Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Sweet & Savory Afternoon at the James Beard House

I have long been curious to dine at the James Beard House.  I subscribe to the biweekly "Beard Bites" which features the many events (including the dinners, which feature selected chefs) happening on a given week at the Beard House.  To be honest, the choices are so many and each so tantalizing that it's been next to impossible for me to just choose one.

Luckily for me, a friend organized a table at the recent James Beard Foundation's Valentine's Tea.  There is little that I love more than afternoon tea, so this made it an easy choice for me.  The foundation's Valentine's Tea is held most every year on the Sunday preceding Valentine's Day.  We were an all-woman's table, and it just so happened that this year's tea featured a cast of all-female chefs and pastry chefs: Ginger Fisher (The Marrow), Megan Fitzroy Phelan (Sullivan Street Bakery), Rebecca Weitzman (Clarkson), Patricia Williams (Smoke Jazz & Supper Club), Jennifer Yee (Lafayette), of NYC; and Tiffany MacIsaac (Neighborhood Restaurant Group), of Washington, D.C.  

The event was held on the second floor of the Beard House.  (Beard actually lived in this house; it's a Greenwich village brownstone which a former student who started the Beard Foundation purchased.)  The second floor is a cozy space, comprised of two small rooms and a landing overlooking the rear of the first floor, which is where the buffet-style tea was served.
a view of the buffet from the second floor landing
Where and how can I start to describe the decadent selection of savory sandwiches and sweets that greeted our arrival?  

Here is just a *small* sample of the offerings:
Savory tea sandwiches: House-Smoked Trout Reubens with Pickles, Fennel Sauerkraut, and Roasted Tomato Aioli on Marble Rye.  Braised Hudson Valley Rabbit with Olive Marmalade, Herb Salad, and Dijon Mustard on Housemade Potato Rolls.  Apple, Avocado, and Smoked Cheddar with Arugula and Red Onions on Multigrain Toasts.  Fried Chicken with Jalapeños, Pickles, Napa Cabbage Slaw, and Chipotle Aïoli on Sweet Potato Biscuits.  Bison Meatloaf Club with Bacon, Roasted Fennel, Piquillo Peppers, and Romesco Sauce on Sourdough.

Sweets: Plain and Currant Mini Scones.  Miniature Ho-Hos (really!).  Elderflower-Glazed Raspberry and Brown Butter Madeleines.  Pistachio-Rose Water Macarons.  Meyer Lemon-Honey Tartlets.  Blood Orange-Olive Oil Tea Cakes.  Maple-Cranberry Steamed Pudding.  Cinnamon-Raisin Buns.

one of my favorite sweets: the cinnamon raisin buns
Alongside the savories and sweets, teas from Tea Forte and cava and sherry were served.

my plate (on the first round - yes, I indulged!)

I stacked my plate with nearly every item on display.  For my second round, I focused on my favorites: the fried chicken sandwich and bison meatloaf club, and the tea cakes, steamed pudding, and cinnamon buns. 

It was a fun afternoon, and I already can't wait for next year's tea!


  1. Looks like a fantastic time! Great post!

    1. Thank you! I really can't think of a better way to spend a leisurely afternoon than by having a tea!

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