Food and drink


… for a new teapot. Deana suggests the new Clara from Bodum:

I like, I like, but not sure that I need a kettle so much as a capacious pot. Suggestions?

Interesting interview in the Times business section with the head of Bigelow tea — the reporter focuses on how Bigelow is trying to position itself in new media, and indeed, the company’s Web site is rife with info, including recipes, health news, and a blog. Cindi Bigelow also has a YouTube account, where she tells you how to make tea; but don’t worry, she’s not too uptight — she even notes that the “tea police won’t come to your house if you don’t do it right.”

None so tasty as my yum cha, but tasty nonetheless — if you’re in NYC, keep track of your favorite brewskis with Beer Menus. Looks like the most promising venue near my office (in Midtown East) is CB Six, with 16 varieties on tap and 106 different bottles. Cheers!

After Time Out New York deemed the Skylight Diner the best Manhattan diner of the year, S and I bravely ventured to the borough of the gods for a bite. But we needn’t have suffered the E train — especially not as we have the Shalimar Diner so close at hand in Rego Park.

Reviews on Chowhound are a bit mixed, but for the appetizers alone — a bowl of chickpeas well-spiced and mixed with vinegar and chopped onions, alongside two types of pickles, matched with poppy-dotted challah and melba toast — I’d give it a thumbs up. I have no clue about the proprietors’ origins (Uzbeki, as per Regz’s norms?), but it was average to enticing grub that pushed the boundaries of traditional diner offerings. I had a nice rigatoni with sundried tomatoes and broccoli, while S had a good half dozen varieties of meat on a sizzling platter, very old school. Our waitress was a kick — sassy, middle-aged, pony-tailed, and adamantly opposed to the sugar-free pies the diner was offering — and the place was jammed, so it seems they’re doing something right.

(Picture is from Morton Fox on Flickr.)

Tomorrow? I’m totally going to the Coffee and Tea Festival (Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 W. 18th St., between 6th and 7th Avenues), even if a day pass is $20. It promises:

  • Coffee and tea sampling
  • Lectures / Classes
  • Shopping
  • Contests
  • Demonstrations
  • Art
  • Java/Tea Lounge with music & entertainment
  • Funds will be raised for the official event charity, Cup for Education

If you’re in NY, come! I’ll be there with bells on. OK, not really. I’ll probably wear all black like I always do. But you get the picture.

…but it doesn’t stop me from dreaming about tea-themed goodies, like this print from RansomStone on Etsy:

Cool piece in the Indian Express on a tribe that’s gone from subsisting on sales of pulses to positioning the coffee it grows as a brand symbolizing sustainable development in emerging markets:

The foundation helped the around 8,000 tribals of the valley organise themselves into the Small and Marginal Farmer Mutually-Aided Cooperative Society, with support from the Green Development Foundation of the Netherlands, and assisted them in setting up a coffee processing plant with machinery imported from the UK.

The Tribal Cooperative set up by the farmers happens to be the only cooperative in the country to have both fair trade and organic trade certification.

Although the tea culture in India seems much more entrenched than the coffee culture, there’s a surprisingly long coffee tradition:

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… is always nice, but if I poured with this pot, the romantic feelings would probably have to be put on hold as I mopped double the mess from my lap. Design via Marla Dawn Home.

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Current obsession? Making my morning brew in a Mono Fillio 50-ounce pot. Now, if only I could justify spending $139 on a tea accessory …

“Ow! That’s my head!”

“Frankly, you natty bagel hipster, I don’t care. When your pate is made of sweet, sweet French-toast bagel, all bets are off.”

(Or, a short homage to The Bagel Store, 247 Bedford Ave., Williamsburg, Brooklyn.)

BoingBoing Gadgets highlights a new gizmo that heats water for your cuppa in three seconds. Not exactly sure why it’s necessary — my electric kettle only takes a minute or two to heat up my water, and I’ve never felt unduly put out by those 57 extra seconds — but if you’re an extravagant spender, or incredibly impatient, or a collector of all things tea-related, I suppose the Tefal QuickCup’s sorta neat.

