It's a fantasy for weary moms on Mother's Day: To be waited upon like a queen. So when the kids or hubby show up with a tray of dainty tea sandwiches and a steaming cup of tea, mum will think she fell down the rabbit hole and into a Mad Hatter's tea party.
Liverpool native Angela Grant, who opened the Tudor Rose English Tea Room in Santa Rosa this spring, shared some of the secrets of the traditional English tea, just in time to serve your own version for Mother's Day.
"Put the kettle on for a cup of tea," is a familiar refrain heard by Grant when she goes back to Northern England to visit her family.
"They drink tea every day, all day," said Grant, who was lost, roaming the moors in Devon, when she stumbled upon salvation in the form of a tea house and decided to open her own version in the North Bay.
Since launching in early April, the cottage-like Tudor Rose English Tea Room has provided men and women with respite in the form of couches and a fireplace, reading lamps and nooks, plus refreshments.
With the recent closure of Jacqueline's High Tea in Petaluma, everyone from British ex-pats to grandmothers and granddaughters have been showing up at the door.
"Women are saying, 'We finally have a place to go,'" Grant said. "'And we feel welcome here, like we're in somebody's house.'"
Just to set the record straight, "high tea" is not the fancy one, even though it sounds that way.
"High Tea is for the commoners," Grant explained. "It's a 6 o'clock meal, with sandwiches, salad, soup and pasties."
"Low tea" is the tea traditionally enjoyed by the upper classes as a way to tide their appetites over in the late afternoon, she said. That's where you'll find those cute little tea sandwiches and scones accompanied by small pots of jam and clotted cream.
"Apart from cakes, everything in England is small and finger-sized," Grant said. "They are not huge amounts."
Tudor Rose executive chef Monique Wallace concocts a wide range of tea sandwiches, from the traditional English Cucumber Mint to more contemporary combinations like Creamed Point Reyes Blue Cheese with Poached Pears.
It's important to choose a soft bread for the sandwiches, said Wallace, who orders her white and wheat bread from Franco-American Bakery, then cuts the crusts off.
In addition to tea sandwiches, the Tudor Rose's prix fixe menu of "set teas" also includes savory items like cheddar and onion scones, housemade sausage rolls or individual quiches.
"Our quiche crust is really flaky," Wallace said. "The secret is don't over-mix it. It may not look ready, but it is."
Although the scones have been flying out the door, Wallace is keeping that recipe a secret — even from Grant.
"Everybody's raving about the scones," Grant said. "The scones are a big hit. Women are even buying them to go."
Instead, Wallace shared a recipe for Raspberry Merengue Rosettes, which are light as a cloud.
Wallace, who graduated from the Santa Rosa Junior College Culinary Arts Program in 2009, also makes a wide range of sweets ranging from Jam Tarts to Chocolate Eclairs. The tea room's desserts will change with the season.
"We'll be doing trifles in the summer, served in little bowls," Grant said. "And we'll do a summer pudding, which is a bread pudding soaked in the fruit juices, with fresh fruit on top."