Monday, January 6, 2014

Tea for two

Sam had told me a while ago that he was planning an "experience" for my birthday gift and that said surprise experience would take place on the Saturday before my birthday, which as luck would have it was this past Saturday. Sam is pretty terrible at keeping surprises secret, and I'm pretty bad about constant guessing, so I was impressed that I was kept in the dark about this particular surprise until the  night before. For once my guesses (couples massage at a spa, going to a play, ice climbing in the Catskills...which in hindsight given his fear of heights was an unlikely choice) were not even close. Well save one.

At some point, I guessed that we would be going to the Russian Tea Room, a place I have never been. As it turns out, the gift was in fact high tea, although not at the touristy Russian Tea Room but rather at the Pierre Hotel which Sam's tea research told him was one of the best places to have tea in the city. Now this is only the second time I've gotten high tea at a fancy hotel in my life and the other time was in London, so I can't vouch for how this tea compares to the rest of the city's, but I will definitely recommend it as a wonderful experience and the perfect way to spend a very cold January day.

We got to the hotel a little early, so we decided to brave the cold and walk around Central Park a little. We were at the very bottom of the park which is usually the most crowded, but I was still amazed at the number of people out on such a cold day. Many of them were tourists though and often speaking Slavic languages which probably accounts for them being made of sterner stuff. Some weren't even wearing hats or heavy coats!
The frozen park in all its glory. 
Sam took a picture of me on this bridge surrounded by throngs of tourists. Now I'm not one of those New Yorkers who believes all tourists are necessarily troublesome idiots; however, we did encounter a few of the less bright ones on this particular outing. I'll gladly politely wait while you take your photo or offer you helpful directions, but when you're climbing the icy rocks above a 20 foot drop off and clearly wearing inadequate footwear for such an endeavor, well then I'm probably going to think the less of you.
Can you spot me? It doesn't really matter if you can or not, just know that I am one of those people. 

For Sam's Central Park on Ice portrait, we got a little closer.
 After about ten minutes of time-killing park wandering, it was time for our tea time. It took us a bit to find the proper entrance as the hotel is enormous, but once we got inside and walked around confused for a moment, a hotel employee immediately asked if we were there for tea and directed us to the right place. I guess at three in the afternoon, how could we be there for any reason other than tea?

Me at tea. Clearly, there was still some Christmas decorating magic afoot.
 We got the Royal Tea which in addition to quite a large selection of pastries, scones, and tea sandwiches, also comes with champagne. Everything was so tiny and minuscule that at first you felt like you could keep eating small sandwiches until the end of time. By the time I got to the macrons and bite sized fruit tarts though, I was fairly spent. If I had to pick a favorite it would be the tiny Thai chicken salad on its little brioche bun. The lemon curd and clotted cream were also excellent on scones.

With all these other fineries, who even needs the tea? 
All in all it was a pretty excellent birthday, and my birthday's not even for another couple of days. I do still want to go ice climbing sometime though. Maybe if this crazy cold weather ever passes, I'll have to sign us up.


  1. What a fun birthday event! I will have to try that. I didn't even realize they did high tea in NYC. If you ate everything pictured on the tray, it would definitely be a lot of food.

    I'm glad I'm enjoying the snowy pictures of Central Park from afar. Although it's supposed to be 19 in Houston tonight!

  2. 19 in Houston! Here in California it's business as usual except for the fact that it's even more sunny than a regular January.

    And yes, those foods are extremely tiny!

  3. Since the thread of these comments is about the weather--it's 4 here right now, and feels like -17 according to the weather folk. Apparently my bathroom window is not well sealed and all my bath products were frozen this morning!

  4. I hope you had a wonderful actual birthday too! The tea sound delightful.