Monday, March 28, 2016

Hanging with the Easter Bunny

This last weekend in Toledo was lots of fun--it's Easter!  
I love sitting by a wicker chair, enjoying tulips, and nibbling on chocolate.

I got to hop around with colorful Easter decorations.
More sweet treats, and a beautiful Easter tree.

Hostess loves her animated Easter furry & feathered friends.

Easter dinner over, guests all gone, and finally getting to relaxing over 
a soothing cup of tea in Grandmother's Staffordshire Tonquin teacup 
with my dapper bunny friend.  

And I did earn my Tea Snob Certificate!  I've tasted so many new teas with each place 
I've travelled.  I feel like quite an experienced tea snob now!

Well, I'll be moseying along and soon travelling on to my next destination.  
I'll be seeing you again soon.
Ta-Ta for now!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Tea with a Few Friends

I've been enjoying tea with some friends at Elaine's Tea Shoppe.  
More and more guys like me are having tea these days, and when Dr. Marvin Scheer and his friend came in, I just had to join them. (Tea with another Doctor, although not Dr. Who!)  These gents enjoy tea, treats, and a chat regularly and it was fun to hang out with them for the afternoon. This day it was cinnamon apricot scones and gluten free chocolate chip shortbread cookies. 

Then one day Elaine's long time customer and friend, Karen, came in for tea and a chat.  There's certainly a lot of tea and chatting going on there!  Elaine often keeps company with regulars who come in for tea, and sometimes the shop feels like the Cheers of tea.  

Then, I got to join in for our Black Tea Tasting.  It's part of a three part series, and when one attends all three tastings:  one on Black Tea, one on Green Tea, and one on Whites and Oolong, they become a certified "Tea Snob".  I am hoping to become an official tea snob after the last tea tasting next week.  
In this class, we tasted all the basic black teas side by side, which really helps in understanding the difference between the teas.  We examined the leaf and learned how to properly prepare each one.  We all wondered what the mystery tea was, under the cup at the end.  Can you guess?  It was Lapsang Soughing!  Boy is that tea smokey, and so, hostess keeps it covered so it won't taint the other teas.  I have to say, it was one of my favorites, as well as the final tea-- Golden Monkey --always the best for last.  

I got to pour all the teas for the tasting, which was great fun!  We tasted Assam, Ceylon, Darjeeling, Yunnan, Sikkim, Ching Wo, and the two listed above.  Wow, I'd certainly had my fill of tea by the end of the day, but it was fun and I learned a lot!

Looking for more adventures next week, and maybe some fun with the Easter bunny this weekend.  I'll show you my Tea Snob certificate when I've earned it.
Ta-Ta for now!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

That's What Friends are For!

That's What Friends are For!

My sister, who made this teapot-shaped scrapbook, calls them the Tea Coven. This is a group of friends who have been gathering for tea since 1993 or so. When I wrote my book, "Come to Tea!" they're the ones I practiced on. We would dress up in Victorian garb and have picnic teas at Victorian historical sites. They've been very indulgent over the years! And while we've been through a lot of life since then, for most of us our original point of contact was Doctor Who. Julie and I went to college together and Kathleen and Steff met in secretarial school, but the group coalesced around a love of the longest-running "children's" program on the BBC.

Doctor Who celebrated 50 years on TV in 2013 and I hosted a viewing party at the time, but I knew I had to host a proper Whovian tea to welcome this particular Traveling Teapot!

For the tea table, I started with the lovely exploding TARDIS fabric that arrived with the Teapot, and used my Blue Willow cups and saucers along with plain white plates. That lemon curd in the foreground has just a hint of ginger in it and was homemade by a friend. And that's clotted cream next to the homemade blackberry jam. We also used the Dalek creamer and TARDIS sugar that now travel with the Teapot.

The Traveling Teapot was filled several times with Cream Earl Grey. For my decaf drinkers, I offered Bromley decaf black tea. We enjoyed a variety of tea sandwiches including chicken salad and cucumber, Cream Scones (fresh from the oven) and that cake in the background is Emily Dickinson's Coconut cake (a recipe that's been featured on Tori Avery's website). Ms. Dickinson and I share a birthday so I was drawn to the recipe. It was quite good with tea since it's a bot on the dry side, but it was lovely with a bit of lemon curd!

So here we all are, hats and scarves and all. Who would have imagined that something so random as attending a Doctor Who meeting would have been the seed that grew our friendships?


