it's not every day (especially in Colorado) one has the chance to nibble cold cucumber sandwiches, sample perfectly home-made scones with Farmer's Market rhuberry (strawberry and rhubarb) jam, or tuck into that divine berry-centred, creamy mascarpone layered Whole Foods Chantilly cake — all washed down, of course, with pots of English black tea or jars of cold pink lemonade for those preferring something rather more chilled.
Whilst Alexandra made the scones, I tasked myself with braving my fear of heights, stepping atop a chair and reaching high to pin up that bunting whilst squinting against the radiant sunshine glare. Already having been outside far too long for my liking, sweeping our small porch out from dusty sticky pollen and pine, I found myself deliriously humming that diddly, Mad Dogs and Englishmen (go out in the mid-day sun)! Afterwards, a shower was certainly in order. (Tell me again, just why do people actually enjoy blazing hot summers?!)
Not to be deterred, however, revived once again and buoyed with freshness, I bounded down the stairs, ready to tackle my next task: the making of our cornerstone offering. Not any cucumber sandwiches, mind you. No, these had to be deliciously crisp, lightly salted, and offered with enough variety that there would be something on hand for anyone's palette (well, all but the gluten-intolerant among us, I suppose). Firstly, there's the choice between a hearty whole wheat bread, seeded for extra nutritional crunch, or a softer white for more of the traditional flare. Different plates were also offered for those who preferred an American style cream cheese spread vs. the classic English buttered kind. While most of the finger sandwiches had thin slices of cheese and tomato inside, some were loaded with sprouts and others not, noted by having no cucumber slice on top.
Further adding to our array, one of our friends bought along wonderfully made salmon yogurt filled sandwiches. How inventive. I should have known. After all, this was the same couple who flashed a little creative flourish when choosing to label their drinks with Fifi and Rock! Turns out, they use these names every now and then when making reservations. How fun! Talk about making an instant impression. :)
Those few hours passed by all too quickly, enjoying a room filled with laughter, good stories, and the company of an eclectic group of individuals, most of them fairly new friends. While a few never showed up, it was lovely having the opportunity to invite over a handful of neighbours. Good times. Getting to know your neighbours is always a good thing too, even if moving in just six weeks!
With that said, it's going to be hard not seeing the "kids" for a while but I'm thankful knowing that they've not only grown up into responsible, fairly mature adults, they have each other, allowing me to step away for a while to take care of my mother who's reaching the end of her own incredible journey. More on that later...
P.S. And yes, I just noticed, Alexandra does rather match the cucumber garnish, doesn't she? :D