28 February 2010

Tea and Toast

Ahh... tea & toast, the best meal in the world. The SUN came out today, so we donned our lightweight Spring wear and dashed outside, being careful not to spill the tea, for a lovely brunch of, well, what you see in the picture above. That's organic whole-wheat miche (a lovely, dense, mildly sour French bread) and two versions of Totally Assam from Edwards Premium Tea (one of us prefers it plain, the other likes it milky). Nothing fancy... just the best of the basics, true comfort food. Delicious!

Remembering Trixie's sister, who would have been fifty-plus-one today... saluting dear sisters everywhere, with all of my tea-stained admiration,
p.s. Please tell *all* of your pals about the CHINATEN coupon, valid now at TheTeaDrinker.com. Thank you.

25 February 2010

Getting a Händel on things

Two days late, and (unspecified amount of dollars) short, but I couldn't let the day go by without acknowledgment -- Tuesday 2/23 was the 325th anniversary of the birth of our beloved Georg(e) Frideric Händel. Imagine that, three hundred and twenty-five years... he still looks mighty good, for all that, don't you think? To celebrate, as we always do, Trixie and I listened reverently to Händel's music throughout the day, and treated ourselves to a DVD of Ariodante in the evening (Trix sang along to almost everything, but I maintained my composure admirably). Of course we also drank tea: Paris blend from Harney & Sons Fine Teas, not because of any connection between Händel and the City of Light, but because it tastes wonderful, and in concert (ooh! a pun) with such sublime melodies we had to have a likewise harmonious beverage.

Speaking of Paris, I'll put in a word here about all of the delicious Kusmi Tea (from Paris!) varieties that can be found at TheTeaDrinker.com. There, I've said it. Bon. And you still have time to use the fabulous CHINATEN coupon... don't be shy! You know you want to...

Back to Händel for a moment -- if you want some quiet, gentle, melodious music you can't find anything better than this: Suites for Keyboard/Keith Jarrett, piano. Please play track #11 and tell me that it doesn't transport you to a better place.

With tea-stained greetings,
all my love, Dustin

15 February 2010

We Still Love This Tiger

Yes, that's right, you can still love something (or someone) called Tiger... this whole YEAR, starting now, is called Tiger in several Asian lands, including China... and I, for one, am going to really, really, love this year.

To celebrate the official start of TIGER YEAR, I'm giving you first dibs on a DISCOUNT COUPON for Trixie's webstore at TheTeaDrinker.com... the code is CHINATEN (not case-sensitive). The "chinaten" code, used gleefully during checkout, gets you ten percent off all merchandise purchases, wow. Valid *right now* through 15 March 2010. Yes, that's the Ides of March for all of you Classics scholars.

Although Chinese teas are the focus of this promotion, the discount is good on everything Trixie stocks in the webstore, so please go check it out.

Dashing away now to make tea (China tea, of course!), Gung Hay Fat Choy!

04 February 2010

Sometimes ya just gotta

That's right, dear readers, sometimes ya just gotta... and, what with the rain, and the wind, and it being truly mid-Winter, and seeing a very sad opera, we really did just gotta indulge in some fresh-faced wagashi last weekend.

Country bumpkin that I have become, it felt as if I was traveling in another country when Trixie and I made our sojourn to San Francisco to experience the (depressing yet cathartic) wonders of Wozzeck at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. The Center is a beautiful showplace surrounded by paved and planted parkland, which is in turn surrounded by bunches of cultural venues and lots of very tall shiny buildings. Somehow we forgot to dress ourselves head-to-toe in regulation black attire (beret optional), but were nonetheless swept up in a heady artistic whirlwind for the day. Thanks to the citizens of San Francisco for accepting as exactly as we were, all wide-eyed and mud-encrusted, only wearing the littlest bit of black on our feet.

Trix tells me the City used to look very different in her day (she does not specify which particular day she means -- I suspect it was a long time hence), but she still thrills to walk the windy canyons of the Financial District on a late Sunday afternoon when the bankers are away... and this is what we did to revive our spirits after the opera, wending our way toward Minamoto Kitchoan (the façade of which reads simply: JAPANESE SWEETS) on marvelous Market Street near majestic Montgomery, north side. If you blink you will miss it, for it is a little slip of a shop, hardly big enough for ourselves and the half-dozen patrons who tumbled in right after us. It is all a-glitter with the pastel glow of pastry and blond woodwork, that particular palette known only to wagashi-ya and the finest French patisseries. Add to this the (artificial) seasonal flora and vegetation perched here and there to remind us what time of year it is, therefore which well-timed confections we will find when we lower our gaze, reverently, to the display case before us. We did, in fact, lower our gaze...

... and rested our eyes on confection after confection sculpted from one of the best foods in the universe: chestnut! Oh my golly gosh yes. Chestnut here, there, nearly everywhere. Spoiled for choice, but mindful of economies, I chose a pert pair of simple kuri manju while Trixie settled upon a more lavish kurizutsumi. We also could not resist the siren call of kurishigure (so we did not resist). Several other selections, including one opulently chubby Tsuya (devoid of chestnut but still worth having), went gently into our handbaskets (one must directly experience the Kitchoan handbasket to appreciate its fine qualities; yet we were the only patrons during our visit brave enough to actually use them). When both of us reached for the box of candied yuzu peel at exactly the same moment, I thought it mighty sporting of Trixie to let me carry it in my basket. I felt so proud!

If you know wagashi at all, you can imagine what taste sensations we had in store... in fact we still have many left in store, for we have, so far, only sacrificed the manju, the Tsuya, and a smidgen of yuzu peel. Plus one stunningly cross-cultural *chocolate* rendition of a tsuya/dorayaki (little pancakes filled with sumptuous goo) called a Chocolat Mikasa that, until this very moment, escaped my memory (though it was as tasty as all the others). See it in the pix, for we captured its likeness before Trix ate it down to the last crumb.

Logistical madness thought it entails, we swear to return to Minamoto Kitchoan in a few weeks' time to meet the arriving shipment of suikanshuku, a white bean paste-filled persimmon delight which we absolutely must investigate. Don't get me started on persimmons... not yet.

Behold! We were able to enjoy tea outside, due to a slip-up in the weather (it forgot to rain on two whole days this week). Heaven's loss was our gain, and we blithely stepped into the garden and took deep breaths of the rain-washed air between gulps of tea and dainty bites of our confectionery plunder.

Now that the rain has returned, I can only encourage you to think about all of the plants that will blossom and grow, very soon, thanks to this weather... including camellias -- japonica and sasanqua -- cousins of our beloved tea plant c. sinensis. Watch for camellia blossoms later in the month...

With that happy, hopeful thought, dear friends, I go off to the Aga in search of tea (today it's Kusmi Bouquet de Fleurs, such is my optimism about impending Spring),