At the beginning of last year I was feeling low, quite frankly. Really low. Didn’t-want-to-get-out-of-bed low. I had weathered some personal storms that had left me shaken and vacant, and work, while I love what I do, was not a place of respite.
And then we hired Amanda.
The 24-year-old who interviewed for the reporting job was funny and smart, warm-hearted and curious, humble and confident. Her vibrant personality fills a room, at least in part by the fact that she seems to have only two volumes, loud and louder, but that’s OK because her family is Brazilian. She’d lived in Rio de Janeiro over the previous year teaching English — she’d been to Carnival, man, rode on a float and everything. She loves crafts and pop music, musicals and chunky necklaces. Despite living in Colorado all her life, she defies most of what defines the stereotypical Coloradan: she’d rather be at the beach than in the mountains; she hates snow and owns next to nothing that could be considered appropriate winter footwear, and she’d rather talk to you about feminist philosophy than the 5.11 route you finally conquered over the weekend.
My 30th birthday rolled around just a few months after we hired Amanda, and she brought me silly putty, toy dinosaurs, a Hot Wheels car and bubbles. When my depression would flare, Amanda would remind me that I’d overcome this before and this time would be no different.
She was unlike most of the folks in the office, and she brought immeasurable joy to my workdays. And I’ll go out on a limb and say that rings true for my coworkers as well.
So this year for Amanda’s 26th birthday, the editorial department decided the best way to celebrate would be to take afternoon tea at The Huckleberry in Lafayette. If you’ve never taken afternoon tea before, it’s clearly how the other half lives.
The Huckleberry itself is a bastion of comfort with hardwood floors, eclectic lighting and overstuffed chairs near the fireplace — and the pastry case, filled with carrot cake, blueberry pie, fruit tarts, cookies and flaky pastries. There’s nothing quite so comforting as the sight of a clutch of baked goods, but maybe that’s just me.
Having afternoon tea at The Huck takes comfort a step further. You’re seated at a tabled lined with white linen and set with flowers, silverware and glasses of water with thinly sliced lemon on the rim (far more posh than thick slices). You’re given a chance to decide what pot of tea you’d like to have, maybe an earl gray or lemon mint (we also enjoyed a glass of champagne), and then you sip tea as delicately as you can while pretending not to look toward the kitchen every minute for the three-tired tray of pastries and savory tea sandwiches about to arrive.
Of all the delicious bits and nibbles on the tier — the cucumber sandwiches and gooey lemon squares and flaky artichoke-dip-filled pastries — the scones are the pièce de résistance.
Many Americans may not have the same… shall we say intensity? … about scones that the English do. Award-winning English food journalist Diana Henry spent four months last year figuring out what made the perfect rich and crumbly scone.
“Scones can be sad,” she wrote in a piece for The Telegraph. “They promise so much and often deliver so little. … The prospect of them is full of hope. And then you eat one. At first it seems good — your imagination and optimism helps — but as a bit of claggy dough sticks to the roof of your mouth you secretly admit that a scone can be like the worst bits of life — dry, hard to swallow, disappointing.”
We are delighted to report to Ms. Henry that The Huckleberry serves no hope-crushing scones. Only happiness here.
Served up with Devonshire cream, lemon curd and apricot jam, these scones were a thing of beauty. We raved and raved, and some of us ate our scones faster than others, but the consensus around the table was that while everything was good, it’s hard to make a scone and these were out-of-this-world delicious.
It may have been a simple gesture on our part, but afternoon tea, with it’s perfect scones and Devonshire cream, was our way of expressing our joy at having Amanda in our lives, professionally and personally. So here’s to Amanda… and scones.