Monday, October 27, 2014

A Moment of Luxuries Big and Small

Roctober. What a month.

Each year, I think I'm ready for it, and each year it pulls out tricks I never could have imagined or anticipated. As we have been barreling toward the finish line, there have been a few moments of grace, however, to allow me to catch my breath.

One happened over the weekend. After getting through a soccer game and remembering to assemble snacks for the team, my husband and oldest daughter packed up and headed for a camp out - their first together.  My daughter's first ever.

That left me with my little Hurricane. And she had some reckoning to accomplish. It's the rare moment when I get to spend time with just her. She flitted from coloring to play-doh to cars to tickling Ed's ears to doing a dance of joy when I announced we were going to the park.

I stood back as she ran laps around the playground, arms spread like wings as she laughed with glee. The other parents chuckled at her exuberance, and I kept thinking, "She's mine. She's really mine." Fearless. Free. Overflowing with joy and excitement. That I could bottle up her joie de vivre and sip it daily. I'll just have to work on absorbing it by osmosis.

The luxury of time with her.

By sheer miracle, she fell asleep at precisely 8:15 p.m., a full hour earlier than usual and it didn't require an hour of me laying next to her, ensuring she doesn't sneak out of bed.

The luxury of time alone.

I slept hard, and so did she. In another miraculous turn, she didn't come padding into my room until 5, and since there were just the two of us, she climbed over me, collapsed on the pillow and we slept until 7:30.

The luxury of sleep.

Our morning was leisurely, and I found that my little Hurricane was pure sunshine, entertaining herself. So, I took the opportunity to steep one of the most luxurious teas that has ever graced my home. Feng Huang Dan Cong Special Oolong from Palais des Thes had arrived just the week before. I had looked at it longingly for days, and now was my chance. A Sunday morning, with no reason to hurry, I steeped this rare and beautiful tea and watched the long, twisted leaves unfurl.

As I inhaled the toasted, woodsy aroma, I felt the reigns of October slacken a little. Ah, the first sip. Don't let the initial toasted notes fool you into thinking you're heading down a genmaicha path, because suddenly some bright citrus notes subtly begin to float in. Each sip is so incredibly smooth that "velvety" doesn't even begin to describe it. Rich, full, smooth, incredible. And the flavor continues to develop. Fruity undertones begin to appear, all the while with an unmistakable floral backdrop. I think we've discovered the true Garden of Eden.

The luxury of tea.

I sit and sip, I watch my 2 1/2 year old play, I appreciate the strong comforting presence of Eddie dog. I enjoy the moment. I swim in it. In my mind's eye, I'm running laps around the playground, arms spread wide like wings. For this moment, I can fly.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

A Moment with the Artiste

Some days you just need a little time in an oasis. Some days you crave food with soul. On days like those, I am grateful for a place like Coffee, Tea and Tulips in Mission Viejo, where the chef known as The Artiste, Michael Samawi and his gracious wife, Lina, provide food and hospitality like no other.

A pot of tea, a divine scone with preserves and cream, and a plate of tea sandweeches that are unforgettable . This time around I opted for the Mediterranean Veg that assembles flavors and textures that I literally dream about for days afterward. (What is this creamy, feta sauce magnificence beneath the cucumbers??? Sheer Genius!)

A quick chat, a sneak peek at the updated menu, that literally left my mouth watering, and an extra sachet of Midnight in Paris tea to enjoy at home, and I am refreshed and ready to get back to the real world.

All you who are hungry and weary, find your way to Coffee, Tea and Tulips, and let Michael and Lina do the rest.

Coffee, Tea and Tulips
25280 Marguerite Pkwy, Mission Viejo, CA 92692
(949) 587-9988
Hours: Wed - Sun 9 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.