Nilgiri Teas, Greek Orthodox Lent, Vegan Halva recipe and biting more than you can chew

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OK. I'll admit it. February is kicking my behind! The 5th was our "All things matcha" tasting. The 6th was our Saturday in the Park with Authors and Artists. The 8th was our Tea and Chocolate tasting. The 10th was the 14th Ave Gallery Walk (we served our food at Tiger Lily) and, at the same time Elizabeth was serving tea and scone samples to the Book Club groups at The Vero Beach Book Center. Friday, was for some reason, a mad house in the store, Saturday was the Art Museum's open day and we demo-ed clay throwing in the cold all day.

Today is the beginning of Greek Orthodox lent and I felt this would be a great day to feature some of our vegan food so we are offering an all vegan menu. This weekend is the Garden Club's Antique Show and our annual contribution of 300 to 400 lunches served over two days. Next week... Well, at this rate I'm not sure I'll get to next week so I'm not going to worry about it.

What I'm trying to get to is that I'm way behind with my tea tasting and I promise to work extra hard when this month is done to catch up. In the mean time, here are my notes on our two Nilgiri teas and my recipe for a vegan Almond Halva.

Nilgiri, which means :Blue Mountain" is a mountainous region in South India. The teas produced here tend to be medium bodied and aromatic. Much f the tea produced in the are a is used in teabags but orthodox tea is also produced and we've recently obtained a very note worthy white tea from the area. Our current black tea stock from Nilgiri includes a Flowery Orange Pekoe from Tiger Hill and a Winter Frost from the Welbeck Estate.

Nilgiri Fop, Tiger Hill: Dark, reddish leaf with pleasant, mild aroma. Reddish cup with mild astringency, bright tasting. Holds milk well. Nice, anytime, British style tea. Milk rounds out astringency.

Nilgiri, Winter Frost, Welbeck: Long, dark leaf with some tips. Gold cup with an aromatic, sweet and pleasant flavour. High notes of honey and melon. Very nice.

Almond Halva

  • 2 cups thick semolina (farina or cream of wheat will do if you can't find it)
  • 1 cup light olive oil
  • 2.5 cups sugar or 2 cups sugar and ½ cup honey if you use honey
  • 6 cups water
  • Thinly paired peel of 1 lemon
  • 3 sticks cinnamon
  • 3 cloves
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 1 blanched, chopped almonds
  • 1 cup sultanas (golden raisins)

Put sugar, honey, if using, lemon peel and spices in a medium, heavy pot and bring to boil, simmer for 2 minutes, remove lemon peel and spices and then keep warm on very low flame. In the mean time, in a heavy pot heat oil and pour in semolina stirring all the time. Cook, stirring, until just beginning to color. Add nuts and raisins. Add syrup very carefully. It will spatter pretty badly so be extra careful. Stir continuously until thickened and beginning to pull away from the sides. Pour into a large, oiled baking pan. Let cool, refrigerate for 1 hour and cut into serving pieces. Sprinkle with cinnamon if you like. Enjoy!

Next update will include notes on our Ceylon teas and Tea and Chi's recipe for salad dressing, as promised. See you soon and wish me luck for the week.

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