Now that Fathers Day is over, some of us are willing to talk publicly about gifts we gave.
One of our native New Yorkers bought her father concrete. No, not concrete overshoes. Putting an urban spin on Chambre de Sucre’s theme, she found a concrete sugar cellar by Culinarium. When she told us about it, we wondered, but it proved to be elegant, masculine and sturdy. It was fabulous filled with our Amber Sugar – like industrial equipment piled with stones. It’s a perfect present for the sugar-loving man in your life, or for anyone who’s just moved into a funky walkup or deconstructionist loft.
One lucky dad got a River Mirror by Caryn Moberty. We love these. Owning one of these mirrors is almost like having a river in the house. Each is unique – just like our fathers.
A bread-baking father got a Yukon bread knife. The quirky Yukon knives come in left- and right-handed.The red oak handle was a work of natural art.
Scandinavian design tends to be clean and functional. It’s true of furniture and it’s true of teapots. Menu’s chunky glass teapot comes fitted with a sturdy metal infuser. The infuser’s attached to a bendy silicone handle that almost begs to be twisted. All told, it’s a handsome piece of work – and it makes a proper pot of tea.
We know that some of you are in the very deep south. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, the Summer Solstice is almost here.
The Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year. After this, the days shrink (dark news for Seasonal Affect Disorder sufferers) and the nights get longer (bright news for stargazers).
It’s a tipping point.
That brings us to tea –specifically, tippy tea. Tips are the unopened leaves of the tea plant. Precious and valuable, they come in silver and gold. See how it fits? The silver needles of the moon, the golden needles of the sun . . .
We’re not far off-target.
Silver needle is a white tea made entirely of small, closed leaves. We like it for its delicate taste. Bai Mu Dan is another Chinese tea known to be smooth and pure, with a scent of clean hay and a slightly nutty flavor. It is the base of our new Tea No. 104, Evening Engagement.
For gold, seek out tippy Assam – one of our favorites – or tippy Darjeeling. The bright tight leaves add sunny glints – visual sparks that translate to clarity and freshness in thecup.
Yes, tippy teas tend to be pricier. So do limited-edition prints, elegant apartments, vintage kimono silks, rare wines and fine foods. Whatever true quality costs in cash, it pays as much in pleasure.
At Chambre de Sucre, we believe that honest feelings shine through. A few years ago, in New Orleans, we had the pleasure of meeting Loretta Harrison of Loretta’s Authentic Pralines. Warm and approachable, Loretta is the first African American woman to have her own praline company in NOLA. She’s built a successful business with smiles,strength and sensitivity.
Loretta treats her customers as if they were long-lost kin. One morning, she gave us a slab of praline cake the size of Madison Square Garden. She pulled up a chair, satdown, and watched us take a bite.
We smiled. We may have emitted a happy whimper. Loretta grinned and said, “You can taste the love.”
We hope you can taste the heart and history in our sugars. We know what a difference it makes.
Sebastien Rouxel’s talent with pastry has roots in his love of family. In every branch of Bouchon Bakery, that shines through. Lisa had the pleasure of visiting Bouchon at The Venetian in Las Vegas. While she didn’t try as many pastries in the patisserie as she did teas at the Expo, she did taste a serious – sweet and savory – sampling, and delighted in every bite.
Hungry for more of Rouxel’s work? Kathy reviewed Bouchon’s Rhubarb Olive Oil Shortcake for Serious Sweets in NYC.
In our home kitchens, we made Sandra Avital's Sablés Sachets de Thé. We’d fallen for the engaging tea-vocative shape,and were happy to find that the sables tasted as good as they looked. Perfectfor tea parties, they’d also make a charming handmade gift.
Make extra. Just like summer, they tend to disappear.
Photo by Sandra Avital
We found another fabulous skin-care item for live-hard travelers. Kiehl’s Açaí Damage-Protecting Toning Mist is as good for men as women, Californians as Manhattanites. The ingredients are organic, so you’re doing your body as much good as your skin. The bottle’s too big to tuck in a pocket or purse. We solve that at MUJI and the purchase of a little spray bottle.
Between Fathers Day and other events, we've been doing a lot of celebrating. It’s no secret that the CdS crew loves champagne cocktails. We're always looking for new twists on the classic. Our latest search had a vivid ending. Jessie Cross’ blooming champagne cocktail with wild hibiscus is one of the prettiest cocktails we’ve seen. With a preserved hibiscus blossom in the glass, it’s also one of the most summery.
Make your own simple syrup by using equal parts of our crystalline sugar (amber or rainbow) and water when you need to sweeten cocktails. We used to heat it, but NYC bartender Don Lee taught us to use time and patience. Heat changes thecomposition of the sugar in ways we don’t like. There’s no need to boil (especially in the summer). Let time, water and the occasional round of stirring turn sugar into syrup.
Photo credit: Jessie Cross
It seems that half of our friends are having baby showers and adoption parties. We cap all of our presents with love: mini hearts. If the baby’s gender is known, we give pink or blue hearts; if not, we bring yellow or green. We bring them for the parents, but they never last through the party. The sugar melts, but the love and good wishes last a lifetime.
When we think about it that way, summer never ends.