Category: afternoon tea


London Finale: Flirting, Fun & Friendship

August 26th, 2012 — 11:47am

Last Thursday, my adventures in London continued with an eventful girls night out.

Caffe Concerto has several locations in London

After dinner at cozy Italian eatery Caffe Concerto, Rachel and I walked over to Dion’s, a bar tucked away behind St. Paul’s Cathedral. I had very fond memories of live music and a very favorable guy-girl ratio at Dion’s during my last visit. So I was a little disappointed when we walked in to find the bar mostly empty, especially since I’d been talking it up to my single London friends as a great spot for mingling.

We were only a few sips into our cocktails when a cute local bloke named Joe, 35, suddenly appeared.

“My friends are boring, can I join your conversation?”

A direct, wry and ever so British approach. Needless to say, Rach and I happily said yes. We were soon joined by a few of Joe’s colleagues as well.
As Rachel hit it off with one of them, I learned that Joe has a passion for motorcycles and DIY projects – and possesses the charm and candor that has made me very susceptible to British bachelors. When I commended Joe for taking the initative in a friendly way to say hello, he responded—

“We’re all lonely at the end of the day, so why not?”

Sigh. If only New York men could take a page out of this no nonsense playbook!

Eventually, the verbal flirting between Joe and me found him pulling me into a quick hug. I could happily have extended it, but Rachel reminded me the tube was about to shut down for the night. Before I raced to catch it, Joe leaned down for a kiss. Apart from him referring to himself as my “toy boy,”  a perfect night.

Speaking of perfection, that’s also how I would describe my final day in London.

All smiles in Trafalgar Square…with sunglasses!

The weather was glorious – so glorious that I took a picture in Trafalgar Square with sunglasses on for the first time in 22 years of coming to London. After drinking in the view of the square and Big Ben beyond it, I made my way over to iconic tea house Fortnum & Mason on Piccadilly, where I enjoyed my final round of afternoon tea and scones with clotted cream.

Then, it was off to Sloane Square for drinks with fellow writer and Ireland-born Conor, whom I had the pleasure of meeting during my European Dating Blitz. This visit to London was a wonderful mix of new and old friends, a week-long reminder of why I love England’s capital so much.

What better way to end my trip than with my dear friend of 19 years, Steve?

BFF: Steve and me at Zaika

Over a delicious meal at upscale Indian restaurant Zaika on Kensington High Street, Steve and I fell into easy conversation like we always do. Three hours later, we’d covered a lot of ground on the topics of life, love, family and the battle to fight wrinkles.

As we said goodbye, I felt a surge of melancholy about leaving London. And then I smiled because I know it will always be a part of my life. Until next time, fair city.

Comment » | afternoon tea, catching up with old friends, Girls Night Out, London, St. Paul's Cathedral, The European Dating Blitz, Trafalgar Square, travel

My Week In London: Part One

August 20th, 2012 — 8:16pm

My glorious week in London began in beautiful West Hampstead, home of my dear friend Leila. Determined to try and outsmart jetlag for once, I skipped my usual post-arrival nap, opting instead for a shower and afternoon out.

Leila and I stopped for a quick bite in patisserie Maison Blanc – complimented by a few cups of tea, of course – before doing some shopping. Among the stores we visited was Reiss, a favorite of Duchess Kate known for its sleek silhouettes and vivid colors. Not being blessed with a pencil thin figure myself, I fared better at Whistle’s, where Leila spotted a plum-hued top that was both the perfect fit and perfect price (18 pounds).

We enjoyed a quiet evening in. Much to my delight and relief, the combination of wine, an after dinner liqueur and decaffeinated tea helped reset my body clock so that sleep came easy that night. It’s only taken me 22 years of visiting London to figure out how to manage jetlag!

Piccadilly Circus featured many flags as part of London's Olympics celebration

Sunday, Leila and I made our way into Central London on one of the city’s iconic double decker red buses – which offered a great view of the many flags unfurled in celebration of the Olympics. Even on the final day of the games, London was bustling with excitement.

Leila and me in Leicester Square with the Olympics countdown clock behind us

As I took in the Olympics-related signage and multitude of friendly volunteer ambassadors, it was easy to see why England’s capital has hosted more than any other city. The level of organization was incredible and Londoners went out of their way to make visitors feel welcome.

