Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Blackberry Pie Murder House Party

Welcome to our House Party! Honorary Tea Time Adventurer Stephanie was picked to be a Hostess with the Mostess and promote a new Joanne Fluke Mystery novel. The title is Blackberry Pie Murder and so, of course, we got to make lots of pies, cocktails and mocktails, talk about books and play some Simpsons Clue.

If you read culinary mysteries, you've heard of Joanne Fluke. She has written 18 books in the Hannah Swensen series, and Blackberry Pie Murder is her latest recipe packed who-dun-it. Stephanie and Angela got inspired by the party pack loot that House Party sent us! In fact, Angela decided this would be the perfect opportunity for her business Tipsy Tea to create a Gift Bag for the event.

Without further ado, we give you the Blackberry Pie Murder Party in pictures. Presented by House Party, Tipsy Tea and Hostess Stephanie!

The Joanne Fluke box is here! House Party has sent a gang of goodies to inspire us.
 Tipsy Tea was inspired to create a gift bag for the event! It included Blackberry Surprise Tea and Joanne's Rimming Sugar for cocktails and mocktails along with recipe cards, a tea cup and tea ball in addition to a personal sized homemade Blackberry Pie to go.

Recipes created by Joanne Fluke and a Blackberry Pie booklet.
Tea cups are great for cocktails! Tipsy Tea Blackberry Surprise Tea and Joanne's Rimming Sugar.
Game, stir stick/glow stick (house party) Soap, Navitas Naturals Cocoa Balm (Tipsy Tea)
 You saw that Joanne prepared us with some great recipes in the House Party pack, but we also ransacked some of her other books to round out our potluck.
Here is The Food:

Pate and "Christmas Cheese Round"  before
After (with bread and crackers)
The pate inspired several proposals of marriage due to its deliciousness.
J. K. made Blackberry Surprise Cookies and Heavenly Teacakes. We also noshed on Pepperidge Farm raspberry cookies from the House Party goodie box.

Personal sized Blackberry Pies for all the guests to take home (before baking).

Blackberry Pie Martini and unbaked pie
Tito's Vodka infused with blackberries

The spread
Beautifully baked Blackberry Pie

Individual crumble topped Blackberry Pies. Recipe from Blackberry Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke.

Lastly we made Popovers! Angela and J. K. have been talking about them for a while now and this was the perfect time to do it ourselves, using a Joanne Fluke recipe. They got a bit brown, but still tasted great.

Book lover with popover recipe
Popover Popped Open
Popovers In Muffin Pan

Everyone had a bunch of fun at the house party event, drinking cocktails and mocktails, talking about the book, and playing Simpsons Clue. Here's the candid shots (plus some portraits!).

who will win???!

If you'd like to get a bit of the action, we have two Joanne Fluke Blackberry Pie Murder Party Gift Bags (created by Tipsy Tea). Just post to us in the comments if you have read Joanne Fluke and tell us about your favorite recipe from her Hannah Swensen series. Two commenters will be picked at random to win! You'll be just as excited as the guest who attended the party in our triptych below.

House Party has a wide variety of events available and if you'd like to host one, just sign up(and invite your friends)! Tea Time applied to host Joanne Fluke too, but we were happy Stephanie won the honor. Joanne Fluke writes other novels as well, so if culinary mysteries aren't your thing, maybe another of her books will thrill you. Happy Spring parties with a side of books!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Socola Chocolates Grand Opening

Tea Time makes a serious effort to attend every event we're invited to, but Socola's Grand Opening party for their brick and mortar shop (535 Folsom Street, between 1st and 2nd Street, San Francisco. 7a.m.6p.m. M-F; 9a.m.3p.m. SA) was definitely a don't-miss event. Except Angela unfortunately had to miss it, because she was scheduled to work at the Day Job, so I had to go alone. It was a gray, rainy day, but that didn't keep the chocolate industry crowd away. I wasn't really alone, as there were many familiar faces from other chocolate events (Chocolate Salon, Fog City News Chocolate Meetup, Parties, the Fancy Food Show, to name a few).

