September 3, 2014

#SOTD August Playlist

Let’s keep this short and simple, like my playlist. Here are my August Accomplishments:

  • Finished watching Gossip Girl and found out Lisa Loeb ends up with Rufus

Gossip Girl_ Lisa Loeb

 

  • Discovered the calendar on my phone has stickers.

 

  • Found a new band I adore, Friends . But they could possibly already be broken up as they haven’t put forth new music in 2 years. 

 

  • Watched my boyfriend play a packed Echo and it was pretty epic.

 

  • Apparently all the bands I like are playing the south in September  and not October, like this August find Paperhaus.

 

 Listen to the entire August #SOTD playlist here !

September 2, 2014

SPOTLIGHT ON T-WE TEA : Interview with owner Chris Coccagna


T We Tea Interview

T-We Tea is a fun tea company based out of San Francisco, they’ve set up booths at Renegade Craft Fair, Patchwork, and even have a store font in the bay area. This is not your grandmother’s afternoon tea, and their loose leaf teas have whimsical and sometimes cheeky names like Grumpy Dinosaur a spearmint, peppermint vanilla bean tea or Scandalous Man Friend a Darjeeling tea with spearmint, clove and peppercorn. I reached out to the founder and owner of T-We Tea, Christopher Coccagna to find out more about this highly creative and delicious tea maker. My favorite is Chai Hard, it’s a blend of two black teas, spices, crushed coffee bean, and chili; it’s my late night kick in the pants.

Do you remember your first cup of tea?

Chris C: My first cups of tea in life started with my mother.  We had a peppermint patch in the backyard and part of our nightly ritual before bed was for me to pick peppermint leaves while she heated water and together we shared tea.  From those moments, tea has always held a really special place in my heart for community and warmth.

You hear of wine specialist, and Starbucks baristas are trained to be coffee specialist, but when did you decide to be a certified tea specialist and what is that like?

Chris C: I always knew that my life needed to be in the culinary arts and always loved cooking, eating, drinking, and creating unique experiences around food.  After college I did some soul searching while living in New Zealand and fell in love with the culture surrounding tea, and thought to myself “We need this back home.”  From then I pursued tea professionally and sought out the Specialty Tea Institute’s Certified Tea Specialist program.  I’m a regular old business administration bachelor’s degree from college, but to then focus my studies on something I am so passionate about was life changing.  I took what I learned about tea and reapplied it in the world of natural tea blending.  Most tea blends use flavoring additives, and I took a unique stance of zero flavorings in our teas but using real ingredients.

T We Tea and Whiskey

How long did the process of opening T-We Tea take? Do you remember where you were when you made the commitment to see your tea dream through?

Chris C: T-WE TEA started as a little doodle 2006 in a journal titled Renaissance man (my personal journal focused on career, art, and culinary pursuits).  Surrounding the words T-WE was written “Community” and “With no tea in him, a man is incapable of understanding truth and beauty.”  Those were my three guiding principles in setting everything up:  Truth, Beauty, and Community.  It took some time and preparation of everything but T-WE launched in Dec 2010 after an amazing sleepless month fueled by creative tea caffeine.

Was T-We Tea an online store, before an actual brick and motor location?

Chris C: Before even online and brick & mortar, T-WE began as a mobile traveling setup at artisan handmade markets.  We found our inspiration in artists and makers (since they create beauty in this world), so the fit was natural to be together in a selling event setting.  We started small then grew to markets outside of San Francisco, and you will now find us at bi-annual shows in SFO, LA, Long Beach, Santa Ana, Austin, Chicago, and Brooklyn.  So our company was completely mobile until we opened a more permanent store in San Francisco in Feb 2013.  We expanded that location in Feb 2014 to include a tea store with tea bar and in-store tea blending where we now manufacture everything by hand for our community to witness.

There is an obvious LGBT friendly spin on your teas. Has anyone ever loved an Earl Cray Cray and then condemned Bicurious George? I imagine your response is as silly as the tea names?

