Royal Tea Service at Powel Crosley Estate
For a few weeks in March, Sarasotans can enjoy the unique experience of a royal tea at a royal, local landmark. This opportunity is the brainchild of Chef Larry Barrett, president of Simply Gourmet Caterers. His two passions are food and theater, and he showcases them together at the Powel Crosley Estate on the campus of University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee.
Barrett’s tea replicates a British tradition that began in 1860 with Queen Victoria. To this day, the royal family annually hosts an afternoon tea for about 8,000 guests at Buckingham Palace.
“It’s a grand and colorful affair,” Barrett says. “Men wear suits or military uniforms, and women wear dresses with hats and gloves. The queen and the duke of Edinburgh circulate among the guests.” Minus the crowned heads, that’s a good description of what happens locally.
The Crosley mansion, with its aura of history and expansive views of Sarasota Bay, adds more than a bit of cachet to this particular tea experience. The tea takes place from 2 to 4 p.m.; remaining dates are March 21, 26 and 28. The cost is $32 per person, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Crosley Foundation. For reservations, call 225-9122.
Tasty Tea at Tastefully British
Tastefully British serves tea five days a week year-round in a cozy, comfortable room in its Gulf Gate Village shop. Debbie Gypps, who has owned the place for eight years, makes virtually everything on her extensive menu. It offers an array of different teas from the best-selling Queen Mum, which is $13.75 per person (an additional $2.20 for clotted cream), to the comprehensive, elaborate Windsor, which includes sandwiches, scones, quiche, salad, fruit bowls and cakes at $59.50 for two.
The newest option on the Tastefully British menu is the Duke, which Gypps created for her “quite a few gentlemen customers.” There’s nothing dainty about the Duke. The sandwiches are made on hearty rolls, and gentlemen get to pick two from these options: egg salad supreme, cheese and ham, beef with mustard, cold roast pork with red onion relish and signature or curried “Coronation Chicken.” Also, including a scone with butter and strawberry preserve and a generous square cake, the Duke is a lot of food for $16.75. Another unique offering at Tastefully British is the Mad Hatter tea for children under 12 years old, which offers peanut butter-and-jam and cheese sandwiches, in addition to the regular options.
Tastefully British is located at 2236 Gulf Gate Drive. It is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and serves tea from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Reservations are suggested on weekends; call 927-2612.
Tea Luncheon at Shoogie Boogies
Ladies love the garden room at Shoogie Boogies, though it is not a conventional tearoom with a conventional tea service. It is instead a flower-laden garden café in a quaint English cottage attached to the photo studio of Kathryn Kittinger, in Towles Court.
Shoogie Boogies’ specialty is a light meal — a tea luncheon, if you will — that customers create from a menu of salads, wraps, quiches, crêpes, bowls and soups. “Half-and-half” is a favorite way to do it — a half pedestal of tea sandwiches, for example, with a half salad. On Friday and Saturday afternoons, it is sometimes possible to pop in for a spot of tea in the afternoon, but calling ahead is a good idea.
With advance arrangements, you can make Shoogie Boogies your own for a special event such as a tea party, shower, birthday party or even a wedding. Regular hours are 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 5 to 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and from 6 to 10 p.m. during the Towles Court gallery walk on the third Friday of each month. Located at 1919 Morrill St., Sarasota. Reservations are advised; call 951-5437.
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