Monday, May 5, 2008
Aunt Laura's Sweet Shoppe & Tea Room
Finally! I'd been wanting to visit Aunt Laura's Sweet Shoppe and Tea Room in Fayetteville ever since it opened more than a year ago, and when my dear tea friend Beth got a new job, it seemed the perfect place to celebrate. On Friday, we headed out crisply at 10:45 to make our 11:30 seating for the lunchtime "Tea for Two."
Although I knew Aunt Laura's was in a shopping center, I wasn't worried about atmosphere at all because I knew one of my favorite Georgia tearooms, the now-closed Vintage Tea, was in a shopping center in Alpharetta but you never knew it once inside. Same here. Far better decor and music than in many an old-house tearoom I've visited, so I've learned not to fear a commercial location. From the murals on the walls to the pretty white-painted furniture and tables covered in pale blue cloths, it was a lovely, peaceful place to take tea.
Taking our order was none other than Aunt Laura herself, a pretty, younger-than-expected woman who was a pleasant blend of efficiency and aiming-to-please. I think I detected a bit of a wit there, too, and I liked that. Our server was Aunt Laura's mom, a dear lady I instantly liked. She brought us this quiche and fruit cup as a starter, and something about her demeanor made us feel more like guests of the family than customers. The quiche, by the way, was quite delicious, but then I do adore a nice crispy crust.
When the tea tray came out, I was pleased that Laura's mom was careful to describe everything on the tray. I've been to tearooms where they simply drop off the tray and announce it is "sandwiches, scones and sweets," but she described everything briefly and well. And you know what else I liked? After having visited more than 40 tearooms, I do believe this is the first time I've ever had a tearoom explain how to properly eat a scone. She spoke of halving the scone and spreading the lemon curd and then the cream (because the lemon curd is denser and heavier), and she told us not to make a sandwich of the two halves "because if it were supposed to be eaten like a sandwich I would have made it for you." But then she added, with a twinkle in her kind eyes, that she was now going to disappear into the kitchen and we should certainly feel free to enjoy our scones any way we liked! She said all this with a pleasant smile and not a whiff of condescension, so it was a perfectly gracious thing to say, especially for those who may not quite be tea fanatics like some of us in this group!
Our sandwiches were cucumber and cream cheese with a touch of garlic salt on white bread, egg salad (I think; I forgot to write this one down) on pumpernickel, and pineapple cream cheese on whole wheat. Look at the tiny little cutout flower on the pineapple one. Cute, eh!
The scones were cinnamon-flavored, which made me a little nervous since I think some scone-makers have a heavy hand with the cinnamon. This scone-maker did not, and the scones were quite good. The lemon curd - homemade by Aunt Laura's grandmother, we learned - was delicious, and I certainly ate my share of it and the Devonshire cream.
The sweets did not disappoint, either: lemon bars, iced raspberry treats, and chocolate mousse with a swizzle stick served in an edible chocolate cup. That last sweet greatly impressed Beth, who enjoyed it with her Belgian Chocolate Tea. I had a Mango Green Tea, and we both liked our flavors so much, we purchased bags to take home with us.
And although it was really supposed to be Beth's special occasion, she had brought along some lovely gift bags filled with birthday gifts (from her and her mother, another tea friend), because my birthday was Sunday. Between their wonderful gifts and those of other family and friends, let's just say I'll have plenty of great tea goodies to talk about in the coming days. Opening some of them in a lovely new tea room was the perfect way to kick off my birthday weekend!