Jul 21st, 2009 by Marilyn
Tea & Cookies is a food blog, but I suspect that Tara Austen Weaver – better known as Tea, a beloved nickname – finds the term confining. So she rightfully expands the definition of her Seattle-based blog: “a collection of essays, photos, recipes, and other adventures.” Tea is a born storyteller, with a gifted eye for cooking, traveling, and “the intersection of food and life.” Her writing explores the senses, and how food connects everything, how it “feeds us in ways that extend far beyond the belly.” Her Stalking Wonder posts make me smile, sob, nod in agreement. As a reader I’m thrilled that her first book, The Butcher & The Vegetarian: One Woman’s Romp Through a World of Men, Meat, and Moral Crisis, (Rodale) arrives in February, 2010. Because the more words from Tea, the better.
How often do you think about eating?
I love good food and think about it a lot, but not always. People are surprised to find I often don’t eat anything until 2 or 3 in the afternoon. I get lost in my work and it isn’t until my stomach starts to seriously growl that I remember. Other days I think about food combinations all day long. I can’t walk through a farmers’ market without getting inspired.
I disappoint people when I say this—especially as Seattle is now my home base—but I don’t drink coffee. Tea only. Coffee makes me bounce off walls. I once had an espresso and was awake for three days. I make exceptions, however, for coffee ice cream.
Favorite hometown food?
In San Francisco, where I’m from, I love the tea leaf salad at Burma Superstar (best name for a restaurant ever), a good Mission burrito, daikon cakes at Slanted Door, seafood tostada from the Primavera stall at the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market, and coffee-toffee ice cream from Bi-Rite Creamery.
In Seattle, where I spend most of my time now, I like the lasagna at Café Lago (ethereal and light, if you can imagine that), Ethiopian food, pizza at Delancey, chilaquiles at Senor Moose, and salted licorice ice cream from Molly Moon’s.
Ever been served breakfast in bed?
I used to date a mountain climber who brought me tea and hot bowls of cereal while I snuggled in my sleeping bag with a view of snowcapped peaks. That was pretty great.
Food that makes you gag?
Liver. There is nothing that can be done to redeem liver in my eyes.
Worst kitchen disaster:
I had a fondue party once where I nearly burnt the house down. Does that count?
Leftovers in your refrigerator?
At this moment: carrot salad from a picnic with friends, the tiniest bit of sorrel tart (my favorite recipe so far this year), and a good sized bowl of raspberry curd that I am trying to keep my mitts off. It’s hard because the stuff is addictive.
Your idea of a romantic meal:
I run the gamut: I love restaurants, but I also love a nice sunset picnic. One of my most romantic meals involved takeout and a car parked along the Pacific Ocean. It really depends who you’re sharing it with. With the right person, a PB&J could seem sublime.
Secret snack of shame?
Kraft Mac & Cheese, with the fluorescent orange “cheese” packet. I’m also a sucker for Jelly Belly jelly beans, but I’m not ashamed of that. I try to find the packet with the largest number of black beans, which are my favorite. I also have a fondness for sour gummy things, licorice chalk, and onion rings. I also eat an indecent amount of pickles. I’m not ashamed of that either.
Best restaurant if you’re not paying:
If I’m not paying I’d like to go somewhere I haven’t been. Blue Hill at Stone Barns, perhaps? I’d also like to fly to Italy and track down the tiny place near Mercatale in Chianti where I had the best pasta of my life—a mushroom ravioli that I will remember forever.
If you were a cocktail, what would you be?
A Greyhound—sweet and tart—or anything with ginger beer in it.
Favorite pizza place?
That’s hard. In Seattle I’m loving the Brooklyn-style pizzas that Brandon Pettit and Molly Wizenberg (Orangette) are making at Delancey. I also love the pizza at the Cheese Board and Arizmendi Bakeries in the Bay Area. They make only one pizza combo a day, with a chewy sourdough curst and toppings like roasted garlic, spinach, goat cheese. Very California, very good.
Extra credit: a great recipe with five or less ingredients
I recently learned you can make lemonade by putting a whole lemon (cut in quarters, all seeds removed) in a blender with water and sugar to taste. Blend it up, peel and all. I made a version with added spearmint, which was lovely. The leftovers made great popsicles.