Wednesday, May 15, 2013

English Cottage Tea Parlor, Grand Rapids, MI

On Tuesday, May 7th we awoke to our second, yummy breakfast at The Parsonage Bed and Breakfast, served promptly at 9:00 a.m., in the beautiful formal dining room of the home. Bonnie, the proprietor, had a cute sense of humor.  She said when a minister was a guest at her Bed and Breakfast he inquired about advanced breakfast menus.  She told him parishioners never get advanced titles of pastor's sermons, so he shouldn't get advanced  breakfast menus either!  ;-)

Our menu that morning turned out to be one of Bonnie's gourmet specialties - baked pancakes.  She's been serving them to her guests for 29 years!

Because of their popularity, about a year and a half ago, Bonnie decided she wanted to put the recipe on the market for others to enjoy.  Her daughter died from ovarian cancer in 2012, so she is hoping the recipe will also generate money for ovarian cancer research.  After diligent work and support from two students at Holland New Tech [a technology driven high school], Bonnie's goal of a commercial mix for her baked pancakes finally became a reality, and made its way onto the shelves at Shaker Messenger and Folk Art Gallery [in downtown Holland] on May 3rd.   Bonnie and her baked pancake mix were featured on the front page of The Holland Sentinel while we were there.  Congratulations, Bonnie!  Jerry and I can both attest to the fact that your baked pancakes are delicious.

When I returned home I did a little research on baked pancakes and found out they go by an assortment of names - "Big Dutch Baby," Dutch puff, German pancake and Bismarck.  They're a sweet popover, derived from the German pfannkuchen.  The "Dutch" nickname came from the German-American immigrants known as the Pennsylvania Dutch.

Also on the menu that morning were fresh strawberries and yogurt, and Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spiced tea.   

Being nutritionally fortified, we were set for the day ahead of us.  The first thing on the agenda was a stop at Centennial Park.   The City of Holland was founded in February 1847, under the leadership of Dr. Albertus Van Raalte, who immigrated from the Netherlands with a group of 60 men, women and children in 1846.  They cleared a one-block square of land in the center of the colony to serve as a market square - which is now known as Centennial Park.

Statue of Albertus C. Van Raalte

I couldn't resist taking a picture of this group of daycare children that had walked over to Centennial Park.  They were so precious in their Dutch costumes.

Tulips in the park.  Over six million tulips are planted throughout the City of Holland during the tulip festival.  That's A LOT of tulips!

Waterfall in Centennial Park.

The Holland Trolleys line up at Centennial Park for sight-seeing tours of the city.  We opted to drive to each attraction  rather than getting on and off a trolley.   However, by doing so we missed hearing a lot of history and interesting details provided by the costumed guides.  We'll include the trolley tour on our next visit.

Aren't the trolleys quaint?

I spotted this car across the street from the trolleys, so I had to take a picture of it.

These signs are placed throughout the city.

Holland is a clean, friendly, beautiful city, but it lacks one thing... a tea room!  I can't believe someone hasn't opened a tea room there, or one of the hotels doesn't offer Afternoon Tea as an amenity.  I asked our Bed & Breakfast hostess if she had ever thought of offering it, but she didn't want the hassle of dealing with city regulations.

Before I left home I went on the Internet [], and found a listing for English Cottage Tea Parlor in Grand Rapids, MI.   Since I knew we were planning to drive to the Grand Rapids area  one day while we were in Holland, I hoped a visit to the tea room might work.  [Grand Rapids is only 38 miles from Holland.]  Tea room owner, Cynthia Wedge, operates her "by reservation only" business out of her home, where she serves monthly theme teas.  She has a minimum requirement for Afternoon Tea, but was willing to serve my hubby and me a Cream Tea.  Our reservation was for 1:00 o'clock, which was perfect since we were having dinner with friends at 4:00 o'clock.

After chatting with Cindy I found out we had something in common besides our love for tea. We  both took Dawnya Sasse's on-line tea course.

Below is Cindy's living room, which would be filled with ladies on Saturday for her Mother's Day tea.  Between her dining room and living room she can accommodate up to 20 ladies.

We had our Cream Tea in the dining room.  

I ordered Mango Green Tea, a sencha, which was light and delicate, and very good.  Jerry ordered Purple Berry Tea, a Kenyan black tea, which he said was very good too.

Cindy provided two scones - a traditional cream scone and a chocolate chip scone.

We spent about an hour at Cindy's, and then were on our way to visit our friends.  Their zip code is Grand Rapids, but they actually live 12 miles east of Grand Rapids in the unincorporated village of Ada.  It was a beautiful afternoon so we dined al fresco on the upper deck of Schnitz's restaurant [pictured below].  

After dinner we walked across Ada's historic covered bridge.

Jerry with our daughter-in-law's parents, Don and Roxanne.

The next morning was our final breakfast at The Parsonage Bed and Breakfast, and Bonnie pampered us with a green blossoming tea.  It was not only pretty to watch unfold, but was delicate and delicious to drink.  

The breakfast consisted of a ramekin of  custard, fresh pineapple chunks, pig in the blanket [sausage in pastry], muffin, and juice of our choice.  I chose tomato juice.  Everything was delicious and Bonnie sent us off well fed.

This concludes my blog series on Holland.  Hope you've enjoyed the "armchair" travel.


  1. I enjoyed the armchair travel very much. The preschool children dressed in Dutch costumes were simply adorable! The food and tea experiences looked delicious and relaxing. I love puff pancakes (yet another name) and first learned to make them 30 some years ago from a friend who taught English at the middle school I taught at. Always a favorite!

    Gracious Hospitality

  2. Hi Phyllis,
    I never knew there was so much to see in Holland! What a wonderful mini vacation! I enjoyed seeing all the tulips and the little children looked so sweet! I make the puff pancake but call it Kropsua, a Finnish pancake. I'm so glad you found a tearoom to enjoy! Thank you for sharing your trip! I really enjoyed your posts and pictures!

  3. What a wonderful treat of a get-away.

  4. Oh, I very much enjoyed the armchair travel--loved hearing about the pancake mix that will benefit a good cause, and seeing the picture of the cute children, and, well, everything else for that matter! We just got back from a quick trip to Wisconsin, and Alex keeps saying how those Michigan commercials on TV are so enticing. I keep thinking, "Yes, and I can go see Phyllis, too!"


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