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Oddly enough, the Joy of Cooking has a wealth of recipes for sandwich spreads suited to afternoon tea. Or maybe not so odd, depending on your point of view. Large chunks of the recpies in the older versions seem perfectly in tune with meals called for in the first edition of Emily Post's Ettiquette book. Consult both to get a bit more of a feel for how to construct a menu for afternoon tea.

If I'm getting together with a friend for tea, chances are there will be either a sweet *or* a savory dish, but not both. Put it on a pretty plate on the tea tray, along with enough teacups and saucers for all hands (usually no more than 4), a pot of freshly made tea, the sugar bowl, and the "cream" pitcher. Pour tea and enjoy.

A common sweet dish for us is brownies, but we both make very good homemade ones. We're less likely to do savory, but I don't think either one of us is very fond of cucumber sandwiches. Maybe I should come up with a spinach and lemon sandwich spread... that would likely go over well. If we didn't live in Southern CA, toast might appear more often than the brownies.

If we ordinarily had tea as more than two adult women and no more than two teenage girls, we might have more dishes. For 6 or 8 adults, I'd think a tiered plate holder, with savory sandwiches on top and a sweet on bottom should work well. If I were doing a very elaborate tea a la Emily Post, I'd *love* to try making a sandwich cake.

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I love lime honey with jalapeno cornbread!!

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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Lime honey....hmmmm....how would one make something like that? I shall search the internet.

K8Memphis, that mini-muffin idea sounds too cute!

About traditional vs. non-traditional, I think my image of afternoon tea is based on one of my first experiences with it. This was at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, and they had many, many, many savoury items (some with very Asian flavours, like gyoza-type things).

So perhaps we can call my tea a Southeast Asian tea in the afternoon???

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Rona, here are a couple of photos from Afternoon Tea at a couple of different spots here in Vancouver. Hope these are of help!

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The Secret Garden Tea Company

Bottom tier (savouries): Mini croissants with black forest ham, tarragon chicken salad on cheese scones, egg-salad pinwheels.

Centre tier (semi-sweets): petite scones with berry jam and Devonshire cream, lemon pound cake.

Top tier (desserts): lemon tarts, blueberry tarts, triple-layer chocolate fudge cake.

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Bacchus at The Wedgewood

Bottom tier (savouries): egg salad and cucumber on white, shrimp salad on wheat, a smoked-salmon round, chicken salad on a multigrain roll.

Centre tier: Bakewell and fresh fruit tarts, lemon white-chocolate layer cake.

Top tier: warm sweet fruit scones with Devonshire cream and jam, fruitcake, chocolate éclairs.

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The Fish House in Stanley Park

Bottom tier: lemon tarts, mixed-berry-and-chocolate-cookie mousse, apple strudel, chai-spiced butter balls.

Centre tier: egg-salad pinwheels, cucumber and goat's cheese finger sandwiches, house-cured salmon on pretzel bread, ham on an asiago biscuit.

Top tier: organic currant scones served with Devon cream and either raspberry or blueberry jam.

Joie Alvaro Kent

"I like rice. Rice is great if you're hungry and want 2,000 of something." ~ Mitch Hedberg

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Neat! I didn't know Fish House in Stanley Park was still doing afternoon tea - must give it a try soon.

Prasantrin, your menu sounds lovely! You might also consider serving a green tea (jasmine, gunpowder) and/or an herbal tea as well (chamomile, fruit teas, lemon herb -- peppermint might be too overpowering). Or consider pairing certain types of tea with particular items served. eg, Earl Grey and Darjeeling are great with chocolate, but many green teas not as good; scented teas good with sweet things but some types taste funny with savoury meaty things. English Breakfast, Orange Pekoe, Darjeeling are great all-rounders and appeal to most tastes, so those are always safe bets. :smile:

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Okay, here's a great tea party sandwich spread-green olives, chopped but not too fine, cutting them in half is good; chopped walnuts, same amount as olives also not too finely chopped, about 1 to 2 cups of each; mix with softened cream cheese, 1 to 2 blocks (8 oz.each); and a couple grinds of black pepper. Mix together, spread on any bread or crackers, if using regular sandwich slices, cut crusts off and cut into quarters.

