Today on Weekend Meanderings its a very royal roundup. Tea, scones, and gin cocktails … not necessarily in that order + more. Join me.
Happy weekend, friends!
It’s Saturday and I’m joining Elizabeth and Kim for Weekend Meanderings.
The temps cooled off considerably here in Northern California.
It’s starting to feel a bit like fall.
And possibly safe to replant my window boxes and porch pots.
I hope to get to the nursery this weekend.
We’re going to the Lafayette Art & Wine Festival today.
It continues on Sunday too.
Last week I shared my thoughts on Queen Elizabeth II.
As her funeral approaches, she’s still on my mind.
And on that note, let’s get to it.
COCKTAIL FIT FOR A QUEEN
The Queen was known to enjoy a gin cocktail … on the regular. So last night, cocktail night, in honor of the Queen, I decided to give it a try.
I read that the Queen favors Gordon’s Gin, but I used what we had on hand.
Of course I made a dreaded Reel and you can see it here.
You can find the recipe here.
THE QUEENS CUPPA
Monday morning I’ll be getting up at o’dark thirty to watch the Queen’s funeral. I think it begins at 3am PT. A little early for cocktails, even under these extenuating circumstances. But it’s never too early for a good cuppa. According to former royal chef, Darren McGrady, the Queen enjoyed afternoon tea with a steaming cup of Twinings Earl Gray, a dash of milk, no sugar. And a slice of cake.
The article says that Twining’s received a Royal Warrant for tea in 1901 and has provided tea to the Royal Family since then. Although Twining’s website says that Queen Victoria granted their Royal Warrant in 1837 and they’ve had ‘the honor of supplying every British Monarch to date.’
“According to Grant Harold, the Queen’s former butler, the milk was absolutely
not poured into the teacup first. All the royals poured the tea before the milk.”
This caught my eye because a couple of weeks ago Jim informed me – totally out of the blue – that adding milk before or after the tea, is determined by the quality of the china its being served in. Read more about that here.
I love a good tea party and shared my Valentine’s Day tea a couple years ago. And I enjoy going out for tea. My most memorable tea experiences were at the Garden Court in San Francisco’s Palace Hotel, the Empress Hotel in Victoria B.C., and the Lanesborough in London. Last year my sister and I enjoyed a Christmas tea at the Fairmont San Francisco and a couple of weeks later I went with other family members to the Victorian Christmas tea at the Hotel del Coronado. We have a wonderful little tea shop in Noe Valley called Lovejoy’s. I’m meeting a friend there in a couple of weeks. See … I love tea!
I have several books on the tradition of tea including this one from Britain’s National Trust. Yesterday I tore the house apart looking for my favorite book on tea and couldn’t find it. I can picture the cover, and even the tassel bookmark inside … but I CAN’T FIND THE BOOK! Argh. Tea with Jane Austen is another good one. Anything Jane, right? Fortnum & Mason’s Time for Tea is on its way to me. As is Royal Teas: Seasonal Recipes from Buckingham Palace. (Do you think I’ve gone overboard?) But Tea at the Palace may be my new favorite.
Last year my sister gave me a Brown Betty teapot and she was appalled I didn’t know what it was. The one she gave me is from Adderley Ceramics, made in England. They call it the Cobalt Betty and I adore it. If, like me, you are clueless about the Brown Betty teapot, you can learn more about it here. Oh my gosh, while I was searching for Betty, I found this cute tea cozy. Do I need it?!
These are my three teapots.
Chef Darren’s 2017 book, Eating Royally, seems to be out-of-stock, but I was able to purchase it through one of the resale options.
LET’S NOT FORGET SCONES
What’s a good cup of tea without a scone? Or two. Or three. I. Love. Scones. Currant scones are a favorite and I’ve been making these Sunrise Scones since the recipe was published in Ladies Home Journal back in 1995. They’re more biscuit-like in consistency and that’s the way I like them. I also like to cut them with a round, scalloped biscuit cutter. But you can skip the biscuit cutter and make them in a triangle shape too.
I’m not one to turn my nose up at a scone mix and William Sonoma has good, reliable mixes. If you prefer a triangle shaped scone, they have both large and mini scone pans to make life easier.
For baking I love these 1/4 sheet pans … they’re great for brownies, but more on that another day. I also appreciate pre-cut parchment sheets … and it’s easy to cut them in half to fit 1/4 sheet pans. I burned a lot of cookies and scones before discovering parchment.
I used a heart shaped cutter for Valentine’s Day.
In preparation for Monday, I bought jars of clotted cream and lemon curd. If you’re local, Diablo Foods had a nice selection.
One of the things I’ve noticed about tea in the states is that the scones are small and scarce. I’m always asking for more scones, please. I did not experience this stingy doling out of scones in Canada or London. And on Monday morning, while watching the Queen’s funeral, the scones will be generously sized and plentiful.
