Thursday, January 20, 2005

Tea for Two

I enjoy walking downtown to run errands and pick up groceries these days, even in the colder weather. And I particularly enjoy that quiet time to myself, both in the walking along side streets and in relaxing at one of the local coffee houses. So it's a special friend indeed who gets invited on these little trips... someone who has the same appreciation for that slower approach to life and the willingness to step out of ordinary time to do something different.

Such a friend is the lovely Phoenix.

She met me after work, and we strolled downtown, reveling in the new-fallen snow and talking about subjects near and dear to our hearts (mainly food). Part of our mission was to pick up provisions for a casual dinner back at my place as well as for next week's Dinner Club, but part of the mission was to share some time together over tea and Hungarian pastries at my favorite little cafe.

We sampled a couple of the more unusual teas: a red tea with cranberry and orange flavors for me, and a delicate white tea with the classic Earl Grey flavoring for her. Both were delighfully refreshing, and the white tea especially made us both wonder where we could find tins for ourselves. Our teas were served in beautiful glass tea presses (I had heard of them but not seen them before) that added extra charm to the whole ceremony of taking tea.

Of course, we couldn't pass by the wide selection of pastries! After much deliberation (and steaming up the glass of the display case in our eagerness), we settled on a raspberry Hungarian tea cake that was so fresh and tender, it nearly melted in our mouths. You would almost swear it had a cream filling (it doesn't) because it was so moist and velvety to taste. We also sampled the classic nut roll and poppyseed roll, both of which had that authentic not-too-sweet flavor that satisfies.

The owner of the cafe, a very elegant older woman with a radiant smile, talked with us about the different pastries and the other things she hopes to introduce at some point, and she invited us back for their grand opening celebration this Saturday so that we could sample more of the pastries and watch a baking demonstration. (It's very tempting.)

It's such a rare treat to sit down and let the whole world pass by while you slowly savor such delicacies, whether on your own or with a friend. And I don't think that's right. Being a high-achieving sort of character myself, it has taken me far too long to realize that slowing down and enjoying the moment is just as valuable... if not more so!... as checking items off a to-do list. Phoenix and I both expressed our great pleasure in being able just to sit there in this warm, inviting cafe while talking and taking our time, not having to hurry anywhere afterward.

Of course, we did eventually head out and continued back up the street to get the rest of the groceries... and then slowly walked back to my house, where we enjoyed a comforting winter dinner of leftover corn chowder, steamed kale, and some of the fresh wheat bread from the cafe. We kicked back, enjoyed the food, and just relaxed in a way that we all too frequently forget to do.

So now I will have to remember to add this to my to-do list on a regular basis:

Take time for tea time... and enjoy.

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