Chris C: T-WE is proudly gay owned and operated and we love to celebrate and support the community.  Being from San Francisco, I love how our company fits so easily into what is culturally San Franciscan (creative and sarcastic).   I love how our product can create a special moment between friends (Imagine giving your bestie Lesbi Friends or Scandalous ManFriend).  In the tea world, I have encountered a lot of tea smug when it comes to knowledge about tea and a lot of “I only drink …(insert fanciest tea name here)…. syndrome”.  I wanted to cut through the smug with some genuine sarcasm and whimsy to brighten this world and make tea a special moment in one’s day.

We have our subtle ways of handling a customer who doesn’t want to say SEXPOT tea, but the only formal complaint came from someone from Dallas (a member of the LGBT community, too!).  We actually created a tea blend for them in response called Precious Angel Kitten to subtly be more PG and say “Bless Your Heart.”  It has become one of our top sellers too.

T We Tea San Francisco

Speaking of tea names, have you taken a name suggestion yet? Your website encourages people to submit their idea. 

Chris C: Lesbi Friends (Apple jasmine oolong), Bad Bromance (hangover herbal tisane), Ghetto Fab (roasted green tea with cacao), and a couple others have come from our customers.  We have accumulated quite the list and pair the name with the best flavor profile in a tea.  Most of the other tea names come from common conversation that you will hear between team T-WE.  You would be amazed how many things we say daily that would make an excellent tea name.  The key is not to think too hard and maybe add bourbon.

Personally I’m a lazy brewer, I don’t time my steep or check the temperature. Are there cardinal tea rules one should never break?

Chris C: Water temperature is pretty crucial in a good cup of tea.  Too hot (like for green tea) or too cool (like for black tea) will definitely affect your end cup.  My tricks are sight and smell.  I always follow the color of the brew and I kind of know when my cup is done because it hits my favorite color for that tea.  I also use my nose and follow the scent, you can kind of tell if it is ready by the fragrance (too soft or too strong).

In October you’re hosting a DIY Tea Blending Class at Workshop in San Francisco. What will that be like? Are people going to learn how to break open their existing tea bags and mix different flavors, or save dried rose petals to kick up their afternoon cup?

Chris C: DIY Tea Blending Class happens monthly in the T-WE TEA store and it is one of my favorite creative classes I teach.  In the class we learn all about tea (tea types, how it’s made, etc), then I teach attendees how to properly cup and taste teas and how subtle nuances will affect a tea blend, then I let them go nuts with all the T-WE ingredients to try their hand at their very own tea blend.

Lastly, what tea ritual do you like better, Japanese Tea House or English Afternoon Tea? 

Chris C: I prefer to be a part of the sacred ritual in an Asian inspired tea ceremony, but who doesn’t love to gorge themselves on scones and sweet treats?  I am morally opposed to loud hats though (but that is just for myself as I would never impose a hat restriction on others).

Even if you are not a tea drinker you should still visit T-We Tea website just to see all the fun names and blends. Pass it along to your favorite tea drinking friend or buy a box of loose leaf tea for yourself and begin your tea journey. Teas range from $10- $15 dollars but are extremely delicious. Tell me your favorite type of tea and if you try and T-We teas.

Basically until next time…. Blow the tea before sipping, burned tongues blow.

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August 29, 2014

FLASHBACK FRIDAY – THE PITY PARTY

Photobucket

originally posted on My Favorite MAOI – December 10, 2010

Name: Julie Edwards

Nickname: Heisenflei

Sign: Libra

Favorite:

Fruit: Avocado

Book: Post Office, Bukowsky

Place: White Sands, New Mexico

Q1. Most wild and crazy thing you have done thus far in your life?

A1. And this is your business because…

Q2. Whats the most interesting thing you found lying on the street/sidewalk/ground/random place?

A2. A wet t-shirt with “fuck it” scrawled across the front in sharpee

 

 

 

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August 16, 2014

MY NY EATS – SUNDAY

sarabeths new york

 

In New York, I was clearly a pop culture tourist. Pointing out landmarks I’d seen in movies, television, documentaries, or mentioned in books. As I was in New York with two of my close gal pals, we of course wanted to capture the ‘Sex in the City’ memories. Sort of. More of the city than the sex, but one of those included visiting Sarabeth’s. A New York restaurant staple, which I’m not even sure is mentioned on Sex in the City.  But our friend assumed it was. Yet I know for a fact was mentioned several times on Gossip Girl, apparently it was a reason Serena couldn’t live anywhere else than the Upper East Side.

