It’s That Time Again…

Monday, July 25, 2011 10 No tags Permalink 0

Afternoon in the Marais, Fall 2010

Guess what? We are going to Paris in a week!

Last year we did a week each in Paris and Brittany. This time we’ll be visiting Paris, Alsace, and Strasbourg. We might even go to Germany for a day, fingers crossed.

I can already taste the canelés, macarons, ispahans, and puits d’amour ^_^

Any new places (or old favorites) I should check out? Let me know, s’il vous plaît!

No More Coffee, Only Tea

Tuesday, February 15, 2011 11 No tags Permalink 0

Coffee or tea? The answer used to be both, but now it’s only tea.

I grew up with tea, and ventured into coffee during college, when I moved to NYC. And then last year, in the midst of the city’s coffee revolution, I found myself shunning it all for tea, hot and iced. I could drink tea all day long with no worries about the caffeine effect and it was easy to prepare at home. It was something I could drink with grandmother on visits to Hawai’i, her big tea pot stored in a bamboo basket. Whereas coffee made me jittery, tea was soothing…simultaneously comforting and luxurious. It started with oolong and darjeeling my parents mailed from their travels to China. And then our trip to Paris involved just as many tea salon as it did patisseries. I whittled away days inside the castles of Dammann Frères, Kusmi, Le Palais des Thés, and the queen of them all, Mariage Frères.

When we returned to NYC, I cleared out half our kitchen cabinets. This part, I told Monsieur P, will be for tea only. So much fun! We filled it up with tea and tea pots and tea cups. For awhile I concerned that I was more interested in having all this tea stuff, than I was actually into the art of drinking tea. No worries. I eventually phased coffee out of my life, though Monsieur P drinks both. On occasion I find the scent of coffee unappealing, a notion that would seem crazy just a year ago. I will however, always love tiramisu and coffee ice cream.

After we returned from Paris, all these tea shops in NYC open, literally out of nowhere. There was In Pursuit of Tea in the old Matcha Box pop-up on Crosby Street. It’s a tiny space with a selection of teas on a daily basis. You can have tea by the cup or purchase their loose leaf teas in this space. Don’t miss the collection of tea sweets baked by French Culinary Institute’s chef-instructor, Melanie Franks. We just signed up for a Tea Dinner they’re hosting at In Pursuit of Tea next Monday. I’m not sure if openings are still available, but it sounds like a fun experience. $60 a person for a 5-course dinner…it will be a surprise dinner for Monsieur P!

Around the corner on Broome Street, Harney & Sons opened in a long, narrow space. Here the walls are lined with tea, all the way up to the ceilings, just like it was in Paris. Beautiful. You can taste any of their teas and then make your way to the fine tea salon in the back. Tea by the pot. Scones! Savory tea snacks. Of course, tea-flavored ice cream. There is The Tea Set in the West Village, The Tea & Honey Store in Grand Central, and don’t forget Kusmi which opened near Bloomingdale’s last summer. A little birdie also told me that both Mariage Frères and Le Palais des Thés are shopping for retail locations in NYC. Exciting indeed.

The best part? It’s only the tip of the iceberg. This doesn’t even begin to touch on the numerous places for afternoon tea in the city. Which is why I started writing a bi-monthly Afternoon Tea column over at Serious Eats. We’ve been to Podunk and Crosby Street Hotel in the last month, and there will be many more to come!

Till then ^-^

Afternoon Tea: Onion + Parsley Sandwiches, Dark Chocolate + Hazelnut Feuilletine, and Kusmi’s Boost Tea. Plus, Amorino Gelato Opening in NYC!

Wednesday, November 30, -0001 6 No tags Permalink 0

I’m just getting over the cough/cold that put me out all last week, but alas, now Monsieur P is sick! Sometimes there’s just no way to win. We both stayed in this entire Saturday. Lots of hot tea in the morning, soup at lunch and Thai delivery for dinner. In the afternoon we broke for nibbles. In particular, these little Onion and Parsley Sandwiches. The bread is the same style Pullman’s Loaf we used last week from Blue Ribbon Bakery. My dad’s been making butter + onion + parsley sandwiches for as long as I can remember, but he does it on a baguette and tucks the parsley into the sandwich (whole, not chopped up). Apparently it is also known as the James Beard Onion Sandwich…they use mayo instead of butter.

We had butter and mayo on hand, so I decided to incorporate both. Why not, right?

Cut the crusts off, slice the bread into three even rectangles. Butter one side and add two very thin layers of sliced sweet onions (Maui onions if you’re in Hawai’i). Sprinkle on a bit of salt and pepper, then close. Using a knife, apply mayo on the top edge and gently press on the chopped parsley. In the James Beard version, the sandwiches are cut into rounds and the sides are completely rolled in mayo followed by the chopped parsley. Much more picturesque, but I wasn’t in a fancy mood today.

Onion Tea Sandwiches
- sweet onions, sliced very thin
- butter and mayo
- salt and pepper
- parsley, finely chopped

On the sweet end, we shared a few of these crunchy Dark Chocolate and Hazelnut Feuilletine bites from Three Tarts in Chelsea. Keep in mind, these are a lot tinier than the picture implies. I adore all their miniature sweets…it’s the perfect place to go if you’re hosting a tea party and would rather purchase than make dessert. Itty bitty wonders starting at $1 apiece, and they also make great marshmallows.

To drink, the Kusmi Boost Tea in hopes of getting over this cold/cough quickly. It’s a blend of maté, green tea, cinnamon bark, ginger, and cardamom. Literally, all my favourite scents and spices in a single blend. Vibrant! I wish the ginger element came through a stronger, but love the abundance of…

whole cardamom pods. The Boost tea is part of Kusmi’s “energy line” of teas which they started doing last fall. The names, including “Detox, Sweet Love and Be Cool,” are on the cheesy side, but the tea is excellent. Remember, Kusmi was one of the tea shops we visited most in Paris. I made Monsieur P stop in at every Kusmi shop we walked past…and there were a lot of shops! One tin of tea here, another tin there. I guess I kept on expecting to see something different in each shop, but it was satisfying to go into all of them nonetheless. Heheh. In NYC, we’re lucky to be near the US flagship location on 3rd Ave near 61st Street.

Hope everyone is having a fine weekend. I’m allowing this cold/cough to stay another day, and then it must be banished ^-^

P.S. Just learned that Amorino Gelato – a French gelato company with locations all over Europe, is opening their first US location! They’re comparable to Grom in quality and will be down the street from our apartment, taking over the old Recess space at University and 10th Street. The photo above is from our visit to one of their Paris locations in the 7th arrondissement. Four flavors, formed like a rose – that’s their signature you know? Pistachio, Yogurt, Coconut, and Caramel Gelato.

Bon appetit!