Palm Springs, is a desert city nestled against the San Jacinto Mountain Range. Its industry is tourism, with tourism comes restaurants and cafes ready to supply the city’s guest with sustenance, in some cases not just sustenance but a fresh experience from another culture. Joey, a small cafe in downtown Palm Springs, offers a cultural experience with their High Tea service each Sunday and Wednesday at 3 p.m.
Location: 245 S. Palm Canyon Dr. Palm Springs, California
Menu: This High Tea Service offers six different teas from which to choose and an assortment of pre-selected sumptuous eats from savory to sweet. This afternoon’s choice was an Earl Grey Creme and a White Jasmine green tea. A sip of the Earl Grey Creme reveals strong black tea flavor with a rich cream accent and a subtle hint of vanilla. The White Jasmine Tea possesses a flowery aromatic taste. The calming scent of Jasmine wafts over this tea effectively commanding a swallow.
Soon after our first few sips of tea, Joey, the host, delivers to the table a three-tiered-tower with culinary treats. At the base of this tower are the savory delicacies with a variety of four finger sandwiches, each with the crusts cut off. The trout mousse, served on white bread, has the taste buds dancing with delight as this whipped concoction coats the mouth in delectable smoke-flavored creamy goodness. This velvety blend tastes like smoked salmon melting in your mouth. Cucumbers are refreshing to eat and even more so when they top soft white bread layered with mint cream cheese. The cool juice and crunch of the cucumber coupled with the soft and minty cream cheese are sweet to taste. This tea service includes egg salad, a sandwich staple, on crisp bread with a buttery essence. The mustard adds a tart zing to the eggs complemented by the smooth, creamy mayonnaise. The last of the savory sandwiches is the chicken curry served between two slices of almond crusted cranberry bread. This tangy curry permeates the mouth but is not strong; it blends well with a mango chutney that allows the perfect mixture of sweet and savory.
As we devoured the tidbits on the bottom tier, my eyes searched for more tempting morsels. There on the tower’s second tier, I discovered the currant scones, accompanied by three spreads. Ready to top these petite biscuits, were lemon curd, strawberry preserves, and clotted cream. A slathering of the curd with a fresh, piquant lemon flavor is zesty enough to remind me of lemon meringue pie. The classic strawberry preserves are sweet when eaten alone but coupled with clotted cream they made a sweet whipped topping for the biscuits. Clotted cream by itself has a subtle flavor akin to unsweetened whipping cream. When used alone on the scone it provides a silky cream taste that moistens the traditional biscuit.
A sugary finale accompanies this culinary experience. The top tier does not disappoint with its flavorsome little desserts. A blueberry buckle is among these heavenly sweets. Baked into a soft vanilla cake are blueberries capped with a crispy caramelized cinnamon streusel that is crunchy and zestfully sweet. A traditional tart filled with an unsweetened custard, blueberries, a slice of strawberry, and two little slices of pear is another of these top-tiered confections. The plain custard absorbs the fruity taste as the fresh blueberries explode offering up their sweet juice and anti-oxidant rich pulp. To add some extra sweetness to this small dessert is the quarter slice of strawberry and the two slices of pear, which cuts the tanginess of the plain yogurt-like custard.
The last of the desserts are two truffles, one chocolate, and one fruit. One bite of the chocolate truffle reveals a rich, silky, and sugary dark chocolate mousse. This mousse is crowned with a decadent dark chocolate syrup and sits in a crunchy, buttery, and chocolatey graham cracker crust. The other truffle encases a pink fruity mousse that is similar in taste to raspberry sherbet. This sherbet-flavored mousse rests on a layer of hard chocolate all enveloped in the graham cracker crust. The fruit mousse’s tart flavor and the dark chocolate is a nice combination of sweet and sour. This last bite is a sweet rich way to end this traditional mini-luncheon.
Thoughts: The Afternoon Tea is a uniquely British custom that began in the nineteenth century. Tea time provided a light meal to stave off hunger between lunch at noon, and dinner served at eight o’clock in the evening. The menu of tea time was light, finger sandwiches, scones, and a small sampling of tarts and truffles. The tea time at Joey’s brings the authenticity of this traditional menu to life in its presentation and taste.
The elegant dressing of the table with its linen napkins, rolled in the shape of a flower, set inside the cups, and each cup adorned with a floral print accompanied by a saucer to match, indicates this will be a top-drawer experience to share with good company.
Once we were finished indulging, Joey welcomed us to sit and drink more tea as he graciously refilled our teapots. This cultural experience offers not just a taste of good food and fine tea but also serves as an opportunity to relax and enjoy calm from the pressures of life.
Price: $25 per guest.
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Author bio: Phillip Hubler is a freelance travel writer. He writes about travel adventures that explore history, societal traditions, and cultural experiences on his blog www.roadtriprambler.com