Foodie Fridays: Tea for Two

I love the act of tea.  I love having a traditional tea.  I’ve been to a few really great places over time.  My biffle, Jen, and I went to The Empress Hotel tea on our Alaska cruise in September, we did a tea at Disneyworld, one of my favorite tea places is in Springfield, OR-Ruthie B’s, which sadly has since closed.  I also have a favorite in Lincoln City, OR-Serindiptea-which apparently is also out of business. . . . thanks internet for dashing all my tea dreams right now!

But living in New York there is definitely no shortage of awesome tea places.  I have had the opportunity to visit two of them this year.  Jen actually went with me to both of them!

The first one was at The Plaza, ahh the epitome of class and style.  When I think of stylish places to go to, this is definitely the first one that comes to mind.  My parents came to visit in October so Jen and I decided to take my mother there for a girls afternoon.  My father had his own great time-attending a football game with his brother, much more his speed anyway!

The Plaza was definitely very elegant and I felt very much like a little girl living her big girl dream.  They had a few different options for tea meals and were very good about changes if needed.

The Plaza

I definitely loved the Eloise plates even though I never really read Eloise growing up.  The ceiling was impressive as were the pillars!

The second tea place in New York that I’ve now been to twice is Lady Mendl’s.  This is located in an inn in Greenwich Village and is very unassuming.  The first time we went, we almost walked right past it.  That was for my birthday in August.

The second time we went, Russell took Jen and I for our Hanukkah gift.  We had a fabulous time!

decorationEverything is super beautiful and set up extremely elegantly.  The services is impeccable-with people always making sure you have exactly what you need.







Of course, being the three of us, none of us wanted the same type of tea.

Our tea types:

Rachel: Lavender Mint

Jen: Assam

Russell: Orange Pekoe

Very reflective of our tastes 🙂




Every tea starts with a butternut squash tartlet (bottom left) which is tasty.

This is followed by an assortment of sandwiches:

Smoked salmon on pumpernickel with sunflower seeds.

Cream cheese cucumber on white bread

Egg salad on rye-with raw onions-yuck

Turkey cranberry on wheat.

Then then give you a butter scone and cranberry scone with raspberry jam and, my personal favorite, devonshire clotted cream. . . you will see later on, I am addicted to this stuff.



Then comes the desserts.  The main dessert that they are known for is a multi crepe layer cake that is french vanilla with raspberry creme–super yum.

There was also an assortment of tea cakes and cookies as well as a chocolate covered strawberry but the cake is usually more than enough.

The extra clotted cream that may or may not have been brought just for me.






At each setting is a sugar cube with a rose on it.  The tables are elegantly set.

Jen drinking her assam.

Me with my bowl of clotted cream. . . I promise I didn’t just eat it plain . . . not much of it anyway!





The decoration is very much British Victorian in flavor and they do a great job of paying attention to detail.  Both times we’ve been there, there have been private events going on-baby showers, bridal showers, etc.  Definitely a place I love and would return to again!

Tea times are absolutely one of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon.  In fact I am currently very jealous of Jen who is in London and just posted on Facebook a teatime service. . . . I wish I was there!!!  What are some of your favorite tea spots?  Are there any good ones on the West Coast I should know about or in New York?


April Birchbox Reveal and Special From the Garden Box

Have you heard of Birchbox?  I love it!  I started receiving boxes about a year ago, they are $10 a box and you receive a bunch of awesome samples.  I’ve found so many makeup brands that I’ve never known existed (being that I have been sort of clueless about these sorts of things) but now am loving discovering.

Birchbox Package

This month’s box was co-sponsored by Women’s Health Magazine which was cool.  It also means that there’s a subscription postcard for a free year of Women’s Health which could be interesting–not a magazine I’m super familiar with.


The box was wrapped in this special wrapper and I liked the idea of the tiny tweaks, big results as I think it’s a good motto for life.

Subscription Postcard


Here is the offer for the magazine.  I love physical magazines so I will probably subscribe to it-if I can figure out where i put the darned postcard.

Now the products I received this month:

The products


I received:

A small sample of Nexxus Youth Renewal Rejuvenating Elixir.  The directions are to put four or five drops onto your hair before styling.  I like it but not enough to purchase again.

Simple Revitalizing Eye Roll-On.  This is supposed to give vitamins and minerals to that sensitive area under your eyes and wake them up.  It’s supposed to reduce puffiness and wake up your tired eyes.  Again good product, not sure I would buy it.

Fleur de Baies which is a hand boxed soap. Smells yum and I will probably use it.

Kiehl’s-Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate.  I haven’t tried it yet and am not sure I will.

Mirenesse Glossy Kiss which I LOVE!  It’s a lip gloss crayon type thing and the color is gorgeous.  I’ve used it every day since I got it and this I will most likely purchase again as it’s a good every day color.

The special box.  Birchbox did a winter/holiday box that I really enjoyed so I thought I would also get the spring box.  It ended up being next to nothing because I had enough points to purchase it.

