Monterey is a great little city: There are a hundred restaurants and spas and wine tastings and beach horseback ridings at my fingertips, and my only regret is that I’m not rolling in enough cash to try them all before I leave. So when my friend Latoya asked if I’d accompany her to a high tea at Eddison & Melrose (a tiny “food boutique” specializing in teatime fare that Latoya discovered via a Groupon discount), I dusted off my big hat with an equally big smile.
Latoya (a Navy wife most recently from Virginia but originally from Trinidad and Tobago), brought up a good point about the high tea ceremony: As military wives, we’re often dropped with little warning into new cultures. But this constant cultural upheaval makes it easier to find similarities between our backgrounds and our new-grounds, and to enjoy both the diversity and familiarity in our communities.
High tea is not an American tradition; in fact, the proprietor and chef at Eddison & Melrose (Karen Anne Murray) is a transplant from Northern England. But if military wifedom has taught me anything so far, it’s that concentrating on the things you enjoy or relate to in new places or cultures is the easiest way to feel comfortable in them.
And it’s easier tenfold when that culture involves scones.
Scones for president.
Interestingly enough, Latoya grew up with teatime in Trinidad, but their traditional teatime scones were more on the savory side. The scones at Eddison & Melrose were light and sweet, served with fruit jams and cream.
For any little-girl-at-heart who feels at home among pink and pearls and feather boas (guilty as charged), it’s easy to be delighted by the atmosphere in Eddison & Melrose. The space itself is quite small, with only six or so tables, but it is bright, cheerful, and a stark contrast to the strip mall and often-grayish weather that surrounds it.
The tea itself was a definite highlight. We were each brought out our own pot, and given plenty of time (with promises of fresh hot water when needed) to indulge. Military life is so often go, go, go, GO, then go backwards, then tumble three feet sideways and start going again. It’s exhausting, and the anxiety that comes with it only heightens the tired, sluggish feeling.
High tea, however, is a slow, relaxed process: tea, then soup, then sandwiches, then a little something sweet. Latoya and I had plenty of time to enjoy our afternoon without feeling rushed or anxious. Which was decadent and luxurious, and I’d like to replace my usual lunch (a Cliff bar while running errands) with a high tea more often.
The other highlight was being in a place where it’s socially acceptable to wear a big hat.
$10 to anybody who can find a hat box big enough for these beauties to survive the average military wife’s number of PCSes. (And by $10 I mean no dollars. Sorry. I’ll need that for that hat box.)
Another reason it was easy for me to assimilate into high tea culture: I’m a big fan of little sandwiches. Especially when they’re topped with fresh smoked salmon. The presentation was another high point of the high tea–I’m a sucker for floral plate patterns and adorable serving accouterments. Both Latoya and I left Eddison & Melrose with a strong urge to shop for tea sets.
This might sound funny, but the best-tasting part of the day was the frosting on that teeny tiny cupcake. Either it was made with crack cocaine, or chef Karen Anne has learned to bake with magic.
$10 for anybody who got that “Simply Irresistible” reference. And by $10 I again mean no dollars, but we can set up a Sarah Michelle Gellar movie night.
As a relative introvert, having friends like Latoya is a godsend; I tend to hole myself up at home and sink into a lull of laziness that makes it easy to forget how wonderful Monterey is. I’ve stumbled upon an outgoing group of friends here who (though some of them have already moved on to new posts) have been a support system I never expected to find.
What hidden gems have you found in your town thanks to the suggestion of a friend?