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Afternoon Tea Get-Together at Hotel Sierra Nevada Echoes the Very First One in 1830s Britain

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By Lauren Sevrin

During our first historically-based English afternoon tea, organized by myself and Eva Eliscu of the San Miguel de Allende Food and Film Festival, torrential rains poured down on us,  accompanied by an orchestra of thunder punctuated with impressive lightning. Perfect weather for our first gathering of 10 women sheltered within Hotel Sierra Nevada’s lovely courtyard.

The Canal and Allende families and a contingent of privileged nuns would have felt quite at home. There was no guarantee everyone would know each other as was intended. We hoped new friendships would be made.

Our group consisted of full-time San Miguel residents, friendly writers, artists, and friends-of-friends gathered around a table that lacked for nothing, including clotted cream. Everyone appreciated their afternoon interlude of savory finger sandwiches and sweets served with tea and even Prosecco if desired.

Sierra Nevada chef Mariel and her assistants created a selective menu of savory, high-quality finger sandwiches and excellent sweets. Without question, the rich chocolate macarons won our hearts and minds, fulfilling all expectations of excellence. No need for Paris macarons while we have Chef Mariel.

I also made several colorful floral natural ingredient gelatinas for everyone to sample. It’s said Duchess of Bedford established the practice of afternoon tea, distinct from high tea, amongst the British upper class in 1830. Her friends had such a good time that afternoon tea became customary through Great Britain, then spread throughout Europe and brought to the Americas.

For those who love to read menus, here was our first: roasted beef and Dijon mayo on whole wheat bread, smoked salmon with chive cheese on white bread, cucumber cream cheese with water cress on a mini brioche, plain scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream, mini velvet cup cake, chocolate macaroon, mini fruit tartlet, black and green teas.


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