I’m a teacher; everyone knows that’s not the career to have to live a life of luxury. I’m never going to own a yacht. That’s fine; I get seasick. I won’t have second house in the Caribbean. I can deal with that, too; hot weather is not my thing. Even if I owned fine jewels everyone would just assume they were paste. And giving a generously sized lady a love for haute couture, well, that would just be cruel. I’m happy if my clothes are relatively fashionable, comfortable, and as flattering as possible. I’ll never wear Armani, Prada, or Dolche and Gabbana. That’s also fine because if the looks on their models’ faces is anything to go by, wearing those designer outfits makes a person über cranky!
I do have my weaknesses, though.
I love chocolate, coffee, and tea, and for these little luxuries, I make no apologies. I love to start a day off with a freshly pressed cup of a my favorite single-estate coffee. I enjoy snuggling up with a great book, and a mug of Russian tea on a chilly, Autumn afternoon. And what is more decadent than a fine chocolate? A 70% cocoa truffle, laced with exotic spices can smooth over a rough day. These little indulgences keep me sane, and they’re cheaper than therapy.
Since I live just East of Nowhere, I have to mail order anything that can’t be bought at Kroger or Wal Mart. (I do not go to our local Wal Mart. It scares me. Everyone there walks around with a dead, glazed look, reminiscent of the scarier moments from The Walking Dead, season 1. I firmly believe the Zombie Apocalypse will begin at the Wal Mart in Sevierville, Tennessee. You have been forewarned.) Being driven to shop online had its benefits, though. I ended up shopping the world to find what I was looking for. (I actually love shopping online.) Since I couldn’t find anything at all locally, there was no settling for what was convenient. Nothing is convenient here. OK. To be fair, if you are looking for jerky, be it buffalo, elk, or probably mongoose, you can buy it in Sevier County. We are probably the jerky outlet capital of the Eastern United States. And we do have an excellent source for hot sauces, The Pepper Palace. They have everything hot sauce related. Their house brands are great, and they are super helpful. I’m just not a big hot sauce fan; I go through about one small bottle a year.
I have found some great online merchants to help me satisfy my cravings.
Excellent coffee does not have to be outrageously expensive. Through trial and error, I have discovered that I prefer coffees from Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Kenya. I’ve found I most enjoy a relatively acidic coffee with a full body and a medium roast. I’m just learning about the processing of the beans, and so far, I have enjoyed the honey processed. I know to steer clear from the Brazilian and Colombian coffees; I just haven’t found any of these that I’ve really enjoyed yet. It’s very interesting to learn how much the location really has on the flavor of the coffee. If you really like a strong coffee, Ethiopian coffees are excellent.
“I like coffee because it gives me the illusion that I might be awake.” – Lewis Black
I purchase my coffees through Go Coffee Go which brings together several gourmet roasters on their site and often offers great deals or discounts on shipping. the majority of the coffees I order fall between $14 and $20 for 12 ounces. Sure, that’s pricier than Folgers, but it’s not Folgers! One of my favorite roasters is Chromatic Coffee. Another fine choice is Temple Coffee. You’ll find that any coffee you order from any of the roasters on the site is roasted within a day or two of being shipped to you. That makes a huge difference! If you compare the price of purchasing a truly exceptional coffee bean to brew yourself with the price of a cup of coffee from Starbucks, it’s really a bargain. (I don’t care for Starbucks coffee. I do like their treats, though, and they have some teas I enjoy.)
If you are cold, tea will warm you. If you are too heated, it will cool you. If you are depressed, it will cheer you. If you are excited, it will calm you. – William E. Gladstone, British Prime Minister
I first learned that I enjoy a good hot cuppa from a lovely little British tea shop that used to be fairly near my home. Alas, like most out-of-the-ordinary things ’round these parts, it was under appreciated and closed. I drank PG Tips and Typhoo and bought my first proper teapot there. I began to learn about teas to find out just why some teas were so much better than just heating up a Lipton tea bag. I learned about first flush harvests, tippy teas, and found out what Orange Pekoe actually is. I know what all those letters after a tea name mean. One of my favorite teas is a Kenyan TGFOP tea: This means tippy, golden, flowery, orange pekoe. Tippy means that it contains a high percentage of the tiny, young leaves at the tips of the branches. Flowery and Golden both refer to the amount of tea buds. These letters actually help you to know how a tea will taste; for example, a BOP tea will be stronger than an OP because the B stands for broken leaves, and the smaller particles make a stronger brew.
I order almost all of my tea now from Upton Teas. They sell loose leaf single origin teas. My favorite teas are a golden Kenyan and a Russian blend tea. Darjeeling teas are very popular, but I found them a bit dry for my personal preference. This also turned out good for my wallet since Darjeelings can be very pricey!
“Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands – and then eat just one of the pieces.” -Judith Viorst
The most extravagant of my addictions is chocolate! I love to go to The Chocolate Fetish in Asheville, North Carolina. While 12 gourmet chocolates for about $25 is a fair price, if I lived closer, I’d be making the fine folks at American Express much too happy. The chocolatiers at The Chocolate Fetish make chocolates that are both beautiful and delicious. One of my favorites is a lavender and honey white chocolate ganache covered with milk chocolate. I also love the 70% cocoa truffles. I haven’t had anything there I didn’t love. Asheville has other delicious chocolate options as well, so chocoholics can revel in what feels like limitless choice.