Earlier this month, Paul and I went up to Wells for a long weekend. It was really nice. We got some time at the beach, and the water was miraculously warm enough to swim in. We also went on a little adventure to nearby Mount Agamenticus.
The most memorable part of the weekend though was probably the cognitive-dissidence inducing dining experiences I had on Saturday. In the afternoon, Paul's Mom, some family friends, friends of family friends, and I went to a local Bed and Breakfast for a formal tea. In all, we were a party of 7. In all, we were all ladies.
I had already seen one of the women, Bev, earlier on that day. I was reading out on the deck of the trailer, when she came wandering up the row calling out "Betty? Where are you? Betty?" It was like she was calling for a dog. I found out then that Betty was another woman in our party. She was slightly older and a living breathing stereotype of a lady from Queens. She apparently met some folks at another campsite and started hanging out with them.
When we walked through the door of the turret-topped Victorian mansion, we were greeted by an intensely earnest, impish lady in her 60's. She implored us to sit down a beautifully decorated table, dotted with honey pots and sugar bowls and small vases of wild flowers. The place settings were meticulous and violently floral.
"I'll be right back!" called our hostess, "We're just ironing our aprons!"
We were given laminated menus, with a list of teas sold by the pot. We all took a moment to look around and admire the dining room, sun pouring in from the long windows through the sheer drapes. The walls were loaded with floral wall paper, and shelves bursting with extra china and oriental antiques.
Shortly, our hostess returned with our waitress, Millie. She had the face of a 80 year old lady, but the hair of a 30 year old tv weather lady. She seemed sort of tense, and had a noticeable facial twitch when she talked. Three times during the course of our tea, she nearly took out half the dishes. Maneuvering around the room, she jostled a chest high, wall-mounted rack of china with her elbow. The plates and teacups rattled disconcertingly, and a few people in the room gasped. Later, her freshly starched apron got caught on a nearby, unoccupied table, and she nearly dragged everything with her. Everybody at the table started shouting "Whoa Whoa! Watch out!"
Aside from the comical elderliness and froufrou decor, this place was seriously lovely though. The cookies and scones were all fresh baked, and served on a elegant brass pastry tower. It all came with locally made jam and clotted cream. Millie and the Hostess got in a little scuffle at one point over who got to take credit for the lemon curd.
"If you hear shouting back there in the kitchen, you'll know why!" one of them had exclaimed.
The tea was really exceptional, and came with the thinnest slices of lemon I've every seen. 6 of us shared 3 pots, and Betty got Hot Chocolate, because she doesn't like tea. Good thing she was at a tea house, huh?
My favorite part was when Betty told the shaky waitress that she doesn't like Tea, so Hot Chocolate was her only option.
"I'm really much more of a coffee drinker." She said.
"Oh! Well we've also got a variety of European style coffees" Millie stammered.
"No, No Hot Chocolate is fine" she returned, a little louder than necessary.
Later on, as we were slathering our freshly baked scones with jam, she expressed again how much she would have liked a coffee. Somebody mentioned that they had coffee here, and Betty said something like "Oh I wish I had known that." It got a little awkwardly quiet then.
Most of the ladies ordered fruit flavored teas. Paul's mom and I opted to split a pot of "Buckingham Palace Tea Party", which was a blend of Earl Gray and Jasmine. It was very nice, especially with a little honey from a beehive shaped jar, and one of those impossibly small lemon slices. I felt very sophisticated with holding the thin bone china, and keeping my ceramic tea pot on a little candle-fueled warmer.
It was quite luxurious all in all, with the decadent desserts and the fancy dishes. Millie even gave us a porcelain bell to ring if we needed anything. We ended up using it once, even though most of the ladies were very very embarrassed about doing it. Someone wanted to know what one of the types of cookies was called again. I left feeling quite fancy indeed.
Not even 4 hours later, we were getting dinner with the family at Biker-friendly establishment called "Big Daddy's". The walls here were covered by corrugated metal and facetious road signs about rednecks. There were pool tables, and a live music stage where a guitar player was warming up for later that night by playing "Stash" by Phish over and over again.
While waiting to be seated, somebody made a double entendre about somebody liking to eat a lot of nuts, and everybody laughed. This would not have flown back at the B&B. Millie would have been so embarrassed!
Our new waitress was a 40 year old lady with long, candy-apple red dyed hair and gigantic breasts. She wore a trucker hat and a skin tight t-shirt.
Nick, a college-aged family friend who joined us, ordered an appetizer sampler that came in a basket the size of a marimba. The hot sauce for his wings came in flavors like "WTF" and "The ass-burner". When the waitress found out that Nick worked at a chain upscale restaurant, she flirted with him and tried to find out how said chain makes their whipped butter.
Eating in two places that were so profoundly and fundamentally different took me a few days to wrap my head around. It definitely made the weekend interesting!