Party Like a Brit
Celebrate the upcoming Royal Wedding English-style right here in the East Bay.
Illustration by Ben Kirchner
Britain’s Prince William will marry Miss Kate Middleton at London’s Westminster Abbey on April 29. The day has been declared a national bank holiday in Britain, and the couples’ royal subjects will be piling into pubs, throwing street parties, and feasting on old-fashioned English grub. Want to join in? Here’s how to celebrate the Royal wedding in the East Bay.
Celebrations will be bursting with informal British party fodder: sausage rolls (served with pickled onions, robust chutneys, and piccalilli - found in Walnut Creek’s Nob Hill Foods and Cost Plus World Market) served with pickled onions, robust chutneys, and piccalilli relish; cucumber sandwiches, traditionally made with paper-thin slices of cucumber, crust-less bread, and butter with a pinch of salt and squeeze of lemon; coronation chicken, a chicken salad with curried mayonnaise and sultana grapes designed for Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953; Victoria sponge cake; and traditional British scones, dripping with jam and clotted cream.
Best place to buy scones: Sconehenge in Berkeley sells proper English scones (flaky, rich, and perfect with a cup of tea). The bakery is located at 2787 Shattuck Avenue. But if you don’t want to traipse through the tunnel, you can find them at Whole Foods in Walnut Creek and San Ramon, Diablo Foods in Lafayette, and Andronico’s. Visit sconehengeco.blogspot.com for more information.
Best places to buy British fare: Cost Plus World Market (in Concord, Pleasanton, and Walnut Creek) carries a great selection of British fodder including Duerr’s marmalades, Branston Pickle, Ambrosia Devon custard, and Cadbury candy, McVitie’s biscuits, and Typhoo Tea. Its British beer collection includes Fuller’s London Pride, Boddingtons Pub Ale, Newcastle Brown Ale and Old Speckled Hen. Walnut Creek’s Nob Hill Foods’ selection includes PG tips tea, Robinson’s Barley Water, Crosse & Blackwell mincemeat, as well as British pickled onions, chutney, and piccalilli.
Best place to a buy a banger: Banger is just British slang for a sausage. But ask any East Bay ex-pats and they’ll tell you proper Brit-style sausages are hard to come by. But guess what? Pleasanton’s Main Street Meat & Fish Market has come up trumps, selling genuine bangers that pass the ex-pat taste test! Visit meat-n-fish.com for more information.
Plenty of happy ex-pats will be knocking back British beer. But a fair number of merrymakers will be sipping Pimm’s, a gin-based spirit flavored with fruit and spices. Pimm’s was created in 1823 and is the refreshment of British garden parties, cricket matches, and picnics under whispering horse chestnut trees. Find supplies at BevMo andDraeger’s.
Here’s how to drink it: Fill a pitcher with ice, mix one part Pimm’s to three parts ginger ale, lemon-lime soda, or tonic water. Then add slices of strawberries, cucumber, orange, lemon, and fresh mint. Aromatic and refreshing. Warning: you won’t be able to have just one.
The Crown in Danville and Redcoats British Pub in Pleasanton will welcome wedding revelers with their best floral bone china, strawberry cream teas, sandwiches, cakes, fruit trifles, and even fish and chips. If you want something stronger than tea, they’ll be serving Pimm’s, lager and lime, cider, and imperial pints (20 ounces) of full-bodied British brews.
Visit crownpub.com and redcoatspub.com for more information.
The English Rose in Pleasanton, which has 90 teas on the menu, is offering a special afternoon tea complete with finger sandwiches, savories, crumpets, and scones with house-made lemon curd, clotted cream, and preserves. The tea room has 90 different teas on their tea menu and will be offering an extra special royal tea for guests. Several sittings are scheduled April 29–30 ($30 for adults and $20 for children). Go to theenglishrose-pleasanton.com for more information.
The French Bakery in Lafayette will be serving a Royal "Tea" that will start with a flute of Champagne to toast the royal couple's future happiness. Guests will then be served coronation chicken, Scottish smoked salmon, egg mayonnaise, and English cheddar and chutney tea sandwiches, a Queen's scone (the recipe is from an English Chef who had previously worked for the Queen), home made lemon curd and clotted cream. Featured teas include: Mariage Freres Imperial Wedding Tea, English Breakfast, Earl Grey, and Darjeeling. It'll all be topped off with a piece of "wedding cake. The Royal Tea ($38) will be served all day, advance reservations required. Go to thefrenchbakery.biz for more information.
How to make the perfect cuppa tea
Believe it or not, there is a proper way to make a British cup of tea (and it doesn’t involve a teabag meeting tepid water in a paper cup). Here’s what to do:
► Warm an empty teapot by swirling a small amount of boiling water in it. Discard water.
► Place black tea in the warmed teapot. Either loose tea (such as Earl Grey by Twinings of London) or teabags (such as Twinings’ English Breakfast or Tetley British Blend).
► Pour in freshly boiled water and cover.
► Allow tea to brew for three to seven minutes (depending on the type of tea used).
► Remove teabags and pour into fine bone china cups. Milk is permitted (if you pour it in before the tea) but never use cream!