Eating & Drinking Our Way Through Portland, Oregon – Part One

We are back from a delightful vacation to Portland, Oregon.  Now, here is a city that not only boasts supporting local, organic, & green…they live it!  Portlanders have great pride in their weirdness, eclectic environment, and artistic nature.  Whether music, art, books, or food…serious greatness is exhibited in each area.  From the largest guitar store in the West...Apple One Music, to the largest independent book store, Powell’s, to having an incredibly thriving amount of fabulous award winning chefs, restaurants, bakeries and tea shops…Portland is THE place.  Below is a quick photo journal of our week in Portland…a preview of sorts, as I will be doing more posts about the food and teas we fell in love with up in the lush, green Pacific Northwest.  And there may be a photo or two of the cutest puppy inserted here and there too 🙂 (my nephew’s 6 month old boxer, SeeSee)…

Beautiful greenery abounds in Portland...I am envious of my nephew's Hostas' which I can't grow in our desert climate

Beautiful greenery abounds in Portland…I am envious of my nephew’s Hostas which I can’t grow in our desert climate

Greenery everywhere

 

Lots of greenery ... photo from our downtown Portland hotel window

Lots of greenery … photo from our downtown Portland hotel window

A book find from Powell’s Bookstore

Check out Powell's book store, the largest independent book store in the West...multiple stories and a block long...a fabulous section on food and food writing...my husband spotted and liked this book ... Eat Ink...

Check out Powell’s book store, the largest independent book store in the West…multiple stories and a block long…a fabulous section on food and food writing…my husband spotted and liked this book … Eat Ink…

Tea bars I wish were near me…

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Tea Shops in Portland...each offered a different feel...we tasted many stunning teas... Jasmine Pearl Tea Shop, Smith Tea (Steven Smith Teamaker), Townshend's Tea, and Stash Tea Bar...will go into detail on each in a future post

Tea Shops in Portland…each offered a different feel…we tasted many stunning teas… Jasmine Pearl Tea Shop, Smith Tea (Steven Smith Teamaker), Townshend’s Tea, and Stash Tea Bar…will go into detail on each in a future post

Sweets anyone?

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Portland & Sweets...bakeries, chocolates, donuts ... just spectacular...Blue Star donuts has been featured on the Cooking Network, Jones cupcakes are just delicious, Cacao chocolate shop offered a lovely darjeeling tea with the coolest paper steeping bag ... it's tough to be a diabetic in this town :-(     I had to pace myself...

Portland & Sweets…bakeries, chocolates, donuts … just spectacular...Blue Star donuts has been featured on the Cooking Network, Jones cupcakes are just delicious, Cacao chocolate shop offered a lovely darjeeling tea with the coolest paper steeping bag … it’s tough to be a diabetic in this town 🙁 I had to pace myself…

Fabulous food and chefs – French Bistro, Cocotte  where I had chicken confit and poached egg (mmm), next, recent James Beard award winner, chef Naomi Pomeroy at Beast, then, possibly the best meal of all was at Natural Selection where chef Aaron Woo truly wooed us with vegan and vegetarian dishes which “wowed” all and lastly, Nostrana was wonderful where chef Cathy Whim has put together a beautiful restaurant with excellent service and foods.

IMG_1864 IMG_1855 IMG_1811 IMG_1793 IMG_1516 IMG_1501 IMG_1486 IMG_1417Puppy love…Puppy love…Puppy love…

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And then there is the cutest  6 month old white boxer, named SeeSee (our nephew's new pup) who we got to go to the dog park with and for tea and pastry ...she is a "people magnet"...everyone wanted to pet her, she looks a bit like a petite pony with skinny long legs and big paws

And then there is the cutest 6 month old white boxer, named SeeSee (our nephew’s new pup) who we got to go to the dog park with and for tea and pastry …she is a “people magnet”…everyone wanted to pet her, she looks a bit like a petite pony with skinny long legs and big paws.

