Monday, October 29, 2012

DarTEAling Lounge

Our second afternoon tea hotspot is DarTEAling Lounge. It's been a while since our last visit here. We think it was when they began their partnership with the Flying Llama girls (Socola Chocolates), serving their confections. (We were first introduced to their product at a Chocolate Salon, most tasty!) Located a bit off the beaten path in SOMA, you could easily miss the entrance to this lounge. If you persevere, you will be rewarded with soft decor and  a menu which will give you a variety of afternoon tea choices (you can also choose a la carte).

Socola, Poco Dolce and other sweets are available for impulse purchasing.
Our table awaits with paper napkins... not linens.
We chose the Afternoon Tea for Two (they also have a smaller option "Taste Tea for Two, but we Go Big or Go Home on team Tea Time) and got 3 types of sandwiches with our mixed greens salad. The Turkey Pesto Cream was our number one favorite! The sun-dried tomatoes made a great flavor and texture contrast to the turkey and creamy pesto. We both love Mediterranean style food, and the Roasted Red Peppers with Hummus on wheat hit the spot. Our last choice, Smoked Ham with Horseradish Cheddar on white bread sounded delightful, but didn't have enough porky flavor in our book.

Sandwiches, salad and bottomless pots of tea.
After we were done with the salad and sandwiches, a tiered plate featuring scones and desserts appeared. The waitress also topped off our teapots with more hot water. We were drinking Purple Gems, a premium black tea blended with wild blueberries. It was light and flavorful. Our second choice (this service comes with two bottomless pots of tea) was an herbal Rooibos, called Caramel Carousel which was warm and rich definitely something that you could enjoy on a chill fall day. Dartealing has a tea menu with 4 categories: Black, Green, Rooibos/Herbal, and White/Oolong/Premium.

Housemade scones and desserts on a tray. Lemon Curd and Raspberry Jam.
  The scones on offer to us were Banana Cinnamon and Cranberry Orange. We overheard another table asking for gluten-free options. She was told they had a traditional vanilla gluten-free scone (for a higher price). The Banana Cinnamon lived up to it's name and also had some toasted nuts on top. The Cranberry Orange also had some banana flavor. Maybe some bananas jumped in with the cranberries and that scared away the orange flavor? Perhaps our tastebuds long for stronger flavors than their regular customers? We really enjoyed the tart lemon curd and fruity raspberry jam. Possibly housemade as well? Tea Time has been spoiled over the years and we're always a bit confused when we get whipped cream with our scones and not Devonshire Cream.

Cranberry with Orange on left. Banana Cinnamon on right.
The desserts on offer included a lush dense petit four, a small chocolateish cookie and a pate a choux  filled with more light whipped cream (light as in it could be floating) and a bit of kiwi that gave it a citrus kick. We stayed to on a while after the sweets were gone to sip some more tea and while away the afternoon.

The Tea Time girls always save room for dessert!
We arrived with no reservation at 1pm on a Friday and while it was pretty busy, the hostess was able to seat us promptly. There was a nice mix of customers including tables of two and three, men and women, plus a large table of grandmotherly ladies having a good time. If you'd like to visit Dartealing make sure it is not on Monday or Tuesday, as they are closed on these days. They do offer catering so if you'd like something special for the office, I'm sure they would be happy to oblige. The below message is from the Dartealing website, and thanks to them for helping us have a nice experience at our lunch date.

"Dartealing is about 
personal rituals and 
celebrating life.  
We are about finding time 
and a place for rest 
during a busy day, or 
to catch up with those
 important people in our
lives.  We open our doors

and welcome you to
our creation.
If we can get a
“that was a very nice
experience” from you,
it would be a most

 rewarding compliment."

We hope you're enjoying the Afternoon Tea we're slaving to bring to you from SF! Next stop on our list is a new to us restaurant. Tea Time can't wait to take you on our next Afternoon Tea Adventure. Maybe at the end of this we'll host our own afternoon tea, just to show you how easy it is to do at home.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Pumpkin Patch ready for the Swap!

