Last weekend, I attended a special fundraising event whose guest speaker was Mildred Huff Coleman, above, author of "The Frances Virginia Tea Room Cookbook." The Frances Virginia was a famous tea room that operated in Atlanta until the sixties. I've had the pleasure of meeting and/or interviewing "Millie" several times, so now I actually consider her a friend and was delighted she was speaking at Something Special in Newnan, which itself was a former tearoom but is now a special events facility. The occasion was a fun Fashion Luncheon staged by the Newnan Carnegie Library Foundation, whose volunteers did a terrific job.
As guests arrived at Something Special, we were greeted by lovely music from a local bagpiper!
The ballroom and a tent at the special events center had been transformed into an elegant tearoom for the day, and each table featured teawares, hats and gloves. The centerpiece at my table was especially fun because I have that exact same footed pink teacup!
Another reason this luncheon was so enjoyable was that I finally had a chance to catch up with my sweet friend Joanie, at right. Joanie is a frequent commenter here (and perhaps my greatest cheerleader!), so I thought some of you would enjoy being able to attach a face to the name!
Other fun visitors I came across included my young friend Michelle, one of the volunteers who modeled spring fashions. Michelle was one of the servers at the former Holly Cottage Tea Room her mother owned. I've missed seeing her (and her mother and grandmother!) and was so pleased to find her at this event.
Another surprise face in the crowd was Martha Sue McCain, a beloved woman who once ran Something Special Tea Room with her mother. How perfect that she would return to Something Special for this event!
Of course you can't have a tea party without food, and our delicious luncheon plates included Chicken Salad, Cheese Straws and Frozen Fruit Salad. There was water and iced tea to drink, and for dessert we had Miniature Lemon Cupcakes and Brownies. (In quite an unusual move for me, I forgot to take photos of the sweets!)
Millie's talk was quite delightful, and the sell-out crowd of 160 guests (mostly women, naturally) really got into it. Millie's aunt, Agnes New, was the last dietitian partner of the Frances Virginia Tea Room in downtown Atlanta. Now the tea room had closed by the time I was born, so sadly I never got to visit this legendary establishment, but I've heard others tell of its charms for years. Its founder, Frances Virginia Wikle Whitaker, opened the tea room in the heart of the Depression and yet made quite a go of it. By 1931, she was serving 1,000 people a day, which Millie said meant 1 percent of Atlanta's population was eating at the tea room each day! And yet, incredibly, Frances Virginia is not to be found in any Atlanta history book! Millie and her late aunt remedied that, of course, by joining forces to pull out the old Frances Virginia recipes and convert them to sizes for home cooks to use. You can read about the resulting cookbook on Millie's website, and I cannot recommend this book highly enough! (I have two copies myself, different editions, and prize them. The tea room's Chiffon Pie dessert recipes alone make it worth reading the book!)
As if all that weren't enough, guests were welcomed into the beautiful gardens at Something Special following the luncheon. I've been a little too chatty today, but if you'll join me tomorrow I'll show you some of the great teawares and centerpieces from the luncheon!