Sunday, February 28, 2010

No Bones About- Tea Drinker Is In Love

No bones about it, hands down, the Tea Drinker was a happy camper yesterday after enjoying a half rack of dry rubbed brown sugar ribs. All this excitement took place at 12 Bones Smokehouse located in Asheville, NC. The Tea Drinker and I were in town for a new festival that is just getting off the ground(benefiting a great cause, The Frankie Lemmon Foundation). The city of Asheville is packed with plenty of good eats, including a plethora of barbeque joints. If you recall, my husband spent many Sundays this past summer perfecting the ultimate rib. Hours were whittled away on spice rubs, sauce concoctions, and achieving the perfect grill temperature. You can imagine what a tough decision it was to determine which restaurant to partake in amongst the many. Of course, I turned to Twitter, and posted an inquiry on @wifeteadrinker, and was welcomed with a flurry of responses. Viola! 12 Bones was on our radar.

12 Bones is privately owned, and the owners were on site. As someone put it to me yesterday, this restaurant has “banker’s hours”. Only open for lunch Monday through Friday, and Saturday’s at their Arden, NC location. We went to the Arden’s location which is situated in an old gas station. No wonder they keep these hours—I would too, if I had a line out the door day in and day out. The menu was easy to navigate: ribs, pulled pork and chicken, smoked turkey, with choices of sides: macaroni and cheese, jalapeno grits, baked beans, collard greens, slaw, mashed sweet potatoes, and etc. All served up on a tin platter. Customers can choose from a variety of sauces ranging from jalapeno, vinegar, mustard, and traditional barbeque tomato sauce. To heck with it, we brought all of them to the table.

I settled for the Smoked Turkey on Texas Toast with brie, and pesto mayonnaise. Let it be known right here and now-- I will be forever destined to think about and crave this tasty sandwich until I return. From the first bite, I knew I was doomed. It was that good. The turkey was very moist, and rubbed with a spice that was intoxicating. The pesto mayonnaise was the kicker, and the brie cheese was deliciously evil. It made me feel like I was getting away with something. I am new to Texas toast, but you can count me in as a believer. I chose the mac-n-cheese and sweet vinegar coleslaw as my sides. I was not disappointed. The Tea Drinker went with the rib plate accompanied by cornbread, grits, and baked beans. He had a permanent smile on his face for the rest of the day. Hours later I found him staring into space, repeating over and over, “Damn those ribs were good”…

We were so distracted and excited that we forgot to order Sweet Tea. Darn it, we will just have to make our way back there, soon.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Unleash the Power Within with Loose Leaf Tea

After three days packed with plenty of food, wine, and social interaction, I am spent. I am staring at my suitcase(headed to NC for another week of the same), a pile of dirty laundry, an inbox that is overflowing, and all I want to do is lie in bed, eat popcorn, sip on bubbly water, and stay in my pajamas. Don’t we all yearn for days where the only thing required of you is to flip to the next page in your book, or mute commercials during a mind-numbing TV movie? This is that day for me.

The Tea Drinker greeted me this morning with a steaming cup of Keemun Hao Ya A, a delightful robust tea. Today is not a day to tread lightly with my caffeine intake. I need the extra boost. The bigger, the bolder the tea, the better my outlook will be. Hey, I like the way that sounds, kinda catchy: the bigger, the bolder the tea, the better my outlook will be! Repeat. Bob your head to the left, and now to the right. Bounce up and down. Skip around. Wow, I am starting to feel better already. Tony Robbins move over --I have unleashed the power within-I just might have the motivation to get out of bed today, or even a take a shower. My possibilities are unlimited. The world is my oyster.

Embrace your inner strength. But, remember to have that kettle nearby…

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Always Sweet, Never Short: Tea & Chocolate

Today, are you finding yourself wondering what the secret is to a great marriage? The hype that surrounds this day can bring even the most capable man to his knees. The greeting card section of the grocery store is depleted and ransacked, florists are frazzled, candy shops are no longer sweet, and therapists take to the airways to weigh in on unlocking the key to someone’s heart. Valentine's Day can end up being an added stress to any relationship. Me? I woke up early just like any other day craving caffeine(in awe of my husband's amazing ability to steep an honest cup of tea).

The Tea Drinker and I have been together for almost nineteen years(thirteen married). I am pretty confident that we will be together right through to our golden years. Just this morning, he mentioned to me that I sleep so soundly that he checks to see if I am still breathing. What more could I ask for in a mate?