I got inspired to make these sweets as my offering for the Food Swap during our trip to LA! While there, we visited Dylan's Candy Bar West and they had some Chocolate Covered Candy Corn. Last year I made my first foray into homemade Candy Corn and it turned out pretty good. This time around I knew how to work out the kinks, so it was much simpler and I got it done quickly which was nice.

I made Pumpkins instead of Candy Corn, both for cuteness and ease of covering in chocolate. JK was kind enough to let me mess around with her tempering machine since I have not mastered tempering by hand (hence the rustic truffles, not shiny ones, that I made for the swap in August).

Here is the recipe I used (Gasp, recipe! I know, but I only made it once before and since I'm swapping I wanted to avoid mistakes. Candy making can be a more exacting science, esp. if thermometers are involved) which may or may not be the same I used last year. Anyhow, thanks to Serious Eats for always being there when I need a recipe (or sandwich).

Here's how my gorgeous sweet pumpkin patch came into being, using simple ingredients and a little time.

Dry ingredients, powdered milk+powdered sugar mixed.

Sweet Stuff, light corn syrup+butter+cane sugar
Letting it bubble, but make sure to stir!

Add your flavor, in this case Vanilla. Last year I made Cinnamon and Peppermint as well.
I add the food coloring while it's still hot in the pan. It's much easier to fold into the candy then!

I dump the still warm candy lump onto the parchment paper. Less mess in the pan later.
I also made some orange balls without their green stem so they could be dipped in chocolate. Then the stem is added on top. I promise they're not "rotten". Just an "heirloom varietal".

Dipping the orange pumpkin balls.
 Yummy finished product to be presented at the Swap Tuesday night. Don't spend $9/lb on your candy corn, get your sugar rush on and share the wealth this Halloween! You've got time to get it done.

Also in this picture--one homemade chocolate covered marshmallow. See JK for more details...

Friday, October 19, 2012

Good Luck Cafe Deli

I've been having lunch with my friend Beth once a week for over 20 years. One of our favorite places is Good Luck Cafe Deli at 621 Kearny Street, between California and Sacramento. This is a cash-only business run by a very friendly and patient Chinese couple who make sandwiches to order. There are pictures of sandwiches on a large poster in the window, but they will cheerfully make any combination you want. There are a few small tables and some counter space, but their business is mostly takeout, so you can always get a seat if you want to eat there.

Beth and I are pretty much set in our preferences. I always get roast beef and cheese on a whole wheat roll, no mayo and no jalapeno. There is a large selection of bread to choose from, and it's warmed after you order your sandwich. This time I added avocado, which was perfectly ripe but made the sandwich too big to fit in my mouth, so I ate most of the avocado before tackling the sandwich. All this cost me only $8.00.

There is a good selection of chips, snacks, salads and soft drinks to round out your lunch. 
Beth's choice is eel on Dutch Crunch, no mustard. With a bag of chips and tax, she paid $8.12. 

These are the best deli sandwiches you're going to find. Even though I don't go to the financial district every day any more, sometimes I get on the cable car and get a Good Luck sandwich by myself.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Beer Bread (finally!)

 This beer has been waiting to become bread for a while. I got the recipe from my friend Jenny (visit her at Snackreligious) and it's been staring at me from my inbox every time I check my email. Today was the day! This beer cried out to be made into bread, the sweet maple scent so tantalizing while baking.

I added extra flavor into the mix and it turned out well. I think I'd just add more cheese next time. There can never be too much cheese!! If you make this bread using just the basic recipe, it is technically vegan, so, Yay and Yum.

The ingredients pictured below are per the recipe, with my additions.
Beer Bread
Preheat oven to 375 F
Grease a bread pan with olive oil, nonstick spray, or butter.
3 c flour
3 T sugar
1 T Baking Powder
1 tsp. salt
1 c cheddar cheese (shredded)
1 T chives

Whisk these dry ingredients together
Add 1 beer and stir. Mixture will be sticky.

