At the top of my New York City bucket list is Afternoon Tea at the Plaza Hotel, featuring delicious food and premium tea in a luxurious setting.
I recently spent a long weekend in New York City to celebrate my best friend from college finishing her PhD at NYU. Even though she’s been in New York for six years, she’s never had the famous Afternoon Tea at the Plaza Hotel. I thought this would be the perfect excuse to check this fabulous experience off both of our bucket lists!
As soon as you walk up to the hostess stand at The Palm Court, you know you’re in for a truly exceptional experience.
Read on for my review of High Tea at the Plaza Hotel…
Review of High Tea at the Plaza Hotel
Thanks to its appearance in movies like Eloise and Home Alone 2, I knew of The Plaza Hotel even as a little girl in the Midwest.
Located across the street from Central Park in the heart of the city, its location can’t be beat. While the outside is imposingly majestic, the interior is impossibly glamorous. It’s gone through a series of extensive renovations that have given it the perfect balance of old school glamour and modern luxury. The hotel has transcended the test of time.
What Afternoon Tea Service is Like
Afternoon tea service is daily from 12 p.m. to 4:45 p.m., with the last seating at 4:30 p.m. Reservations are essential, especially on weekends!
The tea service is set up in the traditional style – you order from two menu options and the three courses of food come all at once displayed on a three-tiered tray. Each person gets to choose a pot of tea with champagne an optional add-on. On the advice of our server, we tried the toffee black tea which was absolutely wonderful. Perfectly sweet and so satisfying. The selection of tea is quite extensive so you’ll find something for every taste.
Not only are the treats innovative and beautiful, but they are also delicious! You may think this is a given, but after having at least a dozen high teas, I can tell you this is the exception, not the rule. Often too much focus is put on appearance, and not enough on taste. The beautiful bites often have bland flavors, soggy sandwiches, scones so hard you might crack a tooth, and overpowering flavor combinations.
The Palm Court also has an Eloise option for Afternoon Tea. A little girl at a table near ours had it and it looked lovely. It came with a puffy cloud of pink cotton candy – so jealous!
The servers were perfectly attentive without being pushy. It felt like our every need was being anticipated and seamlessly met. They felt genuinely friendly and interested in making our experience memorable.
As I mentioned, there are two options to choose from – Champagne Tea and The New Yorker Tea. The food is completely different, so we opted to get one of each.
Plaza Hotel Afternoon Tea Sample Menu
Here’s a sample menu from our afternoon tea:
Champagne Tea at the Plaza Hotel
herb-roasted prime rib with horseradish cream, watercress, and brioche slider
foie gras mousse, black cherry jam on a brioche crostini
peekytoe crab with celery, avocado, lemon, sour cream in a squid ink cornet
porcini mushroom quichette with porcini oil and whipped cream cheese
lobster roll with daikon sprouts and buttered potato roll
caviar blini with daurenki caviar
freshly baked seasonal scones
golden plaza egg with citrus victoria sponge cake, lemon verbena custard and peach jelly
red velvet chouquette, mascarpone and white chocolate-orange cremeux
lemon and poppyseed cake with meyer lemon cremeux and citrus meringue
chocolate java financier, apricot-orange bourbon compote and chocolate tuile
blackcurrent and violet éclair with candied flower petals
fresh seasonal fruit tart
green tea matcha macaron with yuzu white chocolate ganache
The New Yorker Tea at the Plaza Hotel
smoked salmon on pumpernickel with chive whipped cream cheese and dill
organic deviled egg salad with dill pickle relish on white bread
oven-roasted turkey with granny smith cream cheese on sourdough bread
english cucumber with minted goat cheese green goddess on rye bread
smoky mountain country ham with comte cheese and spicy mustard on pretzel ficelle
herb-roasted prime rib with horseradish cream and watercress on brioche slider
freshly baked seasonal scones
chocolate praline mogador cake, 62% valhrona chocolate biscuit cake and raspberry preserves
strawberry and rhubarb fool with vanilla pound cake, yogurt lime custard, and strawberry and rhubarb compote
passion fruit and mango s’more, chocolate sable and lime meringue
fresh seasonal fruit tart
cherry vanilla cheesecake with oreo biscuit base and macarteted morello cherries
blackcurrant and violet éclair with candied flower petals
carrot cake macaron with carrot spice ganache and golden raisins
Oh, and don’t skip a trip to the bathroom so you can admire the delightfully tacky Rose Club with its lavish velvet and animal print decor. It’s a brush with history, as names like Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Billie Holiday have performed in this space. It was previously a jazz club called The Persian Room.
