Get set for a creative production of an authentic Royal English Tea Service being held at the historic Powel Crosley Estate in February and March. The tea is being served in the lovely upstairs living area of the mansion overlooking the bay and guests can also enjoy strolling the grounds before or after their luxurious tea.
Chef Larry invited me for a tasting of tea and his incredible sweets and savory offerings just recently for an exclusive sneak peek for the Sarasota Post readers. I can tell you that everything Larry does is like a Hollywood production and so unlike what one normally thinks of in catering. You see. he and his wife Jamie were professional actors in New York and LA for more than a decade in their college years and Chef Larry is just as likely to break into a character or two as he is to tell you every detail of his delectable cuisine. He discovered cooking as a passion and cooked during the summers. His favorite cookbook is Jacques Pepin’s La Method.
Simply Gourmet, celebrating its 20th year in Sarasota, is known for its well-choreographed, researched and prepared food all folded into an event based on history. Just like in acting, Chef Larry does his research and sets the scene with music, dishes and presentation from bygone eras. From Presidential dinners to High Teas, you’ll be pampered and treated like royalty with Simply Gourmet’s productions. Specializing in ‘ethnic cuisine with a classical flair,’ the company will assist in the planning of your dream party whether it’s a wedding or corporate event.
“I see the food as the props; attendees as the actors; Jamie as the producer and I as executive producer,” Chef Larry says in his flamboyant manner. “I’m most excited about my presentation.” Larry will be mingling with the guests during the tea.
“Every year, the Royal Family hosts an afternoon tea for about 8,000 guests at Buckingham Palace,” says Chef Larry, explaining that the tradition began in 1860 with Queen Victoria. “It’s a grand and colorful affair. Men wear suits or military uniforms, and women wear dresses with hats and gloves. The 500-foot buffet table is set with a feast and there’s tea, of course.”
Even his tea is well researched. “The art of tea tasting can be compared with wine tasting…they both have tannins that give you that pucker,” Larry says. “We serve a tea with a mellow profile that’s best for the majority of pallets.”
Savory tea sandwiches include the traditional crustless finger kind with egg and chicken salad, accented with watercress; cucumber, cream cheese and watercress sandwiches; turkey pinwheels with sun-dried tomato and pesto and more. Sweets include delicious, flaky scones dotted with currants; almond cookies; blondies made with chocolate chunks similar to a chocolate chip cookie; a strawberry parfait that features his pound cake, marinated strawberries and fresh whipped cream; and Chef Larry’s favorite, a dense chocolate brownie made with Callabeaut Belgium chocolate.
In addition to the incredible gourmet fare, the Tea has the added advantage of taking place at the historical Powell Crosley mansion, with all of its magnificence and history.
“Attendees will feel as if they’ve taken a three-hour vacation at this event. They can stroll the beautiful bayfront. And be served like royalty,” Larry said. “Each bite has been thought out carefully…I can’t make it any better.”
Select a Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon in February and March at 2 p.m. and treat yourself, family and friends to feel like kings and queens taking a trip back to a bygone era. The dates are: February 7th, 8th, 14th, 15th and March 7th, 8th, 21st, 22nd, 28th and 29th. Wear your Sunday best and don’t forget your hat and gloves. Tickets are $35 and reservations are required by calling 941-225-9122. The Mediterranean-revival style Powel Crosley Mansion is located at 8374 N. Tamiami Trail.
Photos provided by Simply Gourmet