For everyone who wants to enjoy delicious food AND stay fit and healthy.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Afternoon Tea at Cafe Europa (Covington)
We asked Europa's owner, Carol Palmieri, to create a French-themed tea for our party of four, and to make a few concessions to eating healthfully. That last part is a pretty tall order for any traditional tea service, but Carol definitely had more fruits and veggies in this tea-meal than any others I've seen. We all really liked her choices, as well as the execution of each course, and we had a grand time.
I wouldn't call it "high tea," if only because the dining room's style leans much more toward cute, lively and sunny rather than elegant, quiet and dignified--my mental image, at least, of high tea service.
The group consisted of me, my mom and two friends of her generation. I've dragged my mother to a few teas in the past, but it was a new experience at least one of the others.
After we selected our first pot of tea--a blend called French Breakfast, with a touch of fresh lavender added to the pot--Carol started our meal with a refreshing green salad that included arugula, shaved fresh fennel bulb (always a nice ingredient to encounter in a salad), chopped Kalamata olives, goat cheese and orange slices. On the side was a small slice of pumpkin loaf. A hit!
We chatted for another quarter-hour or so and finished our tea. Then Carol brought out the centerpiece--a three-tiered display of mostly savory goodies. The largest plate, on the bottom, held a crepe stuffed with ratatouille and a small ham-and-cheese on croissant (approximating a croque monsieur) for each of us. The crepe was my favorite dish of the whole afternoon, and it drew raves all around the table. The second plate, mid-level, presented crostini topped with melted Brie and a little fig confit along with orange-peel mini-scones and pots of Devonshire cream and raspberry jam for the scones, as well as strawberries and grapes. On the top tier was more fruit and scones.
We stopped before eating everything in part because Carol told us we still had dessert to come. Our second pot of tea was a delightful, perfumed, low caffeine white tea. We also talked with our server, Irina, originally from Moscow, Russia.
Thankfully, dessert was relatively light: house-made berry sorbetto with a pile of little white chocolate cream puffs.
We did not want to imagine how many calories we consumed! But we all vowed to make it our meal of the day and have a very light supper.
All in all, we certainly enjoyed ourselves, and thank Carol for her creative efforts on our behalf.
At the University of Cincinnati, I teach writing, reporting and research methods to journalism students as well as a course in mass communication.
I also write a "Healthy Foodie" column, with co-author Mary Ann Barnes, M.D., for the magazine Whole Living Journal, which is distributed in the Cincinnati metro area.
I'm a freelance food and travel writer, a dedicated exercise fanatic (have been since my 20s) and an avid gardener, reader, cook and moviegoer. I'm live in Cincinnati with my husband, George, and recently lost my sweet mother, who died peacefully at 91.