A Good Home, Afternoon Tea, Amaryllis in Bloom, Flowers, Re-blooming Amaryllis Bulbs

FLOWERS FOR MARILYN M.

For Marilyn Mirabelli, tea sommelier and blogger extraordinaire, these Amaryllis flowers:

Blog Photo - Amaryllis Blooms CU1

My way of saying: welcome back!

Marilyn injured her foot last fall, and has steadily been working at her recovery.

Blog Photo - Amaryllis Blooms CU2

Marilyn — you may recall — is the Canadian grande dame of tea and I was delighted that she read my book. Her tea company, Simply Splendid Victorian Afternoon Teas even created an apple cake in my honour.

Then, last summer, I fretted about an upcoming interview on national radio to everyone who would listen to my wimpy whining.

Marilyn knew that the interview would likely stir up very painful memories. She kindly offered to be nearby. And she created an afternoon tea party for the CBC Radio team and me after the interview. It was the perfect thing to do.

Blog Photo - Amaryllis Blooms ECU

Marilyn: we have missed your posts about tea and tea lovers, as well as your comments on this blog.

These flowers are to say: we wish you a full return to both afternoon tea and blogging  — soon.

Blog Photo - Amaryllis Blooms MCU1

p.s. The Amaryllis bulbs may re-bloom next winter, if I let the leaves grow after blooming, through the summer months. I stop watering in late August, let the leaves dry, then store the bulbs in a cool dark place for 3 months. Doesn’t always work, mind you, but these enormous flowers are great in the pot or a vase, and are an inexpensive jolt of colour in winter.

Blog Photo - Amaryllis Blooms in Vase

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A Good Home, Cake, Dessert, Food, Poetry

The Hungry Philosopher

At dinner that evening, I asked a man

Who had taken three pieces of cake

One after the other

Though he paused before the last

Photo by Simply Splendid Victorian Afternoon Tea
Photo by Simply Splendid Victorian Afternoon Tea

And looked straight at me across the table

As if seeking a stranger’s approval

Then dug right in

With an almost-grunt of satisfaction

**

“What happened?” I asked him, curious,

“At that very last moment

Just before

You gave in to temptation?”

Photo Courtesy of The No Grainer Baker
Photo Courtesy of The No Grainer Baker

He smiled at the crumbs on his plate

Then looked at me and said:

“You tell yourself

That it won’t be that bad, not really

**

That’s what you tell yourself.

It is, after all, such a little thing

A small piece of nothing

That you’ll make up for later.”

Jamaican Christmas Cake - Google Images
Jamaican Christmas Cake – Google Images

The hungry philosopher smiled again

But sadly now, at his plate

Regretful, yes

And something else, perhaps

 **

A bit of shame caused by a stranger

Who spoke

When she should have stayed quiet

And let the man enjoy his cake.

**

Dedicated to everyone who knows when to keep their mouth shut.

A Good Home

A cup of tea and a slice of Lady Cynthia cake

Thanks to Marilyn at Simply Splendid Victorian Afternoon Teas for this recipe for a wonderful apple cake. It’s been enjoyed by many over the past year.

And what a privilege to have a cake named for me.

Enjoy!

Simply Splendid Victorian Afternoon Teas & Events

The apple crop is bountiful this autumn.

Green grocers, famers markets and supermarkets are awash in local apple displays.
Aha!
This situation calls for afternoon tea with an apple. We did just that. Yesterday.

agoodhome_cynthiareyesToday we are far more adventuresome with apples. After a quick consultation with broadcaster, author and fellow blogger Cynthia Reyes about apples and how to cook, can and consume them, we have decided to adapt one of Cynthia’s recipes for an apple cake. 

You will recall from earlier bogs that Cynthia is the author of A Good Home, a very good home indeed which boast a couple of heritage apple trees.

As we’ve toyed considerably with the recipe, we have re-christened it Lady Cynthia Cake.

Lady Cynthia cake w trimmings

200 grams unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup cooking molasses (treacle)
2 large eggs
350 grams self-raising flour (or regular four plus one tablespoon baking powder)
100 gram rolled oats

View original post 271 more words

A Good Home, Afternoon Tea, Cakes, Celebrations, Christmas, Christmas Tree Trimming, Entrepreneurs, Following your dreams, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Tea lovers, Tea Sandwiches, Victorian Teas

The Tea Lover

“Simply Splendid” 

As Christmas approaches, Marilyn Mirabelli is a very busy woman.

