April 17th, 2005


Cream tea at chamaeleoncat's

The best scones I have eaten this year have been homemade. Restaurants may achieve the heights of elegant linens, good service, multi-tier presentation, and petit-fours, but thus far, the quality of homemade scones has consistently won out over that found in any of the tea shops I've been to this year. The ones at the Merrill Collection cream tea were good. chamaeleoncat's were the best I've ever tasted: apricot and ginger scones, slathered with Devon cream, and a selection of jams and jellies (strawberry, blackcurrant, ice wine).

Our host organized an tea on the first truly lovely day of spring. The weather was so clemently warm that we lazed the afternoon light away sitting out in the garden, while ballincollig and double0hilly tossed a softball around. At one point, the ball escaped into the neighbor's yard, but was - after various failed attempts to retrieve it - tossed back by the neighbor. The garden was planted, but scarcely begun to grow. Fruit trees were greening sticks, garlic and onions the only greenery in sight. Despite sensibly wearing a hat, my wrists and neck were pinked by the time the sun began to set.

chamaeleoncat and pittenweem made a collection of particularly tasty finger sandwiches, many of them cut into whimsical shapes with Christmas cookie cutters, stars and holly leaves. (I use what I have on hand for these things too. I once made cheese crisps shaped like Christmas trees.) They were filled with cheese and chutney; chicken salad; and goat's cheese and cucumber. In addition, between all of our efforts, there was also pound cake, grapes, chocolate petit-fours, and charmingly-decorated fish-shaped cookies.

Eventually we began to recover from our excess of eating, and pittenweem and ballincollig vanished into the kitchen to make mango dacquiris. I would have preferred them slightly fruitier, but then I have an endless weakness for fruit. Tea, fruit, good company, and delicious scones: what all good cream teas should have.