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  • Craven Maven is about..

    ..experiencing food and all that goes with it.
  • Who is the Craven Maven..?

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    Download the Locavore App for iPhone to find out what produce is currently in season in your region. (created by enjoymentland).

You are cordially invited to a blooming tea party..

tea punchtea punch

Last week I popped by my dear friends at Loopy Mango in Soho who were throwing a blooming tea party. “Blooming” I questioned? It wasn’t like them to use a British colloquialism, but upon further investigation I realised the description was literal.

Loopy Tea Party

Jane London presented a selection of blooming teas. Made from high altitude silver needle green tea leaves, with hand stitched freshly dried flowers enabling the tea to literally bloom in water. The tea leaves brew gently and leave no bitter aftertaste when steeped. The choice of floral affects the tone of the tea – jasmine is bright and blooming, while marigold had a bit more of an earthy taste.

Jane, pictured above, is the owner of Tea Beyond and was so passionate and informative about her teas. It was a real treat to learn from her about the nature of florals and high altitude tea leaves as well as the inspiration behind her work. Her signature drink the Tea Punch (pictured top) was an amazing blend of juices, tea , tequila and vodka. Separately these flavours are familiar, together they are a heady bouquet of subtle smokiness and floralcy.

I picked up a packet of blooming teas for myself and can’t wait to start incorporating it into whatever recipe I can.

Loopy Mango Store

The only distraction from the teas was the wonderful collection of curiosities that deck out Loopy Mango. From mid-high priced fashion to antiques to canoes and motorcycles ( a celeb popped in to enquire the price..), Waejong Kim and Anna Pulvermakher curate a selection of amazing things that will create signature to your style or your home. Anyone who is a creative should make a point of visiting Loopy Mango. The inventory changes often and is always unique.

Loopy Mango sells Tea Beyond blooming teas in all their varieties.

tusk tuskmusic entertainment was provided by the lads of tusk tusk

images by cravenmaven, loopy mango and tea beyond

Crave Food Festival

crave festival breakfast on the bridge

The Crave Food Festival kicked off this past weekend, starting with Breakfast on the Bridge. An opportunity for thousands in and around Sydney to have a picnic on the infamous Sydney Harbour Bridge. It reminded me in part of the claiming back of road spaces as green spaces, such as has taken place in NYC’s Time Square neighbourhood of late.

The bridge was closed to traffic and covered in turf for the event. But that’s just the start. The three week fest includes night noodle markets, two-day world chef showcases with some of the finest chef’s as well as a chance to sample emu, roo and crocodile meats.

I am in love with the country flags made out of food that adorn the Crave Festival website – they are done so very well and look tasty!

food flags

Check out the Crave Festival website for more information and event listings. Oh how I wish I could be there!

all images via the crave festival site

Craven in Friday Finds

Friday Finds mention

A big thanks to Kate of Coquette & Dove for her kind words recommending this blog in her ‘further reading’ section of the weekly staple, ‘Friday Finds’ mail. Previous further reading recommendations include 365 polaroids and 365 quotes by Parker Fitzgerald, the adobrable miss fifi lapin and the mouthwatering farm + house + table.

If you get a mo’ check out Coquette and Dove‘s lovely blog!

friday finds header by coquette and dove, coffee and croissant by craven maven

Creative Inc. Book Tour

creative inc nyc party

A big shout out to Meg and Joy, the gals behind Creative Inc. and to Michele Varian who hosted last nights book launch party. If you live in or around the NY area you must take a trip to the Michele Varian store – I mentally shopped the store and wanted it all. There were more fascinating salt and pepper shakers than I could shake a fist at.

And the treats…oh the treats. Provided by Maris NY, when you see Caramel Sea Salt brownies on the agenda you know that you’re in for a great night!

image by liz

Etsy T-T-T-Tuesday: You just can’t top that!

Oh Tuesday. Not quite the tingly middle of the week, not nearly the bitter start nor the melancholic end that brings the realisation that it’s all about to start again. You. Yes, YOU are the real middle child of the week. Poor thing. But not to despair, because you Tuesday, you bring to us treats from etsy and for that I am grateful.

Following in the spirit of my wedding post yesterday, this week’s Etsy T-T-T-Tuesday is dedicated to the top of the wedding cake.

Vintage cake topper

Vintage Cake topper

How about this for a piece of something old for your nuptial celebrations? This vintage cake topper dates to around 1940 and has been altered only slightly to keep the spirit of the old school vibe. I think it’s beautiful and for the right couple a piece they would remember forever. It only costs $55 at Paperflora’s store.

birdie cake topper

Love brids on tree stump

Tweet tweet. Don’t mind us, we’re just a couple of love birds. If you saw this and said the word ‘cute’ you’ve echo’ed my reaction. While not my personal choice, I couldn’t help but smile at the mere adorablity of these lovely birdie toppers. Priced at $100, they are highly customizable, from the colour of the grooms attire, to the brides bouquet to eye colours and more (oh did I mention the eyes are Swarovski crystals??). Get them at Kikuike’s store.

Custom Figurine

Custom Figurine

I’m so sold on this its not even funny..the bobble head type figurine (I don’t believe the heads actually ‘bobble’ on these..) are too (geeky) kewl for school! The ability to have them look just like the bride and groom is a huge plus and a unique take on the traditional topper. Priced at $298, you can order one now from Mark 13148’s store.

