CCC: Celebri-chef crush

A few Sundays back, I spent a couple of hours browsing Southern Season, which is a massive gourmet food store/cafe/restaurant in Chapel Hill, NC. Think a giant Fresh Market or more epicurean and less organic Whole Foods. It has a deli, a fresh pasty section, a wine emporium and a wall of chocolate. The saying goes “it’s like a kid in a candy shop,” and in this case, it’s quite literal.

Every time I visit, I discover some new tool or tasty goodie that threatens either my wallet, my waistline or both. This time, I was already committed to a shopping list (pure anise oil and anise seeds for this recipe), but that didn’t stop me from ogling the  oolong, rooibos and sencha. My eye was quickly drawn to the colorful Ambessa tins — a collaboration between tea powerhouse Harney & Sons and one of my celebri-chef crushes: Marcus Samuelsson.

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Ever since I caught this Today Show feature on Samuelsson and his global approach to cuisine, I was smitten by the soft-spoken Ethiopian who was raised in Sweden, became the youngest chef to receive a three-star review from The New York Times and now owns a number of inventive restaurants. I’m eagerly awaiting a paperback version of his memoir, Yes, Chef and plan to hit up the affordable Red Rooster Harlem the next time I’m in NYC. I know: culinary stalker.

I’m more of a java girl than a tea-totaler, but my caffeine sensitivity and months-long coffee cleanses have helped me develop a palate for the leaves. And now, that these Ambessa teas with playful names like “Earl of Harlem” and “Lingonberry Green” have graced the shelves of Southern Season, I’ve got even more reason to brew a pot.

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