Tea Party of Three

Pinkies up! Ladies who lunch, mamas of little princesses, and tea fanatics: I’ve found the next place you should, gather and gab, make memories and sit n’ steep.  My girls and I had a delightful afternoon at the Emerald Necklace Inn.  It was an impromptu tea party that my daughters and I will remember for a long time!

Nestled at the edge of the Rocky River in Fairview Park, the Emerald Necklace Inn is a charming little tea room with everything you’d expect to see in such a place…tea pots and tea cups of every style, shape and size, pages of tea varieties to choose from on the menu, and a staff well-versed in the etiquette of High Tea.

Looking for a way to spoil my little girls after shots at the doctor’s office, I tempted my 3 and 4 year olds with a promise of a princess-worthy tea party.  Owner, Gloria Cipri Kemer, and her staff certainly delivered.  (starting with the tea cocktail in sugar rimmed mini mason jars!)

The table was artfully set with fancy linens, place settings and tea cups that made my girls feel like queens.  We each picked a variety of tea (herbal decaffeinated ones available for little ones) and were brought individuals tea pots selected from the tea house’s eclectic collection.

Apple cider blend for the girls, and a hibiscus and pomegranate blend for me.  My youngest was fascinated by the sugar cubes and occupied a lot of time mastering that task.  My oldest worked her pinkie and reveled in being able to help herself in such a grown-up setting.

We snacked on tea sandwiches (chicken, egg salad and cucumber) and blueberry scones.  The girls learned what a spreader was and how to use it…and use it and use it…when it came to buttering their scones.

Their meals (Lillia’s Children’s Tea, $11.95) were adorably presented and came with a decadent dessert.  My set up (Mary Gillis Afternoon Tea, $15.95) included four varieties of desserts as well.

As our experience came to a close, a grandmother and her (adult) granddaughter came in for tea, and I thought about what a lovely experience this could be for all kinds of generations looking to spend quality quiet time together.  The space also includes a more grand party room for princesses young and old to enjoy.  The Emerald Necklace Inn also offers rooms to rent, a tea tasting class, a meeting room and princess parties.  Cheers!



Bistro Panini

I love a good grilled panini.  And like lots of other Cheftovers tricks, it’s kind of a blank canvas.  Add your favorite creamy cheese to a crispy, chewy ciabatta roll, along with whatever veggies and meat move you…and you’re in business!  

This week I used one of my got-to’s for weekday meals, a roast in the slow cooker.  I made a London broil roast with pretty basic seasoning.  But as is often the case, I made more than we needed for just two of us.

sliced roast

So I sliced up the rest of the beef and immediately began drooling over my idea, incorporating one of the tasty Orlando baked goods I came across during my review of their new products (see previous post).  I was going to grill up a couple of paninis using their Heat & Serve Ciabatta Rolls.

ciabatta rolls 

Now that I had the canvas for my panini, (the rolls) and the protein (my leftover London broil) I was excited to find a couple of other elements to boost the tastiness factor.  And I knew caramelized onions would have to join the party!

sliced onions

I sliced up a whole sweet onion into rings, then tossed a couple tablespoons of butter and one tablespoon of olive oil into a saute pan.  I added the onions to the pan, seasoned them and left them on a low-medium heat for about 90 minutes, stirring them only once every 15 min or so.

(Here’s the part of my process where I unload the dishwasher, feed my kids, flip the laundry, etc.  I’m so glamorous.)

caramelized onions

When the onions turned this beautiful color, I was ready for the final components.  I found the chunk of creamy Havarti cheese that my husband picked up at the grocery store this week to snack on.  But I got to it first!   And I was sure this would be a super compliment to what I was drumming up.  Now for a sauce, spread or condiment…couldn’t be something ordinary.

panini condiments

I decided to try two routes…using a deli horseradish sauce for sandwiches (something we like to keep around the house) and I was also going to mix up a balsamic mayo.  I have developed quite a collection of balsamic vinegar varieties in my cupboard… I’ve got Sicilian Lemon and Mango white balsamic, chocolate, and raspberry.  I don’t find use for them often, but when I do, they’re usually the MVP of the dish.  For this panini, I liked the garlic cilantro one.  I mixed a couple spoonfuls of olive oil mayo with a couple teaspoons of the balsamic vinegar….oooh yeah, that was what I was going for!   balsamic mayo spread

grilling the panini

I assembled two sandwiches using a couple slices of Havarti, a spoonful of caramelized onions, three slices of my leftover roast, and one of the spreads on each.  Then I placed them on my panini press and eagerly awaited their gooey goodness.  They sat on the grill for about 5 minutes until I saw those pretty grill marks on the outside of the ciabatta rolls.  Know that the contents may slide out a bit, or ooze out a little.

bistro panini with carmelized onions

Now it was pay off time, and it was sweet!  These were warm, chewy, tangy and sweet.  And the best part?  I have more of all of the ingredients so I can make this again.