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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Holiday Caffeine Scene: Tea, BLTs, and Ginger Cookies

Posted By on Thu, Nov 20, 2014 at 8:02 AM

click to enlarge AUBRIE PICK
  • Aubrie Pick
Like Sunday brunch, taking tea is a way to s-l-o-w things down and catch up on the latest and totally feel the prevailing festive vibe minus any grumbling about our consumer or even shared economies. Bonus: sipping English Breakfast caffeine that is sidled next to the most delicate BLT is a neato way to feel on top of the world.

While the genre's sandwiches are often bite sized, there's more than enough to go around — I've even brought along my red meat loving pops to a filling tea at Charles Chocolates where the brisket sliders were impressive and overall fun. Check the latest in holiday tea offerings.

click to enlarge topof-mark-.jpg
Children's Magical & Holiday Teas
When: Full dates and hours here 
Where: Top of the Mark InterContinental Mark Hopkins (999 California St.)
Cost: $50 (holiday tea), $60 for children's magical tea ($56 each with a toy donation)
The Rundown: While scanning a restaurant, we've probably all heard the line from the host or GM that “every table has amazing views.” But here, it's so true: The city skyline, actual sky, and surrounding buildings are all pretty stunning at the top of this tony hotel, which is a historic property that doesn't usually feel too stuffy.

There are two types of tea service happening here, and the bites are from Executive Chef Nenad Stefanovic and Pastry Chef Phuong Wong. It's a kick to try a pot of loose leaf next to a mini-BLT sandwich; adventurous types may be further drawn to a cardamom cinnamon tea if the usual Earl Grey does not suffice. The dessert buffet has promise in the form of mini yule logs, cheesecakes, and fruit tartlets. On Fridays starting December 5, the Magical Holiday tea for kids incorporates magic and face painting. A fire engine display debuts on Fridays and Santa will be in the house on Saturdays.

click to enlarge AUBRIE PICK
  • Aubrie Pick
Scala's Holiday Tea Under the Tree 
When: Fridays through Sundays, Nov. 28 to Dec. 14; every day Dec. 19 to 23; tea runs from 1-4 p.m.
Where: Sir Francis Drake Hotel / Scala's Bistro Tea Under the Tree, (450 Powell, 395-8518)
Cost: $45 per child, $75 per adult (includes one glass of champagne)
The Rundown: Youngsters each get their own gingerbread cookie to decorate. The sugary fun continues with tea breads (cranberry walnut scones, pumpkin scones, and orange raisin scones served with lemon curd, double cream, butter, and raspberry jam), petit fours, carrot cake madeleines, pate de fruit, raspberry linzer bars, mini fruit tartlets, vanilla marshmallows, and candy cane meringues, which were a refreshing and definite favorite at last year's tea.

Tea sandwiches are always an important tier,: smoked salmon, roast beef, egg salad, cucumber radish, and grilled vegetable. There's something about eating egg salad under a nice holiday tree while gazing at gifty and toy-centric décor — all the better to remember those wish lists scribbled in earnest and mailed off to the North Pole.

click to enlarge RITZ-CARLTON
  • Ritz-Carlton
Holiday Afternoon Tea and Teddy Bear Teas
When: Holiday tea: Nov. 29-30; Dec.  4-7, 11-14, 18-21, 23-24, 28-31; Daily seating at 3 p.m.
Teddy Bear tea: Nov. 29-30; Dec.  5-7, 13-14, 19-23. Seatings at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Where: The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco (600 Stockton St.)
Cost: $65 to $110
The Rundown: Afternoon tea service at the Ritz has got a luxe feel to afternoon tea service, meaning you may want to use your inside voice — all the better to hear the live harpist entertainer. Finger sandwiches are a normal part of fine tea service, but an eggnog rocher sweet treat intrigues, along with the more customary gingerbread spice cake. On the savory side, look for lobster and duck confit.

With the Teddy Bear tea service, it's BYOTS (Bring Your Own Stuffie—Stuffed Animal), and the pressure's totally off to entertain the kiddos, since an elf and giant teddy bear will be performing. Mr. Ted E. Bear will be available for photo ops, a portion of the tea proceeds will benefit Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area, and every kid gets his or her own teddy bear to take home.

Open for jammy scones and tea at writereadeat (at) gmail. 
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Mary Ladd


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