Tal-y-Tara Tea and Polo Shoppe

“Tea! Bless ordinary everyday afternoon tea!” ― Agatha Christie

In the Richmond District of San Francisco, you will find Tal-y-Tara Tea and Polo Shoppe, a quaint neighborhood establishment featuring their delicious “Motorloaf.”  The tea shoppe also doubles as a polo shoppe, so you will see riding apparel, tack and horse equipment, along with tea cozies and tea pots.  My mother-in-law purchased a Groupon for Tal-y-Tara, and treated my sister-in-law and I to a lovely late morning tea time.PhotoGrid_1453607420160

The Groupon was good for the Queen’s Tea service for two and included the following,

  • Pot of tea for two (We added a 2nd pot of tea.)
  • Scottish shortbread cookies
  • Classic motorloaf sandwiches
  • Choice of two homemade scones with Devonshire cream and jam
  • Two salads (We chose the Wedge Salad with bleu cheese and peppered bacon  and the Seasonal Fruit Medley with honey glaze.)
  • English trifle

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We had the first reservation of the day, at 11am.  Expect to wait a little bit for the food to come out, especially the sandwiches.  We could see the owner and his employee busily making each course, so we knew that everything coming to our table was freshly prepared.  Since there were three of us and the tea service was for two people, we just split everything into thirds.  There was definitely enough food!

The main course was the Motorloaf, a semi-sweet dark bread containing raisins and walnuts.  Read about the story of the Motorloaf here.   Tea sandwiches made from this loaf included Cream Cheese and Cucumber, Egg Salad with Capers, Cheese and Chutney, Smoked Turkey with Watercress, Black Forest Ham with Mustard, and Lox with Cream Cheese and Capers.

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The “Motorloaf”

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The sandwiches were really good!  The sweet bread and fillings complimented each other very nicely. My favorite was the Lox with Cream Cheese and Capers sandwich.

I had to leave before the English Trifle came out, so unfortunately I don’t have a picture of it.  Be sure to make reservations and allow enough time to stay, because you can easily spend 2+ hours there.  Free street parking is also available.  If there is a LivingSocial voucher or Groupon available, you will save a significant amount on this tea service.  I believe our discount with the Groupon was 50% off.  =)

Let me know if you have a favorite spot for afternoon tea.  I am always looking to try new places.

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Dating Anniversary: 17 Years

How many married couples out there still celebrate their dating anniversary?  We do. It’s a good reminder of how many years Jason and I have been together and another good reason to grab some delicious food!  We officially became a couple on November 7, 1996…that was 17 years ago!

To celebrate our dating anniversary, we had lunch at one of my favorite restaurants, 900 Grayson in Berkeley.  On our way to Berkeley, we dropped Rebekah off at my parents’ place and since it was a Thursday, Micah was already in school.  =)

The first time we dined here, we came for brunch and both got the “Demon Lover,” (Spicy Buttermilk Fried Fulton Valley Chicken Paillard and Buttermilk Waffle & Old-Fashioned Cream Gravy or Vermont Maple Syrup).  I’m not a big fan of the name but definitely a big fan of their fried chicken.  Read my post about our FoodieMoon, where I talk about our first time at 900 Grayson.

This time for lunch, Jason ordered the Grayson Burger and I got the TV Dinner.  We also shared a side of the Fried Chicken Paillard and the Stone Soup.  I’ve had their TV Dinner before (also came here with a girlfriend) and both times the entrees were delicious!  I’ll be ordering this again and again, for sure.

Stone Soup (aka soup of the day). I can’t remember what this was, but it was really good.IMG_7065

Grayson Burger – Creekstone Natural Beef, Nueske’s Double Smoked Bacon, N.Y. White Cheddar, Crispy Shoestring Onions, House-Made BBQ Sauce & Herb French Fries. Where are the veggies?  IMG_7068

TV Dinner – salmon (either meat, fish, or fowl), starch, veggie (mashed potatoes & chard).  Changes daily.  Everything was flavorful and the salmon was very moist.IMG_7067

A side of Fried ChickenIMG_7069

House-made Hot SauceIMG_7071

As always, we enjoyed our time together…eating, having a conversation without being interrupted, sitting in silence while savoring each scrumptious bite, and holding each others’ hands walking down the street.  We even managed a short trip to IKEA before picking Rebekah up.  =)

Happy 17 Years!IMG_7066

School Lunches

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Here is our school’s hot lunch menu for November.  I usually decide when Micah will bring his lunch to school and when he will buy a hot lunch.  For this month, I asked Micah to read the menu and decide for himself when he wanted to buy lunch. He circled his favorite foods, as you can see in the picture.  It looks like I will only have to pack one lunch the week of November 11th.  😉

Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist

_225_350_Book.855.coverBread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes

By Shauna Niequist                                 Published by Zondervan

Book Description – As a follow up to her two bestselling books, Bittersweet and Cold Tangerines, author and blogger Shauna Niequist returns with the perfect read for those who love food and value the community and connection of family and friends around the table.