After 3 hours of karaoke and lots of frosty mugs of beer Saturday night, Sunday brunch was not only necessary for nourishment but recovery purposes as well. But like all trendy, popular, Manhattan restaurants there was a wait. We waited for a solid 30 minutes, before being seated. A mixture of locals and tourist, the waiting area poured outside. By the time we were seated, we had all reviewed the menu and knew exactly what we were going to order. Sarabeth’s has a mint blue interior and on the wall hangs portraits of old Hollywood movie stars like Audrey Hepburn and James Dean. Its décor very afternoon tea. As it was very busy the service was ok, nothing special. Considering half the table had a hangover, the fact we needed to get the waiters attention for our water and coffee to be refilled docked some points.

We ordered a pastry basket, since Sarabeth’s it known for their scones and preserves, and the basket was ok. I order tomato soup as a starter. The creamy tomato soup was the highlight of my meal, not too acidic and flavored well with simple spices. We also started off with a crab guacamole that was ok, but lacked that little something extra. For my main breakfast course I got the crab cake sandwich as I really wanted French fries, and it came out covered in a lemon dill tartar sauce. I scraped most of it off. The side salad that came with the meal was dripping in a lemon vinaigrette, I had one bite and ignored the rest.  French fries, good.

brunch at sarabeths new york

 

Looks can be deceiving 

The thing about places like Sarabeth’s, where the wait is forever, and the reputation precedes it. They don’t have to do anything special to be considered special anymore. Sure, at one point they probably did have the best brunch menu in New York but now the food is mediocre and overpriced. It’s not bad food. It’s not disgusting. It’s just ok. And in my personal opinion nothing is worse than being average, and mediocre. Except for their English muffin, its dense dry and the size of a hockey puck. It gets no love from me.

My advice for good eats while traveling is to go to places the locals eat. This is not surprising advice.  But most locals will not tell you where they go, they mention places they think you should go to eat. Places that are staples of the city. Those staples, in my experience loose a luster because everyone goes to them. They don’t need to try hard, because the rent is being paid by tourist.  Ask the locals the last place they went to dinner or brunch. Have they recently found a new café next to their favorite vintage shop? Look for restaurants that have been recently opened by new hungry chefs, not restaurants where the kitchen is being operated from afar. I really believe half of flavor comes from passion, and Sarabeth’s lacked any heart.

Though I guess when I came home and watched the episode where Blair uses the restaurant as a bargaining tool in Gossip Girl, I did smirk at the fact I had gone there. Can’t deny there exist a small part of fanny pack tourism in me.

blair walforf gossip girl you get what you want

I know Blair, and that is how I feel about food.

I just want to find the best places, where the flavor is equal to the price.  

August 15, 2014

FLASHBACK FRIDAY : Artist Glenn Arthur

 

First published on My Favorite MAOI – 6/5/2009

Name: Glenn Arthur
Nickname: Glenny
Sign: Aquarius

Favorite:
Ice Cream: Strawberry
Book: The kind I can color in.
Color: Black (but only until they come out with something darker)

Q1. What animal is your spirit guide?
A1.Not sure. I hope it’s a hummingbird…and if it’s not then I’ll just lie and say it is ;)

Q2. If you had a parrot what would you teach it to say?
A2.”Get off my lawn!”

Q3. What superhero would you make your sidekick?
A3.Wonder Woman for sure. But only if i get to fly the invisible jet!

Q4. What do you admire in a person?
A4.Intelligent vulgarity.

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August 15, 2014

MY NY EATS – SATURDAY

I love the term foodie as it expresses a person who appreciates and loves food, but isn’t a formal food critic. My NY Eats were a big part of my weekend in New York, and trying new restaurants is a big part of any adventure for me. I hope you enjoy reading my recap of where I ate, and I give you a sense of the space and flavors. I didn’t take notes so it’s all from memory.

