Archive for the ‘Imbibing’ Category

Paris in New York

Ceci-Cela (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I think I’ve found IT. True love. The café of my dreams. Ceci-Cela is located on Spring Street in the heart of SoHo, and the bohemian chic stroll by in droves. Inside, however, is an oasis of soft lights, well-worn wooden floors and tables, exposed brick walls, and crooked corners. There are only eight small tables in the back room; to get there, you walk past a display counter of glazed tortes and cakes, crisp croissants, and sugar cookies glistening with raspberry jam.

The first time I came to Ceci-Cela, I was visiting New York to meet up with a friend and native New Yorker, for whom coming to Ceci-Cela was a family tradition. We ordered cappuccinos and croissants, at which point Natalie, whose family is French and Persian, taught me the art of dipping croissant in coffee. It all felt so very – French, like being transported to Paris on a magic quiche.

I’ve been back a few times since then, stopping by almost every time I come to New York. And now that I live here (still so strange to say), I have the feeling I’ll be here more often. » Continue reading this post...

What Do You Mean, Raw Drink?

Kombucha (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

The first time I opened a bottle of Kombucha, I wondered who was dyeing Easter eggs. Then I took a sip of Kombucha and wondered why I was drinking vinegar. But, because I had paid around $4 for that bottle, I kept drinking, and by my last sip of Kombucha, I kind of liked it.

Kombucha is a super drink first made in Qin Dynasty China, where it was called the “Immortal Health Elixir”and thought to balance middle Qi (spleen and stomach).  According to the label on my bottle of Kombucha, it aids digestion, metabolism, immune system and liver function, appetite and weight control, body alkalinity, anti-aging, cell integrity, and healthy skin and hair.  Of course, none of that has been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.

Part of the reason I keep coming back to Kombucha must be for its health benefits, because no matter how many times I buy one, the first sip is always a shocker. When it first hits your tongue, it’s sweet and intensely fizzy, but almost instantly becomes sour as it slides past the sides of your mouth.

I recently learned that you can grow your own Kombucha – and I do mean “grow,” because Kombucha is tea fermented by a bacteria colony. Alive like yogurt. To grow your own Kombucha, you brew a weak-ish batch of black tea sweetened with sugar, cool it to room temperature, and then float the Kombucha colony in it. The Kombucha colony, by the way, is called a mushroom and looks like a disk of blubber. In about ten days, you have your Kombucha brew, which you can strain and refrigerate. Your Kombucha colony can be dropped in a new batch of tea and might even start growing baby Kombuchas, which you can give to your friends so they can start their own Kombucha colonies.

» Continue reading this post...

He’s on the Move (a post by Josh)

Fried chicken dinner (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

It’s been a minute since I’ve updated my travels, my eats, and frankly, my stomach’s adjustment to Southern Foods. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been living in the South for about three years now, but I don’t always choose to indulge in collards with fat back as my staple lunch item. But now – this summer – I’ve got to go big then go home and take a nap to “work off” that fried goodness. O! that fried goodness!

Well since I’ve last updated (on my travels, not my shameful meal), I’ve been to Sapelo Island, Charleston, a few surrounding areas (James Island, Mt. Pleasant), Beaufort, Athens, Atlanta, Watkinsville, and Birmingham. That’s where I sit right now, sipping a well roasted, full bodied black coffee – iced (to cut the 99 degree heat and 110 percent humidity).

With a list like that, I’ve had my share of experiences in different parts of the country. A few come to mind immediately. Like the time in Beaufort, SC where a man walked away from me after this conversation: “Where ya from” – “Well I was born in Virginia, lived in New York -” “Goodbye.” I kid you not. He didn’t even hear that I live in North Carolina now (clearly below that Mason-Dixon line).

But more than anything, my food experiences have been out of this world. And with that, I bring you two excerpts from my 26 days of travel (so far): one international delight and one stomach stuffing, sweet-tooth filling meal with eight perfect strangers.

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At first I was a little hesitant to go to Atlanta. I mean, let’s face it – Atlanta is so internationally citified that traditional culture is hard to come by. Yes, you have the history of the Tea Rooms and the three P’s of Georgia (Pecans, Peaches and Peanuts). » Continue reading this post...

I’ll Have the Meal in a Pint, Cheers (a post by Josh)

The myth is true. It is no longer a myth, but a fact, truth, honesty. The myth that I’m talking about is “the closer you get to Dublin, the better the Guinness.” I never made it to the factory itself, which I’m sure was “well worth it” but I did make to the “smallest pub in the world” in the heart of Dublin to enjoy a hearty pint.

It has really been these past few rainy days that have gotten me to thinking about that small pub. Because, during these grayed afternoons, all I’ve pined for is a cozy place to sit with friends and to enjoy a drink. Not coffee, but a pint of Guinness. This may be contradictory to my personality, but hear me out on this one.

By the time I made it Dublin, I had been living out of my backpack for three weeks in the dead of European Winter. I had had an amazing time, but to make it to Dublin – my last city of the trip – and to my dear friend, was so relieving. I had seen a lot, and I’m sure a lot of it will come up in this blog, since my experiences were shaped so heavily by food. But I got to Dublin, saw nothing but clouds and couldn’t get enough.

