I just assembled a little grid for a proposal featuring some of my work from this full force year we're closing in on . . . A lot goes down in this petite studio in the clouds! I thought I'd share a glimpse into a lot of hours cooking, arranging, dreaming, laughing, slaving, retouching, dish washing, sharing, visiting and loving what I do.


While on the hunt for galleries in the Condesa neighborhood of Mexico City, we pet a curious poodle, poked our noses through doors to find pastel striped walls (my dream decor!) and managed to pop into Neveria ROXY, a famous ice cream parlor. I was told by the scoop man to try the mamey flavor, which I'd never had or heard of. Mamey is a bright orange colored fruit that's delightfully sweet, the perfect basis for a refreshing ice cream. This small chain of ice cream shops hasn't changed much since they opened in 1944 -- the cheery shop and bold typography transported me . . . This spot, with its palette of tropical fruity ice creams and banana splits, has undoubtedly been the location of many smiling moments.

 If You Go:
Neveria ROXY (there are 3 locations)
Mazatlan 81, D.F.


I "accidentally" got the address for our dinner confused with the address of this fine candy shop, Dulceria de Celaya -- what a fortuitous mix up! This is one of the oldest candy making establishments in the city and it is downright dazzling. The opulent interior showcases handmade sweets of every taste. I think we ordered wrong as we sampled a few and didn't love any. I'd like to go back to find the candies made from pumpkin seeds, walnuts and sweet potatoes. No matter though -- the site of this shop is eye candy enough.

If you Go:
Dulceria de Celaya
Cinco de Mayo No. 39
Col. Centro 06000
México, D.F.


Where else can you shop for pastries or colorful jello molds in a happy daze amidst golden chandeliers, men who describe their petite breads as having "sabor es criminal" (flavor that's criminal), ladies with flowers at their hips and a quiet serenade of classical music? Ideal Bakery in Mexico City attracts you with it's sugar perfume smell and holds you in its clutches with its perfect sweets. We especially loved the little maple bar donuts, so fresh they melted into crumbles upon first bite.

Ideal was established in 1927 and has three locations, the one we visited was within walking distance of the Zocalo, the main square in town. I highly recommend a visit and a taste! Definitely no tea here, but the perfect accompaniment for a cup of chocolate caliente . . . When in Rome (or the DF).

If you go:
Pasteleria Ideal
Av. 16 de Septiembre 18
Col. Centro
C.P. 06000
México D.F.

The Cheesemaker's Apprentice: Make Your Own Cheese

All Images by Leela Cyd for Cheesemaker's Apprentice
One of the best accompaniments to a fine cup of tea is a mini cheeseboard. A little slice of something hard and salty, a dollop of soft ricotta with honey and chunk of a funky blue and I'm in heaven. Agreed? Add a cookie and you've got that sumptuous sweet and savory thing HAPPENING. Might I suggest some reading material while you get leisurely?

Last Autumn, Sasha Davies, David Bleckmann and I were busy each weekend photographing the cheeses David was creating and aging in his home! Sasha was expertly interviewing the finest artisan cheesemakers all over the world and dishing on overall best cheese-making practices. Together, we were creating the cookbook Sasha authored and has just come out: The Cheesemaker's Apprentice. The book has recipes for easy to make cheeses, helpful tips and inspiring conversations with cheese gurus.

And if you're in Portland this coming week, we are having a party to celebrate the release of our little cheese baby at Sasha's new winery and eatery, Cyril's. Join us December 5th to crack a big cheddar wheel and support the book.

815 SE Oak St
Portland, OR 97214

Buy the Book: the Cheesemaker's Apprentice


On a blustery afternoon this past October, I was able to swoop into Bellocq, the most gorgeous, inspired tea atelier located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. After a big weekend of work and play near Boston, it was a delight to just be whole heatedly enraptured by magical place, sip specially blended teas and be hosted by the very inspired proprietor, Mr. Michael Shannon.

Simone and I were doing jazz hands from the moment we stepped through the very unassuming doors and into the cozy, yet superbly elegant tea room. I had read a lot about this special tea haven and it surpassed all of my expectations. The teas are delicate, flavorful and refined and they each have an origin story of being sourced responsibly from different merchants and gardens throughout Asia. The creators, Michael (who we got to visit with), Heidi and Scott, all have backgrounds in design and food. They share a passion for travel, friendship, gathering friends together over bubbling pots of old standby teas and exotic rare brews. Together they've created an over the top experience and story surrounding tea -- a narrative that is sensual yet accessible, intriguing yet familiar. To be frank, a visit here will give you a tea-gasm to be sure.

It was the perfect morning, with talks of Shubert and singing opera in the home or tea room, learning more about our favorite blends, making lists of which teas to purchase (stimulation overload!) and sharing in the connective powers that steam forth from a warm cup.

Thank you Michael and Bellocq.

If You Go:
Bellocq Tea Atelier
104 West Street
Greenpoint, NY 11222

Hours: Friday & Saturday 12-7pm
Sunday 12-5pm

A Cuppa With Simone Easthope

Simone Easthope is an opera singer currently studying at Julliard Conservatory and is a fellow tea devotee. Originally from a small town in Australia, she now lives in a delightful, cozy  apartment in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, with one of my oldest pals (Hi Evan!). They've tended to this place in the coolest way, with plants everywhere, a broken Roccocco mirror and a patio to call their own. Simone is a girl with hopes and dreams and a Soprano voice that will knock you down with beauty and shake your soul. We met and fell into an immediate tea dork girl crush and spent a glorious morning talking beverages, scones, family, European adventures and the like. Simone, I adore you and cannot wait to share a cuppa with you in Berlin, NYC, on the sunny beaches of my hometown or up here in stormy Portland.

What is your favorite type of tea and how do you take it? My favourite at the moment (I go through cycles) is the classic red-boxed Twinings English Breakfast. First thing in the morning, I "chuck on the billy" (boil the jug), throw a tea-bag into a mug, let it infuse for a minute or so, then add a generous dollop of half & half. If I'm feeling particularly luxurious, I'll add a dash of honey, but usually I just have it unsweetened. My favourite bit is that first sip, while I'm still kind of groggy, and it's still a little too hot. MMmmmm.

How does tea punctuate your day? I'm at school during the day, with no tea-making facilities, so it's the last thing I have before I leave the house, and the first thing I make when I get home. It makes me feel cosy, warm and safe, and calms me down after a busy day.

My tea accompaniment of choice is:
I have a killer scone recipe, and I love nothing more than a hot, soft, fresh-out-of-the-oven scone with a generous serve of jam and chantilly cream. It's the ultimate in luxury.

Last night's episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, or The Colbert Report, or The Rachel Maddow Show on . . . is on when I'm having tea.
I first started drinking tea when . . .  I was a teenager. My mum has two cups every morning, and it quickly became my habit too. I started with two teaspoons of sugar, which slowly decreased to none.

My dream tea party would include . . . picnic rugs, parasols, dainty china, sweet treats, chantilly cream, and a long glorious summer afternoon in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney. Friends from all corners of the globe, live music, poetry reading, painting, photography. Unbridled hedonism.

When I sip from my tea cup, I . . . sigh, then smile.