Last weekend, two of my most fashionable ladyfriends and I got all dolled up in our Sunday best, and headed downtown to the Biltmore for Practically Perfect Tea. Yes, that would be Mary Poppins-themed tea, which the Biltmore is hosting Wednesdays through Sundays until February 7th, in conjunction with the current production of Mary Poppins that’s on stage at the Ahmanson. While there wasn’t anything particularly Mary Poppins-y about the tea itself, beyond cutsey Poppins-themed menu items (Supercalifragilistic Scones, anyone?) it was still pretty great. (Although I will confess that I was sad that tea wasn’t served by dancing chimney sweeps.)
I love going to tea. I love the ceremony of it. I love the tiny, stupid-looking sandwiches, I love the three-tiered trays of goodies, I love the fancy china, I love pretending that I’m fancy enough to sip tea with my pinky up (I’m totally not). I also love the Biltmore – I’d never been before – because it is so gorgeous and over the top and ridiculous, although the entire time I was there I couldn’t shake this weird paranoid feeling that someone would notice how not-fancy-enough-for-the-Biltmore I am and kick me out. But I managed to fool them for long enough to drink so much tea that I couldn’t sleep all night. (And now I am secretly on the lookout for a wealthy patron to put me up in a suite at there so I can spend my days drinking tea in the Rendezvous Court whilst writing my memoirs.)
Some teatime tips: We tried a few different teas, and the Blue Peacock Darjeeling was my favorite (in no small part because it has the silliest name). And if you go, you should for sure dress up – we all wore our Totally Cutest dresses, but I was Totally Jealous of the ladies at the next table who all had matching hats and gloves. High tea is like a wonderful, anachronistic game of let’s pretend, so you might as well push the costuming as far as you can. And don’t be fooled: even though all of the food is excessively dainty and bite-sized, there is a lot of it (sandwiches, scones, tarts, tiny cakes, chocolate-covered strawberries!) and I was so full of scone that I seriously had to go home and lie down when it was all over. But it’s lovely and fun and Mary Poppins-approved, and when are British nannies ever wrong?