Portland is a delightful place to visit…we spent most of our time downtown…next time we will get out into the countryside, coast and maybe even try a little of the famous Oregon Pinot Noirs…but for me…their food and tea scene is the best I’ve found in one place…

We drank a lot of tea…and loved it all.

 

What Tea Is In Your Cupboard?

I was going through my tea cabinet the other day, determined to weed out anything getting remotely old, wanting to consolidate tins and boxes where I could.  As with spices, checking your code dates and rotating product on a regular basis is a good practice.  Often I am asked, “how long can I keep tea?”  I don’t keep tea over one year old.  Most of the teas I purchase have open code dating on them, so it is easy to keep track of what’s fresh and what’s not.   Some have two year shelf lives, but still, I attempt to go through them within a year.  The fresher they are, the more flavor they have.  Just get rid of old bags and varieties that have been sitting in your cupboard forever…(usually those are the weird flavored herbals that are left behind from some variety box you got ages ago.)  My mom, Betty’s, rule…”when in doubt, throw it out.”

There are approximately eight types of tea that I like to keep on hand.  They are listed at the end of this post. Pictured here…my kitchen tea cupboard…I keep taking over shelves with tea.

My kitchen tea cupboard…Mighty Leaf, Harney & Sons, Peet's, Adagio, Kusmi, Numi, and Marriage Freres varieties are ready for the steeping

My kitchen tea cupboard…Mighty Leaf, Harney & Sons, Peet’s, Adagio, Kusmi, Numi, and Marriage Freres varieties are ready for the steeping

IMG_0526   What’s not shown in the above photos are my absolute favorite morning teas…I order them by the pound from either Mighty Leaf or Harney & Sons…organic assam and organic breakfast are my ultimate favorites for morning tea…with milk.

My "other" stash…by the pound…morning breakfast teas from Harney & Sons and Mighty Leaf…I love the Mighty Leaf Organic Breakfast (have some on order now) and Harney & Sons organic Assam…starting my day with a cup or two of one of these teas is a joy to me.

My “other” stash…by the pound…morning breakfast teas from Harney & Sons and Mighty Leaf…I love the Mighty Leaf Organic Breakfast (have some on order now) and Harney & Sons organic Assam…starting my day with a cup or two of one of these teas is a joy to me.

After years of research and getting overwhelmed by the hundreds of tea varieties out there…here are the ones I keep in my house.

1. Breakfast tea…organic Assam or organic breakfast…leaf tea

2. An Earl Grey…find one you like.  I love Mighty Leaf’s (as does my daughter) and Tea Forte’s is delicious w/ a touch of cornflower leaves in it.

3. Organic Ceylon (for your best black iced tea).

4. Jasmine Downey Pearls (green tea)…love Peet’s, Mighty Leaf or Harney & Sons…the fragrance is a relaxing, healing elixir

5. A good oolong…such as rare Ti Quan Yin

6. Japanese green tea…sencha (grassy green) or Genmaicha (popcorn tea)

7. Masala Chai…just an excellent spicy tea that goes with fall desserts so well….I don’t put sugar in my chai ever, but many like it with sugar…

8. Your favorite Rooibos infusion (the African red bush tea) – naturally no caffeine and lots of healthy attributes

I also enjoy Darjeeling, the champagne of tea (as does my husband)…I keep a couple of those on hand.  I do try different teas now and then and strongly encourage you to find ones you love.  My list is distilled down from years of tasting scores of infusions.  I am quite boring when it comes to tea and now prefer “pure teas”…not so much “flavored” teas.  But the fun is trying a bunch and finding what you like.  My sister loves fruity teas…we had a delicious one this afternoon at Starfish Restaurant in Laguna Beach…an acai oolong from Revolution tea.  It was perfect with our Asian food choices.

When buying tea, look for suppliers you like and can trust…go organic when possible and whole leaf/full leaf for more flavor and health benefits.  And….check the codes of the teas in your cupboard! If you can’t remember when you got that tea…it might just have exceeded it’s life 🙂

Drink tea…and enjoy trying different types. Tasting different teas is a fun journey that now and then surprises you while lighting up your tastebuds.