Friday, March 11, 2016

Lunching at The Pandorica

Lunching at The Pandorica

Once upon a time, there was a lovely little tea room in Beacon, New York called "The Cup & Saucer Restaurant & Tea Room" (it's still listed on Adagio Tea's TeaMap as such). It offered lunch and afternoon tea and was very popular until the neighborhood changed. Owner Shirley Hot said that with the influx of hipsters to the area, her tea room wasn't doing as well. She realized she had to re-invent her restaurant before "progress" took its toll. One day, after binge watching Doctor Who, she noticed that the bathroom door looked remarkably like the front of the TARDIS. Shirley said she knew nothing about hipsters but she, being British, knew about the Doctor and so two years ago, the Cup & Saucer morphed into the Pandorica.

Shirley's gamble paid off, because Old School and New School Whovians have found their way to the Pandorica. The Traveling Teapot and I took advantage of a lovely sunny day and drove down to Beacon to visit the Pandorica. The restaurant offers lots of traditional British food--I had delicious Bangers & Mash for lunch--and much of it has a Whovian theme as you can see from the menu. Of course, if you're going to have a Doctor Who lunch, you need to have a Doctor Who dessert and I just had to have Fish Fingers and Custard!

The Pandorica has two different kinds of Fish Fingers and Custard: the appetizer is really fish sticks and she really serves it with custard because patrons complained that the lemon aioli she originally serve them with wasn't custard! The second type, seen here, is actually french toast fingers with custard and was very yummy.

While the Traveling Teapot just got to sightsee this time, I'm sure it felt at home with all the Whovian touches and Shirley says she has one, too. Naturally, I had to enjoy some tea with my "fish fingers." and tried the house Darjeeling which was very nice indeed.

The Pandorica tea list includes something for every taste including Rose Chocolate (black tea), Who Sencha (green tea) and Rooibos Colada. Shirley is starting to blend her own line of Whovian teas which will eventually be available online. When I told her about our group, she immediately went to Facebook and asked to join!

The Traveling Teapot will finally get to be the star of the show next week when I host my friends. She'll be glad it's just been vacationing so far!


Team Darjeeling

Monday, March 7, 2016

Lots More Teapot Friends

Not much happening as hostess recovers from the flu.  But, she did get out a bit and took me to Elaine's Tea Shoppe to hang out with some more teapot friends.
This is the Tea Cottage.  All those tins are filled with tea for service in the tea room with Elaine's homemade scones or her baker Beth's fabulous shortbreads.  Let's see... which tea shall I enjoy today?
OMG!  Look at all the teapot friends lined up on display on this shelf.  They let me lead the pack today.  These are Elaine's favorite collection of pots, those she just can't part with.  There are gifts from friends, her mother's teapot, her grandmother's, and some very unusual characters.  I feel right at home!

And here are more of the collection, but these are now for sale.  That's me on the top, not for sale, but just meeting the gang.  There was another whole shelf of teapots on the opposite wall of the shop, which almost came down one day since the neighboring business had hammered on the walls enough to make the mounting screws come out of the wall.  That was a panic!  But with the help of a customer, all teapots were saved before the shelf fell--thank heavens! 

This is the blue display in the shop, and so, I seem to fit right in here! 
So many new friends that will eventually find their way to someone's home for that special tea time.  I wonder where they will all go...
Just waiting for hostess to get back in the full swing of things, and then we will meet some lovely people enjoying tea.
And, of course, I'll serve.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

One Last Trip to Downton Abbey

Team Darjeeling

One Last Trip to Downton Abbey

The TARDIS  has landed in upstate New York safe and sound! She paused for just a moment and then Vorrrped off to 1925 Yorkshire to visit some old friends at Downton Abbey.

Cousin Isobel Crawley (Penelope Wilton) knew the 9th and 10th Doctors when she portrayed the Prime Minister of England, Harriet Jones.

Lord Robert Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) made the 11th Doctor walk the plank as pirate Henry Avery!

And that artsy Simon Bricker (Richard Grant) relentlessly hounded the 11th Doctor as Dr. Simeon, aka The Great Intelligence.

When the TARDIS returns to 2016, she'll be celebrating the last episode of Downton Abbey with some lovely Namring Estate second flush Darjeeling from Upton Tea Imports on Sunday evening. Are you planning a viewing party?


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

My Almost-Tea with Grandsons

Team Darjeeling

My Almost-Tea with Grandsons

For my last experience with the Traveling TARDIS, I'd made plans to visit my grandsons in Sacramento for a tea and Doctor Who sharing.  We'd been trying to find a date the entire month so now it was set! The boys are 9 and almost 12yo and great Dr Who fans.

So up at 6am to shop for ingredients for vegan foods, baked Cranberry Orange vegan scones, and was packing the bag of dishes, treats and supplies- when I got the text at 8am, cancelling!  My son works from home, had a big video to do that afternoon and the computer died, kaput.  He needed to shop for  a new computer and get it up and running for the project- no time for a tea party.  As we all know, life intervenes- or my new favorite- 'We make plans and God laughs'.

