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What we ate in Boulder: part 1

It wasn’t all beer guzzling in Boulder, there was also tea!

Apparently, Boulder’s sister city is Dushanbe, Tajikistan. As a gift, the Dushanbe Tea House was assembled in Tajikistan then taken apart piece by piece and transported to downtown Boulder where it was reassembled amidst a garden of roses and a trickling stream.

Dushanbe Teahouse

As you may know, Jeff and I are kind of tea nerds, so we knew we’d be spending a long afternoon at this tea house for sure. It’s so hard to find tea shops that specialize in Chinese teas, they’re usually English “afternoon tea” type places with a sprinkling of heavily-flavored Assam and Ceylon teas, none of which we really care for. So we were excited to find that Dushanbe carries mostly Chinese teas of a high quality.

I loved seeing the authentic Persian-inspired painted ceilings and intricately-carved wooden columns.

Ceiling in Dushanbe Teahouse

And there was the constant sound of moving water from the Fountain of the Seven Beauties in the center of the tea house.

Fountain of the Seven Beauties

And the tea was excellent. Jeff had a Chinese black tea and I opted for a tea cocktail made from oolong, pineapple, and mango juices. Kind of like a tropical Arnold Palmer.

Jeff's tea and my tea cocktail

We also decided to have lunch there, starting with these curry-filled samosas with mango chutney and raita. So good!

Samosas with mango chutney

Jeff had one of the most amazing dishes I’ve ever tasted. It was a thai panang beef curry with bok choy and shaved jicama, the richest and most flavorful curry ever. I could not stop stealing bites from him!

Thai Panang beef

I ordered a salad of spinich and shaved pear in a pu-erh tea dressing with salmon and a bleu cheese-stuffed pear half. The stuffed pear was horribly underripe and hard as a rock, but I just scooped out the bleu cheese and ate the rest, which was an incredibly yummy salad without it.

Pear salad with pu-erh dressing and salmon

We ended up splitting a pot of oolong together and digging into dessert. This was the most soft and delicious gingerbread I’ve ever had. It was accompanied by a drizzle of blood orange syrup and five spice whipped cream. Yum!

Gingerbread with five spice cream and orange

Dushanbe Tea House was incredible. I was worried that a place that specializes in tea couldn’t possibly also make great food, but WOW they do. The whole place felt very authentic and natural, not gimmicky and contrived as these types of theme places can be. I can’t recommend it highly enough if you’re ever in Boulder!

Bee in Dushanbe garden

One place that was just ok was Chez Thuy, a Vietnamese place walking-distance from our rental. The free rice porridge was the best part of the meal!

Chez Thuy spring roll

The spring rolls were dry and flavorless, Jeff’s green curry was bland and full of watery vegetables, and my sampler plate of nori rolls, skewered beef, tempura shrimp, and stuffed chicken wing was way too heavy and strangley spiced.

Chez Thuy sampler plateChez Thuy green curry

I ended up taking mine back to the rental in hopes of snacking on it later, but it began to smell so atrociously within an hour that I never ended up eating it and it just stunk up the place for days. Skip Chez Thuy if you’re ever in town.

Back to the good stuff!

We caught up with some of our friends who moved out to Denver a while back and they could not stop raving about Snooze, a brunch place on Pearl St. that we’d passed a few times that was always crowded. We decided to take them up on their recommendation one morning and headed over expecting a long wait. Lucky for us, we were seated immediately on their lovely patio for prime people-watching!

Blueberry blossom pancakes at Snooze

I got the Blueberry Blossom pancakes: two super-fluffy and light pancakes studded with fresh berries and drizzled in local honey, topped with a sugary oat crumble and lavender butter! Best. Pancakes. Ever.

Jeff got the OMG French Toast which totally lived up to it’s namesake. Decadent when swirled in the vanilla cream sauce!

OMG french toast at Snooze

I wish we had a Snooze in Atlanta, I’d be waking up early to go there every weekend. There were so many things on the menu that I wanted to try!

Alright, one more Boulder recap to go. Tomorrow is the wedding and I’m rushing to get all this cake stuff done in time. Wish me luck!


Cafe 101

After all the homey comfort food we’ve been eating for the last week, Jeff and I were both craving a totally different sort of comfort food – Chinese.

If you’re familiar with Atlanta, then you know that Buford highway is the place to go for “ethnic” restaurants. There’s tons of great Korean barbecue, Vietnamese pho and bahn mi, slow-roasted Mexican pork in hand made corn tortillas, and of course some awesome Chinese offerings that go far beyond the general take out fare.

Cafe 101 is easily our favorite Chinese place. It’s a quirky little round building with sort of a clamshell roof, you can’t miss it.

Cafe 101

The walls are absolutely covered in magazine clippings and ceiling is a bit like a cathedral.

Cafe 101 inside Cafe 101 ceiling

We started with some hot jasmine tea to warm up from the cold weather we’ve gotten hit with this week. Floral and soothing like chamomile.

Cafe 101 jasmine tea

And we’re always given these little starter dishes of spicy cucumbers that have been only lightly pickled and a type of seaweed that I’m completely unsure of the name of.

Cafe 101 spicy cucumbersCafe 101 weird seaweed

And here’s where we proceeded to order entirely too much food, starting with some pork dumplings and some hot and sour soup.

