San Francisco | Red Blossom Tea Company | Dong Pian

Tuesday, November 27, 2012 3comments No tags Permalink 0

Oolong for this rainy, rainy Tuesday morning.

When we visited San Francisco in October, we made sure to stop by Red Blossom Tea Company to try out a few new teas.
It’s a family business – the father and mother sell ginseng in the back of the store, and the son and daughter do the teas. Their oolong selection is impressive and I wish they would open a second in NYC. We need more tea shops in the city…I’d trade in all our coffee places and cocktail bars for one truly amazing tea spot. 
After looking through (and sniffing) all the oolongs, we settled on our and sat down for a cupping session. This was Pierre’s first real cupping, so he was pretty excited hehe. 
My favorite of the bunch was Dong Pian (冬片,杉林溪烏龍茶), a formosa oolong.

The specific batch we purchased was the 2012 winter sprout. Pricey at $248/pound but worth every penny. Remember how much I love milk oolongs? I eventually learned that there’s no such thing as an actual milk oolong.* You can find oolongs that come close in taste to the maple-sweetness we associate with milk oolongs, but most teas labeled “milk oolong” have been washed and flavored. You’d think there would be better regulation on this – flavored is fine (natural is best, but I’m not going to shun all flavored teas), but it should be disclosed. 

But that’s why I loved this Dong Pian so much…it’s unusually sweet and creamy, just like a milk oolong but completely natural. You can even smell the subtle sugar cane, maple-esque flavors of the the leaves, and the flavors are even more intense and clear when you do a cold brew. Look how they open up after the first round. Beautiful :) 

*If you want a “real” milk oolong, don’t ask for a tea with the name milk oolong. Go to a reputable tea shop and ask the people there for a natural oolong that is most akin to the flavors of milk oolong. It’s definitely won’t be named “milk oolong.” 

Odds and Ends from San Francisco

Friday, October 19, 2012 0 No tags Permalink 0

Last batch of goodies from San Francisco…aka all the odds and ends.

Afternoons at the Four Seasons

…and mornings at Ritual Coffee.

Other mornings at Four Barrel Coffee…

….and the “Chocolate Thing” from Arizmendi Bakery. A cheerful, large and buttery bun with dots of semi-sweet chocolate chips.


Crazy good sandwiches from The Sentinel.

Dinners at Beretta and Farina…

…Mission Street Eatery and Nopalito.

Late night delivery from Mission Chinese Food (I still haven’t visited the one in NYC).

A day in Sausalito (it’s

We always have lunch at Sushi Ran…

…don’t forget the uni ^_^

….and then get ice cream at Lappert’s. It’s not affiliated with the original Hawai’i Lappert’s (which I just learned). But they still have my favorite flavor, the Kauai Pie.

San Francisco XIII: The Ferry Building

Thursday, July 15, 2010 10comments No tags Permalink 0

The Harbor Court Hotel, which Monsieur P booked for our stay in San Francisco, was near perfect. We were across the street from the Ferry Building, which proved mighty convenient. We could step out the door and into Blue Bottle Coffee in the mornings, the Farmers Market multiple times a week, and to Hog Island Oysters for afternoon feasts.

The best part? Nightly rates were only $99!! Their ordinary room rates are slightly higher, but there was a summer special and we definitely took advantage. The rooms were on the small (very small!) side, but the service was top notch and they had free happy hour in the hotel lobby everyday. And yes, we went. Every. Single. Day. There was free coffee and tea in the morning, lemonade in the afternoon, and milk and warm cookies in the evening. Free wifi, and super fast macs in the lobby. Plus a hotel manager that was very well versed in the neighborhood restaurants, cocktail bars and ice cream shops. Loved it.

We woke up early each morning, and started the day with Iced Coffee, New Orleans-Style at Blue Bottle…

…and on certain days we had the iced coffee twice. It was that good. What makes it “New Orleans-style”? The coffee grounds are blended with chicory. Give it a quick Google search and you’re bound to pull up many recipes.

Monsieur P had the latte one morning, but then went back for the iced coffee on all other visits. It’s not that the latte was less than stellar, oh no, it was just that THAT NEW ORLEANS ICED COFFEE. It was blow your mind awesome.

There was always a line, no matter what time or what day we went. But it worth the wait, and the final product was much better than the Brooklyn location of Blue Bottle.

They make pastries in-house, and though I wanted to try everything (especially the bread loaf made with Arborio rice!!) I ended up sticking with the Liège Waffle that was truly spectacular. It’s only $3, and made to order. A liège waffle is a waffle of the yeasty sort, with sugar pearls sprinkled over the surface of the dough right before it gets pressed in the waffle iron. The result? Crisp pockets of sugar laced in each bit, the slightly bit of sweet in this hot crunchy, chewy creation. I could easily wolf down three every morning. No butter, no syrup, nothing else required. So perfectly simple and delicious.

…here’s a look at the innards. See the pull of the waffle? Not cakey, but yeasty, closer to bread. As far as NYC goes, the Wafels & Dinges truck does a pretty good liège waffle…but still, it’s not the same! I still need to try the one from Petite Abeille.

They accidentally forgot our waffle order one morning, and gave us a pair of Pizza Dough Biscotti with Almonds while we waited for the waffle. I wasn’t sure what to think of the biscotti – it was slightly salty, but not in a good, man I want to dunk this my coffee way. Mainly forgettable. The only things you need to know here is NEW ORLEANS ICED COFFEE AND LIEGE WAFFLE.

