Teatime at the Vinoy

Me and my friend Genny standing in front of the beautiful Vinoy

One lovely, sunny mid-morning I arrived at the home of Emilie Schmidt to have a meeting with she and Diane Skinner to talk about the Tea-Quila Rose Club’s 6th annual travel tea.  I was warmly greeted and shown to the dining room table where Diane was already seated.  As I reached the table I started to smile. 

For a moment, just a moment my mind drifted back to a time when ladies wore ruffled and lace dresses that just barely touched the floor, ropes of pearls, cameo rings, and wide brimmed hats adorned with flowers and silk ribbons upon their heads.

Why these thoughts?  Emilie had set a beautiful table for tea with lovely tablecloths, china plates, teacups and flowers and the air was filled with the soft piano music.  Emilie had prepared some of her famous moist and delicious scones that we enjoyed with wonderfully warm cups of fragrant Oolong tea.  I was in heaven!

I must say it was hard to remain on topic as we enjoyed our tea and chatted away.  But, I was there on a mission so every once in a while asked gentle questions about the trip and a few personal questions of these lovely ladies.

Emilie and Diane had chosen the St. Petersburg’s Renaissance Vinoy Resort & Golf  Club as this year’s destination for the travel tea.  I asked the ladies how they came to choose the Vinoy.  Diane said that she had been going to the Vinoy for many years for family celebrations and suggested the hotel to Emilie.  So Diane said, “Basically we did a girls day out and previewed the tearoom”.

 They went on to tell me that they also choose this destination because it offered other attractions for the ladies to enjoy.  They mentioned that within walking or trolley distance of the Vinoy are the Chihuly, Dali and Museum of Fine Arts museums as well great shopping along Beach Drive.

Florida Rose Crystal Tower outside Chihuly Museum with Vinoy Bell Tower in background

Curious, I asked the ladies when they started their love of going to teas.  Diane said, “I started drinking tea with my mother and grandmother at the Jordan Pond House in Acadia National Park, Maine”.  “I love tea.  If I ever go to a big city I go to tea,” she continued.

Emilie said, “Not so with me.  The first tea was at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island Michigan with my girlfriends.  It was such a delightful experience”.  “It was the Lilac Festival in 1995.  I was just really impressed”.

At the end of the tea meeting I was even more excited about the trip to St. Petersburg.

 

The Vinoy is a beautiful hotel.  Tea was served in a side room of Marchand’s Bar & Grill.  The room was a beautiful setting for the tea with its high ceiling, beautiful woodwork, cream-colored walls and teal border overlooking the pool.    

Marchand's Bar & Grill

The tea was just wonderful and all the food wonderfully delicious!  We were served individual plates of delicate tea sandwiches of egg salad, chicken salad, wheat bread with thin slices of pickled cucumber with sautéed red onions and a Mexican honey drizzle, and pastrami salmon on a bed of cream cheese and chives atop rye bread. 

The dessert plate was as pleasing to the eye as it was to the palate.  There was a miniature scone, banana macadamia nut bread, strawberry mouse with fresh berries, white chocolate mousse torte with hazel nut filling, and a very decadent chocolate cup filled with vanilla cream and glazed with very thin slices of fresh fruit. 

I met two lovely ladies at my end of the table and had wonderful conversations with both.  I enjoyed myself so much I forgot to take pictures of the food.  All of a sudden it was time to leave.

We departed the hotel to venture off in many different directions.  My friend Genny and I decided to just take a leisurely stroll down Beach Drive to see what we could see.

The Chihuly Museum, Chihuly chandelier at Vinoy, art pieces at Shapiro's on Beach Drive

As we strolled we would pop in and out of the many wonderful shops along the way taking time to look at all the beautiful art in the shops.  We stopped at the Hooker Tea Co. to look at the many teapots and cups upon their shelves and catch the aroma of one or two of their blended teas. 

The Hooker Tea Co. on Beach Drive

I bought two ounces of a tea called “Peachy Keen”.  I was attracted to this tea one because of its aroma but it is also the I always answer the question, “How are you today?” I reply, “Just peach keen thank you very much”.

According to information provided by the shop the tea is,  “a rare flower-scented white tea hand blended with the natural essence of succulent peaches; its infusion is delicate with soft, honey sweet notes of soothing jasmine, osthmanthus and fresh peaches”.   All I know is that it is aromatic, smooth and wonderful.

We continued down Beach Drive and stopped in shops that to me were like being in mini art museums like Shapiro’s and Red Cloud.  While in Red Cloud there was a gentle rain outside and I found myself straining to see through the rain drops at an object across the street and kept focusing to get a better look. 