Put mixture in prepared pan. Bake 55 minutes.

 Remove from oven, rub a little butter over the top, and return it to the oven for 2-3 minutes.


 I, in fact, followed her instructions so well, that I ate half of a mini-loaf before I remembered to take a picture. It was lunch! The 'bacon' flavor of the beer was not noticeable in the bread (but I didn't think it was that present in the liquid either, mostly I tasted/smelled maple), I think next time I will add more cheese and Real bacon. No stinking 'bacon flavor' fail please.

By the way, do you think there is a bacon shortage? Are you afraid and stockpiling? How much healthier will our country become if we no longer have bacon imported?

P.S. Now that this post is written I'm going to eat another loaf! Dinner time. ha.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Brick and Mortar Onigilly

We've been enjoying Onigilly onigiri for several years, visiting their food cart and booths at various events from Off the Grid to the SF Street Food Festival. We really admire the way they've made their business become reality! The idea is straightforward and simple, yet we can see how it has evolved since we ate our first rice ball standing in line a couple years ago at the Street Food Festival waiting to try the dish next door, and now it's turned into a lovely cozy restaurant on Kearny street helping FiDi workers get something tasty and healthy for lunch. (open 11am-3pm)

The space is bright and inviting with a few small tables for eating in, and a bench for people waiting on to- go orders. Angela was a bit paranoid about the line when she rode up on her bike, but it turns out that once you are in the doorway, you're next to order. It makes total sense to put the register next to the door, which allows customers inside room to move around instead of fighting for elbow room with those waiting to order. Props on this floor plan! However, it also makes the line look long, even though our wait to order was short. Food delivery time was quick. You can definitely make lunch here happen in under an hour and not feel rushed.

They have a couple different order options now. Our group all got the "Onigillly" which is three rice balls with salad and some edamame on the side. A full meal. They have onigiri flights to choose from or you can create your own. Other patrons had the bowls which looked delicious; they arrive with salad or rice featuring the onigiri toppings of your choice.

Angela ordered her own set of 3 with a side of seaweed salad. Unagi, Chicken Teriyaki and Salmon graced her plate. The Unagi was savory and tender, the sauce is her favorite. Flavorful organic chicken is put to good use with Teriyaki and rice surrounded by the savory seaweed wrapper. Gently cooked Salmon and rice paired with homemade pickled ginger (ooo, Swap idea!) was a delightful taste sensation.The seaweed salad was the perfect complement to western leafy greens. The portions were generous (perhaps slightly more so than the food cart?).

JK got the Seafood Duper trio which featured the Unagi (broiled freshwater eel with sweet soy), Tempra [sic] Shrimp (honey soy dipped tempura fried shrimp) and Kani (Canadian Snow Crab meat mixed with lemon agave aioli) Onigiri. Unfortunately she didn't realize that this had aioli, which seriously detracted from the taste of the crab for her, as JK does not like mayonnaise. Next time she will order  two shrimp or two unagi or maybe something entirely different for her third onigiri. This plate also had salad with Miso Dressing, edamame and house pickled ginger.

Beth enjoyed these three Onigiri; Bacon (cooked bacon with garlic butter, sake and chili sauce), Hijiki Seaweed (soy braised seaweed strings with shredded carrots) and Miso Tuna Salad (cooked wild albacore mixed with miso aioli; the miso didn't help this one, even though Beth likes mayonnaise), along side her salad, ginger and edamame.

Right now Onigilly is still in it's "soft opening" phase and the three of us each received surveys as first time customers. When we return and bring the survey they will give $2 off our order. A good deal! Onigilly is choosing to show their roots with pride by displaying their story as art on the walls. The actual art is pretty interesting, too.

Do you enjoy rice? What's your favorite topping?  Would you take rice balls for lunch? Onigiri are quite easy to make at home, but it's nice to eat out and enjoy some professional cooking so try out Onigilly today or tomorrow. Considering their business smarts they should be around a long time.

