Sunday, March 7, 2010

Shopping Spree In The East (Villlage)

This weekend the sun graced New York with its presence. I won't say that it was the beginning of spring, but it certainly signaled the rumblings of the new season. After months of dreary cold, it was a welcome change. I flung open the apartment windows, thrilled with the idea of fresh air in my living space again. It was off with the winter coat and back to weekends spent wandering through the city. Bliss.

Job one was to get some color back in the apartment, so when I saw this bouquet at the farmers market, I simply couldn't resist. Despite the vaguely garish easter egg vibe of the arrangement, I felt quite strongly that it belonged in my (rather tarnished) mint julep cup on my bathroom sink.

Not more than an hour after I had put the blooms in water they began to open, exuberantly it seemed.

Perhaps the tulips are as excited for spring as I am?

Later in the afternoon it was off to one of my absolute favorite stores in New York, SOS Chefs. I had taken stock of my spice cabinet and found it wanting, so felt it was an appropriate excuse to make my way to Avenue B for a bit of shopping.

I left the treasure trove of a store with a shopping bag full of goodies...

...spices of course, but I could not resist this amber colored chestnut honey

nor this satchel of fragrant chai.

I've been consistently fascinated by the black facial soap that Atef, the owner, has shown me on occasion, both due to the unusual appearance of it and the fact that her own skin (on which on she tells me she smears the dark gunge) is remarkably luminous. I finally caved and purchased a jar.

I hope that I don't one day mistake it for molasses or some other sweet and lovely foodstuff.

Although Atef was not in the day I visited, her male counterpart was just as warm and generous as she and insisted that I take home a mixture of lemon verbena and saffron with me to make some tea.

Deep in the recesses of my brain I recalled hearing somewhere that it is not uncommon to add saffron to tea in the middle east and north Africa, but it had seemed a terribly indulgent idea given the high price of saffron when I heard it initially. But this is a different type of saffron than I am used to, with shorter fibers, a lighter flavor and lighter color (and a smaller price tag).

I realized after accepting this generous gift that I had been sold a bunch of the same type of saffron when I was in Istanbul years ago. When I got it home and attempted to use it as one might use normal saffron, I was disappointed. No brilliant color, the taste was too light to detect...I had been ripped off! I tossed the bag in the trash in disgust. Now I realize I was just expecting the wrong thing from my stash. In food, it must be added early, and simmered at some length to release the delicate flavor.

But I had never even thought to try it in tea, a situation I remedied quickly.

I've always loved lemon verbena in tea, especially in combination with Earl Grey tea, but the saffron added a wonderful softness,

perfect for a late afternoon or pre-bedtime tisane. I for one plan to indulge in one as often as possible!


French Fancy said...

I want a day in your life please. We'll have to do a house swap one year. That is if you fancy a house overlooking fields and woods and lots of quaint Breton villages in the area.

Then I'll be able to go to all these lovely places you have talked about. Re the tulips - yours opened so quickly and with such an even shape.

mise said...

What a lovely shopping haul. I tend to cut my tulips down short like that too - it creates a lovely balance. Very sweetly and simply done.

Laura [What I Like] said...

French Fancy - YES! Breton villages absolutely appeal.

mise - They always seem to grow as well, which I suppose is another reason to cut them down?

Terry B, Blue Kitchen said...

Tulips really are wonderful, aren't they? We just got some from Trader Joe's and they indeed gave us hope that spring was on the way. SOS Chefs sounds very cool, Laura. We'll have to stop in next time we're in New York. In fact, I should just consult you to create a shopping list when we come.

Laura [What I Like] said...

Terry - I would LOVE to create a shopping list for you! You'll have no time to do anything but shop for food...

Melly/Melody/or Mel said...

Yes...keep the face stuff away from the food stuff. I put hairspray under my arms the other day...had to separate my Secret from my Paul Mitchell!

My DIL says you have to put unbloomed tulips in the fridge for at least 8 water. Something about tulips.

I am happy I can vicariously shop with you.

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