Thursday, December 26, 2013

Fundraiser Tea for Help A Mother Out / Posted by Mel and J.K.

Help A Mother Out's annual fundraiser is a catered afternoon tea. This year's event was held at the Mark Hopkins Hotel. Mel and J.K. registered separately for this event, but a psychic organizer managed to seat us at the same table.

Help A Mother Out supplies diapers and wipes to homeless and other poverty-stricken mothers, as they are not supplied by WIC or other programs to help the desperate poor in this country.

Display of the Packs Given to Moms
The event started with a champagne-and-orange juice reception, and we carried our glasses into the tea. Tea Time Adventures has a radar for finding Tipsy Tea events, and was doubly happy to be contributing to this charity while holding a mimosa in one hand and a tea cup in the other.

Close-up of the centerpiece.
The food was served buffet-style. We were sent up three tables at a time, and there were four buffet lines, so everyone was served quickly. The sandwiches were small, so tasting everything was easy. The small plates made it simple to serve yourself in the traditional afternoon tea courses. Scones, sandwiches and then sweets. Of course depending on our hunger level, Tea Time sometimes starts with sandwiches. There was a good variety of sandwich flavors.

Tea Sandwiches

 The fresh fruit was glorious, especially the berries.

There were scones with and without raisins, with butter and individual jams.
 Sponge cake and macaroons for dessert.

And, of course, tea

Learning more about the program.

There are lots of opportunities to help support a charity close to your heart in SF (and beyond). An afternoon tea event can be a simple and delicious way to host a party, and if you make it a Tipsy event, it can help loosen wallets. If you are a member of  a charity that hosts an afternoon tea fundraiser, please let us know!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Gingerbread Tea at the Fairmont Hotel

Holiday Greetings! Tea Time is ready to put a few more Afternoon Tea notches in our belt. We gave the SF Fairmont Hotel a ring, left a message and they called us back to let us know we were on the waitlist. Yes, waitlist. The Gingerbread Tea at the Fairmont is a popular holiday destination with limited availability in December (also limited seatings 1:30-3:30). The Laurel Court Restaurant Bar (remodeled in 2011) is where we took tea. The Fairmont has been serving variations of Afternoon Tea since they opened in 1907, so they've got the tradition, ceremony and style to back up their Gingerbread Tea Service. There was also a lot of entertainment for the little ones here, including a Snow Fairy, Balloon Elf plus a giant Gingerbread House. Needless to say the Fairmont called us back and our reservation time was set.

When we arrived at the appointed day and time, we were greeted by holiday decorations and a lovely table setting. This included a honey pot containing honey harvested from the Bees that live on the Fairmont roof. How awesome is that? You'll also notice our Champagne glasses. This service (which is pricey, but worth it for a special occasion) includes a glass of Sparkling wine or Sparkling Cider. The Fairmont offers a set menu and a prix fixe so if you have dietary restrictions let the kitchen know ahead of time! (Tea Time alert: the gratuity is added onto the check for you prior to it being brought for you to sign.)

This afternoon tea event is the bees knees.
Our waiter took our tea order after letting us peruse the menu for a minute. Angela chose the Kyoto Cherry Rose, a fragrant green tea with a hint of sweet cherry and morning rose. The first pour was delightfully light and the second pot was perfect with some Fairmont honey. J.K. went caffeine free with the Willow Stream Spa Blend. It's a unique tea grown on an estate in Zimbabwe called Clearwater. This tea is decaffinated at the estate while in its green leaf stage which was something new to both of us; who knew that was possible?

Bubbles or sparkling cider-your choice

Kyoto Cherry Rose

William Stream Spa Blend

Our waiter arrived with a lovely tiered tea tray featuring everything that makes Tea Time crave Afternoon Tea. There were doubles of everything so no need to share (except the macaroons). For the tea sandwiches they served us: Deviled Egg Salad on white bread, House smoked Salmon pinwheels with pumpernickel, Curried Chicken Salad on Sourdough, Crab/Mango Salad on SF Sourdough plus Cucumber and Goat Cheese on Rye. Tea Time picks the crab/mango as their favorite.

Afternoon Tea by the Fairmont Hotel

The tea sandwiches featured a wide variety of toppings and breads.
Tea Time loves a good scone! The scones here were a bonus, since there were three flavors. There was a cheddar savory scone (a hit for both of us) and two sweet scones including the traditional Fairmont scone and their seasonal fruit (cranberry) scone. There were plenty of spreads and toppings to go around as well. Including the raspberry jam, marmalade and strawberry jam already on the table in their individual sealed pots, our scones arrived with Devonshire cream, whipped lemon curd (which made it more like a light mousse), and a cinnamon apple compote. We mixed and matched tastes to scones piling them high with extra flavor.

Scones and toppings
Dessert time! Featuring a lot of chocolate treats. Plus mini-madelines. It's like they knew we were coming!! We didn't get a list of all these delectable treats, but Tea Time was wishing for more mini-madelines, the chocolate mousse dessert in the center of the plate and the dark chocolate guy on the left with the crunchy balls on top.
Delightful desserts!
We sat and savored our meal, getting a top off of hot water for our teapots and spied, um, spent some time people watching. After we paid the bill it was time to check out the GIANT Gingerbread house. So if you're in a festive mood get ready to splurge and relax over afternoon tea at the Fairmont. Call to make your reservation and Happy Holidays. (reminder: this is a seasonal tea and if you don't live in SF, check out the Fairmont Hotel nearest you...the Fairmont San Jose also serves a Seasonal Holiday Tea.)

Afternoon Tea for the whole family.

