High Tea … often Misunderstood …

Contemporary English afternoon tea menu...rustic scone, fritatta, fruits and black tea…lovely and not too sweet – this from Samovar Tea House in San Francisco

High tea is often confused with an Afternoon Tea; however, they are actually two distinctly different eating occasions. Each serves a relevant purpose.  Afternoon tea is said to have been inspired by the Duchess of Bedford who complained that she got famished between lunch and dinner and thus the traditional three-course “snack” of savory finger foods, scones and assorted petite sweets came into being served in upscale salons and sitting rooms all over England.  Afternoon tea can also be called a “low tea,” as it is often served in a salon or sitting room on low tables with participants relaxing in chairs or lounging on chaise’s or low furnishings.

High tea is a meal.  Often partaken by the working class; however, today, many who desire a special tea menu at a meal time blend the two.  A few months ago we put on a high tea for our niece and 20 family members which included a demonstration of scone making and tea tasting of three fancy green and oolong teas.  What was originally to be an afternoon tea turned into a dinnertime tea tasting; thus it became a “high tea” where we served a meal of multiple salads, hamsteak sliders, curried egg salad, along with scones and sweets.

The host wanted me to demonstrate two things for the group…1) how to make scones and 2) how to make a great cup of tea, which we did. We finished the meal with three petite desserts…decadent dark chocolate brownies, organic strawberries with mascarpone & cream fraiche, and, for our 8 year-old birthday girl who just loves pink, vibrant, pink frosted mini vanilla cupcakes.

The scones were a huge hit, served with raspberry jam, my tart lemon curd and creme fraiche.  The birthday girl, her sister and cousins served, and they were excellent at it, including exuding tons of personality in the process. Uncle David (my husband) oversaw everything beautifully as usual.  All had a great time and appeared to enjoy the scone making and consuming them fresh and hot from the oven, along with tasting the various oolong teas.

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The High Tea meal plating … 21 plates set to receive the ham steak biscuit slider and another salad…already plated are the egg salad stuffed rolls and the endive & watercress salad.

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One of my most favorite salads…bitter, sweet, salty, & crunch endive, watercress, bleu cheese, toasted pecans in a light champagne vinaigrette

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Grilled hamsteak with mustard on a fresh, warm yam biscuit to make a savory slider – these were a hit.

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Curried egg salad stuffed into hollowed out dinner rolls…seemed like a great idea when I saw them on a cooking show…ended up with almost everyone eating the egg salad out of the roll and leaving the roll (too much bread…particularly when you have awesome yam biscuits and scones to come).

And just a reminder, as mentioned in my last post….Next up…I am almost ready to launch my “communing with books blog”…am excited to see where delving into the classics will lead, along with contemporary “classic” authors too.  And know that many of the works include a tea time!  (such a civilized thing to do 🙂

Decadent Dark Chocolate Brownies...bite sized...from Tea With Betty...one of our desserts

Decadent Dark Chocolate Brownies…bite sized…from Tea With Betty…one of our desserts and always the favorite dessert for adults.

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I was told that the birthday girl just LOVED anything pink…the brighter pink the better, so I went for it…the pink was not a shy one…they loved them.

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Demonstration of jasmine tea  being released from my favorite diffuser into a glass tea pot

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My husband took care of the crowd…he is fabulous at doing that

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Our birthday girl and her sister were truly darling and enjoyed the entire evening…their service was excellent too

A Few Of My Favorite Things In 2016 & What’s Next?

Reflecting can be a good thing…so here is a brief pictorial journey of the things that inspired me in 2016, along with a hint as to my direction for 2017.  Food, tea, family, literature, gardening…all these things inspired me this past year.  Our #1 food experience….drum roll please…Providence, L.A. where acclaimed, Chef M. Ciurisky, WOWS every time in an unassuming fashion!

