Tea & Sweets at Tiny Pinecone Teahouse

Remember Matsunosuke, the cute Japanese bakery that served pies and fluffy pancakes? Well, that place has gone and a pop-up teahouse, Tiny Pinecone has taken its place. They'll be there till mid-February.

What you'll find at Tiny Pinecone are tea and sweets so it's a great little spot for a tea break. 

I met up with Georgia and Sara and we snacked on a bunch of different sweets, all made in-house.

These mini Quince and Goat Cheese scones were a highlight for me. No clotted cream needed, they were perfect on their own. SO, SO GOOD.

To drink, I got the homemade chai, which was a touch too sweet, but still tasty. I'll have to go back for their Royal Milk Tea, which is also offered on their beverage menu, which are all teas, no coffee.

The chiffon cocoa cake with hojicha frosting was also quite good, with the tea flavor really coming through without being overpowering.

All the baked goods were very flavorful, delicate, and not too sweet. There wasn't anything I had that I didn't like. I'll have to go back before they're gone from that cute space.

INFO: Tiny Pinecone | 58 West 8th Street | New York, NY 10011 | 347.469.1119

Posted on January 22, 2015 .

HARBS

HARBS (all caps) is a Japanese cafe and bakery that recently opened in Chelsea. Thanks to Kathy, I was able to join her for a tasting.

The bakery is on the corner of 22nd and 9th Ave., and it seems unassuming, but once you enter and go to the right to enter the cafe, you see exactly how big the space actually is. 

Lots of comfortable seating and they never rush you, so it's a great way to spend an afternoon chatting with friends over tea and slices of fluffy cake.

The servers are very friendly and surprisingly everyone speaks Japanese. They were all trained in Japan for two months.

I LOVE (all caps) chestnuts, so it's not surprising I ordered the Houji-cha Marron, a chestnut flavored green tea. Milk tastes great with this tea so give that a try. The teaware is adorable, by the way.

HARBS does cakes. That's all you'll find in the glass cases at the front of the shop. They do a lot of cream cakes, so if you love cream, you'll love HARBS. 

The first cake I had was the Waguri tarte, a red bean and whipped cream cake with chestnuts brought in from Japan. VERY GOOD.

Next, two more cakes! 

The Mille crepe cake, HARBS-style with fresh fruit and cream in each of its six layers. Cakes are made fresh daily, and once they're sold out, they're sold out. You can really see and taste the freshness with each cake, but this one especially.

The white cake slice is their Rare cheesecake, which is a non-baked cheesecake with crushed peanuts on the outside. It's got an interesting tang to it, and isn't very sweet, so it's not like a typical cheesecake you've had in the past. It's one of those things that you keep eating to see if you like it and before you know it, you've eaten the whole thing.

If you're looking for a new place for tea and cake, this is it.

INFO: HARBS | 198 Ninth Ave. (22nd Street) | New York, NY 10011 | 646.336.6888

2014.

A lot of eating and traveling happened in 2014...

I went to Paris and ate lots and lots of food with tons of butter. See what I ate for breakfast (including the best croissant EVER!), and a couple of very memorable meals at Mariage Freres and L'Arpege. I spent seven days in Paris, and this is where I stayed. A tea experience is always a must, and that included one at NINA'S Paris. I can't travel without having afternoon tea, and I had two during my visit. One at the Mandarin Oriental, and the other at the Shangri-La Paris.

Unfortunately, on this trip, for the first time ever, we got pickpocketed on the way to Musée d'Orsay. But there's nothing a macaron or a baguette can't cure.

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From Paris, I went over to Florence, Italy where many, many gelatos were had on a daily basis. See 10 things to do in Florence and the fantastic afternoon tea I had at the Four Season Firenze. Take a look at the apartment that was rented here, the many uphill climbs I endured at the Boboli Gardens, and the day trip I took to Siena!

A quick weekend trip to Jacksonville, Florida to see a friend. We went back to the museum where she got married (one of the most gorgeous setting for a wedding), and of course, afternoon tea at the Cozy Tea.

In the fall, I headed out to San Francisco with my friend Michele. Priorities, so see everything I ate in San Francisco. I loved the tea experience I had at Song Tea & Ceramics and wished there was one just like it in New York! I did A LOT of riding in cable cars and rode one to get to the afternoon tea at The Fairmont San Francisco.

A month ago, I went to Seoul, South Korea! No Michelin starred restaurants are in Korea, but the thing to eat is STREET FOOD. See all the street food I ate, including that super tall soft serve ice cream. I loved the Korean traditional tea and snacks I had at Dawon, the food court at Shinsegae, and the six shaved ices I ate. Afternoon teas were had at The Shiilla Seoul and the Park Hyatt Seoul.

I'm hoping for more travel in 2015!

I started posting my Michelin starred lunches this year and went to my go-to Gramercy Tavern for their Soup and Sandwich special many times throughout the year.

I had an exceptional lunch at Eleven Madison Park where the service was beyond amazing. The photo above was one of the courses served, a carrot that you can add ingredients from the tray to your liking.

