Friday, December 27, 2019

I Found A Gem of a Tea Room in Manchester, Maryland by Karen Rose Smith

After all these years, it is difficult for my husband to find different venues to celebrate my birthday.  This year he happened across a newly opened tea room only about twenty minutes from our home.  Considering that my Daisy's Tea Garden cozy mysteries are set in a tea room in nearby Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, this new establishment seemed the perfect place to celebrate.  They were featuring a "Starry Night Tea" on the weekend of my he made reservations and we headed for the Steeped Tea Cafe in Manchester, Maryland on a sunny December Sunday afternoon.

The tea room was festively decorated with Christmas merriment and the tea rooms were also adorned with traditional "tea" items.  We were seated in the spillover room which gave us the entire three-table room to ourselves.  It was enjoyable to have some quiet time away from the phone and computer to chat and enjoy the Christmas music that surrounded us.

The menu was displayed on each table and we knew we were in for a real treat. 

After our choice of tea was served, our first course was a delicate cranberry chocolate chip scone which blended really well with the Starry Night tea, a custom blend made at the Steeped Tea cafe.

That was followed by a delicious potato leek soup that was complemented by an arugula and pomegranate salad with a champagne vinaigrette dressing.

While we were waiting for the main course and dessert tower, we had a chance to chat with our waiter who was a family member of the owner.  We discussed how the business came to fruition as a family endeavor and how the cafe differed from other tea rooms in the vicinity.  It's always good to have research resources for future cozy mysteries right at my doorstep.

We certainly were not disappointed when the layered tea tower was presented.  The lower level featured grilled shrimp bruschetta, beef and blue cheese crostini and butternut squash puffs all of which were  accompanied by the dessert offerings -- toasted hazelnut glazed pumpkin cake, a red velvet trifle and dipped Madeleines.  Needless to say, by the end of the dessert course I was stuffing my cake and Madeleine in my purse to enjoy later.

After we finished our meal, we were greeted by Brandon Reiter, the chef and owner of the cafe.  It was enjoyable discussing the business and getting a peek into the intricacies of creating a menu and preparing enough food to serve all the guests on a given day.  Chef Reiter never believed he would end up owning and operating a tea room when he graduated from the Culinary Institute of America.  But he has enjoyed the last 18 months of ownership and hopes to expand the business even more.

Quiet time with my husband, a unique tea cafe and delicious food...what better way to spend my birthday?  Please feel free to share your unique dining experiences as you celebrate special events in your year.



Keith Rebert is homeless with a sad story that includes the death of his wife and medical bills that decimated his finances. Daisy and her friend Jonas Groft meet him through one of Daisy’s employees and offer help. But soon Keith is caught up in a murder investigation. He was supplying the shop Pirated Treasures with antiques, including Gettysburg Battlefield memorabilia. The nephew of the shop’s owner, Barry Storm, was lowballing merchandise that Keith brought in. One day Keith and Barry vehemently argued. Soon after, Barry was found dead, killed with a marble rolling pin that held Keith’s fingerprints. Daisy’s special for the month, cherry tarts, was found spilled on the floor next to him. Keith is the number one suspect.

Keith finds a job on a farm where he can live in a cabin with his daughter Mandy. A friend of Barry’s lived and worked there before the murder, then suddenly moved out. As Daisy finds clues that give insight into Barry’s life and prepares for her daughter’s wedding, she faces danger, verbally battles with the detective on the case, and tries to figure out what part Jonas Groft plays in her life. When she finds the ultimate clue that tells her exactly what Barry Storm was involved in, she almost loses her life. 

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