Distractions on the Road

“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.” – Greg Anderson

Foodies on the Fly headed across the alley last weekend (Alligator Alley for non-locals, aka 175 – the 2 lane stretch of road connecting the east coast to west coast of Florida) in eager anticipation of our weekend of relaxation: A Spa-Cation at the Ritz-Carlton, Naples.

Brambles English Tea Room - Naples, FL

We arrived in Naples early to stock up on essentials on 5th Ave prior to check-in. First, we brunched at the quaint Brambles English Tea Room, a hidden gem just off of 5th Ave., run by British couple, Chris & Heather. The decor is shabby chic: floral wallpaper, pink tablecloths, and beautifully eclectic china.

We ordered two pots of tea to share: The Royal Wedding (We had to, it was created just for Kate & Wills!), a blend of China black tea flavored with raspberry, strawberry, kiwi, and a hint of mango and the Caribbean Voodoo, China black tea flavored with cornflowers, mango, coconut, passion fruit, and more (Mysterious and apparently addicting, I order this one every time I visit!).

Brambles Brunch Spread

We started our meal, as any proper tea should with freshly baked scones, strawberries and clotted cream. If you visit Brambles, these crumbly semisweet breads are a must. Then our entrees arrived, Roger’s Salad Nicoise (which wasn’t because we modified and subbed shrimp) and a freshly baked Quiche Lorraine, a signature item adorned with homemade Mango Chutney. The salad nicoise was light, crisp, and perfect for the foodie on a diet (not this one). My quiche was fluffy with a thin crust and full of large pieces of ham and cheddar. The quiche is paired with a side salad and honey mustard vinaigrette, so I received a serving of veggies as well.

The food is wonderful here, but what will lure you back is the ambiance. The owners are exceedingly polite, and the room warm and welcoming. Not surprisingly, it is best to make your reservations in advance as this tea room tends to fill up quickly. (Note: Plan to arrive at 11:00AM, as we did, and enjoy their scones fresh from the oven!) After brunching we perused their gift shop and purchased loose tea (Voodoo, told you I was addicted!) to accompany us home. They also carry a variety of fine English china, Royal Wedding souvenirs, handmade chocolates, and tea accessories.

Brambles English Tea Room on Urbanspoon

Florida Olive Oil Company

Next we visited Florida Olive Oil Company, a local shop that sells their own line of infused balsamic vinegars, and you guessed it, olive oils. Throughout the store are tasting stations where you can try each of over 50 varieties, including some with a dash of sea salts or spices. Alongside each bottle is a short description of the flavor and pairing ideas to spark your inner culinary god or goddess. Examples include: savory – Cilantro Garlic balsamic vinegar, or Porcini Mushroom olive oil, sweet – Chocolate balsamic vinegar, French Vanilla olive oil, fruity – Wild Blueberry balsamic vinegar, Persian Lime olive oil, or spicy – Habanero Lime balsamic vinegar, and Roasted Chili olive oil. We took full advantage of their in-store offer, purchase 6 bottles and receive one free and ended up with… 3 olive oils (Rosemary, White Lemon, and Chipolte), 6 balsamic vinegars (2 Black Walnut, 2 Fig, 2 Espresso), one Chipolte barbecue glaze, and 4 spice packets.

The manager was very welcoming and we ended up staying much later than we thought tasting, tweeting, and talking, so our 5th Ave. trip ended with just two visits, but we weren’t dismayed as we packed up our loot and  headed to the Ritz-Carlton for the start of our Spa-Cation.

Ritz-Carlton Naples, FL

To be continued…

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London Calling: Can’t Make Their Big Day? Celebrate with Tea, Locally

With the Royal wedding only two days away (April 29!) and our invite obviously lost in the mail, Foodies On The Fly have been searching desperately for alternate ways to enjoy our Friday afternoon. Since we can’t attend the most coveted social event of the year the next best thing is to attend a fabulous local soiree, or visit a local tea room and indulge in a royal-tea lunch.

For your sipping enjoyment we’ve listed a few dainty-dining options and fabulous fête in the South Florida area.

West Palm Beach :: Serenity Garden 
Voted “Best place to host a tea party” in South Florida by The Palm Beacher and Boca Life Magazine, this whimsical little cottage is a great place to relax, unwind and enjoy a cup of tea. Reservations are strongly suggested and afternoon tea is served throughout the day.

Parkland ::  Hidden Tea Secrets 
Enjoy an afternoon amongst the trees and fields at Hidden Tea Secrets in Parkland. This quaint tea parlor will pamper you with the finest culinary delights and tempt you with a gift shop filled with chocolates and sweets.

Fort Lauderdale :: Emunah Café & Tea Bar
If you are looking for a modern tea experience than Emunah Café & Tea Bar is your cup of tea.  Located in Ft. Lauderdale this swanky tea bar serves up organic fare and a holistic experience.

Fêtes at the Atlantic Resort :: Friday, April 29, Enjoy a cocktail reception at the Atlantic Resort and Spa in Ft. Lauderdale. Cocktails will be served from 3-5pm along with light bites.  If you are an early bird you can catch the royal nuptials in the Trina Restaurant and Lounge from 4-9am.

Miami :: The Biltmore Hotel – Enjoy a traditional English afternoon tea in the elegant Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gabels.  Served from 3-6pm daily guest can enjoy complimentary music and exceptional treats.

Fêtes at the Biltmore :: Friday, April 29 – Enjoy a post nuptial viewing of the wedding, and indulge on traditional English tea, pastries and champagne complimented by informal modeling of the Wedding Suite collection at Nordstrom Coral Gables. Tickets are $30 and reservations are strongly suggested.

Foodies on the Fly approved

Naples :: Brambles Tea Room and Gift Shop
Hidden in an alleyway this romantic tea room offers homemade delicacies and an extensive selection of teas from around the world.  If you don’t have time to linger and relax you can order from their take-out menu.

Fêtes at Brambles Tea Room and Gift Shop :: Friday, April 29 – Brambles Tea Room will host a special royal wedding tea to celebrate the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Tea is $21.95 per person and the party is free. Call (239) 262 – 7894 for more information.

Naples :: Ritz Carlton
Located in the elegant Ritz Carlton this high tea is served with Wedgwood china, signature Ritz Carlton silverware, and crystal flutes for a champagne toast. Check out our review of  high-tea at the Ritz here.

Fêtes at the Ritz Carlton Naples ::  Friday, April 29 – Guests of the hotel and locals can enjoy an elegant High Tea reception at 2:30 p.m. The tea party will feature a selection of fine English teas, delicate finger sandwiches, gourmet breads, fruit tartlets with fresh preserves, scones and rich pastries—all hand-made by the artisans in The Ritz-Carlton, Naples’ pastry shop. Guests can reserve their space for the event by calling 239-598-6644. Seating is limited. For more information, visit The Ritz-Carlton, Naples’ Calendar of Events online at www.ritzcarlton.com/naples.

Didn’t find anything you fancy? For a list of additional events click here.  Or click here to learn how to make the perfect cup of tea at home.