European Rose Tea

I stopped by Bird Pick, a cute tea and herb shoppe in Pasadena, and picked up several bags of tea leaves. European Rose is my favorite.

I crushed the flowers in mortar and pestle to bring out the fragrance, and steeped them in hot water for a lovely rose tea.

I read that rose tea aids with digestion, along with other benefits … and I can say that it certainly does.

The Boba Truck!

Breakfast (11:30 a.m.): I know, I know, it’s just an excuse but I really did have three, back-to-back-to-back meetings this morning and just couldn’t find the time to eat until almost noon. I was so famished by this time that I just grabbed the chocolate brownie bar that I had on the table (thank you, Saori, for this and other yummy gifts). Why is it so hard for me to eat early in the morning?

Lunch (2:00 p.m.): My 2:00 p.m. meeting got pushed back 30 minutes so I quickly made hiyamugi with homemade zipping sauce / soup and slurped it during the break. This dipping sauce is what my mother makes for hiyamugi and somen. It’s cooked eggplants in a dashi and soy sauce-flavored soup.  It’s absolutely incredible.

Dinner (8:00 p.m.): Kevin and I went to a neighorhood Korean market to pick up food for tomorrow’s shabu shabu dinner that we’re hosting for Tiffany, Shannon, Raf, and Rosco (yes, Sco the dog!). We picked up several packs of sliced pork and beef, and vegetables.

We stopped by Subway on the way back and ate the sandwiches at home because we didn’t have the energy to cook anything after grocery shopping. I had my usual foot-long veggie delight on wheat bread (no mayo or cheese). I also had a cup of French Rose Tea from The Boba Truck! that Kevin got for me in the afternoon.

The Boba Truck! makes the best boba tea imaginable. Every order is made to order, using only the premium tea leaves. My favorites are French Rose Black Tea and Lavender Black Tea, both with perfectly-cooked boba.  They are both excellent served hot or cold.

These photos are from my previous visit to The Boba Truck! but thought I would post them here. If you’re not into chasing the truck, you can pick up its teas and other heavenly beverages at Filipino food extraordinaire White Rabbit Fusion Cafe in Canoga Park. When you’re at the cafe, make sure to pick up its Filipino-style spaghetti with meat sauce. It’s ridiculous.  Just ridiculous!  I salivate just thinking about it.

By the way, I should mention that Kevin is good friends with the amazing people behind The Boba Truck! and White Rabbit … but that’s not the reason why I rave about these places.  I’m not getting paid for writing positive reviews about them here or anywhere!  Check them out for yourself and you’ll know why I’m crazy about them!

The Boba Truck!
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★★★★★

White Rabbit Fusion Café
8316 Winnetka Ave., Canoga Park, CA 91306
★★★★★

Teany Slice of Heaven: Teany Cafe

I’ve been a fan of Teany Cafe in Lower East Side of Manhattan for many years now, even before setting foot in this cozy café and tea house. While I have never listened to co-owner Moby’s music (I am convinced that I live under a rock when it comes to music), I am very familiar with the awesomeness of this establishment’s tea selections, as well as a wonderful array of vegan food it offers, from the book, Teany Book.  The book is part memoir, part tea encyclopedia, part vegan recipe book, and a whole lotta fun.  I picked up the book a few years ago when I started getting interested in learning about different types of tea. I’ve been a tea drinker for a very long time (I am, afterall, Japanese whose meal does not officially end until a cup of delicious green tea arrives at my table) and the idea of learning about the leaves’ origins and rich histories fascinated me, just like how people are intrigued about wine.

On a side note, I am not much of a coffee drinker. I used to be, for a very long time when I was first introduced to Starbucks and its Soy Misto in my early 20s (and I would drink it every day), but after I discovered that my body can’t take too much caffeine without getting a mad headache, I crossed over to the tea world and never looked back.

Teany Cafe was exactly how I expected it to be – small, friendly, and a place where one can sit for hours and relax over a wonderful cup of tea. Well, it was almost exactly how I expected. It had a wonderful selection of unique teas (individually numbered and organized neatly along the kitchen wall in tin containers), great food (that will make you ask, “meat who?”), and a relaxing atmosphere with adorable little flowers sitting smiling at each table.

The only thing it was missing, however, was a decent service.  They were all very nice but it was very disorganized and the wait staff truly ddin’t know the basic scopes of their job, like entering the order in the system, etc.  It was really sad to watch food and tea orders sit on the counter for a long period of time before they were delivered to designated tables. The café was jammed packed with people, sure, but it took me a very long time to order and get my tea (Green Rooibos Berry, also called “#85) and dessert (vegan carrot cake with cream cheese frosting), and all the patrons looked frustrated with the same issue (I don’t think I’ve ever heard so many “Can we pleeeeeease have the check now?” yelled over me). On top of that, when I left the table momentarily to use the restroom (and I signaled the waitress that I will be back), another wait staff cleaned up my table, and I was not even done with my rooibos tea! But service aside, the café is as cute as I had imagined it would be, and the tea I tried was excellent. It was a wonderful place to sit down, relax my tired feet from walking around town all day, and catch up on my reading on my recently-purchased Kindle.

I ordered some food to go and enjoyed them for dinner! Both Pan Bagna and Vegan Chili were excellent. I can’t wait to recreate them at home (recipes for these two favorites are featured in the book).

Teany Café
90 Rivington Street, New York, NY 10002

In Your Dreams: Jin Patisserie

a-jin-teamIf I met a kid who says his dream is to be a professional hockey player but does not even know how to skate, I will probably die laughing. Kids can dream, sure I’m all for that, but there’s something definitely wrong if that kid is 30-something.

Well, I’m THE kid, and my dream is to one day open my own boulangerie (those of you who are culinary challenged, it’s a bakery). My fascination with bread began in 2004 when I strolled into a baking contest while walking in the streets of Paris. It was a complete coincident that I walked in to witness the professional bakers in action. It must have been the heavenly aroma of freshly baked bread that lead me there and I’ve been in love with bread-making ever since.
But the problem (just a minor one) is that I can’t bake bread. My only two attempts ended in utter failure and yeasts, well, they scare me. So yes, I’m the kid with no magic skates but that doesn’t mean that I can’t submerge in my imagination, just for fun.

Jin Patisserie in Venice is the place that allows me to imagine what my shop would be like. Although it’s a patisserie and not really a boulangerie, it’s close enough. The place is a part botanical garden, part someone’s backyard, and part irresistible pastry shop. The little waterfall in the middle of the garden provides a very zen-like atmosphere, allowing patrons to bathe in the nature’s beauty. Despite the trendy location, this place is so unpretentious that you can often find celebrity owner/chef Kristy Choo doubling as a server between magazine interviews. Make sure to enjoy the selection of lovely tea from Le Palais Des Thes with your sweets or savory, or both.

Once you experience the wonder of Jin Patisserie, you may dream about opening your shop too.

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High Tea with fiinger sandwiches, savories, homemade scones, pound cake, praline and Chef’s selection of mini sweet pastries

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Smoked Salmon Salad (this lovely place offers much more than just sweets)

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Jin Patisserie: 1202 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, CA 90291
★★★★★