 

The Modern Teapot…I Think I Am In Love :-)

I just love being able to SEE my tea as it is steeping.  The visual aesthetic of watching leaves unfurl and liquor release into the water is relaxing,  pleasing, and meditative.  My fine china and porcelain teapots will aways have a place on my shelves, and in my heart (as many were gifts from truly special people in my life)…however, these modern teapots are what I gravitate towards now as practical, functional and let’s face it…really “cool looking” vessels.   Some are award winning designs, such as Denmark’s, Eva Solo teapot pictured just below.

Eva Solo tea maker - even has a silicon jacket

Eva Solo tea maker – even has a silicon jacket

“While we are slurping our teas and traveling to tea estates, Eva Solo is slaving away designing beautiful pots to brew our teas and infusions. This fat bottomed pot comes with its very own zip up neoprene jacket (or perhaps we should call it a wetsuit?). Not just a pretty pot, this tea-maker has won awards for its functionality. The built in filter stops the leaves from escaping as you pour. Available with a black or red jacket.” Description is from the Teapigs site.

This concept of “a wetsuit” keeping your tea warm is a fabulous idea.

 

Scandanavian tea pot

Scandinavian tea

Menu Norm Glass Kettle Teapot with Tea Egg

“Norm Glass Kettle Teapot uniquely embraces the meeting of two traditions – the Asian zen philosophy and modern Scandinavian design. A special feature is the teapot’s transparency that grants a visual experience of the tea and stimulates the senses of sight, touch and smell alike. As a fine design detail the tea egg is placed in the center of the pot and is easily raised by pulling the attached silicon string when the tea is ready for serving.”  Super stylish…

I first saw this on the shelves in the shop at Zinc Cafe in Laguna Beach.  I loved it.  I went back in to look at it and vacillated over purchasing it for at least a half hour.  I talked myself out of it, as the last thing I need is another teapot, then kicked myself for not getting it.  I was back at Zinc with my sister and nephew a few weeks later and told myself…”if that teapot is still there, I am getting it.”  It was not 🙁 .    It’s still on my wish list and I have since found that I can purchase these from a few different sites online (I googled “cool looking Scandinavian teapots”).  Below is another one I saw which has a nice tea light warmer stand.

Smart Tea Set

Smart Tea Set

 

Of course, you can make a cup of tea in any bowl-like vessel with a filter of some kind to strain the leaves…but it is so lovely and civilized and thoughtful to brew one’s tea in a beautiful container.

No matter what you steep your tea in…it matters that you have quality tea leaves…organic when possible…get them from a source you can trust.

I actually enjoy looking at these teas almost as much as drinking them (almost) 🙂

Drink tea…it’s good for you.

 

Iced Jasmine Pearl, Marbled Tea Eggs, & Instructions for a Heatwave…

Yesterday was book group discussion day at my house…and, sorry to you guys who live in cold country, but it was 80 degrees here in sunny, drought-ridden, So. California….which called for a summery menu of tidbits to snack on while discussing the seriously good writing of Maggie O’Farrell in her recent novel, Instructions for a Heatwave.

We highly recommend this book…family dynamics are expertly portrayed

We highly recommend this book…family dynamics are expertly portrayed

My original thought for small bites to serve when hosting this month’s discussion included scones and hot tea (as the book is set in England and Ireland), but, alas, the weather forced me to rethink what to serve.  Ironically, the unusually hot weather we are experiencing in California paralleled the strangely hot weather setting O’Farrell had London experiencing in her novel.  Still, in the story, there was A LOT of preparing of hot tea going on.  Actually, the Irish are known to drink more tea per capita than any other nation.  Well, I decided on iced tea and prepared one of my favorites,  Jasmine Pearl Green tea…it is light, refreshing, and fragrant.  I also had been desiring my fragrant marbled tea egg (hard-boiled eggs, steeped in tea, cinnamon stick, star anise, and a bit of soy).  They are unique and tasty served sliced onto a little biscuit, of which I had a few put away in the freezer just for this occasion.  These, along with a raw coconut tea cookie (much like a shortbread, with coconut) would be the primary fare.  Some fresh organic California grown juicy raspberries made it to the discussion too.

