March ushered in unmoving and ominous cold days. Thus, it is all too pleasant a thought wishing for spring to hurry and come forth with its warm rays of sunshine. But on a bitter mid March day we can experience a sweet spring Irish inspired tea along with paying respect to St. Patrick.
I happened across a book of authentic Irish recipes and woven into the cookbook was some Irish wisdom of which I was completely unaware. The main point of the author is that in general, Americans perceive Irish food as… well… not that appetizing or tempting. The reason being is that most Americans conger a vision of over-boiled cabbage and bland corned beef as a tribute to March 17th’s observance of St. Patrick. After reading this book from cover to cover I would say that the typical American image of Irish food couldn’t be further from the truth. Rather, the Irish celebrate each season with bountiful fresh dairy, fruits, meats and vegetables then create delicious foods from these natural ingredients.
This Tea for Modern Times embraces the vibrancy and warmth an Emerald Isle spring with its rolling hills and lush, green landscape. Although this tea is ideal for March it also is perfect for any day of the year. It is not too fussy and yet, in contrast to what you-think-you-know of Irish food, it is enchantingly flavorsome.
This Irish inspired tea service includes a profusion of green. For that reason I chose to bake chocolate chip cookies three ways. One batch of cookies was laced with what else but the famed Bailey’s Irish Cream flavored with a hint of cooffee. Another had a smattering of an all American favorite, green M&Ms. For the third batch I used large, multi-green colored, mint flavored m and m candies.
I added a traditional Irish cookie to the menu as well. Simple, shortbread cookies baked in a mold bedecked with spring flowers manufactured by the Brown Bag Cookie Company. The date that is imprinted in the back of the mold lets me know that it was cast in 1988. You can find their elaborate shortbread molds in specialty shops across the country.
Striving for authenticity, I incorporated Ireland’s Bolands™ Elite Chocolate Tea Cakes. Each delicious tea cake comes individually wrapped and closely resembles an all American favorite, Nabisco’s Mallowmars.
The focal point of the tea is undoubtedly the chocolate stout cake served on a pale green rimmed, porcelain serving plate from Crate and Barrel. This cake incorporates one full, 12 ounce bottle of imported Guinness Stout which lends a slightly unexpected taste to an otherwise ordinary chocolate cake. I decorated the outer edge of the cake with a chocolate butter cream frosting and heaped the center with fresh pink and white carnations to add a blast of spring color as our centerpiece.
The table was set with a mid century, light green, linen tablecloth covered with dogwood blossoms. Antique white, lace insert napkins were the perfect understated accompaniment for the silver plated tea spoons, reminiscent of the Art Deco era.
A white Linea, bone china tea pot was used. Cath Kidston polka dot tea cups were added to the setting for a bit of excitement.
My two tiered Wedgwood cookie tray held the chocolate chip cookies to add height to the setting. A Waterford crystal candy dish displayed green mint M&Ms to intensify the greens in the color pallet.
Rosenthal Studio Linie dishes were used with their matching creamer and open sugar bowl. These dishes feature a textured finish adorned with camellias in shades of white, green, and gold accents. The saucers that match the set were used to hold the individual chocolate stout cakes, each with freshly made whipped cream. The mini cakes were served in Crate and Barrel white ramekins.
I brewed Irish breakfast tea to serve. I know what you are thinking, tea? Coffee would seem to be the logical choice to pour for your guests. But according to the author of the book I mentioned earlier, even coffee flavored treats are served alongside tea in Ireland.
Today’s Tea for Modern Times is my tribute to Ireland. Everything looked luscious and most notably the sweets tasted divine.
- Rosenthal, Studio Linie, Camellia creamer and open sugar bowl
- Rosenthal, Studio Linie, Camellia salad plates
- Rosenthal, Studio Linie, Camellia tea cups and matching saucers
- 6 Silver Plated Spoons
- 1 Silver Plated Cake Server
- 1 Waterford Crystal, “Lismore” Candy Dish