Providence – Chef M. Ciurisky’s fabulous L.A. restaurant. My #1 dining experience 2016…by far…

Each and every dish is simply spectacular in it’s conception, flavor, and presentation…starting with their delectable handmade oyster cracker filled with sumptuous salmon and a lovely little foamy soup…tasting of the sea.

Providence handmade oyster crackers filled with salmon…served with a foamy sip of soup…

 

First course…handmade oyster cracker filled with salmon and a scrumptious foamy taste of soup…yes we wanted more 🙂

Continuing to be our top vacationing experience…the Napa Valley … and it’s not just about the wine (well, it is, but….) the gardens are spectacular.

Winter mustard cover crop at Frog’s Leap…so gorgeous.

My birthday dinner was a surprise visit to the acclaimed Restaurant at Meadowood

Just loved the road leading to Coppola’s stunning Inglenook Winery on a cloudy, drizzly day

The French Laundry gardeners kindly post their seasonal garden schematic..here is fall 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our other top vacationing experience…Southern California beaches…surf camp with our grandsons, family week (a tradition), & now sister time too…and awesome seafood.

Carlsbad California sunset from our vacation spot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading great writing…with a cup of tea of course…my fete this year was re-enjoying War & Peace as a Lenten goal…1,287 unabridged pages in 40 days…still my favorite book of all time.

My Lenten commitment – 2016 was to read War and Peace (unabridged)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dealing with life changes and dietary changes yet coming up with fabulous and satisfying alternatives … My niece Samantha’s unctuous and decadent petite creme brûlées and her apple crostatas.  Her 4 ounce brûlée is a perfect dessert for me…and doesn’t raise my glucose levels at all (yay!!!)

Sammy cakes Pumpkin Brûlée…I had mine without the “carmelized sugar” and no sugar spike later …hurray…

 

 

 

 

Sammy cakes apple crostata … just a rustic thing of beauty and flavor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our vegetable and fruit gardens this year were the best ever…all organic and unique veggies grown from seeds.  My husband’s favorite…watermelon radishes..also several heirloom cucumbers (including the lemon cuke which looks like a lemon but fully tastes like a cucumber).  Gorgeous tomatoes and basils and beets and herbs … it was a good year and good yield, along with figs and pomegranates and Fuji apples…odd looking nectarines that tasted rich and delicious.

Our 2016 backyard harvest …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food and teatime will always be a focal point of joy, inspiration and excitement in my life…and will be experienced in Eat Be Tea; however, I am excited to embark on a year of literary exploration this next week…beginning with two ventures; 1) Exploring the classics through the writings of the immortals in the Harvard Classics and 2) enjoying a year-long book club all about author Jane Austen.  You will hear more about this focus next week and my hope is that you will follow along, and maybe get into the literature yourself.  Happy New Year!  and remember…

Drink Tea … It’s good for you … and even better with a good book.

 

 

Testing Out “The Law of Attraction” & The Power of Positive Thinking

Mom’s (Betty’s) teacups…she was the start of my love for tea and blogging about it…

Yes, I have been M.I.A. for awhile…not for any one particular reason either…but things added up to cause a bit of disillusionment with keeping up with this blog.  Last year at this time I was happily blogging about food and tea and the meaning of life in all it’s manifestations (War and Peace revisited emerged:-) when my blog was suddenly and inexplicably…..hacked!  It just disappeared… gone!  I had to go through several machinations and $$$ to get it back, and it irritated me 🙁    But, dutiful as I am, I got it restored after hours of stress with the hosting site, the security site, and my wonderful web person (who doesn’t really do this anymore but helped me anyway – thank you Wendi).  After restoring it, I was told it was just plain silly for me not to have annual security coverage and other stuff to protect my little tea and food blog from evil doers…so I did that.  Then I had to renew my hosting stuff … so I did that… then my photos went through some update that has made it much more difficult for me to edit and post … so I just QUIT!  Ha!  I got even with all of them.