Cafe 101 pork dumplings

Cafe 101 hot and sour soup

The dumplings were so soft and flavorful and the soup was full of tingly pepper that clings to the back of your throat.

We were both dying for mapo dofu, a crazy-spicy dish of tofu in a chili-heavy sauce. It was so good! The tofu actually had a distinct bean flavor that is sometimes missing from commercially-made tofus, and the sauce was the kind of spicy that makes you sweat and pant like a puppy.

Cafe 101 mapo dofu

We also got the duck buns, crispy-skinned duck on hot steamed buns with sour plum sauce and green onion. They actually brought all the fixins to the table and assembled the duck buns right in front of us.

Cafe 101 duck buns being prepared

I love this type of Chinese steamed bread, it’s so pillowy like a marshmallow. The duck was pretty fatty and I ended up picking off the larger hunks of fat, but it was still amazing.

Cafe 101 duck buns

As if we weren’t about to explode already, the server brought us a few slices of fragrant Chinese melon for a dessert and palate cleanser. Cool and crisp.

Cafe 101 melon dessert

We took a ton of food home and had it for lunch the next day. Mmmm, mapo dofu for lunch.

Cafe 101 is kind of a special place for me. I remember the day we got our wedding rings in the mail. Jeff and I agreed to meet at Cafe 101 for lunch and to see our rings for the first time, but they were closed when we got there. We ended up going to another Chinese place in the area yet for the longest time I completely forgot that that happened and was convinced that we’d saw them at Cafe 101 for the first time. So now that place is kind of tangled up in that memory and for some reason means more to me than the restaurant we actually ended up at.

Do you have a restaurant that is special to you for no real reason?


Chinese tea eggs

Finally, I got em’ right!

Chinese tea egg 3

I have been trying to get these Chinese tea eggs to come out beautifully marbled and full of salty smoky flavor and I finally did it!

Egg in sake cup

Tea eggs are a common Chinese snack found in street food stalls and also made at home to eat with a hot cup of tea. The intricate marbled lacework across the white comes from soaking in a marinade of soy sauce, Chinese black tea, and spices. Here’s how it’s done….

If you can boil water, you can make tea eggs. I used this method of hard-boiling eggs to make sure they came out the perfect consistency and it worked marvelously! Place up to 6 eggs in a pot that isn’t too huge for them but also not crowded. Add 1 and a half quarts of water and start heating it up.

Eggs in cold water

As soon as the water comes to a bare simmer (rising bubbles are starting to make the surface bounce and quiver but not yet roll,) remove the pot from the heat and let the eggs sit in the hot water for 10 minutes.

Eggs coming to a simmer

Then rinse the eggs under cool water until they are cool enough to touch.

Now comes the fun part, bashing them up!

Crack with spoon

Use the back of a spoon to break the egg all over, making a fine meshwork of cracks. There is a membrane just under the shell that will hold all the pieces in place so don’t worry about breaking it apart, just don’t hit it so hard that you jam shell pieces down into the egg!

Crack all over

Add the eggs back to the pot and add just enough water to cover. I use the same water that the eggs boiled in and just pour some out.

Add soy sauce, mirin, cinnamon sticks, anise, black peppercorns, and any style of black tea you can get your hands on, though a traditional Chinese black or pu-erh is best. Heat the marinade just until you can smell the spices infusing and the tea leaves are unfurled and soft. Don’t let it boil or even simmer, it’ll overcook the eggs!

Eggs in tea marinade

In China it is common to let the eggs sit in the marinade for 2 days to fully absorb the flavor. I let mine sit overnight, on the counter until cool and then in the fridge in a sealed plastic container. If you really wanna eat them sooner, 4 hours should do it.

Then they’re ready to peel. I have not found a good way to do this without half-mangling the egg whites, so if you have a preferred technique by all means use it. One good tip I do know of though is to try to get under the membrane so that you can peel up more of the shell at once.

Eggs ready to peel

Serve with tea or any time!

Chinese tea egg 2

Chinese tea eggs

Hard boiled eggs marbled with fragrant soy, spices, and Chinese black tea.


  • 4 to 6 eggs
  • 1.5 quarts water
  • 1 star anise pod
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. mirin
  • 2 tbsp. or 2 teabags of black tea

Cooking Directions

  1. Put eggs in cold water in a saucepan that is just big enough for them.
  2. Bring heat up to a bare simmer, remove from heat and let sit in hot water for 10 minutes.
  3. Run cool water over eggs then crack all over with the back of a spoon.
  4. Return eggs to pot and pour out all but enough of the water to just cover eggs.
  5. Add seasonings and sauces and turn heat to medium-low to infuse spices and tea into liquid.
  6. After the marinade smells fragrant, turn off heat and let eggs sit in the liquid for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  7. Peel eggs carefully and store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Chinese tea egg 1

The flavor is faintly smoky and lightly salty with a slight tickle from the spicy anise. I love to keep of few of these in the fridge for a healthy and satisfying snack in the afternoon. They are perfect to pop right after a good workout for a protein punch! But mostly, I like to savor them in exactly 4 bites, each with the perfect proportion of creamy just-set yolk.

Chinese tea egg creamy yolk

I hope you try them, they’re worth the wait!