Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Peony Viewing Party


My mom has 58 peony plants in her garden, which bloom in about the first three weeks of June. Each one is different in color and personality, some having more organized and cupped petals like a rose, and others having wild plumes, and feathered edges.  The season is short, coinciding with strawberry season, so there is always a sense of urgency and reverence to our appreciation of this occasion.  Getting out into the garden to see which bloom has opened over night, which should be cut and brought in to be admired during meals at the kitchen table, is foremost on our minds when we get up in the morning.

Last weekend we held a Peony Viewing Party to herald in the summer months, and appreciate the peonies at their peak.  It was a garden tea in the afternoon, with scones, tea sandwiches and little desserts.  Delicate and decadent, with the added challenge of bringing the peony-pink theme into the food as well!

The Menu:

Rose wine
Iced tea
Hot tea

Orange currant scones
Strawberry jam
Strawberry butter

Tea Sandwiches:
Shrimp with spicy mayo
Goat cheese and roasted radicchio
Beet-tinted mascarpone with walnuts and honey
Cucumber
Ham and grainy mustard

Radishes

Mini cupcakes with pink frosting
Fresh strawberry tart
Strawberries

I awoke Saturday morning to gloomy skies and occasional showers.  It didn't look good for our party in the garden.  We began to set everything up inside: setting out all the food in the dining room, and cutting more peonies to brighten the inside rooms if we were to be cornered indoors by the rain.
And then, just as our guests were about to arrive, the glorious sun poked through the clouds!  We rushed out to the lawn with extra tables and chairs.  The tea cups and wine bottles went out, and the plates of food, seat cushions and picnic blankets.  And there we remained, sipping wine and clambering around in the peony bushes, trying to capture the perfect photo.

Preparing sandwiches

Ellen sketching peonies in the kitchen

The spread indoors

An array of tea cups

Fresh strawberry tart

Hurriedly assembled drinks tables outside.  Tea cosies I made for my parents.


A pink-hued guest


Pink nibbles


The scones with a "peony" of strawberry butter

And the guests of honor....



And one yellow one!

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