Some of London’s many colorfully attired Olympic ambassadors

After strolling through Trafalgar and Leicester Squares, Leila and I headed over to The Dorchester in Mayfair for afternoon tea.

All smiles at The Dorchester

The iconic luxury hotel provides an elegant backdrop for its version of the popular English ritual – not to mention a selection of mouthwatering finger sandwiches and scones. We especially loved the Olympic-themed petit fours.

Sweet Treats: Olympic-themed petit fours from The Dorchester’s ‘spor-tea’

Monday, I paid my first-ever visit to the Barbican, to take in “Designing 007: 50 years of Bond Style.” The fascinating exhibit features costumes, gadgets, setpieces and other memorabilia – including an eye-popping  recreation of the titular murdered villainess in Goldfinger. Lots of interesting trivia about James Bond author Ian Fleming too.

Then, it was off to Southbank for a reunion with my dear friend of nearly 20 years Steve. The artsy neighborhood has undergone quite a revival and there was no shortage of colorful sights – from a gigantic Lego map of the world to an installation of milk cartons designed to look like an ice sculpture.

Creative recycling: The milk bottle installation at Southbank

Our favorite diversion, though, was of the more traditional variety: a pop up fair inspired by none other than Coney Island.

Aaaaah! Steve and me on London’s mini-version of The Cyclone coaster

I took one look at the Cyclone-themed mini roller coaster and knew we had to check it out. As I expected, it didn’t disappoint. Steve and I laughed (and screamed) our heads off. Summer fun simply doesn’t get any better than this!

Up next…a visit to the home of one of Britain’s most beloved authors and an unexpected encounter with an adorable London bachelor!

2 comments » | afternoon tea, catching up with old friends, Leicester Square, London, Trafalgar Square, travel

An Action Packed Girls Weekend

June 10th, 2012 — 6:10pm

This weekend, I had the pleasure of catching up with my dear friend of 26 years Jackie. Jackie and I went to junior high school together when I was living in Toronto. We packed a lot in to the last couple of days.

Jackie and me at the Lowell Hotel

Friday, we enjoyed afternoon tea at NYC’s elegant Lowell Hotel in Midtown. While nibbling on finger sandwiches, scones and Devonshire cream, Jackie and I reflected on family ties and how good friends are just as important in carrying you through tough times. Afterward, craving a quiet night in, we rented the Justin Timberlake-Mila Kunis romcom “Friends With Benefits,” definitely one of the most entertaining and well written romcoms I’ve seen in awhile.

Yesterday was action packed. We started the day by heading down to SoHo, delighted to stumble upon a street fair teeming with cheap jewelry finds, colorful clothes and scrumptious foods. Street fairs are one of my favorite things about summer in NYC.

A delicious spread of teas and spices at the SoHo street fair that we stumbled upon

Then it was off to nearby SoHo Park, a charming eatery whose charming public garden décor lives up to its name, for some delicious veggie burgers with cheese. From there, Jackie and I went to Macy’s to take advantage of a huge sale and add to our summer wardrobe. Back at home, I whipped up salmon burgers with dill sauce for us, happy to cook for my dear friend since I was far less adept in the kitchen during her visit last year.

After dinner and a few cocktails, we went downtown again – to my favorite nightclub, Canal Room, to hear 80’s cover band Rubix Kube.

Rubix Kube ROCKED!!

As always, the band delivered a high energy set that had everyone dancing and singing along to classics like “Beat It,” “Pour Some Sugar On Me,” “Let’s Go Crazy,” and “Jessie’s Girl.” Jackie and I were hoarse and happy when we caught up with lead female vocalist Cherie Martorana outside.

Jackie and me with lead singer Cherie Martorana after the show

Another fantastic girls’ weekend from start to finish. Can’t wait for my next one…next weekend in South Beach. Stay tuned!

1 comment » | afternoon tea, catching up with old friends, girl talk, girlfriend getaways, Rubix Kube, SoHo

A Weekend Of Pampering

July 2nd, 2009 — 12:45am

Last weekend, my friend Bobbi and I enjoyed a much-needed getaway to The Spa at Norwich Inn.

Nestled in the heart of Connecticut, it was exactly what I always imagined a destination spa to be – bucolic setting, soft-spoken and friendly staff and bathrobe-glad guests (most of whom were female) strolling the grounds.

