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!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Holiday Tea at the Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco

Tea Time brings you another elegant hotel tea adventure, this time courtesy of the Ritz Carlton SF. You may know this hotel for its prominent restaurant Parallel 37 which serves inspirational California Cuisine. However, every holiday season the hotel presents an opportunity (for those in the know) to enjoy a delightful Afternoon Tea. The Ritz has only one seating at 3pm, so you should reserve early before it's booked up. There was a crowd waiting when we arrived, but everyone was seated by the hostess in a timely manner.

Your menu awaits.

The essential condiments for Afternoon Tea

You can even get a bit of Afternoon Tea history when you peruse the menu, "Afternoon Tea was first established when Anne, 7th Duchess of Bedford grew tired of that sinking feeling which afflicted her every afternoon around four o'clock in the long dull space between meals." Once your server arrives, you can order your tea selection. J.K. chose Chocolat (of course!) which is a strong black tea, perfectly suited to a good glug of cream and a bit of sugar. Angela picked out the Organic Pear Green, which was refreshing and had a hint of fruity sweetness all by itself.

Organic Pear Green
Pour a glass for me!

Chocolat–in its pure tea form

No seeds allowed with a lemon net.

The menu for your tea service is preset so if you have any dietary restrictions, let them know with your reservation. Tea Time was delighted by the desserts and surprised by the "sandwiches" at the Ritz afternoon tea. Our favorite savory bite was the creamy pate-filled pate a choux with the parmesan cheese chip on top. We were remiss in not giving the Currant scones their close up for this post, but you can see them peeking out next to the Rocky Road Brownie on the bottom tier, left photo.

two views
The tea stand
Tea savories circle up clockwise: Cucumber Triangle, Ham and Cheese, Crab Rectangle, Duck Pate,
Egg Salad with mushroom-center
number one favorite savory bite–of course it was duck!
Dessert Circus clockwise. chocolate macaron, rocky road brownie, crunchy vanilla meringue cookie, lemon tart with griotte cherries, vanilla macaron, chocolate chip mini madeline (!), vanilla raspberry cake-center
The Ritz tea falls in line with the pricing of other Hotel teas; you're paying for the experience as well as the food (and wine-if you're Tipsy). However, Tea Time would add this afternoon tea experience to the regular rotation due to the inventiveness of the menu and tastiness of the food. If you want to splurge on afternoon tea, the Ritz does it right with thoughtful service and a relaxed atmosphere.
Happy Holidays

The bar is closed for Afternoon Tea

Prominent local resto Parallel 37
J.K. couldn't finish her last three pastries, so she asked our server to put them in a box. They came back in a festive container, accompanied by a few friends! Tea Time visited during the Holiday season when there are ample options to reserve a spot for afternoon tea, if you're quick. However, we got a tip from our server that starting in March, every 3rd Saturday will feature an afternoon tea break! So give the Ritz a call now to reserve.

Bonus desserts and a cute Currant scone too!
But wait! There's more! Every day from Christmas Eve through New Year's Eve, the complimentary tea urn in the lobby was replaced with the Hot Chocolate Lab. Two flavors of hot chocolate plus assorted toppings, including two flavors of marshmallows. The hot chocolate flavors varied (the caramel was our favorite, but they were all good), however, the marshmallows were vanilla and peppermint every day. The Ritz serves the hot chocolate, but the toppings were DIY.

Friendly Servers
Cauldron of Yummy Hot Chocolate

Multitude of Toppings

If you're in the city and want an Afternoon tea break, you'll have to plan ahead to show up on a Saturday at the Ritz (with a reservation). Or do like Tea Time and wait patiently for the Holidays!  Hopefully if there is enough demand for this classy tea, the Ritz will take advantage and start to host them the entire weekend and maybe even have two seatings. Fingers crossed, Tea Lovers!


Thank you for the delightful tea!