Batch PDX

Ironically, it was a disappointing chocolate experience that led me on a mission to find the best chocolate created in Portland. If you know me, you would understand that I just couldn’t leave things on a bitter note — enter Batch PDX.

img_4215-1

There are a lot of brands of chocolate to choose from, some of which masquerade as high-end chocolate with their fancy packaging and exorbitant prices. I’m all for pretty packaging but don’t label a chocolate with, e.g. “Earl Grey”, and not match the expectation that the chocolate will carry at least a hint of the bergamot flavoured tea in the chocolate. There’s nothing more disappointing than biting into a chocolate thinking it will have a nice balance of flavours and it ends up tasting like plain chocolate. I know it’s such a first-world thing to moan about, but it really does upset me when that happens!

But this is precisely what Batch PDX does well. Their Earl Grey truffle uses the necessary amount of bergamot to complement the chocolate. Something as delicate as tea can be easily lost in the richness of chocolate so it’s crucial for any tea-flavoured chocolate to have that balance. Batch PDX’s Orange Habanero truffle is another great example of a chocolate with perfectly balanced flavours. No ingredient overpowers the other, from the chocolate to orange essence, to the heat that slowly starts to form at the back of your tongue. I’ve had the privilege of trying almost all of their flavours and even the flavour combinations that I’m not usually keen on tasted good to me — now that’s the sign of a talented chocolatier.

img_4223

Oh, and you must try both of Batch PDX’s award winning bars — think elevated and decadent relatives of their original inspirations. I love that the chocolates are not sickly sweet, which make them healthier, right? Other great things about Batch PDX is the fine attention to detail, the perfect size/cost ratio, and they’re not pretentious. Jeremy Karp, the creator of these fine bites of goodness is also an absolute delight to meet and he actually takes the time to understand his customers.

Some of my long-time favourites include La Maison du Chocolat, Hotel Chocolat, Prestat, Teuscher, and I’m now happy to add Batch PDX to the list.

Monty’s Christmas (brought to you by John Lewis)

Every year I look forward to the unveiling of the John Lewis Christmas advert, which has become a cultural institution of sorts. I haven’t been terribly impressed with the adverts from the past two years but John Lewis have redeemed themselves. And little Sam (a wee bit older, but still adorbs) is back from The Long Wait!

Perhaps this is why John Lewis is so clever, but the thing I do like about all of the adverts made after 2010 is the lack of ‘product placement’. Their campaigns focus more on love and the sentiment around Christmas, rather than things. What’s your favourite John Lewis advert? This year’s Monty the Penguin, The Bear and the Hare (2013), The Journey (2012), or The Long Wait (2011)?

A Birth-tea Surprise

The other day I received a lovely ‘birth-tea’ surprise from The G, and with that we continue our debate on tea: Twinings vs. Fortnum and Mason.  It will take me a while to try all the different tea available, but I can tell you now without a doubt that I would choose a cup of Countess Grey over Lady Grey any day. It’s my absolute all time favourite!

Russian Caravan and Afternoon TeaThanks to The G, I now have over 20 new teas to taste and compare!  In the coming months I’ll be writing short reviews on each tea and at some point we’ll come to the final verdict.

Twinings Tea Caddy

I love both tea caddies — each serves a different purpose.  Twinings, being more ‘practical’ and good for every day use and Fortnum and Mason more celebratory and decorative. Though I must say the Twinings caddy is also simple and elegant. The Fortnum and Mason caddy is a special blend of Coronation tea. I’d like to collect them all, especially the Empire and Celebration tins!

Fortnum and Mason Tea CaddyAnd we mustn’t forget our every day teas, such as Twinings’ Ceylon, which I must say is quite nice. I am generally a Yorkshire girl for every day tea but I may just mix it up and switch to this as it’s a lot smoother.

Twinings CeylonI suppose when you’re choosing the right tea, it really depends on your mood and what flavour profiles you prefer. I’m really looking forward to this tea exploration. Do you have a favourite that you think I should try?

The Liebster Award

Well here’s another lovely surprise! I’m still in a weird slump but am temporarily coming out of it to write this post as one cannot ignore such a kind gesture.  Thanks again for another award nomination shikoomkoom!

liebster-award

Like me, you may be wondering what the Liebster Award is and after doing a quick search on the Google, it seems that it has evolved over time and since I’m still in a funk, I’ll follow the rules below (but if we’re going by my nominator’s rules, please refer to 101 Amazing Facts if you would like to find our more about me). Regardless of which rules you end up following, I think the important thing to remember is to nominate new blogs and spread the love!

