March 3, 2010

3 Mar

9 am

1 bowl of Golden Grahams

12 pm

Jin Patisserie

egg salad sandwich

side salad

side of potato chips

1 mini cheesecake

1/2 large pot of iced tea

One tradition I do miss is afternoon tea time. Even the British don’t find time for it anymore. In America, it’s anathema to take a 30 minute break in the middle of the afternoon for tea, biscuits and zero talk of work. I did try to take a few minutes away from my desk to grab a cup of coffee or tea between 3 and 4. But every once in a while, recollecting over a spot of tea and biscuits sounds like a reasonable idea.

I did get a chance to do a proper afternoon tea at Jin Patisserie a couple of years ago and that sold me on the virtues of tea time. Like a lot of businesses on Abbott Kinney, Jin is located in a small bungalow and the entire dining area is a small garden patio. The idea of a colonial tradition like tea time meeting a Zen Eastern sensibility in an outdoor Venice setting is triply soothing. Kristy Choo, the Singaporean chef, turns out pastries that belies her classically European training. European baked good tend to be a bit denser and bit more refined due to their anal-retentiveness on measuring ingredients. They use scales instead of cups to measure out ingredients, and in the chemistry of baking, that precision can make a difference. Jin’s cakes are exacting even on that standard. Scones are tiny, but incredibly dense and buttery, and cakes are equally as dense and moist. Other details are on point as well. The china is sturdy, the clotted cream is genuine and iced tea comes with a crock of cream and a small pitcher of simple syrup, which dissolves better than sugar in cold liquid. The tea set is a pretty good bargain at $19 and comes with a pot of tea, biscuits, scones and small samples of cakes, small sandwiches and on my last visit, a beguiling black sesame jello. Lunch is more standard, but still good. My friend Lucy raved about her tuna salad sandwich which was stained red with tomato paste. Egg salad was punchy, more mustardy then eggy, but portions were meager. The side salad and chips are afterthoughts, but a small slice of lemony cheesecake was included at the end. There are better baked goods here, but that cheesecake was still nice. The iced tea we had to wash down our meal was amazing, steeped with jasmine flowers that wasn’t overwhelming. Jin is best known for their macaroons and they are good, fluffy yet dense and explosive with flavor. They’re also pricey; one quarter-sized macaroon is $1.80, so getting a half dozen or dozen adds up. In fact, outside of the tea set, prices here can be a bit high. But I don’t think Jin is operating on that big of a profit margin. The staff consists of Choo and 1-2 others pulling double-duties, so service can be inattentive at times. Portions can seem small too. But precise cooking isn’t cheap, and neither is maintaining their peaceful garden patisserie.

4 pm

olive oil cake

1 cup of coffee

My friend Lucy made mini olive oil cakes with the caveat that “it’s too light, and didn’t think it was that good.” Well, I think she’s crazy because I ate the shit out of this awesome cake. I hope she keeps baking and turning out “questionable product,” because I’ll be more than happy to dispose of her mistakes.

7 pm

rotini with marinara sauce

1 glass of water

11 pm

10 Nilla wafers

1 glass of milk

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