Serious Food In Close-Up
Fruit, Several Cheeses and Jalapeno Salame, with an assortment of bread and crackers
There was a generous selection of snacks to prevent sugar intoxication from the unlimited offering of truffles. Notice the display of boxed truffles and Four-Barrel Coffee ready to go home with you, topped by Socola's famous mascot.

Burnt Caramel with Sea Salt Truffles
Fresh Mint Chocolate Truffles
PB&J Truffles
Coffee Truffles
And a selection of specialty pastries from the private label Patisserie Philippe was not to be missed/

Mango Croissants
Cookies and Macarons
Chocolate Marshmallows!

Beverage Menu

There were wine pairings for all the truffles, but there were too many guests crowded around the display to photograph them all.

If you're downtown and want to take a chocolate break, head over to the new Socola store on Folsom street. You might get to meet a flying Alpaca and you'll for sure get some great chocolate confections and treats.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Dine Around the Town

Tea Time realized it was the last week of Dine About Town, so we marshalled our forces and checked out the list of participating restaurants. During Dine Abut Town, which happens twice a year, in January and June, participating restaurants offer two-course lunches for $18.95 and three course dinners for $36.95, a substantial discount on their regular prices.

J.K. and Beth started the week by lunching at Brindisi in the FiDi. Only the dinner menu was posted on the door, so they went inside and checked out the luncheon menu. The hostess assured them that it was the best deal on Belden Alley, but they had to see for themselves and checked out all the offerings before returning to agree with her. Everything else looked good, but Brindisi's offerings were definitely the best.

Beth chose the mussels for her first course,
Steamed Mussels
Fregola cous cous, cherry tomato, country roasted bread
 while J.K. opted for the rigatoni.
Rigatoni Bolognese
with traditional ragú alla bolognese
Then, in a reversal, Beth chose the pasta for her second course
Strozzapreti Carbonara
with crab meat and roasted bell peppers
 and J.K. had the trout.
Baked Rainbow Trout
lemon risotto, basil and white pepper sauce
  Tuesday night, Angela and Stephanie dined at Cioppino's. Angela had eaten there once before several years ago and knew that their great seafood soup was a steal at the Dine About Town price! Which makes her doubly sad that we didn't remember to get a photo of it. Perhaps it was starting that second carafe of Sangria, or just that we were Hungry. It was no contest to pick our three dishes, we chose the same appetizer and entree, but diverged on desserts. Angela picked the Molten Chocolate Cake and Steph had Tiramasu. They had to happily waddle out to their ride once the meal was over.

Shrimp cocktail appetizer

Molten Chocolate Cake A la Mode

And Wednesday, Angela, J.K. and Stephanie experienced lunch at Sutro's at the Cliff House. Unfortunately, it was a drizzly, foggy day so we couldn't get any pictures of the view. But you can see several here.

As soon as we sat down, our server filled our water glasses and brought us crusty rolls, accompanied by sweet butter topped with pink Hawaiian salt.
 While all the other restos offer two savory courses at lunch, Sutro's provides a very substantial luncheon plate and a dessert. We decided to embrace this by adding an order of three crab cakes as our luncheon appetizer. The crab cakes were plated individually, garnished with a bit of salad. They were all crab (no filler!), with a little breading making a crispy shell.

 For her savory course, J.K. chose the Roasted Butternut Squash.
Quinoa Crusted Butternut Squash – rainbow chard, foraged mushrooms, fregola sarda
 Angela and Stephanie both chose the Roasted Chicken. No one picked the swordfish, although it sounded tempting!

For dessert, J.K. had the Tres Leches Brioche Bread Pudding.
Tres Leches Brioche Bread Pudding – cinnamon orange crème anglaise, chantilly cream
Angela and Stephanie both chose the Butterscotch Pot de Creme to complement their chicken lunch. 

Of course Tea Time had to squeeze in some tea with their cozy after dinner treat.This Mint tea from Numi hit the spot. The Butterscotch dessert was thick, rich and heavenly. People need to get over Red Velvet (it's just chocolate!! or should be!) and make more butterscotch options for Angela to enjoy.

Butterscotch Pot de Crème
with Numi Moroccan Mint Tea
If you sign up you can get updates about Dine About Town and the charities it serves. This yearly event is a great way to get out and try new to you restos without breaking the bank!