Marbled Tea Eggs, stunning looking, fragrant with spices, yolks perfectly centered..eat alone or slice and put on bread/biscuit with a little mayo..mmmmm

Marbled Tea Eggs, stunning looking, fragrant with spices, yolks perfectly centered..eat alone or slice and put on bread/biscuit with a little mayo..mmmmm

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I’m not sure why my mind went this Asian route with the menu for our English/Irish story, but we had fun, ate it all up, and continue to be moved by how our small group discussions seem to soothe our souls in a special way.  I will post the recipe for the marbled tea eggs in a few days.  They are easy to prepare, yet just gorgeous and unusual.  It’s as easy as boiling water, but looks like you painted them. Same for the coconut cookie, easy as pie (but it’s a tea cookie 🙂 )

Coconut Tea Biscuits…I make them with raw, unsweetened coconut…even cut some into teapot shapes…not too sweet, perfect paired with green tea

Coconut Tea Biscuits…I make them with Bob’s Red Mill raw, unsweetened coconut…even cut some into teapot shapes…not too sweet, perfect paired with green tea

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Our discussion brought us closer together as we shared our own history as related to the book…and all over a cup of tea…amazing the revelations tea brings about.

A Year In Review…Part Deux

I am guessing that “A Year In Review…Part one”  was so exciting that you are anxiously awaiting to see the back half 2013 recap of what moved me.  Here we go…I had to restrain myself and trim (or more like, hack away) at what to include…figuring that “less is more.”

June – December 2013 was filled with interesting gatherings for us…Napa with our daughter and son-in-law was special.  Anytime we get away with these two is cherished time for us (even though we missed the noise-making rug rats 🙂  Reuniting with old friends was a big part of the summer, as my husband reconnected with many high school friends which led to new-found, old and delightful relationships.  Reconnecting with his Southern family resulted in an incredible couple weeks in the American South, then, capping year end with one of the top two tea menus  ever…seriously….ever…at the St. Regis “Tea and Tinis”  for a second year with my dear sister and our dear friend Dawn was just the perfect way to finish off twenty-thirteen.  Included are photos of my touching new artistic, lidded tea cup…named “Betty” which my twin brother and sister-in-law got me in Carmel (a favorite vacation spot for Betty and us)…ahhhh

I don’t know why…but I have always thrilled over small food bites… in particular, those presented in clever utensils, packed with flavor, touching a variety of  taste senses.  As I’ve mentioned before, that’s what first drew me to seek out afternoon tea menus – the variety of tiny bites.  However, mastering the delivery of a melange of gorgeous, flavorful bites proves to be a daunting task for many and often has been disappointing to me (and my Mom (Betty).  Thus we created our own recipes and menus.  Today, I like to go OUT and find these scrumptious morsels while sipping teas or wines.  These tasting adventures, which so suit wine tasting, as well as, tea time, are just so civilized and conducive for eliciting deep thought, or divining small chatter, or examining life in all its manifestations, or doing nothing at all…your choice.  These photos made the cut of favorite “bites” or tastings this year…

Back half 2013 favorite small bites, inventive foods, along with a few scones, cooking class, and teas, of course…and why not finish with a tea martini

Back half 2013 favorite small bites, starting with a most flavorful shrimp bite at Jordan winery, then a stunning cheese pairing from Arrowood Winery, then the  French Laundry garden tomatoes, my own petite bites in Great Aunt Helen’s egg plate, polenta topped with sausage, whimsically inventive foods from Ink Restaurant, Corn chowder w/ popped corn from our Ramos House Cafe in SJC, lovely hearts of palm wrapped in smoked salmon from our dear Chef friend, Julius, along with several petite sweets, tea affogato (as featured in Martha Stewart Living Magazine’s September, 2013 issue, and a few scones, quiche made at my first cooking class at Eat Street Culinary, and teas, of course, lots of tea…and why not finish with a tea martini

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Ending with my first tea martini was a good thing.  I had them “hold the sugar” and it was still soooooo good, refreshing and certainly drinkable…I could have had two but prudently moved onto a nice Mighty Leaf darjeeling instead.  Will write more about this Tea and Tini experience at the St. Regis in another post.  (The best finger sandwiches ever!)

