Whether you’re tucking in under a broad umbrella for a midday respite from the sun, or chasing the last rays as the sky turns pink and the temperature drops, summer makes for prime patio season. We’re not the only ones charmed by the outdoor tables at The Teahouse—the patio was part of what drew Owner Richard Freedman to buy the place four-and-a-half years ago. Located on Canyon Road, and nestled beneath the bustle of summertime art-district traffic, The Teahouse is perfectly situated for a relaxing pause between gallery visits. And its beautiful outdoor dining space, nestled among the shade of 70-year-old apricot, apple and pear trees, is reminiscent of plein-air settings in Provence and Tuscany.
As it happened, Richard lined the menu with favorites he learned to cook in Italy: lasagna Bolognese and an Italian chicken pot pie with polenta and parmesan, even affogato, a classic Italian dessert of espresso poured over vanilla ice cream. What his dishes share is an affinity for simple food. “The Italians have such a gift for combinations of flavors,” Richard says. “Classic Italian combinations really work, and you don’t want to do a lot to them because the basic ingredients are so good.” The dishes, of course, are also perfect companions to an al fresco dining experience on the patio.
Italy is driven more by coffee than tea, Richard concedes, but the pairing works, and makes for an unusual, eclectic place. Of the 150 possible teas on the menu (it’s called the Teahouse, after all!), Richard points first to a challenging acquisition: a Pu-Ehr tea aged in the rind of a king orange, which only grows in southern China. That tea is made for sipping in quiet or among friendly conversation, and is quietly enforced by the deliberate absence of Wi-Fi. “I’ve always thought of The Teahouse as a place where someone can come and talk, and never wanted it to be the kind of environment where there were 25 people at 25 tables with 25 machines,” Richard says.
For a taste of the Teahouse at home, we scored the recipes for a standout option for eggplant parmigiana, made from roasted eggplant with a sauce from what Richard calls the best possible tomatoes—San Marzano, and the lemon curd often served with scones and gingerbread. “It’s like a revelation to a lot of people how delicious it is,” he says. And given matcha’s increasingly popularity, Richard sent along the recipe for a summer-ready iced variation to spice up your sunny afternoons. The only missing ingredient? A Tuscan garden in which to enjoy these tastes of summer. Saluti!
Salt (1 percent of weight of tomatoes)
Onion and carrot in equal quanitity, in an amount equal to 15 percent of weight of tomatoes
San Marzano whole tomatoes
Pepper to taste
This recipe can be made with as little or as much eggplant and Parmesan as the preparer would like; quantities have been left to the cook’s discretion.
First, make the tomato sauce. Salt onions and carrots and sweat in olive oil until soft, but not browned. Add tomatoes and salt, bring to simmer and simmer 10 minutes. Run through food mill, cool and refrigerate.
Wash and slice the eggplant into quarter-inch rounds. Salt each side and place in a colander. Place a plate on top of the eggplant with a weight on top and allow to drain for at least an hour. Wipe off the moisture on each eggplant with a paper towel. Brush slices with olive oil and roast in oven until well-cooked.
In a baking dish, place a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom. Add a layer of eggplant, spread some more sauce over the eggplant and sprinkle ¼ cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano over the top.
Repeat the process till all the eggplant is used up and end it with a layer of sauce and a good sprinkle of Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Bake in a 375-degree oven uncovered for 20 minutes or until sauce bubbles. Cool slightly before serving.
Iced Ginger Matcha Latte
8 ounces whole milk
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon matcha
Sugar to taste
Combine all ingredients and shake well.
Three organic lemons
1 ½ cups sugar
¼ pound unsalted butter
Four extra-large eggs
½ cup lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Remove the zest of three lemons. Put the zest in a food processor with the sugar and pulse until the zest is fully incorporated into the sugar.
Cream the butter and beat in the sugar/lemon zest mixture. Add eggs one at a time, then add the lemon juice and salt. Mix until combined.
Pour the mixture into a saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened (about 10 minutes), stirring constantly. The lemon curd will thicken just below a simmer. Remove from heat and refrigerate.
The Teahouse is located at 821 Canyon Road in Santa Fe. 505.992.0972. teahousesantafe.com.
by Elizabeth Miller