Bread and Wine is a collection of essays about family relationships, friendships, and the meals that bring us together. This mix of Anne Lamott and Barefoot Contessa is a funny, honest, and vulnerable spiritual memoir. Bread and Wine is a celebration of food shared, reminding readers of the joy found in a life around the table. It’s about the ways God teaches and nourishes people as they nourish the people around them. It’s about hunger, both physical and otherwise, and the connections between the two.

With wonderful recipes included, from Bacon-Wrapped Dates to Mango Chicken Curry to Blueberry Crisp, readers will be able to recreate the comforting and satisfying meals that come to life in Bread and Wine.

About the Author – Shauna grew up in Barrington, Illinois, and then studied English and French Literature at Westmont College in Santa Barbara. She is married to Aaron Niequist, who is a pianist and songwriter. Aaron is a worship leader at Willow Creek Community Church and is recording a project called A New Liturgy. Aaron & Shauna live outside Chicago with their sons, Henry and Mac. Shauna writes about the beautiful and broken moments of everyday life–friendship, family, faith, food, marriage, love, babies, books, celebration, heartache, and all the other things that shape us, delight us, and reveal to us the heart of God. You can find out more about Shauna and read her blog at http://www.shaunaniequist.com.

My Review – I had heard good things about Bread & Wine from a friend and was excited to read the book myself.  After hearing Shauna Neiquist speak at a Mothers of Preschoolers Convention in August 2012, I came to the conclusion that she was one of my favorite speakers there.  I was drawn to her warm personality and humorous stories.  She was honest, transparent, witty, relatable.  I felt much the same way as I was reading Bread & Wine, being drawn to Shauna’s warm, honest, transparent, witty, relatable and humorous stories about her life around the table.

I liked that Shauna included recipes in her book.  After reading the first chapter about her mom’s blueberry crisp, I went out to buy the ingredients, made it and enjoyed eating it. I’m not much of a cook but in the chapter “start where you are,” I felt encouraged that I could be good at it one day.  Shauna said it so beautifully when she wrote,

“If you put in the time, the learning, the trying, the mess, and the failure, at the end you will have learned to feed yourself and the people you love, and that’s a skill for life – like tennis or piano but yummier and far less expensive.

I’m not talking about cooking as a performance, or entertaining as a complicated choreography of competition and showing off. I’m talking about feeding someone with honestly and intimacy and love, about making your home a place where people are fiercely protected, even if just for a few hours, from the crush and cruelty of the day.”

Whew!  That takes the pressure off, doesn’t it?  It’s not just about the food but about the relationships that are formed and nourished.  I hope to make my home like that one day, a place where people feel safe and loved and encouraged.  I also want people to see glimpses of God and his love for them when we gather and share our lives together.

Shauna is a great story-teller and I loved reading Bread & Wine.  I learned that life is often times messy and unpredictable, yet it can be even more incredibly beautiful and memorable.  Now it’s my turn to invite people to come and share life around my table.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from BookSneeze in exchange for an honest review.

Papa Murphy’s Mini Murph Pizza Night

The kids got a lot of great prizes from participating in the library summer reading programs this year.  One of the prizes, from the San Leandro Library, was vouchers for free Mini Murph Make ‘N’ Bake Pizza Kits from Papa Murphy’s.  We also got the same vouchers from the San Lorenzo/Alameda County Summer Reading Program.  Each kit comes with mini dough, pizza sauce, whole milk mozzarella and your choice of pepperoni or cheese topping.  We always choose the kit with Pepperoni.  =)  I think the kits normally cost around $5.

The kids always have fun making their own pizzas, so we went to Papa Murphy’s in San Leandro to redeem our vouchers.  Two kids = two kits + throw in some home grown purple beans = dinner for a family of four!