UPDATE: Onigilly has posted the changes they chose to make after reading their customer surveys and taking the  comments into consideration. You can check out their new and improved menu online, or just stop by the store! I'm hungry just thinking about it. Yum!

UPDATE:  April 2013
Happy Hour Visit

Sake Sangria FTW!
Edamame with a delish garlic sauce!
Dead Soldiers
Octopus Takoyaki! Hot crispy outside with fishy bonito flakes sprinkled on top.
Who can resist clams in a bowl?
Golden Beet Salad. The pink stuff tasted amazing.
Unagi handroll, well, they call it a 'taco'. We call it real tasty.

The happy hour menu at Onigilly is seasonal, but if you're up to date by following twitter/facebook, they let you know what's new in the resto. The Sake Sangria is a treat and something you can make at home for sushi parties. Great inspiration to the home entertainer. Our favorite twist was the garlic edamame. If you want a happy hour snack, get them. The service was great too! Onigilly is here to stay. Yay!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Greek to Go

Tea Time Update- This resto has been replaced by Bartlett Hall a very upscale Sports bar/gastropub.  We ventured in to check out their Happy Hour on a Tuesday night and found $5 wines and $5 beer along with a few $5 small bites. It's a pretty good deal if you're downtown and looking for a place to relax before 6pm.

Santorini is a Mediterranean food resto on O'Farrell street across from the Starbucks. (No, the Other Starbucks.) I had eaten here once before, but it's a bit pricey for a simple lunch meal. (Also I try to take my lunch to work.)  While I remembered that the food was okay, I hadn't been back to this restaurant for quite a while. Then Living Social tempted me with a To Go deal I couldn't resist. That's how I ended up ordering online for a lunch pick-up the other day.

It was still as pricey as I remembered, but I had forgotten that the portions made it a two-meal deal. (In this case, lunch before work and dinner on my 'lunch' break.) I stopped in to pick up my meal and the place was pretty quiet. The waitress grabbed my food and then went to cut my fresh house made pita bread. They make it on large sheet pans and she used a pizza cutter type tool to make some slices. When I got back to the break room, I uncovered a very nice gyro platter which had a lot of meat, lettuce, onion and tomatoes to allow me to construct many of my own little "gyros".

House made fresh soft pita bread and yogurt dip made my mini-gyros complete. I like my tzatziki sauce a little more zippy with the tang of plain yogurt vs. smooth cucumber, but this milder version was tasty as well.

Gyro Gyro Gyro. The Living Social to-go coupon helped make this meal a deal, but it would still have been worth it without the coupon considering how expensive Union Square  food can be. Next time I won't just think of the prices, but the fresh food and generous portion. Do you remember when Wendy's tried to sell Gyros? Do they still have those?? Am I making that up?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sonoma in Santa Monica

How did this happen? Somehow we ended up in Sonoma. Yet, this lovely restaurant within a stones throw of the Santa Monica Pier. We were in LA for the Luxury Chocolate Salon and while we're not posting all of our adventures from our trip, you'll get to see a bit of what we enjoyed in SoCal (besides the weather! Finally, Summer). 

The Sonoma Wine Garden is a luxurious spot to while away the evening hours enjoying the view and balmy LA weather. Afterwards, we suggest a digestive walk down to the pier to enjoy a wide variety of characters and the pretty lights of the carnival rides.

 Our starter included 3 of these little guys, but Angela made sure to take a photo before they all got eaten up. We were all ready for some real food after a day of 'tasting'. The red sauce was light and a bit sweet a nice contrast to the hot crisp crunch of breading and  melty insides with a fried basil leaf as yummy garnish.

We couldn't resist Truffle fries with Parmesan and garden parsley as a second appetizer! Sadly there was mostly just crisp fries, with very little earthy truffle flavors. The disappointment was not the fries themselves, which were quite good, but the word "truffle" in the menu description proved to be a misnomer. A great suggestion from the Boss at TasteTv is to put your truffle oil in a mister and then use it to finish a dish. This is an economical way to get great bang for your truffle buck. Angela usually prefers truffle salt, but is certainly willing to try out this idea. By the way, did you know truffle salt has the percentage of truffle listed on the container? This is a good thing to look at when comparing prices.

