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.