Archive for October, 2008

Oh so good cup of tea: Organic Fairtrade English Breakfast Tea by Hamstead Tea & Coffee

Given I quit my job in August to stay home for a little while with our baby girl and the unsettling state of the economy we are trying to be a bit more frugal, which is honestly a good thing to be better at regardless. Clearly cutting back on big expenses helps but day to day things tend to add up faster than you realize and warrant more thought than I had given them before.

 

I have always been a big tea drinker, that is what happens when you grow up with Chinese, European and British influences. And now that I have stopped nursing our little girl my addiction to black tea (and coffee and wine and…) has increased! Which is hard to believe. I tend to like very strong black teas. For quite some time my tea of choice at home has been Tazo Awake. It isn’t the cheapest tea but I have found less expensive ones such as Lipton just aren’t strong enough for me. I decided it was worth trying some new brands and blends to see if I could find one I loved just as much but cost less. While exploring the tea options at the grocery store the one that caught my eye was Organic Fairtrade English Breakfast Tea by Hamstead Tea & Coffee. English Breakfast is a strong blend and it is Organic AND Fairtrade…and had a pretty box. So I had to try it. Once decided and a box was in my basket I took note of the price…it is more expensive than Tazo Awake tea! Uh oh. I guess I should have looked at the price first. But at that point there was no going back. And thank goodness I didn’t put it back because it is one fine tea. If you can be in love with tea, I’m in love with this one. I will have to find other places to save some pennies.

 

If you like strong black teas try this one, extra bonus that it is organic and fairtrade. I found it at Whole Foods.

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October 31, 2008 at 2:16 pm Leave a comment

Whole Foods hit the mark with multi-grain sushi rice

If you haven’t been able to tell by now, I’m a big fan of food! But at the same time, I want to lead a healthy life so I strive try to make smarter food selections and admittedly do not always succeed. Healthier choices are not always the tastier choices. My husband is an avid cyclist and often makes leaner food choices than I do even though he is the one who can afford the calories. And that brings me to the point of this blog…

 

Our local Whole Foods started making sushi rolls with a choice of multi-grain rice. My husband immediately tried some out, after being disappointed with brown rice versions. He gave me one to try and I was hooked. The multi-grain rice is DELICIOUS! And this is coming from someone who loves white rice and loathes brown rice. It adds a certain earthy, nutty, richness much like sesame seeds (which many of these rolls also have on them). I haven’t done any research to find out what exactly is in the concoction of grains or if it is unique to Whole Foods or more main stream but after enjoying some for lunch today I decided I had to write about it so that those of you out there who haven’t tried it know that you should! You are in for a treat…and a healthy one at that.

October 31, 2008 at 1:58 pm Leave a comment

Recommendation: House Wine Red by the Magnificent Wine Co.

While strolling through our local liquor store the 2005 House Wine Red by the Magnificent Wine Co caught my eye, marketed as a staff recommendation for $10.99 per bottle, $20 for 2 bottles. It was a blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and some Syrah, Malbec and Franc. They are based in Washington State. I had never heard of them before. I thought “Why not?” and picked up a bottle.

 

A few nights later we opened it and were very pleasantly surprised by the robust flavor, smoothness and general drinkability of the wine. I was a little giddy thinking that I had found a really really great $10 bottle of wine – not easy to come by. I had to pick up some more! However, I was not the only one who bought the wine. By the time I went back about a week later the 2005s were gone and the store was marketing the 2006 release at the same price. Worth another try. I got a couple bottles. Drum roll…the 2006 is not as good at the 2005. But it is still a very nice bottle of wine, the flavor smoothed out a bit after given more time to breath. I will probably pick up a few more bottles. But that said, the 2005 was a real winner, a steal at the $10.99 price tag.

 

If you come across any 2005 House Wine Red by the Magnificent Wine Co snap them up! I think this is a company to keep your eye on too. We will be trying more of their wine, we have a Steak House bottle waiting for the right evening.

 

Addition: We have since had a couple more bottles of the 2006…and it is quite remarkable for a $10 bottle of wine as well…so grab some if you see them. I’m going to pick up a case today 🙂

 

http://www.magnificentwine.com/

 

October 27, 2008 at 1:49 pm 1 comment

Superb Tapas and Wine at Taberna de Haro in Boston

Taberno de Haro

999 Beacon St

Brookline, MA 02446

http://www.tabernaboston.com/

 

I am almost reluctant to blog about Taberna de Haro since I still consider it to be a hidden gem. But it is too good to not blog about. If you consider yourself at all a foodie or actually, simply enjoy good food you must experience the food, wine and ambiance there. It is located in Boston (Brookline) on Beacon St in Kenmore Square. It is a small place. Seats 38 people with extra spots on the patio in the warmer months. Its size is part of its charm. It isn’t pretentious or overdone. The atmosphere is intimate and jovial.

