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Sunday, July 31, 2005

Tomato salad, green tea leafs, Matcha vinaigrette


My participation in Is My Blog Burning! has been lagging of late, due to excessive traveling and other going-ons in my life. But you're not interested in that stuff today, are you? You're interested in seeing whether I could pull a comeback kid move worthy of Clement's fun theme: Taste Tea. Well, shall we see?

I'm a veritable tea snob. In fact, my love of tea crossed the line to an obsession long, long ago. At home I have a cupboard dedicated to tea and tea accoutrement. I probably have at least 20 different teas at any given time in that cabinet, not to mention an arsenal of teapots, each one designated to a particular type of tea. There are a couple of Yixing pots for Chinese oolong, a Japanese iron pot for green tea, a delicate porcelain pot for Yin Zhen white tea, a Chatstford pot for delicate First Flush Darjeeling, and so on. You see? I wasn't kidding about that obsession bit, was I?

Well, but none of that is going to help me today, because the aforementioned cupboard is in foggy San Francisco, while yours truly is down here in sunny Santa Cruz. Oh dear, what is a girl to do?

Luckily, I do keep a few kinds of tea here as well. A quick look around revealed a Thai green tea, Cha Kio, which -strangely enough- was bought not in Thailand but in Paris, at my favorite shop Mariage Frères in the Marais. At Mariage Frères they use Cha Kio leafs in salads, so, to a rapturous cheer of copycats everywhere, I decided to do a salad too.

But a salad of what? In a move worthy of the entire month of the August Eat Local Challenge spearheaded by Locavores and Jen, I drove over to Dirty Girl farm to see what my friend Joe got for me. I usually buy Joe's stuff at the Ferry Plaza farmers market up in the city, but when I am in Santa Cruz Joe's farm is but a mile away, how lucky am I? Joe had some beautiful cherry tomatoes - ok they weren't really his but they were local just the same - so that was that. Sweet cherry tomatoes would make a great contrast to astringent tea leafs. Ooh I am so close. So close.

But then, a pile of cherry tomatoes and a few soggy tea leafs ain't gonna cut it. It was clearly not taste tea enough yet. Something else must be done, but what exactly? And then an inspiration struck. I really got it. Truly. Got it. I would do a vinaigrette, but not your ordinary, everyday vinaigrette. This one would have some Matcha, Japanese green tea powder, in it. The bitter astringency of Matcha would do very well in place of mustard in a vinaigrette. So clever I was.

Well, there was just a little kink in this otherwise stupendous plan. My beautiful Matcha was sitting happily in my tea cupboard in the city, but there I was, tea-less and hapless in Santa Cruz. Wasn't so clever now, was I? A phone call to tu-sais-qui at work over the hill in Los Gatos got me nowhere. A coffee drinker, that one. But he did tell me to call our friend Eric, who, apparently, knew everything there was to know about everything in Santa Cruz. And yes, finally, it was dear Eric -or his sweetie Cil, rather- who saved the day, pointing the way to the Herb Bin where I could procure that elusive green powder. Back I hop in my car and drove over, a few wrong turns in tiny Santa Cruz town just to keep my City Girl cred, but I got there, and got it.

And here it is, ladies and gentlemen, my comeback move to the festivities of Is My Blog Burning! Thank you Clement for such an inspired theme. Now you guys (and girls) tell me if that's all worth it. ;-)

MatchavinaigretteTomato salad, green tea leafs, Matcha vinaigrette

1 small box of cherry tomatoes (300 g. or 10 oz.)
a small handful of brewed green tea leafs
(I used Mariage Frères Cha Kio, but you could use any green tea as long as the leafs are on the large side.)
1/2 tsp. Matcha, Japanese green tea powder
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 tsp. honey
a pinch of salt
a turn of white pepper
3 tbsp. light and fruity olive oil

1. Brew green tea leafs according to your preference, separate the tea and the leafs, set the leafs aside until completely cool.
2. Rinse the tomatoes and drain well, then cut a few larger ones in half.
3. In a salad bowl, add the Matcha powder and vinegar, whip to blend until the tea powder completely dissolves into the vinegar.
4. Add honey and salt, blend well, then add the olive oil, slowly, blending into a good emulsion.
5. Toss the tomatoes into the bowl, then the tea leafs. Be careful not to break the tomatoes and the leafs.
5. Add a turn or two of pepper and serve.

If you want to see more recipes using teas, I've posted a couple of them over the years. There is one for Madeleines flavored with Earl Grey tea, a recipe I spent many obsessive weeks creating. I've also posted a recipe for a beverage that Mariage Frères serves with their brunch service, a lovely iced concoction with Earl Grey tea, honey, and orange juice. Enjoy!


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