I've heard the name, "Pelican Hill," since I moved to California 15 years ago. It's the kind of place that's always said with a raised eyebrow or a meaningful nod. The meaning: a place reserved for the upper crust.
So when I discovered that Pelican Hill, the Pelican Hill, offered afternoon tea, I just had to find a way to check it out. As it happened, a friend suggested we get together for tea before the holidays, and I told her I knew just the place!
South Orange County has beautiful coastlines, but the wild, rugged beauty of this particular venue is breathtaking. Nestled in the foothills, at the end of a secluded road that alternates between ornate and manicured entry gates to exclusive neighborhoods and the wild, native flora of Southern California.
Arriving at Pelican Hill there is the option of self-parking or valet. On display at the entrance are a 2015 car enthusiast's dream line up of Rolls Royce, Ferrari, Porsche and Tesla - the owners off romping about the resort.
Upon entering, you can see straight through to the opposite wall of glass that offers that that breathtaking view of an unspoiled, native coast.
We were seated for tea, accompanied by the lovely strains from the harpist whose repertoire had something for everyone - from classical pieces, to Train, to AC/DC.
Champagne was the first item on the agenda, a perfect aide to the next task of choosing the tea. The tea selection was presented in probably my favorite presentation to date. A box with glass test tubes, each labeled with the type of tea or infusion contained within. We were encouraged to explore, remove the stoppers and inhale the aromas before making our selection.
The tiered tray of sweets and savories arrived and we tucked in. I was happy to enjoy a version of both cucumber sandwiches and egg salad as well. The currant scones included jam, clotted cream and lemon curd on the side. And I was very pleased to note that a bowl of proper sugar cubes was on the table as well!
It was a full house that day. Every type of occasion was being celebrated, from friends catching up, to mother-daughter time, to a couple of suspected dates, to a large family holiday party where a grandmother presided happily over her daughters and granddaughters.
I don't know what voodoo magic takes place over tea, but time flies and stands still at the same time. What a pleasure to spend time with a good friend, catching up on all that has been happening. It felt like we were there for just a half hour, but just like that three hours had passed!
The price tag might be higher than other tea venues, and it might not be an every day thing, but the place, the view, the beauty, the experience... the moment... is worth indulging in every once in a while.
Afternoon Tea in the Great Room at Pelican Hill
Served Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 3:30 p.m.
Reservations are required at least 24 hours in advance