A life consumed by food. A lifetime consuming food.
Last week I went to The Secret Garden Tea Company, located in Kerrisdale, for my friend’s birthday celebration. I had never been to the Secret Garden before, but heard so many great things about it. I’m not much of a tea drinker, but if there are tiny finger sandwiches and miniature pastries, count me in!
I still hadn’t managed to find a suitable gift so I woke up early that morning and headed to Steveston to do some last minute shopping. I was stumped for weeks trying to figure out what to buy. When I got to Steveston it was around ten o’clock, still too early for most of the shops to open. So I headed towards the farmer’s market, my second reason for going to Steveston, and strolled for a while. As I walked towards the first set of stalls a bell tolled, signaling to everyone that the market was open for business.
The Steveston farmer’s market is only open for another two dates this year, so I’m glad I had the chance to go before the season ended. I was surprised to learn that there were three sections to walk through, including an area serving prepared food to eat while at the market. I covered all three sections failing to make a purchase, and headed towards the docks – reason three for going to Steveston.
At the docks, most of the fishermen who bring their catch in for sale aren’t the typical burly chipped tooth sailors one might think of, but petite Vietnamese ladies instead. On this particular occasion the ladies had plenty of salmon for sale with the added bonus of roe. A one and a half hour journey to Chilliwack the day before resulted in zero salmon eggs. Here at the docks, fresh salmon roe was for sale. It was a steal at five dollars a pound, not to mention just a short drive from home.
After the market and the dock, I wandered back to the shops. Still not open. So, I headed over to Blenz, ate a hum drum microwave heated ham and cheese breakfast sandwich, and a took a decaf vanilla latte to go. Finally, the shops were open when I returned from breakfast.
My first stop was a boutique selling decor items, jewelry, and other knick knacks. I carefully looked around, peering into each display case hoping something would speak to me. Several minutes into studying the merchandise, I gave up and headed towards the exit. Before I reached the door I spotted it, the perfect gift, and the angels began to sing.
My friend already had Fred a.k.a. ‘Mr. Food Face’, a purely novel piece of dinnerware. When she bought Fred I frowned on the impulse purchase. Here’s another useless thing to find a place for at her home, I thought at the time. Here I was, overjoyed knowing that she wouldn’t think that the plate would be clutter inducing. Secretly, I look forward to making a food face of my own when she invites me for dinner.
After making my purchase I walked back towards the car with an extra skip in my step. I drove home, wrapped the gift, and quickly changed into attire suitable for drinking tea with a pinky in the air. My friend and I headed to Kerrisdale after I picked her up from home.
We click clacked our way down the street in high heels towards the door. We were early, so we waited for the table to be set and for the rest of the group to arrive. I looked around the tea house, antique tea cups were proudly displayed everywhere on the tables and shelves with no two cups alike.
Once we were seated we were offered a small complimentary sample of grapefruit white tea served in a plain white Chinese tea cup, the same cups at dim sum restaurants. While the grapefruit flavor was refreshing, it was far too warm that day to fully enjoy a hot cup of tea.
I ordered the staff favorite, vanilla almond black tea, which came in a pot bundled up with a tea cozy. I slowly sipped my tea, trying not to sweat from the heat. Sweet almond flavour and spiced vanilla filled my senses. Shortly after my tea arrived, three towers with tiers of delicate two bite pastries were paraded to our table. Tiny egg sandwiches, chicken croissantwiches, and scones were just a few of the items that filled the plates.
It was a bit of a challenge to look ladylike and make sure to sample each and every pastry available, but I knew I had to succeed. As I worked my way up the three tiers, the pastries went from savory to sweet. The most flavourful thing was the goat cheese olive spread, because olives were used as one of the ingredients. The rest of the savory items were prepared with more cautious ingredients and left a little something to be desired. Although the tiny pastries looked enticing, they were a bit too sweet for my palate. Even though the food didn’t break any boundaries for me, I was happy with the whole experience.
We ate, photographed everything to death, and the birthday girl opened her gifts. The look on her face was priceless when she opened Mrs. Food Face. Towards the end, my hands were shaking uncontrollably from all the caffeine. We said our farewells and we click clacked our way back to the car carrying armfuls of gifts. One of them of course being a tea set.