Posts Tagged ‘tea’

I Came, I Saw, I Drank A Boatload: The Gourmet Food And Wine Expo 2009

To The Victor Go The Spoils

Over the weekend, the Everyman and I visited the annual Gourmet Food & Wine Expo here in Toronto.

This year I was fortunate enough to have free admission courtesy of my editor Sheryl, so all that stood between us and deliciousness were those pesky strips of sample tickets.

And even though every year we leave the Expo lamenting how there is way more booze than food, every year without fail we also go in with many more sample tickets than we’ll possibly need.  This year, we went in with 100 tickets between the 2 of us, which I could tell was probably too much, but we were both looking forward to hitting up the fancy wine room and trying a few expensive wines like we did last year.

I’d also wanted to see Grant’s presentation on the Food Network Stage which happened to be the first of the day, so we ended up getting there just as the show opened.  The unfortunate thing about arriving so early is that most booths aren’t quite ready for service yet, and since we’d decided not to have breakfast beforehand, we were absolutely famished and starving for options.

In order to push back the lightheadedness, we stopped at the first booth that was open, which in this case happened to be Sassafraz.  The Everyman helped himself to a pulled meat mini sandwich, while I grabbed what they were hyping as the world’s best brownie.  The sandwich was decently textured, but super bland without a generous helping of the various condiments that were available.  The brownie was tasty too, but much too sweet to be considered the best of the best.

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Zen; Or The Art Of Ayurvedic Brownie Making

Brow-nie!

Like the enduring search for a suitable mate, a good brownie is similarly hard to find.

There are fluffy brownies, cakey brownies, nutty brownies and frosted brownies.  There are chunky brownies, sweet brownies, crispy brownies and chewy brownies.  There are more kinds of brownies than there are hours in the day, and for my money, most of them are not worth the bother.  I’ve had success with Alton Brown’s cocoa brownies in the past, but every once in a while I get a craving for something just a little bit different…

To my mind, brownies are the ideal candidate for simplicity.  I don’t want nuts, frosting, M&M’s or candy mix-ins.  And I most certainly don’t want them swirled with cheesecake or peanut butter or any other heavy viscous substance.  When I take that first bite, I want the top to shatter in a mixture of crunchy, caramelized chewy delight, while the interior should be rich without being dense or cakey.

In short, I’m looking for a brownie miracle.

Months ago, when I finally located some 100 Mysteries tea, I’d found it a fantastic ingredient to experiment with.  It made its way into a panna cotta, and I’d intended to try additional applications, but other projects got in the way.  This weekend, I finally managed to pick up where I left off by producing a batch of 100 Mysteries brownies.

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So What Are The Other 92, Then?

100 Mysteries

I stopped in to The Mercantile again this week to visit proprietress Shannon and procure a tin of (gasp) 100 Mysteries tea.  She’s all out of ‘Mo Bacon, but assured me there’ll be more by the time I visit next, and there may even be (fingers crossed) Barcelona bars!!!

I first encountered this glorious blend of tea about a year ago while having dinner at Cowbell.  Only, at the time, I didn’t realize it was tea.  It had been the flavoring agent for a creme anglaise accompanying strawberry shortcake, but because of the name I’d somewhat narrow-mindedly assumed it was some sort of artisanal liqueur.  I enjoyed the flavor profile, and filed it away in the delicious-things-to-revisit-later section of my brain, but then promptly forgot about it.

Until our last few visits to Cowbell that is, when I decided to finish the evening off with tea and recognized the name as it was being recited.  One small whiff of that heady aroma while the blend steeped reminded me how much I loved it and needed to find a source for home consumption.  It turns out that the company that supplies them is called Tea In The Sahara, and they sell it (and many other blends) at a bunch of fine food stores across the province.

The first time I ordered it at Cowbell, the Everyman decided to have a pot of it too, and after hearing our server rattle off the laundry list of ingredients, he wondered aloud to me, well yes, but what are the other 92 ingredients?  It turns out that the 100 mysteries is not a reference to the number of ingredients it contains, but something to do with Ayurvedic principles (I read it somewhere and now cannot locate the source).  It’s a very delicious blend, comprised of rooiboos, cardamom, coconut, almond, apple, cinnamon, ginger and pepper and a few other things, I’m sure.  It’s creamy, dreamy, and an all round fantastic drink for lounging around on a rainy afternoon and curling up with a good book.

I’ve been thinking it’ll be amazing for infusing into panna cotta, ice cream base, shortbread or even some chocolate brownies.  Updates to follow as I test those theories out.

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