The more I looked I thought I was looking at a large sculpture of a dinosaur.  I knew that the Museum of Fine Arts was on that side of the street and could not wait until we cross over.

What I found when we finally did was not a sculpture of a dinosaur but a beautiful water oak standing majestically on the front lawn of the museum.  It was beautiful!  I was fascinated and spent a considerable amount of time taking pictures of the tree as Genny held an umbrella over my head.

Beautiful water oak in front of the Museum of Fine Arts

It was time to go so Genny and I headed back to the hotel.  Once back on the bus I asked for a show of hands to see what the ladies had done with their free time. 

Half of the ladies went on to the Chihuly Museum with half of those moving on to the Chihuly Hotspot workshop to watch a glass blowing demonstration.  Caryle Rosenblat said, “It was very interesting and something we will not soon forget”. 

It was unanimous that no matter where the ladies went they had a wonderful time.

Everyone settled down and quietly chatted on the ride back to Spruce Creek taking back with them lovely memories of a beautiful tea day. 

(Note: Portions this posting appeared in my weekly column in the Daily Sun Newspaper, The Villages, Florida).

Enjoy,

Mary

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8 Responses to Teatime at the Vinoy

  1. Geri Blumenthal says:

    It appears to have been a wonderful day Mary. Thank you for sharing your memorable experience. Hope you and Randy are well and happy. Hugs, Geri

    • Hi, Geri–Yes it was a wonderful day. Even though this is part of my new found job of writing for the paper I am learning to relax a little more each day. I enjoy the idea of just sitting for a while and sharing food and conversation with others. Which by the way has never really come very easily for me but I am getting there. This part of St. Petersburg was just wonderful. A few hours was just not enough. I have talked to Randy about going back and spending some time there. Randy and I are very well and very happy. He enjoys his computer repair business and riding his bike whenever he can. You will have to come out and visit some time. Keep well, Mary

  2. Carole says:

    I agree Mary. Just leisurely sitting, eating and conversing is not easy when you have always geared yourself to hurriedly accomplish an outlying goal. I remember our dash in and dash out home visits related to PTA. Too bad we didn’t take the time to relax during those years and just have tea and enjoy each others company. Among our household, wifely, child-rearing and volunteering, we rarely took time for us. However, I do remember your taking time for an occasional “mental health” day and have passed this concept on to many of my friends and co-workers. Alone time is precious, and I am working at not feeling guilty about taking it. Slow down, savor and enjoy all the times you have to share yourself with friends and family. Every activity does not have to be a whirlwind…..age, maturity and not allowing real or self-imposed deadlines to dictate is what brings us to relaxation and enjoyment. Take care of yourself and just enjoy!

    • I remember our days on the PTA. YIKES! that seems like so long ago. I still take ‘mental health’ days and have encouraged my children to do the same. I still find myself, as you say periodically in a ‘whirlwind’ but I have also learned to slow down a bit. I have come to enjoy my tea outings with various groups. Just yesterday Randy and I returned from a bus trip to Helen, Ga. with a group from the community and it was wonderful to just sit on the bus and not work, house clean, or fret about the children. (Yes, even now I fret about the children. Once a mother always a mother.) Hope this finds you well and happy. Mary

  3. Kathy says:

    Sounds like this is an awesome place to visit. Maybe the next time Rick and I drive to Florida to see relatives on the gulf coast we may stop but it might be difficult if I mention tea to him. As for fretting about children; glad to hear I am not the only mother who frets about their adult children. Take care and if you are ever in the Wilmington NC area please stop in.

    • It really was a wonderful place to visit and eat. Along Beach Drive there are many small coffee shops and restaurants. I loved it and I am sure Randy would have too. They only serve tea on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2:00pm and you have to call ahead for a reservation. Randy has actually gone along on several teas with me and the grandchildren. What he does is order off the menu while the girls and I have tea and all that comes with the tea. I worry about my adult girls all the time. We do what we can and keep them all in our thoughts and prayers. Yes, we will stop by the next time we travel through NC on our way north. Perhaps next spring. Take care. Mary

  4. Genny says:

    Mary, in reading the responses, I was reminded of ‘Alabama’s” song back in September 1992…”I’m in a hurry and don’t know why; we rush and rush…..all I gotta do is live and die, but I rush to get things done…..” Why do we do this to ourselves??? When taking time out with friends and a cup of tea would solve everything! [it would, wouldn’t it??] You don’t have to post this; just passing on a thought. Your friend, Genny.

    • Genny, You are so right. We all do rush way too much. And, you are right a cup of tea, a little conversation goes along way in soothing away ones troubles. I enjoy all the teas we travel to. Mary

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