Monday, February 8, 2010

Treasures in Talin

Today I went to Talin to do some exploring. I picked up a 25-pound bag of Jasmine rice for the house, some tea, Pho noodles, and other related ingredients, some baked goods, and snacks–but probably spent about a good hour there just walking around. I was like a bookworm in a library or a fat kid at buffet–I just wanted to everything.

When we were younger, Talin was located just across the parking lot in a smaller, split-level building that reeked of Durian fruits, fish and other fragrances emitted from the foreign produce. I remember playing with the live blue crabs, picking them up with the tongs and trying to get them to fight one another, or following my parents around the aisles looking for something exciting. Back then it was always the baked goods or the colorful gum and candies. Now its the different foods–the variety of noodles, canned foods, jarred vegetables and fruits, and house ware–that catch my attention.

I think I spent a good half hour or so alone in the tea section located at the front of the store. Originally an Oriental store or Asian market (whichever you prefer to call it), Talin has a large selection of Eastern teas: Jasmine, Green, Pu-reh, Oolong to name a few. They have the loose variety, and the individually bagged versions. They also sell other mixes of teas from Earl Grey to Darjeeling to Scottish Breakfast Tea.

Having just moved back to Rio Rancho this past November, it had been a good while since my last visit to Talin. I would say a few years. What I don't remember is the Tea Bar. When I stepped out past the tea section, to my surprise you I found a group of people chatting away at a bar where a young lady was preparing some tea. I was thrilled. Had I not had a drink (a locally brewed Kombucha drink from Santa Fe–more on that later) in the car, I would have took the time to enjoy a nice warm beverage.

I finally settled on a can of some loose Oolong Tea and a box of some Pu-erh Tea. Oolong being a fairly traditional or popular flavor of tea, and Pu-erh being something that I just recently stumbled upon. After researching some local tea, I found the NM Tea Company. They had some Pu-erh on the website and I was interested in trying it. Pu-erh is almost the opposite of the loose leaf-style tea. As far as my understanding of Pu-erh, it's a small piece of packed tea leaves. The version that I bought claims to have digestive properties and may even breakdown certain fats and cholesterol. The pieces are about the size of a marble and break into many pieces when steeped. I need to invest in a new teacup that will allow me to steep and drink out of the same vessel. I'll do that on my next visit to Talin.

After my departure from the tea section, I lallygagged through the aisles examining packages as if I were going to learn what it was through osmosis. Each aisle represents just a small portion of foods from appropriate region of the world: Saigon, Tokyo, Manila, etc. I picked up a jar of 'instant beef Pho flavor' and a some Pho noodles. Tomorrow I'm going to give it a try. I know Julie isn't as excited about it as I am, since she's had the real thing from scratch, but I told her I wanted to test it out. I don't know how to make it all from scratch, so a little help from a jar can't hurt, right? I picked up some sweet basil, some sprouts and had my fingers crossed that pa had some beef that I could cut up in the freezer. I'm excited. I think it will turn out okay. I'll let you know. On that note. I am going to hit the sack and dream about tomorrow evening's meal.

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