I love attending any tea that is organized by our community’s Tea-Quila Rose club and when I heard that it was going to be held at the Lakeside Inn in Mt. Dora and the theme of the tea was remembering the Titanic through food and fashion I was both intrigued and excited.
I had a lovely talk with tea chairwoman Beth Shutty one sunny afternoon about the tea andhow she and co-chair Pat Garton chose the historic Lakeside Inn for their tea. Beth explained that she and other members of the club visited the historic Lakeside Inn looked over the premises and sampled the food and were delighted with what they saw and ate. Beth said they loved the Beauclair dining room because it was very elegant and had a wall of windows that overlooked a garden.
Beth met with the Inn’s tea coordinator Margaret Andersen and was told that the Inn was having a Titanic themed tea and fashion show in April that included a period menu from 1912 and that they would be happy to repeat the tea for the club.
Before I begin to tell you how wonderful the tea and fashion show were let me first tell you about the amazing amount of research Margaret did to make this Titanic tea experience a very memorable event. As the ladies entered the dining room they were handed a White Star Line boarding pass granting them permission to come aboard the RMS Titanic.
On each table there were copies of articles from two newspapers covering the events of the sinking, a sheet with six drawings of the sinking, and a paper napkin holder with the logo of the White Star Line. The one item that caught my attention was a small place card at each seat with the name of a passenger from the ship written on it.
When Margaret began her presentation for the afternoon she brought the group’s attention to those little place cards and said, “I will tell you how you will know if your passenger was a survivor or not at the end of the tea”. My place card was for Miss Constance Sage the daughter of Master Thomas Sage going to Jacksonville, Florida. Much to my pleasure I learned that she was a survivor.
Once everyone was seated Margaret started telling us about the wonderful dishes we would be enjoying at the tea. She explained that the last dinner on the ill-fated Titanic was 11 courses but that the portions were small and a different wine with each course.
The bread course included rum raisin biscuits, scones, with lemon curd, orange marmalade and a specialty of the inn carrot cake chutney to accompany the biscuit and scones. Margaret told us that the carrot cake chutney was created by Chef Tracey. But Margaret said, “Don’t ask for the recipe because she does not give it out”.
The next course was a wonderfully thick, creamy barley soup. It was a very hardy soup and quite delicious. The soup was served in small white teacups on saucers with small white paper dollies. I loved the presentation. Margaret told us, “The barley soup was one of the menu items served at the last dinner on the Titanic”.
The savory course included a quail egg in aspic, Goose pate with Riesling gelee, endive filled with salad, cucumber and smoked salmon rounds and stuffed mushrooms.
The dessert course was a delicate Charlotte russe. The recipe for the quail egg is aspic and the Charlotte russe were Chef Tracey’s grandmother’s recipe from 1912. I traveled to the tea with friend and neighbor Lavergne Crooks and she said as we were driving home, “I truly loved the dessert”.
Dessert served Margaret once again took to the microphone and told everyone, “We are delighted that you have decided to spend some time with us”. The afternoon was filled with Margaret regaling us with historical facts about the Titanic, the last meal served, her passengers and the fashions of the day.
The dresses modeled at the fashion show were actually made by Margaret and the first dress to be seen was modeled by her friend Shirley. The dress is a reproduction of a dress worn by actress Kate Winslett at the very beginning of the movie “Titanic”. It is a beautiful tiered blue sheer dress in lace that would have been worn in Edwardian times. Margaret said, “I thought to myself this is a beautiful dress and I would like to to make it”.
The Kinsail cape from the west of Ireland was beautiful. It had a detachable hood that gave it a very romantic feel and made of very heavy wool that would be handed down from grandmother to mother to daughter.
Many of the fashions were reproductions but were paired with original items such as hats, handbags and shoes. There were also several original fashion pieces that were on loan from USF.
All the models were radiant as they slowly walked around the dining room showing off these beautiful fashions.
Suddenly the tea was over and LaVergne and I were wending our way home. We talked about the tea and I asked LaVergne, “What did you think of the tea?” LaVergne took a moment and said, “I think the highlight for me was the history and the fashion show and I truly loved the dessert”. It truly was a very nice way to spend a beautiful, sunny afternoon.
*Portions of the blog appeared in my weekly column in The Villages, Florida Daily Sun newspaper.