Sugimoto America: Gyokuro 玉露



Gyokuro is green tea that was cultivated in the shade and is considered one of the finest green teas in Japan. It has a unique sweetness since the shade allows the tea to retain a high Theanine content. Only the first flush tea leaves are used for Gyokuro.

Available through: Sugimoto America | Facebook

Tasting Notes

This is a very typical green tea. Smelling it is very buttery and then a hint of grassiness. The butteriness is missing almost completely from the tea when drinking and is instead replaced with a slight bitterness at the end.

The leaves are a very pretty blue-green color and are smaller than most other leaves, brewing up like spinach. The packaging suggested 140 degrees for steeping but I think this would have done better at either a lower temperature or lower steeping time since it did have a tad of bitterness.

Flavors: Butter, Grass, Spinach
Preparation: 2 minutes, 15 seconds @ 140 °F

About sa

Sugimoto America is a complete supplier of Japanese green tea and a subsidiary of Sugimoto Seicha, a Japanese green tea company founded in 1946. They have been awarded both the Green Tea Connoisseur Award as well as the prestigious Prime Minister Award for its superior quality of tea leaves.

Tea quality is determined by tea farmers. Our Tea Maestro has selected 11 artisan farmers in his local area of Shizuoka prefecture. He and his farmers work toward the same goal — to produce the highest quality green tea possible using the traditional Japanese steam processing method (Fukamushi), and without using large machines to harvest from their farms located on mountain slopes.

Product provided for review.  All notes & opinions are my own.

Spinach Pizza Dough


We make pizza a lot, so I was excited when I was paired up The Spiffy Cookie for this month’s Secret Recipe Club. Erin, a constant cooker and baker has 39 pizza recipes. 39!! I thought we loved pizza, but she puts us to shame. I had trouble choosing between her recipes, especially since, like me, her favorite food group is dessert! But the pizza kept calling my name and I just had to make her Spinach Pizza Dough.

This pizza dough came together quite easily but I didn’t make it right away. Since I made it a day in advance, I put it in the fridge to proof overnight. Since we like our pizza considerably thinner than how Erin prepared hers, this dough actually makes 3 pretty large pizzas.

We topped the pizza with some of our favorite toppings: red onions, chianti salami, pesto, sambal, garlic, and some peppercorn cheese. We even used the remaining spinach top top it off. That means this pizza has an entire six ounce bag of spinach in it!

If you’re hungry for pizza now, you can check out Erin’s pizza category, including Pizza Quesadilla (which I make all the time now!), Stromboli, and Christmas Wreath Pizza Ring.

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Roasted Merino Lamb Rack with Potatoes

Lamb is one of my favorite foods to eat, but it’s intimidating for me to even think about cooking at home. I’ve heard people complain that it smells and heard horror stories of too rare or burnt messes.

That’s why I was glad to receive some lamb in the mail from Marx Foods to pair with a tried-and-true simple recipe from someone I know.  I went all in and tried the scariest seeming cut: frenched racks.

This recipe, from one of my favorite chefs José Andrés, comes from his cookbook Made in Spain: Spanish Dishes for the American Kitchen which is paired with his PBS television show. It only has a handful of ingredients and is very straight forward so that the lamb itself can shine. Finishing with pyramid salt added a nice crunch, especially when paired with a smear of pesto.

The lamb itself was seared to a juicy, caramelized crunch and cooked to an internal temperature of 130°F. The meat, after resting a few minutes, was silky, moist, and lean. There was no off-putting smell prior, during, or after cooking — in fact, it tasted fresher than I ever knew meat could smell.

For those that haven’t tasted much lamb before, it tastes similar to beef, but lighter, cleaner, and less fatty, almost like venison. As the meat cools you can actually taste the flavor of the lamb more.

About  the  Lamb

Now, this lamb is not the same as average supermarket lamb. Alpine Origin Merino roams free on mountain pastures in New Zealand, grazing on grasses & alpine herbs. Because of this, the meat has a lighter, less gamy flavor and is more evenly marbled.

Product provided for review.  All notes & opinions are my own.

Thank you Marx Foods for the opportunity to taste this amazing lamb and to try my hand at making it myself! Stay tuned for a recipe involving Lamb Loin Fillets.

NYE Cocktail Tasting Menu


As we get older, we find ourselves more reluctant to go out on holidays. New Year’s, Valentine’s… we’d just rather stay home. This past New Year’s Eve we spoiled ourselves with some Bon Chon Korean Fried Chicken while watching the original Home Alone. With frequent pausing to whip up these drinks of course!

The collage above is hot-linked to the respective cocktail recipes. Or, you can see the full tasting menu, with individual photos below.

We ended the night with a bottle of sparkling wine and watching the ball drop on CNN with Anderson Cooper and the always awkward Kathy Griffin.

10888881_10101861327571436_7797182702232115997_nAnd of course, a traditional selfie with our awesome cat, Leopold. It is a tad ironic that I’m a bit late in posting this — so late that it’s actually the Lunar New Year’s Eve!

Absinthe Suissesse Spiked Nog Gin-Gin-Gin Mule Ume Sour Bananary Buzz Apricot Winter Monk's Hot Chocolate

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Single Origin Teas: Ginseng Oolong



Ginseng Oolong, or Lan Gui Ren or just Ren Shen, is a very popular tea in China. This oolong grown in the Hainan province is covered in a fine powder of ginseng and liquorice. These small olive-green pearls release the flavors of the ginseng and the tea at the same time. We are quite fond of this tea, especially when we need to be at our best mentally. This sweet brew does not need any sugar, and can be infused multiple times, though we think the first couple are the best!

Available through: Single Origin Teas (Limited Edition).

Tasting Notes

I love oolongs and this is no exception. The dry tea is more like pellets than leaves and look to be coated in some kind of dust. The brewed tea doesn’t have a strong smell, but when sipping has great flavor. It opens with the taste of juicy plums and hibiscus, then blends into the earthiness and warmth of ginseng. It is very well balanced and naturally sweet. The cup is smooth with no astringency.

At first I tried 1 teaspoon of tea to a cup, but then I upped it to 2 teaspoons with multiple re-steeps. This tea holds up well to re-steeping.

Flavors: Earth, Fruit Tree Flowers, Ginger, Plums

Product provided for review.  All notes & opinions are my own.