The rules of the Liebster Award are:

1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.

2. Link back to the blogger who presented the award to you.

3. Copy and paste the blog award on your blog.

4. Present the Liebster Blog Award to 5 blogs of 200 followers or less who you feel deserve to be noticed (see below).

5. Let them know they have been chosen by leaving a comment at their blog.

liebster2

My nominees:

  1. Fabulous and other f* words
  2. Sockymon Master Blog
  3. Multifarious Meanderings
  4. Where Next Japan
  5. F. Scribbles

Sunshine Award

Just as I was thinking about going on an extended blogging hiatus, I receive a lovely surprise from shikoomkoom!  Somehow, she knew I was in dire need of some love and inspiration and nominated my blog for the Sunshine Award! Thank you for thinking of me and for sharing a part of your world with me. I’m well chuffed as this is my first ever award. (^-^)v This is not to say that I’ve got my blogging mojo back, but after being ill for much of March it’s nice to know that I’ve not been forgotten!

sunshine-award21Rules for the Sunshine Award:

  • If you are nominated you must include the link in a blog, linking to the person/blog that nominated you.
  • You must answer some questions and nominate 10 fellow bloggers and link their blogs in your post. Let the people you have nominated know that you have nominated them!

 

1. Who is your favourite philosopher?

Erm…to be honest, I can’t say I have a favourite philosopher, unless the philosophy of the Moomins counts?

2. What is your favourite number?

The number 3. I loved being 3–some of my fondest memories from my childhood come from when I was 3.

3. What is your favourite animal?

Piggies.

4. What are your Facebook and Twitter URLs?

I don’t really use Facebook, but my Twitter handle is: @misochubby. Don’t ask me how I came up with it!

5. What is your favourite time of day?

6pm, when I’m finally home from work and can spend time with the hubs. Or 10am on weekends, when it’s bright out and there’s a full day of adventures ahead of us.

6. What was your favourite vacation?

Iceland. What beauty, what splendour!

7. What is your favourite physical activity?

Does sleeping count? I don’t suppose eating counts…haha. Erm, if I had to choose one, it’d be swimming or rambling. As you may have gathered, I’m not keen on physical activity, although hiking in Iceland was like heaven.

8. What is your favourite non-alcoholic drink?

Tea.

9. What is your favourite flower?

Dahlias.

10. What is your passion?

Good food and helping people. And of course, Moomins!

Sunshine Award Nominations (in no particular order)

Have A Washi-ful Valentine’s Day!

I’ve always found the concept of Valentine’s day to be a bit odd, especially in Japan where women shower men with chocolates and homemade treats but guys don’t have to give anything in return. That is, until March 14, otherwise known as White Day (ホワイトデー).

Washi tape Valentine's cards

Another part of Valentine’s Day in Japan is the custom of gifting ‘obligatory chocolate’ (義理チョコ) to male co-workers, casual acquaintances, and others to whom women have no romantic attachment. Quite a rubbish custom if you ask me as it breeds a culture of men ‘returning the favour’ but never giving from the heart!

Washi tape Valentine's cards 2

Having said all that said, I never miss an opportunity to put my washi-tapes to good use! And even though I get annoyed by all the crazy commercial hype that we’re all subjected to on this day, I had so much fun making these cards and treats I hope all the recipients feel loved!

washi cookies

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a marvelous time doing whatever you got up to and no doubt some of you are nursing hangovers about now. Ufufu…

What is Duty

I’m not one for making promises I can’t keep and I really do hate making ‘resolutions’ just for the sake of making them. That said, I do have a few big goals for 2013 which I do hope to obtain well before the year is over, especially in health. 2013 will be the year of mind and body. I WILL lose 2 stone — will eat less [crap] and move more (at least 3 times per week).

This is going to be incredibly difficult but I will adhere to my Moomin Non-Purchasing Agreement for the months of January, February, March, and see how that goes. If I can stay strong I’ll add April, and May to the mix as 2013 will be a year of austerity for our household. One must save for Finland 2014, amongst other things!

This all might not seem like much, but it is! And perhaps I’ll be able to cross a few things off me bucket list, as well. So there you have it! How about you? Have you got a list of goals for 2013?