For a quintessential New York City appearance, don’t miss an afternoon of pampering with high tea at The Plaza Hotel.
The San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers is a lush jungle paradise that you MUST visit! It’s free for residents and only $9 for visitors.
Golden Gate Park is home to the unbelievably lush Conservatory of Flowers is home to more than 2,000 species of plants and flowers. It’s one of my favorite things to do in San Francisco and something I recommend for anyone who visits my city!
In all honesty, a better name is probably the Conservatory of Plants, because there really aren’t that many flowers. It’s several lush rooms bursting with plants and flooded with natural light. It’s a photographer’s dream.
You’ll really feel like you’ve escaped into a faraway jungle, complete with lilypad ponds and hanging vines. It’s such a beautiful and special place.
Admission for San Francisco residents is FREE and out-of-towners pay just $9.
The Victorian-era exterior looks like an ornate white birdcage.
I have two favorite photo ops at the Conservatory – the wooden circular frame in the west wing and the ornate arched ceiling in the east wing (first photo up top).
There is some parking in front of the Conservatory of Flowers, but my favorite way to explore Golden Gate Park is by bicycle! I highly recommend renting one or taking advantage of the awesome electric bicycle share from Citibikes. That way you can also visit the Japanese Tea Gardens while you’re there! Another great (and fragrant) spot in Golden Gate Park is the Rose Garden.
Celebrate summer’s bounty with this fabulous brown sugar peach galette recipe topped with brown sugar whipped cream.
I’ve been craving peaches for months – basically since September. I’m over-the-moon because peaches are everywhere right now! Our goal is to gorge ourselves with peaches all summer long – as if we can somehow bank some of that satisfaction for the winter months ahead. As we think about our 4th of July picnic plans, I can’t wait to make this brown sugar peach galette.
Read on for the Brown Sugar Peach Galette Recipe!
The Magic of Brown Sugar and Peaches
The brown sugar truly takes this galette to the next level. Peaches and brown sugar are meant to be together. Also on my list this summer is to develop a recipe for peach ice cream with a brown sugar swirl. My mouth waters just thinking about it!
You will love the molasses flavor. It goes just as well in savory dishes and marinades as it does in this beautiful pastry recipe.
Ingredients matter! The C&H® brand keeps better than other brands I’ve tried. Their brown sugar stays fresh longer and doesn’t dry out or harden. That naturally soft and moist texture makes it perfect for producing baked goods that are moist, more dense and chewy. They really set the bar – it’s no wonder they make the sugar preferred by professionals.
You can find C&H® products on Amazon. No matter what you’re making, they have a sugar for your culinary adventure!
Brown Sugar Peach Galettes
When I started my most recent doctor job two years ago, it came with an unexpected perk. One of the nurses stops at a local farm on her way to work and buys cases of peaches to resell for a steal. She likes to share the bounty with her coworkers to keep morale high. She’s basically a saint! I now buy 1-2 dozen farm ripened peaches per week for the entirety of peach season and it is glorious.
I love making galettes. They are so rustic and look so impressive, but they are wayyyy easier to make than a pie. The folded crust is super forgiving and any imperfections or unevenness seem intentional. My peach pie recipe is one of the most popular recipes on my blog. It’s been pinned over 200,000 times! Now that I’ve created this peach filling with brown sugar, I’m tempted to re-work it to have brown sugar too. It might be worth it to mess with what I thought was perfection!
As I mentioned before, I’m planning to make these galettes for 4th of July this year. They hold up quite well if you make them the day before, which makes them great a great party dish. They are also safe at room temperature (without the whipped cream) so we’ll be enjoying them outside for a picnic. I can’t wait!
