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A little counterspace for my morning ritual

Last year for Christmas, I received a beautiful teapot from WMF — a German design company that specializes (and has for 150 years) in home pieces, and I love my “Kult” teapot.  It consists of three pieces: a ceramic pot with a drip-free spout, a fine mesh, removable strainer that brews directly into the pot, and a stainless steel, removable cover insulated with felt to keep the tea hot for an hour. 

With my fancy-pants tea pot, I get to try similarly fancy loose leaf teas.  Walking home from the Morgan Library yesterday, when I found my petit fours, I also passed a wonderful store dedicated to tea lovers:  SubtleTea. An oasis in the shadow of the Empire State Building, they have fifty odd flavors of loose leaf teas and you can sample sips of each while you decide what you’d like!

You first decide what time of day you’re going to be sipping (morning, afternoon or evening), what kind of leaf (black, green, rooibos, mate, oolong, etc.), and then flavor.  I drink tea all day, but I already had a decaf version at home, so started with an afternoon tea. I sampled the pomegranate, but it was too tart, and the almond cookies green tea was too taste specific — it wasn’t something I’d want to brew everyday.  I finally settled on Pumpkin Spice (which also happens to be my favorite Starbucks flavor in the autumn).  It’s a black tea base with actual pieces of dried pumpkin, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, cloves, and it’s lightly sweet; definitely a tea I’ll enjoy, regardless of the season!

Thanks for reading and happy drinking! EE

I spent the morning touring the Morgan Library with Conner looking at the Jane Austen exhibit (which was fantastic), and immersion in the world of British class, marriage and wit put me in the mood for high tea, which wouldn’t be complete without a pastry.  I was keeping my eyes peeled for a bakery and I (luckily) bumped into La Delice Pastry Shop a few blocks from my home.  I wish they would have let me take a photo: it was confectionery perfection! Three cases line the walls and in each case are cookies, cupcakes, sheet cakes, pastries, and petit fours. The selection was overwhelming, so I asked the woman at the counter what her favorite is (I like taking recommendations from the counter staff when I feel indecisive), and settled on two petit fours — she gave me her top four flavors, but I know I don’t have the self-control to only eat two today and save the others for later, so I chose two untraditional flavors: maple and berry. It didn’t hurt that they had just finished putting the frosting decorations on the berry: that’s my favorite way to eat any pastry besides chocolate cake — fresh out of the oven!

They were the best accoutrements for an early afternoon tea break! Each petit four had alternating thin layers of cake and ganache/preserves.  The icing on the cake (literally) was a simple flat icing that had just the right amount of sweet to pull it all together!  So pretty and so yummy. A wonderful pick-me-up in the middle of the week.

Thanks for reading and happy eating! EE

I started Sparkling or Still to share what I’m learning about food, but it is a natural pairing to talk about what I’m drinking, too.  I do like wine (and beer and cocktails), but I am not the most educated consumer.  In fact, my method of picking at the liquor store falls into a three-step method. 

1) What are we eating? I know people are saying you don’t have to stick with the poultry/fish/pasta = white and beef/tomato sauce = red, but for me that’s a simple rule of thumb. 

2) What have I had before? I like spicy, full reds and crisp, acidic whites. Malbec, Syrah, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay. My favorite wine du jour is a Lambrusco Bianco: a sparkling white from Italy. 

3) The label design and name. Obviously the most scientific (!) way to choose what to drink, I am swayed by originality and creativity.  It’s a great tactic at wine shops like Best Sellers where they don’t always have enough staff to walk you through the options or  Union Square Wines where the sheer numbers of options are daunting without a little humor. I know refer to some of my favorite wines by their labels (rather than their names), for example: the one with the hippo “sitting” on the left hand label corner and pushing it down with his heft. 

Upbeat, sweet label with a petite babycake on the top.

 

I do love a good laugh at the labels, so I was thrilled when, in exchange for dinner, a friend brought a new brand for us to try because of my longtime nickname (“Babycakes”). The wine is from Cupcake Vineyards from the Central Coast of California. We tried both the Chardonnay and the Cabernet Sauvignon, and they were nice compliments to the meal.  I would definitely get the Chardonnay again, and I’m not alone: Wine Spectator gave it an 88 point rating in Spring 2009. We did end up with a third of a bottle of the red left, so I used it to amp up my pasta sauce for dinner the next night! 

I’d like to note, that it was the first time I ever used my new Robert Mondavi by Waterford stemware. They are striking glasses! So lightweight, delicate and fragile, they enhance the drink by being such a beautiful vessel! 

Thanks for reading and happy drinking! EE

Dinner is served.

As my friends in New York know, I love to play hostess and have people over for dinner.  I also love The Bachelor (yes, I’ll admit it).  So, when I can combine the two: perfection! Last night, in honor of the finale for this season, I made Ina Garten’s Engagement Roast Chicken, but tweaked it just bit by adding mead (honey wine) in lieu of the white white and 2 tablespoons of honey when I deglazed the pan for the sauce.  It was a perfect hint of sweet to match the tang of the lemons.  Thoughts: maybe a little ambitious for a weeknight — we didn’t eat until nearly 9 pm, but the good news is, while the bird roasts, we made red potatoes with rosemary, spinach with garlic, and rolls twisted with mozzarella and bruschetta topping.  It was worth the wait!

For dessert: more citrus. I thought I was getting lemon sorbet from Haagen Dazs, but when we went to scoop it, it was actually ice cream from their new “five” line, and it was very good (a little strange to have creamy, milky texture with that pucker of lemon, but I’ll definitely have another scoop later). 

Unfortunately, I forgot to snap a picture before we tucked in (it was my first time “carving” anything…it wasn’t a bad first time attempt), but I did get a shot of the whole spread.  Oh, and we’re eating on the coffee table because we couldn’t tear ourselves away from Bachelor drama. A great Monday night.

Thanks for reading and happy eating! EE

The beginning. A classic.

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