Over the past few weeks, I was feeling inspired to write again and have several half done posts to finish…but then, I started getting bombarded with security site emails telling me that my “auto renewal for security won’t renew automatically…” well of course it won’t…I never do that…rarely do I leave a credit card sitting online…so daily I have been getting this email asking for the renewal fee or guess what…”my site will be in jeopardy of the evil doers again!” … yuck. Fear mongering has never impressed me as a way to sell a concept or product (and I was in sales for 30 years so have an idea of what makes for a rational reason to buy something).

Last week, I had worked with my niece on a college paper she was doing on “The Law of Attraction” and the Power of Positive Thinking.  It has been inspirational for me. So inspirational that I’ve decided to follow the vibrations of positive energy and am NOT renewing my security for EATBETEA.  Therefore, this blog may just disappear overnight.  But I am willing to take the risk.  I feel good about it.  I am sending out positive vibes that it hangs on in the midst of evil doers…that there is a shield of whole leaf teas that will fend off any potential invader.

On a separate note, I have been thinking of going a different direction with my writing and might start a new site.  If so, I will let you all know – you might want to follow. Tea will always be involved, as tea continues to be a most positive daily ritual in my life. No matter what happens, tea and the 5 minutes of steeping a great cup is something I plan to keep as a positive focal point.  It is the thing I wake up looking forward to each morning. No matter what diet changes are needed; whole leaf, antioxidant filled organic teas harvested from quality growers will fit in … and it seems to me, it attracts positive energy!

Drink tea…It’s good for you!

Enjoy

 

Teas as the Spice of Life…Satisfy that Chocolate Craving (with NO Carbs :-)

The other day we did a tea tasting event where we served petite desserts in the finishing course…  my decadent dark chocolate brownies are always a hit and a superb finishing bite paired with jasmine pearl green tea.   We cut the brownies into small bites… and o.k., I did need to taste one 🙂 mmmmm.  These sweets do have carbs and plenty of fat and are wonderful now and then, and one bite doesn’t seem to hurt my goal to stay within range on my diabetes management program; however, on a daily basis, this is a no go for me.  The good news is there are excellent alternatives in my tea cupboard which are enormously satisfying in this area.  Whenever I have a sweet craving, I can go to my tea stash and scan for which variety of tea will enhance my afternoon break, a little ritual for myself to perk me up through the dangerous “raid the pantry” time which occurs for me between 3 p.m .and 5 p.m.

Spices infused into whole leaf teas are a treat that can satisfy your desires while saving you (and me) from a regretful binge.

Decadent Dark Chocolate Brownies...bite sized...from Tea With Betty...

Decadent Dark Chocolate Brownies…bite sized…from Tea With Betty…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are savory, spicy, and sweet tasting varieties of teas that can boggle your taste buds. Try some that sound good to you.  My sister goes for the fruity infusions.  My grandsons just love chai.  Masala Chai is a powerful taste satisfier…having all the holiday spices and black pepper really punch up it’s flavor. While I add whole milk to this, I do NOT add sugar to any tea (my grandsons enjoy a bit of honey in theirs).  Peet’s brand Masala Chai is a delightful and powerful Indian blend which includes cinnamon, ginger, cardamon, cloves and pepper.  The pepper really comes through and it tastes like dessert.

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Peet's Masala Chai spiced black tea...delicious either hot or cold...blended too

Peet’s Masala Chai spiced black tea…delicious either hot or cold…blended too

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate PU-ERH ancient teas by NUMI ... all organic and truly hits the chocolate in a satisfying manner

Chocolate PU-ERH ancient healing teas by NUMI … all organic and truly hits the chocolate in a satisfying manner

But when I crave chocolate…I go to chocolate infused teas.  I have tasted dozens and found remarkable varieties.  Mighty Leaf has several, some even include tiny chocolate chips which melt as you infuse the tea.  Numi Organic Chocolate Puerh is a particularly satisfying cup of tea…this and a small square (1 ounce ) of 70% dark chocolate is dessert in itself…and so good for you!  Of all the chocolate tea blends I have tried, this is my absolute favorite.  It truly tastes like a heart-warming cup of decadent chocolate and it’s claim of being “velvety smooth” is accurate…and 0 carbs!

