The delights of afternoon tea - Hawke's Bay Today, Indulge.
Art Deco Masonic Hotel
LADIES — THE most divine place to while away the time with your friends while partaking in a most delicious afternoon tea has opened in Napier. Tucked away from the hustle and bustle but right in the middle of town, a little like a Alice In Wonderland riddle, you will find the Art Deco Masonic Hotel’s Emporium — The Lounge.
Entering this delightful room is like stepping back in time. Luxurious velvet high back chairs and tables set with beautiful bone china and silver. I immediately fell in love with this place. It’s not huge so even when it was almost full the fabric on the walls, the cushions and seating absorbed the chatter of the excited guests lucky enough to be invited to the opening.
Art Deco Masonic Hotel’s general manager, John Dick, said afternoon tea was making a comeback. “There’s been a lot of interest in afternoon tea lately. It’s an elegant and gracious way to spend an afternoon,” Mr Dick said. “We wanted to make a special room for our guests to enjoy. But it’s not just for guests. Everyone is invited to our small, intimate lounge for afternoon tea, or Tipsy Tea perhaps — that’s drinking alcohol without people knowing,” he said with a smile. “Tipsy Tea was born from the days of prohibition when people would sip alcohol from tea cups.” The lounge blends into the hotel perfectly. The lighting and decor make for an intimate space to escape to. “Guests of the hotel can come here for coffee, a nightcap — the essence of The Lounge is that it is unhurried, gracious and elegant.”
We were served classic English Breakfast tea by smartly dressed professional staff while we waited for guest speaker Jennifer Ward-Lealand . As we sipped tea out of beautiful china cups, Ms Ward-Lealand joined us at the table as she made her way around the room introducing herself to guests. The thespian and singer was friendly and down to earth. I was looking forward to her speech.
However, there was something else to look forward to — the food, which was served just before Ms Ward-Lealand’s speech. Oh my goodness — I knew it would be good, having eaten food prepared and cooked by Emporium’s executive chef Damon McGinniss before. It was outstanding — think delicate, so much flavour, variety, sweet, savoury — there really was something to suit everyone’s taste.
While we ate Ms Ward-Lealand spoke on what it was like to be an actor in New Zealand. She said it required a lot of diversity as only a very small proportion of Kiwi actors were in full-time employment. The very talented and intelligent woman certainly was diverse. She was also amusing, singing to us, speaking in different voices and finishing her speech in Te Reo. She will be the stage director of the Festival Opera Madame Butterfly during next year’s Art Deco Festival starring Pene Pati, Toni Marie Palmtree, Rebecca Afonway-Jones and Gary Griffiths — don’t miss it.
In the meantime call your friends and head to the Art Deco Masonic Emporium — The Lounge and partake in a afternoon of tea, or maybe some Tipsy Tea, divine food, bubbles if you please, and enjoy this most fabulous experience.
Afternoon tea: Afternoon tea was introduced in England by Anna Russell, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, in 1840. The Duchess found that the wait between lunch and dinner, which was traditionally served at 8pm, was too much for her. She would feel faint with hunger so she asked her maid to bring her a tray of tea and bread and butter to her room at about 4pm. She began inviting friends to join her and by the 1880s it was a fashionable event. High tea: High tea is often mistaken for a flash afternoon tea, however it is rather the opposite. High tea was served in the north of England and lowlands of Scotland to mainly farmers at about 5pm. More substantial than afternoon tea, it was made up of pies, bread and butter and cakes or trifle.
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