Entertainment invented in 2003 in the pages of Real Simple magazine, based loosely on the traditions of kaiseki and High Tea, urgently awaiting more research by and adventuresome cooks... and diners! The idea and rules are theirs, the details are all mine.
The rule is:
for one, alone:
for two or three
for four, or more!
- White tea for one, alone (this might also be herbal tea): Whoever would make an Entertainment for just one person? Well, perhaps this is a very special person, who might be sick or you just want to honor that day. It's served on a tray, with all due china and silver and lace and flowers. (Haunt antique stores, get a nice mixed set, if Aunt Agnes didn't leave you her china cabinet..) Food is sweet, and dainty to the extreme: honeyed soft cheese, madeleines, melba toasts with rose petal butter, with herbal and mild flavors predominating. (If using white tea, I would recommend real white tea, not the 'flavored' variety.) Who knows, make a lavish enough tray and they might want to share!
- Green tea, for two or three: This is more of a dinner tea, formal and ceremonial, even though it's still a light meal: broiled, grilled, or teriyaki fish or chicken, with rice (tossed with green tea leaves), green beans, small carrots with ginger, or snow peas with a little sesame oil, and/or some Japanese pickles and/or edamame with sea salt. Serve on rough, rakulike plates, with a lot of votive candles hidden in greenery and some cinnamon/aloeswood incense, for a very intense affair.
- Black tea, for four or more! For this Tea, think about the epic tea party that starts off The Hobbit, a fine late Fall evening with the Inklings at Oxford, code cracking with Alan Turing, the afternoon when Wittgenstein and Popper faced off (or didn't?) with pokers, Fall and Winter Sunday afternoons after the art show, the concert, the walk in the woods...High energy, and just a touch masculine, this is again a good tea to serve cheese, but this time, it's cheddar or Parmesan: Welsh Rarebit, quiche Lorraine, potted or cold meat, thick slices of good bread, bacon and ham flavors, pesto sauce, with apples, raisins and nuts. Pizza Margarita, especially homemade, is good, though if you get too far into takeout, you lose the Elizabeth David accent. Throw some strong black tea (with/instead of vinegar) into the green salad to round out the meal.
You really don't need decor for this, though it's fun to imagine: white earthenware, a staunch Brown Betty giving forth quart after quart, checkered damask napkins, a bare wooden table, scored all around with good use. Brainstorm a tabletop campaign, a new operating system, or simply pay back all your good friends for their support over the years. Have some ale, or whiskey hidden, bring it out at the right time. Cheers!