Tea Time, My Favorite Time in Annapolis

I have to say, the highlight of my gastronomic adventure in Annapolis was my trip to Reynolds Tavern. Before I’d even arrived in Annapolis, out of the blue my mom mentions that she has the taste for tea sandwiches. Fast forward a couple of weeks, and as we’re walking down West street we stumble upon Reynolds Tavern. I think it must have been the little yellow tea pots filled with flowers on the table settings outside that tipped us off to their tea service. Regardless, we had found not just tea sandwiches, but a tea experience.

As soon as you step foot into Reynolds Tavern, you are catapulted back in time. The furniture, the candles encased in hurricanes, even the jazz playing in the background, takes you to another era. The atmosphere is definitely fitting for afternoon tea.

The view of St. Anne’s Church from the tea room at Reynolds Tavern

Reynolds Tavern serves afternoon tea a couple of different ways. You can go for the more basic option, like the Cream Tea, a teapot of your choice served with 2 scones, whipped cream and preserves, or try something more elaborate like the Jubilee Tea, with your choice of a first course selection. My Mom and I decided to go the more traditional route, and we both ordered the Colonial High Tea with your choice of “Soup, Salad or Quiche”.

No matter which Afternoon Tea services you order, the real fun comes in selecting your tea. The tea selection at Reynolds Tavern ranges from the basic and more common choices like Camomile and Peppermint, to the more exotic like Yin Zhen Silver Needle or the artful and beautiful Blooming teas. After much deliberation, I decided to go with the Sencha Kyoto Cherry Rose Festival, a green tea. The Secha Kyoto had that sweet nutty flavor, characteristic of green tea, but then it leaves your taste buds with the sweet fruity undertone of cherry. My mom went with the Blueberry Infusion. This tea was a tropical medley of flavors, ranging from hibiscus to blueberries.

My mom and I both decided on the cream of crab soup for our first course. While our teas were being prepared, we relished our soup. The slivers of crab meat dissolved seamlessly into the cream, and the tarragon gave the soup a nice peppery yet tart flavor. So far, our afternoon tea time was off to a good start.

Cream of Crab Soup

Next, our waiter brought out a three tiered tea tray with an assortment of goodies, all of which are made in house. The bottom tier, had orange and cranberry scones, with a perfect combination of tart and sweet, served with whipped cream and strawberry preserves. The next tier, had tea sandwiches and bite size shepherds pie. The cucumber and egg salad sandwiches were so light and refreshing. Then, the top tier, had a selection of various sweets. The island girl in me enjoyed the banana bread with cream cheese icing. The lavender short bread cookies were also a nice savory addition to the selection of sweets.

(clockwise from left) Orange Cranberry Scone with Whipped Cream and Strawberry Preserves, Lavender Short Bread Cookie, Cucumber and Egg Salad Sandwiches and Shepherds Pie

While I savored every bit of my tea meal, what I enjoyed even more was the experience. A chance to sit back and enjoy the afternoon, to take things slow, to sip on tea and nibble on little sandwiches, to savor the moment and to remember the excitement of being a little girl and having a tea party. I can’t wait to return to Reynolds Tavern.

Gift options for the tea lover

While in Annapolis, my mom and I also enjoyed Lemongrass and Annapolis Ice Cream Company, two other places we visited, on our gastronomic adventure in Annapolis. Click the links to read about our time there.

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Reynolds Tavern

Afternoon Tea $10-$25/person

7 Church Circle

Annapolis, MD 21401

Reynolds Tavern on Urbanspoon
Reynolds Tavern on Foodio54

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Trader Joe’s: My Response to America’s Fast Food Syndrome

The other day, I was reading, The American Fast Food Syndrome, on Civil Eats. The article touches on how over the past 60 years, Americans have become so attached to processed fast food that many feel drive thru meals with burgers, fries and sodas represent what “real” Americans eat.

