Thursday, January 24, 2019

Mary Oliver

As you have likely heard, poet Mary Oliver recently died. I love her poetry, how it imbues the natural world with everyday magic, and inspires/invites/insists that we pay attention. I find that her poems pair exceedingly well with tea. They invite me to pause and to take notice of the place I inhabit.

Here is one of my favorite poems, from among many, many favorites:

It Was Early
~Mary Oliver, from Evidence, 2009 and published again in Devotions, 2017

It was early,
   which has always been my hour
        to begin looking
           at the world

and of course,
     even in the darkness,
        to begin
           listening into it,

     under the pines
        where the owl lives
           and sometimes calls out

as I walk by,
    as he did
        on this morning.
           So many gifts!

What do they mean?     
     In the marshes
        where the pink light 
           was just arriving

the mink
     with his bristle tail
       was stalking
           the soft-eared mice,

and in the pines
     the cones were heavy,
        each one
           ordained to open.

Sometimes I need
     only to stand
        wherever I am
           to be blessed.

Little mink, let me watch you.   
     Little mice, run and run.
        Dear pine cone, let me hold you
           as you open.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Heathman Tea by Vitaly Paley

It's been open for awhile now, but I have not written about the re-envisioned afternoon tea at the Heathman Hotel in Portland, OR. Chef Vitaly Paley relied on his heritage (Belarusian) to inspire the experience. I had the opportunity to enjoy tea here recently, and am happy to share a few moments with you. 

The Tea: Paley collaborated with Steven Smith Teamaker to curate a small but mighty list. I chose the Georgian Caravan, served only at the Heathman. It's smoky but not overwhelming, bold but allows for the jam (do add!) to be distinct. Plus the tea is served in a pretty glass cup with fancy metal cutwork. 

The Setting: I was visiting alone, something I enjoy. I was given a lovely seat near the fire. The restaurant manager rearranged things to ensure my view was of the fire - I made note! It's a gift to have such care. 

The Food: Bolder than one normally finds at afternoon tea, but delicious and unique! Find the full menu here

Some of my favorites: The middle tier shown below, including a deviled egg, walnut-stuffed eggplant, blini with caviar and mushroom piroshki (stuffed potato bread). The khachapouri (Georgian cheese bread - not shown) was amazing, and I was touched by the steopka (sour cream and walnut cake), based on his grandmother's recipe.

If you're in Portland and love afternoon tea, I recommend this experience. Be sure to take in the lovely surroundings, too - the tall bookshelves and the interesting large-scale art.