All posts filed under: Taste.

pitmaster.

Hubby and I took a BBQ/Pitmaster class with Ben of Sneaky’s BBQ. Ben started his BBQ business in 2008, and now partners with Southpaw in San Francisco to bring BBQ to all most days of the week.ย There’s Ben in the kitchen prepping for class. In this workshop we learned about different cuts of meat, meat smoking techniques, and the difference between North and South Carolina BBQ. We went over the step-by-step process of how to smoke, cut, store, and serve a 12-pound brisket.ย Caption this: Oh mah gaw, look at that brisket… We tried lean, medium, and fatty pieces of brisket with pickled cucumber and onions. We also tried Ben’s cornbread and house BBQ sauces — a mustard-based sauce (South Carolina) and a tomato-based sauce (North Carolina). My winning combination: medium fat brisket with the mustard sauce! We also had a lesson in dry rubs and each got to make and take home a self-designed rub. Rub Lesson #1: never use table salt for making rubs! Thank you, Ben, for sharing your BBQ and BBQ wisdom …

chai this; chai that.

When in Portland, try all the chai! First up: Seastar Bakery‘s Golden Chai with hazelnut milk, an herbal tisane made with turmeric, ginger, chamomile, citrus, and honey. This was unlike anyย beverage I’ve ever had. The citrus surprisingly worked really well in the tisane and the turmeric was not overpowering. It was by far my favorite beverage on this trip, and quite possibly from any bakery/cafe I’ve visited. Next up, Prasad‘s dirty chai with coconut mylk, a housemade masala chai blend with a shot of cold-press coffee, sweetened with honey. It was a little sour and a little sweet, but mostly had warm notes from the spices. To wrap up the day, we stopped at Tea Chai Te for…even more tea! Hers and his: Velvet milk oolong with hemp milk and almond milk tea with soy milk and mango popping boba. A lovely afternoon tea break. The next day, we started our morning withย Pip’s Original Doughnuts. They serve their chai by the glass and by the flight. Whaaaat? I’m not a fan of beer flights, and …

anniversary cake.

We own this fun cake topper that we used for our wedding day. Hubs and I decided we would use it every year on our anniversary which means we will always have some kind of cake. Winning! Since we were in Portland for our one year anniversary I ordered a cake from the cutest local cake shop I could find: the Cakery. The Cakery is part of the Baker & Spice family and features artisan cakes and delicate sweets. They also sell baking tools and accessories – think cake stands, cookbooks, sugars, aprons – and celebration goods like cards, candles, and matches. You can purchase cake by slice, ready-made cakes, or order ahead with special inscriptions. We ordered a six-inch Mocha cake. It had four layers of devil’s food cake brushed with an espresso syrup, covered with buttercream and topped with a decorative flower. It was moist and rich and made for some fun photos. Yes, I brought a cake stand from home. Mission celebrate with cake accomplished! Happy chocolately anniversary to my boo. ๐Ÿ™‚

stumptown.

For our first Portland stop we headed to Stumptown HQ for a coffee tasting which I then learned was actually a “cupping” session. Not a fan, but exciting, nonetheless. We learned how the pro coffee bean buyers smell, taste, and experience coffee beans in a blind test. I learned the difference between fragranceย and aroma. Fancy. We also had a lesson in direct trade and fair market prices. After smelling the freshly ground beans and the brewing coffee, we each got a spoon and a spittoon and slurped our way down the tasting line, rinsing our used spoons in warm water between each taste. The whole thing was a germaphobe’s nightmare (and I won’t go into detail), but I participated still since I wanted the full experience. (Totally monitoring myself for potential contagious diseases now.) But back to the coffee. We tried five kinds of beans which are roasted in house at HQ. Honestly, it was really hard to focus on the fragrance, aroma, and taste when I was trying mostly to get the cupping technique …

bend!

Hubs and I went on a road trip to Portland, Oregon for our one year wedding anniversary. 1500 miles round trip! On the drive north we stopped in Bend, Oregon for an overnight stay at the Mill Inn. We had a little room issue upon arrival, but once things got sorted out we ended up in the San Francisco themed room – we felt right at home. The next morning we woke up to the smell of bacon and coffee… I want to throw breakfast parties like this! And have a tea station! His and Hers anniversary breakfast: frittatas, BACON, sausage, potatoes, greens, fruits, juice… Oh, and then we had waffles! You guys!!! The Mill Inn has the best waffles I’ve ever had – a light crispy, crunchy outside with a fluffy, moist middle. I might want to go back to Bend just for waffles. They make them to order and you can order one whole, one half, or one fourth! I don’t even like cherry things (love cherries, dislike cherry things) but the sauce …

tea time.

One of my new favorite tea spots is Blue Willow Tea in Berkeley. As part of birthmonth, I invited some friends to join me here for an afternoon of tea and good company. It was going to be my first time at the tea lounge, so I called ahead. The owner Ali was super friendly and sweet, and I was so excited that she could section off a part of the tea room for my gathering. The tea lounge is a bit hidden; you have to know it’s there to find it, but once you do, you are welcomed with a wall of teas and these beauties. On a normal visit, I would probably enjoy one type of tea, but since it was a party we enjoyed three! We tried an oolong, the bourbon vanilla black tea, and a green tea. Our cups were warmed and each tea was served in region-specific serve ware. One of my life goals is to be become a tea expert so here is my attempt at learning the lingo… The oolong …

truffles and bonbons!

Truffles anyone? Me, me, me! I recently took a truffles and bonbons class at Oaktown Spice Shop. The instructor was none other than the owner and founder ofย Endorfin Foods – Brian! He makes the smoothest chocolate bars sans milk! (You must try the Turkish coffee bar!) I’ve made truffles once before; they turned out smooth and decadent, but they were on the softer side and would lose their shape quickly. I brought all my questions to class and learned lots of important tips and tricks. We even learned some truffle making hacks like making the ganache in a blender with a heat gun instead of using a double boiler, and using an infrared thermometer to read the ganache’s temperature instead of a candy thermometer (it’s way cooler!). Brian demoed how to make ganache and he brought some premade/precooled ganache for the hands-on part of class. We learned how to flavor the ganache, what types of liquids to use, and what the ganache should look like while it’s being made. Then, with gloves on (and being …