The Snow Fairy ready to entertain.

Edible when baked, but stale now?

The Fairmont main tree in the front Lobby.

Icicle lights are the perfect "icing"

Everyone loves to pose in front of the house, so be patient and get a great shot for the Holiday Card!

Tea Time suggestion: Go to see the GB house early in the season.
You want to make sure to see it all in one piece.


Monday, December 9, 2013

Gourmet Carousel

After the San Francisco Writers Conference Writing for Change conference, Board member Harvey Pawl again treated the volunteers to a Chinese banquet, this time at Gourmet Carousel on the corner of Pine Street and Franklin. This was another amazing meal, this time starting with soup.
The table was set with a turntable, so we didn't have to
practice our boarding house reach!
 Our first course was the House Soup–pork broth with winter melon.

The soup was followed by a Green onion pancake. Perfectly crispy. I unwisely ate two pieces, because it was so good. I really should have left room for more of the following delicacies, but I just couldn't resist this pancake.
Next we had Mu Shu Vegetables with plum sauce for the vegetarian contingent. It was a side for the carnivores. I usually skip the wrappers with Mu Shu. I don't like to fill up on carbs, and it's so much easier to eat the veggies with my chopsticks.
The veggies were followed by Honey Walnut Prawns. These are a great favorite with Beth and me, and again, I ate too many, considering what followed.
I did skip the Steamed Rice. Hardly necessary, but traditional. No goop in any of these dishes!
The Mixed Seafood in fried noodle nests was amazing. I even ate some of the nest.
Another vegetable dish. Pea sprouts with whole garlic cloves. My favorite Chinese veggies!
And then Ginger Scallion Chicken. Chicken isn't usually on my menu, but this was an excellent rendition.
And then a Perfect Peking Duck. Not a bit of fat under the crispy skin.
Our last course. Birthday noodles for long life. These are extra long noodles, but not as long as Martin Yan's, which is birthday noodle, singular, and fills a whole bowl. Very tasty, though, and also vegetarian.
This is nowhere near the complete menu. Whether you prefer classic or exotic dishes, you will find what you're hoping for, and love it!

I arrived at the last minute, so I was seated at the last table, which had a few empty places, so there were even more leftovers to take home than at the other tables. We all filled our "pails" and also shared our largesse with the other tables. This neighborhood restaurant is as good as any in Chinatown and I heartily recommend it.

Do you have a favorite neighborhood resto? Let us know in the comments!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Dahlia Bakery- Cook the book for November

November is here! Wait, it's gone.

The holiday season can sometimes seem to fly by since everyone is trying to pack in parties, baking, vacation with family, not to mention shopping for presents (or making presents)! J.K. and Angela stepped outside the hustle bustle one day to enjoy our simple lunch inspired by our Cook the Book for November, The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook: Sweetness in Seattle.

Our goal was a warming and nutritious lunch to sustain us through an afternoon of Chocolate making. We were ready to try out our new silicone molds. The only soup in the Bakery book, Tomato Soup, uses ingredients you can find in the pantry! So it was an obvious choice to add grilled cheese sandwiches to the menu as well. Angela had to buy some canned tomatoes (she's so spoiled by California produce, she usually uses fresh or none), but everything else was at hand. In fact, Angela was a bit skeptical of the recipe, it seemed so simple. However, it was delicious! Next time Angela is visiting a relative and we don't know what to do for dinner...Dahlia Tomato Soup!

 We skipped the croutons since we were having grilled cheese. J.K. made a sourdough rye in her bread machine, using yeast and Ready Sourdough from Seitenbacher. At first the dough looked much too wet, but the finished loaf, while not very tall, was very tasty. We ended up making one sandwich and splitting it. We were good and resisted the bacon (and avocado) suggested as a variation recipe, although J.K. did ask, "Did you bring some?" when Angela asked about the recipe. This sandwich recipe calls for shredded cheese, and due to that, the cheese did fall out a bit on the way to the pan, so maybe we'd form it into a loose patty instead of just piling it on the bread and tomato on next time? Lunch was rounded out with a nice salad dressed with Balasmic vinegar (presented in a vintage bowl).
Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese (with Tomato) Sandwiches

Seitenbacher products make tasty bread (for the grilled cheese sandwiches)
While we didn't get a lot of pictures from lunch, JK was ahead of the game and ready to show off her lovely new baking pan featuring the Chocolate Banana Bread recipe from the Dahlia Cookbook. They're a perfect match to make a lovely and delicious hostess gift. She also gives a picture tutorial on making custard, just add ice cream maker.

Creme Anglaise
Strained over the chopped chocolatae
Melted Magic, ready to go in the ice cream maker.

Created perfect frozen custard.

J.K.'s prepared new loaf pan
The pan was just the right size for the recipe
The strip around the pan kept the top of the loaf even.
And the banana bread unmolded perfectly.
Dessert was much later, featuring the chocolate chunk banana bread (Very good) from the cookbook, served with Chocolate Frozen Custard (Belgian style). That Ice Cream maker is getting a work out this fall. Thanks to Cook the Book from August for making J.K. get it out of the mothballs!
Chocolate Banana Bread with Chocolate Frozen Custard
Meg from Grow and Resist and Briggs from OhBriggsy have inspired a lot of good cooking this year and introduced us to some new cookbook authors. It makes us feel like next year we need to cook our own books, the ones we buy that inspire us but then sit on the shelf for a while waiting to be cracked open, spilled on and loved. One more cookbook is on hold for Tea Time at the Library... check in next month (or maybe look under the tree) for the fruits of our labors.

Happy Holidays from Tea Time!!