Monday, July 1, 2013

Cake Pops, Tapioca Pearls, and Other Exotic Foods

I saw my first cake pops today while waiting in line at the bakery for a take-out sandwich.  The bakery case was full of the usual cupcakes and brownies, but it also featured three frosted balls with sticks coming out of them and lots of sprinkles.  The sign said "Cake Pops - Lemon."

Later in the afternoon I stopped by Dobra tea room down on Lexington Street for some Vietnamese bubble tea.  I first tasted this tea in Brooklyn a few years ago while visiting my son and his wife and baby.  One afternoon when I was pushing my then-nine month old grandson Nate in his stroller and we passed a Vietnamese sandwich shop where we had ordered take out from the night before.  I had to have some more bubble tea, so Nate and I went in and got some.  It's a cold, milky tea served with giant chewy tapioca balls that you drink through a very wide straw.  Nate was at the age of wanting to try everything anyone around him was eating or drinking, so I gave him a sip of my tea.  He loved it and didn't want to give it back.  The greatest fun for him was when a ball would glug through the straw and surprise him.  It's my favorite part of the bubble tea experience too.

I searched and searched for bubble tea when I got back to Asheville and finally found it at Dobra.  The version that Dobra makes is so excellent:  the tea can be of your own choosing from among their literally hundreds of teas and tisanes.  The milk can be regular milk, soy milk, or sunflower seed milk (my choice since I don't like milk and sunflower milk is somehow less offensively milky than milk).  The tapioca pearls (I have learned they are called) are not sugary but very subtly flavored and of a perfect consistency.  They put tiny ice cubes in the glass, and sometimes a bit of ice travels up the fat straw with a few pearls. 

 As I was finishing up my tea after I got home, I was really curious about how tapioca pearls are made, so I googled it and found the recipe.  I learned that tapioca is made from the tuber of the manioc or cassava root (remember  your geography book in the fifties and the native people who pounded manioc root?) It's really simple to make, and the pearls are shaped by hand, not by some mysterious process of bubble-creation that I was imagining.  I copies the recipe and illustrated it here in case anyone needs some bubble tea in a pinch and can't find it in her or his home town.


  1. i think i might like bubble tea. i sure like the name!

  2. I am enjoying watching your sketches each day, please don't stop... your sketches confirm that idea that you can sketch anything and sometimes several anythings on one page. Love, love, love it!