Bobbi and I all aglow after our treatments at The Spa At Norwich Inn

Saturday afternoon was devoted to on-property pampering, including a rejuvenating facial and massage combo. Continuing the relaxation vibe, Bobbi and I went from the hot tub to the indoor pool before making our way to complimentary afternoon tea.

Over buttermilk scones with clotted cream and blackcurrant tea, we talked about old boyfriends, new romantic prospects and the importance of paying attention to dating dealbreakers. We applauded ourselves for finally learning how to move on from Mr. Wrong more swiftly — Bobbi ended her last ill-fated romance after six months, I exited from my most recent entanglement after only three.

After lounging by the outdoor pool and one more dip inside, we spruced ourselves up and headed over to nearby casino Mohegan Sun. Bobbi lost $200 playing roulette and I picked up $50, buying us a round of drinks with my small winnings.

Bobbi and I are already planning our next getaway, and a future return to Norwich. Because the joys of pampering are always multiplied when they’re shared.

Up next…drinks with a handsome, charismatic tabloid newsman and the allure of the unattainable.

Comment » | afternoon tea, Connecticut, gambling, girlfriend getaways, Mohegan sun, The Spa At Norwich Inn

A Weekend Of Pampering

July 1st, 2009 — 7:45pm

Last weekend, my friend Bobbi and I enjoyed a much-needed getaway to The Spa at Norwich Inn.

Nestled in the heart of Connecticut, it was exactly what I always imagined a destination spa to be – bucolic setting, soft-spoken and friendly staff and bathrobe-glad guests (most of whom were female) strolling the grounds.

Bobbi and I all aglow after our treatments at The Spa At Norwich Inn

Saturday afternoon was devoted to on-property pampering, including a rejuvenating facial and massage combo. Continuing the relaxation vibe, Bobbi and I went from the hot tub to the indoor pool before making our way to complimentary afternoon tea.

Over buttermilk scones with clotted cream and blackcurrant tea, we talked about old boyfriends, new romantic prospects and the importance of paying attention to dating dealbreakers. We applauded ourselves for finally learning how to move on from Mr. Wrong more swiftly — Bobbi ended her last ill-fated romance after six months, I exited from my most recent entanglement after only three.

After lounging by the outdoor pool and one more dip inside, we spruced ourselves up and headed over to nearby casino Mohegan Sun. Bobbi lost $200 playing roulette and I picked up $50, buying us a round of drinks with my small winnings.

Bobbi and I are already planning our next getaway, and a future return to Norwich. Because the joys of pampering are always multiplied when they’re shared.

Up next…drinks with a handsome, charismatic tabloid newsman and the allure of the unattainable.

Comment » | afternoon tea, Connecticut, gambling, girlfriend getaways, Mohegan sun, The Spa At Norwich Inn

A Tea-rrific Christmas At The Lowell

December 30th, 2008 — 3:29am

On Christmas, I joined my friend Tiffany and her friend Jen for a delightful evening at one of NYC’s top boutique hotels, The Lowell.

As soon as we walked into the Lowell’s Pembroke Room, I felt transported by the old world elegance and impeccable five-star service. It was like we had entered a private dining room from centuries ago, with rich tables adorned by crisp white linens and colorful china, and a mantel festooned with Christmas decorations.

Old World Elegance: The Lowell’s Pembroke Room served up a memorable Holiday High Tea

The Lowell’s Holiday High Tea menu featured a special selection of hand picked leaf teas and herbal infusions, assorted tea sandwiches, fresh pumpkin bread and, of course, classic blackcurrant scones with berry preserves and Devonshire cream.

The charming and knowledgeable maitre’d had me appreciating in a new way how, much like wine, tea is a beverage of numerous delectable varieties and flavorful fusions. All of the staff made us feel at home while we lingered for nearly four hours, savoring the festive surroundings.

Topping it all off — a cup of traditional German Glühwein (sweet wine) and a tiered silver tray of petit tarts and pastries.

As we exited the Lowell, I was happy to have discovered a new addition to my list of favorite neighborhood haunts. And I found myself in complete agreement with the Henry James quote on the Lowell’s holiday menu —

“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”

Comment » | afternoon tea, Christmas with friends, scones and Devonshire cream, The Lowell Hotel

A Tea-rrific Christmas At The Lowell

December 29th, 2008 — 10:29pm

On Christmas, I joined my friend Tiffany and her friend Jen for a delightful evening at one of NYC’s top boutique hotels, The Lowell.

