crumpets and tea, one of life's simple guilty pleasures

helping my girls find life's finer things affordably

Category: food

harney and sons: luxurious tea without the steep price

one of my favorite indulgences is fragrant, well-brewed tea.  i’m a bit sensitive to caffeine which has curbed my coffee intake for most of my life.  because tea has significantly less caffeine than coffee, i’ve always enjoyed having a few cups of tea early in the day without the unfortunate sleepless side effects that comes with coffee.  the best one that i’ve found thus far is harney and sons tea, which brews really well in the sachet packaging the tea comes with.  obviously loose leaf gives the best results but for a girl on-the-go (and who doesn’t have the time to deal with the messiness that comes with loose leaf), the harney and sons sachet comes pretty close to loose leaf quality.  one of my favorite options by harney and sons is vanilla comoro which is a delicate decaf black tea scented with vanilla–great for relaxing from a hectic, exhausting day in lab.  the tins that these teas come in is so pretty:

picture from google

picture from google

harney and son’s earl grey supreme is also tasty as is their darjeeling.  you can buy them online or find them at whole foods (although not all the selection is present at whole foods).  i used to buy my harney and sons tea at cardullo’s since it was so conveniently close although the price markup was quite high.  happy exploring and hope you all enjoy teas from harney and sons as much as i do!


do you like french macarons? try the “trader jacques” version

look what i found while browsing barnes and noble!  =)

look what i found while browsing barnes and noble! =)

one of my favorite treats while i was a grad student in boston was the occasional indulgence in french macarons.  they’re not cheap mind you, especially on a graduate student stipend,  at usually $1.50 (crema cafe) or even $2.50 (thinking cup) a piece for the good ones.  thus,  i would only get them when i was having an especially bad day in lab and needed a pick-me-up, savoring the two bites of deliciousness, so that i could plow on in lab.

fear no more poor grad students (or people who think paying $2.50 for two bites is ridiculous),  i have found a great substitute such that you can get your french macaron fix without a guilty conscience!  enter “trader jacques” who at $4.99 a box will give you 12 scrumptious, nearly identical to cafe-quality petit sandwiches, which can be easily found at your friendly neighborhood trader joe’s.  they’re typically in the frozen foods/desserts section and all you have to do before eating them is let them defrost for 30 minutes at room temperature.

there apparently are multiple varieties, from vanilla/chocolate to pumpkin (whaaaaa?) to peppermint to variety pack (picture below).  i had seen and eaten the vanilla/chocolate ones in boston but have never seen other flavors while i was there or when i came back to california.  of course when i was getting orange juice from trader joe’s the other day, i casually glanced at the frozen dessert section and what do i see?  the VARIETY PACK *fist pump*  i had never seen it before in my neighborhood trader joe’s and was elated to find four boxes left (i bought three boxes).  TJs did an awesome job with the variety pack with flavors such as pistachio, salted caramel, raspberry, orange, chai, and one last one which i can’t remember now…anyhoo, next time you need to get groceries, i would head out to the TJs in your area and take a look!  bonne chance mes petites choux!

two are missing 'cause i ate them...sigh

two are missing ’cause i ate them…sigh

for special occasions

i’ve been asked quite frequently by non-bostonian friends, “if i’m visiting boston, where would you recommend i eat?” to which my answer is,”if you’re willing to splurge a little and if you’ll be there sunday night, you HAVE to go to craigie on main!”

why specifically sunday nights to chow down at craigie? because of tony maw’s amazing chef’s whim menu, which guarantees a treat for your tastebuds at either $45 for 4 course (+ usually an amuse-bouche) or $57 for 6 courses. he is by far one of the best chefs in the US in my opinion and will not disappoint you with his creativity or delicious preparations. the menu changes for every chef’s whim and you can’t choose what you’re getting but i think that’s the best part and the most fun part! obviously if you have a food allergy they’ll accommodate, but other than that you either choose the “surprise” or the “vegetarian”. i’ve received during chef’s whim traditional dishes like duck confit to weirder things like squid ink, rabbit’s heart but all of them have been deliciously satisfying. the atmosphere is classy but not pretentious and the restaurant is good for bringing the friend/parent/significant other for a special treat/occasion. i’ve also been there for brunch with my good friend c. f. c. where we were hand-delivered cragie’s special donut by tony maws himself. *swoon* haha see below for the donut we enjoyed:

THE donut from chef maws

THE donut from chef maws (we kinda dug in already…)

happy eating!

lattes on-the-go: just add water

one the great things about being back in california is the easy access to imported asian goods.  i can drive 15-20 minutes and arrive at different ethic supermarkets which carry a wonderful variety of compact packaged goods that are actually tasty and portable.  in particular, i’ve found that user-friendly packaged japanese drinks specifically “lattes sticks” have received much accolade from my friends and have resulted in a following.  my bad for introducing these addictive just-add-water instant lattes to my (l)east coast friends who don’t have easy access to them 😉

my favorite "latte stick" flavor: green tea

my favorite “latte stick” flavor: green tea

what are these delectable “latte sticks”?  basically they’re sugar stick-shaped packets (remember the high-end skinny sugar packets at those hipster coffee places?  yeah that shape) of dry powdered latte mix which instantly become a mug-full of piping hot, sip-worthy latte upon addition of hot (or even warm) water.  they come in a variety of flavors (see below for a small sampling, i couldn’t get all of the varieties in one picture) and are just sweet enough to satisfy a sugar craving.  things that i like about these “latte sticks” are they aren’t super sweet like with a lot of american offerings and contain just enough creaminess/frothiness to resemble a coffee house-style latte.  hopefully, my girls will soon have access to these treats with the h-mart that supposedly will come (within the year?) to central square in cambridge!

a sample selection of "latte sticks"

a sample selection of “latte sticks”