Our first stop on Saturday was Williamsburg. Wei explained Williamsburg is what Los Feliz is to Los Angeles. Which, for the reader unfamiliar with both; can then compare to the hip part of town where successful architects, musicians, artists, and other creative types reside who have moved far out of the starving stage of their craft.  We got brunch at an adorable rustic looking restaurant called Rabbit Hole. It was still fastened with its late 19th century character. Molded ceiling and narrow bar running down the side. Apparently the back outdoor portion of the restaurant is really nice, but we were starved and I just wanted to be seated. So we were right in front next to a large window facing the street. It made for some great lighting, and I was seated beneath a funny sign.

brunch in williamsburg

The brunch menu was creative and hip. A balanced selection of savory and sweet. One could easily be torn between, stuffed brioche French toast with strawberry mascarpone or salmon egg benedict on an herb biscuit. Since my friend ordered lemon ricotta pancakes and was willing to share a bite. I ordered the salmon benedict.  I’m a bit of benedict addict, or in a classy sense a connoisseur.  And the Rabbit Hole’s benedict easily made my top 3 benedicts of all time. It was a good hollandaise sauce, but what stood out the most was the fantastic biscuit the salmon and poached egg rested on. It had the texture of a drop biscuit but was incredibly light and buttery. It easily crumbled just enough to get a bite on your fork and melt in your mouth. I will dream of that salmon eggs benedict. Liz’s lemon pancakes zinged with zest, but were not tart. Sweet like a lemon cake. Surprisingly I don’t like lemon desserts, but I enjoy lemon pancakes. The service was also delightful, I ordered Orange Juice and a coffee to combat last night’s mule, and our waitress was really great at keeping the joe flowing.

salmon eggs benedict on biscuit

Fast forward through a day of sightseeing and bucket list accomplishments. We met up with Wei’s friend Chris, and Liz’s boyfriend Darren at Bryant Park. Darren’s birthday was the following day, so it was his choice for where we’d go for dinner. And not sure of what he wanted to eat, his only request was that he wanted a big frosty mug of beer. There are only two types of dining establishments that sell large frosty mugs of beer, and those are German restaurants and Japanese restaurants. Chris and Wei the actual New Yorkers, were racking their brains when Darren was making his mug request. After repeating it a third time, the light bulb above Wei’s head burst and she knew exactly where to go. A Japanese restaurant called Kenka, there is a blinking badger outside of it.

— WARNING FOOD GETS GRAPHIC & NOT VEGETARIAN FRIENDLY —

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August 9, 2014

MY NY EATS – FRIDAY

I went to New York to have an epic weekend, that would be kicked off by a girls’ night at the Barclay Center seeing Katy Perry. A magical night filled with glitter, prisms, laser lights, and a giant rotating cake. I took the red eye into NY on Thursday, and arrived at 8:00 am Friday morning on the East Coast. My friend who I was staying with, a talented photographer Wei, hosted us (my awesome friend Liz was there too) and wanted us to experience delicious food and the energy of NY. We first stopped at Wei’s for a nap, Liz was exhausted and I don’t advise trying to arrive well rested from sleeping on a plane. Sleeping into the afternoon we woke up starved, and Wei suggest Dim Sum.

Walking through a crowded China town dodging small children, rolling luggage, and patrons waiting for their street vendor egg rolls. We were on the hunt for a Dim Sum restaurant called the Golden Unicorn, because it was named after a unicorn. Unfortunately due to low blood sugar, and a misguided sense of direction, we ended up at Wei’s favorite Dim Sum place, Jing Fong. Standing in front of the wrong restaurant hunger decided for us, and we rod up a long escalator illuminated by an opulent chandelier. Seated immediately, what was more surprising was the quick delivery of our delicious dumplings. One usually waits at least five minutes before a  cart full of steaming buns rolls by, but our hunger must have been throwing off signals, cause in seconds we had a table full of 5 to 7 dumplings.

To the point that when another women passed by and dropped by some char siu bao, she complained that we did not even have a card on the table to mark down the items we had requested.  Eventually one gentlemen and two women speaking in a different language discussed the error in a hushed passionate way by our table, and we were good to go.

