Monday, May 21, 2012

Tea time

I don’t know if all tea parties end in five empty bottles of bubbly, but mine did. It started innocently enough with the one—for rhubarb bellinis, you understand. The next four went down smooth, and after seven hours of girl talk and dranking, so did I. But the real “wow” of the party? Not that I used half of a pair of curtains I never hung as a tablecloth, but that I spent an hour whisking egg yolk and oil into mayonnaise for the sandwiches served with tea. And it worked.
I used the miracle I whipped as a base for two spreads: a dill mayonnaise for cucumber sandwiches, and on an asparagus sandwich as shallot, basil, lemon aioli. The third sandwich, hardboiled egg and mustard with pickled radishes, got a break from the mayo, out of concern for my guests’ arteries.
To round out the meal, even-less-artery-concerned options included mom’s famous shortbread and earthy sweet date muffins. With the exception of the one arm-exhausting ingredient, all were easily executed menu items mostly because I bought good bread from the bakery and fresh produce from the farmers’ market (and because I ordered the shortbread direct from my mother, who also lent her tea set when I realized I was unequipped for the basis of the party).
Best-ingredient local cooking has been the food philosophy I’ve been coming back to for a while—in fact, it would seem to be the closest thing to a premise on this blog—but I recently read Tamar Adler’s An Everlasting Meal, which reignited my passion for simple, clean, from-scratch food. It’s a game changer for sure. I’ve seen it pop up on a couple of other blogs and those cooks had the same reaction I did: they dropped everything and started simmering a big pot of beans. Then I took her advice and made mayonnaise with my hands and the tiniest whisk in the world.
So with the beans quietly bathing in their leeky broth on the stove, the local ladies introducing themselves to our Skype-in guest, I stopped cradling my broken limb long enough to pop the first bottle of champs, and tea was on.


  1. This looks like the best tea party ever! We should have one soon. PS I'm obsessed with Chai. PPS maybe you can have a field trip to the Oak Park farmers market one Saturday this summer?

  2. How did I miss this post? I will skype in to your tea parties any time! I only wished I could taste the food!