April 23, 2014

Where to Take a Tea in Chicago, Illinois, USA

One of the best ways to warm up in the very cold and Windy City of Chicago is with a spot of tea. The most beloved tea spots in the city:

Russian Tea Time, Chicago

Russian Tea Time

A seventeen year old Chicago landmark restaurant that never fails to impress locals and international tourists alike. Located in the heart of Chicago’s artistic district, Russian Tea Time reinvented nostalgic cuisine of the former Soviet Union. Its extensive, elaborate and very descriptive menu features excellent vegetarian fare, along with wild game, poultry and specialty meat dishes. A mix of “hearty” and “comfort” Russian, Slavic and Jewish classics is well complemented by upscale dishes of Imperial Russian Courts.

Tea time: 2:30pm-4:30pm daily.

77 E. Adams St.

Chicago, IL 60603

Phone: 312-360-0000

Website: www.russianteatime.com

 

Tea at the Four Seasons, Chicago

The Seasons Lounge at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago

Sit by a fireplace in the elegant Four Seasons overlooking North Michigan Avenue and munch on finger sandwiches, home style cakes, French pastries and preserves with your choice of brewed tea. Book the Astor or Bellevue Room for a private event.

Tea time: 3:00pm-5:00pm daily.

120 E. Delaware Place

Chicago, IL 60611

Website: www.fourseasons.com

 

 

Nada Japanese Tea House, Chicago

Nada Tea House

Nada Tea & Coffee House was named after the Nada district of City of Kobe, Japan, famous for sake-brewing using pure spring water from Mt. Rokko (called Miyamizu, water of shrine). Here you can enjoy exceptional beverages, foods, and service in a sleek and comfortable zen-like setting.

1552 W. Fullerton Ave.

Chicago, IL 60614

(773) 529-2239

Website: www.nadateahouse.com

 

TeaGschwender specialty loose tea

TeaGschwender

The first TeaGschwender shop opened in the late seventies in Trier, Germany. From those humble beginnings, the company has grown to become a global leader in specialty teas and has more than 130 shops in seven countries on four continents. Sharing the world’s finest teas with customers in locations such as Frankfurt, Vienna, Sao Paulo, Riyadh and Chicago, Illinois.

1160 N. State Street

Chicago, IL 60610

Website: www.teagschwendner.com

 

Ten Ren Tea & Ginseng Co. 

Ten Ren, founded in Taiwan in 1953, has been open in Chicago’s Chinatown for nearly 40 years and has shops around the world. Ten Ren Tea Co. Ltd. is dedicated to the fine art of enjoying Chinese tea and the distribution of the finest teas available worldwide. Along with tea, ginseng has been consumed in Asia for thousands of years for its health and medicinal benefits. Considered the “king of the herbs,” ginseng is a popular nutritional supplement.

2247 S. Wentworth Ave.

Chicago, IL 60616

(312) 842-1171

Website: www.tenren.com

 

Entrance to Teavana, Chicago

Teavana

Teavana began with an idea that people would enjoy fresh, high-quality tea in a place that was part Tea Bar, part Tea Emporium. The dream was to introduce people to the aromas, textures, and beneficial qualities of loose leaf teas while enlightening them with the history and variety of teas available.

835 N. Michigan Ave.

Chicago, IL 60611

(312) 335-9802

Website: www.teavana.com

 

Palm Court at the Drake Hotel

The Palm Court at the Drake Hotel

Award-winning Executive Chef Baasim Zafar and team serve homemade scones, delectable pastries and tea sweets prepared in house daily, reflecting locally sourced ingredients to ensure an authentically memorable experience. From the original blend of “Palm Court” tea created specifically for The Drake Hotel to the china and sterling silver service with the enchanting ambiance of the live harpist in the background, afternoon tea is truly a memorable experience for all.

Tea time: 1:00pm-5:00pm daily

140 E. Walton Place

Chicago, IL 60611

Phone: 312-787-2200

Website: www.thedrakehotel.com/dine/palm-court

 

Afternoon tea at the Peninsula Hotel. (Courtesy Peninsula Hotel)

The Lobby, Peninsula Hotel

Here’s another high class, high afternoon tea. Enjoy dining in a room with 20-foot windows overlooking Chicago. You can fancy yourself with peppermint chocolate tarts, scones, gingerbread macaroons, and sandwiches. If you want to go one step fancier, you can have the champagne afternoon tea, which is the traditional afternoon tea, but with a glass of champagne.

Tea time: 3:00pm-5:30pm

108 E. Superior St.

Chicago, IL 60611

Phone: 312-337-2888

Website: www.peninsula.com

 

 

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© 2014, World on a Fork. All rights reserved.

Alder-Smoked Paprika from Port Townsend, Washington State

Butch T Pepper

I was recently asked to review five different smoked and non-smoked paprikas, made in Washington State. Beg pardon? There’s more than one paprika? Smoked and non-smoked? Shouldn’t that have been “made in Hungary”, instead of Washington? And, what’s to review? Just sprinkle some on deviled eggs or baked chicken for a bit of color … right? Blissful ignorance gave me a sly wink as I stood squarely at the intersection of Who Knew? and How Interesting!

