Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Bat's Meow: A Halloween Teeny Tea...

Greetings and Happy Halloween to All Friends, Old and New, of The Gossamer Tearoom!

The day has finally arrived for the much-anticipated Teeny Tea, which I have called "The Bat's Meow".

But before we begin, I would like to send love and hugs to my friend Jessie, who is lucky enough to have a Halloween birthday!  Wishing we were there to be celebrating with you in person, my dear friend!

And now...the wait is over...

In as much as our last two teas were set in warmth and sunshine, full of pansies and garden green-ness, today's tea is set in the dark of night.  And so, where do we find ourselves today?

On this foggy Halloween night, we take a slighty bumpy ride in a horse-drawn carriage, over ancient cobblestone streets, through the murky night.  Close to one of the secret entrances to the catacombs, one only known to the most avid of cataphiles, we find ourselves at an address in a narrow street. We were told to look for bats in the windows...

We walk up a small, winding staircase, wallpapered with weathered, aubergine paper, covered in sepia flowers, trailing up, leading us upstairs...

We enter this small, warm, jewelbox of a space, lit only by flickering candles and tiny white and purple bee lights...

The first one to enter is little Brownie McNutt and we bring his old little red piano in, placing it in the corner, close to the tea table.  His twinkly-plinkly music has come to be an expected treat at these teas.

As soon as the piano is placed in the corner, Brownie sits down and begins to play.  The others begin to file in:  Mr. Bear, loveable old brown softie; Thursday and Hyacinthe, both girls dressed in their favorite black velvet outfits; Teddy and Mr. Mookie (these teas are all they talk about for weeks before they occur).  New guests to our teas IceBat and BigToe come in quietly and hearing the plinky music being played by Brownie, make themselves comfortable next to the piano, where they stay for the evening.

(Click to hear some lovely toy piano music)

The walls are dark red and cream brocade, the carpet is warm, dark purple velvet and the room is decorated for Halloween.  Dancing Madame Corbeau hangs behind the piano and a garland of tea-stained ecru ribbon, hung with the same bats that led us to this room, hangs over the tea table.

We have also brought our favorite Halloween book with us "Thirteen O'Clock" and after tea, we will be reading it together!  Ooooh!  Spooky!!

Our menu tonight is inspired by the flavors and feelings of Halloween:  cheeses ripening in dark caves; mushrooms and truffles growing on forest floors; windfall crabapples found under trees covered with leaves turning shades of orange and gold; warm, buttery caramel; clouds of powdered sugar covering handmade marshmallows, flavors of dark chocolate, bramble and stone fruits, the crunch of dark, malty tea leaves in buttery cookies...

Even in the warmth of summer days, spent on my beloved front porch, I knew that my beautiful container garden, lush with flowers, vegetables and herbs had only a limited number of days left in this year and so I knew needed to create floral arrangements for the Halloween tea of a less ephemeral nature.  Using bits of paper, vintage dictionary pages, rubber stamps, wire, paint and rubber stamps, I created these, which will not wither or fade...

Tiny purple and white bee lights illuminate the darkness.  I just love the way the light comes through the porcelain of the dishes.  The lights added spooky effect to the faces of the guests as well!

For additional light, I made these "Paris In the Fog" lights!  I made them from my printable "Paris in Your Pocket Diorama Kit" from my Etsy shop Velvet Revived (you can click on my Etsy Mini in the sidebar to the right), three battery-operated candles and a piece of stuffing batting from my sewing supplies.  I love the flickering, glowing light they add to our tea table!  On the edge, you can also get a glimpse of the spiderweb banner I made for the front of the table.

Everyone begins to take their places at the table...

As you can see, we have tied our favorite candlesticks with bows of black organza for the occasion.

As always, our own dear Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle will do the serving of the tea treats!

Everyone is very excited for tea to begin!

The first treat Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle is serving tonight are Truffle Cheese Toasties: truffle cheddar, melted over squares of Pane bread and topped with red pepper hummus and a grinding of black, green and white peppercorns.  A warm and yummy start to our tea!

Our next tea treat is a bit of nostalgia for me. Port wine spread on pumpernickel bread was always a favorite of my mother's and mine, so here, I have piped some on rounds of the bread.  The dark brown and shades of yellow and orange are perfect for Halloween, don't you think?

The last tea sandwich is a delicious, but unusual addition.  It comes from "The London Ritz Book of Afternoon Tea" and was originated by Alice B. Toklas, partner of the writer Gertrude Stein.  In 1920's Paris, while Ms. Stein conducted salons with the likes of Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway and others, Ms. Toklas was busy cooking for these events and these sandwiches were one of the treats she made.  Very finely chopped mushrooms are sautéed in butter, then a beaten egg is added and softly scrambled with the mushrooms.  A small pile of freshly grated parmesan cheese is added when the mushroom mixture has cooled slightly.  It's being served today on rounds of Pane.

Mr. Mookie and Teddy cannot wait to try the sandwiches!

There's a plate of sandwiches for Brownie, IceBat and Big Toe to share at the piano!

(Click to hear more toy piano music.)

And now, it is time for our tea! Our Brambleberry tea looks quite magical in the pitcher, lit from behind!  Tazo's Brambleberry Tea is a favorite of everyone here tonight with it's yummy flavors of marionberries, apple juice, lemongrass and peppermint.

Tea at the piano with Brownie, IceBat and BigToe.

(Click to hear still more toy piano music.)

And now, it is time for the tea sweets!

These are Black Forest Cookies, my own invention.  I have adapted the Gluten-Free Chocolate Sablé Cookie recipe from Clotilde Dusoulier, added a piping of cream cheese with powdered sugar and vanilla added and then topped it with gelée made from plain gelatin cooked into cherry/pomegranate juice.

This is a buttery cookie, fragrant with the additions of Tazo's Awake tea and Stash's Earl Grey tea.  The tea leaves have a small crunch and add malty tea flavor to the delicate cookies.

The next treat: Homemade Marshmallows!  Melt in your mouth clouds of yummy!  

Our last treat is a particular favorite of our Mr. Bear!  Caramel Crabapples may not be to everyone's taste, but he remembers them from when he was a bear in the woods.  All bears, rabbits and hedgehog members of our Family especially love them!

Hyacinthe is served a marshmallow.

Mr. Bear is so enjoying his tea this evening!
What a very dear member of our Family he is.

A plate of sweets at the piano.

And of course, caramel crabapples for everyone!

And now, it is time for reading our book!

Thank you so much for attending The Bat's Meow today!
And wishing you all a Very Happy Halloween!

All photos today were taken by me, except for the images of the bats, three of the tea pictures and the "Paris in the Fog" lights picture, which were taken by my husband, Victor.

Decorations at the tea today:
Madame Corbeau purchased from Ragged Caravan Etsy shop.
Bats by Mizna Wada from her Mizna DIY blog.
Candlesticks and sugar tongs used to serve the guests were purchased from my friend Laura's Etsy shop Provoquer La Curiosité. (Also, Mr. Mookie used to live with Ms. Laura, before his transformation.)