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Foodie Friday: Pop-Up Brunch and Ice Cream

Welcome to the 1st installment of GeekGirl World’s Foodie Friday. Before I get into all of the delicious meals, snacks, and desserts I consumed this week, I would like to establish myself, in your mind, as the food aficionado you should all learn to know and trust.

I am, as anyone who knows me will attest, a food geek. I follow chefs like an obsessive teenage fan girl following One Direction. I spend all of my downtime reading food blogs and making crazy lists of where I want to eat next in any given city; once a list for a city becomes long enough I begin planning my next trip. Everywhere I ever go is food motivated. If some asks me to go to an event or make plans I immediately scope out my best dining options in the area. I once broke up with someone I was dating because he told me a story about a “gluttonous” person who ate dinner and then went to bed thinking about what they are going to have for breakfast. I think about what I’m going to have to breakfast tomorrow at breakfast today…we were never going to last anyway.

My fiancé now is a chef; intelligent design at its finest. He is now one of my many eating partners in crime. I have an entourage I refer to as my “Food Friends.” Most of this elite group of food people were people I met at various food related events or on food related discussion sites. My Foodie Friends were each chosen to be in my “foodie circle” because they have seemingly endless stomachs and a penchant for great food. We are kind of like our own twisted version of the Justice League. Home base is Los Angeles, where most of my Foodie Friends live or travel to often. While I call LA home, I have traveled extensively around the country, and dabbled in food adventures in other parts of the world. Chef has planned our upcoming honeymoon around eating exclusively at Michelin Stared restaurants. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t discriminate. I will eat anything that tastes good. It doesn’t have to come on a white table cloth or cost an arm and a leg. My only criterion is that anything I eat that doesn’t bring me joy. I am particularly fond of cheese, carbs, and dessert. I hope my food freak flag as been appropriately flown, and by now you have a good sense of how much I really love to eat.

Enough about me, on to the food! This week as I prepare to get back on my pre-wedding diet (I’m angry about it and I don’t want to talk about it), I tried to capture every defiant meal in all its overindulgent glory.

Elysian Donut - Photo: @dineLA
The overly instagrammed Sticky Oatmeal Donut from Elysian photo: @dineLA

Sunday started with a trip to the Pop-Up brunch at Elysian in Atwater Village. Hosted by Roxana Jullapat (formerly from the restaurant Cook County) and Sonoko Sakai (who runs the website/project Common Grains,) the pop-up runs until April 26th and is a true ode to carbs. The menu is almost exclusively grain based, with the exception of one lonely little salad (that we didn’t order because we aren’t stupid.) While I didn’t find anything to be particularly mind blowing, especially not the overly instagrammed Sticky Oatmeal Donut on the menu, I did thoroughly enjoy this meal. Highlights included the Smoked Trout Toast with herbed cream cheese, red onion, capers, and radish, as well as the Soft-scrambled Eggs on Toast with ricotta, pea tendrils, and oyster mushrooms. The latter was my personal favorite. The eggs were perfectly seasoned, soft and pillowy, the toast was doughy in the middle and crisp on the edges as toast should be. I would highly suggest stopping by if you live even remotely nearby, though I’m not convinced this is necessarily worth a lengthier excursion.

Smoked Trout Toast
Smoked Trout Toast at Elysian
Soft-scrambled eggs on toast at Elysian
Soft-scrambled eggs on toast at Elysian

Not feeling perfectly satisfied from our brunch, we decided to make our way to Jeni’s Spendid Ice Creams in Los Feliz for a post-brunch pick me up. Jeni’s is an incredible artisanal ice cream company based out of Ohio. The Los Feliz location is the 1st location anywhere near the west coast, and as a result has culminated a cult following which lead to massive queues for a week after opening. We decided to check it out right around noon, and found only a small 15-20 person line. The scope of flavors is so overwhelming we found we needed more than the time it took to get through the line to make a decision. I decided to make my own sundae with Brown Butter Almond Brittle ice cream, peanuts, and hot Honey Butterscotch sauce. My food friend had a scoop of the Yazoo Sue (milk, brown sugar, cayenne, and rosemary mixed nuts,) along with a scoop of the Askinosie Dark Milk Chocolate ice cream in a fresh waffle cone. One of the many reasons Jeni’s is so popular is the mix of different and interesting flavor combinations plus the use of only the freshest quality ingredients. I would 100% recommend making a trip to Jeni’s. I literally dream about my next scoop from Jeni’s.

