Cheese Tea Cafe Brings a New Asian Trend to L.A.

Cheese tea
(©Little Fluffy Head Cafe) Signature drink "Fluffy Tea" is handmade cream cheese with a tea base.

Jenny Zheng doesn't see herself as an innovator, but what she is doing with tea in Los Angeles may come to revolutionize the way people drink tea across the country.

After discovering cheese tea on a trip to China, Zheng returned home determined to bring cheese tea to the masses and on Aug. 30, Little Fluffy Head Cafe opened its doors. 

"Cheese tea has been so popular in Asia, and we don’t have any problem introducing our products to Asians," said Zheng. "We are having a hard time getting Americans to try out our drinks because they don’t even want to walk into our store when they see the sign 'Cheese Tea.' There is definitely a cultural barrier that we have to break through first."

Jenny Zheng

What customers discover when they do walk through the doors are carefully brewed teas from the highest quality tea leaves from Asia topped by Zheng's "Fluffy Cream," in white cheddar cheese or cream cheese flavors.

"All of our cheese cream is locally-sourced and hand-whipped daily in small batches using real cream cheese or white cheddar cheese," Zheng said. "Ingredients consist of whipping cream, milk and Himalayan pink salt which is what gives it the sweet and subtle salty taste." 

Ice matcha latte

In addition to the cheese tea, Little Fluffy Head Cafe offers classic teas; milk teas like the "Dirty Mess," which is black milk tea with creme brûlée on top and sprinkled with Oreos; and lattes such as the "Camouflage," an ice matcha latte with creme brûlée mixed inside.

Jenny Zheng uses cream cheese or cheddar to make rich, fluffy latte foam at Little Fluffy Head Cafe.

Kick up Your Heels at These Tucson Cowboy Bars

Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse
(Courtesy Trail Dust Town) Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse

Cowboy Bars with Dancing

The Outlaw Saloon: Open for five years, the Outlaw Saloon is one of the most popular cowboy bars in Tucson. Owner Gary Kilbourne prides himself on the family-friendly atmosphere that attracts everyone from ballroom dancers to college students to real cowboys. Line dancing classes are held on Fridays, two-step and swing on Saturdays. There’s live music Tuesday, Friday and Saturday and karaoke six nights a week. Open daily 10 am-2 am. 1302 W. Roger Road, 520.888.3910.

The Maverick: Dance lessons in rhythm two-step, line dancing and more are offered at this friendly club that’s been around for 50 years. From the minute you walk in the door, the lively atmosphere and great live music will get your toes tapping. Open Tu-W 5 pm-midnight; Th-Sa 5 pm-2 am. 6622 E. Tanque Verde Road, 520.298.0430.

Eddie's Cocktails: Eddie’s may be a hole-in-the-wall but it features great live country music, a small dance floor and a friendly vibe. Eddie's also offers an outdoor patio and light fare. Open daily 9 am-2 am. 8150 E. 22nd St., 520.290.8750.

Cowboy Bars with Country Themes

Cattletown Steakhouse & Saloon: This Old West steakhouse has a great atmosphere with excellent food and a full bar. Find menu items such as burgers, wood fire steak and ribs, chicken and seafood to go with a variety of beers. Open daily 11 am-10 pm. 3141 E. Drexel Road, 520.295.1141.

El Corral

El Corral: This restaurant and bar has a rustic cowboy vibe and features Western artwork and memorabilia. It also offers an extensive bar menu. Open M-Th 5-10 pm; F-Su 4:30-10 pm. 2201 E. River Road, 520.299.6092.

Old Tucson: Gun fight re-enactments and movie sets have made Old Tucson famous, but it also has the Grand Palace Saloon in its studio/town with a bar that will make you feel like you just time-traveled to the 1800s. Open Sa-Su 10 am-5 pm. 201 S. Kinney Road, 520.883.0100.

Old Tucson stunt show

Red Garter Bar & Grill: This recently remodeled spot includes a smoking lounge with pool tables and delicious food such as burgers, sandwiches, finger food, soups and salads. Check out the full bar with 15 beers on tap as well as bottled brews. Not only that but this spot features poker tournaments, darts, a juke box and plenty other games. Open everyday 11 am- 2 am. 3143 E. Speedway Blvd., 520.325.0483.

