19 January 2010

Fancy That!

San Francisco just played rainy, windy host to the 35th Winter Fancy Food Show, and a busy, great-smelling, not-too-flashy time it was -- at least that's how it was on Sunday, when I elbowed my way up and down aisles full of serious-looking Food Professionals (or, as I like to call 'em, Mo'-fessionals), picking up the odd chocolate chunk and tea sample along the way. All business, that seemed to be the theme this year... there weren't any Focused Tasting areas, it was all booths and intense work. Tea companies were as busy as ever. I spied a couple of non-exhibiting famous tea vendors walking the Show, too.

The first stop on my rounds was to say Howdy & Welcome to first-time exhibitors BASILUR TEA, a company new to us but well-known in many other countries. I have to say, I thought their elegant packaging was pretty nifty when Trixie pointed it out to me on their website, but when I saw it in person, arranged in the booth in all its glory, my jaw dropped, words failed, I was all amazement. Watch for more info about Basilur -- for I believe, very soon, they will be BIG over here. Get ahead of the wave and put them on your Holiday wishlist now... ask specifically for the tins of tea that look like *stones* (it's true -- I could not make this up). Fabulous!! I'm going to beg the Basilur team for a picture of those, since they ain't on the website yet.

After a full day of Show-ing, wouldn't you know it but Trix and I met up again with those nice people of Basilur and had dinner with them -- what fun! Watch for pix, because several were taken (I, however, was very shy and hid behind the sculptures in the lovely and romantic Grand Café). I encourage visitors to downtown San Francisco to dine and drink there, because they have *really, really high ceilings*, the aforementioned sculptures, beautiful fabrics on the banquettes... oh yes and some tasty chow. Next time we're going to sit in the room off the bar, as it looks so very wine-colored and inviting. I peeked at the single-malt shelf in the Bar, and -- wait for it! -- they even have the mighty Glenrothes. I need say no more.

We stayed smartly indoors today, out of the thunder and lightning, drinking Edwards Premium Tea Zauberflöte Blend and, well yes, eating a few cookies. We also took some time to do our late, but none the less uplifting, reading by and about the late, sorely lamented Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Every year it's a good thing to reflect on his teaching and to remember what we are really here for. While we're at it, I am very grateful to be in my dry, comfortable home, instead of being displaced by earthquakes, wars, or floods. Speaking of which: everyone in The Tea Drinker family sends condolences and prayers to all the humans and non-humans suffering in Haiti, and anywhere there is natural or man-made strife.

As one of my good friends says, it's best to end every message on a positive note, so here goes: NEW COUPON CODE for TheTeaDrinker.com!!!!! Fresh tea for your fresh loved ones -- you DO know that Valentine's Day is fast approaching, don't you? -- please take this code over to TheTeaDrinker.com and do some important economy-stimulating... TENLOVE (not case-sensitive) gets you 10% off all merchandise in stock now, even the good things that are already discounted! Wow. Code is valid today through February 14th.

And with that, I send you tea-stained wishes for your mid-winter revels,
xo, Dustin

11 January 2010

Learning the Alphabet All Over Again

We thought we knew our ABCs, Trixie and I, but yesterday we learned that we didn't really know them at all... so thanks to our friends at A to Zed Concerts for placing our little feet on the path to enlightenment by teaching us some of the things we didn't know that we didn't know about the letter *A*!

Yesterday -- historians take note -- was January Tenth, which included the inaugural concert of the two-year, 24-concert A to Zed Concert Series imagined, created, and performed by our friends and neighbors Judiyaba and Gwyneth with special guest appearances by a swirling circle of their musical cohorts. The alphabet never sounded so good!

Not only was the program delightfully entertaining and full of musical wonders, it was played with the skill and artistry we have come to expect from this NorCal cadre of musicians who think it's really, really fun to spend their precious free time playing more music and traveling all over the place to do it.

Lucky for you, there will be a second chance to hear the *A* Concert because St. James Episcopal Church in San Francisco will host a repeat of it on Monday, January 25th at 7:30 p.m. St. James is at 4620 California Street (cross streets = 8th and 9th Ave.s, in the Richmond District). Donation at the door, which not only snags you earsful of glorious *A* music by the likes of Arne, Arriaga, Arensky, Albinoni, and Anglebert, it also entitles you to hear two of the zillions of compositions written by that incredibly long-lived fountain of creativity, Anon.

About the Arensky... I looked over at Trixie during the opening bars, and I was sure she was going to burst into tears... she has such a fondness for the sound of Russian choral music, even when transposed for string quartet. The acoustics in the smaller, wood-paneled hall of the Sebastopol Center for the Arts, where we heard the concert yesterday, were just right, turning the sound of four instruments into that of a full orchestra (in other words, all the way up to eleven). We are still wondering how that could happen... but happen it most certainly did.

To be sure that this Arensky gets its due once more, Trix and I are planning to be there on the 25th (Trixie is a glutton, what can I say?); alas, she won't bring Teana (her famous tea urn) and make tea again, as she did for the Audience yesterday. She was so excited to be asked to bring an *A* tea, and hopes to be invited to do this again for other letter concerts -- in fact, she has already submitted a list of teas in alphabetical order to show that, YES, for (almost) every letter of the 'bet she has a tea.

Which was the *A* tea, you ask? Why, it was AURORA, by particular request of the musicians (see the pic above). In addition to Aurora there was a plethora of *A* treats, including almonds on their own and in cookies, a’mandelbread, and dried apples and apricots. You can imagine what might be in store for future concerts... blueberries? chocolate? dumplings? éclairs? fondue? etc. Go find out for yerself! We know we shall.

Astute readers have calculated that 24 concerts would leave out two letters of the alphabet... but don't worry, Q is doubling up with R, and X is going to hang out with Y. See? It all works out perfectly. Such smarties, these A to Zed folks.

Follow the A to Zed blog for dates & locations of future concerts... and until we see you there, Trix and I wave to you in fond (hopefully short-term) farewell. And please come to our place for tea, anytime.