As a woman of mostly British heritage, drinking tea has been part of my life since I was a little girl.
My mom never strayed too far from Red Rose, and it was more often an after dinner drink than a mid-afternoon refreshment. But as I grew up, I experienced a wide variety of teas at different times in different places- the Empress Hotel, in Victoria, BC; the MacDonald Hotel, in Edmonton, Alberta; with my friend Claire, in and around Hebden Bridge, UK; and last summer, with a tea ceremony master in Wakayama, Japan.
So, when I found out that my Montevideo hotel, Cala di Volpe, offered a tea saloon (I assumed an “o” had snuck in during the English translation), I was happy to give it a try. High tea fits right in with the Uruguayan tradition of noshing in the late afternoon because dinner won’t be until around 10. So ten minutes after its 5:00 start, I went downstairs to find a table.
The dining room was already alive with the energy of women’s voices and laughter. The dining room host pointed out two tables for two where I could sit – having tea here, like most activities, is clearly a collective experience.
The waiter quickly arrived at my table. “Would you like orange juice and a toasted ham and cheese sandwich to start?”
“Coffee or tea?”
He brandished a glass coffee pot in which the tea had already been brewed- no personal pot or choice of teas in a fancy box.
” Help yourself to the buffet as you wish.”
I ate my toasted sandwich while the cheese was still hot, then browsed what else was on offer: Egg salad on white, salmon and cream cheese on brown mini torpedoes , salami on rosemary buns.
But it’s clear who the stars of this tea service were. While the little sandwiches occupied a small corner of the buffet, the desserts took up both ends and the entire other side.
I helped myself to one slice of a chocolate and dulce con leche (caramel) mousse but my fellow tea service participants were not so shy: women were returning to their tables with three and four desserts at a time. One server was kept hopping just to ensure the plates of sweets were always replenished.
I had a couple more cups of tea, but I was done in for sweets when I finished my mousse. As I looked around the room, I noticed the other women were not only finishing their desserts but going back for more.
I wonder if there’s such a thing as a dessert consumption boot camp in Montevideo for those of us interested in, er, punching above our weight class. If so, I’ll be the first in line.
5 thoughts on “Monteavideo”
Today I’ve having tea with egg nog in honour of the season…London Fog! No fog where you are. What are those things that look like Nanaimo bars except with a chocolate under the topping?
How is the graffschpe?
Lorne says “wet and rusty.”
Well that made me laugh! But as someone who punches “above your weight class” on a regular basis, I can tell you it’s all in the training – you start out with one dessert, then two, and so on. You can do it Pam – I believe in you! ; )
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With Christmas coming, I’ll have the perfect chance to try out your training plan!