March 21, 2010

Luxurious Lipton

Yesterday I had the extreme honor of attending an amazing event sponsored by Lipton’s new PureLeaf O Calorie stevia-sweetened iced teas.

2010-03-21 13.40.00

Disclaimer: Ogilvy Public Relations extended an invitation to the PureLeaf 0 Calorie event on behalf of their client Lipton. I was not provided monetary compensation nor was I required to post about the event or product upon accepting the invitation. These opinions are my own.

I mean, any blogger is happy to try free samples of new products (see above photo), but to be treated to a lavish, (private!) multicourse luncheon at one of New York’s most famous restaurants is another thing entirely.

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I’ve always lusted after a meal at Butter, but financing such a thing has always held me back. Now I’ve not only eaten at Butter, but I’ve tasted items prepared especially for us local bloggers using the very tea we were there to sample! Chef Alex Guarnaschelli is basically my hero after this meal.

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Did I mention I was chauffered to and from the event in a Towncar? I’m even more important than I thought! ;)

Promptly upon arrival, I was welcomed by the PureLeaf team and ushered to the bar. I knew I could get down with these folks.

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Naturally, all the cocktails contained tea. My eyes zoomed right in on the “Sparkling” Lemon Tea (Lipton Lemon Tea with Sparkling Wine and Fresh Lemon Slices).

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I’d unwittingly managed to select the only cocktail that actually contained booze, it turns out! Typical.

Before lunch was served, we had a chance to hear from Gilbert Kendzior, a master Tea Blender for Lipton. (Please excuse the horrid picture!)

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He talked for a while about tea production and selection, which was really interesting. I think we all learned quite quickly how little we all know about what actually goes into our teabags! In particular, I was pleasantly surprised to hear how “green” Lipton’s practices are. No rainforest is cut down to plant tea, and much of it is harvested by hand.

Here are some samples of loose tea vs. teabag tea:

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I’ll confess to being somewhat of a tea snob—ever since living in China, I’ve been drinking super-high quality loose green tea that I mooch from my parents, who, until they moved back to the States from Japan, received it as a gift quite often. Me being the only family green tea drinker, I have benefitted from this arrangement quite nicely.

That said, I was impressed with the PureLeaf teas, both the lemon and raspberry flavors. Sweetened iced teas are not something I choose often, but these tasted good to me. I especially liked the lemon flavor, since I’m not a huge fan of fruity teas. Definitely give these a try if you’re in to iced tea!

So now you get the point: there was tea, and a lot of it. Tea is good. But what did we eat?

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A lot.

Even the bread was exquisite. There were hearty baguettes and cheesey biscuits served with two kinds of whipped butters, which were delicious, of course, given the restaurant’s namesake.

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Our first of two amuse bouches was a fresh arugula and leek soup with truffle butter toast.

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(Please pardon the flash—I tried to avoid it but wasn’t successful on all counts.)

This was so simple but so delicious—a soup I should try to recreate at home!

And for the second amuse bouche, crispy Florida shrimp with pickled vegetable salad.

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Holy horseradish, this was good.

First course: roasted squash caponata with celery root, mache, and a lemon tea dressing.

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Light and delicious! Love me some squash, and “caponata” tends to mean “awesome” in Diana-speak.

And for the big “WOW!” moment (well, one of many), we were presented with the striped bass that was to be our main course.

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The sous chefs took it for a walk around our entire table so that we could admire it up close. Check out that mound of brussels sprouts underneath the fish! I was officially drooling by this point.

The official description: whole-roasted local striped bass with brussels sprouts, roasted heirloom potatoes and tea beurre blanc.

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The official verdict: best fish I’ve ever had. Does that about sum it up for you? The fish and veggies themselves were super-simple, and the sauce was really “a revelation,” to quote one of my fellow diners. You have to have tasted it to believe it!

For dessert, we had “Coffee & Tea”—with nary a cup or saucer to be found! The infusion was in the dessert itself: coffee ice cream with streusel, lemon tea caramel, coffee granita and tea-soaked golden raisins.

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Probably one of the most unique desserts I’ve ever tried! That coffee ice cream wasn’t messing around—I could taste the ground coffee itself.

As if we needed anything more, there were the fabulous petits fours: white chocolate with lemon tea and toasted almond praline; and dark chocolate with citrus marmalade and raspberry tea _______. The last word is cut off in my menu photograph and I can’t remember what it was. I shall insert awesomosity.

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I loved the unlikely flavor combinations in our dessert course. One of these days soon I hope to get back in my own kitchen to channel this inspiring meal, but for now, if someone wants to do it for me every once in a while, I guess I’m not complaining, so long as I’m this busy.

What was already a great event was made even more special by the familiar faces I enjoyed seeing again. Our meetings are few and far between!

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Left to right: Ashley, me, Melissa and Tanya. Unpictured is Megan, who I managed not to score a picture with—bummer! I had a great time chatting with these ladies, as well as members of the PureLeaf team seated amongst us.

And on that note, a huge thank you to Nyla, Priya, Rachel, Kevin, Margarita and everyone else at PureLeaf and Butter who made this such a special day for us bloggers.

15 comments:

Mama Pea said...

You see, now this is just one of those nights where you have to shed any labels, inhibitions and restrictions.

And dang, I would have had that cocktail too. In fact, I just might...as soon as I find some iced tea.

balancejoyanddelicias said...

it seems like a great meal and get together with friends! :)

Shannon said...

what a fabulous evening :) and that cocktail sounds fabulous, alcohol or not i'd get it too!

Sophie @ yumventures said...

What an amazing opportunity!! The food (and tea) look amazing!

greensandjeans said...

What a cool opportunity! I've always wanted to eat there!

Kelly said...

That's so cool you went to Butter! I just saw that on the Food Network. Was it as good as it looked?

melissa (fitnessnyc) said...

bonobos soon for sure. I love your photography, btw!

Great seeing you and enjoying a feast. will look into food buzz, thanks for the tip

Gena said...

Looks like such an unbelievable meal!!! So glad you had fun. You and Melissa both look hawt in the photo -- little shock there!

Hollafoodzone said...

Holy moly what a dinner! That was definitely a memorable evening - how fun!

Joanne said...

Whoa this sounds like a seriously awesome event! I've always wanted to eat at Butter. So cool that you got the chance to! This food looks awesome.

Missy said...

I was going to go to that until I got my Fitbloggin ticket! It all looks amazing! I think I missed out!

mrssturgis said...

Pure decadence! Congrats on being Bloggy Royalty :)

Tanya said...

It was so nice to meet you at the event - the food was too amazing and double treat to get to meet all my favorite foodistas!

Megan (The Runner's Kitchen) said...

I need to re-create the Lipton tea ice cubes. Those mocktails (and cocktails) were so yummy!

Nice to see you again :-) I'll have to venture out to BK soon - I want to try the new cafe you're working with!

Nutritious Foodie said...

This sounds like a lot of fun :)