My experience with paprika, prior to this project, was two-fold. There is a 4-ounce bottle of the stuff in the spice rack received as a wedding gift when Kennedy was president, and an accent wall in my office is painted in a rich red shade called paprika. That’s about it – not much to go on. Oh – I remember my mother sprinkled it on mashed potatoes once when company was coming. She says she really doesn’t know why – it had no taste, it just looked good.

Peppers for Paprika

A kissin’ cousin to chili powder, paprika is generally 100% ground chile peppers, with nothing added. Chili powder is a blend of ground peppers and other spices, including cumin, oregano, garlic, salt, and sometimes cayenne. To aficionados, the word “paprika” refers to the preservation process of chiles, regardless of what kind of chile it is. When you dry and grind them, the chiles become paprika.  Interesting note about the spelling of chile/chili: when referring to a single pepper, use the e; when referring to a blend of peppers and other spices, or the prepared food you eat with corn chips, use the i.

Paprika has a noble history, dating to the very early 1500′s. Christopher Columbus reputedly brought chiles, native to Mexico, back to Europe, following his discoveries in the New World. Initially, the plants were appreciated for their ornamental beauty at the aristocracy’s residences, but eventually were recognized for their culinary value. The legendary French chef Auguste Escoffier is credited with introducing the spice to western European cuisine. Today, Hungary is the country most associated with paprika, with the epicenters of its celebration being the regions of Szeged and Kalocsa. There is a paprika museum and annual festival in Kalocsa, and in Budapest, one can purchase pálinka, a paprika brandy. It is fitting that a Hungarian scientist, Dr. Szent-Györgyi, working at Szeged University, won a Nobel Prize in 1937 for his work with paprika peppers and Vitamin C research. Paprika peppers have seven times as much Vitamin C as oranges!

Paprika is produced by grinding dried pods of the pepper plant known as Capsicum annuum. The chemical compound called capsaicin is what gives paprikas and chiles their fiery kick. In fact, it is this heat factor that makes over-the-counter capsaicin creams effective in reducing pain and stiffness in joints and sore muscles. The amount of heat provided by various peppers is measured on the Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) Scale. Simply put, this scale rates the amount of heat (capsaicin) present in various peppers. Sweet bell peppers start the scale at zero (no significant heat); jalapeno pepper and Tabasco sauce is rated at 3500 – 8000; Cayenne pepper at 30,000 – 50,000; Habanero chili at 100,000 – 350,000; law enforcement grade pepper spray at 500,000 – 2 million; and pure capsaicin at around 15 million Scoville units. According to Guinness World Records, the world’s hottest pepper is the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T, grown in Australia. It carries a SHU rating 1,463,700. The quest for this red-hot title is heating up, with another (unofficial) pepper reputedly flirting with the two million SHU mark.

Smoking chile peppers after grinding into paprika is sometimes done to enhance natural flavors, aid in the drying process, and to ensure the dried product will store well. Americans’ most familiar smoked paprikas include mesquite smoked Mexican chipotle and oak smoked Spanish paprika.

And, what about that review of Washington State paprika that started my research? In Port Townsend, Washington, Charlie Bodony smokes his artisanal paprika over alder wood, producing a sweeter taste than other woods. Charlie’s company is called Some Like it Hott (SLIH), specializing in small-batch, artisanal paprikas. Five of his varieties are smoked; three are not. How many peppers can Charlie Bodony pick? Seven, more or less, depending on time of year, including green jalapenos, poblanos, a jalapeno/habanero hybrid, red jalapenos, serranos, fatalii, and piment d’Espelete. Hotter paprikas like Charlie’s, packing more heat than an on-duty sheriff, are exactly what many cooks are looking for to zip up their creations. Even the color palette of SLIH paprikas – tan, dusty green, dark reds, rusty browns, and pink, differs from the traditional monochromatic deep red. Visit Charlie’s website at: http://www.aldersmoked.com.

A new day for the often forgotten and misunderstood paprika seems to be dawning. Recipes for short ribs, braised lamb stew, root vegetables, pork, sausage casserole, and lots more, seasoned with smoked and hot paprika are popping up on TV shows and websites, along with increased frequency in newspaper food sections. A few popcorn sites suggest using sweet paprika for a different flavoring. The culinary kick in paprika even made it to Broadway in 1940 in Cole Porter’s lyrics in I’m Throwing a Ball Tonight for the musical Panama Hattie:

I feel like a million dollars.

I feel simply out of sight.

So, come on down, come on down,

I’m throwing a ball tonight.

I’m full of the old paprika –

I’m loaded with dynamite.

So come on down, come on down,

I’m throwing a ball tonight.

For your next dinner party, or ball, some of today’s zippier, more flavorful paprikas might well ignite some high temperature praise for your culinary skills.

 

By Ray Pearson for CityRoom.com and Bliss.com