I wasn’t on this planet 60 years ago, so I decided to ask my Mom what food was like back then. My mom told me about how milk was delivered to the front door, directly from the dairy. Grandma bought seafood at the fish market and meat from the butcher. These were separate places; stand alone stores, not sections in the Walmart Supercenter. In the summer, my grandparents would drive out to the country and get fresh fruits and vegetables from farmers’ markets. My grandma would take the ripe peaches and strawberries from the market and make preserves. And when my grandparents didn’t feel like driving, they would just go out to their little garden in the backyard. My grandparents also enjoyed hunting and fishing, bringing home their catch for dinner.

Grandma & Grandpa and their catch

This is the way it was 60 years ago and my grandparents weren’t country folk either, my grandmother was from Washington, DC and my grandfather was from Wilmington, DE. So with my Mom being brought up in this environment, how did fast food become a part of my diet?

When I was a child, my parents were vegetarians. My mom cooked all our meals, but as I got older things changed. My parents divorced, we moved in with grandma to help take care of her, Mom worked late, I had extra curricular activities, and the next thing you know, we were in the drive thru.

While I agree with Kristin Wartman’s assertion that “most Americans lack the knowledge that industrial food is a recent development,” I also think the way family structures have changed over the last 60 years, has greatly contributed to our Fast Food Culture. Sixty years ago, few women worked outside of the home. Dad’s usually bought home the bacon and Mom’s cooked it up. Fast-forward to 2011 and it now takes both parents working to afford bacon. If there is only one parent at home, it might mean they work 2 jobs to cover the family expenses. Between work and all the other responsibilities that fill our day, the drive thru becomes really easy.

When I went back to school, my schedule and finances changed drastically. The drive thru by campus became very convenient when I needed a quick, affordable meal between class and work. The problem is, I soon realized instead of indulging in the occasional Double Double I was becoming a victim of the Fast Food Syndrome. I love to cook and think I’m pretty good at it, but I found that after a long day at work and school I was just too tired. I found my fix at Trader Joe’s, as it became my go to destination for convenient, affordable, stress free meals with natural and/or organic ingredients.

Here is a rundown of a few of my favorites meals ala Trader Joe’s. Many contain natural and/or organic ingredients, are priced competitively, and make putting meals on the table easy.

Trader Joe's Greek Style Honey Yogurt

Breakfast For a quick, healthy breakfast on-the-go, try Trader Joe’s Greek Style Honey Yogurt. I prefer Greek yogurt because it has a thicker consistency than regular yogurt. It’s rBST free and contains probiotics, which can help improve digestion and strengthen the immune system. Add some fresh fruit and granola and you have a quick, healthy, well-rounded delicious breakfast with little to no fuss.

Trader Joe's selection of sliced meats and cheese

Lunch For lunch, the grab and go salads at Traders Joe’s are a great quick lunch option or you can make a sandwich with their selection of pre-packaged deli meats. Most of the deli-meats at Trader Joe’s come from animals that are vegetarian fed. Trader Joe’s deli meats also tend to be priced cheaper than deli meats at the grocery store. As a snack, try Trader Joe’s Organic Popcorn with Olive Oil. The flavor takes me back to when popcorn was popped on the stove, not in a microwave. It’s also low in fat and high in fiber.

I'm addicted to this stuff!

Assortment of Trader Joe's pre-packaged meats

Dinner It would be great if we all came home and prepared a home cooked meal made with all organic, locally sourced ingredients, but in lieu of that, Trader Joe’s has some really great quick meal options that can keep you out of the drive thru. I really like Trader Joe’s pre-packaged meats. They are pre-portioned and seasoned so all you need to do is open the package and throw them on the grill or in the oven. The Pollo Asado (roasted chicken) is lower in fat, sodium and cholesterol than some of the other Trader Joe’s pre-packed meats and it’s sliced thin so it cooks up in minutes. Another benefit to Trader Joe’s pre-packaged meats are that they’re refrigerated, not frozen, so you can cook them up right away. Steam some veggies and add a side of rice and you have a quick, drive thru free, no fuss dinner.

Hopefully, these suggestions will make putting meals on your table a little easier so you can spend a little more time at home with your family and a little less time in the drive thru.