Many years ago, my husband’s Mom(Mops) gave me a handwritten note on a recipe card with the ingredients for a ‘beautiful and lasting friendship’. This advice has certainly worked for us; we only tweaked it slightly(see addendum below**). Thanks, Mops.

Respect- 1 full cup
Kindness- 1 full cup
Honesty- 1 full cup
Patience- 1 full cup
Wisdom- 1 full cup
Love- Infinity
Mix the above ingredients gently for a loving and enduring relationship.
**Supplement with ‘wine nights , pour in lots of humor, jet set and travel, and most importantly, take time to enjoy many delicious meals together.

Need to Spice it Up?!
Treat your honey to a loose leaf tea and chocolate pairing. No joke. The pairing of these two treats are good for your health; packed with plenty of anti-oxidants and benefits (including reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease). You need a strong heart to stay in a healthy relationship.

Remember to stick with the following ground rules: always choose high quality and premium chocolates and loose leaf teas. Dark Chocolate has a higher cocoa butter content( 55% cacao or more) resulting in complex, full-bodied flavors that are less sweet and more bitter. Try a full bodied Keemun, or a lovely rich Pu-erh to pair with this type of chocolate. If you are a fan of Milk Chocolate (30% to 70%), these richer softer flavors pair nicely with Oolongs or even a bright green tea.

Currently my favorite chocolate producer is Vosges Haut Chocolate based in Chicago, IL. I adore this company and their philosophy about life, love and chocolate. Trust me, I have done a lot of market research. Vosges produces exotic chocolates made from the best ingredients offered from around the world. I could go on and on about the exquisite pairings that Owner/Chocolatier Katrina Markoff creates using unusual spices, intermingled with delightful flowers, and high quality artisan chocolate. And yes, she even experiments with integrating loose leaf tea into her repertoire.

Try any of the following pairings below and you will not be disappointed. Hey, when exotic, tea, and chocolate are all in the same sentence, you should not ignore the signs…

Matcha Exotic Candy Bar- Japanese matcha green tea with milk chocolate( 45% cacao). A perfect match with a grassy and complex Gyokuro.

Naga Exotic Candy Bar-Sweet Indian Curry, coconut and milk chocolate(41% cacao). Pair with the intriguing and seductive Mokalbari Single Estate Assam, and your heart will sing.

Calinda Exotic Candy Bar-Cardamon, organic walnuts, dried plums and dark chocolate( 65%). Spicy, and hot. Try with Organic Chic Chai or Herbal Masala Chai for a tamed down version.

Now, the above are just some of my favorites. But, if you are crazy about any of the following: walnuts, almonds, chili peppers, bacon, peanut butter, marshmallows, hibiscus, cinnamon, sea salt, goji berries, and macadamia nuts (just to name a few), then order now. Run to your kettle, don’t walk. Turn it on, kiss your honey, and count your blessings!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Chips, Dip & Loose Leaf Tea

Are you ready for some FOOTBALLLLLL? I can only imagine the frenzy people are experiencing today. Friday (while in the Chicago Airport on my way home to Buffalo) I saw loads of people decked out in team gear with beer cozies in hand, ready to take on the weekend. Yesterday I ventured into Wegmans grocery store with my Mom; it took us an hour and half to battle the Chip Aisle. Quite the sight—Buffalonians are normally crazy for their Chip N Dip on any given day, but with Super Bowl XLIV looming, look out.

Okay, if you have read my posts before, you are well aware that I am not mesmerized by football. But I love nothing more than sitting on the couch reading a good book, sipping loose leaf tea or drinking wine (or in this case, spending time with my Dad at his home in Batavia, NY) while watching the game. We have a fun packed day planned: chips and Bison French Onion Dip, pretzels, Buffalo Chicken Wings with real bleu cheese, and Turkey & Pastrami Reuben sandwiches. We got it covered on the food front. I am armed with the final sappy book of the Twilight series (Breaking Dawn) and plenty of Organic Chic Chai to keep me warm and wide awake for the best entertainment of the day—Super Bowl commercials!

The Tea Drinker is at home in balmy Napa, CA, relishing in the thought of having the couch to himself. With his feline mascot stretched out behind him, he is stocked with plenty of good food & wine. Every Sunday during the past football season we have promptly called my Dad after each game to agonize over the lowlights and celebrate the highlights. (Remember, my husband is in charge of the post-game chit-chat—I’ve been reading a book.) This Sunday it will be fun to hang out with my Dad and Edward Cullen (Twilight) as we root for the…

Have fun, and be safe.

** Photo: Please do not try this at home. I think it’s illegal