Tag Archives: England

Downton-inspired tea for “Downton Day”.

1920s silver teapot and cup and saucer on display at the Ainsley House in Campbell, CA.

1920s silver teapot and cup and saucer on display at the Ainsley House in Campbell, CA. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.

Today is the last “Downton Day” of the year  – the final episode of Downton Abbey Season 5 airs tonight on KQED/PBS at 9 p.m. Pacific time. This season’s plot has brought the Crawleys and their servants into the mid-1920s, and nobody’s lives are settled and secure, as usual.  What better way to catch up on the doings and happenings in this fictional world than with a cup of tea and some treats at the ready?  Look in the tea party pantry for some English tea-time favorites, like scones (you can use a mix or buy them ready-made), cream, jam, and cakes.  You can make an elaborate spread suitable for the Dowager Countess, or a simple tea table that would make Mrs. Patmore and Mrs. Hughes, or Lady Rose’s Russian refugees comfortable.

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San Jose’s British population celebrates the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

Diamond Jubilee logo. Image: Simon Howden, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

San Jose’s British population, along with local Anglophiles, can have tea with the Queen (in spirit!) to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee this week. February 6, 2012 marks the 60th year that Queen Elizabeth II has been Queen of England, which puts her in league with her predecessor Queen Victoria in the length of her reign. Celebrations across the pond will include at least 4 royal garden parties, and English afternoon tea  for an estimated 34,000 well-wishers!

The anniversary will be marked through the month of February, and again in June to commemorate Queen Elizabeth’s coronation. June events are said to include something called The Big Jubilee Lunch, where all of the residents of the U.K. are encouraged to have their own street parties and neighborhood picnics as part of the celebration, and the Diamond Jubilee River Pageant, which will include 1,000 boats on the Thames, including the Queen’s Royal Barge, named the Spirit of Chartwell. This is supposed to be the largest flotilla on the Thames for 350 years.

While we can’t attend any of Her Majesty’s garden parties, teas, or pageants from here in San Jose, there’s nothing stopping us from having our own. San Jose’s public gardens are perfect places to bring friends and family for a picnic lunch, especially in June, but even occasionally in February! And while our Guadalupe River isn’t deep enough to sail on, there’s a nice pathway along it, for walks.

If you plan a Jubilee party, consider re-creating some traditional British recipes that were inspired by royalty, like Queen Victoria’s favorite cake, Victoria Sponge, or a dish created for her own Diamond Jubilee in 1897, Cherries Jubilee. Then there’s the Queen of Puddings, Coronation Chicken, Duke of Cambridge Tart, and many others. Specialty British ingredients and products can be found at Nob Hill stores, as well as the new Fresh & Easy groceries (owned by UK grocery chain Tesco), as well as the British Food Shoppe in Campbell.

Decorate in red, white, blue, and Union flags to keep within the theme. You can even purchase commemorative paper plates, cups and napkins if you want!  Because Queen Elizabeth is also Queen of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Zambia, Mozambique, Uganda and other nations in the Commonwealth, as well as former Empress of India, traditional foods from those cultures would make great additions to your party menu.

Alternatively, you could celebrate by visiting one of San Jose’s British-style pubs, or take it further afield, and attend the Mostly British Film Festival, which will be running most of next week in San Francisco.

Britannia Arms – Almaden
5027 Almaden Expwy., San Jose

Britannia Arms – Downtown
173 W Santa Clara St, San Jose

Trials Pub
265 N. 1st Street, San Jose

Whether you are a fan of monarchy or not, you can realize the accomplishment that it is to remain on the front lines of a nation’s politics, with comparatively few non-working vacations, doing government work for 60 years!  I don’t think I could handle it!  So let’s raise a cup of black tea like English Breakfast, or good old PG Tips, to this remarkable lady.

Copyright 2012, Elizabeth Urbach.

Like what you read? Leave a comment below, click on “Subscribe” above, visit the San Jose Tea Examiner page on Facebook, read my blog, or follow me on Twitter @SanJoseTea!

For more information:
The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee website
“The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee – celebrations and events”
Diamond Jubilee page from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport
The Big Jubilee Lunch
The Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant
“Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II” Wikipedia entry
Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee China at Old Durham Road
The 2012 Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Party Range product page
“Cherries Jubilee” recipe from the Food Timeline
Bay Area Brits Meetup group
Mostly British Film Festival
“Tea tasting 101: characteristics of a good-quality black tea”
“Canada Day tea party, including Red Rose Tea”
“Celebrate Beatrix Potter’s work with an English tea party”
“Now is the time for garden parties and picnics in San Jose”
“Take your tea into one of San Jose’s gardens”
“Bring a tea picnic to the Bay Area-local Mostly British Film Festival”
“Have an English tea and Royal Wedding-viewing party”

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