My DIY sundae at Jeni’s
My DIY sundae at Jeni’s
2 scoop cone at Jeni’s
2 scoop cone at Jeni’s

Be sure to join me next week for more food adventures!

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Carol’s Cookie Recipe

Did Sunday’s episode of The Walking Dead leave anyone else with a killer craving for cookies? Check out this recipe for Carol’s applesauce infused cookies.

Oh, and don’t forget to look at the flour.

 

Recipe courtesy of AMC!

Did you attempt the recipe? Let us know how they turned out in the comments below!

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Tea Review: eleven Blend

IMG_4587  IMG_4595

eleven
By Cara McGee

Official Description on Adagio:
Edging the line of quirky and dark, this tea is unfailingly sweet, and as strong as you could ask for.

Ingredients
blended with natural vanilla flavor, natural coconut flavor, dried coconut, and accented with apple pieces. Teas: assam melodyvanillacoconut

 

My Review

The coconut and vanilla mingle seamlessly to tantalize your nose every time you open the bag, the apple pieces offering the barest hint of tart sweetness.

Steeped at 212 degrees Fahrenheit for 3 minutes, the tea is a lovely, light copper out of the pot (of which I’ve to do a hardware review on the personaliTea at a later time). The longer the tea steeps, the deeper the color – you probably don’t want to let it get too past a sort of red ochre for maximum flavor. You’ll hit that around 5-7 minutes of steeping. However, if you end up over-steeping it (which happens when you forget the tea bag in the pot,) the blend doesn’t turn as bitter as some other teas can; it does lose coconut potency, however, and there’s just the beginnings of a bit of astringent tang (most likely from the assam melody) that lodges in the back of the throat.

The blend maintains its coconut fragrance in the cup with the lightest notes of vanilla and assam melody noticeable in the background. For me, the apple pieces offer negligible flavor – the coconut and assam are too strong in comparison. Still, the tea is almost milky in feel and the blend overall manages to be a warming and yet refreshing thing. Even as the tea cools, the blend maintains its creamy, comforting taste.

I give this tea 4 out of 5 stars. You can purchase it here.

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Tea Review: Cyberman Spirits Blend

Cyberman Spirits Blend
By Aun-Juli Riddle

Official Description on Adagio:

Drink to the spirit of Cybermen, to the deletion of emotion, and to the free upgrade to the next level of humankind! This is a deep, warm tea with full-bodied taste and a hint of sweetness.

Ingredients:
Teas: assam melody, toasted mate, cream blended with black tea, assam melody, toasted mate, natural creme flavor

My Review:

This past weekend I attended the Art of the Tardis craft faire at Clockwork Couture. I did not intend to purchase many things, but that went right out the window since there were tons of great handmade and custom items at over a dozen different booths. The Fancy Narwhal was there, with comics, stickers, and a ton of tea samples and full tea bags available. When I first arrived, the booth was terribly packed, so I elected to return later; a decision to my detriment because many of the teas had sold out by the time I went back. Still, I was able to procure a few samples, as well as a bag of Cyberman Spirits.

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The initial scent is very earthy, the toasted mate evokes images of woods to mind. Steeped at approximately 195 degrees Fahrenheit for 3 minutes, the tea pours out a dark, rich brown, and the assam melody flavor is at the forefront.