Marilyn, the person behind one of my favorite websites, has a tea catering company called Simply Splendid Victorian Afternoon Teas.  In the weeks leading up to Christmas, you’ll find her filling clients’ orders and preparing  to cater afternoon teas for tree-trimming or other Christmas parties. Marilyn Mirabelli knows her tea. And, since 2004, she’s been living her dream of having a thriving tea business.

Tea Table by Simply Splendid Victorian Afternoon Teas
Tea Table by Simply Splendid Victorian Afternoon Teas

As you’ll see on Marilyn’s website, she’s revived the afternoon tea in classic style:

A Simply Splendid Victorian Afternoon Tea unfolds with the well-appointed tea table: Crisp white tablecloth and tea napkins; china teapot and cups and saucers; freshly-made tea sandwiches that are trimmed and quartered, small cakes, biscuits, and of course, classic English scones with imported Devon double clotted cream. This is accompanied by the choicest loose leaf teas.”

Sandwich Tier - Simply Splendid Victorian Afternoon Teas
Sandwich Tier – Simply Splendid Victorian Afternoon Teas

Marilyn is also a talented writer who produces a series of high-quality, interesting stories on her website. It’s like having some tidbits of history with your afternoon tea, and enjoying it too! Here’s something I learned from Simply Splendid:

Queen Victoria made afternoon tea popular, very ‘it’. But she did not invent the tradition. That honour goes to Anna, Duchess of Bedford, a Lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria and prone to fainting spells in the afternoons. The royal doctor was called; he diagnosed Anna’s fainting spells as hunger from the long stretch between lunch and supper and prescribed a cup of hot tea and buttered bread whenever a fainting spell was coming on.

Anna found this so agreeable, she invited other Ladies-in-waiting to join her. Pretty soon Queen Victoria cottoned on to a good idea and she asked for afternoon tea too. The rest as they say, is history!”

Cup of Tea by Simply Splendid Victorian Afternoon Teas
Cup of Tea by Simply Splendid Victorian Afternoon Teas

As well as bits of history, you’ll find interviews with interesting personalities on the website.  It makes you realize that the person behind the site and the company is both extremely knowledgeable and passionate about afternoon tea.

But you won’t find a great deal about Marilyn herself on the website, so here’s a tidbit about her:

The former journalist and communications consultant says she read a book called Dreams Don’t Have An Expiry Date by Deanna Rosenswig in the early 2000’s and decided to start her tea business. She was determined that her cakes, sandwiches and other offerings would all be made to order from fresh ingredients and she’s kept that commitment. Her tea selections come from estates monitored by the Ethical Tea Partnership.

As the company’s fame  spreads, a wide variety of clients – individuals, families and corporate workplaces — have asked Marilyn to cater afternoon teas for special occasions. Former broadcaster/politician Isabel Bassett described the tea Simply Splendid prepared for her daughter’s baby shower as “exquisite… the guests are still talking about it.”

Tea and Cookies by Simply Splendid Victorian Afternoon Teas
Tea and Cookies by Simply Splendid Victorian Afternoon Teas

I was raised in the tea-drinking capital of Jamaica – Manchester.  Afternoon tea wasn’t just a hot drink: it was an occasion, and for some, an almost-sacred ritual.   (See  “Afternoon Tea”, Ch. 10  in A Good Home.)  So I was thrilled when the Simply Splendid website chose A Good Home as its favorite book for the month of July.  It was a great boost – the book had only been released weeks before.

Then,  this autumn,  Simply Splendid gave me a delightful surprise when they created a special apple cake which they named Lady Cynthia Cake”.

Within days, friends, acquaintances and strangers alike were trying out the recipe, to oohs and aahs of delight.  The cake was served at an afternoon tea in Whitby, Ontario, where it was declared “delicious”. Then, a friend  invited me for tea in her home, and surprised me by serving the Lady Cynthia Cake she’d just made. Again, delicious.

Lady Cynthia Cake - Photo by Simply Splendid Victorian Afternoon Tea
Lady Cynthia Cake – Photo by Simply Splendid Victorian Afternoon Teas

Marilyn’s tea blends, cakes, sandwiches and other creations are, simply, splendid. Congrats on living your dream, Marilyn, and we wish you well.

For more information about gift packages, special tea blends or to book an afternoon tea –  do visit:  splendidafternoonteas.com

Tel: 416.658.5518  or email: marilyn@splendidafternoonteas.com