Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Nutcracker Tea

Since yesterday's post was about Russian Tsars and the country's cuisine, it seemed a natural sequence to write about the Nutcracker Tea I hosted for two of my girlfriends a few December's ago. 
The two-act Nutcracker ballet was choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, with the
music score composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.  The text was adapted from E.T.A. Hoffmann's "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King."   It premiered at the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Dec. 18th, 1892.  Though not a success initially, it has become enormously popular since the late 1960's, and is now performed by countless ballet companies in the United States, especially at Christmas.
Below is a musical nutcracker which I used as an off-center table decoration to help carry out the theme.  
At the touch of a  button, the nutcracker's  jacket opens to reveal a ballerina, Clara, Herr Drosselmeyer, a Toy Soldier, and the Mouse King, while the music to the Nutcracker ballet plays. 
The Nutcracker placemats, placecard holders, spreaders, and luncheon plates all came from Lillian Vernon catalog.  I put them on my Christmas wish list that year [since the tea was held just after Christmas] and my son and daughter-in-law gifted me with them.  They also gave me the Nutcracker teapot which came from the Teapot Shoppe [online].

The Russian tea glasses and pewter holders [podstakanniki] were an anniversary present from my husband when we visited Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada.  Vintage salt cellars were used to hold red raspberry jam at each place setting so guests could sweeten their tea with it if they wanted to, as the Russians sometimes do.

As for the tea... I ordered Czar Nikolas II Russian black loose tea. 

Scones were a basic Land O' Lakes recipe to which I added Andes Peppermint Crunch baking chips, and they were served with "peppermint cream" [whipping cream, cream cheese, peppermint extract and a drop of red food coloring]. 
Guest favors were a bag a mixed nuts, and a box of Celestial Seasonings Nutcracker Tea nestled inside of a decorative wire cup, a Nutcracker, and a molded white chocolate ballerina.
The molded white chocolate ballerina was placed inside a cellophane bag.

The soup was a delicious Russian Mushroom and Potato, and the salad was mixed baby greens with Bartlett pear halves, sugared walnuts, dried raspberries, and raspberry vinaigrette dressing.
Savories were: "Clara's Christmas Tree Sandwich" since the Nutcracker story begins around a Christmas tree.  I used Wilton edible food spray to make the bread [tree] green and filled it with a ground honey glazed ham spread.  The story takes place in a German home so I used smoky link sausages to symbolize bratwurst, and wrapped them in crescent rolls and called them "Fritz's Smoky Links in Pastry."  The third savory was a miniature Reuben sandwich.  I read one account that stated Arnold Reuben, a German immigrant to New York City, was the originator of the sandwich, so that provided something German as well.  I used Russian dressing instead of Thousand Island on the sandwich.
Lastly, the desserts:  German Stollen, Russian Tea Cakes, Chocolate Christmas Mice, [on shortbread wedges], Chocolate Sugar Plums and Chinese fortune cookies to tie in with the Chinese Tea Dance in the ballet.
The last picture is my two friends who attended and me.
[L-R:  Sandy, Lori and Me]
*  *  *

Today I'm joining Rose Chintz Cottage for Tea Time Tuesday - Christmas Tea
Antiques and Teacups for Tuesday Cuppa Tea



  1. What a wonderful themed event! It's quite evident you have fun putting these together!

  2. You are so creative! Love the Nutcracker centerpiece and all the themed table decorations, especially the teapot. (and the jam in the salt cellars!) The tablescape is perfect! Thinking about the Nutcracker ballet always makes me smile - when my children were young, I took them to a local production of it. My son, who was probably about 5, didn't really grasp the "ballet" part of it - at one point he leaned over to me and whispered, "If he (the Nutcracker) doesn't stop all that dancing around, he's NEVER going to catch that mouse!" Still makes me smile after all these years. Said son is now 28 and still not a fan of ballet. I tried!

  3. Hello Phyllis,
    What a wonderful tea you served! You have thought of everything and I'm sure it was a delight to your friends! Love the Nutcracker teapot! The jam in the salt cellars is a cute idea and your treats are amazing; love the little mice!
    I would love to see The Nutcracker live. Unfortunately, we don't have many ballets come to our part of the country.
    Thank you so much for sharing your delightful tea with us and for coming to mine. Your sweet comment is much appreciated and I really enjoyed my visit here today.

    Christmas blessings,

  4. Wow, this was the Nutcracker Tea to end all Nutcracker Teas! I love how that musical nutcracker opens up, and then all your plates and teawares and treats and even themed food ... wow. Just wow!

  5. Hi Phyllis, also just popping over from the link up! Wow, you've taken the Nutcracker Tea to its ultimate conclusion :) I am seriously impressed. It must have taken you quite a while to collect all the relevant items!

    Merry Christmas! :)

  6. It certainly looks festive. I always love seeing nutcrackers at this time of year.

  7. Oh I love your tea! Your decorations so festive and the menu so perfect for the theme! I've never heard about the food spray, I always have the bakery make the colored bread. I'll have to try it next time!

  8. What a great nutcracker collection! Wonderful. I LOVE the chocolate mice on the shortbread. So cute! Thakns for sharing and linking to Tuesday Cuppa Tea!

  9. Delightful scones, adorable Christmas mice, and what a lovely Christmas tea, Phyllis!

  10. thanks for sharing.

  11. Hello, I know this might be strange commenting on something from almost 3 years ago, but I was wondering if you still might have the musical nutcracker you have pictured here and would maybe be able to help me figure out a name or collection it belongs to. I have a blue version of this nutcracker, but our family has lost the box since we got it many years ago and I am looking to find a replacement in case ours breaks. Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated! I just happened to stumble across your blog post through my many google searches. Thank you very much!

  12. I too have been searching for one for my mother. My grandmother gave her one as a gift and we have been in search of another for a couple years now. It has been pushed on so many times by the children, grandchildren, and parents so much I am sure he is soon going to be retiring. Where can I find another?

    1. The Nutcracker belonged to a friend who let me borrow it for the tea. She no longer had the original box and the Nutcracker itself had no markings as to the manufacturer. My friend said she purchased it at Big Lots several years ago. I too searched on line to find one to purchase myself but all attempts were futile. I'm sorry I can't be of help.


Thank you for visiting my blog. If you would like to leave a comment, I'd love to hear from you!