nw3 to nyc

Observations on moving my family across the Atlantic

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Not quite Damien Hirst










Could be, though? Actually it’s the tea display in Argo Tea. I went into their Flatiron branch (just off 23rd Street and 5th Avenue) on a hot afternoon recently. I love tea. Have I said that before? So when it’s hot, I actively look for new and obscure iced tea varieties. I was excited at the sales pitch, where the nice man let me smell the tea, with a waft of the lid to exaggerate the effect. All very dramatic with their Damien Hirst inspired wall display and the wacky tea based cocktails. I tried hibiscus and apple. Verdict? Just like drinking a cheap squash from the 1970s. Not good. Sorry, Argo, but I won’t be back. Shame. Loved the spots.

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T is for Tea

I spend a lot of my life at the moment reciting the alphabet and saying ‘A is for apple’ etc. in an attempt to teach J his letters and get to grips with the written word. T is usually for Thomas or Teddy, but today it is for Tea in honour of the following conversation I had in Teavana, a chain of shops that sell loose tea and various things to go with that tea.

Me: “I’d like some tea bags please”.

Tea man: “We don’t sell tea bags. We sell loose tea.”

Me: “I know that. I want the bags for the tea to go in, please.”

Tea man: “Oh, you mean filters. Yes, we have those.” And he wanders off to get them.

Tea man: “You know that you should use a tea pot or a tea ‘pod’ (?). These don’t make good tea.”

Me: “I just want the tea bags, thanks.”

Tea man: “You mean tea filters. Oh, OK.” Wanders to till looking disconsolate but deigns to sell them to me. Five bucks for 100 single cups.

When I get home, I examine the box the tea filters (not bags, must learn) come in and it says: Perfect tea filter. Brew PERFECT tea anywhere.

Someone should tell this man that being rude about the products in your shop isn’t good sales technique and annoys customers, especially me.

Oh and the reason I have to buy filters in NYC now is because my beloved Tea Horse, seller of lovely loose tea all the way from exotic St Johns Wood in North London has gone bust. Should have bought more tea. And filters.

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Here in the US there is the Cinnabon, but I have renamed it the Sinnabon. I have mentioned my love of cake before and my recent discovery of the pumpkin cinnamon bun from Glaser’s Bakery but I may have to re-think this. Today, in the food court at Philadelphia Station (lovely building, take note Penn Station in New York) I discovered Cinnabon. It sells cinnamon buns. The lady behind the counter was making them, rolling out the dough and baking them there and then. It was like a heavenly site in the heart of Pennsylvania. I ordered one, with a cup of Early Grey tea. Black. And then I read the small print. The calorie values there, small, but there. 750 calories for one bun. 1080 calories for the one with the pecans and extra goo. Gumph. I looked at the lovely lady and said ‘I’m so sorry, but I can’t bring myself to knowingly eat that many calories’ – not as an afternoon snack on a train back to New York, anyway. She looked sympathetic and asked if I still wanted to have the tea. I said no and walked away solemnly. But not to worry, an oatmeal raisin cookie from Au Bon Pain (America’s answer to a little bit of France in every city) is a mere 320 calories, so I had that instead. And I still got the Earl Grey.

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Cheese danish

So my trip to a local cafe went like this:

“Waddaya want?”

“Hot tea, please”.

(I have learnt to ask for hot tea, as opposed to iced tea.)

“Cheese Danish?”

(He looks confused.)

“No. Hot. Tea. Please.”

(The server looks pleadingly to his co-worker.)

“She wants tea. Hot tea.”

(The co-worker looks bemused, just like me.)

“Ah. OK.”

(He’s happy.)

“Yes, hot tea.”


(I’m happy.)

I point to the packets of tea behind him. I am relieved to see earl grey (gray here) as an option. I am more relieved to see him put the bag into the cup and then pour the water on. A proper cup of tea.

Really. Since when does ‘hot tea’ sound like ‘cheese Danish’. And more importantly what is a cheese Danish?

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Tea talisman

I don’t drink coffee. In fact I have said on this blog before that I love tea. Big time. But I don’t feel the need to walk the streets holding a cup of it all the time. I like it at home, in a mug, sometimes with a biscuit. Nothing fancy. But here, my goodness holding a styrofoam or some other kind of cup, it’s like a fashion accessory. I was in the 42nd Street area earlier today, this is the busy bit around Grand Central Station, and I think that pretty much every person I went by was clutching a cup from all manner of places, slurping or just holding it like a talisman. It’s encouraged: the small silver coloured carts sit on most street corners dispensing drinks for a bit over a dollar and a range of artery hardening sugary snacks to boost the energy levels. They are cheap. Very cheap. But gone by midday to be replaced by the hot food vendors: caveat emptor, that’s all I can say about that. So off I go to my 10am appointment and I am strangely driven to go into one of the many food places that will make the enormous bagels (blogs passim), get a cup of tea, English Breakfast, black, and clutch it hoping some of the magic will rub off on me too.

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Can you tell what it is?

Obviously it’s a drink, but what kind of drink? What is that mysterious substance at the bottom of the glass? Any ideas?

Answer below:

blog pic march 1 2013



Answer. It’s a lychee flavoured milk bubble green tea. The stuff at the bottom is tapioca. It’s huge and chewy and a bit like frog spawn. You need a really fat straw just to drink it. Quite nice really.

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Tea total

I love tea. I don’t drink coffee at all, never have. I love tea so much that I subscribe to a tea delivery service called Teahorse (check out teahorse.co.uk to see how great it is). I take huge pleasure in opening the long, slim box of tea that arrives at the end of the month with its green tissue paper covering 4 new teas to love and sometimes chuck in the bin (that’s  you, lapsang burning mouth tea). I am disgusted when I order tea in a cafe here in NYC and I get a tall glass of hot water with a teabag in a sachet for me to put into the water. This just isn’t right. I think I may have gone too far with trying to maintain my Britishness through copious consumption of tea when after only 4 weeks in New York my teeth are stained. This results in a very expensive trip to a dentist for 45 minutes of scraping horror to reveal my teeth’s true colour. Must find other ways to maintain my Britishness.