Coppa Runneth Over


My dinner at Coppa in the South End was unlike any other. Probably for a few reasons: it was my first, official blogger meal on behalf of Boston Bites (thank you, Alana for keeping me well fed this summer), the meal itself was divine beyond comprehension, and the entire event was dedicated to celebrating cheese. I love cheese. I really do. It's a toss up between loving cheese or potatoes more. And, as any lover, I don't often like to choose between them, so I choose both. Celebrating the Grana Padano PDO cheese at Coppa, brought an evening of incredibly cool company, beautiful presentation, and phenomenally tasting food. 

First, a little about the guest of honor: Grana Padano PDO was created by Cistercian monks one millenium ago as a way for northern Italian dairy farmers to preserve their excess milk. It is now one of Italy's best selling cheeses across the world. Pale yellow, sweet, and granular, the cheese is made from milk of cows from the Po Valley and aged somewhere between 12-30 months. That makes one helluva good cheese.

Now, without further ado, the ooey, gooey, supremely delicious meal of my dreams. For optimal sensory overload, I've opted to tell you about it all at once, and then let you salivate over the photos for the rest of the post. Broken down in four rotations, my tastebuds were instantly seduced by the Steak Tartare Crostino (Urfa, Grana Padano PDO, and mint), Mortadella Pimento (Grana Padano Riserve and grilled bread, aptly presented on a pig shaped cutting board), and Arancini (Grana Padano PDO and tomato fondue in fun little puff balls).

The honeymoon phase of two, heavenly pasta dishes - Cavatelli con Pollo & Rigatoni Alfredo - really took my breath away.

I regained consciousness for the two pizzas, savoring the classic Margherita Pizza and trying new things with the Fiore de Zuchini (white pizza, squash blossom, charred corn, chili oil, marjoram, Grana Padano PDO).

Now that my soul was full and my stomach was getting full, the sweet, goodnight kiss, of Zepolle (ricotta donuts and strawberry jam) plus Grana Padano PDO with fresh strawberries and balsamic, lingered on my lips the whole ride home. Suffice it to say I fell back in love with cheese that night. 

Xx, Maia

a Day at DAVIDsTEA


It was the Fourth of July and I found myself at the new DAVIDsTEA location at the Prudential Center on an Boston Bites mission. Equipped with my Moleskine, my camera, and the thirst I worked up on that summer's day trek, I was ready to try some tea and learn more about the business - one I definitely owe my sanity to during finals last winter (thank you, Snowy Day tea!). 

Right off the bat the store drew me in with its vibrant color palette and meticulous displays. I had been set up to meet with the New England district manager, Jim, and arrived a few minutes early enough to hear him speaking with a mother and her daughter - first time tea shoppers. The genuine care and nurturing nature with which Jim spoke to these customers really captured me. I instantly knew I'd be in good hands. 

Within the first minute of meeting Jim, he offered me some tea (an expert tea salesman fully aware that the way to anyone's heart is through their stomach). I picked an iced Fruity Oasis tea with agave, per his suggestion, and happily sipped as he walked me through the brand. 

DAVIDsTEA began in Canada on Queens St. nine years ago (in November), founded on the premise of fostering empathy, education, and innovation in tea making. This mantra instantly resonated as I fondly recalled the times in which I received free teas at the Harvard Square location on days in which I figure the workers must have felt my stressed out vibe. Jim validated that this was in fact part of their mission: to treat customers with kindness, even if that means a free cup of tea every now and then. 

I then learned that the teas are broken up and displayed by mood: classics, feel good, sweet & indulgent, and fresh & fruity. The organizational portion of my brain let out a calming sigh of relief. But wait, there's more! The teas are also color coded to enhance the visual nature of understanding the different teas. Another functional implementation of making education accessible - like coloring caffeine free tea orange/yellow for immediate, visual reference. 

Jim also explained that in this particular store the set up was more "grab & go." If the customer is a frequent one, they can keep their headphones in and just select what they came in for, but if it's their first time, there are several people on staff eager to help. As soon as you walk in, you are greeted so warmly and genuinely, a testament to their family-like work ethic and positive environment. Jim even noted that they love doing "matcha shots" with customers in the store. 

Then came the goodies: Jim talked to me about the innovative side of tea making - namely the custom developed mugs, bottles, and pitchers. He showed me the Matcha Shaker, a creative, fun, and educational way to make matcha on the go. My personal favorite had to be the color changing iced tea bottle, though. Of course, no surprise there that the color loving gal loved the color changing cup. Jim even pointed out that the general color scheme of the store is white and bright as opposed to the traditional dark walls and cast iron materials of other tea stores. 

Mid drink demo, Jim whipped out a "perfect spoon" from his pocket. No, I'm not joking. "You've gotta have your perfect spoon on you. I mean c'mon, this pants pocket is just perfect for one." And he was right. Every tea lover needs their perfect spoon at their disposal (and yes, I went home with one of my very own - it's peach colored). Next up were the new Iced Tea Pitcher Presses, an absolute must for instant tea at all of your summer festivities.

"I didn't invent them, but I can sure sell the heck out of them." And if Jim hadn't already promised to send me home with some free goodies, I probably would have bought the pitcher right then and there. It sure helped that a customer interjected, "These are awesome, I have one!" as Jim showed me exactly how they worked. 

Before I left, Jim asked me what kind of tea I liked. I said Jasmine, and he proceeded to show me their wide array of options: from hand rolled tea to green teas left for five days with blooming jasmine in the room, I quickly felt both informed and excited to make my new tea at home!

With such an emphasis on a culture of empathy, it's no wonder that Jim, and people just like him, are the face of the company. Jim told me about his first experience with tea purchasing and how it quite literally left a "bad taste" in his mouth after he spent tons of money on a bunch of equipment no one told him how to use. Here at DAVIDsTEA, not only will you know exactly what you're doing, but you'll feel like you're now part of a family - one that'll give you a warm cup of Snowy Day tea, scooped from a perfect spoon, on a day you definitely need a pick me up. 

Xx, Maia