Trail Dust Town: This country western shopping center is also a prime location for entertainment and dining. Here you'll find Pinnacle Peak, dubbed the "Original Cowboy Steakhouse," with a saloon and a Wild West Stunt Show that provides an authentic Old West feel. Open M-F 5-9 pm; Sa-Su 4:30-9 pm. 6541 E. Tanque Verde Road, 520.296.4551. 

Just Outside of Town

Oracle Inn Steakhouse: In the small town of Oracle you'll find this steakhouse at the Oracle Inn, which was renovated years ago to include a stone fireplace to go along with great food, live music and a dance floor. This establishment also has a full bar, pool tables and an open mic for comedy nights. Open Su-Tu 11 am-9 pm; Fr-Sa 11 am-1 am. 305 E. American Ave., 520.896.3333.

The Steak Out: Located in Sonoita wine country about an hour drive south of Tucson, this lovely steakhouse and saloon provides an old Western-themed environment with a bar and live music. Open M-Tu 5 pm-9; F 5 pm-10; Sa-Su 11 am-10 pm. 3200 South Sonoita Highway, Sonoita, 520.455.5205.

Tucson boasts great cowboy bars where you can take to the dance floor or just hang out with friends. Here are some of our favorites.

Why Thailand Is Always a Good Idea According to Scott Eddy

Eddy with rhinos
(Courtesy Scott Eddy) Eddy on safari in Kenya

Scott Eddy gave up a lucrative career as a stockbroker to travel the globe as a social media influencer.

He now boasts more than 1.15 million followers on Twitter and more than 239,000 followers on Instagram, and visits between 25 and 35 countries every year. As he sat aboard the Queen Mary 2 in Southampton in August 2017, waiting to set sail for New York, he spoke with us about his travels and his favorite places in the world. 

What is your favorite place in the world?

Thailand.

What is your spirit city?

Bangkok for sure. I feel so comfortable in that city. I love the culture, the city, the environment, the smells—everything.

What is the one thing we can't miss if we go to Thailand?

The street food in Bangkok. Thai food is absolutely nothing like Thai food in America. 

You can only have one type of regional cuisine for the rest of your life. What is it?

Thai, hands down. Thai is No. 1, Indian is No. 2. 

Eddy in an infinity pool overlooking the bay in Thailand

What was it about visiting Thailand that made you want to quit your day job?

In a nutshell, I grew up in Michigan and Fort Lauderdale. My dad was a cop—I knew nothing else but law enforcement. I had my life planned out: I was going to the police academy, get married, have the 2.5 kids and white picket fence. I was very close with my father. Three weeks before I graduated high school, my dad was killed in the line of duty. He was flying a prisoner to Tallahassee in a police plane in May 1989. There were a lot of bad brush fires. The plane got caught in the smoke and went down in a tailspin.

It turned my life upside down. I didn't know what I wanted to do but I didn't want to be a cop. A friend talked me into going to an orientation for a banking firm. They taught me how to sell, and I became a stockbroker for 10 years. I learned to sell anything to anybody. They sold the firm in 1999, and I didn't like who they sold it to. I had a friend who was working as an expat in Thailand. He convinced me to visit and said, 'Trust me. It will change your life.'

Thai people are the nicest people on the planet. I said, 'There's no way I'm going back to the States.' I lived in Europe and Asia for 17 years. 

What's been your most memorable experiences to date?

Two trips. Last year when they did the first cruise to Cuba; I was on that. For me growing up in South Florida, hearing the stories, being so close yet so far to Cuba all those years, it was very emotional for me. It was really special.

The other was the last trip I was on. I went to Africa, Kenya. The No. 1 thing on my bucket list was to go on a high-end safari, and I did it for the Great Migration. Almost two million wildebeests move from the Serengeti to Kenya. You see thousands of wildebeests cross the rivers. It was magical. Then in Kenya I saw this little kid—he was about 11 years old—get his first pair of shoes. It really hits home when I see things that we take for granted so much in the United States, but it's the biggest thing in the world to them.

Eddy on horseback at sunrise

Someplace you want to go but haven't yet?

Antarctica and Greenland. I'm really particularly interested in taking trips there. 

Who's your favorite travel partner?

Ninety-five percent of the time I travel alone. I cross over digital and real life very heavily. I have dinners with heads of CVBs and tourism directors; I'm always building relationships for future business and networking with the right people. But if I'm going to bring somebody, it's going to be on a cruise. I do four or five cruises a year. 