As soon as we walked into the Lowell’s Pembroke Room, I felt transported by the old world elegance and impeccable five-star service. It was like we had entered a private dining room from centuries ago, with rich tables adorned by crisp white linens and colorful china, and a mantel festooned with Christmas decorations.

Old World Elegance: The Lowell’s Pembroke Room served up a memorable Holiday High Tea

The Lowell’s Holiday High Tea menu featured a special selection of hand picked leaf teas and herbal infusions, assorted tea sandwiches, fresh pumpkin bread and, of course, classic blackcurrant scones with berry preserves and Devonshire cream.

The charming and knowledgeable maitre’d had me appreciating in a new way how, much like wine, tea is a beverage of numerous delectable varieties and flavorful fusions. All of the staff made us feel at home while we lingered for nearly four hours, savoring the festive surroundings.

Topping it all off — a cup of traditional German Glühwein (sweet wine) and a tiered silver tray of petit tarts and pastries.

As we exited the Lowell, I was happy to have discovered a new addition to my list of favorite neighborhood haunts. And I found myself in complete agreement with the Henry James quote on the Lowell’s holiday menu —

“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”

Comment » | afternoon tea, Christmas with friends, scones and Devonshire cream, The Lowell Hotel

Opening The Vault: Part Twenty One

December 27th, 2008 — 10:11pm

When you’re in a long-distance relationship, where you spend time with your significant other becomes almost as important as how often. So it was for me and my California sweetheart Mark (a.k.a Sparky).

Our first few encounters took place in my world. We met in New York, fell in love in London, then reconnected back in the Big Apple when Sparky came to visit in July of 1994. A month later, it was time for me to start racking up the frequent flier miles and head out to L.A., for our first rendez-vous in Sparky’s home state. I now Open The Vault and take you back to the Summer of ‘94…

Granada Hills, CA
August 26th, 1994

Dear Diary,

Yesterday, I had a glorious night view of L.A. as the plane descended. There was something so meaningful about the moment. Sparky and I were about to be in the same time zone again. That we had both traveled so we could be together made our love seem magical.

The Look of Love: Sparky took this picture of me during a visit to Disneyland, August 1994

My best friend Lisa had asked me earlier in the day what I was planning to say to Sparky when I saw him. I told her I wasn’t planning anything. I was finally at the point where I didn’t have to think about what to say. The only thing I had to think about was how quickly I could run into his arms.

* * *

Upon entering the terminal, I searched the crowd for him. Suddenly, I spotted Sparky a few feet away.

He quickened his pace as he approached me and we fell into each other’s arms. We shared the most perfect kiss and I could feel my entire body tingle the way it always does when Sparky touches me.

Our lips reluctantly parted and we gushed about happy we were to be together. Sparky kept telling me how beautiful I looked and we talked about my trip, holding onto each other tightly the entire time.

While we were waiting for my luggage, Sparky didn’t stop looking at me.

“Look at you,” he said. “You’re just gorgeous.”

We kept kissing — in the airport, next to his car — the surge of adrenalin I felt was incredible.

Sparky left it up to me to decide how we would spend the evening. Needless to say, I opted for going back to his place.

At one point, he pulled over to make a turn — and we melted into another kiss. Mmm.

The drive to Granada Hills was wonderful. We drove with the top of Sparky’s convertible down (until the wind started wreaking havoc on my hair). Beyond the freeway, I caught a glimpse of the city lights and mountains. I felt so happy…and anxious to get close to Sparky.

When we finally arrived at Sparky’s two-bedroom condo, I have to admit, I was kind of disappointed. The modern, bachelor pad décor (black leather couches, sleek black furniture, etc.) bothered me. Why? Because I was wondering if our tastes would be compatible if we ever get married!

Before I unpacked, Sparky and I began to make up for lost time. The explosive chemistry between us, compounded by the time apart, was more intoxicating than ever. I felt dizzy as he kissed me over and over. I couldn’t get enough of him and I could feel that he felt the same way…

* * *
Yes, that first night together again with Sparky was blissful. And, in keeping with the trajectory that would come to characterize our relationship, it kicked off an emotional roller coaster that made my inaugural West Coast visit a very intense one.
Coming up…afternoon tea at one of NYC’s best boutique hotels and Saturday night on the town with one of my favorite soul sisters.

1 comment » | afternoon tea, Disneyland, Granada Hills, long-distance relationships

Back to top