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As always, my first cup was completely without additions. For the strong scent of assam melody, a mouthful is surprisingly mellow with only the tiniest bit of astringent reaction. Lightly smoky, I lose almost all trace of the mate – the assam melody is absolutely the star of this blend. The only detection of any hint of cream in this is probably the sheer smoothness of the tea. There is a barely any aftertaste.

My second cup featured a generous helping of cream and a pinch of sugar. If the first cup plain I thought was smooth, this second cup was downright silky. That tiny pinch of astringent is completely nullified with the addition of dairy (seriously, I used cream because I discovered I’d actually run out of milk).

IMG_2272

I must caution against oversteeping lest that assam melody and toasted mate develop bitter overtones. I am not entirely certain I would buy this blend again, but I will certainly enjoy the bag that I have for now.

I gave this blend 3 out of 5 stars. You can purchase it here.

For more teas by Aun-Juli, visit Oh Hello Tea. You can check out here for The Fancy Narwhal.

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Tea Review: Amy Pond Blend

Official Description:

amy pond
created by: Cara McGee
Fiery, a bit tart, and ready for adventure. She’s the blend that waited.

Inspired by BBC’s Doctor Who, which I am in no way affiliated with. This is created purely for my own enjoyment.

ingredients:
orange, cranberry, rooibos vanilla chai

My Review

I suppose I was expecting a bit more tartness out of the cranberry and orange? Because Amy Pond. Although, perhaps the eventual mildness exactly fits the way this spitfire of a character progressed (looking at you, Moffat). Anyway.

The cloves are most certainly the dominant feature of this tea, particular upon first sniff. I put the kettle on, and once it hit boiling, I steeped a heaping teaspoonful of tea for 4 minutes. The scent diminishes significantly though the spicy hints of clove and chai remain.

As always, the first few cups I had without any additions. For all that initial clove-and-chai olfactory punch, the blend is surprisingly light and mellow. I could not detect any cranberry, save possibly for the slightest tang left on the tongue. Be slightly cautious of over-steeping lest the tea becomes too bitter.

I tried a cup with a splash of milk in the bottom. Perhaps it is because of the chai element, but the tea became creamier and somehow more rich in flavor. More cups will be had since I can’t quite determine how I feel about this tea.

I gave this blend 3.5 out of 5 stars. You can purchase it here.

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Tea Review: Steve Rogers Blend

steve rogers blend

created by: Cara McGee

As American as Apple Pie, perfectly sweet, but built for strength.

Inspired by the Marvel Comics character Steve Rogers/Captain America. I have no affiliation with Marvel or Disney or any of those related companies. This blend is made for my own enjoyment.

My Review

The spiced apple chai is probably the most prevalent scent when you open the bag, and even after you brew the tea. I let mine steep for 5-6 minutes (I had originally planned on four but got distracted by emails.) Good thing I like my teas strong. I was a little concerned that all I would taste at first would be the spiced apple chai, but though the spice is strong, it’s not overpowering. The light aftertaste of spice in the mouth is not unpleasant.

I’ll brew another cup today, most likely, and see if I can articulate any better how I feel about this blend. I had a lot of tea yesterday but didn’t have time to note all my impressions, so….yeah. I can’t quite remember everything I thought about this blend at first.

Right now I give it a tentative 3 out 5 stars.

You can buy it here.

Review Update:

It’s been a year since my initial review.

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Tea Review: Mycroft Blend

Mycroft Blend

CREATED BY: CARA MCGEE

No brother, I have not been eating more cake. I’ve been drinking it.

Inspired by BBC’s Sherlock, which I am in no way affiliated with. This is created purely for my own enjoyment.