Happy New Year…Drink Tea…organic, whole leaf…it’s good for you!  Even with a little Ketel One vodka in it 🙂

A Year In Review…Well, Half Of It Anyway :-)

The past month has been a bit crazy …  I suppose it has been for most of you; however, I complicated things by throwing in a couple vacations, as well as, caught some kind of cold / virus that seems to want to fake me out…it comes and goes…then comes back just when I think I am better.  So…I got a little behind on my writing, but I think I am BACK now 🙂

2013 is gone.  While I don’t want to spend much time looking back, it was a year of interesting experiences inspired by tea for me.  I moved from my Tea With Betty blog to Eat Be Tea so I can expand the writing and experiences to include more about what I love…small bites of foods, paired with tea, experienced in numerous ways in various settings that often changes one’s life…one cup at a time, one bite at a time, one conversation at a time, one moment of reflection while waiting for the steep to finish.

I say goodbye to 2013 with this brief journey back.  I was blessed to have so many wonderful experiences over tea and food that I’ve had to break this into two posts…Below are photos for the first half 2013 of tea and food experiences that inspired and brought me joy –  beginning  with tea with my family at the Mission Inn, Riverside, Ca. last January 2…and ending with savoring a cup of Marriage Freres Darjeeling up in the Napa Valley while relaxing with a book.  In between, there were several garden tours that motivated us to redo our herb and vegetable beds (thanks to my sister’s invites and my husband’s hard work) and additional tea time items that touched me.

January - June 2013  Year in review of my tea and favorite food experiences

January – June 2013
Year in review of my tea and favorite food experiences

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Caption list:

1. Teatime at The Mission Inn with two darling little boys 🙂

2. Gonfu tea service…a favorite of mine enjoyed at several locations

3. Kusmi teas…a gift from my sister-in-law from their trip to France, their chocolate tea is as good as eating a piece of quality chocolate…seriously

4. Chocolates and confectionery my daughter and I made while at an Eat Street Culinary class with Chef Katie Averill in Anaheim…can’t believe we made these, from scratch.

5. Surfas opens in Costa Mesa, Ca…yay…lots of food and cooking supplies

6, 7, 8, 9. Napa Valley in February…the mustard in bloom as a cover crop for the grapevines, tea items at Dean & Deluca fine food purveyors…and they carried one of my favorite tea pots, featured on the cover of my tea book…the Betty pot and The French Laundry garden hot house.

10. Japanese tea house located in the bucolic Descanso Gardens L.A.

11. My Life Is Good “Tea Shirt”…a gift from my best friend.

12, 13, 14  Gorgeous tea foods prepared with the significant help from our friend Clive (the 5 layered tea sandwich he used to make at the Savoy, London and stunning lemon meringue tarts prepared by my niece Sammycakes. Also, my petite favorite biscuit scones.

15. Teapot with tea warmer at our dear friend Eugenie’s.

16. We discover pastry chef Kevin Montoya…owner of Carley Cakes. yum.

17 – 23. Out of the blue…I get asked to do a tea tasting for 100 and launch Eat Be Tea at this time….more Tea With Betty books are ordered, tables set in this gorgeous, rustic outdoor setting in the historic area of  San Juan Capistrano – my husband and Chef Kevin plate the food for the pairing with several organic teas from Mighty Leaf.

24.  Chef Kevin decides to name my biscuit scone…the Jones Scone and offer it in his pastry case with my fragrant and flavorful vanilla, cinnamon butter…at Hidden House Cafe on Los Rios Street in SJC.

Finally, we are up to June…back in Napa at the culinary institute where they claim “food is life”…so true…

Finally, I sit down to a fragrant darjeeling packaged in a darling cotton sack.

Happy New Year! Relax and drink tea!