Make Your Own Pie Dough
Making your own pie dough may sound intimidating and scary, but I really encourage you to try it! I always weigh the flour to ensure the dry ingredients are accurate. Too much or too little flour can really make a big difference. Always use very cold butter, as the butter heating rapidly in the oven causes it to explode, leave those delightful air pockets that make a flaky crust. Heat is the enemy of the dough, so try to keep it as cool as possible until you bake it.
If making your own dough for the galettes is too much, use your favorite store-bought brand for this recipe. I won’t tell.
The peach filling has all the ingredients you would expect for a classic peach pie, but with an important substitute – brown sugar instead of granulated sugar.
Roll out the dough 1/8-inch thick. The recipe below makes enough dough for two galettes. It will keep several months in the freezer, so it’s nice to have one on hand for your next baking adventure.
Finish by arranging sliced peaches onto the rolled out dough. Fold the edges over in an overlapping fashion. The galette is then chilled and finished with a heavy cream wash and C&H® Demerara Sugar. Then it’s off to the oven!
Brown Sugar Whipped Cream
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I swapped brown sugar for granulated sugar in my go-to whipped cream recipe. I wanted to maximize the brown sugar experience for this dessert, but I had concerns.
Would it be grainy and not whip correctly? Would it taste weird? Turns out, the brown sugar version is super easy and not at all finicky. It also tastes better than regular whipped cream.
My only issue is why didn’t I do this sooner!?
Why this is the Best Peach Galette Recipe
Peaches and brown sugar are meant to be together. The flavor combination is one of the best parts of summer!
A fun dessert pizza recipe is taken to the next level thanks to a brown sugar cookie crust. It makes a fun and colorful dish to pass this summer!
Summertime is here and I’m ready to celebrate! What better way to enjoy your summer fruit than in a dessert pizza? The real star though is the dark brown sugar cookie crust.
Read on for the recipe and my favorite cocktail to drink with it!
Baking with Dark Brown Sugar
The brown sugar cookie is moist with just a little crispness to the “crust” so it will be a hit among all cookie lovers! C&H® Dark Bown Sugar is perfect for producing baked goods that are moist, more dense and chewy. Dark brown sugar also gives a deeper and richer flavor to the cookie itself. That strong flavor means it holds up equally well on its own, unfrosted. The same goes for the brown sugar fruit topping. That same richness and molasses flavor also make it great for savory recipes too, like sweet potato casserole and marinades.
C&H® Sugar is my choice when baking because of its consistent performance and high quality taste. No matter what you’re creating, they have a sugar for every occasion and baking need.
Fruit Sugar Cookie Pizza Recipe
One of the things I love about this cookie recipe is that it consists of ingredients that I always have on hand. It also takes a single bowl to make the cookie recipe. Just start with melted butter and stir in the remaining ingredients according to the recipe below.
I love a good fancy dessert, but if you’re in a pinch and need a last minute dessert recipe to take to a party, definitely pin this recipe so you can save it for later!
Once you’ve made the dough and patted it out into a cookie shape, into the oven it goes! Once cooled, it’s topped with a brown sugar fruit dip that is the perfect complement. It also uses C&H® Dark Brown Sugar to give it that rich sweet taste that everyone will love! I suggest doubling the recipe, as it will keep in the fridge for a couple of days.
Spread the brown sugar fruit dip all over the baked cookie and top with fruit and fresh mint.
Colorful and so delicious!
Peach Smash Cocktail
I’ve paired the fruit pizza with a peach smash cocktail recipe. Peaches are my favorite stone fruit – I love how versatile they are. They are amazing in baking, frozen in my peach prosecco pops or grilled. Here I used peaches in the pizza and in the cocktail!
Smashing the fruit will release its flavor into your drink so you can enjoy summer’s sweetness in a glass. Brown sugar simple syrup adds sweetness without overpowering the peach flavor. Served over ice and topped with mint, it’s the perfect way to cool off during the heat wave we’ve been having in San Francisco or wherever you are!