This is J.K.'s dinner. Lamb Meatballs (there are three meatballs hidden in there, honest!) in pasta, with peppers and garlic. This dish featured linguine, spicy lamb meatballs, pickled Fresno chili, black olive and rosemary. There was enough pasta to enjoy cold as leftovers the next day.

Angela had the fried chicken entree. Specifically, the menu lists it as Buttermilk Fried Chicken: Mary’s organic chicken, southern love, fries. Since we had already munched down on fries, she substituted for the roasted cauliflower and potatoes. The potatoes were good, but the cauliflower was Really good. Too bad the ratio of pots to cflower  was about 4 to 1. Really too bad you can't just exchange the potatoes out for more cauliflower like you would at home when serving yourself... nom nom nom, no one will know if I just eat this out of the pan...

Angela prefers dark meat (thighs), but the mostly boneless all white meat was tender and juicy. The chicken was piping hot with the a good crunch which contrasted well with the savory meat inside. Side sauces were ketchup and an herbed aioli (same for the fries in the above picture). Not pictured are the two nice glasses of Sparkling wine Angela enjoyed with this meal. Angela firmly believes bubbles go with every food in the world.

There's a lot to see and do around Santa Monica, shopping, eating, farmer's markets, surfing, beaching, eating chocolate, looking at the shiny lights and enjoying the carnival rides on the Pier. Just watch out for the pelicans, they can be quite possessive.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Los Angeles Chocolate Salon in Pictures (2012)

Tea Time Adventures attended the 2012 LA Luxury Chocolate Salon and took a few pictures. These photos feature a very small amount of the vendors at the salon. If you're in the Bay Area and interested in attending a Chocolate Salon, there is one coming up in November. You'll see us there!! (but we're sure you'll just want to taste chocolate!)
Le Cordon Bleu students creating art with chocolate.
These sculptures were display only, but that's okay they looked delicious!  

The chocolate was donated by Amano Chocolate

Amazing decorated cakes!
The Chocolate Salon! Lots of companies to check out, plenty of people-watching.

Amano Artisan Chocolates. Amazing bean to bar company.
Fabulous beef jerky from Jerk'n Pickle
Artisan jerky and pickles

Cashew, Almond and Peanut Butter Spread
Supports La Dolce Vita Animal Rescue Foundation

Ruth Kennison
The Gourmandise School of Sweets and Savories and
Bonaparte Chocolate

Beautiful and Delicious Chocolates from Cocotutti

Marti Chocolatt
Mignon Chocolates

Pralines Perfected

Plumeria Flours
Cookies, Confections, Specialty Desserts
And Very Tasty Popcorn

Specialty Oils and Vinegars from
Leonardo e Roberto's Gourmet Blends

Capay Farms
Farm Fresh to you
Chuao Chocolatier
Unusual, Unexpected & Delicious Chocolate

TheToffee Box
Artisan Toffee
Droga Chocolates
Confections Reimagined
Representatives of Ecuador
Sasha Chocolates by Kallari
Bean-to-Bar Chocolate from Ecuador
Ecuadorian Organic Chocolate
Marco Paolo Chocolates
Premium Artisan Truffles
Butterfly Brittle
Simply Indulgent Gourmet Brittles
Elyce Zahn of Cocotutti talks about enhancing chocolate with the aromas of food.
Art Pollard of Amano Chocolate talks about the negative aspects of "fair trade."
Ruth Kennison demonstrates making chocolate bars

We've been around the Chocolate Salon block a few times here at Tea Time. It's always great to see old faces, eat new chocolates and celebrate the bean. If you're interested in learning more you can check out TasteTV for links and news from past salons. We hope to see you in November! Tea Time will be around, tasting Chocolate and taking more (better!) photos over at Fort Mason.