We started one of our favourite family traditions several years ago: afternoon tea in the Atrium at Dublin’s Westin Hotel on Christmas Eve. We go into town on Christmas Eve day to soak up the atmosphere, pick up anything we may have forgotten and see who we run into. It’s busy and fun and filled with a very Dublin buzz. Then we walk through the doors of the Westin and realise we can take one deep breath after another. The atrium and the tea are beautiful and festive but most of all bring a bit of ‘all is calm, all is bright’ into the day.
It is a time to linger and enjoy: each other and some very tasty treats. In this spirit, and inspired by a friend who was doing one for a family birthday, I decided my week’s project would be A Very Lovely Afternoon Tea for the four of us on Sunday afternoon, Valentine’s Day.
I prepared over several days (the freezer is my friend!), baking the brown bread one evening, the pound cake for the petit fours another. I aimed to do treats that were simple yet looked a bit fancy: frozen puff pastry helped here, for the goat cheese tartlets and chocolate cream filled eclairs. And yes, it was all prepared with love.
With the afternoon sun shining on us and the fire crackling away, it was a perfect time to sit and enjoy.
Even though it was just us, I felt surrounded by the love of those we haven’t seen for so long, their presence represented by the beauty on the table: cups and saucers that were my grandmother’s (one a gift from my mother to her); a Royal Albert Memory Lane teapot that was a graduation gift from one of my sisters; our cream and sugar sets with their own long histories that were once part of my aunt’s collection; linen and napkin rings that were gifts from sisters and friends. There were Aynsley plates from my late mother-in-law’s cabinet, belonging first to her mother; I love their black detail with pink rosebuds.
One of my cake stands was made by my lovely friend at Around the Table Crafts (you can see better images of it here), the other I found on a wonderful day with my cousins and aunt at the Queen’s Park Garage Sale in New Westminster (Azalea, by Royal Tudorware; I think I paid $4). The champagne flutes included Waterford Crystal’s John Rocha Millennium Toasting Collection (Health), one of a pair that were a wedding gift. The turquoise and gold 1950s style glass is part of a random set of Federal Glassware that I picked up in garage sales in the 1990s; they’re favourites of mine and my daughter has her eye on them for when my hands are too shaky to lift G & T’s or bubbly. With a name like Atomic Amoeba Boomerang, you can’t really go wrong.
When the time is right, I look forward to sharing tea and cake with all those who couldn’t be here on the day. It will truly be lovely.