Here’s the recipe to make one Peach Smash cocktail:
1 cup C&H® Brown Sugar
1 cup water
1/2 medium peach, sliced
2 sprigs mint
2 ounces bourbon
1 ounce seltzer water or ginger beer
Make the brown sugar simple syrup: Combine C&H® Brown Sugar and water in a small saucepan and cook until the sugar is completely dissolved. Let cool. Can be made 1-2 weeks in advance and stored in the fridge, covered.
Add one spice, a sprig of mint and 1 ounce of brown sugar simple syrup to a cocktail shaker and muddle gently.
Add bourbon, fill with ice and shake until chilled.
Pour mixture into a cocktail glass filled with ice. Add seltzer water or ginger beer and garnish with mint and a peach slice.
One of the most special details of our wedding was the altar that we got married under. It was made for us by Pat and was made out of tree branches that he “reclaimed” from a part that was just a few hundred feet from our apartment in madison.
It was such a great feeling to stand under that homemade arch and say our vows in front of all of our loved ones. In addition, the cost to make it was literally just the nails that held it together. It was a great budget wedding DIY.
DIY Wedding Alter from Reclaimed Wood
You will need:
Tree branches and stumps to form your arch. The two sides of our arch were *** feet and the top branch was *** feet. We also had smaller branches to prop up the main branches.
These Strawberry Freakshakes are fully loaded! Add toppings of your choice like donuts, sprinkles and candy to make the extreme milkshake of your dreams!
These amazing strawberry freakshakes are total shop stoppers and only take a few minutes to make. What’s more, they not only look amazing but they also taste amazing. That’s not always true with desserts that are this over the top and creative!
Read on for the extreme strawberry milkshake recipe…
The Best Classic Strawberry Milkshake
Although I do love a good showy dessert, taste always comes first. The real star is a classic strawberry milkshake recipe that you’re actually going to want to eat! It’s thick and creamy and perfectly sweet thanks to frozen strawberries and strawberry ice cream. It’s also super easy to make with only four ingredients. Don’t skimp on the most important part. Best of all, even if you’re not feeling “freaky” you can keep this recipe as your go to for a perfect strawberry milkshake every time.
These extreme milkshakes are just made for Instagram. In fact, my first freakshake encounter was at Cereal Killer Cafe in London in 2016. We actually saw so many of their freakshakes featured on Instagram we had to try them for ourselves! Although they were pretty to look at, I thought the milk base was far too sweet and they were really messy to eat. I knew I could do better!
The trick to a successful freakshake is stabilizing everything with wooden skewers so it doesn’t sink into your milkshake. That way you can stack and load things to your heart’s content without it toppling over.
Hosting a party? Think about a build-your-own Freakshake bar! Provide the milkshake base and then guests can choose from toppings to decorate their own edible work of art
All jokes and stereotypes aside, a vacuum is truly the best mother’s day gift money can buy. The catch? It’s a robot vacuum that will mop and clean on its own while mom has more time to spend with you!
Can you believe it’s been a year since you’ve searched long and hard to find that perfect gift for that perfect woman?! This year I’ve found the gift that actually keeps on giving. Everyone says that about pretty much every gift, but I actually mean it.
The secret to the perfect Mother’s Day gift?
A robot vacuum.
Robot vacuums have totally changed the cleanliness level of our house. We love our black lab Maddie dearly, but she covers the house with an inch thick layer of hair at least three times daily. We tried to stay on top of it, but even with vacuuming once per week there were still little puffs of hair in every corner and along the baseboards. It was totally out of hand.
We upgraded to a robot vacuum last year and it was a total game changer. We started with an entry level robot vacuum, but we soon realized we wanted something with a few more bells and whistles. After a lot of research, we landed on the Deebot Ozmo 930. This machine is loaded with extra features that are worth every penny.
Our old robot vacuum didn’t have smart mapping of our home so it would just roll around aimlessly cleaning. It also didn’t detect and mop the floors while it cleaned and had a hard time returning back to the charging dock. It was still better than a traditional vacuum, but didn’t offer the true hands off cleaning that we get with our Deebot as we were constantly repositioning it to make sure the whole house got cleaned.