One of my latest guilty pleasures has been doing Google Book searches on my favorite topics. A search for “tea” yielded a full scan of Kakuzo Okakura’s The Book of Tea, a meditation upon the social meaning of the beverage (particularly in Japan, but larger meaning can certainly be extrapolated). Okakura writes:

Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the ordinary facts of everyday existence. It inculcates purity and harmony, the mystery of mutual charity, the romanticism of the social order. It is essentially a worship of the Imperfect, as it is a tender attempt to accomplish something possible in this impossible thing we know as life. … [W]hen we consider how small after all the cup of human enjoyment is, how easily drained to the dregs in our quenchless thirst for infinity, we shall not blame ourselves for making so much of the tea-cup.

Okakura also offers insight on the foibles of globalization (applicable, still, 100 years after he penned this tome):

Unfortunately the Western attitude is unfavorable to the understanding of the East. The Christian missionary goes to impart, but not to receive. Your information is based on the meagre translations of our immense literature, if not the unreliable anecdotes of passing travellers.

(And, an addendum in the form of a cool link: the National Institute of Health has an interesting collection of info on America’s tea craze, which blossomed right around the time Okakura’s book came out.)

In a mad search for delicious treats to bring to work for a marathon day of training tomorrow, I happened upon these chocolate cookies. The pop art gumshoe is an instant classic, but what really sells me is that, rather than saying “Mmmmm,” he’s dreaming of “Hammm…” — made only stranger by the fact that it was for sale in a kosher store.

Lusting after this gorgeous teapot and cups by Brazil’s Estudio Manus, available via Do Not Touch.

One of my favorite places in Delhi is a small shop tucked into Lodhi Colony’s Khanna Market; the man there sells all manner of coffee and tea, including hard-to-find (in the subconty) brews like genmaicha. But even though the proprietor cordially chats as he has someone grind fresh beans just as you like them, the best part of the place hands down is the large framed posters on the wall of what appear to be vintage ads from the Coffee Board of India.

The image I’ve posted here is from the Coffee Board’s Web site, but for the life of me I can’t find any other of these gems. Anyone got a hot lead?

An MP in the U.K. has called for the introduction of tea trolleys — manned by a bevy of beautiful young ladies, natch — at airports as a salve for weary travelers.

The managing director for Waitrose, who also supports the idea, said, “I do a lot of foreign travel and I have been progressively disappointed with how poor it feels when you return home. The whole experience is pretty bleak. I thought wouldn’t it be nice if, when you arrived in the UK, you were greeted with a nice cup of tea.”

But for the concomitant sexism, I’d say it’s not a half-bad notion.

… but still not lazy enough to necessitate the purchase of a pot I don’t have to lift.

While Lotte Alpert’s design may be sleek and stylish, I’m still not sure its function is meaningful.


Photo courtesy Flickr’s cheesebikini, licensed via Creative Commons

NYT offers a neat piece on the siphon bar, a glorified coffee-brewing machine from Japan that retails for $20,000.

I’m happy with my Aeropress (a bargain at $25.95!), but the artisanal brewing fad is intriguing. One question — just how much does a single cup cost?

Not content with the widespread press wrought by the Nano, the Tata Group just announced another big venture: a chain of tea shops for the 21st century.

An MSN reporter writes:

Tata Tea has forayed into the out-of-home beverage segment by unveiling its first outlet of Chai Unchai in Bangalore.

Sangeeta Talwar, executive-director, Tata Tea, said: “Chai Unchai is crafted as a retail space in the out-of home segment that connects with youth in an exciting and differentiated manner. The new adda or hangout is designed to be cool. It will neither be a kiosk nor a parlour but will have an ambience that is warm, friendly, unpretentious and fun.”

I’m interested to see their menu — will they kick it old school, or will they start to introduce new-fangled concoctions like bubble tea and smoothies? But ultimately, I’m a bit skeptical; if chains like this start pushing out the Everyman chaiwallah, an ineffably important part of Indian culture will fade from existence. The thought that the competing Moon Light Cafe and Sun Rise Cafe might give way to an outpost of Chai Unchai is amazingly depressing.

Anyone have an extra hundred or so bones for indulging in this lust-worthy new pot? 

Joey Roth‘s Sorapot is a marvel: a bit mod for my taste (I’m over stainless steel), but I’m not sure if I’ve seen such an imaginative wholesale rethinking of a ubiquitous kitchen utensil.

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