Style maven Parker Bowie Larson.
A dreary autumn day can always be brightened by a magical tea with friends. That theory was proven again when I was invited to the weekend home of one of the most gracious southerners that I know, Parker Bowie Larson a.k.a. style editor of the influential and revered design magazine Architectural Digest.
The Virginian natives natural charm and warmth were evident in every detail of the table setting. Her trove of family silver complimented her contemporary Hermès dinnerware beautifully. The unexpected splash of the hot pink napkins added a jolt of much needed color that every gray day requires. Tea to my mind is not an avant grade experiment in culinary sensations, a traditional selection of finger foods is always the best way to go. Happily my southern friend agrees. Enjoy!
Tell Me about the occasion and what you served.
With the weather turning chilly, I decided it would be fun to have a tea party with some of my girlfriends. I grew up having afternoon tea at Keswick Hall in Charlottesville, Virginia. My grandmother discovered Keswick when I was six years old and started the tradition. Nothing beats having clotted cream and scones with a hot Earl Grey tea!
A treat laden table is a must for for a successful tea.
What influences your menu choices when you entertain?
I like serving dishes that can be prepared before the guests arrive and that don’t need too much maintenance while cooking. Tea is easy as you can prepare everything beforehand so you can spend more time with your guests.
No tea table is complete without a selection of scones.
Extra points for serving them in family silver.
Who or what has most inspired your entertaining style?
My grandmother and I are very close, and I always have admired how she entertains. Even when we are doing dinner with just our family at Christmas, she always has flower arrangements for the table, party favors and place cards. I have learned that place cards are always important as it spares the awkwardness of your guests not knowing where they are supposed to go.
Has anyone been a strong influence in teaching you the l'art de recevoir? if yes how so.
My mother has been a strong influence in teaching me the l’art de recevoir. She is one of the most optimistic and outgoing people I know, and those qualities make her the perfect hostess when having people over. Her infectious enthusiasm makes everyone feel welcome and at home.
A yummy tea is the perfect antidote for a cold gray day.
Do you have a favorite china or tabletop item that you collect?
I registered for Hermès Bleu d’Ailleurs when I got married. I received eight place settings, but I love adding to it when I can. My husband actually gave me the tea pot this past Christmas!
Champagne always adds a bit of sparkle to a tea table.