Sunday, February 21, 2010

Tea for Two ~

I am a true lover of teas.

My favorite quote that graces the bottom of my email signature reads ~
"There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be diminished by a nice cup of tea."~Bernard Paul Heroux(1900's Basque philosopher)

It's not just because he was Basque like I's just simply the truth. I've tested out his quote theory for years and found over and over again that a lovely, simple cup of one's favorite hot tea can truly relieve most troubles and restore a sense of peace and warmth to the soul. Drinking tea is a cherished and ancient ritual that dates back to the earliest of civilizations and cultures, as well as being used for its healing powers. The true country of tea's origin is China, and its history and impact on the world is truly fascinating.

As we've established...tea has history on its side, as well as a sense of elegance that seems to accompany each leaf, each pot, each sip. Black tea, Green, White, Oolong...mmmmmm

The flip side of honoring the true history and beauty of tea is found in a quote I once heard from a very strange fellow who referred to tea in this manor..."hot tea is basically the equivalent to drinking...(okay wait for it)...weed water!" At the pronouncement of this statement, monarchies all over the world crumbled and deceased royalty were literally rolling over in their graves.

Have you ever wondered how "afternoon tea" came to be? I found this interesting article about the conception of this event...The English ceremony of Afternoon Tea dates back to the 1840s but rather than being 'invented', it actually evolved out of the rituals and routines that had surrounded tea drinking in Britain before that time...

A fun piece of French tea history comes from my most beloved tea company, Mariage Freres, goes like so...Around 1660, on behalf of King Louis XIV and the French East India Company, the ancestors of the Mariage brothers sailed to distant lands on a quest for new exotic flavours of tea. Tea soon became a strong family passion maintained over the centuries in a tradition of excellence in taste and creativity, giving birth of the French Art of Tea.

I could go on and on about this topic - there are thousands of varieties from hundreds of countries around the world, all boasting their own unique flavors and qualities, depending upon their origin. Personally, whenever I travel to another country I always try a foreign tea and if I enjoy it, bring some home! It's a true treat and lovely way to later conjure up the memory of a hot cup of tea you drank or pot you shared while sitting along the Seine or the Yangtze rivers.

Here are a few of my most favorite teas:

- Mariage Freres - A "must visit" to their gorgeous shop when in Paris!

- The Hediard - Another lovely spot in Paris and be sure to have lunch there

- Harmony Tea - Delightful and the wrapped bags come in reusable tins

- Tazo Tea - Fun website that reads your tea leaves and great teas in so many flavors

- Davidson's Tea - A northern Nevada local favorite offering organic teas

- Mighty Leaf Teas - Some of my favorites and I love their loose leaf bags and silk tea pouches

- Yogi Tea - Offering detox, and more medicinal teas that heal the body

- The Tao of Tea - I dig their flowery herbal blends

- Harney & Sons Fine Teas - They make a delicious raspberry herbal ice brew

- Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf - Their Ceylon teas are simply delicious

As I wrap up this post while sipping my favorite Tazo lemon green tea with honey and warming by the fire (it's been snowing here for 24 hours straight!)I am reminded of what simple pleasures come from a delicious cup of tea and what it can do for my spirit and mood. There's a comfort that your favorite cup of tea provides, not to mention its nourishing and healthy qualities.

I'm not sure what flavor or brand of tea tomorrow will bring to my lips, but I look forward to the surprise...right now, I'm leaning towards a delicious Early Grey partnered with warm almond milk and my favorite honey from Marshall's Farm.

What are your favorite (gluten-free) teas that you would love to share?

Sweet tea to you~

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Piperade in San Francisco ~

It must be the season for eating amazing French Basque food.

First it was La Ferme, and now I was lucky enough to have just returned from a quick weekend to San Francisco where I was attending a dear friend's birthday celebration, and the grand fete was held at Piperade, one of my most favorite restaurants in the City.

It had been some time since I had the pleasure of dining at Piperade, so it was a real treat not only for my friend Alison (the birthday girl) and her 14 guests made up of family and friends, but for me, as well. Gerald Hirigoyen, the famed owner of Piperade and Bocadillos, and a good friend of mine, was on hand last Saturday making sure our table was having a great time and even took time out of his busy night to sweetly autograph his newest book, Pintxos, for Alison.

Onto the food...and my amazing gluten-free meal! Just so you all know, if you are a Celiac or on a gluten-free diet, Piperade's kitchen is very accommodating and able to ensure a safe and delicious GF meal. I have eaten there now for many years and always been safe and incredibly enjoy and just make sure to inform one of their friendly and professional staff of your special dietary needs.

My first course was this incredible Tipiak, or small plate that's a favorite - the flavors of sweet tanginess melded with creamy cheese are so unique.

Warm sheep's milk cheese and ham terrine with aged sherry

Next came this little lovely that was shared and devoured...

Pequillo peppers stuffed with goat cheese, pine nuts and golden raisins

And then my Handiak (or big plate) arrived...this amazing Euskaidun, or Basque classic dish of pork literally melted in my mouth and fell off the bone.

Roasted pork tenderloin with braised cabbage and figs

Sadly, I didn't get a snapshot of my "Koka", or caramel custard this time - it all happened so quickly, with candles and singing and birthday the time I pulled out my camera to shoot my dessert - most of it had been shared and eaten up...oh well, there's always next time! But I did get a shot of the birthday girl's beautiful sweet treat -

Next time you are in San Francisco, make sure to visit Piperade or Bocadillos for an unforgettable lunch or dinner dining experience...and tell Gerald that I sent you!

Eskerrik Asko Gerald and staff for a perfect night out on the town!!

Piperade is located at:
1015 Battery St.
San Francisco, CA

Lunch served / Monday - Friday
Dinner served / Monday - Saturday
Closed / Sunday