Chai, Nice to meet you.
Do any of you have one of those friends who you love being around because they are always introducing you to new things and constantly challenging you in ways that make you a better person? If I had to choose one person who fits the bill for me, it’s my friend Kasi. We met while working for a magazine in Columbia, she was one of their photographers and I was a graphic design assistant. We never hung out outside of work until we decided to meet up at the gym one day, and we clicked from there. It didn’t take us long to start meeting for lunch and coffee, each visit lasting well beyond two hours…we always have so much to chat about! Sadly she and her husband moved back to Wisconsin where they’re from, but we stay in touch via iChat dates. She’s the same friend who photographed my family cookbook, and if you’re interested in seeing her work you can visit her website here.
I was excited when she emailed me to let me know she and her hubby were going to be in Charleston and Columbia last week, so we scheduled a lunch date. As is typical for us, we hit the ground running trying to catch up on all that has happened since the last time we saw each other. We attempted to go to the Mediterranean Tea Room on Devine Street, but it was closed. Then we decided to hit up Mr. Friendly’s – also closed. Thankfully The Gourmet Shop was open and we snagged the last table in the place and continued catching up.
Kasi is an excellent baker and cook, so we always exchange ideas for recipes, and she was telling me about her newest dessert love: French macaroons. She got one from a bakery off King Street in Charleston, and the experience apparently changed her life. Luckily The Gourmet Shop has a bakery of its own. They also bake macaroons, so of course we got some. I have to admit, it was amazing! We’re both planning to bake some at home, so I’ll be sure to blog about that later. Here’s a picture of all the beautiful colors of different flavored macaroons:
After we were rushed out of the Gourmet Shop (our only complaint) we headed to Starbucks to continue our date. I didn’t want to get my typical White Chocolate Mocha because it makes me so jittery and it’s full of calories, so I asked what she gets. “A non-fat Chai Latte,” she replied. So I thought I’d give one a try. Now I am a southern girl through and through. The only tea I’ve ever known is cold, and sweet.
Sometimes, they throw in a lemon slice…or mint. So naturally I was a little weary of trying a warmed tea, with milk and spices in it. I cautiously took the first sip, thankful that Kasi had run to the ladies room so if I spit it out she wouldn’t see me. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was delicious! It reminds me of a warm liquid spice cake and I can see how on a cold or rainy day, it would be the perfect accessory to a warm blanket and a good book.
So to my fellow southern friends out there, who aren’t sure about this warm tea business, I would highly recommend you give it a try! I bought some Chai Spice tea bags at the grocery store and have enjoyed it every afternoon since. Let me know if you’ve already discovered this wonderful coffee substitute, or if you have a homemade recipe you think I should try!