English scones are making a “British invasion” in America – supplanting donuts, muffins and bagels as the breakfast bite of the discriminating diner.
“Scones bring an air of international sophistication to tea or coffee. They are a cultural experience,” said Chef Vera Ambrose, a Michigan State University School of Hotel/Restaurant Management alum who said her special scones have been the calling card of her Ambrosia Gourmet Catering company for years, and now during the Coronavirus quarantine, are being warmly embraced. “People are suddenly in love with scones.”
Discovery has brought debate, though.
Larry David, the comic who plays himself on his HBO hit series Curb Your Enthusiasm, has a scone subplot running through the latest season. David insists to “Mocha Joe,” a Los Angeles coffeehouse owner, the scones he serves are too soft. “Scones are supposed to be hard. Yours are like a muffin,” he moans.
“It’s supposed to be fresh,” Mocha Joe retorts
“Yeah, fresh-hard,” David insists. “I’m not quite sure you know what a scone is.”
David subsequently seeks out the pastry chef at New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel – which David complained had inadequate air conditioning and small bathtubs – but baked the best scones.
Michiganders needn’t go to L.A. or New York to taste the tradition and sample a scone thanks to Chef Ambrose who now ships and delivers to individuals and corporations.
“A proper scone should be both crunchy and moist, said Ambrose, who traveled to England and Ireland to perfect her recipe. “I use only organic heavy cream, which is like ‘liquid gold,’ and Plugra European-style, slow-churned butter. I’ve had people from England tell me mine were they were just like their grandmother’s and the best they’d ever tasted in America.”
“Chef Vera’s may actually be better than authentic British scones,” said Roger Faulkner, who was born in Derby, England and once entertained the Queen Mother during a ball at London’s Grosvenor House. He now lives in Bloomfield Hills. “Scone Queen” is the term columnist Neal Rubin dubbed Ambrose with, and Detroit “royalty,” Mayor Mike Duggan, loves Ambrose’s scones. She recently catered a party he staged for former Vice-President Joe Biden. Ambrose’s scones were a hit with Hall of Fame radio host Dick Purtan, to whom she recently delivered a box ordered by his daughter.
“People love getting scones as gifts because getting a package of scones is a great surprise. It’s an experience not just a product. Sending scones to someone is sending love,” said Ambrose, who has been filling home delivery and gift orders throughout Mid-Michigan and Southeast Michigan during the Covid lockdown. “People need love now – and sending a package of scones to someone is sharing love. It’s putting it right on their porch. People then warm up the scones and enjoy them with warm hearts.”
Along with the traditional scones Ambrose offers cranberry almond; cherry; white chocolate; blueberry lemon; and coconut flavors at $12 per-pack. They can be ordered by phone or text at (248) 756-5195. The flavors are listed at cateringbyambrosia.com.
Ambrose worked at the famed Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor and San Juan’s Caribe Hilton in San Juan before hosting a television cooking show. She then opened her Bloomfield Hills-based company catering to corporations and celebrities at higher-end events for the past 30 years.
Ben and Jerry, the famed ice cream titans, began the same way. They searched for a “big city trend” and then took it to a small Vermont college town. For them, at the time, it was going to either going to be bagels or ice cream.
For Ambrose, it is scones.
Contact Travel Writer Michael Patrick Shiels at MShiels@aol.com