My favorite sushi place is 15 East, where I had a very tasty sushi omakase lunch. A tasting menu lunch at Jean-Georges was also excellent. And last but not least, a seafood tasting menu at Marea, which blew me away.

When not having 3 hour long lunches, I have 3 hour afternoon teas. Here are all the ones I went to in New York City this year.

I went to:
- Bosie Tea Parlor
- Crosby Street Hotel
- New Museum
- The Peninsula Hotel
- The Pierre
- Bergdorf Goodman
- St. Regis
- Press Tea

When not busy eating, I was creating recipes with my friend Queenie. She and I worked together to make everything that involve an oven. I create the recipes that only involve a toaster oven. 

Posted on December 29, 2014 .

Mini Matcha (Green Tea) Golden Toast

Golden toast is a giant piece of fluffy toast covered in butter and honey. Also called Honey Toast or Brick Toast, here is one I had recently at Cha-An.

I've been wanting to recreate a version of golden toast, which basically means to make it miniature and with matcha, and here it is, completely delicious and completely adorable.

Here's what you need:

1 two-inch slice Danish Bread (Super soft bread usually sold in Asian bakeries. Get the loaf unsliced so you can cut it yourself. I got my loaf from Panya Bakery.)
4 tablespoons of melted butter
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon matcha + more for dusting (Use culinary or cooking grade matcha.)
2 small scoops of matcha ice cream

Cut the crust off the 2 inch slice bread and then cut into four cubes. Next, cut the top of each cube vertically and horizontally halfway down.

In a bowl, combine melted butter, honey, and sifted matcha. (Sifting will prevent clumps from forming.) Brush all sides (but not the bottom) and inside cuts with the matcha mixture. 

Toast the bread until golden brown. Top with a small scoop (or a quenelle) of matcha ice cream and dust with matcha. Done!

MINI MATCHA (GREEN TEA) GOLDEN TOAST

INGREDIENTS
1 two-inch slice Danish Bread (Super soft bread usually sold in Asian bakeries. Get the loaf unsliced so you can cut it yourself. I got my loaf from Panya Bakery.)
4 tablespoons of melted butter
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon matcha + more for dusting (Use culinary or cooking grade matcha.)
2 small scoops of matcha ice cream

DIRECTIONS
Cut the crust off the
 2 inch slice bread and then cut into four cubes. Next, cut the top of each cube vertically and horizontally halfway down.

In a bowl, combine melted butter, honey, and sifted matcha. (Sifting will prevent clumps from forming.) Brush all sides (but the bottom) and inside cuts with the matcha mixture. 

Toast the bread until golden brown. Top with a small scoop (or a quenelle) of matcha ice cream and dust with matcha. Done!

Posted on December 23, 2014 .

Afternoon Tea Review // Park Hyatt Seoul

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Perched on the 24th floor with floor to ceiling windows, Park Hyatt Seoul's afternoon tea comes with great views of Gangnam. With this afternoon tea, I had a chance to meet with Executive Chef Massimiliano Ziano, who oversees the entire culinary team. He described everything on the three-tiered tray once it arrived and saw his Italian influence with sweets like the bombolini, an Italian doughnut and the mini panini sandwich.

SETTING: ★★★★☆
The space reads more business lounge than a lush setting for afternoon tea, but the seats were comfortable and the view was nice. 

SERVICE: ★★★★☆
Service was mostly excellent, but faltered slightly towards the end when I request hot water and then later, an extra savory. The hot water took about 20 minutes to arrive and the savory took so long that we left before we got it. As it was at The Shilla Seoul, we got hand towels before we ate, which I loved, since it adds a touch of a little luxury.

The afternoon tea here looks picture perfect. 

TEA & TEA SELECTION: ★★★★★
Depending on the tea you order, you'll get different teaware. I ordered a Korean tea, a persimmon leaf tea, and it arrived in a pretty glass teapot with a matching double-glass cup on a wooden tray. My friend Claire ordered a black tea, and it came in a classic stainless steel teapot and matching ceramic cup on an oval silver tray. These little details create a very luxurious experience.

SAVORIES: ★★★★★
Every bite was delicious!
Thoughtfully created and freshly made, the savories were perfect in size and were quite delectable.

SCONES
One scone paired with half of a sweet roasted fig per person on the scones tray, which was just the right amount and they complemented each other perfectly. Clotted cream and preserves were on the table in matching small bowls for the scones.

SWEETS: 
A nice variety always gets high points in my book and the Park Hyatt Seoul, with a mix of sweets from a opera cake to bombolini, all in mini sizes, gets five stars. 

OVERALL: 
The food here is on point and perfect in portion and serving size. We left very happy and full.

INFO: Park Hyatt Seoul | 606 Teheran-ro, Gangnam-gu | Seoul, South Korea, 135-552 | +82-2-2016-1234
AFTERNOON TEA HOURS: Daily, 2:30PM - 5:30PM
COST:
 ₩38,000

//Afternoon tea courtesy of Park Hyatt Seoul. All content and opinions expressed here are my own.//