BirchboxThe box is green-already a good sign for me!

From The Garden Tips I love how they always send tips and good ideas

KnifeA fun knife with onion print-I hope it works well.

Bergamot and JasmineBergamot and Jasmin perfume–smells yum.

Strawberry Raspberry JamStrawberry-Raspberry Jam

Peach Apricot JamPeach Apricot Jam–I can see good things for both of these!

Basil KitA grow your own basil kit-yum

Mint CandleYummy smelling mint candle

MatchesSuper smart to put matches on the cover!

Shopping ListBeing a writer, I love any items I can use for writing!

LotionSuper yummy smelling apple/tulip lotion

BagguPerfect bag for the farmer’s market.

All in all, I loved the spring box as much if not more than I loved the holiday box!  I again love birchbox and would recommend ordering it!  In fact, if you are interested, please use my link!  I get points if you sign up through me :).



On My Bookshelf: The Alchemist-World Book Night

Hi res WBN logo 2013

I am so excited to be a part of World Book Night for the second year in a row!  World Book Night is an awesome opportunity to get physical books into the hands of people for free!

As much as I love the convenience of my NOOK, I also will always prefer the feel of a solid paper book in my hand.  Last year I was lucky enough to give out the book Little Bee by Chris Cleave-a phenomenally complex and sad book.

This year I am giving out The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.  I will be honest, I have not read this book in nearly fifteen years but I still remember the feeling I had when I read it.  I read it when I was thirteen and living in Israel.  My best friend at the time was spending the year in Israel with her family and had brought tons of books with them.  I was the lucky recipient of many of these to read.  One of them was The Alchemist.  I devoured the book. I remember vividly the feelings that coursed through me when I read even if I don’t necessarily remember the story (I definitely need to reread the book).  At that time and even now, I have notebooks filled with quotes and sections of books that I love.

I copied two sections of the book into my quote book and spent most of the evening last night looking through all the quote books that I have here with me but couldn’t for the life of me figure out where that particular quote book is.  I guess I am going to have to reread the book and find the sections that spoke so powerfully to me as a thirteen year old girl.

I have multiple copies of the book that I am looking forward to giving out today.  I will be at work and then going to my teaching job on Long Island in the afternoon so definitely many opportunities to interact with and share the magic of reading with some fantastic people!

I would highly encourage getting involved with World Book Night in future years!!

A Night At the Movies: Clue

clue-movie-posterYes, as my friends know, I am incredibly lame when it comes to to movies.  I have seen very few of the movies that they would classify as classics that should have been seen.

Clue is definitely one of them.  A few months ago, my good friend brought over The Princess Bride over for me to watch–awesome 80’s movie, love Fred Savage and all the super kitschy effects.  She also brought over Clue and left it for me to watch at a later time.

So last night was that later time.  My roommate and I went out to dinner and then decided to watch some good old 80’s kitsch.

I grew up playing the game Clue and loved it.  I always played Miss Scarlett because I loved the color red and she was the hottest character there was.  I also loved the quote, “Husbands should be like kleenex: soft, strong and disposable.”  Love that quote.

And much to no one’s surprise, I loved the movie too.  The slapstick comedy and humor reminded me of the types of stuff I loved growing up-being into improv and a total theater geek.  I also loved all the different endings!    I loved how it said, “this is how it could have ended but maybe it ended like this . . . ”

Definitely a movie I will watch again, along with The Princess Bride.  Any other 80’s classic films I should watch to make sure I am relevant in the references of my childhood?

Foodie Fridays: ABC Kitchen

Way back also in February (it was a busy month!) we went to ABC Kitchen.  Jen had been talking up ABC Kitchen for a long time-it’s near her work and it’s apparently the restaurant the celebrity chefs go to (see my post on Elizabeth Falkner).   Jen has had a reputation of picking very cute restaurants with not so great food but with this restaurant and Beauty and Essex, she’s redeemed herself greatly!

Jen at ABC Kitchen entrance

Jen at ABC Kitchen entrance

The restaurant is very beautifully designed, straight to the entrance.  It’s also attached to a store which has an eclectic arrangement of furniture, jewelry, housewares and other stuff.

ABC Kitchen Collage

The one inconsistency was that the music didn’t seem to fit with the decor.  But the food more than made up for that!

We started with drinks.  Jen and I had a blood orange Bellini:

Blood Orange Bellinis

“A real panty dropper”-Jen as she enjoyed her second.

Russell enjoyed a Sour Cherry Old Fashioned and didn’t seem quite as excited as Jen but still enjoyed it.

We then shared several appetizers: line caught tuna sashimi with fresh ginger and mint,  housemade ricotta yogurt with apple compote, roasted beets with homemade yogurt, wood oven roasted sunchokes hazelnuts and herbs, roasted kabocha squash toast with fresh ricotta and apple cider vinegar and roasted butternut squash with goat cheese, hazelnuts and spicy onions:

ABC Appetizers

I personally found the squash with the spicy onions too spicy for my taste but loved the kabocha squash and the sashimi.

