Every now and then Barnaby and I pop up to Victoria, British Columbia. One summer we sailed our boat, Miss Eulie, across the Straight of Juan de Fuca (hello, Dramamine) and moored in front of the Fairmont Empress Hotel (formerly The Empress Hotel). The Parliament building, which is located catty-corner from the hotel, is beautifully lit up at night with tiny white lights.
One of our favorite things to do while we're in Victoria is to enjoy a leisurely Afternoon Tea at the Hotel. I must digress for a moment and give praise to our waiter who gave us unparalleled service. Barnaby is left-handed, and we hadn't been sitting for more than two minutes before our exceptionally observant waiter silently switched all his glassware and teacup to the left side. Never have we experienced that. Brilliant.
You feel like English royalty as you sip the Hotel's secret blend of tea while sitting in their elegant Tea Lobby. Although the foods are diminutive, they are served in glorious abundance, so make sure you are plenty hungry before you go.
Unfortunately, it's not every day that we get to enjoy such pleasures as the Empress's Afternoon Tea, so I like to create my own mini-version at home and serve with a hot pot of Earl Grey Tea. There are a plethora of tea sandwich recipes, but I like the traditional, egg, cucumber and salmon ones.
I use either white or a soft whole bread with the crusts cut off. I cut the sandwiches in squares, triangles or rounds. I never follow a particular recipe, but instead just whip up simple sammies of whatever I happen to have in my fridge. I also like to keep it fairly light so I don't use butter for all sandwiches. I do, however, butter the bread for the cucumber ones to prevent the sandwiches from becoming soggy.
Smoked Salmon & Dill Mascarpone
Chop fresh dill and mix a healthy amount with the mascarpone. If you don't have mascarpone, sour cream will work. It just won't be as creamy.
Spread the mixture onto one side of two pieces of crust-less bread, add a layer of smoked salmon, place the other piece of bread on top and cut either at an angle or in quarters.
Cucumber Mint Tea Sandwiches. Instead of mint basil or watercress is also delicious.
Traditional Egg Salad really is a no-brainer, which is why I love to make it. This recipe calls for dill, but I often use red or green onion instead for color.
Enjoy your tea!