Monday, February 21, 2011

TEA with AGATHA

While not the first teacup in my ever-growing, continually-evolving collection, this one called "Torquay" is very near the first.  I spotted it, years ago, across the room at an upscale furniture store as part of a display; it was not for sale.  But there was something about the rich, deep blue hues, and the unusual pattern of sea life on both cup and saucer that drew me in.  One look at the name on the bottom and I knew I had to have it! Why? Torquay is a town in the county of Devon in England that I have had the great pleasure to visit. In the early 19th century the town began to develop into a fashionable seaside resort, and later became the crème de la crème of Victorian society as the town's fame spread, eventually earning it the nickname of the English Riveria.  It was also the home of Dame Agatha Christie, who lived the majority of her life there. The town contains an "Agatha Christie Mile" -- a walking tour with informational plaques and a bust of Christie, dedicated to her life and work.  Mystery lover that I am, I had to have this representation of one of my favorite mystery authors in my collection.  It took a bit of conversation with both sales lady and store manager, but I was finally able to secure it for the mere price of $8.00. I have loved it ever since.

Please join me for a cup of tea and a delicious shortbread cookie, embossed with Agatha's name.  Aren't these adorable?  I used a Brigitte-Keks Message on a Cookie Cutter Set to cut the out and emboss them and it was great fun and a real breeze.
Agatha's Shortbread
1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together flour and salt, then slowly add to the creamed mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Turn out onto a surface lightly dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes. Roll the dough 1/2-inch thick and cut using the cookie cutter of your choice. Place the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 17 to 22 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.
The souvenir city spoon was purchased in Oxford, the city where Agatha's life ended, so I thought it appropriate to include it as well.

Books - The Agatha Christie Collection
Tablecovering - Denim fabric from Hancock Fabrics
Cotswold Cottage - David Winter 1981
Teacup - "Torquay" Mottahedeh England
Brigitte-Keks Message on a Cookie Cutter Set - Amazon
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33 comments:

Honey at 2805 said...

Love post and I feel like I just had tea with you and Agatha! Your items are lovely and I had no idea about the message cookie cutters. I have just happily become a follower.

Lavender Cottage said...

An interesting tea post and your stamped shorbread is sweet.

Liz said...

Love the way you have tied everything in with Agatha Christie! Great idea!
Liz

Sandi@ Rose Chintz Cottage said...

I enjoyed your tea post very much, Pattie! The teacup is very sweet and I can see why you wanted it. I so enjoyed reading about Agatha Christie and her roots. I like her stories too. The cookies are really cute and they look yummy! Thanks so much for sharing and for joining me for tea.

Blessings,
Sandi

Pat said...

Believe it or not, I have read every single one of Agatha Christie's mysteries. I need to get them out and read them again. Yes, I still have some of the paperbacks. Many go way back. I've probably had them 40 years. I began reading Agatha as a teen. I always crave a cup of Earl Grey when I read those mysteries. I wish I could find the Tommy and Tuppence books, there aren't very many. I enjoyed the couple as much as the other Christie characters.

Loved this absolutely gorgeous post! Wonderful!

Terri said...

I love your post! Your cup is so interesting, I have never seen one with sea life on it, and your cup has the most beautiful detailed work on it. It is a piece of art! I love the blue and white as well. Does it have a makers mark on the bottom? I would be so interested to know who manufactured it and maybe even figure out the date.
Thank you for telling us about the English "Riviera". I had no idea and I was hoping to spend some time in Devon this summer.
Thank you so much for sharing with us!
Hugs,
Terri

Ann said...

This is an insightful post about a wondeful author. I really love seeing the beautiful teacup and sacuer you purchased. Lovely setting for a good read.
Ann

marty (A Stroll Thru Life) said...

Very interesting and informative. Love it. Your teacup and saucer are gorgeous, such a llovely pattern. The clock and little house are stunning. Beautiful teascape. Thanks for joining TTT. Hugs, Marty

Heirlooms For You said...

So pretty. I love shortbread can't wait to give it a try. Thank you. Carol

Martha's Favorites said...

Hi: What a great story. I like that you do not give up when you want something. The cup is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing it with us this week. Blessings, Martha

Mary Ellen said...

