Category Archives: Tea

Of milkshakes and donuts

Last week I spent a number of days in Portland, Oregon for a day-job-related conference. What a nice city! And what a nice dining scene there!

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The first meal I had in town (and, admittedly, no fewer than 4 subsequent meals) was eaten at Burgerville, the Portland area’s fast-food-with-local-ingredients-and-amazing-milkshakes-restaurant-chain. Luckily for all there was a branch no less than one block from the convention center. I had a fried fish (halibut, I think) basket with fries and a fresh (Oregon-grown) strawberry smoothie to wash it down. I would drink many more of these strawberry drinks in the coming days: another smoothie, a lemonade, and at least two milkshakes. I learned it is not always wise to drink two of these milkshakes in one 24-hour period. But, live and learn, right? Anyway, my dining companion, J, had a bacon cheeseburger with a slice of Tilamook and some pieces of local pepper bacon. Not to mention locally raised beef in the burger. Very nice all around. Even the spicy black bean veggie cheeseburger I had the next day was just the thing.

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The next morning I woke up all refreshed (thanks to the three-hour-jet-lag) and headed off to Chinatown to see the Chinese gardens. It was just one city block stuffed with ponds and koi and gazebos and shaded walkways like the ones we saw last time we were in Beijing at the Summer Palace. Anyway, there was a tea house there so I sat for a black tea “flight,” supervised by a very zen fellow who showed me how to work the funky tools involved in brewing three mini cups of tea without a (western-style) strainer.

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The next morning I headed over to Voodoo Doughnut because no self-respecting donut lover can go to Portland without trying their very weird flavors. And to be fair, the donuts themselves are very good too, but it’s the strange flavors that I suspect keep the crowds coming. Suffice to say I couldn’t decide on any one of their options so I asked for the random dozen, pictured above. There were donuts in their coated in orange tang, one in grapeade dust, and a couple sprinkled with colorful cereal pieces. Wow! You really can’t eat more than one of any of those at a time. So I shared with my co-workers that day– hope you all enjoyed them (I know you did especially, J!).

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Pomp and pretzels

Mr. Food and I spent the weekend in the Philadelphia homelands of water ice and cheesesteaks. At last little sister L has graduated from high school. Can you believe it? (For those of you who haven’t seen her since she was about this high, you can’t, can you?) Well, she did it, so hip hip hooray for L! So, we spent the morning at my alma mater and capped it off with cake and … not wine, but iced tea. This is a high school graduation, after all. But you know how I like tea, so no complaints here.

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That night we all (parents, siblings, a new wife, a date, and a husband) ate at Karina’s, an Italian-Spanish place in the South Philly-ish area. This is my lovely salad with little tomatoes, walnuts, and goat cheese. Simple, commonplace, but very nicely done. My pasta dish was also great, a homemade gnocchi lookalike (but made without potato) with mushrooms and things like that. I don’t really remember what else was in it but I finished it without a problem.

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Then we zoomed (yes, zoomed, our driver can be a bit of a speedster) past the best known foodie spot in South Philly, the Pat and Geno’s corner. This is a picture of Geno’s cheesesteak empire, I believe. Well, unless it’s Pat’s…

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The next morning was business as usual at the breakfast table. Almost what I’d eat at home, except I do prefer my snowman mug (thanks again, V) and we almost never have strawberries around. Close enough!

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Can’t fly home without a decent soft pretzel. So sue me that I like these mass-marketed, buttered-up, salty, squishy, hot, marvelous wonders. You can even see them being made! It’s genius (get the Original). The best food we found at Philadelphia International– damn Chick-fil-a for being closed on Sundays!

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Happy Fathers’ Day, Dad!

California eatin’

Last weekend we spent two days in the Los Angeles-area (and a day getting there and back!) to see our friends J and R get married– and it’s about time!! So, congratulations to the lovely couple and what follows is the chronicle of what we ate when we were there. Apparently R is one of the few people who actually read this blog and he wants to see himself here! And he’s the groom, so he gets what he wants, at least this week.

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For the rehearsal dinner we went to a Korean BBQ place in LA somewhere, we ate outside under an airy canopy and had our fill (and then some) of grilled meats. Kudos to the server who handled those tongs like a pro and flipped a griddle-full of shrimp (or beef, chicken…) before we could even grab the chopsticks. Nice work.

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Then on to the groom’s cake… but in this case it was a groom’s pie! R much prefers pies to cakes (I mean, who doesn’t? Unless it’s an ice cream cake…) so J went and bought a pecan, a banana cream, and a boysenberry (pictured here, though after the fact). I did my best, with the groom’s help, to slice and plate them but they were all different sizes and many fruit pieces escaped the crust. Whoops.

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The next morning, the day of the wedding, Mr. Food and I took a walk to the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica where we were staying. We had almost forgotten how nice the ocean smells! (At least, I thought so) On the way we had breakfast at Jack n’ Jill’s which is apparently famous because of some television show we don’t watch. But regardless, the servers were all very friendly (maybe that’s a West Coast thing we are not used to in Boston!) and the breakfast we got was tasty. The tea came in individual pots which is always a nice touch. Unfortunately, the cupcake– a coconut one– was kinda dry and too sweet even for me to finish it. Ah, well…

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And then the wedding, under a canopy of trees in the hills of Malibu. Wow. Gorgeous. And here’s the cake, with a little likeness of the bride and groom on top. Lovely!

Note to brother J and about-to-be-sister-in-law H: You’ve got a lot to live up to when you get married next week! See you then.

Tea theme a-brewing…

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I know I have been writing a lot about tea recently, but just one last one, all right?

This is the best find from my trip to Whittard’s last week with N… a Teaposy bundle of tea that blooms into a flower when given the chance. Glass teapot necessary. Glad we had a couple on hand. This one was called, I believe, the Lady Fairy and was scented with lily (a new tea fragrance for me) and jasmine. So it was not only fun to watch but tasty to drink too. But at this price, when will we get another?

Bridal shower & tea party

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On Saturday, the ladies of the family came together for a tea party in advance of my brother’s wedding coming up next month… his fiancee had in mind an afternoon tea so her cousin and aunt provided endless cups of hot tea, piles of tea sandwiches (no crusts!), warm scones (with Devonshire cream and strawberry jam, as demonstrated by my British mum), and cake of course! Welcome to the family, H!

Another tea shop on Newbury St.

Just a block up from the Tealuxe is another shop trying to peddle tea… This time it’s a British import, the Whittard (say Whit-TARD like their employees do) of Chelsea brand is stateside! But, N and I found it a bit disappointing when we checked it out over lunch break today. I guess we were imagining a wonderland where the tea flowed freely and there would be a bar with stools where we could sit to enjoy our cuppas. But there were none, sadly. Just a lot of tea you could buy (and we did, mostly their “1886 Blend”– how tea used to be!) and tiny little plastic shot glasses of tea that had been brewed a little too long. So… next time we’ll hit Tealuxe if we actually want to drink anything, and, of course, for their amazing lemony scones. Sigh.

What your teapot is really saying

I like The New Yorker, but admittedly, mostly for its cartoons. This week was no exception (the exceptions are the snappy Talk of the Town pieces and special issues like Food and Journeys) and I found one particularly funny and food-y panel on page forty-one. The teapot is actually talking! But, I must say, if I were that teapot, I’d be a little more sassy at the end. Sure you have water boiling in your stomach, but what about your scalding bum?