My Review

The predominant scent at first sniff is the chocolate, but if you stir the mix a bit the scents of chocolate and chai blend marvelously together, reminding me a little of subtly spiced chocolate (have you ever had chili chocolate? It is a fantastic thing.)

mycroft2

I steeped my first cup for 5 minutes and drank it black. The subsequent two cups were also taken black, but steeped at about 4 minutes. Once steeped, the chai really comes to the fore, the vanilla and rooibos lending the spiciness a sweeter air, the chocolate notes growing a tad denser. The taste is smooth and for all that chocolatey aroma, the rooibos vanilla chai is the lingering flavor, and the cream adds a nice fullness and, well, creaminess, to the cup. Given all the orange peel in the picture above, one would think it would really impact the flavor, but as it is, it’s only the gentlest zest and citrusy freshness in the cup.

The fourth cup I added milk and about 3/4 teaspoon sugar. I’m usually quite unscientific about how much sugar I add, but given the sweetness of the chocolate and vanilla in this blend, I didn’t think I’d need too much sugar mycroft3for it. Blends containing chai really are so much better to me with a little milk added, I can’t explain why (though traditional chai preparation features milk, so….)  That hint of spice just goes so well together, and this blend is just so creamy and deliciously warm with the additions.

I gave this blend 4 out of 5 stars. You can purchase it here.

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Tea Review: Loki Blend

loki_tea1loki_tea2loki_tea3

 

loki blend

created by: Cara McGee

‘So I am no more than another scorned idea, locked in your mental tea cabinet until you might have use of me? You could have told me it wouldn’t happen from the beginning! Why didn’t you? What, because I— I— I am the caffeinated blend parents won’t let their children try at night? You know, it all makes sense now, why you favoured Holmes all these years, because no matter how often you claim to make tea, you could never have a Frost Giant featured in your signature blends!’ [Thank you to the anonymous writer that left me this note, and prompted me to make a blend for Loki. Cool, refreshing, but just a bit dark, with a hint of floral undertones. This blend truly shines when iced.]
Inspired by the Marvel Comics character Loki. I have no affiliation with Marvel or Disney or any of those related companies. This blend is made for my own enjoyment.

My Review

I was terribly excited when the UPS guy delivered my package of teastuffs today (and then I was a little annoyed because dude threw it over the fence. Seriously?! He didn’t even wait for me to get to the door and I RAN to answer the doorbell. It took me maybe 5 seconds to race to the front of the house? I mean, I saw him as he was walking back to his truck so it’s not like it took me a long time. Anyway.)

To start: I love mint teas. I love how they’re so crisp and yet relaxing and for some reason they make me exceedingly happy, I can’t explain it.

The spearmint is obviously the most noticeable fragrance when you first open the bag, with the jasmine subtly coming through. I let mine steep about 3 minutes – I probably could have let it go another minute or two since I don’t mind strong teas, but 3 was quite all right with its lightness of flavor. I used the lovely ingenuitea: 1 heaping teaspoon for approximately 16 ounces of water. I’m sorry, I was trying to avoid my mother giving me grief over using a kettle, so I ended up microwaving my water to about 190 degrees Fahrenheit. I might (read: probably will) mess around with these figures the next time around.

Surprisingly, the spearmint doesn’t overpower the gunpowder or rooibos jasmine, which both lend a smooth, almost smoky flavor to balance the brightness of the mint. I think the flavors complement each other quite well. The slightly minty aftertaste it leaves in your mouth is also quite pleasant (for me, anyway.) It’s like a minty jasmine flavor, and since I like both, it works out well, leaving me with a fresh feeling.

I’m curious to try this tea iced. I mean, Loki’s a Frost Giant, after all, so it ought to turn out well…? Also – does that mean I should get the iced ingenuitea?

I gave this tea 5 out of 5 stars. You can purchase it here.

 

Review Update:

It’s been a year, and Loki has proven to be my favorite. I have tried this tea iced and it is fantastic.

loki_tea4

This is a glass of iced Loki, with sliced strawberries and a basil simple syrup. Would recommend (though it does not have to be a basil simple syrup, I just had extra.)