The lobby of the Queen Mary 2

Using his social media handle @MrScottEddy, this social media star is living the dream.

The Weight of David Joy's Work

North Carolina writer David Joy
(©Ashley T. Evans) North Carolina writer David Joy

David Joy's debut novel, “Where All Light Tends to Go,” an “Appalachian noir,” is set in a small North Carolina town and was nominated for an Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America. Now, the 33-year-old author returns to storytelling in these mountains with his critically acclaimed sophomore effort, “The Weight of This World.” We caught up with him to find out how his home state inspires his work.

You’ve written two novels set in western North Carolina, where you live. How does your home state inspire your writing?

The reality is that I just don’t know anything else. All of my family has been here since the late 1600s, early 1700s. All of the stories I grew up hearing were rooted in this place. Until I sold that first novel, I’d never been on an airplane. I’d never really left North Carolina aside from short vacations to South Carolina, maybe Georgia or Tennessee. I’d certainly never been to any place like New York. At this point I’ve been fortunate enough to have traveled a good bit as a result of my fiction, been all over the country, been to France, but still none of those places speak to me, it’s red clay and mountains; its chocolate milk-colored farm ponds and fields speckled with Queen Anne’s lace. When I hear voices, they have a very distinct accent. People and place is a sort of inseparable thing for me, both of which are very, very rooted to this ground.

How has your experience as an environmental journalist shaped your novels?

Early on, I wanted to focus on writing about the natural world. I feel much more at home [in the wilderness] than I do around people. I spend a lot more time in the woods than I ever do surrounded by buildings. The first book I ever wrote grew out of that: a memoir called “Growing Gills.” Looking back, I don’t think that book was very good. I was 25, I didn’t have my feet under me yet. At the same time, what I did well in that book is largely what I’m still doing well, which is painting a very vivid image of landscape.

Where do the ideas for your novels come from, and how much does setting influence how your novels unfold?

All of my work is rooted in image. An image will come to mind, and it won’t leave. It’ll just hang around my neck. If I sit with it long enough, those things start to unveil themselves. When that happens, it’s just a matter of following them out the door. If I knew the ending when I started, I wouldn’t write the book. The part that pushes me forward is that desire to answer that question of 'Where do they go from here?'

Do you feel a sense of responsibility to represent Appalachia in the “right” way?

When you’re from a place like this, or you live in a place like this long enough, it’s impossible not to feel a very intimate connection with the landscape. It’s overwhelming, breathtaking. I look out my window and I’m surrounded by mountains. It feels like I’m being cupped in the palm of God’s hand. I think it’s impossible to offer any sort of singular identity for a region that stretches from the hill country of Mississippi to New York, an area covering 205,000 square miles across 420 counties in 13 states. What I try to do is to tell a singular story set in the place I know, and tell it with as much heart and honesty as possible in hopes that it rings true.

What do you think surprises people about North Carolina?

What I hope they see when they come here is the diversity. I think that’s what makes this place so damn beautiful. Whether it’s our land or our people, buddy we’ve got a little bit of everything. 

North Carolina native and award-winning writer David joy gets passionate about his home state (again).

October Art Fairs in London to Get Excited About

Laurence Vallieres scupture, Basel, Switzerland
(©Laurence Vallieres, photo © Mana Wynwood) Browse edgy art, like this cardboard sculpture at Moniker Art Fair, and plenty more during October's art fairs.

You don’t have to be a millionaire mogul to be an art collector, even if its most famous ones usually are. There are also many keen, or purely ‘amateur’ collectors who simply fancy picking up a special something to brighten up their home, rather than seeing art as an investment.

During October all eyes are on London, where the city is a magnet for collectors, gallery owners and wannabe art dealers, and a number of art fairs showcasing collections of independent galleries from around the world.

Frieze London, UK

Frieze London

The main player in the town is the famous Frieze London (5-8 Oct.), now in its 15th year, with works by today’s established and emerging artists and more than 160 world-leading galleries.

Part of that is Frieze Masters, specialising in art from the ancient era and Old Masters, while Frieze Sculpture shows off major outdoor art in Regent’s Park. This is where the serious business is done, but even for those without money to burn, it still makes for a fascinating viewing, especially with its programme of talks and selections of newer galleries.

