Are you as in denial as I am that the 2012 Summer Olympic Games are over? No longer can I fill my mornings with breathtaking recaps of Michael Phelps’s latest broken record, or spend evenings holding my breath (and staying away from Twitter at all costs) until the U.S. gymnasts stick those landings. Gone are the hours spent wondering just how London’s government agreed to have a beach volleyball court smack dab in front of Buckingham Palace, as well as my excuse to order a side of fries and a cider with every meal in solidarity with our athletes.
And while the Spice Girls’ performance at the closing ceremonies filled a hole in my life I wasn’t even prepared to admit I had, I’ve been feeling a little…deflated.
That is, until I cracked open Tea Time, by Jean Cazals (and with a foreword by Claire Clark).
Tea Time is an ode to Britain’s national beverage, showcasing fifty of the poshest spots to stop for a cuppa in London. In search of a traditional scene? Check out Shakespeare’s Globe (which embraces Elizabethan-style dining) or the Ritz (where Edward VIII wooed Wallis Simpson). Perhaps you’re looking for a sleeker, modernist locale–head over to Bond & Brook (which boasts a chrome bar) or Hix (its menu sports a caviar and champagne selection). And if you’re equally concerned about the crumpets accompanying that tea, Peggy Porschen and Ladurée offer decadent sweets (in the form of cupcakes, cookies, and world-famous macarons) in addition to their requisite British tea holdings.
Cazals’ photography is absolutely stunning; that, coupled with the book’s impressive size, will have you absolutely convinced that you could step right into the sumptuous display cases each of her pages captures.
And lest you protest that you have no plans to visit the UK any time soon, Tea Time boasts more than just a selection of London’s best tearooms. The book also includes thirty savory and sweet recipes for dishes that accompany afternoon teas at the selected hotels, bars, and cafes it showcases. (An editorial caution here: Put on your baker’s thinking cap before you dive into these recipes! Many of the ingredients are given by their European names or are specific to the UK, and the measurements are given in metric units. Totally doable, but you will need to plan in advance!)
Tara Powers is a not-so-secret Anglophile who writes The After Life column at Small Kitchen College and happens to work in an American publishing house. When she’s not navigating the treacherous roads of the 20-something, she bakes way too many cookies, dunks them in tea, and blogs about it at Chip Chip Hooray.