My friend, Bex, as a good tour guide, tried so hard to show me around, but soon became distracted by her insatiable desire for a good pub lunch. It was 2pm. We had left her apartment at 1pm.

It turned out to be a good plan of action to start looking, since we didn’t end up sitting down until about 3:30pm. First, we had to meet up with her friends who were visiting for the weekend. After some introductions, “Hiya, yeah, this is my mate from the States,” “Yeah, hi. » Continue reading this post...

Space vs. Taste – What Makes a Coffee Shop?

Starbucks (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

The best cup of coffee I ever had was in a coffee shop on Lygon Street, in Melbourne, Australia. That cappuccino, rich, strong, and smooth, convinced me that Lygon, where the Italian cafés and restaurants were located, would become the perfect place to find a coffee shop in which I could both work and happily feed my caffeine addiction. So I started looking for the perfect place – somewhere with good coffee, tables big enough to hold my laptop and books, outlets, and maybe even an upstairs or back room where people sat and worked in silent solidarity. I wanted a blend of socializing and working, but in Australia, the cafés I found were not work-friendly. Most of the customers were engaged in conversation at the rickety, round tables with the capacity for a coffee cup or two, no one had a laptop (not to mention that there were absolutely no outlets), and the lighting inside was dim.

As the search for the perfect coffee shop on Lygon Street became an increasingly frantic journey, I found myself frequently ending a futile morning of searching at Starbucks. This was particularly frustrating, because not only was the coffee worse than at the cafés along Lygon – where every cappuccino I ordered had a heart drawn into the foam and the espresso was strong but not bitter–but the coffee was exponentially more expensive. Whereas I could get a delicious cup for around $2 anywhere else, at Starbucks I paid close to $6 for the exact same burnt and bitter coffee I could buy back in the States. But Starbucks had what I needed, an expansive upstairs area where students sat and studied, outlets for my laptop, and good lighting.

Oh! the irony of having found the most delicious coffee in the world but not served in the space that I needed. » Continue reading this post...

Drink Me, Mr. Morning (a post by Josh)

Why do I think so much about the morning and breakfast? Maybe because it’s a fresh start to a day, a clean slate, or maybe it’s just because. Who knows.

Speaking about Breakfast, oh blog partner, I don’t think I could go a morning without at least thinking about coffee. That doesn’t mean I have to have coffee, I just think about it. If I’m at home, my morning routine almost always consists of washing my face, brushing my teeth, contemplating what I’m going to have or make for breakfast, emptying yesterday’s filter full of coffee grounds and either setting up for a new pot of coffee, thinking about setting up a new pot of coffee, or going to the local coffee shop. No matter what, I have two or three cups of coffee in the morning. If I’m in the backcountry, hiking around in the woods, when 8am rolls around I will always be hankering for some deep roasted, milky coffee.

I haven’t decided if this is what addiction is, but I still like to think of it as a choice. Coffee doesn’t quite control me yet, I still control my urges. I think.

In terms of coffee tasting, I guess I’m not quite all that grown up yet. I don’t think I could tell you if the taste starts out with a floral aroma followed by a tractor trailer smokiness and followed by honey roasted peanuts. I can tell you that I like dark roasts more than light. I like coffee houses more than Starbucks. I can also say that I always amble on over to the shade-grown organic coffee section of my grocery store. All of these things are important to me in a coffee. If it’s Magnolia Blend, Mocha-Java or Deep Disco, I’m usually into the taste of coffee. » Continue reading this post...

913 Words Concerning Things You Should Know About Wine

Bread salad with wine (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

So you know that you swirl it in the glass with your pinkie finger pompously thrust out from your hand. And you know that you’ve got to take a long, slow whiff before sipping just the smallest bit and swishing it over your tongue. And you know that all this must be done with an impeccably smooth frown. But what exactly is it that you’re looking for when you taste a good wine? What do things like “vintage” or “tannins” mean – and how does that affect what you taste?

I’d like to explore what makes one wine different from another and what distinguishes a good wine from a bad one. Below, you’ll find some basic principles and vocabulary words which will be useful when further discussing wine.

What is wine?

Wine is fermented grape juice. In the process of fermentation, the sugar in the juice of crushed grapes is converted to alcohol, producing wine.

Ok. That was easy. Next question.

What is good wine?

Good wine is the result of different factors including soil, grapes (many wines are a mix of different varieties of grape), climate, and vineyard care. Not all wine grows better with age. Unlike a vintage store, where the older the ugly sequined dress the more expensive, vintage in the wine world simply denotes when the grapes were picked and the wine made.

How do I tell whether it’s good wine?

The process for determining the quality of a wine is as simple as look, smell, taste.

When you look at a wine, look for color and clarity. Hold the wine up to a white surface and check its color. Red wines can run the gamut from brick, ruby, purplish, or brownish, while white can be pale yellow, almost clear, or deep amber. Now check the wine’s opacity. » Continue reading this post...