Frieze Sculpture

Affordable Art Fair, London, UK

Affordable Art Fair

Although ‘affordable’ is a relative concept, Affordable Art Fair (19-22 Oct.) acknowledges that you don’t have to be an experienced collector or contemporary art expert to find something you like. The fair started in London in 1999, and now has spread to 10 cities around the world. Its mission is simple: to make contemporary art accessible to everyone.

Taking place in Battersea Park, it’s an easy way to view, browse, talk and buy contemporary art from local and international galleries, plus there are free talks, workshops and interactive installations to make it a fun experience.

The Other Art Fair

There are advantages and disadvantages of buying from an art fair run by galleries. The good thing is that the best works have been selected; the down side is that whatever you buy, a cut of the sale price goes to the gallery. So there’s a lot to be said for The Other Art Fair (5-8 Oct.) held at Old Truman Brewery.

Presented by Saatchi Art, an immense online art gallery, the focus is on emerging artists. It’s known for its laid-back attitude and works for sale by some very edgy artists. Here, you deal directly with the artists—a perfect opportunity to speak to them personally.

Moniker Art Fair, London, U.K.

Moniker International Art Fair

Also held at the Old Truman Brewery, on the refurbished top floor, Moniker International Art Fair (5-8 Oct.) certainly pushes the boundaries. Now in its eighth year and larger than ever, it takes up an entire floor.

True to its boho East London surroundings, this is a true celebration of contemporary and urban art, with special attention on emerging talent. Held at the same time as Frieze, it’s the antithesis to its more established big brother; abandoning the traditional art fair format, visitors enter Moniker through a huge installation hall.

Butterfly ashtray at PAD London, London, U.K.

PAD London

Offering more than artwork to adorn your wall, PAD London (2-8 Oct.) is known for its 20th-century design and decorative arts, so it’s a chance to select museum-quality pieces. In a boutique-type setting in Berkeley Square, Mayfair, this is an event for serious collectors, unsurprisingly, attracting prominent galleries from across Europe, North America and Asia.

This is the place for one-of-a-kind pieces from 67 galleries who specialise in masterpieces in the genres of jewellery, tribal art, historical design and antiquities. You can find everything from a contemporary marble-and-oak sculpted chair, to a 4th-century Greek helmet—and ancient Egyptian eyebrows and eyes in bronze.

Egyptian bronze eyes and brows, PAD art fair, London, U.K.

5 Top Tips for Wannabe Collectors

1. Buy what you like and what you’d like to live with. If it ends up making money, that’s a bonus.

2. Take advantage of any opportunity to meet the artist, to make a connection and find out more about their work.

3. If possible, try to research artwork on sale before you attend the fair; you’ll get a better overview of what’s available.

4. As long as it’s in your budget, don’t be afraid to take a chance—you could be discovering a great artist of the future.

5. If you are buying to invest, don’t always think about finding the biggest piece; sometimes small is beautiful.

A guide to the famous Frieze London, together with other art fairs in October.

The Enigma Behind Boston's Whiskey Scene

Rhonda Kallman ensures her Boston Harbor Distillery's whiskey measures up.
(©Pat Piasecki) Rhonda Kallman ensures her Boston Harbor Distillery's whiskey measures up.

Ilana Weiss sits in a window seat at The Last Hurrah, the cozy, wood-paneled barroom at the Omni Parker House hotel, which boasts a selection of 150 whiskeys. She nurses a glass of amber-colored, Glenmorangie Nectar D’Or single malt scotch.

“This is the best whiskey bar north of New York City,” she said. “It’s Boston’s best-kept secret.”

Weiss would know. The women’s fashion executive is president of the Boston chapter of Women Who Whiskey, a self-described “experimental whiskey club for women.” With two dozen chapters internationally, Women Who Whiskey offers regularly programmed opportunities to learn about strong spirits and cocktail culture with like-minded individuals. The interest is out there. Since Women Who Whiskey launched in Boston in 2015, Weiss has amassed over 800 names on her email list.

 Maggie Campbell, Maura Connolly, Rhonda Kallman, Kayla Quigley, Ilana Weiss and Carrie Wroblewski

Whiskey. By Women, For Women

Whiskey—by definition: a distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented barley, corn, rye or wheat, typically aged in wooden barrels—is not a libation usually associated with women. It’s a drink that conjures up tartan-wearing Scotsmen, Wild West saloons, warring Kentucky moonshiners and Winston Churchill. If women had written the history of whiskey, you might think differently.