This tea, with one or two squares of my organic Theo 70% Dark Chocolate Bar, or new favorite, organic CHOCXO 70% with chocolate nibs is a perfect indulgent, decadent and “legal” snack for me…it may work for you too.  And there is a little pick-me-up with the small amount of caffeine in both.

Drink tea…it’s good for you!

Tea & Tolstoy … Devouring War & Peace 31 Pages at a Time

My Lenten commitment - 2016 was to read War and Peace (unabridged)

A little “tea and Tolstoy” in our room in Carmel…on a Winter’s day…

While consuming lots and lots of tea, I accomplished a goal I’ve had for over a decade… to “re-read” a complete, unabridged, beautifully translated version of Tolstoy’s War and Peace.  How this came about? I was a Russian Lit minor in college and for decades have professed that my favorite book of all time is War and Peace.  However, I was 21 years old when I read this epic tome and had been wondering whether it would hold up over time as #1 for me still…I mean, I’ve read a lot of great books since then.

Part of my love for everything “tea” came from reading this book in my early 20’s.  I remember that there was a constant referral to teatime throughout the text …  and often tea was taken in the most remote places..with generals in a tent, in a Russian battlefield, in the cold of winter … prepared for them by servants who lugged their leader’s samovars and tea through tough terrain.  Tea was seemingly ALWAYS present.  Men drank tea as much or more than women.  This constant taking of afternoon tea struck me as being oddly civilized, while all around,  thousands of lives were being destroyed, often on the whim of an arrogant officer’s shallow desire to gain favor, accolades or medals from a general, prince or the “great” Napoleon.   

On our recent trip to Carmel, I decided to lug my 1,279 page hardback book along and see if I could muster the tenacity to start.  As the Lenten season began while on our vacation, I made it a goal to finish reading the book in 40 days…that meant plowing through 31 pages a day to accomplish this task. Many are long, hard pages, as there was French language to wade through with the English translation depicted at the bottom of the page.  There is also lots of philosophy and dissertation about  ‘life in all it’s manifestations” expounded throughout by the brilliant author.

Well, I did it!  It took Tolstoy five years to write it and me 37 days to read it.  And yes, it holds up beautifully.  What an awesome, remarkable book.  I am truly glad that I read it again at a time in my life when I can more fully appreciate Tolstoy’s philosophy and astute reflections on history and what factors manifest war and peace – o.k., and there are great love stories throughout too   :-).

I can attest that the referral to tea time is prevalent in War and Peace, and just as in Downton Abbey, the setting of taking tea encouraged a great deal of drama and dialogue.  I almost think that we really could solve most of the world’s problems over a cup of tea – if only we had the will to do so :-).

Reading Tolstoy again reinforced for me how “teatime can be anytime and anyplace,” and that,  great literature is great for a reason…because the universal themes of life transcend time.   I felt accomplished when done and comforted that while many things have changed since the war in 1812, the comfort and civilized rituals around having a cup of tea has withstood the test of time and continues to be a good thing in the scheme of life.. and war and peace.

Drink tea…it’s good for you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

….

They Say Variety is the Spice of Life….

Cinnamon and Nutmeg...my favorite spices in place of sugar

Cinnamon and Nutmeg…my favorite spices in place of sugar

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Using a microplane to shave a little nutmeg

Using a microplane to shave a little nutmeg

Sammy cakes Pumpkin Brûlée...I had mine without the "carmelized sugar" and no sugar spike later ...hurray...

Sammy cakes Pumpkin Brûlée…the perfect size with a little grated nutmeg…no need to brûlée sugar on top for me, it is still so satisfying.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SPICES are the variety of life for me…Recently, they have been my savior when I am just about ready to binge on something I know I will later regret.  I’ve discovered that my craving for sweets is abated when using various spices – thus keeping me on track in managing my glucose levels. Hurray!

