Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Finally, a Triple Crown Party

The 2015 Belmont Stakes and Triple Crown Tea Party.
Since about 2002 or 2003, I've thrown a tea party to watch the Belmont Stakes. It's a great opportunity to get together with other women, play dress-up, and eat rich food. I did it for Smarty Jones, Big Brown, Mine that Bird, and California Chrome. This year, I got another chance when American Pharoah took the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. I cancelled my plans for a whale watching trip and sent out invitations as soon as the results of the Preakness were finalized.

It's a mixed crowd: a few people from work, some TV writers, a few novelists, many of whom don't know each other except for this party. Altogether, it runs about two dozen people, some who come every time, some for whom it is the first time, some who have no interest in the horses at all, but all looking for a pleasant afternoon.

This year we had the added thrill of an actual Triple Crown winner when American Pharoah pulled five and a half lengths ahead of his nearest rival to cross the finish line.
Erin Maher took time from her busy schedule working on Scream to provide horse cookies.
I saw the great Secretariat win the Belmont in 1973 on a black and white TV. Ditto for Seattle Slew in 1977. I don't remember watching Affirmed in 1978. After so long a drought, I wasn't sure we'd ever see another horse pull it off. Now, we know it is still possible.

The menu for the tea varies from year to year. There are always scones, lemon curd, and when possible, Devon cream for which we pay dearly. I gave half a thought to trying to make it myself, but I decided to spring for the stuff in the refrigerator section of Gelson's instead. Lemon curd isn't that hard to make, but I've been lucky to have Susan Ellison make it for me in the past. This year, she couldn't make the party, but I found some so I could concentrate on making sure I got the Ticky-boo scones made. They were lovely as always.

Leek quiche and some cucumber, ham, and salmon tea sandwiches.
I made cucumber sandwiches, smoked salmon sandwiches, and ham and radish sandwiches. Then I had my sister make what Dani Dornfeld dubbed "T Sandwiches ala Chris," a stacked delight of a slice of baguette, mozzarella cheese, grilled eggplant, and tomato, with a bit of pesto between the layers. While I often make my own pesto, we used Costco's refrigerated basil pesto to save time.

T Sandwiches ala Chris on the lower left, along with some other selections of sandwiches and a Tia Maria cake.
My friend Susan Avallone brought her justifiably famous smoked turkey spread to be use on toast rounds. Karen Bailey brought two different kinds of stuffed eggs as well as some lovely tea sandwiches. Maria Rodriguez brought leek quiche and quiche Loraine. I was worried we'd be light on desserts, but I should not have been. Kim Gottlieb-Walker came through with her Tia Maria cake, a decadently deep chocolate confection best served with whipped cream.

Susan's smoked turkey spread in the lower part of the photograph.
There have been some cries that we need to do this every week. I'm not one of those calling for weekly teas because I'd be big as a house and totally stressed out if it was to be in my home. But once in a while, it's the very best way to spend a Saturday afternoon. And it is even better if a horse wins the Triple Crown.

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