Posts Tagged ‘eating out’
Hope you all had a nice President’s Day weekend… more fun this week with a birthday party coming up.
For today’s mugshot, I’m sharing chrysanthemum tea at dim sum and one of my favorite quotes.
I don’t start my day without a hot beverage. And, we’re an equal opportunity household – coffee and tea – with a pretty diverse selection at home. From Ethiopian Harrar (we heart Valhalla) to Starbucks Christmas Blend, from Earl Grey to Peach-Mango, Sweet Lychee to Yunnan – I brew them both.
But there’s nothing like stopping into your favorite spot for your cup o’ joe, or maybe you frequent a tea place. I’m soooo lucky that there’s a local tea shop. I’ve mentioned TeaLula before. I visit with my kids, my husband, by myself… TeaLula, how we love you so. And it’s not just a shop with all things tea, and a hundred different loose teas, it’s an oasis for me. And I feel like we’ve made some very nice friends over the last couple years…
You know when you go to a restaurant and order the same thing every single time? I thought it might be nice to start off the year with something… new (innovative, I know). Since I visit TeaLula on a fairly regular basis, I thought it might be fun to journal about the brews. Recently I tried a white tea, Spiced Pear Bai Mudan. Mmmmm. Sounds like it could be a swanky cocktail. Instead, it’s a swanky tea.
Bai Mudan is tea from the white peony. This blend has some star anise, sweet pear and see the helichrysum flowers? Adding a bit of sugar made the flavors more defined. Lovely. It’s light, unlike a black tea, and this blend has a fruity aftertaste with a surprising cooling sensation. Almost minty… it lingers on your tongue. (Made me want more, just so I could figure out what that taste was.) My daughter said only two words after sampling the Spiced Pear Bai Mudan: melted pears.
More flavors and tidbits from the tea bar next
If I don’t get back here before the weekend, I wish everyone a happy Chinese new year!
Don’t know about you, but it seems the more we visit a restaurant, any restaurant, the more often we end up ordering the same dishes. This happens a lot when we go for dim sum in Chinatown. Our perennial favorite: Taro Puff, or deep fried taro dumpling (wu kok or o kok). It’s this amazing, little, frazzled-looking potato-esque croquette is on my daughter’s top ten. Maybe top five, she’s sometimes picky and still a kid after all. She likes to take her chopsticks and gives the puff “a hair cut” (her words). “Mom, I like shaving off the crispy.” Then she proceeds to inhale the dumpling and looks for more, sometimes taking her brother’s share.
Fukien fried rice is also very delicious especially on a chilly day. Gravy and rice is such comfort food; there’s a hint of seafood, and a smoky flavor, too. My husband and I just can’t seem to figure out where the char is coming from. We’ll order the popular dishes: siu mai (pork and mushroom dumplings), har gao (shrimp dumplings), steamed buns with barbeque pork and sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf. I’m so happy my kids eat so well when we go.
It’s not a bad thing ordering what you know, but I think we end up missing out on very good or new dishes. On one of our recent trips, we decided to try a dessert that has been tempting us for a while. Written on an 8-1/2″ x 11″ poster hanging on the wall are Chinese characters and the words “Crispy Milk”. How does milk get crispy? Can you really deep fry any thing? Apparently, you can.
I couldn’t imagine what it might have tasted like, but it was warm, lightly sweet, and delicious. It reminded me of a dessert my late Aunt Tess used to make deep frying dough balls made with rice flour and brown sugar, but crispy milk was far more delicate and tender. Just enough texture with a bit of chewiness, and I mean that in a good way. I’d order it again.
I was so excited that CafÃ© TouchÃ©, a French bistro, opened nearby. Not that I’m a French food expert by any means, but I do enjoy the cuisine. What was interesting was their inclusion of an Ã‰toufÃ©e (Creole or Cajun cuisine) on the specials menu on the evening we went. So, they scored points with me. The restaurant itself made me feel more like I was in the French Quarter with the decor: dark wood, artwork.