 

We (my husband and I) tend to order our “usuals” with one or two new dishes, not because we don’t like new things but rather the “usuals” are so good we can’t imagine not getting them! However, when we were there a couple weekends ago we were in a mood for new flavors and I am so glad we were. It was one of the best meals we have had there which is saying a lot! I think the experience was enhanced by the sheer fact that our selections were new delicious discoveries that even complemented each other well – the stars aligned. We ordered Mejillones en salsa romescu (Mussels in almond, tomato and garlic sauce), Duck confit with salad on toast, Habas con jamon (Lima beans sautéed with Spanish Ham), Coca de cebolla y aceitunas (Carmalized onion and olive flatbread) and Surtido de quesos (Five cheeses imported from Spain). Everything was new to us save the lima bean dish, which is one of my all time favorites. Some of our other favorites include the sautéed spinach with garlic, pine nuts and golden raisins (which we get without the raisins), the tapas standard of shrimp with garlic and olive oil,  codfish balls (they remind me of growing up in Macau), fried calamari and grilled rib-eye.

 

The wine list is extensive and very reasonably priced. They decant some wines at the table. If you can splurge on wine a bit ($80), I strongly recommend the Prado Enea Gran Reserva 1998 R(Bodegas Muga, D.O.Ca. Rioja, Haro). We had it with the meal I described earlier and it was really amazing. It complemented our food perfectly. As a testament to their commitment to a quality experience, let me share that one evening after selecting a wine recommended by Chef-owner, Deborah Hansen they informed us that the wine we wanted was a little cool and that they were going to decant it to help it warm up before they served it to us. In the meantime, Deborah offered us some lovely sherry to sip on while we waited. A wonderful treat.

 

Continuing to feed our appetite for new things that evening, we opted to skip the nice desserts and cheese plates at Taberna de Haro in favor of trying the French bakery 2 doors down. The name of the place escapes me (making a mental note to take better notice of such details in the future) but it is literally a couple doors to the left of Taberno de Haro as you leave the restaurant. The bakery front is small, bright and welcoming. It actually has a feel much like it could have been in St. Helena in Napa Valley. A little modern yet accented with old world pieces. They have 3 tables with a few chairs to sit and enjoy something tasty by their large windows overlooking Beacon St, which is what we did. They serve the expected full range of coffee beverages and an interesting array of sweets ranging from butter cookies with fillings like nutella to lush cakes. We spent a few minutes just looking around before making our selection – a buttery shortbread tart filled with toasted almonds which was remarkable to go with our coffees. I am actually thinking about replacing a homemade dessert for our Christmas Eve dinner this year with that almond yumminess!

 

We had a lovely evening out but at that point had to get home to relive our babysitter. I hope you get a chance to visit Taberna de Haro, and even the french bakery sometime soon.

 

If you plan to make the trip there, here are a few helpful tips:

          They do not take reservations but you can call-ahead (even days ahead) to have your name put on a list for a shorter wait once you arrive.

          If you are driving, you’ll have to park on the street. Sometimes you get lucky if your timing is right and you’ll get a spot right away as we did last time. But often you’ll have to circle around to find a spot. So give yourself some extra time in particular on a weekend night or when there is a game at Fenway. If you are taking the T, they are at the St Mary’s stop on the Green line, C train.  

 

If you go, let me know what you think!

Enjoy.

 

Helpful link:

          Not sure what tapas are? Check out Wikipedia

October 27, 2008 at 10:38 am Leave a comment

Welcome

 

I sit here in my semi-dark home office trying to roll out this blog before my daughter wakes up. Yes, it is 8AM and my 8 month old daughter is still asleep. I’m a lucky mom. She will be up soon so I only have a few moments but the desire to get this blog started it eating at me so here I am.

My current plan is to blog about anything and all things that strike me as worthy of writing about. My interests and experience are quite varied and so hopefully my musings will be interesting to a number of you. Topics will vary from observations on humanity, this incredible evolution of social networking (a particular interest right now), general technology (I have a CS degree, used to be a developer, have run engineering, implementation and sales for a start-up and then…well, more to come on my career later), gadgets (my most recent one is an iPhone – exciting as I just left Microsoft and honestly couldn’t have had one before as a good employee), going green (for instance, we’re joining a CSA next year), travel (a passion), great food & wine (another passion), babies (joys and trials of caring for our sweet little girl and the industry around babies), living in New England and owning a 130+ year old house.

 I hope you’ll enjoy my observations and experiences.

 Some upcoming posts from my backlog of topics will be on:

–          Taberna de Haro, a fantastic Spanish restaurant

–          CSAs

–          iPhone

–          House Wine by the Magnificent Wine Co.

 

Till next time…

 

 

 

 

 

October 25, 2008 at 12:52 pm Leave a comment


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