I even said I would be willing to try chicken feet, but while the cart passed by Wei shared why she had lost her appetite for the item, and well I’d lost my adventurous appetite too.

dim sum chinatown ny adventure

After China Town we passed by Little Italy where I picked up a street cannoli. It was probably the best cannoli I have ever had in my life, or will ever have. Unless I travel to Italy. The crust was firm, it snapped in my mouth without hurting my teeth and the filling was a light sweet cheese accented by mini chocolate chips. Perfect dessert to eat while dodging people. Walking in New York is like a video game, just remind me to not be there during the Zombie Apocalypse.

Fast forward to after Katy Perry, because I don’t think my dinner of Prestel, Cheap American Beer, and Red Bull is anything to write home about. We ventured from Brooklyn to the Lower East Side to the Meatball Shop. Passing by an amazing old building with an inane amount of graffiti. Its exterior did not fit the gorgeous architecture or the rest of neighborhood. Wei’s awesome friend remembered me telling him about this building, and shared with me a story about it. I knew that building was special without knowing anything about it.

Back to food, walking into The Meatball Shop there was a small bar with stools, a communal table that ran down the middle, and a few single tables lining the walls. As you can assume the menu was filled with meatballs. I wanted to test all the combinations of balls and sauces, so I opted for their sliders.  A chicken meatball with pesto sauce, spicy pork meatball with spicy marinara, beef meatball with a mushroom sauce, and another I can’t remember. They are served on the perfect bun. It doesn’t absorb too much of the sauce, and allows the flavors to just burst. I feel like it might have been potato bread. My favorite was the spicy pork, and spicy marinara.  Also the pesto is worth mentioning as it had a nice hint of pine nuts and was not too oily. I also had a side of mashed potatoes, great texture, fluffy and buttery.

The restaurant had just got is liquor license, which apparently according to a story I heard on Good Food is very important to the success of an NY restaurant. I ordered a Moscow mule, and I’m sad to report it was disappointing. It tasted watered down, and I questioned if there was any vodka in it at all. But my friend ordered an Old Cuban that had me envious. Not only cause you could tell it wasn’t virgin, but it tasted really yummy too. After throwing back a few of those, one might go home with an old Cuban.

the meatball shop ny adventure

We headed back to my friends place after dinner, which by the way was at 2am. In NY you apparently sit down for dinner when LA bars are closing. Now at nearly 900 words, I won’t even attempt to include Saturday or Sunday meals in one post.

So basically till next time…yum yum get in my tum!

Have you visited any of these places?

August 8, 2014

Flashback Friday : Sarah Negahdari of The Happy Hallows

Sarah Negahdari Happy Hallows

First  published on My Favorite MAOI – 8/27/2009

Name: Sarah Negahdari

Nickname: Kitty, Negs, Nega

Sign: Pisces

Favorite:

Food. Sushi

Book. Inspiration Sandwich by Sark

Season. Autumn!

Q1.How many times have you been pulled over? And why?

A1.Just once. I didn’t do a full stop at a stop sign. I started crying! and the policeman let me go ticket free!

Q2.What animal if your spirit guide?

A2I Looooooveee your questions! ahhhh! So refreshing!!!!! mine is a black panther. I have had many dreams that were incredibly vivid, mystical, involving a female black panther, roaring at me to toughen up! She shows me how to be A REAL WOMAN! :)

Q3. What’s your vice?

A3.Oh gaaaaawwwddd, my indecisiveness!!! no wait, maybe it’s my day dreaminess, no wait, it’s my…just kidding…yeah, my vice is definitely that I have such a hard time making up my mind.

Q4.If you could live in a movie for a day, which movie would it be? Would you be yourself or another character?

A4.wow,, such a fabulous question!!! I would be in Labyrinth and I would be David Bowie’s character!!!!

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August 2, 2014

Weekday Roundup – Goodbye July…

weekday roundup Friday favorites

HOLY CANNOLI! How is it August? Seriously, July flew by.

In July my freelance hours went up, my full time job hours went down, and thankfully I was able to squeeze out two post on this blog. I also interviewed the owner of my new favorite tea company. But between managing my new work flow and flying to New York (it was my first time) I haven’t found the time to write my intro/outro and send it off to Hello Giggles (or other websites open to contributor submissions). Though the interview is in my top 3 things to do tomorrow morning, it’s my frog.