We ordered the Steak Tartare which came with chips and toast. Steak Tartare is beef, raw and finely chopped. I was a little hesitant at first, but hey, I eat sashimi and sushi. How far off could this be? It was delicious. Smooth, cold, lightly seasoned. And, no, no one got a tummyache, thank you.
I went for the Salad Frisee Lyonnaise and Etouffee Touche (chicken, andouille sausage and shrimp) for my meal. Eastman went with the Pouillon Paillard which was perfect because I was eyeing that too. Sometimes, my eyes are just too big for my stomach. Really, I could be so overweight?! But that’s another story for another time. The poached egg on my salad was perfect – something I haven’t quite mastered at home. And, my etouffee came deconstructed. If you haven’t had etouffee, it’s like stew. Comfort foodish. It was mouthwatering-yummy, andouille had just enough heat.
As we were finishing up our dinner, a couple came by in their vintage car. I’m terrible at identification, so someone else will have to tell me about this cool looking car. Hope that couple enjoyed their dinner as much as we did.
Every year, we like to visit Long Grove at least once. The biggest reason is for the brown bag apple pie from Apple Haus. It’s everything we want in an apple pie: flaky, buttery crust with a slight crunch, fresh apple chunks, not too sweet.
But before Apple Haus, we stopped by the Glunz Family Winery tasting room and I had this shot of raspberry wine in a chocolate cup. What a great idea for a party opener…
So many things to look at in Apple Haus. Just around the corner are the display cases with…
…pies! This cutey says it serves 1 or 2, but the lady behind the counter said it was good for one.
This is not a great picture of me at all. I was trying to make a “Mr. Egg” face. Talk about cute dish scraper. I ended up buying it and the kids played with it for a few days afterwards.
We do like going to the different stores around Long Grove, especially The Tuscan Table. Eastman is definitely scaring me with the muddler here.
They were so tired after walking around and having an apple donut and apple cider snack. It’s really amazing how much they look like each other. They’re so sweet.
At last, at home with our brown bag apple pie. There’s actually a good chance we’ll be attending the apple festival later this week. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
We were really thrilled to find Dynamo Donut and Coffee in San Francisco. And it’s all because of the Apple Maple Bacon Donut. I don’t know who was more excited, me or my husband? The kids had fallen asleep while we were driving around half-aimlessly (we had a GPS in the car) in completely unknown territory. I felt like we were in the Pacific Northwest, not sure if it was because of the artsy storefronts, the small kitschy-ness of the vendors in the area. I don’t know. All I know is that I really liked it.
So, we’re driving, and the GPS is beeping at us telling us we were at our destination, and I look around totally confused. Then my husband says something like, “There it is!”
“There!! The green awning!”
“Cool!” We pull in and then we figure out how many donuts we should buy. How goofball am I for standing out there taking pictures of the facade like a starstruck fan?
As I’m waiting my turn at the counter, I realize they don’t have the bacon donut. All out! Hmm. So I strike up a conversation with the man behind the counter, who is really funny in a subdued sort of way, and he tells me not to hold it against them that they’ve run out. “There are plenty of tasty donuts here still!” and I believed him, of course. What’s not to love about donuts that are made by hand, cut by hand, fried in a small fryer by a person… it’s all good.
I mentioned that we saw them on Food Network (again) and he said, “Oh, man, ever since that airing, it’s been nuts around here, ” and with a grin he says, “Man, I wish people would leave us alone.”
Even though we didn’t get to sample the bacon donut, we did walk away with a green tea and a half dozen donuts: cherry buttermilk, monte cristo (complete with ham bits!), and chocolate rose. I could only imagine what they might have tasted like fresh out of the kitchen, but they were still delicious. Crisp, nice flavors, fluffy on the inside, not too sugary sweet… I’ll definitely be looking for more handmade/homemade donuts around the Chicago area.