My obsession these past couple months has been with cinnamon, freshly grated nutmeg, or a splash of high quality vanilla (with no sugar) as that satisfier for my need for something sweet –  A bit of cinnamon on yogurt or on peaches or apple slices takes my dessert up a notch, yet keeps me within my carb goal.  That bit of spice contributes to fulfillment and satisfaction in the dish.

Creamy, custardy dishes have always been my idea of comfort foods…

My new favorite after dinner treat is a quick, fluffy tapioca pudding… here’s the recipe –  I use one/sixth of the sugar called for on the recipe on the box.  My recipe, which is a hearty sized portion, is only 15 – 18 grams of carbohydrate… with grated nutmeg and a dash of cinnamon on top…I don’t miss that extra sugar, it is truly delicious with texture and flavor.

Kraft Minute Tapioca...

Kraft Minute Tapioca…

My recipe …

1 egg separated     3 T. Tapioca     1 tsp Vanilla

1 T. sugar               2 C milk

Beat egg white until foamy.  Mix tapioca, milk, egg yolk and 1 T sugar

in a medium saucepan.  Let stand 5 minutes.  Bring to full boil on medium heat

…stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Add egg white mixture, stir until blended.  Stir in vanilla.

Cool…serve warm or chilled… keep refrigerated… grate fresh nutmeg and/or a bit of cinnamon on top and consume… yum… the Kraft box calls for 6 Tablespoons of sugar…I have tested this with reduced amounts and we have concluded that 1 Tablespoon works well with the addition of the freshly grated spices…also…we use really good ingredients…organic eggs and milk, Madagascar vanilla.. I used 2% milk and it is wonderful. With less sugar, you get to enjoy the texture of the tapioca even more and really taste the other ingredients, they are not masked by the sugar…

Note…I always use real ingredients…real sugar (not artificial), real dairy…and always use fresh spices…if they are over one year old, get new ones.

Just when I think I am going to break and have a decadent sweet … I make this and it feels completely indulgent to me, yet when I test my glucose level two hours later…I am perfectly in range which makes me feel like I’ve just won a prize!  Being diabetic doesn’t mean you can’t have a full portion of a dessert…it may take a little “testing” of a recipe on your part to find the level of reduced sugar that works for you, but it certainly is worth it when you get it to that SPOT where the “convergence of good for you” meets “it still tastes great!”  Give it a try.

This fluffy tapioca with a cup of tea is perfect!  And good for me!

And, as always, drink tea…it’s good for you.

 

 

 

 

What I Learned In My Diabetes Nutrition Classes…

Vodka has zero (0) carbohydrates & Creme Brûlée is better for me than cake!

Darjeeling tea martini at "tea and tinis" end of 2013

Darjeeling tea martini — 0 carbs but still…one is probably enough 🙂

While intending a bit of wit and tongue in cheek perspective on “what to eat” that’s still yummy and fitting within the parameters of one’s diabetic diet, these two facts were actually helpful for me to learn.

Ten years ago, I participated in an 8 week course for diabetics (I was pre-diabetic at the time).  When my numbers shot up last summer, I went back to see what knew news was available from the nutritionist’s world regarding this insidious disease. My dietician said, “really, nothing had changed in the last 10 years.”  I told her I was flying somewhere soon and usually needed a drink or two to relax during the flight, but didn’t want to hurt myself with too much alcohol (wine was my usual drink – 4 grams of carbs are in five ounces and anticipated needing 10 ounces for a good buzz…her comment…”vodka has no carbs”…hmmm…    Vodka it was! (I decided I’d rather eat my carbs than drink them that day.)

What I realized at that nutritionist appointment, (an epiphany of sorts), was that I am now “on my own” in figuring out “what to eat.” I know all the general info. about what’s good and what’s not, what I want now is a personal, individualized, actual, customized action plan that let’s me still love my meals….and the only place to get that kind of detail, specifically designed for me, was from one source… me!  So I went to work on one.