Micah and Bekah with their pizza boxesIMG_0828

Spreading the sauce around.  Each kit also comes with a Mini Murph tattoo.  Bekah has one on her left arm.IMG_0830

Next up!  Cheese!IMG_0831

All finished with their pizzas.IMG_0832

I added mushrooms to Bekah’s pizza, because I love mushrooms and we had them in the fridge already.  I also love that you can bake the pizzas on their bake n serve trays.  It makes things simple and easy to clean up!  I forgot to take a picture of the pizzas after they came out of the oven.  They were really good and we had enough left over for Micah’s school lunch the next day.

We might have to make this a monthly activity for the family.  =)

Off The Grid – Hayward

When Off The Grid began a few years ago, I was excited and disappointed at the same time.  Excited because there was a central location where street food vendors could park their food trucks, and patrons could have an appetizer at one truck, their main meal from another truck and order dessert from the next truck over.  Disappointed because Off The Grid was in San Francisco and I live in the East Bay.

Now, Off The Grid operates 21 weekly markets in the Bay Area and the city of Hayward is one of them.  We live next to Hayward so I was pretty excited to learn that OTG was so close. You can find the food trucks on Monday nights, from 5pm-9pm, on the corner of Mission & D Streets.  There is also free parking available in the parking garage across the street.  Most of the vendors are different each week.  You can find the vendor schedule on the OTG Facebook page.

One Monday evening, I convinced Jason that we could quickly drive to Hayward, order the food, and then drive home to eat our dinner.  Since it was close to 5pm, I knew that the lines would be short…and I was right!  The trip was quick but much was accomplished during our short time there.

It says “San Francisco,” but we were in Hayward.  =P
IMG_5280I don’t remember how many trucks were there, but it could be as many as 10 trucks on a given night.IMG_5282IMG_5281

I looked at the vendor list before we headed over and knew that I was interested in at least 5 different street food vendors.

This is the Tender Pork Belly (with Turmeric Pickled Daikon & Green Shiso) Bao from       The Chairman Truck.IMG_5288

Sashimi Sushi Burrito from We SushiIMG_5291Kamikaze Fries from KoJa Kitchen                                                                             (Crisscut Fries topped with Korean BBQ Beef, sautéed onions, kimchi, green onions and drizzled with our red sauce and Japanese mayo)IMG_5287

Lemon Ricotta Doughnuts and Lavender Lemonade from Go Streatery and a Double Chocolate Creme Brulee from The Creme Brulee CartIMG_5284

We enjoyed everything, but I especially loved the Tendor Pork Belly Bao, the Lemon Ricotta Doughnuts, and the Double Chocolate Creme Brulee.  Omg!…the double chocolate creme brulee was so delicious!

As we were leaving, the crowds and lines were definitely getting larger.  Since we had the kids with us and it was getting close to their bedtimes, I was glad that we brought the food home to eat.

Would I go again?  Yes!  It would be a fun Girls Night Out and Couples Night Out!

Do you have a favorite street food/food truck vendor?

Old Oakland Farmers’ Market

During our visit to MOCHA, Bekah and I got the chance to walk around the Old Oakland Farmers’ Market that was happening at the same time.  I love Farmers’ Markets and was excited to see what kind of vendors & booths were there.  IMG_5583

This one caught my eye.  I want to try the Seoul Dog the next time we’re there.IMG_5584IMG_5585I picked up a loaf of our favorite olive bread at Phoenix Pasta.  Their shop is located in Berkeley, but they have a booth at a number of farmers’ markets in the Bay Area.  (Phoenix Pasta was one of the stops on our FoodieMoon.)IMG_5588

The Hummus Guy has a good assortment of hummus, pita chips, and olives.  I picked up a bag of their lemmon pita chips (so yummy!), the Roasted Garlic & Chives Hummus, Cilantro & Jalepeno Hummus, Pitted Kalamata Olives and Spicy Green Olives.IMG_5587

For lunch, I ordered a chicken sandwich from the Roli Roti Gourmet Rotisserie truck.  The chicken was moist and very flavorful.  As a side, I got their Rosemary Roasted Potatoes sprinkled with sea salt, which was also very good and full of flavor.  IMG_5589IMG_5616Definitely looking forward to visting this farmers’ market again.  They have it on Fridays, from 8am-2pm, Ninth Street (between Broadway & Clay).

Some of my favorite Farmers’ Markets: Kapiolani Community College in Hawaii, Hillcrest Farmers’ Market in San Diego and our local San Leandro Farmers’ Market at Bayfair Center.

Do you have a favorite farmers’ market?  Please share!