Monday, May 23, 2016

Tour of Italy Tea

Benvenuto al mio seminterrato!
(Welcome to my basement!)

My basement has been a work in progress for a couple of years now, but last month the last touches (the flooring) were finally finished!  To celebrate, I held a Tour of Italy tea--in my brand new basement of course!    

As you can see, the décor is still a bit sparse, but that just made it easier to string up some grape lights to serve as window treatments.

I did decorate one wall with a collage of pictures from my trip to Italy last September.  The poster in the middle was a lucky (and very timely) find at my favorite local thrift store--it is of Saint Mark's Square in Venice (and was only $7!).

I've been planning this tea pretty much since I came back from my trip.  I had so many ideas (as did pinterest--people are so clever)!  

I made postcards of the different places I visited to serve as the menu using some of my favorites of the pictures I took in the different cities/towns.  I had more than this (for example, you can see Venice and Burano in the picture above), but here are a couple that I remembered to take a closer picture of:

(Nightime pictures taken in Rome.  Do you also see the tomato can I used for the sunflower centerpiece?  I saw that on pinterest and thought it was so cute, and it came out so nicely!)

(Lucca--a walled city in Tuscany)

(Orvieto, a city on a hilltop in Umbria)

(Sienna--one of my favorite places that I visited, in Tuscany)

And here is the back of the postcard menu:

I based the menu on a traditional Italian meal--with a couple of changes to made it an "afternoon tea." 

First I served the Aperitivo while I was taking pictures and waiting for the last couple of guests--Asti sparking wine imported from Italy (a popular last minute contribution to the party from my dad so it didn't make it on the menu) and non-alcoholic blood orange flavored sparking grape juice made in Italy from Italian wine grapes.

Next we have the Antipasti (the "appetizers" in English).  I served caprese salad skewers, cucumber olive crostini, and tuna tramezzini (the name for tea sandwiches served in Venice).  All of these foods would be served as "appetizers" in Italy,

along with the last of the antipasti--bruschetta!

Next we had the "primo" course (in English the first course) which is typically a pasta dish in Italy--so, spaghetti and meatball "cupcakes"!

But of course with any Italian meal, there must be wine, so I served a "wine" tea.  This pur-eh made by rishi is called Bordeaux and is made with red wine grapes, elderberries, blackberries, raspberries, and lavender.  I was a bit nervous about serving a pur-eh since I haven't even decided if I like this kind of tea, but this version was a very good fruity tea, and my guests enjoyed it.

(just as a side note, Bordeaux is a French wine, but there are wines made with those same grapes in Tuscany--they are called "Super Tuscans" so I figures this was close enough).

Next we have the Secondo course (second course) which would typically be a meat course in an Italian meal, but for a tea, this was the perfect time to bring out the scones!

These are pane del pescatore, "bread of the fisherman," a traditional cookie like bread served in Florence that is the closest thing to an "Italian scone," but more on that when I share recipes later this week.

Next up we have the Dolci (Dessert).  A friend brought a lemon mint cake (very yummy and refreshing) pictured in the center on my green cake stand, and in the front are tiramisu trifles that I served in my little crystal teacups.

 (You can see another of the postcards to the left in the picture above--this one is of Padua)

And here is the last dessert--Limoncello white chocolate cupcakes!

After all that food, there is only one thing left to serve--the Limoncello digesto, sipped from these amber cordial glasses.  In case you have never heard of it, Limoncello is an Italian lemon liqueur.  It is often served after a meal to help with digestion. 

I didn't get a good picture of them, but the tea favor for this party was a Baci Italian chocolate. 
 Image result for baci italian chocolate
(from the internet)

 Here is one final view of the room.  My father did all the work to finish the basement (except for the flooring), and I think he did a wonderful job!

Here is a closeup of the herbs in the window--rosemary, dill, basil, and parsley--to make it look maybe a little like a trattoria (a name for a "homestyle" Italian restaurant).  

(I used to say I would maybe get a dog when my basement was finished--I work too many hours so that won't happen--so my friend gave me a dog pen as a "basement warming" gift!  I got a kick out of that).

I'm so glad you could join me!  I will be sharing recipes from this party all week long.  I'm also joining the following parties:
Update:  Below are links to posts with the recipes from today's tea.


  1. Dear Carrie:
    Wow - what a wonderful meal and table setting. The food looks so lovely and delicious and the theme would be great fun. I am sure everyone loved this. I know this was a lot of work and that basement was a long project so now you can be happy that it is done! Thanks for sharing and linking.

  2. Your basement looks wonderful, and I expect this won't be the last tea served there. Your theme for this one was such fun, I love the menu postcard and how you adapted the "meal" ideas for a tea. (Spaghetti/meatball "cupcakes" - what a super idea!) And oh, the idea of a lemoncello/white chocolate cupcake makes my knees weak. I'm looking forward to reading your recipes.

  3. Carrie, this is just wonderful! What fun! You thought of everything and what a feast it would be! Your theme is perfect and I'm sure your guests enjoyed themselves tremendously. So happy you shared this with us. I would love to have joined you all. Your father did a great job on your basement too.


  4. Home improvement projects aren't for the faint of heart. Congrats on getting the basement completed so beautifully! You owe your dad a really good Father's Day gift. Ha! I tend to be a minimalist so I actually like the sparse decor.

    Your Italian-themed tea is fabulous! I love everything from the postcard menu to Italian-inspired treats. Wished that I live closer so that I can sample the Limoncello white chocolate cupcakes!


Thank you so much for your comment! I hope you have a wonderful day :)