Thanks to getting my own glucose monitoring device, I can check my blood sugars after eating and see what actually happens with certain foods – which ones spike my sugar levels and which don’t.  While I thought I’d drive my wonderful husband crazy with my diligent measuring, logging, testing, and cheering and/or bemoaning the results …he’s  been so supportive (no surprise really) and has gotten into complimenting my efforts.  There are other factors I am figuring out too, like the “dawn phenomena” of sugar spikes in the early a.m. hours and how to manage that.  It’s a work in progress – but I can assure you, I AM making good progress.  Each day, I am more comfortable with knowing “what to eat” and am expanding my testing to more exotic and once forbidden items with tweaks in the recipes. What’s working for me…using a little math (45 grams of carbs at a meal is my target) and ensuring balance between fats, carbs, and proteins.  Also, I eat real food, not artificial substitutes (more on that in upcoming posts).

Recently I’ve put puddings, brûlées, & custards back into my diet.  I just love them, savory and sweet, but have stayed away from the sweets completely for a couple years.  The reason a brûlée or pudding is better for me than cake is that there are normally more protein and fats in a pudding than those that exist in a cake.  Refined grains and sugars spike a diabetic’s sugar levels enormously.  Eggs and dairy (in puddings) are proteins and fats, which you actually need for balancing the sugars.  It’s all about balance…think balance and you can have a bit of everything.  Last month I enjoyed my niece’s pumpkin brûlée, and another day, a savory flan from Market Restaurant in San Diego.  Neither spiked my sugar levels…yay, I got to have my pudding, and eat it too 🙂

Sammy cakes Pumpkin Brûlée...I had mine without the "carmelized sugar" and no sugar spike later ...hurray...

Sammy cakes Pumpkin Brûlée…I had mine without the “carmelized sugar” and no sugar spike later …hurray…

Parmesan savory pudding with corn bread from Market in San Diego

Parmesan savory pudding with corn bread from Market in San Diego

 

 

Along with a lovely cup of tea…usually an oolong in the evening.

 

Aging and Eating….Whatever Your Age May Be

For the past few years I’ve struggled with managing my diet in an effort to keep my borderline type 2 Diabetes “borderline”… and after ten years, “borderline” went to actual “diabetes”.  It is a progressive disease.  I now know what that means.  After slinking into myself for several weeks – contemplating how to deal with this diagnosis, along with newly prescribed medicines, I’ve come out with a wider perspective on what to do, how to do it, and still and alwayscompletely enjoy my meals, because as some of you know, every morning I wake up just thrilled and excited about the prospects of “what to eat” and pair that with my favorite teas.

At 30 years old I went through something similar to this drama about “what to eat” when I first remember “ever” putting on weight. At a checkup, I actually asked my doctor, “what is all this stuff around my middle area?”  I was serious, she laughed and said, “That’s fat!  Quit eating so much.  You’re 30 now, your body is changing.  You can’t eat the way you did in your teens and 20’s.”

And, I ask you, “Is this happening in your house?” Christmas dinner was at our home. The menu needed to have the following options: gluten free, soy free, low sodium, low carb, vegetarian and carnivore dishes while being delicious, traditional, and cohesive…whew!!!  With a little thought, we did it.

I have concluded the once “niche” diet is actually the “mainstream” diet today.

Thank goodness for tea!  Always a great fit with an enormous variety of options for varied tastes… and here’s the deal with tea… it’s gluten free, vegetarian (vegan), no carb, no sodium, soy free, and can be paired with any type of food you desire…I say… awwwwwwesome 🙂

Eat . Be . Tea is taking a little different road going forward…focused onto  “a new way to eat”… Answering the question “What to eat?” and still feel good after consuming – with the caveat that we continue to just LOVE our meals and not just “settle” for some calories that are supposedly “good for us!”  It will be interesting, enlightening, and fun…and pertinent to each of us at any stage in our lives…if I had known all this at 30, I might not have two to three sizes of clothes in my closet today 🙂

You will see my favorite finds over the next several weeks … (I would have started sooner, but have had a multi-week glitch with my technology…now corrected we think,,yay)… I’m back!  And with a vengeance towards eating deliciously and well…my numbers are totally under control after 26 weeks of figuring out what works for me (and I now have to buy new clothes…a lower size)…all the way…there was always always tea.!!!!

