Stay for Tea

Category: about town

When bread pudding calls, you answer

Yesterday afternoon I took my mom to tea and food at a recently opened flower shop & tea room. We shared some sandwiches, lentil soup, cookies and jam, over hot cups of tea. The portions were huge and the tea selection is small but covers all the bases. I had a strong black tea with cardamom, mom had a borage flower and lavender brew. It was pouring rain by the time we got out and our plans to go to see a movie changed when my mom realized she forgot her glasses at home. So we decided it’s a sign that we should part ways and go home and be dry and warm.

On the way home I got the urge to make a bread pudding (omg, I totally just wrote brain pudding), partly inspired by a friend misreading another friend’s tweet (she said “afternoon pubbing,” but somehow it became “afternoon pudding”). So I gave in to the urge and made this when I got home.

Bread pudding is one of those desserts that has the most rewarding ease:tastiness ratio. It’s also dangerous. I could eat the entire pan in one sitting. This blog post has a recipe for a NOLA bread pudding with a cognac sauce served as the basis, but I also made some substitutions.


  • 4 cups cubed bread (I used soft buns, which ended up being a little too soft, so go for something with more texture like a French bread, a brioche or challah)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 tbsp butter + a little more to grease the pan
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots (soaked in warm water for about 10 minutes) chopped in thin slices
  • 2 eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp vanilla cognac (I used Meukow, if you don’t have vanilla cognac, use plain cognac or cooking brandy, just increase the dose of vanilla extract then)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Scald the milk lightly (no film!), melt the butter in the milk, then stir in sugar until well mixed. Let cool slightly and pour the mixture over the cubed bread and the apricots (make sure to squeeze out the excess water from the apricots after soaking/before adding to the bread). Let the mixture sit for about 10-15 minutes. Beat the 2 eggs, then stir in the salt, nutmeg, vanilla extract and the cognac. Mix well and then fold into the soaked bread and apricot mixture. Pour the mix into a well greased baking dish (I used a square 2L baking pan). Bake 35-45 minutes until the top is golden brown and a toothpick or knife inserted into the bread pudding comes out mostly clean. I didn’t make a sauce to go with it because for me that’d just be too decadent, but the blog I linked has a great recipe for a cognac sweet sauce that would pair well with the pudding.

A new place for tea: Tal-y-Tara

On Friday afternoon, I got a bee in my bonnet about going for tea to a little shop that is always closed on Sundays. Located in the Outer Richmond, Tal-y-Tara Tea and Polo Shop serves up exactly what the name implies – good, cozy, filling tea and all sorts of polo and horseback riding supplies and accouterments.

We got there an hour before closing. The atmosphere is cozy, hushed, but not uncomfortably so. Besides one other family having their pre-suppertime tea, the other occupants of the tea room were the owner and his friends/family. We ordered a pot of Yorkshire Gold and a pot of China Rose Petal tea, both from Taylors of Harrogate. J. and I shared a motorloaf plate with fruit and cheese. The motorloaf was warm and rich, served with a sharp cheddar, clotted cream, chutney, and slices of fruit. The tea menu had a large assortment of black, green and herbal teas, as well as a couple of white tea blends. We sat underneath an ornately carved wood mantle and sipped our tea for a good half hour.

Poking around the shop, we found a few neat things that would please even those whose only exposure to a horse was Black Beauty. Laid out in the shop were fantastic train cases by Two Five, Yardley’s lotions and soaps, and a large assortment of soft, thick wool sweaters with leather elbow patches. Granted, the cost of the sweaters and most other clothing items was a bit prohibitive for us, but the friendly owner informed us of a variety of discounts he has all over the store, so this might be a good place for me to come back next week and see about presents for some people.

The tea mellowed us out sufficiently before dinner at Mandalay, a Burmese restaurant, where the wait was long and a man sitting at a table next to us had pushed his chair so far out that every waitress had to slide her butt along our table just to make it through. We chose to be entertained, instead of annoyed. (Dinner was good, although I forgot to take any photos of our black pepper soup and mango pudding).

Tal-y-Tara Tea & Polo Shop
6439 California Street
San Francisco, CA 94121
Phone: 415-751-9275

Michael Pollan & Slow Food Alameda

I’ve simply not had a moment to write about a benefit J. and I attended a few weeks ago. The fundraiser supporting the Alameda Free Library was generously hosted by several local restaurants and members of Slow Food Alameda (places like Kroll’s Pizza, Acquacotta and C’era Una Volta.) A delicious fest of organic veggies, roasted pizzas, tasty snacks and local wine was spread out over several tables outside the Auctions by the Bay building located at the Alameda Navy base. The day was extremely windy and cold, but the free food and wine certainly warmed us up a bit. (I should mention that we were able to attend the event due to the two tickets generously given to us by J.’s boss at the library). Read the rest of this entry »