One of my favorite features for the Deebot Ozmo 930 is the ability to set a cleaning schedule via the app. We come home to a freshly vacuumed house without having to do any of the work. Even just writing that I let out a get a sigh of relief! It’s so nice to have that permanently checked off my endless ‘To Do’ list. All I have to do is empty it when I get home from work, which is weirdly satisfying. It’s almost a symbol of all the work I didn’t have to do!
Adaptive floor sensing with automatic mopping option
Creates a visual map of your home. You can set it to clean the entire house or just pick a room or spot.
Works with Amazon Alexa & Google Assistant
Control it from your phone via the Deebot App
Have I convinced you? A new robotic vacuum just might go down in history as the best gift ever. Just imagine the look on her face when she unwraps her robotic vacuum that also functions as a mop. Not only will she finally get the help she’s been asking for, but she’ll also have more time to spend with you! It’s like getting two gifts in one.
Get the Deebot Ozmo 930 for your mom here (or get it for yourself – I won’t tell!).
Mother’s Day is this Sunday so it’s time to get your act together! I put together this little gift guide to give you ideas for what to get your mom, grandma, or someone special who helped raise you this year! Even though only four products made the cut, there’s a little something here for all kinds of moms! It includes a pampering gift set, fitness ideas, custom art, and even something for the eco-conscious mom who wants to make a positive impact in the lives of other artisans. If you tend to be a last minute gift giver, a few are even available on Amazon prime meaning you can get them before the weekend!
Every Mom loves having photos of their kids! Take it a step further than a photo turned into a work of art. Dalhai will take a photo and use it to paint a custom watercolor painting. I recently got one for Pat of our dog Maddie and I’m so excited to see the look on his face when I give it to him. Dalhai was even able to add some of my favorite colors in the background. She is working with a no-kill shelter that rescues dogs from USA and Mexico and brings them to Canada to find families. 10% of sales are donated to cover vet care of their dogs.
These colorful Pom Pom earrings are fun, stylish, and support artisans overseas. They also keep environmental impacts in mind when packaging their goods! Their boxes, tags, and labels are made from recycled materials and the plastic bags are fully compostable and biodegradable. We’re always trying to cut down on our plastic waste, so this is huge for me.
Wireless bluetooth ear buds are the perfect gift for the mom who needs a fitness boost, but way more tactful than buying her a gym membership. The earbuds wrap around your neck and are magnetic. When they’re not being used, they come together so you don’t have to worry about them falling off.
I’ve tried this set myself and I’m obsessed! It comes beautifully packaged and ready to gift. It has six products for both in and out of the shower with a volumizing brush. It not only takes care of her hair but makes sure her scalp is healthy to give mom the healthiest fullest hair possible.
I hope these ideas help you say thanks to the mom in your life! Happy Mother’s Day!
Everything you need to know for hosting a Kentucky Derby Party, including food ideas, attire and a fabulous recipe for Rosé Cider Mint Juleps.
The Kentucky Derby has always been on my bucket list. At 145 years old, it’s truly part of the fabric of America. The excitement, the fashion, the parties! I thought it would be fun to host a Kentucky Derby viewing party this year to get in on the revelry.
Read on for ideas for hosting your own Kentucky Derby party…
Angry Orchard Rosé Cider
If you’ve never had Rosé Cider, you are in for a treat! Angry Orchard Rosé is made with crisp, juicy and perfectly ripe red flesh apples. This adds a rosy color to the cider while still retaining the apple-forward taste I love about hard cider. The refreshing, dry finish is perfect for a hot day watching the Derby, a picnic with friends or a backyard barbecue. Rosé Cider is great straight from the bottle or mixed into a cocktail, like the Rosé Cider Julep cocktail I’m making for my Derby party this weekend. More on that below…
May is the Start of Rosé Season
The Derby falls on the first weekend in May, which is also a great time to kick off Rosé Season. At the Angry Orchard, the apple trees are in bloom and it’s time to break out the Rosé Cider. The sun is finally out, the school year is winding down and it’s nice enough to sit outside with a cold beverage – now that’s truly something to celebrate!
Win Some Angry Orchard Kentucky Derby Swag!