Every time I make these sandwiches I get lots of compliments. Got on a tea party jag a while back and did them all the time: just for friends, for little girls, as yearly fundraisers, etc.

For inspiration I take my neices out for afternoon tea at nice hotels whenever I visit them-love seeing the creative touches and trying to replicate them at home.

Cheese - milk's leap toward immortality. Clifton Fadiman

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm sick as a dog, but my tea party was today and I didn't want to cancel. Luckily, I had started preparing for it more than a week ago by making things that could be frozen, etc. And the party was a success! I had much too much food, and many items were very similar (very carby, similar textures, etc.), but the guests enjoyed them and were impressed with the variety.

While I was finishing preparations, the guests snacked on two cream cheese spreads (a layered cream cheese, cocktail sauce, and crab one, and also the chopped olive and nuts one teagal posted--I had to use pecans because I didn't have walnuts--the guests loved it, by the way!), crackers, and carrots, served with mimosas.

Savoury items: bacon and tomato cornbread mini-muffin sandwiches, spankopita, sandwiches (chicken salad with pecans and cranberries, egg salad with chopped pickles and red peppers), 3-pepper cheddar quiche, sausage rolls, mini-okonomiyaki, olives, cherry tomatoes, and 3-coloured peppers, all served with earl grey flower tea (which kind of sucked, but I took Beebs' suggestion of using different teas for different foods, and it was the best tea I had for savoury foods).

Sweet items: rum-soaked vanilla poundcake, thumbprint cookies, peanut butter cookies, chocolate chip cookies (notice a trend here?), lemon curd shortbread tarts, almost candy-bar squares, strawberries, and mango pudding, served with Bolero tea, and cafe au lait made with my Mukka Express.

Things that didn't get made--gougeres (the chicken and egg salads were supposed to be gougeres fillings, but by last night I knew I would be too sick to make them this morning, so I picked up sandwich bread instead), chocolate truffles, and caramels.

Everyone had different lists of favourites, but the quiche (Bouchon recipe) and cornbread mini-muffins (thanks to OnigiriFB for the mini BLT idea, and to K8memphis for the idea of making them into mini-muffins) were probably the favourite savoury items, and the mango pudding was definitely the favourite sweet (I added it at the last minute, because I realized I had too many crunchy cookie-like things, and I saw some mousse-things in one of the pictures that Mooshmouse posted--so thanks for the pics Mooshmouse!). The mango pudding recipe is the one I posted to RecipeGullet eons ago, but I decreased the water and cream amounts, and added milk. Oh, the spanakopita was very popular, as well. No one had ever had it before, not even the guest from the US, and they really enjoyed it.

I have pictures, but have not downloaded them, yet (did I mention that I'm as sick as a dog?). And remember, it wasn't an afternoon tea party, but a party in the afternoon with tea! And food--lots of it!

Thanks, all, for the suggestions, comments, and pictures. They were of great help in putting the party together, and thanks to all of you, I was able to give my friends a fabulous good-bye!

Now to deal with the leftovers...I think I had enough food to feed 10 people!

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Rona, here are a couple of photos from Afternoon Tea at a couple of different spots here in Vancouver.  Hope these are of help!

...

Thank you very much for the photos and detailed descriptions, Mooshmouse! I want one of those triple tiered platters!

What order do people typically eat the items in? savory, semi-savory and sweet, I guess?

Looking forward to your photos, and hope you're feelng better, prasantrin!

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Lovely menu---can't wait for pictures. Cornbread mini-muffins have always been one of the most-requested and most-eaten items at teas we've catered, usually with Chris' smoked turkey breast and cranberry mayo.

Now go rest and put your feet up. I'd suggest a cup of tea, but that's been done.

Feel better soon.

