The first time I ate the curiously-named Welsh Rarebit, pronounced like "rabbit," I was at the Pavilion Tea House in Greenwich, England. I had just enjoyed a terrific visit aboard the Cutty Sark, the famous tea clipper ship in dry dock, and I had stopped for a bite to eat. I wasn't quite sure what Welsh Rarebit actually was, but it sounded like the sort of thing one should have in England, so I did. And it was basically cheese and toast--good cheese and toast, but cheese and toast just the same.
Legend has it that the name is a corruption of the word "rabbit," which in England was the poor man's meat. The "meat" of the poor in Wales was said to be cheese, and thus the name Welsh Rarebit. This dish was one served at the Halle Bros. Tea Room in Cleveland, Ohio, and I decided to make it for supper one night. It's fast and easy comfort food with an interesting history, and a tea room connection to boot.
Halle's Almond Rarebit
Adapted from the booklet "Holiday Treats and Elegant Buffet Dishes"
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons flour (add another spoonful if needed to thicken)
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 cup milk
1 cup whipping cream
A drop or two of Tabasco sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
Melt butter in top of double boiler and using a whisk, stir in flour, mustard, salt and paprika. Stir in milk and cream slowly until smooth and thick. Add Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce and cheese. Whisk until lumps disappear. Pour over toast. Sprinkle generously with almonds. Yields 6 servings.
Halle's and its tea room seem to be on my radar this winter, because I recently came across an old pewter looking teapot online which came from the Halle's Tea Room. Now while I have various china pieces from old department stores (like the Strawbridge & Clothier teacup I wrote about last week), I have only a few teawares that I'm sure were actually used in the store's tea room. This 5-1/2-inch-tall teapot is one such piece, and I know that because ...
...it is marked "The Halle Bros. Co. Tea Room" on the bottom. A fun find, and I'd love to think some customer had tea poured from it to enjoy with her Halle's Almond Rarebit! (Question: Would you try polishing this or leave it as is? Maybe I could try a spot on the back?)