Making a List at the Holiday Tea

By Genevieve Dee
Images courtesy of InterContinental Mark Hopkins (Connie Perez Wong)

For most, the holiday season starts with a flurry of activities. It starts with preparations for Thanksgiving, resulting in the overindulgence of the Thanksgiving feast and before anyone has a chance to recover, it’s “Black Friday”. The chill in the air and the start of Daylight Saving time brings markedly shorter days signaling warmer jackets, cozy scarfs and fur-lined gloves and boots. Piles of fallen Autumn leaves gather in yards, not far from where, a few weeks from now, Christmas carolers will sing Silent Night. For many, it is the time to make a list.

As we scurry between shopping, parties and merry making, and as we wrestle with the crowds and get tangled in traffic, the Mark Hopkins San Francisco offers a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of the season. On a gorgeous San Francisco afternoon, high atop the 36th floor, with clear, blue skies and that magnificent view of the skyline, I started my Holiday Season with Holiday Tea, a Top of the Mark holiday tradition.

With freshly baked scones, Devonshire cream, fresh preserves and lemon curd, I sipped on the tea of my choice which today was Orange Ginger Mint. The tantalizing selection also included Cardamom Cinnamon, Ginseng Peppermint, Darjeeling Black, Chamomile Lemon and Earl Grey. Finger sandwiches made of Smoked Salmon, Cucumber, Egg Salad and Cheese looked too good to eat as they sat on a double-tiered dish plate. These were delicately prepared by Executive Chef Nenad Stefanovic using only fresh, local, organic ingredients. For my sweet tooth, Pastry Chef Phuong Vuong had mini bites of cream puff, cheesecake, fruit tart and pumpkin pie.

Director of Food and Beverages Joseph Ferragamo dropped by to inform me of the many upcoming events. There are Thanksgiving and Christmas Day Brunches and Dinner Buffets for those who prefer to forego home cooking. Holiday Tea on most weekdays is available for a quiet break or an afternoon rendezvous. A Magical Holiday Tea Buffet for Santa’s Little Helpers on week-ends complete with Petting Zoo, Cookie and Finger Painting Stations and a Magic Show to celebrate the kid in everyone is also planned. There is a chance to meet Santa at the Lobby on Saturdays, so we can whisper our heart’s desire, and on every Sunday in December we can indulge in a Brunch Buffet. A whole evening of food, drink, and dancing is planned for New Year’s Eve and a Brunch Buffet on New Year’s Day to start the year.

I sit back and relax. I enjoy the exchange between old and new friends. I relish the quiet before the storm. I have my holiday meals and activities figured out. I can check that off my list.

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