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Rona, here are a couple of photos from Afternoon Tea at a couple of different spots here in Vancouver.  Hope these are of help!

...

Thank you very much for the photos and detailed descriptions, Mooshmouse! I want one of those triple tiered platters!

What order do people typically eat the items in? savory, semi-savory and sweet, I guess?

You're right in your guess of savoury, semi-sweet and desserts as the order in which people usually eat High Tea treats; as such, the Secret Garden's tiered arrangement is the most logical.

...and the mango pudding was definitely the favourite sweet (I added it at the last minute, because I realized I had too many crunchy cookie-like things, and I saw some mousse-things in one of the pictures that Mooshmouse posted--so thanks for the pics Mooshmouse!).

Now to deal with the leftovers...I think I had enough food to feed 10 people!

Sounds like you put together a wonderful spread, Rona... your friends are fortunate to have been so elegantly pampered! And you're welcome for the photos. Hope you're feeling better; wrap up in a warm blanket and, with any luck, all will be well soon.

Joie Alvaro Kent

"I like rice. Rice is great if you're hungry and want 2,000 of something." ~ Mitch Hedberg

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Here are most of the pictures.

Sandwiches and sausage rolls--the cherry tomatoes were thrown in for colour.

gallery_11355_1724_47724.jpg

Three-pepper cheddar quiche--my filling always sinks to the bottom, even when I froth the custard a lot. It's my fate to be bottom-heavy, I think. :biggrin:

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Mini BLT (I just realized they were BTs, not BLTs) cornbread muffin sandwiches and spanakopita. I added some coloured pepper slices and olives to the plate for colour. I really should have had some L in there, because I could have used the green for more colour.

gallery_11355_1724_51934.jpg

Sweets tray--from 12 o'clock, chocolate chip cookies, thumbprints, lemon curd shortbread tartlettes, peanut butter cookies, rum-soaked vanilla poundcake, and almost candy-bar (I can't remember the name) bars. All the recipes were from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours, except the lemon curd shortbread tartlettes. I used Tiptree Lemon Curd (too sick to make my own) and a shortbread cookie recipe for the tart shells. Had a hell of a time getting them out of the mini-muffin tins, as you can tell.

gallery_11355_1724_54349.jpg

I don't have any pictures of the cream cheese spreads, okonomiyaki, or mango pudding.

Time to rest with some ginger tea. Thanks again for all your help!

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cornbread muffin sandwichesgallery_11355_1724_51934.jpg

It's all just scrumptious---I can't imagine what you could do if you were feeling up to par!!

And now, I hereby convey your G.R.I.T.S. Girl credentials, for cornbread muffins at tea, brown and savory and beautiful. Special Order of the Cotton Rosette for presenting these as the FIRST item on your prospective menu when you posted.

Hope you're feeling better today, and can just look back on a wonderful afternoon and smile.

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And now, I hereby convey your G.R.I.T.S. Girl credentials, for cornbread muffins at tea, brown and savory and beautiful.  Special Order of the Cotton Rosette for presenting these as the FIRST item on your prospective menu when you posted. 

You should also get the Order of the Lace Hanky for doing it all while sick! True GRITS courage--with finesse. :biggrin: Everything looks fabulous. Congrats!

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I occasionally enjoy the ritual of afternoon/high tea and since there aren't too many tea places nearby, I decided to serve South African Rooibos along with

Egg Salad, Smoked Salmon, Cucumber & Tomato finger sandwiches

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I used goat's butter for the sandwiches

gallery_21049_162_43941.jpg

along with mini scones (from local bakery), Devon clotted cream and Strawberry preserves

gallery_21049_162_43942.jpg

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I occasionally enjoy the ritual of afternoon/high tea and since there aren't too many tea places nearby, I decided to serve South African Rooibos along with

...

...

Yum; this looks like a wonderful tea as well! What is the goat butter like? A milder, spreadable goat cheese? It sounds interesting. Do you think you like it better than butter in this context?

I love the scones with Devon clotted cream and strawberry preserves...

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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