“Don’t even get me started,” said Rhonda Kallman. “Women were the first distillers. Women were the brewers way back in Mesopotamia.”

Kallman—founding partner and longtime executive vice president of Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)—is founder and CEO of Boston Harbor Distillery, which makes rye, single malt and other spirits in a beautifully renovated, Civil War-era, brick warehouse, footsteps away from Dorchester Bay.

“More women are drinking whiskey and making whiskey,” she said. “What we’re fighting for all over America is just equality. We want to be distillers, we want to be entrepreneurs, we want to be chefs. We don’t necessarily want to be a female entrepreneur or a female chef. The reality is women are just as good as men in this business: Our skills are very compatible.”

“Being a woman has very little to do with my day-today work,” said Maggie Campbell, head distiller and vice president at Privateer Rum in Ipswich, which plans to release American single malt whiskey—currently aging—and rye.

Campbell received her diploma in craft distilling technologies from the Siebel Institute in Chicago and her Level IV diploma from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust. She sits on the board of directors of the American Craft Spirit Association and worked as assistant distiller at California brandy maker Germain-Robin.

Bottles up at Privateer in Ipswich

“In rum, there are many women—including women of color—in tip-top positions in the big companies,” said Campbell, “but when I was really involved in whiskey, it was definitely much more centered on one group of people. There are a lot of women involved in distilling and there always have been, but visibility is always the issue … we don’t see them.”

In 2011, Bostonians Maura Connolly and her husband John Egan opened a distillery on the grounds of their Burlington, Vermont, farm to make use of the extra apples. Six years later, their Mad River Distillers produces award-winning “grain to glass” bourbon, rye and other spirits made from locally sourced ingredients. As national sales manager, Connolly keeps a close eye on the consumer side of the business.

“There are so many fabulous women in the industry who are behind the bar and working for distributors that really have embraced whiskey and the cocktail scene, “ she said “I see more and more women drinking brown spirits, and it’s really very exciting.”

Becoming A Popular Pour

For over a dozen years, Carri Wroblewski and Klaudia Mally—aka “the BRIX chix”—have been selling wine and spirits at their BRIX stores in Boston’s South End and Financial District in addition to on Nantucket. Wroblewski said recently there’s been a marked increase in the number of women buying whiskeys.

“You’re seeing more women becoming aware,” she said, pointing to the growing trend for sophisticated cocktail programs at restaurants. “Women are seeing whiskey on the menu. They’ll have a chance to try a whiskey out and they come into us because they want to have it at home.”

In an effort to expand patrons’ palates, Citizen Public House & Oyster Bar in the Fenway sponsors a whiskey club. If you sample all 120 club designated whiskeys, you’ll receive a bottle of single barrel (premium) whiskey and an engraved, silver-banded glass.

“A lot of women have joined the whiskey club,” said bar manager Kayla Quigley, a graduate student at Simmons College in gender/cultural studies whose thesis explores masculinity in the saloon era and the resurgence of the contemporary saloon in Boston. “We’re seeing more women drinking whiskey for sure—because of the gender revolution and also because there’s a lot more women behind the bar. The bar itself and whoever is staffed behind the bar sort of indicates what people are going to be drinking.”

Brown spirits, she said, have always had a masculine identity and energy because they were marketed as a masculine drink. “But if I say to a woman who’s never had whiskey before, ‘This is an extremely approachable spirit,’ it’s a very open dialogue.”

This Is How You Do It

Back at The Last Hurrah, Weiss lowers her nose into her glass of scotch and closes her eyes in concentration and enjoyment.

“The first thing you want to do is smell it with your mouth slightly open,” she instructed. “Then take a sip. Hold it in your mouth; aerate it, and then swallow. It’s not meant to be gulped. Sip! The first sip, the alcohol hits you; the second sip is so much better.”

Weiss dribbles a few drops of water into her glass from a straw. “Water has an actual chemical reaction with whiskey, and it changes the drink completely,” she said. “The Scots call it ‘releasing the serpent.’ See? It opens up. It’s smoother. Do you taste it?

Whiskey is like a woman; it’s complex.”

Distillers, buyers, entrepreneurs, experts—these (female) Bostonians are taking whiskey to the next level