By John Bruno Turiano
The Restorative Power of Afternoon Tea
Escape for a spot of peace with these relaxing afternoon teas.
By Julia Sexton
YOU KNOW THE SCENARIO: you’re in traffic. You’re crabby, you’re tired, and your companion’s voice is starting to sound like a dragging muffler. Maybe that tiny muscle in your left eyelid is twitching. What you need is an old-fashioned restorative: a cup of tea, a bite to eat, a comfy place to sit in the shade. A little luxury would be nice, too.
The English have known it for centuries: tea is the ultimate restorative. This hot, sometimes sweet beverage, sipped from an elegant china cup, has the ability to make everyday struggles disappear. So the next time you’re looking for a break, skip the hectic coffee house—its loud music, chattering teenagers, and cardboard coffee cups won’t do anything for your mood. If anything, you’ll only emerge wired.
Instead, take an hour or two and indulge in tiny savory sandwiches; pretty, sugary cakes; tangy jam; and quintessentially English clotted cream. You’ll see—there’s no evil mood that can withstand it. Afternoon tea is quieter, prettier, and more relaxing than a trip to Starbucks, and, of course, the food is much, much better.
Caramoor House Museum
149 Girdle Ridge Rd (off Rte 22), Katonah (914) 232-5035, ext 221
(Thursday and Friday only, May through October, with a single seating at 1:45 PM).
This pretty afternoon tea is served in the summer dining room, which overlooks the mansion’s Spanish courtyard, and includes tea sandwiches, scones, clotted cream, and desserts. While regular teas end for the season in October, Caramoor offers special musical teas during the holidays. Here, diners can enjoy the house’s seasonal decorations while enjoying full teas preceded by live music. Holiday teas are offered December 1, 6, 7, 8, 13, 14 and 15. Not surprisingly, all of Caramoor’s teas are popular. Reservations are a must.
Enjoy!!! Tea Room
175 Main St
, Ossining (914) 923-3336
Ossining’s tea room/ice cream parlor serves traditional afternoon teas with sandwiches, crumpets, scones, and cakes, all on the town’s scenic main drag. Teas are available in either all-inclusive packages, or from an Ã la carte menu—which means that sugar hounds can skip the savories and cut right to the sweet stuff.
400 Benedict Ave, Tarrytown (914) 631-3646; www.castleonthehudson.com
The ultimate in dressy tea: look for tiered silver trays, house-made pastries, scones, and tea sandwiches with the crusts definitely cut off. The bonus: this lush converted Hudson River country house offers one of Westchester’s most elegant settings, spiffy service, and (if you can swing a table on the terrace) absolutely stunning river views.
Kathleen’s Tea Room
979 Main St, Peekskill (914) 734-2520
Westchester’s tiny lace-and-chintz favorite, this traditional teashop serves all the standards—tea sandwiches, clotted cream, and scones—in a welcoming, child-friendly environment. Kathleen’s cute, exposed brick and pressed-tin shop is lined with a vast collection of teapots, some of which are even for sale—so if the conversation flags, one can always just silently browse.
500 Steamboat Rd, Greenwich
(203) 661-4600; www.lescalerestaurant.com
Greenwich’s French landmark becomes a bastion for Anglophiles in the afternoon, serving scones, boutique teas, miniature pastries, and delicious cucumber-and-house-cured salmon sandwiches right on scenic Greenwich harbor. You can even soothe your frayed nerves with a glass (or two) of Champagne.
Silver Tips Tea Room
3 N Broadway, Tarrytown
(866) TEA-4245 (832-4245)
This loose-leaf seller goes from rooibos, Darjeeling, and oolong to chic green and super-expensive white tea—with 150 choices, it’s the teashop for tea snobs. (Though tea novices need not fear—you’ll even find that old Lipton standby, orange pekoe.) Silver Tips serves afternoon tea with scones, sandwiches, cookies, and cake—and in warm weather, iced teas are also available.
64 Garth Rd, Scarsdale (914) 472-1128
While you shouldn’t arrive hungry—Tea Blossom serves no food—you may absolutely arrive thirsty. Jenny Chan’s stylish new Scarsdale tea atelier offers scores of boutique teas, including beautiful blossoming teas. This Chinese specialty is made from carefully wrapped and dried tea leaves, which, when steeped in water, unfurl to reveal a surprising interior bloom.
11A S Moger Ave, Mount
Temptation TeKisco (914) 666-8808
Along with the usual green and black teas, Temptation Tea House serves Taiwan-style bubble teas, which contain chewy, black tapioca “pearls.” Temptation’s addictive bubble teas come with bright added flavors like ginger, sesame, taro, and almond, and many are also available iced. While there’s nary a scone at Temptation Tea House, the tea’s tapioca pearls are almost a meal by themselves. Plus, there are plenty of tasty small plates available for nibbling.
5 Breakfast Favorites
A good day starts with a good meal,
just like your mom always said.