We were all so disappointed, but then, inspired by Martha's virtual tea party earlier this month, I suggested we talk on the phone about Doctor Who memories and favorites, I'd share a picture or two of what I'd planned, and then we can get together again in few weeks, minus the Traveling TARDIS.  And that's what this is about- my Almost-Tea with my grandsons.

The TARDIS is serving Roasted Almond Fruit tisane into vintage blue mugs, with pure cane sugar cubes if desired.  The vegan savories are almond butter and lettuce sandwiches(vegan bread of course, not so easy to find in a grocery store!), Spicy Coconut Tofu Strips and Teriyaki Tofu Sushi from a local company Tofu Yu, which I know the boys love.  They are quite tasty, even I must say.
The place setting is decorated with Dalek napkins (from the Gentlemen's Tea table), a Doctor Who Exhibition coaster (more on that in a bit) and a small tin of Adagio FandemBlends Dalek tea, another inspiration from Martha.  The scones were tasty if a bit dough-y, but very appealing-looking.

Our sharing on Dr Who memories and favorites was good fun.  My son remembers staying up late  on Saturday nights with dad, sharing a big bowl of popcorn with parmesan cheese and tabasco sauce, and watching Doctor Who on a local PBS station.  That would have been the era of the 4th and 5th Doctors, Tom Baker and Peter Davison. The grandsons' favorite doctors were the 10th Doctor for his spiky hair and the 11th Doctor because he wears a red bow tie and fez.  The 12yo has a good friend who has "all the Doctor Who episodes on DVDs!" 

I shared going to the Doctor Who Exhibition in 1995 with my husband, their grandpa.  We were driving along a small country road in rural Wales and saw a hand drawn sign for a Doctor Who exhibit!  Being on an adventure and huge Doctor Who fans, we swung off into the small town and visited the museum.  There were dusty old Dalek models, Cybermen models and other pieces from the show- all very hokey by 1995 standards but so FUN!!  Of course there was a store and we bought everything we thought we could carry home.  I've given some to each of the boys and all I could find now were these coasters.  This is such a wonderful memory of my time with a very silly and quirky guy- it brings a huge smile to my face.

And so ends my time with the Traveling Tardis.  It has been great fun sharing tea and wonderful Doctor Who memories and events this month.  A highlight for me was the Gentlemen's Tea and my Whovian breakfast with Martha.  She is such an inspiration in her research, creativity and culinary skills, not to mention a wonderful host in her home.  Thank you, Martha!


Back in Ohio! Frogtown?

Team Oolong
Tardis Teapot has arrived safely back in Ohio and will reside with me, Elaine, for awhile.  I will admit that I know absolutely nothing about Dr. Who, so I'll just let Tardis tell you of his travels, adventures, and encounters over the next month.

Well, I have arrived again, and I believe I've been to this state before.  But I have greeted this new hostess, and will have a bit of a look around this new home.  This looks like a sunny breezeway, and I can tell already hostess loves tea.  Look at that teapot birdfeeder ready to go outside as soon as weather breaks.
I arrived with lovely gifts from Martha, my last hostess.  Boy!  Did we have fun!
She sent chocolate and candy and lovely cards and a beautiful silver teapot magnet. 
Ooh, ooh, ooh, hostess just opened another of the gifts to find a very cool tea tin with a picture of me on it and a wonderful smelling tea from Adagio.  I think that will be our first pot of tea later tonight!  
So, let's see who else lives here...
There's a beeeeuutiful teapot and cup of Staffordshire transferware in the colored Tonquin pattern.  Hostess tells me that was her grandmother's china and remembers many Christmas and Easter dinners on that china.
A bit of Asian flair here with a bamboo handled earthenware pot with a lizard on the lid.  Along side is another bamboo handled contemporary square design set.  In the background is hostess and hubby on their trip to Sri Lanka to visit tea estates, and to the left is one of the interesting friends they met along the way.  On the right is a pear shaped tea caddy.  Looks old with ivory inlay at the keyhole, but she will probably have to take it to Antiques Roadshow to see if it's real or a replica. 
Wow!  I love the company here!  Another Asian inspired pot with two different but coordinating teacups made by a local artist of some notoriety.  And, of course, what's not to like in a bowl of stone and wooden shaped hearts.
My favorite companion might be this old English stoneware pot with metal cozy painted with an exotic orchid on front.  Man, it has character, just like me!  Hostess says she owns Wild Orchid Teas, so, I'm guessing that it's one of her favorites, too.
And, I think I'm going to be quite comfortable here in Toledo, aka, T-Town, Glass City (the glass capital of the world), and Frog Town (as it was once part of the Black Swamp).
See you again soon!  xoxo, Tardis