Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mel's Tea of the Day

Tuesday will be another hot day in Oakland; with temperatures expected to reach into the 80s. This calls for a cold, refreshing Sencha shot. Sencha green tea is full of antioxidants to support my overall health


Monday, April 29, 2013

The New Bi-Rite-Get your Ice Cream fix NOW.

It is So the time to get some Bi-Rite! Luckily for you (and us!) there's a newish Bi-Rite in town, over on Divisidero. Prepare yourself for a roomy and bright store, but with the same knowledgeable and helpful workers awaiting on your every whim. The *only* thing we could even consider suggesting is for them to steal a meter spot and make a parklet for people to sit out and enjoy the treats/eats they get from the store. Of course it isn't that far to Alamo Square or even Golden Gate Park. However, sometimes when you've got that cup or cone in your hand you just want to sit down and Enjoy. This amazing summerish weather may not last, so grab your scoop while you can!

J.K. usually gets a scoop of chocolate and a scoop of peanut butter, but this time she couldn't resist the roasted banana, while Angela tried the dynamic duo of honey lavender and salted caramel ice creams.

I scream, you scream, we all...
Similar looking, but not the same!

Roasted B with C

Maybe you need it to take home?

It's worth the line!!
 J.K. and Angela grabbed their scoops,  but we still got seduced into taking home a few other things to try as well. Angela chose Acme walnut cranberry bread, which she paired with Soft Italian Taleggio cheese. J.K. found a new chocolate bar to try (of course) and also got some of her favorite citrus. The Sumo has an extremely short season and looks like a tangelo on steroids. Angela was quite tempted by a cake they were sampling in the store, but since we'd just had ice cream she reined in her sweet teeth and refrained from putting that cake in her basket. Phew!

Lots n Lots n LOTS!
Plus wine! Perfect picnic please.
Seafoods and fresh meats, prepared dinner entrees too!
Ask your friendly fish monger what's fresh for dinner.

What a meaty spread...

Cutie Bunny.
Many flavors of chocolate too.
Fresh, often local, fruits.
Veggies and greens.



Just peek in the window at Bi-Rite and you'll see treats all around. 

Lots of cranberries and walnuts in this bread! So tasty with the melted cheese.

You may even be inspired like Angela, see above. Do you have a favorite local market? Bi-Rite makes its own ice cream too!

Mel's Tea of the Day

Desperate Mondays Call for Desperate Tea Measures 
This morning when I got into the office I realized that I had forgotten to bring in my weekly stash of tea leaves! What is a woman to do when faced with a day without her cuppa? Well, this one had to search every drawer in her desk until finding one lone tea bag. Its not loose leaf tea, but it will have to do for today. I think I acquired the tea bag while out & about.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Mel's Tea of the Day

Thursday was afternoon tea at Crown & Crumpet, where I had a delightful pot of Marie Antoinette with the full afternoon tea service.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Mel's Tea of the Day

This Wednesday's tea is a delightful Jasmin Fancy from Peet's Coffee & Tea. The aroma of this tea causes me to swoon & dream of sitting in a garden all day where I can sip & read a good book. The light delicate sweet taste stands on its own. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

April Cook the Book / Mile End Hamantaschen / Posted by J.K.

I chose Hamantaschen from The Mile End Cookbook because I love Hamentaschen and I had lekvar (prune) and mohn (poppy seed) filling left over from Purim. That left the apricot filling to make with Mile End's recipe.

This is an easy recipe. Apricots, sugar and water. 

First, I chopped my apricots. This makes it easier to mash them after they're cooked.

 Add the water. 
 And simmer for five minutes.  

 The recipe calls for a food processor, but I used my trusty immersion blender. Much easier. I have a Vitamix, too, but scraping sticky substances out of the bottom is too much work. Cleaning the Vitamix isn't work, though. Pour in some hot water, add a couple of drops of dish detergent, turn it on, and it cleans itself.
 Now for the dough. Mile End's recipe is almost identical to my usual recipe, which was given to me by my childhood friend. (Mile End uses 1/3 the baking powder.) Before that, I used a recipe from the Presto flour company that used their self-rising cake flour, which I had to carry back from New York, because self-rising cake flour isn't sold in California.
Not too many ingredients here, either
Beat the eggs, sugar and oil until thick. Add the blended dry ingredients and beat until mixed. The cookbook says to use your hands, but I used my silicone paddle, which scrapes the bowl as it works, and is gentle enough to fold egg whites.

You will probably need to add more flour. I added an extra cup, until the dough looked like this.
 Form the dough into a disk and refrigerate.
 Wrap it well. Again, the book said in aluminum foil, but plastic wrap is much easier to work with.
 When the dough is chilled, break off pieces and roll between your hands to the approximate size of ping pong balls.
 Then flatten, with a tortilla press or rolling pin.
 This dough is very sticky, so keep the bulk of it in the fridge, and coat the bottom of each disk with sugar so it won't stick. The prune and poppy seed filling are both very dark, so I like to use a crinkled edge on one to let everyone easily tell the difference.
Place your filling in the center of the disk, fold up into a triangle and pinch points together. You won't have any trouble getting the edges to stick together.