Wobble CafÃ© (21 Campwoods Rd, Ossining 914-762-3459; www.wobblecafe.com) became a cult favorite for breakfast almost as soon as it opened. Fans flock there for the toys and couches in the back, funky colors, and an unconventional breakfast menu: migas (which give new meaning to corn tortillas); wonderful hot chocolate; green eggs (poached eggs in creamed arugula); a packed, signature breakfast strudel; baguette French toast stuffed with fruit; and Toad in a Hole (a fried egg inside toast) for the little ones.
CafÃ© Mozart (308 Mamaroneck Ave, Mamaroneck 914-698-4166; www.cafemozart.com) wears many hats. In the afternoon, a treat of tea and pastries; at night, light dinners and late music. But bright and early, look forward to a bowl of Figaro granola with fruit and low-fat yogurt, spring garden vegetable omelet, or a golden bagel. And, of course, hot chocolate with whipped cream.
M.A.D CafÃ©, formerly Steam (129 Wolfs La, Pelham 914-738-7395) recently expanded and spiffed up its dinner menu but hasn’t abandoned its yummy breakfast offerings. Crunchy French toast sticks; an Eastern omelet with cheddar, ham, and tomatoes; or the M.A.D breakfast: two eggs any style with the works.
, Tuckahoe 914-961-2233). Simple and homey, this cafe is more than it appears at breakfast. The light buttermilk and buckwheat pancakes are made from scratch. The eggs Benedict and Florentine feature perfectly poached eggs and are gilded with made-to-order
Former sister restaurants B4 Bistro (4 Broadway, Valhalla 914-328-4199; www.b4bistro.com) and Le Jardin du Roi (95 King St, Chappaqua 914-238-1368; www.lejardinchappaqua.com) have been go-to breakfast stops for years. Le Jardin is thoroughly French, serving ample breakfasts, with seasonal patio service, until 4 pm. Omelets with ratatouille, goat cheese, or smoked
salmon and truffle oil are specialties. The sleeker, more urban B4 serves breakfast until 4 pm also, including crab cake Benedict or light-
Pudding Heads Unite!
As the weather cools, the appeal of warm desserts rises. On chilly nights, when cake feels cold and uninviting, pudding is in its cozy glory. Warm, gooey, and laden with mouthwatering aromas, no dessert is as comforting as pudding—be it sticky toffee, bread, plum, Christmas, or the questionably named spotted dick. Even Betty Crocker knows a good thing when she sees it: the company’s Warm Delights line of hot microwaveable desserts is just a newfangled take on good, old-fashioned pudding.
In England, where pudding is synonymous with dessert, it also is associated with hominess. According to Daniel Pool’s What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew, most of London’s working class lived without ovens. Simple cooking was done in the hearth or at neighborhood bakeshops, though mostly, food was bought already prepared.
Cakes, with their precise measurements, persnickety baking times, and temperatures, were something best left to bakeries—but who among London’s poor could afford them?
Puddings, on the other hand, could be baked, steamed, or boiled in the hearth or even in the outdoor laundry copper. Puddings were something that working people made at home, a humble treat that filled the house with the teasing scent of cooking sweets. They were the one dessert prepared by the family, with love, and therefore often marked holidays and special occasions.
No—you don’t have to travel to Blighty to get a spot of pudding. Look for comforting
American versions at these local restaurants:
Lejends 22 Warburton Ave,
Chiboust Bistro + Bakery
(914) 636-2400; www.thesterlinginnrestaurantny.com. Chef Sterling Smith’s rich and gooey take on bread pudding uses brioche, custard, shortbread, house-made caramel, and caramel ice cream.
The Dressing Room: A Homegrown Restaurant 27 Powers Ct, Westport, CT (203) 226-1114; www.dressingroom homegrown.com. Pastry Chef Coreen Cardamone gives her moist bread pudding a chocolaty turn with house-made brioche soaked in chocolate custard then baked in still more chocolate. The dessert is served with a changing roster of seasonal ice creams, all made with local ingredients.
