The Tea Party

Categories: Diva-liscious, Do As The Locals Do, Featured, Miscellaneous
Contributing Diva: Angela Rocco DeCarlo

by Angela Rocco DeCarlo

Let’s face it. A tea party is a fantasy experience.

It is presented in a frou-frou environment and the food can best be described as “doll food.” Often good, but diminutive.

Nonetheless, it is my favorite meal, aside from Chicago deep dish pizza.

As my granddaughter Serritella Danielle DeCarlo’s “Golden Birthday” was upon me I felt a tea party was the perfect way to celebrate her. She became eleven on July eleventh. An artist, dancer and writer who looks like she stepped out of a fresco in ancient Pompeii, not far from where her great-grandmother, Vita Serritella, was born in 1903, before coming to America in 1911.

I began my search for a proper tea room in the city of Orange…a local place fit the bill, alas, no openings and parking is quite dicey. Tried polling pals for suggestions, but then my husband searched online and found Pamela’s Tea Room, Garden Grove, CA, which was the best location at the 405 and 22, for guests coming from Huntington Beach, Long Beach and LA. It turned out to be a marvelous find.

Having taken tea at many swanky places I can say when done well lit is a lot of fun, especially if you favor a light repast with a variety of textures and flavors in bite-size samplings.

Palm Court, at London’s The Ritz is heaven. A gorgeous room awash with silver tea pots, actual palm trees and Louis XVI table chairs.  Memories conjure refined ambiance and delicious treats. Today the bill for one person would be 52 English pounds.

IMG_6755Closer to home is The Rose Garden at Huntington Museum in Pasadena, CA.  A wonderful array of tea sandwiches, scones, fruits, cheese and pastries. Adults $31, children  $7.50.

My husband and I once took our two older grandchildren, Michelle and Andrew DeCarlo to the museum and tea. They were quite young, so Andrew was somewhat befuddled by the foods. No hamburgers, you see. But far too polite to object. I think he had a few strawberries…the rest of us gobbled up everything, especially the pastries.

I remember Harrod’s in London as rather austere…we were not in the glorious Georgian Room. So that experience reminded one of a cafeteria, but not what one hopes for in an English tea… incidentally, I was informed on high authority there is no such thing as “high tea.”  Apparently, an Americanism not favored on the other side of the Atlantic.

I should mention the Peninsula Hotel in downtown Chicago… lovely room with a Murano glass chandelier and string musicians serenading diners. It was wonderful.

Which brings us to Pamela’s Tea Room. A beautifully appointed setting in a small mall,  with privet hedges lining the front of the entrance and a well-stocked gift store featuring English china, foods and other little charmers. Lots of free parking.

IMG_6753 Queen Elizabeth looks down on diners from a smallish head shot, with sky blue clothing in the dining room big enough for eight tables. No purse in sight – I’ve always wondered what does a queen carry in her purse?

I was impressed with the attention to details by the two young women in charge,  Shannon and Catherine. Each has been employed by Pamela for years and are serious college students working on masters degrees.

When I called to ask if I could bring cupcakes, a favorite of my granddaughter, Catherine cheerily said “yes.”  She even placed them on a pretty platter and lighted the twelve – one for good luck – candles. It made a lovely presentation. That convinced me to go for a lavish tip.

My husband and I arrived early thinking time would be needed to set things up…but the table was already prepared for our party of seven with a pink undercloth and white heavy lace topper. Daisies in clear vases, kept company with pink fan-folded paper napkins. China tea cups were suitably dainty flower bedecked. It could not have been cuter. I was delighted and my granddaughter was thrilled.

It was surprising to find several parties with men as it is such a flowery place. Maybe they were having the Ploughman’s Lunch of hearty sandwich, $12.00.

Serritella had the Little Princess Tea; beverage in mini teapot, tea sandwiches, fruit garnish, scones with jam, $12.50.

Many of us had the Afternoon Cream Tea; beverage, two tiny tea sandwiches, fresh scones with jam and cream, $18.50 per person.

Soups, quiche and small salads were available.

Many varieties of tea were offered in individual teapots. Gluten-free scones were available and enjoyed by two of my guests.

The room and service are outstanding. The women make all the fooIMG_6711d fresh to order. However, from my experience it seemed unnecessary to have a salad and potato chips on the plate with the tiny triangular tea sandwiches. Serving the scones after the sandwiches as dessert was also different.

In all places I’ve been to the scones are served first with whipped cream and jam, then a selection of larger tea sandwiches, followed by pastries. However, Serritella ate everything – the most I’ve seen her eat ever.

It was a wonderful party for our family of two aunts, two grandmothers, mother, cousin and guest of honor. We were able to take lots of photos, including some with a popular pillow emojie this grandmother would not have invited to our elegant tea party. Everyone else seemed to enjoy the humor of it.

They know I’m living in past centuries…not even the most recent, but the 19th before emojies existed. Jane Austen probably would share my view of this emojie. Though the hats one aunt brought for all would have been relished.

The party was festive, fun and memorable. Pamela’s Tea Room was wonderful.

Pamela’s Tea Room
12752 Valley View Street, Suite P & Q
Garden Grove, CA 92845
Closed Mon. & Tues.
Wed. – sun. 11 to 4: pp.
Store  closed Monday.

Angela Rocco DeCarlo, former Chicago journalist (Chicago Tribune) and Disney Magazine writer, resides in Orange and covers culture, travel and entertainment.


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