How fun having tea with Agatha! I hope she let you in on some of the newest snoops!! Love shortbread and will have to try this recipe!!

bj said...

Hi, Pattie, this is an AMAZING tea. I just love it. I enjoyed how you tied everything in. I surely can see why you fell in love with this beautiful cup.
Loved it all...and can't wait to try the cookies. They look and sound sooo good.
xo bj

fitty's pinky rose cottage said...

great post and very informative! tea & shortbreads another lovely sweet treats! thanks for sharing!

Mary said...

Pattie, I really liked your post today and I am in love with your gorgeous tea cup. The biscuits, too, were a lovely addition to your tea with Agatha. I hope you have a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

Anu@My Dream Canvas said...

What a great post. I am glad I found your blog. Do stop by My Dream Canvas. I think you will like my post about Pride and Prejudice!!

Daydream Living said...

Hi Pattie,
It's way past my bedtime, but I wanted to say thank you for your lovely comment today.
Maureen

Elaine said...

I absolutely love this cup. I adore seaside images and this design is so striking. I love your cookies too. From a china collecting mystery reader in the UK! Elaine

Laura Ingalls Gunn said...

What a gorgeous table setting! I love the tablecloth and all the blue.

I hope you will stop by and visit the linky party I am hosting. There are prizes!

Tricia said...

Oh, this post brought a smile to my face! I adore Agatha Christie books, and the blue and white setting with the special shortbread cookies really appealed to me!

Atticmag said...

Love Mottahedah china designs and that one's a beaut. I'm a blue and white person too so I especially enjoy your teacup. The bikkies look lovely, too. Thanks so much for stopping by. Jane

Barbara said...

Wonderful! I remember reading so many Agatha Christie books when I was a teenager. The shortbread is just wonderful! I have managed to avoid that gadget but after seeing this, I am not sure I'll be able to any longer!

Happier Than a Pig in Mud said...

Nice tribute! Lovin' your pretty tea cup and so glad you gave the cookie cutters a try-have fun:@)

Mrs. Serendipity said...

A great post - new to your blog and can't wait to read and see more of your beautiful photos! Great tea cup!

Johanna said...

Hello,
this was a special treat for Agathe Christie Fans and I loved it, too. So nice that you even have a matching spoon to this spechial event.
Greetings, Johanna

Tess said...

What a great post!! I love Agatha Christie and I'm sure she would have enjoyed tea at this table, especially the cookies with her name on them. (I see the Geraldine McEwan photo...she was my favorite Miss Marple)

Tess said...

Sorry...I meant Joan Hinkson (not Geralding McEwan). Joan Hinkson was the best!!

Maggie said...

Just a delightful post, which made me very nostalgic for my homeland.

Marigene said...

Beautiful table setting...love the tea cup/saucer, gorgeous shade of blue.

Entertaining Women said...

The Torquay brings to mind elegant times of leisure by the sea. A marvelous tribute to Agatha. Thank you for sharing your lovely design. Cherry Kay

Yvonne @ StoneGable said...

I have never seen this beautiful Torquay china before. It is so differnt! I lived in England when I was a child and never came across it! It is gorgeous! As are your shortbreads. I love the idea of personalizing it! I put the cookie cutter on my wish list!
Beautiful tea! Wonderful stop!
Yvonne

laurie @ bargain hunting said...

What a beautiful post. The entire tea vignette is gorgeous. That cup and saucer - so unique and beautiful, as is the spoon. Love that silver clock, and how cute to print Agatha on the cookies. Thank you for sharing your recipe, and thank you so much for linking this pretty post to Favorite Things. laurie

Chari at Happy To Design said...

Hi Pattie...

What a lovely tea table, my friend! A lovely cup of tea, a sweet treat such as your shortbread, and a great book...it just doesn't get any better than that! I certainly can see why you fell in love with that beautiful blue transferware teacup...it really is lovely! I'm so glad that the shop owner agreed to sell it to you. Ohhh...and the shortbread cookies look divine...thank you for sharing your recipe!

Thank you so much for sharing this lovely post with us for the Sunday Favorites repost party this week...it was certainly a treat!

Have a wonderful week, my friend!
Chari @Happy To Design

Beth said...

Hi Pattie, I love your teacup and saucer. Very pretty! Your shortbread cookies are amazing. Nicely done!
Blessings, Beth