10-inch fig, goat cheese,
and prosciutto pizza
WHERE: Harvest on Hudson
1 River St, Hastings-on-Hudson
(914) 478-2800; www.harvest2000.com
COOKED IN: A 500Â° to 600Â° F brick oven for approximately four minutes
TOPPING: Black Mission figs, artisanal tangy goat cheese from upstate farms, Serrano ham, Parmesan, fresh
mozzarella, extra-virgin olive oil, fresh cracked black pepper
ATMOSPHERE: Tuscan-style farmhouse dÃ©cor with breathtaking views of the Hudson and Palisades and vegetable garden with tangles of grapevines
WHERE: Michael’s Restaurant
125 Midland Ave
Port Chester (914) 939-2241
COOKED IN: A 650Â° F oven for 15 minutes
Topping: Stanislaus canned tomatoes, fresh basil, salt, whole-milk Polly-O
ATMOSPHERE: Dimly lit, wood-paneled interior and fenced-in brick patio with faded paintings of tangles of
Jesse Davis has been appointed chef de cuisine at Laurent Tourondel’s BLT Steak Restaurant (221 Main St, White Plains 914-467-5500; www.bltsteakrestaurants.com) which is set to open at The Ritz-Carlton, Westchester sometime this month. The CIA graduate previously worked as sous chef at Porterhouse Restaurant in Manhattan’s Time Warner building. The Westchester menu will be similar to those in the three other BLT Steak locations (Manhattan, Washington DC, and San Juan, Puerto Rico), offering dry-aged steaks, Wagyu beef cuts, popovers oozing with GruyÃ¨re, and broiled lobsters. A 600-bottle wine list is planned. The Michael Bagley-designed interior includes a 23-foot-long zinc bar (with bowls of sweet and spicy popcorn to munch on), Macassar ebony tables, and caramel-colored banquettes. The restaurant will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Also at The Ritz-Carlton: 1) Nearby Peniche chef/owner Anthony Goncalves will open 42 (phone not available at press time) sometime this month, an ambitious New American restaurant with a wall of 22-foot windows on the 42nd level of Tower 1; 2) James R. Dangler, formerly chef de cuisine at Hawaiian fusion restaurant Roy’s New York, was named executive chef for The Ritz-Carlton Westchester.
Boe@324 Restaurant (324 Central Ave, White Plains 914-684-8855/914-428-2455; www.boeat324.com), a 120-seat Italian restaurant, has replaced longstanding Gregory’s. Ronald Campanaro, formerly of Coughlan’s American Bistro in White Plains, is head chef. Main entrÃ©es offered include Colorado lamb tenderloin and wild king salmon. The restaurant is open for lunch weekdays and dinner Monday through Saturday; dinner entrÃ©e prices range from $19 to $44.
Chef John Reynolds, most recently of Hudson House of Nyack in Nyack, New York, and formerly of Willy Nick’s in Katonah, has taken over the Stoneleigh Creek building to open Bungalow Restaurant-Lounge (166 Stoneleigh Ave, Croton Falls 914-598-3008). The restaurant’s eclectic menu offers California-style tapas ($6-$18), plus plated entrÃ©es such as everything bagel-crusted salmon with horseradish-beet emulsion and steak au poivre in a brandy cream and demi-glace sauce ($12-$26). Lunch will be served Monday through Saturday while dinner is every day and brunch on Sunday.
The former chef/owner of Patrias in Port Chester, Mariano Aznar, has partnered with the owners of Tequila Sunrise in Larchmont to open wine and tapas bar Espana (147 Larchmont Ave, Larchmont; no phone as of press time) in the space where Lanterna Tuscan Bistro once was. An all-Spanish wine list ($20 to $600), assembled by co-owner Rich Perez, former sommelier at Picholine in Manhattan, complements such dishes as seafood paella, seared magret duck breast, and cod fish confit. Espana is open Tuesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner; main entrÃ©es $18 to $36, tapas $5 to $14.
Red Hat Bistro, the French bistro on Irvington’s Main Street, now Red Hat on the River, has moved to a larger waterside address (1 Bridge St, Irvington 914-591-5888; www.redhatbistro.com). Red Hat will be open every day for dinner and weekdays for lunch. Look for a seat on the rooftop come warm weather.
Opening this month in Red Hat’s former location is Mima (63 Main St, Irvington 914-591-1300) an Italian eatery headed by Chef David DiBari of Zuppa in Yonkers (DiBari will still serve as executive chef at Zuppa). Mima is the name DiBari called his grandmother.
Paul Garbuio, the former owner of the defunct CafÃ© Antico in Mount Kisco, has opened Piave (20 N Central Ave, Hartsdale 914-428-2400; www.piaverestaurant.com) in the space where Cafe MezÃ© once was. The 100-seat, contemporary Italian restaurant has a small plates menu ($4) plus main entrÃ©es including tagliatelle in a slow-braised veal, pork, and lamb ragÃ¹. Mama Costanza’s ricotta cheesecake is the dessert to try. Dinner is served every day and lunch Monday to Friday
Tony Spiritoso, owner of Spiritoso in Yonkers and La Tavola Calda in Mamaroneck, has opened La Bocca Ristorante (8 Church St, White Plains 914-948-3281), a 70-seat regional Italian restaurant that serves lunch and dinner every day. Chef Jacob Restivo, formerly event chef at international catering firm Tentation, Potel et Chabot, heads up the kitchen.
Chef Norbeto Marquez, previously at the Peacock Alley in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, is now head chef at new regional Italian eatery Mauro’s Restaurant (199 Main St, Ossining 914-941-2662; www.maurosrestaurant.com). EntrÃ©es to sample are lobster crabcakes and garganelli with wild mushrooms ($15-$34). Mauro’s, open every day for lunch and dinner, moves into the spot where longstanding Italian favorite Guida’s was.