See you soon…with foods and recipes to meet your needs today.

 

 

Just My Cup of Tea

The idiomatic expression “my cup of tea” is used to describe something you like or enjoy.  This morning, as I left my exercise class, I decided that I would enjoy exhorting a cup of tea from my sister as I knew she still had this awesome chai oolong on hand that was “calling my name”.   She happily let me in, made us breakfast, had me steep the tea and said, “get whatever cups out you like”…I spied her gorgeous Italian tea cups and pulled them out.  The tea tasted so refined out of these cups.   It reminded me just how special a beautiful, porcelain or unique serving vehicle can make one’s tea experience.  I’ve been rushing around lately, consumed with the “stuff” of life…but this little experience brought me back to appreciating the calm and joy of a simple ritual…made more special by using the “good cups”…

What I just love about tea....every day, if I am lucky, I get to take comfort in the ritual of steeping a pot

Every day, if I am lucky, I get to take comfort in the ritual of steeping a pot

I came home thinking about how much I enjoy tea tastings and that tasting cups are intriguing to me…the anticipation of trying new varietals is exhilarating and is one of my favorite things to do.  In flipping through photos, I came across these favorite tasting experiences of recent months…

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My niece and friends tea tasting at Seventh Tea Bar in Costa Mesa Ca...

Tea tasting at Seventh Tea Bar in Costa Mesa Ca…beautiful stainless tea pots with temperature gauge, timers, gongfu lidded cups for steeping….quite the fun ritual of which I was saddened to find out when meeting friends for lunch this month that Seventh is gone, now a French bistro 🙁

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Samovar in San Francisco, as one might expect, offered the most contemporary, and yet traditional individual tea services.  D. ordered the Matcha, served in a personal beaker, I had the Russian menu, with a smoky Russian black tea and milk to temper and fine the tannins…just a delightful experience – I also love their press tea pot.  Each tea comes out with it’s unique steeping accessories.

Our tea service at Samovar...individual Matcha for D and Russian Caravan with milk for me

Our tea service at Samovar… Russian Caravan with milk for me

Another sleek individual tea service, using a press from Samovar

Another sleek individual tea service, using a press from Samovar

Matcha tea service for one at Samovar (SFO)... what a cool beaker

Matcha tea service for one at Samovar (SFO)… what a cool beaker

While I haven’t actually experienced the Italian tea shop, La Vie Del Te.  I am enjoying their Special Oolong (a gift from my good friend A…) and imagine drinking it from the beautiful white and fleur designed individual service here, photos from their website… with a French Macaron? (what?, notice the pastry stand) (I’d actually rather go for a little biscotti) 🙂  What a gorgeous, stylish personal tea pot and cup.

La Vie del Te...in Italy I want this set!

La Vie del Te…in Italy
I want this set

Lastly, two of my favorites – Tea with my darling husband in Carmel this winter…enjoyed while playing dominoes

Tea Time in Carmel with a game of dominoes with D.

Tea Time in Carmel with a game of dominoes with D.

And tea with my sister…using her Italian tea cups…and some scrambled eggs with salami…a spontaneous awesome sister experience!

This morning's tea and eggs...V's Italian tea cup brought out the best in the tea

This morning’s tea and eggs…V’s Italian tea cup brought out the best in the tea

Remember…get out the good cups!!!!

Tea Shirt ... at Samovar, San Francisco... I love the tasting cups depicted on our server's shirt...and DRINK TEA...It's Good for you!