Here’s my favorite scone recipe …
Sunrise (Currant) Scones
- 3/4 cup Half-and-Half Cream
- 1/3 cup Currants
- 1 Large egg, beaten
- 2 1/4 cup All-purpose flour
- 3 tbsp Sugar
- 1 tbsp Baking Powder
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/2 cup Butter, cold & cut into pieces
- 1 tbsp Half-and-Half Cream
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Combine 3/4 cup cream, currants and egg in a small bowl.
- Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in large bowl.
- Using a pastry cutter (or two knives) cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs.
- Stir in current mixture with a fork.
- On a floured surface, knead dough lightly (4-5 turns) and form into smooth ball.
- Pat dough to 3/4" thickness.
- Using biscuit cutter, cut scones and place onto parchment lined baking sheet. (Or cut scones in any shape you like.)
- Brush tops of scones with 1 tbsp cream.
- Bake 18 minutes, until tops of scones are golden brown.
BIRKHALL GARDENS, ON THE BALMORAL ESTATE
Reading endlessly about the Queen’s passing, I came across this republished article in Country Life magazine (originally published in 2013) on the gardens of Birkhall on the Balmoral Estate. Balmoral is, of course, the Queen’s Scottish estate where she spent her summers, part of July, August and September, with her family members joining her for periods of time during her stay. And where she received the former and new Prime Ministers just two days before her death.
Birkhall is a home on the estate enjoyed by the Queen Mother during her lifetime and passed to Prince King Charles following her death. It will be interesting to see if he keeps up his mother’s annual summer stay in Balmoral and if he moves into the main castle and passes Birkhall onto the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Prince and Princess of Wales or another member of the family.
Have you been to Scotland? I haven’t, but it’s on my bucket list. We’re talking about a trip next summer … Scotland, Ireland and a return to England. London is my favorite city in the world.
Prince King Charles is a passionate gardener and has published several books on the gardens at Highgrove. I have two that I treasure and keep easily accessible in the great room. Our favorite Contessa toured the Highgrove gardens and has a little souvenir she wrote about here.
Prince King Charles has a new book coming, Royal Gardens at Highgrove, available for pre-order to arrive October 4th.
MY FAVORITE, AND VERY BRITISH, BAND
Ok, if anyone doesn’t know … I’m a major Rolling Stones fan. How can you not be? I’ve seen the Stones live too many times to count. And, Jim thinks too many times entirely. Yet when they announced their just completed European tour, he asked if we should go. Hard to believe I was the voice of reason and said no. I kind of regret it, but I’m holding out hope they’ll make a final visit to the U.S. next year. Of course, I could be wrong now that Charlie Watts has died. His friend and long time Stones associate, Steve Jordan, has been admirably filling in.
The Rolling Stones have been a band for 60 years. Nearly as long as the Queen has been the Queen. If you’ve never seen them live, I hope you have the chance. The ultimate live music experience in my humble and non-biased opinion.
A recent 4-episode documentary, My Life as a Rolling Stone, is just out on Epix and it’s so good (I have no idea what Epix is, but found it easily on our Comcast set up). With one episode devoted to each band member you get to hear their unique perspectives about their 60 year journey as The World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band. I kind of feel about the Stones the way I do about the Queen. They’ve always been there and I can’t imagine life without them. Anyway, the series is very well done and I think you’ll enjoy it, even if you’re not a fanatic like me.
The most interesting episode, in my view, is on Charlie Watts. A shy, elegant and dapper man, and reluctant rock star, Charlie is a unique and fascinating character. One of the more fun things we learn about him is he had tea set that went along with him on the road, labeled Charlie’s Traveling Tea Set. I can’t find a picture of it, but if you watch the series I think you’ll get a kick out of it.
Mick Jagger, Sir Mick, was knighted back in 2003, much to Keith Richards dismay. I understand the Queen was conveniently away and left Prince King Charles to do the honors. Back in the day Princess Margaret partied with the Stones and their entourage and it’s said the Queen frowned upon it.
And, finally, two books I picked up this week at our new Walnut Creek Barnes & Noble.
I’m curious, will you be getting up to watch the Queen’s funeral on Monday?
And there you have it, my very royal roundup.
Let’s head over to see what Elizabeth and Kim are sharing.
In other news ~
- Last week we attended a soiree at the most fabulous Lafayette estate. I finally pulled a quick tour video and you can see it here.
- I’ve received lots of questions about my woven ice bucket … it took a while to figure out where I got it … ta da!
- This recipe will put you in the mood for fall.
- We just received a save-the-date for a wedding in Lake Como. Yes, Lake Como! I’m planning a bigger trip around it and this three-weeks-in-France packing list has me inspired.
- Read this before buying any new clothes for fall.
- Fall decor ideas for the minimalist.
- Wait until you see this Spanish style estate!
If you missed last weekend’s meanderings, you can catch up here.
As always, I appreciate your visit and welcome your thoughts in the comments below.
Cheers from Snowberry!