Wednesday, June 8, 2016

AfternoonTea with a theme at Charles Chocolates 4/16

We arrived early and had time to check out (and sample!) the chocolates before the tea began. Charles Chocolates always features a fun, seasonal "chocolate box." Yes, the box is created out of chocolate too! Delicious. As far as Tea Time can gauge, Chuck designs a new box for whatever holiday is coming up, then the old ones go on a slight discount. When you attend their afternoon tea, you also get a discount on cafe goods including bars and confections. Score!

Chocolates In A Chocolate Box
J.K. couldn't resist the Chocolate Covered Matzah. This is so much better than the supermarket brand! Our honorary Tea Time member Emily bought chocolate to take to her Mom that afternoon. It was time for sweet treats for everyone!
After we browsed the cafe and shop we went to sit out on the patio. The heat lamps are helpful, though the sun was out and it wasn't too windy the day we enjoyed our tea. We spent the time before tea chatting and our tummies were rumbling by Twelve. (Our one suggestion is to have water glasses and carafes on the tables–unless they can get the tea out faster. That would be most ideal.) We didn't get an announcement that tea would be starting late, but we started seeing platters arrive in front of hungry guests at about 12:15. Chef Vijitha gave us a verbal description of the menu, so we ate with our eyes before digging in with our forks, knives and hands. We have a bit of description from Chef Vijitha herself with the appropriate pictures.

"Masala Chai is an integral part of every Indian's day. Chai means Tea in Hindi, the most popular language of India. Since it is flavored with spices, it is called Masala Chai." Angela sometimes finds Chaflavored too strongly for her taste, but our group agreed that this tea was smooth and delightful. There are many types of Chai, so keep shopping around until you find one that fits your palate.
Steamy cup of Indian tea flavored with
cardamom, cloves, peppercorns and fennel seeds
Cheers to Chai!
Here's the lovely platter of Afternoon Tea we were served at this Guest Chef event.
"Sundal is nothing but boiled beans/lentils/legumes seasoned with South Indian spices and coconut. Marina beach is the second longest beach in the world and it is situated in Chennai, Vijitha's home city. The beach is popular for its food–the fire roasted corn or spicy green mango slices or sundal or bhaji. For this sundal, the Chef paired boiled green peas with green mango, carrots and cucumber along with South Indian spices, curry leaves and shredded fresh coconut. This dish truly captures the essence of Chennai."

Marina Beach Manga Thengai Sundal 
Iyengar Bakery Style Vegetable Puffs
Caramelized onions + potato+ paneer baked over puff pastry 
"Kara Paniyaram with Chutney. Rice dumplings are  seasoned with onions, curry leaves, ginger, cashews and mustard seeds. It will be made in a paniyaram chatti (appe pan)."
"Masala Vadai is a popular tea time snack from South India. It is very similar to falafel. Crunchy and delicious!" We all enjoyed this tasty cracker like treat a lot. It was especially good with the Chai.

"Gulab jamun, a popular Indian dessert, gets a makeover with cream cheese.: We were happy to take a few of these home when the plate of "leftovers" came around to our seats and many of our co-diners mentioned that they would love the recipe." Lentils are the main protein source for vegetarians in India. A lot of Indian dishes are made with lentils, legumes and beans. For the dessert on the bottom, Chef Vijitha made ladoos with paasi paruppu (mung yellow lentils), cardamom, sugar and ghee."
Gulab Jamun Cheesecake (top) and
Paruppu Ladoo (bottom)
Semiya payasamA dessert with milk and vermicelli
Time to dig in! No more waiting...
Tea Time enjoyed the information provided by Chef Vijitha although it was at times hard to hear over the chewing as we enjoyed her delicious creations. This region of India features well-balanced and flavorful foods. If you'd like to try recreating some dishes, check out spicesandaroma. Don't feel like dirtying up the kitchen? Look for Chef Vijitha at her next pop-up
Guest Chef Vijitha. Check out her delicious recipes at her blog.
Chuck Siegel of Charles Chocolates fame in the blue t-shirt on the right.
Emily, J.K. and Angela enjoyed the unconventional afternoon tea and take home chocolate. We left satiated and thinking new thoughts about the array of Indian food on offer in the Bay Area. Keep your eye out for Afternoon Tea events all over the city and let us know if we've missed any! You can find Charles Chocolates Afternoon Tea events on Eventbrite, Sundays at 12 p.m. Of course, you can stop by the Cafe and tasting room during regular business hours to get a chocolate fix.