Yes, I just said my interview was a frog. My good friend Liz, and fellow blogging sister at casualconerns.com, sent me this article on the morning routines of successful people. One of the tips was to conquer your top three objectives (the frog) in the morning, when you’re most focused and motivated. The routines of successful people varied. Though my favorite share of the article was that of Mr. Benjamin Franklin. I printed it out as a guide for myself and have it perched on my desk. I liked the way he focused his energy, and broke up his day in sections. Although he goes to bed at 10:00pm, and that is completely unrealistic for me. My goal for August is to develop a discipline of waking up, exercising, showering, clothes, makeup, breakfast with my beau, and coffee in front of my home computer working on my own thoughts and projects. Even if it’s just 15 minutes. I need to find a little slice of time for my own projects to progress.

Here is the full article if you want to refine your morning routine for success.

benjamin franklin productivity

On my list of “pending blog articles” to write was to share my favorite documentaries. I’m a documentary junkie.  They feed my voracious curiosity, and need to be inspired or stimulated. I watch movies to check out, but documentaries make me feel plugged in. I especially love a good documentary about obscure people or events, people that in some way have made their pure existence on this planet a work of art.  Paste magazine just came out with a list of the 50 best documentaries on Netflix in 2014. I’ve watched 10 of them and have debated watching 7 of them, but they didn’t include my most recent favorite documentary, The Institute.

Here are the documentaries on the list I have watched and my 2 cents in two words:

Jiro Dreams of Sushi = Work Harder

Muscle Shoals = Soul Music

Room 237 = Conspiracy Theories

Exit through The Gift Shop = New Warhol

20 Feet from Stardom = Sing It

Jesus Camp = Crazy Christians

Tabloid = MUST WATCH

Who is Harry Nilsson… = The Point

Queen of Versailles = No Debt

Shut Up and Play the Hits = Curtain Call

Lastly, my July playlist was so incredibly weak I have no words or enough music for a #SOTD recap. But I really like these songs! Here is to a more consistent August. July was awesome, amazing, I saw Katy Perry and Mood Indigo. It was filled with art, music, friendships, food…but I didn’t report any of it and that’s important to me too.

Basically until next time… Sprinkles make the world a more colorful place.  Love, Bekka

July 8, 2014

#SOTD June Playlist

June flew by! I celebrated my 2 year anniversary with my dream boat boyfriend. He made me a gourmet steak dinner and bought 15 year old Macallen Scotch. (oh yeah its true love)

IMG_20140610_195440

Also in June I celebrated the birthday of my teenage best friend. A friendship that began in an acting class and has lasted over 10 years is quite the accomplishment.  Then my sister brought into the world niece number 2, a sweet as pie little darling baby. I took on a new freelance client. And have you ever had a fresh strawberry donut? I never had till this past month! So yeah, June was not boring or slow by any means. How is it already the 8th of July?  I have some playlist catch up to do.

Well here were the musical highlights of June!

My favorite stay cool, blue toned, lounge music with slow motion smiling faces of beautiful people is New Navy. The band is from Sydney, Australia and their disheveled  hair with well styled blazers makes momentary elevator tunes sound modern and summer time champagne toast ready.

song of the day new navy

 

Are you like me and miss a good band that plays a mean guitar and bangs it out on their drums. Tired of another indie rock pop group that sounds like a FUN or FOSTER THE PEOPLE remix. Oh and doesn’t sound surf wave, or stoner, or like they are stuck in their garage.  It’s a tall order but I think I found the band for you… New Madrid! Based in Georgia,  I’ve been discovering lately that the state houses a lot of great non-country sounding bands.

Oh Rico Gagliano from Dinner Party Download gave me a brunch suggestion…

dinner party download food

I ended the month with the song Texas and Tennessee from my hands down favorite band, Lucero. They never stops touring or playing, and I would LOVE to catch them play in Memphis, Nashville, Louisville… you get the idea. I’ve seen Lucero more than I can count on one hand. But never in their own habitat, which I imagine is just anywhere in the south.  On June 30, I got some news that I could have taken badly and thrown my plans into a tail spin. Instead I’m embracing the change, as I will see Texas and Tennessee!

 

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