Saturday, February 25, 2012

Not Just Child's Play: A Tea Party at Alice's Tea Cup

Did you have a tea set as a child? I did, and still have it. It's funny what you can remember from childhood. I can recall having a tea party with my older sister and parents in the kitchen when I was a little girl.

I adore tea out of a nice tea pot and pretty cup. When I was invited in someone's home recently the woman offered me tea and said I struck her as a tea person.

I've been to Alice's Tea Cup (Chapter 1 location) in New York City with some wonderful women from work to celebrate everything from the winter solstice to this outing, a Valentine's Tea Party, and I suspect I'm not the only one who instantly turns into a little girl when walking in the door. I don't think we have enough play and whimsy in our lives as adults, don't you agree?

I always stop to admire this shadow box table.

Admittedly, I was drawn to this tea by the name: Sparrow's Soul, $6 a pot. I wanted something with rose in it (this was a Valentine's party, after all). This tea had rosebuds, chamomile, French Vervain and linden blossoms. I feel relaxed just looking at this photo.

Half a roasted carrot cumin sandwich with goat cheese and olive tapenade, a cup of black bean soup, and a warm roll, $14. People ask me about vegetarian protein sources, and one of my favorites is beans: they're hearty, filling, and natural.

Warmly recalling this passage from the Prairie Winter chapter of Laura Ingalls Wilder's On the Banks of Plum Creek, which actually makes me long for a winter storm,

"All day the storm lasted. The windows were white and the wind never stopped howling and screaming. It was pleasant in the warm house. Laura and Mary did their lessons, and Pa played the fiddle while Ma rocked and kitted, and bean soup simmered on the stove."

I had been eyeing the Queen of Hearts lemon tart with berries when reviewing the menu, but I like to support vegan options when they offer them. Tonight they had banana blueberry vegan scones, but I couldn't say no to a vegan German chocolate cupcake, $3. Divine!

I might be too old for these princess costumes...

...and fairy wings, but you're never too old (or young) for a cheerful apron.

One thing I hope eReaders will never replace: print children's books. Another happy childhood memory: my mother reading a story to me on the couch. My mom stayed at home with me and my sister. I think "stay-at-home mother" (or "father"!) is our most underrated profession.

What were your favorite books as a child? Do you still read books for children and young adults? I've so fallen in love with the Little House series as an adult, and am happily incorporating children's books into my life.


  1. I think I have a very curious relationship with children's stories. My parents wouldn't allow me to read fairy tales because they thought they were sexist. It sort of puzzles me that they thought sexism was bad when it came to a prince sweeping me off my feet, yet they had no problem requiring me to do household cleaning and chores, but not my brother because he was a boy, and you couldn't ask a boy to do things like dishes and laundry. Guess consistency was not their strong suit.

    I totally LOVED the Little House books though. I read them over and over, and still have my set. CatMan and I actually read all of the Harry Potter books... in Spanish... long story, but we both totally loved them.

  2. Very interesting about the fairy tales and division of labor! I just have one sister so I never encountered those issues. My Swiss born parents might not have been as familiar with the American children's classics. On my "to-read" list this year is the class Swiss children's story Heidi.

    I loved the Harry Potter books too! I own a French version of the first one but my procrastination on studying French being what it is, I can barely read any of it. I wonder what JK Rowling will write about next.

  3. I wonder what was up with a sparrow's soul? I love sparrows. They are so eager beaver. They are my companions in Bryant Park, and their level of alertness makes pigeons look like they're on drugs. I believe all animals have souls, and a sparrow's soul embodied in tea? Interesting!

  4. Hi Ted. I love sparrows too, and believe in their soul spirit. In my prior residence, a garden apartment complex, a neighbor of mine who would sit on the porch observing my birdfeeder noted how many sparrows came to it and was oddly annoyed by it.

    In my next life, if reincarnation exists, I wouldn't mind coming back as a bird (though not a caged one!)

  5. I know I've written this to you before, but I can't wait for one of my visits back to my hometown of NYC to pay a visit to Alice's Tea Cup (something that wasn't there back when I was). I shall have to go with my sister who still lives in NY and who is a children's librarian. The two of us have never stopped reading and loving children's and young adult books. Now that I have an 11 year old daughter who reads avidly, I continue to discover more and more wonderful worlds of enchantment!

  6. Yes! Yes! I absolutely must go with you, Amy, to Alice's Tea Cup next time you are in NYC!!!

  7. I think you would have looked smashing in those fairy wings!

    I read every book about Abraham Lincoln I could find when I was a kid. And oh! Nancy Drew books. And who was that Madam L'En...oh, c'mon, you know her. I can't remember...

  8. Hi ladies! Enjoy the tea party at Alice's. I've be warned waits are very long on the weekends, but I've had luck going on off nights during the week around 6. Tea and Sympathy is my favorite tea spot (great British comfort food and loads of veggie options) but Alice's is a close second. As my friend Jennifer said at our last Tea and Sympathy lunch, "tea is so magical."

    I saw an entire Nancy Drew series at a resale shop a few months ago. I haven't read any Nancy Drew. Put on life's "to-do" list.