Angry Orchard partnered with my favorite preppy clothing brand, vineyard vines to create limited-edition swag for the Kentucky Derby! Vineyard vines is the Official Style of the Kentucky Derby so this gear will have you looking great! The charming collection includes bow ties, key chains, tote bags, scarves and more. You can win by participating in the contest on Instagram and Twitter. Just tag a friend on the posts and you’ll be entered to win! There are also chances to win when you watch Angry Orchard’s Instagram Stories.
Rosé Cider Mint Julep Cocktail for a Kentucky Derby Party
A Rosé Cider Mint Julep is the perfect signature cocktail for your Derby party. Traditionally a mint julep has bourbon, sugar-water and mint shaved over crushed ice. This version gets a pink upgrade with Angry Orchard Rosé Cider, plus one of my favorite French liqueurs – crème de cassis. This sweet dark liqueur is made from blackcurrant. You may have enjoyed it in a Kir or Kir Royale cocktail. It’s unique and refreshing while still keeping the traditional bourbon and mint flavors that you would expect with a mint julep.
Kentucky Derby Party Food Ideas
I’m focusing on finger foods for my Kentucky Derby party, for many reasons! Your guests don’t have to juggle plates and utensils and can graze on food to their heart’s content. It also means less dishes at the end to worry about and less waste if you’re using disposable plates and utensils.
Here are some great options that your guests will love:
Prosciutto Wrapped Melon
Salty savory goes perfectly with sweet ripe cantaloupe. This recipe takes just minutes to make and is served with a reduction made from Angry Orchard Rosé Cider! Get the recipe here or find it on Angry Orchard’s new Cider + Food Pairing app to see more ideas.
Maple Bourbon Pecans
The pairing of maple and bourbon is a classic, and definitely a staple in the south.
1 egg white
2 cups pecan halves
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated (white) sugar, divided
2 tablespoons bourbon
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 275° Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
Beat the egg white on medium high-speed until light and foamy. Stir in the pecans.
Add the 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, bourbon, brown sugar and maple syrup and stir.
Bake for 45 minutes, tossing every 15 minutes to ensure even baking.
Remove from oven and let cool until they are safe to handle. Combine 1/3 cup white sugar and cinnamon sugar in a medium bowl. Toss roasted pecans in cinnamon sugar and serve. Will keep in an airtight container for 3-4 days prior to using.
A refreshing Cucumber Margarita Recipe that will help you beat the summer heat. Makes a great Cinco de Mayo cocktail!
August is when things finally start to warm up here in San Francisco. Mark Twain once said, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” It’s true too. The foggiest and dampest days of the year happen in June and July. That means you see all the tourists milling about shivering in their shorts and San Francisco sweatshirts purchased from a kiosk out of desperation. You can spot them from a mile away.
Read on for the recipe…
Cucumber margaritas are at the top of my list this month. They are light and refreshing, and the cucumber juice is surprisingly easy to make. If you mix them up in advance and chill them, they work great packed in a thermos for a picnic. Just serve over ice. They will also be the stars of your Cinco de Mayo fiesta next month!
Summer in San Francisco is notoriously foggy. Things really start to warm up in mid-August! I’m still getting used to it, even six years later. We’ll be sipping margaritas well into October, when the rest of you are reaching for sweaters and scarves.
If you’re thinking about planning a trip to San Francisco, come in our summer – late August through October. Our weather is notoriously unpredictable though, so you’ll still want to bring that sweater.
Why this Cucumber Margarita is the best:
Fresh cucumber juice is so refreshing.
This cocktail is a unique take on a traditional margarita.
This cocktail is gluten-free, vegan and dairy free.
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Blend the cucumber in a blender on high for 30-40 seconds until it looks like thick juice. A juicer will also work for this step. Strain the pulp through a fine mesh strainer, using the back of the spoon to press the cucumber solids to release more juice.
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add the tequila, agave, lime juice and 6 ounces of the cucumber juice. Shake all ingredients over ice.
Salt the rim of two cocktail glasses and fill with ice. Pour cocktail ingredients over ice and garnish with a cucumber slice.
Keywords: Cucumber Margarita, Cinco De Mayo Cocktails, Flavored Margaritas, Mexican Cocktails