My Cup of Tea
I confess. I am a “High-tea” addict. Over the years I have partaken of the British tradition of the classic High tea in all the gastronomique meccas. In all of London’s legendary hotels, The Ritz, The Lanesbrough and The Dorchester. And now joy of joys! I find that this elegant tradition has crossed the Atlantic and is as, if not more beautiful and memorable in NYC. But first an open letter to the creator of the High tea.
An open letter
to Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford
I raise a toast to you (ofcourse I do it with a cup of the finest Earl Grey tea) for having first sent out the invite for “tea and a walk in the fields” . That was a hundred and fifty years ago, but what a tradition you’ve set! Probably the only culinary tradition which is truly feminine in nature!
Pardon my insolence but I’m sure you had no idea what your “high tea” and finger sandwiches would snowball into. You couldn’t have ever imagined that your idea of having tea around four or five o’clock in the afternoon to ward off the hunger pangs between lunch and dinner would lead to ladies in long tea gowns attending full-blown social events complete with hot dishes, footmen handing around the teacups, and even professional musicians. Tea service with side plates, bread and butter plates, cake stands, and every conceivable accompaniment advancing across the drawing room.Tea gardens, tea dances followed. I am sure you never imagined that not only would a whole pattern of service grow around it but also a code of etiquette. And as though all that isn’t enough, UK has Tea Council Inspectors who spend many months travelling throughout the length and breadth of Britain inspecting tea rooms and hotels and each year and coveted awards are given every year for the Top London Afternoon Tea and Top Tea Place. You will be thrilled to know that your “High tea” is served as beautifully as ever in the cacophonic NYC’s legendary Pierre. My note on that follows. But tell me do you think that it is true that the word “teetotaler” was derived from the fact that tea played an important role in the temperance movement’s battle against the very high levels of alcohol consumption ?
Rashmi Uday Singh
HIGH ON TEA IN NYC
My high-octane energy fix! Here I am in Manhattan getting it. I can keep going endlessly. But I stop to partake of the classical and elegant High Tea.
It tempers my adrenaline overdrive and is served in an oasis of calm which coddles me. The Two e bar is in The Pierre, which is also the most well kept culinary secret of the city. Not only did the legendary French chef Escoffier reigned in the kitchens but even the world famous Vichysoisse was invented by Chef Louis Diat here. It is here that Elizabeth Taylor Burton lived for several years; so
did President Nixon and Eisenhower. More recently, Tom Cruise lived under an assumed name and requested the French Food and Beverage director chef Gerard Madani to cook for him and even to make him a picnic basket for taking to Central park with Nicole Kidman.It is in the Two E Bar that Chef Ashfer Biju serves up the fabulous coveted Afternoon Tea. I never cease to be amazed by his gourmet genes and how having started cooking in his teens, winning awards he keeps reinventing himself. As he does now with the High Tea which along with Michael Mignano creates magic. This High tea has taken NYC by storm, When we visit, we find the elegant room totally packed,
Since it is the most feminine of all culinary traditions, I invite a like-minded guest (who loves High tea too) , the charming Payal Luthra, a well-traveled and stylish designer extraordinaire. NYC based Payal is a name to be reckoned in the world of exquisite, top-quality Cashmere scarves. A highly qualified architect, she is now an architect in fashion. And as we sip, taste, nibble chat I am blown by the high-profile names in fashion that she has is assocaited with.And ofcourse she loves to cook, having learnt it all from her super talented mother. From the exquisitely delicate open cucumber sandwiches to the luxuriously over the top caviar ones, the little gems of wizardry explode with flavor. It’s the traditional British scones with clotted cream and preserves that we cant stop eating. Chef Biju is kind enough to share the recipe with me, Should you want Chef Biju’s easy to bake, foolproof a recipe please email firstname.lastname@example.org, instagram, twitter @rashmiudaysingh