All you need is love

LOVE cake topper

After all, it’s all we need right? This is such a kewl idea. The iconic ‘LOVE’ scultpure by Robert Indiana is recongised all over the world. It’s so simple, yet so powerful. I used to pass the one on sixth avenue all the time – it just made me smile. How about it for an interesting and unique topper? The butterfly design studio sells them in a variety of colours at $88 a piece. Get it while it’s there!

images courtesy of the respective etsy store mentioned

Abergavenny Food Festival

AFF A variety of events at the AFF

This past weekend, the Abergavenny Food Festival (AFF), took place in Wales. While food festivals are nothing new, I really wish I could have gone to this one. Wales is a beautiful country and as a child I found myself there during many Spring holidays, hiking through fields and forests. It was green, lush and refreshing – full of welcoming people and wildlife that was foreign to a city kid like me.

AFFteeming market stalls and rude health soapbox rants

Imagine that as a backdrop for a food festival boasting over eighty events from Masterclasses to Tutored Tastings to Talks to Debates and oh yes, food!
One feature that sounded paticularly interesting was the lecture ‘Molecular Gastronomy: The Science of Taste and Flavour’ by Peter Barham, who with Heston Blumenthal, explains how his laboratory techniques evoke extraordinary experiences for the palette. Laboratory made flavours have always piqued my interest, though not my desire and I have always wanted to sit down with a flavourist and learn the in’s and out’s of what they do. (Though I used to know a guy who was a flavourist..of chocolate no less!).

Speaking of Chocolate, on Saturday Paul Young, author of Adventures with Chocolate and owner of a host of chocolate shops across London presented a tutored tasting. I wonder if his Sea-salted chocolate and pecan tart was available for a taste ::swoon::

Michelin-starred chef Sat Bains was on hand to feature winning products from the 2009 Great Taste Awards in his ‘Great Taste’ demonstration. As well as Aussie Bill Granger one of my favourite Cooking Channel hosts, to discuss his quintessential Australian approach to home cooking.

Fire and KnivesFire and Knives, issue #1

Not to be neglected, Food Lit was also well represented at the fest. Fire & Knives (the quarterly anthology of food and writing) provided four sessions with leading food writers discussing their favourite classic food and cookery books – including Tim Hayward on Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential. Bill Granger and others also participated in book signings and chat.
Oh and did I mention there is a Castle? Well there is. Doubling as a location for a variety of soapbox rants from passionate food writers and chefs talking about the latest and greatest food issues that are out there.

All in all the over 180 stalls participate in the festival teeming with local produce; kids are encouraged to be ‘gardeners of the future’, parties, music and a firework finale abound amongst many many other things.

Maybe next year I will make it. If you are in or around Wales, I encourage you to seriously consider being present too!

images from the abergavenny food festival site and fire and knives

If Paris is for Lovers, then Dublin is for Drinkers..

guiness factory

How many of you guessed I was off to Ireland, from my little post on Friday? Dublin, what a lovely city. I loved the architecture, the beautiful St Stephen’s Green..which made Central Park look like a dirty back garden and Trinity College..oh Trinity! The grounds were so beautiful and the dorms housed in the most majestic of buildings. I would gladly pay a handsome fee to study in those halls.

And then there is the drink. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am a London girl, and in my somewhat reasonable lifespan I’ve had my fair share of beers, cocktails, whiskeys (always without rocks), ales, ciders, ports etc etc. I have my favourites and I drink in moderation. BUT, one trip to the Guinness factory – followed by a visit to the Jameson factory and I clearly understood why the Irish, nay Dublin has a reputation for enjoying the tipple.

The Guinness factory got things started with a 1/4 pint serving of fresh draught Guinness withing ten minutes of the start of the tour. I actually wasn’t going to drink it, but one sip revealed the cleanest, sweetest most welcoming mouthful of Porter i’ve ever had. The bite that is common to Guinness elsewhere was gone, replaced with a fresh almost waterlike quality. Water for grown ups that is. It stopped everyone dead in their tracks and we moved on to learn more about the history of this wonderful beverage.

We poured our own

The tour is well worth the 15 euros or so price that is charged’ not least because you get a lesson in how to properly pour your own Guinness, there *IS* an art to it and we all successfully mastered it – see evidence above. I was surprised to learn that there are three types of Guinness out there – Draught (which also comes in a can), bottled and ‘Foreign Extra’ (higher alc. by vol), with the exception of Draught, the others do have that tart, dark bitter taste. I wondered if the Guinness in Dublin tasted ‘fresher’ as it probably had a lesser matruation time and so the ingredients hadn’t time to settle in to the water and make it as potent and bitter as I was used to?

The trip to the Jameson factory was shorter, but a sweet lesson in this lovely beverage – I had no idea that Jameson could be served in as many ways as we experienced. Over Ginger Ale, Cranberry Juice, Apple Juice, Straight on the rocks, In Irish Coffee and in Hot Chocolate – yum! Each was it common to certain countries (who knew!), and were a great lesson in ways to serve whiskey that will entertain my friends in months to come no doubt..It was easy to see how all the bars in Dublin were packed to the gills – there are lots of really great quality alcohol in Dublin and to sample it is unforgettable..unlike your usual Friday night tipple!

All in all the alcohol in Dublin was great..I will tell you about my other favourites in an upcoming post..