Monday, December 13, 2010

5 Questions with Cynthia Gold, author of Culinary Tea


Do you think your book has opened up some eyes on how much
you can do with tea?

I certainly hope so. That is without question my goal, only I tend
to think of it as “ how much TEA can do, not how much I can do.”

What was the best part of writing the book?

That really connects back to your first question. I am
passionate about the concepts of Culinary Tea. There is so much
incredible culinary potential to fine teas that has yet to be fully
acknowledged, let alone explored and embraced. I get a real high
out of guiding people towards this end, and particularly enjoy
when after teaching a class, demo or seminar people express to me
how they look at tea in a new way and are eager to start to taste
and play on their own. I’ d say the best part of writing the book
was that as I worked on the book, I kept thinking about how many
more people might soon have the opportunity to learn about how
fascinating, flexible and fun a botanical tea is. Tea, true tea,
Camellia Sinensis is deserving of so much more respect and use,
and I hope this book is helping people take a step in that direction.

Which recipe is the one you've used the most?

That’ s hard to say, but there are definitely a short list of
pivotal recipes. The Jasmine cured salmon has shown up as
Afternoon Tea finger sandwiches, in variations on Eggs Benedict,
within canapés, served as part of salad or starter courses and more.
It is incredibly easy to make, flexible and if I say so myself, quite
tasty! I often include it in demos or with my culinary students.
I’ ve had people tell me that they normally don’ t like salmon, but
they love it in this recipe.

Besides the salmon, the tea and spice rubbed pork tenderloin

shows up time and again on various menus, demos and the like. It
too is very popular, easy and incredibly flexible.

The slow cooked Masala Chai base is another incredibly
flexible item that is the base for the Park Plaza Holiday TeaNog,
and a Chai Martini but has also been used to replace some of the
dairy in ice cream, crème brulee, French toast, crème anglaise and
a variety of other items, besides of course making a fabulous Chai!

The last staple that comes to mind is some variation of a ground
tea shortbread. They are again, really easy to make and always
very popular. My favorite is probably the Matcha Tea Leaves
perhaps because the leaves are fun and surprisingly easy to cut
by hand and then make a lovely presentation, but in all of its
variations the tea shortbreads seem to be crowd pleasers.

What is your go-to tea when you need a boost of energy?

I’ m very fickle. I probably turn to a good oolong when I
have the time to savor its’ beautiful complex layered flavors and
spectacular aromatics. If I need more of a lift though, a good,
earthy full bodied Keemun, low grown Sri Lankan tea or Nilgiri
are probably the ‘ most common go-to’ for me.

What's next for you?

I’ m hoping to continue to promote the concepts of Culinary
Tea and it’ s always a pleasure and a privilege to be given the
opportunity to share these concepts with varied audiences. On
a more specific nature however, the next book I’ m working on
is focused more directly on Tea Cocktails. There will be food
involved as well, but more in a support role to pair up with the
cocktails. I’ ve been reaching out to talented bartenders around the
world and couldn’ t be more thrilled with the response. Not that it
takes an award winning bartender to create a great Tea Cocktail,
tea is an easy to use and quite natural botanical behind the bar.

Having star studded additions to the book however, not only will
help give credibility to the concepts which may cause people to
start experimenting who otherwise might not have, but also give
more diversity of style to the recipes. I’ m a chef, and as much as
I enjoy creating Tea Cocktails, and hope that everyone will enjoy
them as well, these bartenders bring their experience into play in
exciting ways that I would never have thought of. In fact, Culinary
Tea is about 85% my recipes and 15% guest chef and bartender
recipes, but I’ m hoping that the new book will be predominantly
guest bartenders and chefs to really put tea through its’ paces!

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