L'Espalier - Teas of Georgia
This past Sunday, I was able to try some teas that were virtually unknown to the world a year ago. Cynthia Gold of L'Espalier was able to obtain some of these rare teas from Georgia, and sampling them wound up being a wonderful way to finish my spring vacation.
I sat down and ordered a Green Tea Gimlet, made of Beefeater 24 Gin infused with lemongrass and green tea, lime, and basil simple syrup. Definitely a good way to start afternoon tea.
The first taste of Georgia was Natela's Gold Standard. This was my favorite tea, which makes sense, as the woman who makes it, Natela, considers the leaves she picks for this blend to be the very best. This tea was paired with a shot of vodka that had been infused with tea and elderflower, and an Apple Street Farm egg mousse with caviar.
Nagobilevi Village Tea was up next, paired with the tea sandwiches.
All my favorite tea sandwiches made an appearance. House smoked salmon with "Everything" cream cheese on dill bread started off the plate, followed by English cucumber with watercress cream cheese on citrus bread. Finishing up the first half of the plate was an Apple Street Farm deviled egg with Maine crab salad and ocean persillade.
The second half of the sandwich plate was nearly as delicious as the first, starting with roasted chicken salad on a profiterole and a Maine lobster salad rolled in a slice of a Granny Smith apple. The final sandwich was the warm ham and smoked Gouda cheese croissant, which was wonderfully flaky.
I needed another springtime cocktail to properly finish vacation, so I ordered an apricot sidecar. It was so good! The next tea was named Georgian Old Lady, for Natela, who created it. It was served with a Sacher Torte with peach preserves. Cynthia introduced us to a Georgian tradition - adding the preserves to the tea to act as a sweetener, rather than sugar. It was really tasty.
The dessert plate was paired with the Georgian Caravan tea.
The desserts began with chocolate decadence cake with raspberry fizzy powder. The fizzy powder was like pop rocks, and added a nice zest to the chocolate. Then came the scones: a citrus-pink peppercorn scone and a white chocolate pistachio scone. They were paired with local honey, cream, and strawberry-rhubarb jam (the first I've had this season).
A Greek yogurt panna cotta was next, with blood orange gel on top. Then it was on to the swan! L'Espalier's signature tea swan is made of pâté à choux with espresso Chantilly cream. The frangipane cake with raspberry jam was just as reliably delicious as always.
The final dessert was a shot glass of chocolate cake with passion fruit Chantilly. It paired well with the final tea: Tamaz's Tiny Tea Factory.
Then came something unexpected - a cheese plate and a glass of Smith Woodhouse 10 Year Tawny Port. I love the staff at L'Espalier; I've never left there feeling anything less than wonderful.
This awesome surprise cheese plate started with Pecorino Ginepro, an aged sheep's milk cheese from Emilia-Romagna, Italy. Then it was on to a spoonful of Harbison, a deliciously gooey cheese from Jasper Hill Farm in Greensboro, Vermont.
They followed one great gooey cheese with another: Epoisses de Bourgogne from Burgundy, France, and finished with Caveman Blue, an excellent blue cheese from Rogue Creamery in Central Point, Oregon.