Oh! And maybe. MAYBE. The Affogato. Hehehe. I got this for 9am breakfast one morning and Monsieur P thought I was crazy/a glutton. Two big scoops of Maple Walnut Ice Cream with a shot of espresso. The ice cream is by Humphry Slocombe in the Mission. Have you read the recent New York Times article on Humphry Slocombe? If not, you really should! The article was published just a week after our trip, and it made me really regret not visiting the actual ice cream shop.

In addition to our morning iced coffees and waffle, we would also pick up a few other snacks at the Ferry Building. This included goodies like the Ham and Cheese Turnover from Acme Bread

…and a few of the mini rustic rolls to pair with cheese from Cowgirl Creamery next door.

Pepato Cheese

I eventually got over my phobia of flies inside the cheese shop (the flies still gross me out, but my desire for cheese seemingly overpowers everything).

Then there are the Meat Cones from Boccalone (owned by Chris Cosentino and Mark Pastore of Incanto). $3.50 a cone – a succulent, albeit small, sampling of three types of housemade salumi.

Per Carey’s recommendation, I also picked up a log of their Nduja, a soft spreadable spicy salami. Have been spreading it on nearly every piece of baguette/cracker/yeasty carb I find at home. Here’s an article by Julia Moskin with more about the Nduja – very interesting.

We’re almost through with our log, but luckily, I just learned that Murray’s Cheese also carries it! It’s costs about $3 more at Murray’s, but is totally worth it.

And for more substantial snacks, Gott’s Roadside (aka Taylor’s Refresher) with their order at the counter, fast food, but good food, lots of seating, is a good greasy bet. Pictured above – the Mini Corn Dogs and Onion Rings meal for $8.99. Light and healthy this is not. Good afternoon snack-y food, best shared with another. The Espresso Bean Milkshake is solid, and sweet potato fries are another must-get from Gott’s.

And now you see why it was so important that our hotel was next to the Ferry Building?! It was really a central hub for us. Aside from all the eating discussed in this post, there was plenty more mentioned in my previous San Francisco posts. We had dinner at The Slanted Door inside the building one night, oysters and prosecco at Hog Island Oysters, brunch with Carey at Il Cane Rosso one morning, and then caught the Sausalito ferry, which docked from the Ferry Building, on a Saturday afternoon :)

San Francisco XII: Samovar Tea Lounge

Saturday, July 10, 2010 0 No tags Permalink 0

Hope everyone is having a good weekend! I’m just catching up on San Francisco posts…have about three more to go :) All this writing makes me itch for my next trip back! It will be soon hopefully – there were many places I didn’t have time to visit.

We spent one day of the vacation revisiting neighborhoods Monsieur P used to live and spend time in. He was a most excellent tour guide! ;) We covered a lot of ground – Pacific Heights, Nob Hill, Marina, North Beach, and then, sometime in the afternoon we dropped in a tea spot in the Castro. The place was called Samovar Tea Lounge and they have three locations in San Francisco (I eventually got to stop by all three locations on this trip).

Thai Iced Tea

Very zen is how you would describe this tea salon. We could use a few places like this in NYC! The most comparable place I can think of is Cha-An in the East Village, and even that gets pretty noisy at times. Samovar Tea Lounge offers a full food menu, but the focus is tea, and the two we tried were just swell. Prices are high…think $8 for Thai Iced Tea (pictured above) and just under $6 for Masala Chai. Nuts, right?

Masala Chai

Ahh, but the setting is undeniably serene, and the servers are impressively knowledgeable about the teas. And if you think about it, we’re so accustomed to paying $13 for cocktails…why not $8 for tea right? bwhahaha. Maybe not. Maybe only once in a while. As a special treat. Yes :)

Samovar Tea Lounge
498 Sanchez Street
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 626-4700

NYC: Caffetteria

Sunday, July 18, 2010 1 No tags Permalink 0

I prefer walking when possible. On most days, I walk to the office. It’s a nice stroll, starting in the Village and moving down the west side of Soho, usually on Thompson or Sullivan Street. I pass The Hat Shop and often stop at Build a Green Bakery. It’s a 30-minute walk to Tribeca (though one time I got there in 20-minutes!!), and by the time I’m there, I’ll be hungry again. So. Perhaps a little morning sweet at Grandaisy or Locanda Verde.

Finding coffee is a challenge. Third Rail Coffee (Sullivan Street) and Moomah (Hudson Street) are both great, but not my favourite. So when two former Blue Bottle Coffee employees opened Caffetteria on Sullivan Street, I was REALLY excited. Especially because Monsieur P and I just returned from San Francisco, where we fell head over heels for Blue Bottle Coffee.

Note: There’s a Blue Bottle Coffee in Brooklyn, but it’s not as good.

And as for Caffetteria? They come extremely close to the original Blue Bottle, a pretty awesome feat. I just wish they’d serve the iced coffee to-go in the same paper cups. Right now they come in normal plastic cups. Nonetheless, now I can have New Orleans Iced Coffee every morning! There is little complaining to be had.

Baked goods are from nearby Grandaisy…think brioche, and croissants in plain and chocolate. The raspberry jam is by Red Jacket Orchards. There’s no seating, but a decent amount of room to stand, copies of the New York Times for reading, and the guys that run this place are super nice :)

147 Sullivan Street
New York, NY 10012

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