Rachel Gaffney's Letter from Texas

Serving Afternoon Tea in Dallas

The famous foodie who’s flying the tricolour for us in Texas tells us about the ‘Irish Afternoon Tea in Dallas’ that she recently hosted

Last December I hosted a morning coffee for 10 friends. My invitation was very simple. Please enjoy a cup of coffee or tea and a slice of cake. Sit and chat. In the midst of this hectic season it was indeed a welcome respite. It gave me so much pleasure to take out my tea service, light some candles and enjoy the aroma of Christmas baking in my home. The process is as much a part of the enjoyment as the actual tea.

It took time for the daily ritual of afternoon tea to evolve in the 19th century. Equally so, it seems that it took time for the ritual to all but disappear in the 21st century.  It may be available in specialty tea shops and hotels but I’m talking about the disappearance of afternoon teas and coffee mornings in peoples homes.

Over the last few months, I have received many emails enquiring about travel to Ireland, each filled with questions that take time to answer. People have sent requests through Facebook and have asked me when I meet them about the various trips and recommendations I have for going there. I thought it would be nice to host an afternoon tea and introduce everyone to Ireland in my own way. A different way. The date was set for an afternoon tea on March 24.

While preparing for my tea, I was reading our very own Georgina’s column last month ‘ Baking - In Season’  Her opening paragraph resonated with my own thoughts that “the idea of spending hours creating delicious bakes in a cosy kitchen seems very appealing”

I knew I had to make the Ballymaloe Lemon Cake.  I spent 3 days preparing in the kitchen for this tea. As I mentioned, the creative part of the process was so much fun for me. To make the rose petal jam meant picking my roses from my garden and lightly plucking each petal from the stem. As I did this it took me back in time to the days when I was 8 years old making perfume with my friends. We would put the petals in an old time Irish marmalade jar pour water in and just for good measure add talcum powder. We would sell this hot mess to neighbours! Lovey childhood memories are an anodyne for the soul.

I am lucky to have a friend who is so in love with Ireland that when she built her home here in Dallas, she visited several times and shipped almost everything from Ireland to Dallas. Even the gardens were inspired by the Irish woodland. It was here that I hosted ‘An Irish Afternoon in Dallas’

Afternoon Tea in Dallas

When the guests arrived they toured the wooded grounds, meandering over streams, through old gates, and had their photographs taken standing by old Irish road signs (purchased through salvage yards, I might add).

There is something very genteel and civil when pouring tea from a silver teapot into a fine bone china cup. Placing your serviette (napkin in USA) on your lap. I noticed people were listening to each other. Phones were put away. I knew each and every guest at this table but most did not know each other.

One lady was a pediatric neurologist, another a mother of 5 young girls, another a chef from Louisiana who was also a finalist on Top chef and a judge for the Food Networks ‘Junior Chopped’, a mother and daughter from Tyler, East Texas, others from Dallas who have been to Ireland several times but are eager to return.

We did discuss the upcoming trips I have arranged to Ireland but more importantly people made new friends and learned new things about each other. Both Republicans and Democrats around the same table chatting, discussing and laughing. Civil discourse, something that seems to have all but disappeared today, much like the ritual of enjoying afternoon tea.

Afternoon Tea Menu

Egg and cress sandwiches
Cucumber sandwiches
Tea infused posset served in china tea cups with a shortbread bite
Scones, clotted cream and rose petal jam
Ballymaloe lemon cake with home made lemon curd and edible flowers


Rachel Gaffney's Real Ireland


: Rachel Gaffneys Real Ireland
Follow me on Twitter: @Rachelgaffney

Email: Rachel@Rachelgaffneys.com

Watch 'The Irish Kitchen' now on HULU




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