I'm pleased to say my husband does read my blogs--all of them--and he's made a reservation to take me to Osteria Mozza on Monday for my birthday. While the menu looks like something you'd much rather have an expense account paying for, I refuse to feel guilty over a rare treat. Needless to say, I'll write about it next week.
Also coming up next week is our annual trek to San Diego for Comicon International. 125,000 fans looking for autographs and a chance to discuss the physics of Nightcrawler's "bamffing" ("we make this stuff up, there's no science involved" says the spouse, who created the blue-skinned one.) While Len gets to be "The Famous Len Wein" on the convention floor, I will engage in one of my favorite activities: checking out the tea rooms of San Diego.
For the past two years, the group of wives of the not-so-rich-but famous, have gone to Tea on Chatsworth for their unique offerings. This year, I'd like to try the newer tea room over on Del Coronado Island I've read about.
This all started when Len and I used to stay at the Horton Grand, an old Victorian Hotel which served a wonderful Victorian tea. I gathered up a group of friends and we went there for high tea annually for three or four years. The woman in charge of the service dressed and looked like Jean Marsh in Upstairs, Downstairs, the food was wonderful and the scones were great. Then, one year she was no longer there, the goodies were less good, and the service less transfixing. We went looking for other tea rooms. We did the Westgate Hotel one year and the U.S. Grant Hotel a time or two, but they didn't have the same cache we felt in the early years at the Horton Grand.
Ten years ago, we found a fantastic place in Carlsbad called "Ticky-Boo Tearoom," with a totally Victorian decor, including the dress of the servers. The scones were the best I've ever had, served hot from the oven. Before we left, my friends bought me the self-published cookbook with that recipe. We are all really glad they did.
I stopped at Ticky-Boo again about six months later on a pilgrimage to the Mary's Tack and Feed Annual February Sale in Del Mar (I also always go to Mary's during Comicon weekend because they have things I can't find in my local tack stores.) It was as wonderful as it had been the first time, with the added treat of a male server in a kilt (the owners were quite proud of their Scottish heritage.)
The next summer, the Comicon group made plans to go to Ticky-Boo. In fact, it was going to be a meet up for those of us who were already in San Diego and those who delayed the trip for a couple of days, since Carlsbad is about 30 miles north of San Diego, just off Interstate 5. To our horror, it was gone. According to other shop owners on the street, it disappeared literally over night! The original founder had died and left it to her two daughters to run. But running a food establishment is really hard work with long hours. After carrying on for several years, something went wrong. We still don't know what. But at least I've still got the recipe for the best scones ever, and so can you:
2 C. All-purpose Flour
1 T. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/3 C. Sweet Butter
1/4 C. Vegetable Shortening
1/3 C. Heavy Cream
Splash of Water
Place baking sheet in oven and preheat to 450 degrees F.
Sift the measured dry ingredients together, twice.
Dice fats into the dry ingreients, then lightly rub with cool fingertips or pastry blender. Make a well in center and stir in cream. Lightly mix with a fork untill a soft dough forms. If dough is dry, add water, sprinkling a little at a time until the dough is perfect for kneading.
Turn out on a well-floured board and knead very lightly for about 1/2 minute for a loose smooth dough. Roll out with a rolling pin or pat with hands to approximately 3/4" thick.
Stamp out with a cutter or cut into triangles with a sharp knife. Knead together any trimings and stamp out again, continuing until all the dough is used.
Lift with a spatula onto the preheated baking sheet, placing them 1" apart. Brush tops only with beaten egg or milk (optional--I don't.)
Bake toward the top of the oven for approximately 10-15 minues or untill well risen and golden brown. Remove and turn out onto a wire rack for cooling. Best served warm with clotted or Devon Cream and jam or curd.
This basic recipe may be adjusted to add currants, raisins, cheese with sage and walnuts, chocolate chips, dried fruit, or any other spice or variety you choose.