Baked Hamantaschen
This process was way too slow for me, so I rolled the rest of the dough.

Assembly, of course, is the same.

More Baked Hamantaschen

Mel's Tea of the Day

The Bay is having one of its Sunny CA moments that many think are typical of all CA. Not so in Northern CA, but I will enjoy it while it lasts. To celebrate this unusual streak of warm sunny weather I am having AssI Brand instant tea which is like sunshine in a cup. The bright yellow & warmth of the ginger. Instant Ginger Tea (Honeyed) with a splash of lemon juice. I pick this tea up in China Town, Oakland.  Haven't had a chance to visit? Weekend mornings are perfect for grabbing a cup of tea & stroll through the markets.


Monday, April 22, 2013

Mel's Tea of the Day

Rejuvenation Tea from The Meaning of Tea is a refreshing brew to start the week with. I love the blend of nettles, peppermint, raspberry leaf, milky oats, lemon balm & calendula blossoms. This tea is both refreshing & full of healthy goodness. 


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Afternoon Tea at Neiman Marcus

Welcome to the Rotunda at Neiman Marcus. J.K. had been here many years ago, but it was Angela's first visit. Because of this, Angela took the dedicated elevator up to the restaurant in order to make sure and end up in the right spot. J.K. got an extra look around the shops since she detoured to the top floor before finding Angela under the Rotunda. We were both welcomed into this bright and airy restaurant and given a seat next to the big windows overlooking tourist hotspot Union Square. (Tip: When you reserve through Open Table, you can request a specific table during busy times.)

The waitress ascertained we were there for afternoon tea (they also offer a regular lunch/brunch menu). She then gave us our menus describing the meal and tea options. The Rotunda has a small variety of Dammann Frères teas that cover all the bases. J.K. chose a white tea and Angela picked a green tea. The bottomless tea pot is included with the purchase of afternoon tea. Tea Time was served the complimentary Reduced Chicken Broth (isn't that Consommé?) with a tiny light pastry biscuit along with their beverages.All of it was very tasty.

Welcome to the Rotunda!
The overview, with popover and consommé+tiny biscuit.

Tea Time feels inspired to make these!
They offered chilled strawberry butter to compliment the bread.
white tea from the Anji region exclusively harvested during one or two weeks a year

green sencha basis, bergamot essential oil, kiwi, yellow peach, orange blossom, violet blossom flavor
J.K. and Angela chatted and enjoyed the view while we waited for the tea tray to arrive. You could see Union Square and also get a fun view of the Vera Wang store (mostly wedding dresses) from the table where we were seated. There was a changing of the guard during our meal as well so Tea Time lost a waitress and gained a waiter, but the service remained consistent and thoughtful.

Our tea tray came with five sandwiches (two of each), and they were salmon, cucumber, egg, crab and chicken salad. The crab puff was our favorite! The Rotunda also served us two different scones, and a variety of desserts. A Tea Time favorite, the petit four, put in an appearance, as well as madelines, mini opera cakes, pecan pie and a blondie (brownie). Tea Time baker J.K. complimented the madeline on it's perfect shape; she appreciates the little bump. We also had spreads for our scones. The Rotunda team chose to use a divided plate (similar to the one used at the Oak Room afternoon tea). In addition to the leftover strawberry butter there was honey, strawberry jam, lemon curd and whipped cream.

There were two of most items.

We did split the scones and petit fours.

'Vintage' lunch sandwiches (filtered photo)
J.K. saved room for more dessert, you'll see why in a minute...
A spread of spreads.
Our lemon has clothes!!

The NM rotunda itself is beautiful, and we understand it's a very popular destination during the Holidays when they put up a giant tree that reaches all the way to the 4th floor! Tea Time took a variety of pictures to try and capture the lovely setting where we enjoyed our tea, plus the view outside.

Wedding belles!

Union Square San Francisco.
The Rotunda window at street level.
 San Francisco is ripe with the opportunity to enjoy afternoon tea, and we've still got a few places to check out and share with you. Make a reservation at the Rotunda if you're visiting and don't want to stray from downtown! Oh, remember J.K. saved room for more dessert? That's because we happened to go to tea on "Free Cone Day." This is a thank you from Ben and Jerry's (the ice cream dudes!) that happens once every year. You can choose one scoop, but you can go back and stand in line as often as you like. We know someone who went 3 times! (NOT US!) There's always fun (often free) stuff happening in our Fair City so check it out and let us know your favorite spots!

Butterscotch for Angela.
Always Chocolate for J.K.