Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Christmas tea at Blithewold Mansion in Bristol, RI

It's been raining and dreary here in RI the past couple of days, so the timing couldn't have been better for Dor and I to add some holiday cheer and sparkle to an otherwise dismal day.

We had made reservations for Blithewold's Christmas tea some weeks ago, and, since December 9 was the date, we couldn't let the rainy, windy deluge stand in our way.  Dor picked me up in Providence and about 30 minutes later we were pulling into the parking lot at Blithewold, an English country manor style home on the waterfront in Bristol.

You can read more about the history of the place here:  http://www.blithewold.org/blithewold-history

Steve and I had visited Blithewold once before during the summer months and enjoyed touring the mansion and the grounds.  However, the place takes on an entirely different aura when it is decorated for the holidays.  And decorated it was!  What a sumptuous, lavish feast for the eyes!

I'll share just a few examples of what we saw, since, if I included every photo of every room, it would be simply overwhelming.  The entrance hall was inhabited by a two story high tree - here is the view of the treetop from the second level balcony.



We were directed into the main dining room for our tea experience.




All of the rooms in the mansion were decorated with a different holiday theme, the dining room's being "A New Year's Eve Party".  All was white, bright and glowing - we could just imagine spending New Year's Eve in this festive setting.




Mounted on the windows at either end of the dining room were clocks whose hands were poised at 5 minutes to midnight, as though everyone was waiting to shout "Happy New Year"!


tables set for afternoon tea
 Dorothy and I were assigned to Table 8 . . .



 which was set with mix-and-match tea cups, saucers, and our own sugar and creamer.

We had a view out to the water, but, sadly, it was foggy and rainy and there was not much of a view to be had.

Soon the servers were bringing Yorkshire/Earl Grey tea and warm scones to each table.  We weren't given a menu, so we rendered a guess as to the scone's flavor - I thought it perhaps a pumpkin or ginger-spice raisin (?cranberry) version, but it wasn't totally clear.  It did have a delightful texture and nice crumb.




 Next we received our two-tiered server with sandwiches and sweets.




The tea cozy was a nice touch, something we felt was missing at our other tea experiences earlier this fall.

We had two sandwich offerings - one the classic cucumber cream cheese on white bread and the other a cheese/red pepper jelly on wheat bread.  Both breads were moist and flavorful, however the cheese on the red pepper sandwich was very thin and hard, almost as though it had been sliced from the end of the rind.


the sweets portion

The chocolate madeleine was a tad dry (why do you think Marcel Proust dipped his?) with a subtle chocolate flavor.  Of the two small cakes I believe one was a financier with a berry baked on top and the other a moist, sense-of-pumpkin cake.  The meringue peppermint kisses were a cute addition to the plate and had a typical crispy-outside-slightly chewy-inside texture, however the mint flavoring was too much for our palates.

We sat, sipped tea, relaxed and chatted until it was time to vacate the dining room and allow the staff to prepare for the 3 pm tea seating, the second of the afternoon.  So up and away we went.

We strolled past all of the themed, decorated rooms in the mansion - all so well done, absolutely stunning and a delight to behold!

the mantel in the living room, themed "An Engagement Party"

a tree in the living room

 The afternoon teas are offered Tuesday through Friday at 1 and 3 pm and continue on through the New Year weekend (reservations required), so, if you're looking for a fun, festive holiday outing, head over to Bristol and Blithewold mansion!

Cheers!!

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