SIERRA DINING: Tea Eras is a True Time Trip
By Antoinette May Herndon
You don’t usually have lunch with a man at a fancy-pantsy tearoom. Especially a tough guy like John Takacs who writes action novels about car chases and murders and things like that. But I needed to talk with John about writing stuff—we’re doing a conference together. He lives in Volcano, I in Moke Hill. Sutter Creek seemed a good place to rendezvous.
Besides, I was curious to track Kristi Winter and Fran Perry to their lair. Kristi and Fran came into my life last summer when they catered two events at my home. One was an elegant garden wedding, the other an 80th birthday bash. The food and service at both were nothing short of sensational. Kristi and Fran know how to do things and do them well. I’d heard they operated their catering service out of a tearoom and was curious to see it.
Tea Eras was a delicious surprise. It’s “darling”—yes, that’s an overworked word, but in this case quite appropriate. Imagine having tea at your auntie’s. Not your real aunt, of course, but some wonderful, fantasy person who lived at least 100 years ago in England maybe.
Think of tiny rose bouquets, exquisitely painted china and lacy tablecloths.
Now think of tea: Ceylon Supreme, a mellow, smooth orange pekoe with a subtly sweet flavour. Perhaps a rich, full bodied Earl Grey scented with oil of bergamot or the regally blended Prince of Wales with hints of black currents. Kristi, a worldwide tea broker (teashop.net) can really pick them.
Fran and Kristi, stay-at-home moms, met through their children, but soon discovered a shared love of fine china, whimsy and, of course, tea. So why not open a tearoom? That was five years ago and they’re going strong. Besides serving lunch and catering, Kristi and Fran do special events like princess teas for little birthday girls and candlelit dinners for romantic adults.
Okay, back to John. Was he suffering a hormone high? Was this all a little too precious for a real man? Not at all! To our right was a table for four equally divided between the sexes. They were planning an upcoming event, a power lunch no less. To our left was an older man happily settled in with a large pot of tea and the morning paper. Guys definitely go there. The china may look
like fragile museum pieces, but there’s something solid and inviting about the exposed brick walls of the 1890s building.
John and I each chose the ManaTea ($11.50). It included bacon, lettuce and tomato with cheddar cheese on a croissant. Nothing namby-pamby about that BLT. With it came garden fresh salad, strawberries and tea bread. We shared a pot of tea ($3.50)—Darjeeling, the champagne of teas. For dessert, John had the Tea Eras signature scone with clotted cream and preserves ($1.50). I picked Beverly Moore’s lemon bar ($2.50) a treasured heirloom recipe from the much beloved tearoom proprietor who once inspired and mentored Kristi and Fran on their maiden venture.
VITALS: 34 Main St., Sutter Creek. (209) 267-0333,. Lunch served daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tea served until 5. Credit cards accepted. Reservations desirable. Special dinners served for groups of ten or more. Event catering.
Fran Perry, left, and Kristi Winter toast their continued success.
Teacups are a decorative and saleable touch at Tea Eras.
Each table setting is one of a kind at Tea Eras.