Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tea for One, Please.

It's time to introduce you to my workplace. As many of you know, I'm a cook at a local tea room. The little tea room I happen to work at is located in historic Fairhaven, which is the cute, quaint, sidewalk shop, and locally-owned businesses kind of neighborhood here in Bellingham. That was a weird sentence! Anyway, I typically have three day weekends off from work (I know, lucky, right?) and hanging out down in Fairhaven is one of my favorite pass times in this town. So that's exactly what I found myself doing this last Saturday around brunch time...

First, I hit up Village Books, my favorite local bookstore. I do must say that while I find this bookstore terribly charming, I really wish they would replace half of the workers there. Snooty. I don't let it affect my experience though! I popped in hoping to purchase the latest issue of Country Living - British Edition which they didn't have and don't seem to be carrying lately it seems. After a brief moment of disappointment, I quickly migrated to the Food, Fashion, and Lifestyle twisty-turn rack. I noticed a whole slew of mags from the company you see up above there. I don't really want to say the company name and here is why. Apparently, they scour the Internet looking for sites and blogs that use their name and recipes, if they discover you, they write and ask you to remove the information. I am going to be posting a couple recipes from them soon so I'm going incognito... If you read that link above you'll see why I'm being even more paranoid than usual! Anyway, I do have a bit of beef with the company since reading that story, but I have to say, they do put out some interesting publications with lots of useful information and no ads! Village Books had four different issues for sale and I couldn't leave the store without three of them! I picked up a spring and summer edition and then the country issue. With all of this reading material, I was off for a relaxing time at the tea room...

My dear friend Laurel, who happens to be the newest edition to Around the Table (a gourmet cooking club I'm involved with) was working and she is my favorite cook to order from because she puts so much care and detail into her plates! We are birds of a feather me and that one! I picked my favorite corner and settled in with my camera and magazines. I ordered the Gentleman's Tea because it's such a great value and had a side salad thrown in for good measure. I didn't tell you that when you work for the tea room or its sister business the pottery painting studio, you get a monthly credit benefit which you can spend at either business. Nice, right? A meal out is even better when you don't have to pay for it! Laurel started my meal off with the gorgeous plate of Strawberries.

Next was a green toss salad with crisp English cucumbers and little red grape tomatoes. I had mine with English Salad Creme which I just LOVE! You may recognize this item, most grocers carry the imported Heinz product which comes in a little bottle with a green label. Its much like mayonnaise but is much stronger and more acidic and unless you mix it with additional vinegar and oil like we do, I don't think it would be very good alone on salad. But after the alterations we do, it turns into this silky, rich vinaigrette that is downright addicting! Stay tuned because in an upcoming post I will really delve into the wonder that is salad creme. I do just adore this simple salad with green leaf lettuces.

It's really not common that I go to the tea room to enjoy a meal out in the dining room the same way all of our customers do. But whenever I get the chance, I am always pleasantly surprised at what an enjoyable and delicious experience it is! After my first bite of the Spinach and Goat Cheese Quiche I was in tea time heaven. It was so good! The filling was creamy and savory and the crust was flaky and caramelized. It then occurred to me that it was my quiche! It's kind of funny to go to a restaurant and have the majority of the meal be something you created in the days prior. I gave myself a little pat on the back and went on enjoying my quiche!

Then it was three little tea sandwiches, so simple yet outrageously tasty! I ordered two cucumber and dill and one smoked salmon with cream cheese. The bread we use is airy and tender, like a soft pillow lightly cushioning the smooth, creamy fillings. It's a kind of perfection.

After all of this I was getting quite full, but there was one last course to go. Dessert. I ordered the Chocolate Pot de Creme. I also made this one! I'm crazy about puddings and custard so it's a no-brainer that I loved this creamy ending. You have a thick, rich dark chocolatey custard that is topped off with a generous, whimsical pouf of whipped cream. Sinful, really.

I really had a most lovely time at the Abbey Garden Tea Room this last Saturday. I enjoyed it the way our customers do. I sat and thought about how my boss really has created something special. I also remembered how fortunate it I am to be a part of something so heavenly!


missmallory said...

Lovely post. I've missed reading your blog and have been craving an update!

They have the british addition of Country Living at Barnes and Nobel, I was there today, and it looks pretty good (jam packed with garden stuff, which you know I've been into). I know it's not a local company (which I love to support) but damn, now that the Newspaper Store isn't open anymore, it seems B&N offers the largest selection of mags in town.


Ann said...

Hi, I'm new to your blog -- really enjoy reading it. Curiously I was unable to open the "why" link, hmmm...maybe I'll try later. Love your photography (my photos need a lot of work) -- any tips you can pass along?

RachelleLouise said...

Thank you Miss Mallory! I'm the same with yours! Always checking in! I'm getting a couple new readers and I don't know how they find me! My blog isn't coming up on google searches for reason. Anyway, again, I'm so happy for you with the dry soda thing! I'll have to go to Barnes and Noble! xxoxo

Hi Ann! Welcome! I'm so glad you found me somehow! I'm pretty young in this and don't have too many readers so I'm thrilled you like it! I just tried clicking the link and it worked... hopefully it works for you soon! If you look at my first photos they were TERRIBLE! I read some tips online, the one I remembered most was it said to really get in there and shoot the food up close! I seemed to have quickly found my style with photos, as you can tell they all have a similar feel like anyone who does it a lot. So I feel good about that! I'm glad you like them. It was a huge struggle in the beginning! I would just say shoot the food up close, find good angles, I use the landscape setting (our cameral is about four years old and only cost $150 at the time so it's nothing great!) and I always use the vivid color setting. Also, for most of them I use the MF/Flower setting. It draws out amazing detail. I hope that helps! I'll check your blogs soon! Thanks again for stopping in! : )