Tea Shirt … at Samovar, San Francisco…
I love the tasting cups depicted on our server’s shirt…and DRINK TEA…It’s Good for you!

 

Tomatoes, Tomatoes, Tomatoes…

Valerie's heirloom tomato + awesome Di Stefano Burrata...is there anything better? Well yes, when slathered onto a crusty piece of ciabatta bread

Valerie’s heirloom tomatoes with awesome Di Stefano Burrata, calamata olives and EVOO…is there anything better? Well yes, when all this is slathered onto a crusty piece of ciabatta bread

A few years ago, I discovered that when it’s tomato season, eat them!  Particularly heirlooms in August and September.   I am a little bit picky about eating a fruit or vegetable that is marred in any way.  I’ve actually spent most of my life steering away from fresh tomatoes as, often, I found them to be mealy or tasteless, unless cooked down into my Mom’s fabulous pasta sauce (the best mmm)  or slow roasted in a low oven.  My father did not enjoy fresh tomatoes…he preferred them cooked…(and here we are from an Italian household :-).  But that’s because we did not have accessibility to the gorgeous varieties now found at our farmer’s markets, healthy food stores, and from discerning restauranteurs ….

I just love quality ingredients and foods that burst with flavor without being manipulated too much.  I haven’t posted much lately because I have been struggling with figuring out just what is o.k. for me to eat (needing to identify ingredients that won’t make my glucose levels spike up). It’s been a frustrating time for me working through which foods work and which don’t for me …and being a professed foodaholic, I’ve been a little down about some necessary restrictions (but more about that on another post)…in the meantime, I have been ordering and preparing fresh, heirloom and dry farmed (from Whole Foods) tomato salads … often…almost daily.

Below are a few photos of my favorites.

Beautiful tomato, fresh mozzarella bruschetta with fresh basil from a Napa Restaurant

Beautiful tomato, fresh mozzarella bruschetta with fresh basil from a Napa Restaurant…

 

Caprese Salad with fresh bur rata, heirloom tomatoes topped with Caviar from Bottega... Chef Michael Chiarello's fine restaurant in Yountville (Napa Valley)... I just love the drizzle of basil oil

Caprese Salad with fresh burrata, heirloom tomatoes topped with Caviar from Bottega… Chef Michael Chiarello’s fine restaurant in Yountville (Napa Valley)… I just love the drizzle of basil oil

 

Most satisfying and healthy heirloom tomatoes, fresh arugula, interesting beans I can't remember the name of, a bit of ricotta salada cheese and aged balsamic from Chef David Pratt at Brick Pizzeria in San Clemente, Ca... I go there at least once a week to order this until the season is over...a meal by itself and all farm fresh, organic ingredients...delightful!

Most satisfying and healthy heirloom tomatoes, fresh arugula, interesting beans I can’t remember the name of, a bit of ricotta salada cheese and aged balsamic from Chef David Pratt at Brick Pizzeria in San Clemente, Ca… I go there at least once a week to order this until the season is over…a meal by itself and all farm fresh, organic ingredients…delightful!

 

Truly refreshing...tomato gazpacho with Maine lobster from Market in Del Mar, Ca... perfect with a glass of Sancerre

Truly refreshing…tomato, cucumber, and radish gazpacho with Maine lobster from Market in Del Mar, Ca… perfect with a glass of Sancerre

 

Thus far, these have been my favorite tomato dishes of this season (although I’ve made a few of my own at home that rival them…

One thing I did notice this week in checking my glucose levels after consuming huge slices of heirloom tomatoes on a slice of artisan bread I got from the farmer’s market…my numbers did jump up a good bit…guess I need to remember that “tomatoes ARE a fruit” and higher in sugars that other veggies…oh well, they are still good for me…moderation may be in order going forward though. I’ll wash them down with a lovely cup of whole leaf oolong…which is very good for me anytime 🙂

Drink tea…it’s good for you!