We were reminded, when we read the following delightful passage from Writers' Favorite Recipes
, our new favorite book which we wrote about here
, by the somewhat insalubriously named Kay Dick
, that we'd promised ourselves to revisit Lovejoy's Tea Room
and/or Crown & Crumpe
t very soon, two perfectly adorable tearooms which we wrote about here
, as part of our New Year's resolutions.
"The meal I absolutely adore is tea, that much despised and rare feast, which brings out all my incipient indolence. Let us imagine summer, a green lawn, or a sandy beach will do -- with exquisitely thin cucumber sandwiches straight out of The Importance of Being Earnest, followed by plates of equally thin bread and butter and Gentleman's Relish, topped by tiny iced cakes, pretty pastel shades, and fragrant Earl Grey with slices of lemon. And winter, with snow and roaring winds outside, a fire brightly burning one's toes, with delicious toasted crumpets soaked in butter which drips down one's cheeks, Ceylon tea this time, with rich fruity home-made cake, and indolence nothing but indolence in view: no time to think of the undelivered manuscript. Tomorrow will do for that lesser pleasure. And books around one: not those one should be reviewing or researching. Oh no! That would spoil the tea sensuality: let there be all the books one shouldn't be reading."
It's eerie how many echoes were set off in me by this brief paragraph: not just the classical references to Earl Grey, smoky Ceylon, cucumber sandwiches, hot buttered crumpets, and tiny iced cakes -- but also the time I drove out to the eccentric Tal-Y-Tara Tea and Polo Shoppe
in the outer Richmond, to pick up its unusual variation on tea sandwiches, which it calls the Motorloaf, carefully packed into a hollowed-out bread loaf so they'll stay moist, because I was going to see a production of The Importance of Being Earnest
at the California Shakespeare Festival
with my sister and her best friend that night, and I thought it would be fun to eat cucumber sandwiches while Algernon was gobbling up the ones especially ordered for Aunt Augusta.
I also love Kay Dick's insistence on "all the books one shouldn't be reading." The first and only time I had tea at Lovejoy's, I had stopped by Omnivore Books
, conveniently located a couple of blocks away -- my admiration for this beautifully designed and thoughtfully stocked store is catalogued here
-- and came away with a couple of irresistible books I probably shouldn't have been buying, much less reading, and they were as English as books can be, and both with especially decorative jackets, too. Cream Butter and Wine
by Sybil Goffinet is a thin volume originally published in 1955 meant to encourage the British to indulge themselves after years of postwar rationing, which ended only in 1954
(too long, as M.F. K. Fisher
noted in her revised version of How to Cook a Wolf
). And The Greedy Book
(1966) is a densely printed collection of food-related essays, poems, and literary oddments.
After our lovely tea, greedily replete with cream and butter, if not wine, we walked across the street to Lovejoy's Attic
, an annex to the tearoom which is just what it sounds like: a couple of rooms with nooks and crannies stuffed full of the sort of vintage and antique tea paraphernalia and ephemera that give Lovejoy's Tea Room such a comfy air, as well as some of the packaged teas, jars of Devonshire clotted cream, jams, and lemon curd that give the teas such panache. We walked out with vintage tea towels, clotted cream, a few bits of pottery, and a yen to return.