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Afternoon Tea
September 26, 2007
By Jennifer Chandler

Tea tradition is steeped in memories

By Jennifer Chandler
Special to The Commercial Appeal

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

One of my fondest memories of my grandmother is going to high tea at the Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans. A tradition that started when I was a girl, my sisters, cousins and I would get all dressed up in our Sunday finest and head down to the French Quarter to enjoy a "ladies afternoon." Just thinking about those afternoons, I can almost taste the clotted cream and the tangy lemon curd I would slather over my scones.

I used to think my grandmother planned these excursions to share some of her gentile French upbringing with her granddaughters. But now I realize that she probably just enjoyed the indulgence of a leisurely afternoon of fine food and pleasant company.

What conjured these memories of my trips to New Orleans was a recent afternoon enjoying tea with two of my best friends at The Woman's Exchange, 88 Racine.

Instead of our usual lunch, Lucia, Allyson and I decided to meet for tea. An hour spent sipping on Victorian lace tea (which The Woman's Exchange specially orders for this event) and munching on a tasty array of finger sandwiches, bite-size scones and mini pastries was a pure heavenly escape for us three busy working moms.

"The tradition of The Woman's Exchange English Teas began in 1999, and since that time they have been offered several times a year," says English Tea Committee chairman Carol Wolf. "Our members love being a part of the English Tea Committee and interacting with the guests."

Usually the first Tuesday of March, April, May, September and October, from 2:30-4 p.m., the last tea of this calendar year is Oct. 2.

The cost of the event is $17.50, and guests may ask for as many refills and servings as they are able to enjoy. Reservations are made by calling 327-5681 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

You can enjoy the indulgence of high tea year-round, too. The Peabody offers afternoon tea at Chez Philippe for $26.95 per person, and Crumpets Tea Room offers a full cream tea daily for $18 per person. Reservations are required at both restaurants.

Micro greens at Botanic Garden

The Memphis Botanic Garden is currently selling flats of micro greens at its weekly farmers market on Wednesdays. These exceptionally tender and tasty greens are young seedlings less than 14 days old that are often used by chefs for creative garnishes or flavoring.

Varieties such as chard, kale, radicchio, lettuce, parsley and other Asian greens are available. Flats will also be for sale at the garden's annual fall plant sale on Oct. 5 and 6.

Chef demos at the Mid-South Fair

Wimmer Cookbooks, a local cookbook printer, is hosting a special demonstration kitchen in the Creative Arts Building at the Mid-South Fair. These free cooking demonstrations will feature some of the best chefs and cookbook authors in the area.

Today at noon, members of the Le Bonheur Club will share recipes from their book, "Key Ingredients: Opening Doors to Hours of Happiness" ($23.95, Wimmer Cookbooks). For more information and a cooking schedule, visit wimmerco.com.

Kitchen dinners at The Grove Grill

Tonight chef Jeffrey Dunham of The Grove Grill will host his first "Dinner in the Kitchen" event of the fall; additional dinners will be Oct. 24 and Nov. 28. All of the dinners will feature wines chosen by Ginger Wilkerson of Athens Distributing Co. For more information and reservations, call 818-9951.

Fall cooking classes at Encore

Fall cooking classes at Encore Restaurant and Bar begin on Saturday, Oct. 6. Chef Reinaldo Alfonso of The Peabody's Chez Philippe will join Encore chef Jose Gutierrez to teach a class on preparing classic French dishes.

Future classes will feature such topics as soups, tapas and goodies for gifts. Priced at $50 plus tax, classes take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturdays and include a lunch of the featured recipes.

For a complete schedule of classes and reservations, visit encore-memphis.com or call 528-1415.

Please share your fabulous food finds and restaurant news with me at jennifer@cookwithjennifer.com.

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