 

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Tea Review: Strawberry Blend

Adagio’s Strawberry Tea

BLENDED WITH BLACK TEA, NATURAL STRAWBERRY FLAVOR, STRAWBERRIES AND RASPBERRY LEAVES

Historians believe that the name ‘strawberry’ comes from an Old English tradition of placing straw on the ground around this fruit, preventing slugs and other insects from enjoying a free lunch. Once you try our delicious Strawberry Black tea, you’re sure to see why they were so protective. Combining the succulent taste of sweet strawberries with bright Ceylon black tea. Fresh sweet-floral and berry flavor, smooth and sugary texture. This is a treat you’ll keep for yourself!

My Review

The bag, when first opened, smells strongly of fresh wild strawberries; not that overly pungent scent of store-bought berries. I prepared  1 heaping teaspoon at 212 degrees Fahrenheit for roughly 3 1/2 minutes. Once steeped, the scent mellows considerably but is somehow heavier, like jam, but not as sweet. The taste is certainly not as sweet as expected, given the strawberry scent.

To be honest, I am not exactly sure what I was expecting, but I thought it would taste much more like strawberries than it did. Overall, I was not impressed with this tea. There was a slightly almost bitter astringency to it, one I think I do not enjoy. I have had two cups now, but I do not think I will be having more. However, this has more to do with the fact that I am allergic to raspberries, and raspberry leaves are included in this mix. Another blend I reviewed previously also contained raspberry leaves, but clearly that one did not have them in the same amount as this strawberry blend because I felt no ill effects from that blend. About 10 minutes after drinking the strawberry blend my mouth felt buzzy and thick, so I’m guessing that’s an allergic reaction right there and I should probably stop, so… Hm. I’m going to have to say my review is somewhat compromised by my allergy.

I gave this blend 2.5 out of 5 stars. You can purchase it here.

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Tea Review: Natasha Romanoff Blend

 

romanoff1

All right, first off: I do not really recommend brewing this in the Bodum Assam Tea Press. There are some finer bits in the blend, which rise up and easily fit through the filter and sit in the bottom of the pot, which was fine until I poured it into my cup and then had bits of tea in my cup. That doesn’t really bother me, but it might bother some. Or I suppose you could run it through an extra filter as you pour? I don’t know.

Anyway, tea blend: Natasha Romanoff. Here is the official description on Adagio:

Natasha Romanoff

CREATED BY: CARA MCGEE

A worldly blend, based off of Russian tea culture. A strong, smokey tea perfect for a busy spy.
Based on characters owned by Marvel/Disney. This tea blend is created purely for my own enjoyment.

romanoff2

My Review

The scent is almost insidious. With the lapsang souchong and assam melody, I thought it would hit me harder, be more in my face proclaiming its strength like the Sherlock or Tony Stark blends, but it does not. Instead, while strong, it sort of infiltrates the olfactory senses, the slight astringency belying the depth of its smokiness. Is it the currant blend that does it? I am not sure.romanoff3

Amusingly, there are raspberry leaves in the currant mix, and I can only hope not too many. Amusing, I say, because I am actually allergic to raspberries. We’ll see how it goes.

I brewed it at 212 degrees Fahrenheit for four minutes. I joke in the photo below about the tea being the same color as Natasha’s hair – trick of the light coming in from the back of the pot. Don’t wait for the tea to become that color; it will not happen. It’ll turn more like a nice, deep shade of russet. Plain, the blend is smooth and strong. The intensity of the flavor mellows with time in the cup. The smokiness is not harsh at all, as it can sometimes be a bit overpowering in other lapsang blends (Sherlock, I’m looking at you, though I will admit it could also be my fault in over-steeping – I am bad about that.)

romanoff4

I don’t even mind when the tea gets cold in my cup, as it invariably does when I get distracted working. The flavors blend even more, cool and distinctive. Just like its namesake, for the strength of this blend, the fact that it leaves hardly any trace (in terms of aftertaste) is impressive.

I gave this blend 4 out of 5 stars. You can purchase it here.

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