For our main courses Jen and I split a burger and Russell had the ricotta ravioli.  It was all very good:

Cheeseburger with rosemary herbed mayo

Ricotta Ravioli


We then split desserts:

Red Wine Poached Pear with housemade gianduja ganache and hazelnut ice cream

Red Wine Poached Pear with housemade gianduja ganache and hazelnut ice cream

Honey Cheesecake Tart with grapefruit candied kumquats, meyer lemon buttermilk and blood orange sorbet

Honey Cheesecake Tart with grapefruit candied kumquats, meyer lemon buttermilk and blood orange sorbet

Sundae with salted caramel ice cream, candied peanuts and popcorn with chocolate sauce

Sundae with salted caramel ice cream, candied peanuts and popcorn with chocolate sauce

All the desserts were delicious but I was completely in love with the sundae-the salty and sweet was AMAZING!

And one final shot of glamorous Jen looking super hot:

Glamour Jen

The food was definitely wonderful-Jen has redeemed herself in restaurant findings!




I know that my post for today already went up-I had scheduled earlier and forgot that it was set to go out.  Anytime tragic events happen I struggle.  I struggle as an American, as a Jew, as an Israeli, as a human and as a citizen of this world.  But some events hit me harder than others.  Yesterday’s tragic double bombing in Boston is one of those events.

My family moved to Israel when I was 13 in 1995.  This was considered a relatively peaceful time to move and I struggled the way most adolescents do when they move and learn new languages and all that fun stuff.

When I was 15, I was injured in a triple suicide bombing.  At some point I will blog more extensively about this experience as it has been a very pivotal experience in my life.  But suffice it to say that when bombings happen and I see them portrayed on the news I have a visceral reaction to what happened.  The sights, sounds and smells of that day come rushing back to me and I struggle with refocusing my attention on the task at hand.

Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you I am a news junkie.  I get CNN breaking news text alerts and watch the news in the morning before work.  When tragedies or large-scale emergencies happen (like hurricane Sandy in New York this past fall) I will spend hours watching the news on replay.

It always takes me a few days to re-calibrate myself and for me to get back into a normal rhythm.  For now my thoughts and prayers are with those in Boston-those killed, their families and those injured-whose life story has now been changed.

On My Bookshelf: Wherever I Wind Up

wherever_i_wind_up I’ve always been a peripheral baseball fan.  I grew up in         Portland, Oregon where the only professional sports team was basketball.  On the other hand, family lore is that my dad’s parents, huge Brooklyn Dodger fans, lasted one season after the Dodgers moved to California before packing up my dad and uncle and heading west.  Whether this is true or not, doesn’t matter as it’s become such a part of the family legend.

So if I have to say a favorite team, I’m going to have to say the Dodgers.  But since moving to New York, I’ve developed an appreciation for the Mets and the fact that my uncle is a huge Mets fan, it’s rubbed off on me.

About a year ago, I was listening to Fresh Air on NPR and there was an interview with R.A. Dickey.  Being that I am living in New York, I had heard about him but really didn’t know much about him.  Well the interview was out because he was in the process of writing a book.  During the summer I started going to some Mets games with my roommate and became hooked.  So, for my birthday, my roommate bought the the Dickey biography.

R.A. Dickey has a fascinating life.  He was raised in a divorced family in Tennessee and was sexually abused twice as a child-once by a man and once by a teenage female babysitter of his.  Although he’s had some horrible life experiences, he has also overcome these experiences, whether through his faith or through his passion for baseball.  He actually met his wife as a kid, when he became friends with her brother.  They were a very well off family in the private school that he was lucky enough to attend and it was pretty clear to him that they were meant to be.

His career into baseball was by no means an easy one.  He had been drafted straight from college to play for the Texas Rangers but when he had a physical for them, it became apparent that he was missing a muscle in his wrist (ironically, earlier this year I had wrist surgery and they found an extra muscle so a friend of mine teased that it was R.A. Dickey’s missing muscle).  As a result of that, the offer was rescinded.  He ended up playing AAA ball for a long time and even spent time playing in South America.  He was not successful and kept volleying between teams and was not happy nor was his marriage good.  He ended up having a near death experience of his own making and started turning his life around.

It was around this time that he also began learning how to be a knuckleballer.  Prior to this, he had been a traditional pitcher but when it came down to either he was going to need to leave baseball or learn something new to keep him in the game, he started learning.  He currently is the only knuckleballer in the major leagues and hopes to stay there until someone replaces him.

He has also become an advocate for children who have been sexually abused and actually climbed Mount Everest, against the wishes of the Mets in order to raise awareness.  This book was an amazing read and the entire story is an unbelievable story.  R.A. Dickey is a true hero in my mind.

Probably my biggest disappointment now is that I never got to see R.A. Dickey pitch.  Every time I went he had just pitched the night before.  Now he’s being traded to the Toronto Blue Jays so unless I see him against a team I’m watching, I won’t get the chance.