Friday, April 29, 2011

A Retro Spring Flavored Moment

Isn't it funny when a random theme just pops up and plays itself over and over again in your life. In my case, the theme is Ambrosia. On Top Chef Masters, it was one of the "horrible dishes of the 1960's" that the contestants were challenged to reinvent. Several versions showed up at the reception of my grandfather's memorial a couple of weekends ago - prepared by the sweetest army of Northern California women ever to breathe - and now, here it is in my tea cup. Sans marshmallow.

Though always a little leery of fruity-teas, American Tea Room always knows when they need to give me a little shove toward an enlightening experience. This week, as we were finally experiencing some true Southern California weather - blue skies, 80 degrees, etc., a white tea sounded like just the thing, and wouldn't you know it. There was Ambrosia waiting for me: a white tea with mango and pear. After steeping, I inhaled the light frangrance of sun-warmed pears. The first sip - spring in a cup! With just the slightest hint of the fruit supported by a delicately robust white tea platform, I feel I have found my next obsession.

And I learned a secret from David Barenholtz (whose birthday is today - Happy Birthday!). He wrote: it's amazing iced as well....add some mango slices from Trader Joe's and little sparkling lemonade (also from TJ) for a real treat.

Can't wait to try that!

Maybe it was the recent theme of Ambrosia that opened me to the idea of drinking it in its tea form. In any case, I'm glad I did. A little retro is a lot all right!

Monday, April 11, 2011

An International Friendship Moment

This weekend, I had the pleasure of reuniting with 5 friends whom I met through a student exchange program to Pau, France in 1996. 15 years have passed since we first met, and it was so fun to reconnect, catch up and reminisce together. So much has changed for each individual, and yet everyone is exactly the same!

It made me take to heart the value of friends, and how difficult it seems to be to create and build new friendships the older I get.  When new friends do make an appearance, it is a blessing. Over the past couple of years, a new friendship has begun through a common interest: tea. This friend has walked with me on my tea journey, sharing experiences and thoughts from her home far away in Germany. It has been so fun to learn her tea tastes and realize our tastes are actually very similar.

This realization was brought home when she sent me a care package with several of her favorite teas. As I was reflecting on friendships, old and new, this morning, I turned to that care package as a tribute to them all.  I chose one of her personal favorites, Wilhelmshaveuer Kaiser Blend, brewed it in my Rooster Mug (sometimes a tea cup is just not big enough!) and brought that with me to my home office to begin my day.
I don't usually sweeten my morning cup of tea, but I followed her recommendation of drinking it with the rock sugar she provided. Bold and strong, this blend is just what I needed to start my Monday, and the sweetness took the edge off of my start-of-day drudgery. She should not be surprised if I beg her for a source where I can order more! (Don't worry - I'll share the secret.)

A wise priest once told me, "When God wants you to learn about love, he brings someone to love you." I'm grateful that God continues to teach me about love and friendship and comaraderie, because these teachers are brought into my life in the most unexpected and fun ways.

Grab a friend. Grab a cup of tea. Laugh together. Remember how you first crossed paths, and marvel at the perfection of that moment.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Giddy, Anticipatory Moment

It's been 15 years since I was a 20-year-old exchange student in the small, Pyranees mountain city of Pau. Birthplace of Henry IV (who?), and home of crudite-thon-sans-thon sandwiches (veggie-tuna-without-the tuna) at Le Triangle, I called it home for about 6 lovely months. When I came home, I was 21, blonder than blond, and 15 pounds heavier. I blame the bread, cheese, and wine.

This weekend, some of my fellow Pau etudiants will be joining me in Orange County to celebrate our past and present. Some of us have seen each other almost annually, while there are 2 I have not laid eyes on in 15 years. I can't wait!

I miss my bench on the Boulevard des Pyranees, and I miss this crew of fantastic people. I think it's going to be a great weekend. Allons-y!