Monday, August 24, 2009

Mad Hatter Vegan Tea Party

Who: VN Publisher Joseph Connelly
What: Mad Hatter Vegan Tea Party
When: Sunday, August 23, 2009
Where: Secret Tea Garden House, San Francisco
Why: Fun Fund-raiser for SFVS’ World Veg Festival Weekend

The Scoop: Carmen Miranda didn’t show, though she would have been darn proud that much of her sisterhood was in attendance at yesterday’s Mad Hatter Vegan Tea Party, a unique fund-raiser thrown by the San Francisco Vegetarian Society to support its 10th Annual World Veg Festival Weekend, coming up Oct. 3–4.

Maybe 40 or so guests squeezed into the adorable teeny-tiny Garden Room of the Secret Garden Tea House, mostly women, and almost all of them sporting fancy hats, stylish hats, silly hats—even a deep purple Dr. Seuss-style Cat-in-the-Hat hat (well, the cat wasn’t there. It must have been his human’s day to wear it).

The festive afternoon included a special menu prepared by Secret Garden with tea and vegan delights, such as scrumptious sandwiches (marinated cuke with dill; pesto and tomatoes; banana and walnut), salient savories (rice roll with basil; mini chili-lime corn-stuffed red and green peppers; curry-quinoa filled baby pitas), and smack-lipping sweets (sour-cherry-pear tart; vegan cranberry and blueberry scones; and choc-chip and sugar cookies donated by Violet Sweet Shoppe. More on them in a bit). The fare was as delicious as it sounds, which quite pleased me, since I'd just come from a social engagement where the only vegan items were the fruit salad and dry diner rolls. Thankfully, I held off until the tea party.

The Secret Tea Garden House goes vegan for a day!

Dixie Mahy, the Grande Dame of the San Francisco veg scene, recruited me to judge the Mad Hatter contest. I quickly convinced Millennium Restaurant owner Larry Wheat to be my sidekick, and Larry found the lone woman in the audience sans head-wear as the third judge, “to break the tie.” This was serious stuff. Our assignment was to pick the Most Unusual Hat, the Funniest Hat, and the Prettiest Hat. Nancy Loewen, SFVS’ vice president and a former VegNews intern (no judging bias here) was awarded the Prettiest for this over-the-top topper:

Prettiest hat winner Nancy Loewen, left, with SFVS' one-and-only Dixie Mahy

Next up was the silent auction (this was a fun(d)-raiser, recall). Shoehorned into one corner were about 20 items up for the bidding, including a two-night visit to Mendocino’s The Stanford Inn; gift certificates to such favorite restaurants as Candle 79, Herbivore, and Millennium; and an Almond Milk Chocolate Cake from San Francisco’s own Violet Sweet Shoppe. I’m happy to report that yours truly was the high bidder of this last item—surprise, surprise—which we will enjoy at today’s staff lunch. You can taste the cake along with us at our award-winning blog Café VegNews.

Vegan yums: The Violet Sweet Shoppe Almond Milk Chocolate Cake

Festive festival foodie fundraising. Is there a better way to spend a Sunday summer afternoon?


nora said...

This is so freaking cute I can't even handle it!

mackyton said...

Mad Hatter Vegan Tea Party looks brilliant. I am just in love with these adorable photos. At the local event space Chicago I attended wine tasting themed party which truly turned out to be brilliant. Now I am thinking to use same theme for my husband’s birthday bash.