DAVIS ISLANDS — Abigail St. Clair has been a tea connoisseur "at least since kindergarten," she says. "My father took me to New York to places like the Russian Tea Room and Takashimaya when I was a young girl to indulge my rather sophisticated interest," she said.
Not long ago, her husband, Hunter St. Clair, read the tea leaves and saw success, urging her to start a business and share her knowledge. On Dec. 10, Abigail opened Te Bella in the Davis Islands business strip, selling 84 varieties of loose tea by the ounce or brewed hot or iced.
"I love teaching people where teas come from and what makes them so special," she said. "Much like wine, each has a story about its flavor profile."
Seating is limited, but St. Clair offers a bottomless cup for $4.95. "All you can drink on site,'' she says. For coffee lovers, she recommends a café au lait blend of black tea, coffee beans, cocoa and chocolate chips.
Sweet treats include chocolates, biscotti and cupcakes and double-decker macarons by local pastry chef Kim Yelvington. Teapots, mugs, strainers and such are also for sale.
What's her favorite? Mint julep, an organic white tea, mixed with peppermint, rose petals and lavender, served hot or iced for $3.50. "It's our version of a Southern classic, minus the bourbon," St. Clair quips.
Te Bella is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. at 227 E Davis Blvd. Call (813) 254-1212 or tebellatea.com.
Coastal living stuff in the 'little green house'
After three-plus years as an Internet-based business, Kimberly Nix began selling coastal living accessories "in a little green house," two blocks south of Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club, in September.
Previously, her website and occasional home and gift shows were the only places to see Nix's selection of pillows and bedding, candles, frames, vases and jewelry. Now she sells casual whitewashed, weathered, louvered, and slip-covered furniture as well.
"This is definitely me. I just love the coastal lifestyle," said Nix, a Tampa native whose husband, Gilmer Nix, runs a business in the same "little green house."
Her online business evolved as Nix was decorating her own home. "When I couldn't find things, I took a chance and started an online community,'' she said.
Nix quickly tapped local artists to showcase their work, including Heather Kendall, known for her shelled mirrors and accessories.
"We're so lucky to be able to enjoy this lifestyle," Nix said.
Seaside Home Accents & Gifts, 1902 S MacDill Ave., is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call (813) 839-4544 or visit seasidehomeaccents.com.
Traditional Indian fare comes to Kennedy
Cardamom, cinnamon, clove, tamarind and turmeric spices are the not-so-secret ingredients in northern Indian dishes served at India's GrilKennedy.
"Everything is just the way we make it in India," says owner Ravindran Kesavan. "We don't Americanize anything."
Kesavan caters to a large Indian following at the restaurant he opened in September next to the BP gas station fronting WestShore Plaza. He is also a partner in the Taste of India restaurants, with five locations in Florida.
"Very traditional,'' he said, describing the clay oven cooking technique used to make tandoori chicken and Indian flat bread.
The menu lists several lamb and seafood dishes at $12.99, and nine kinds of chicken, including chicken tikka, tandoori, butter and spicy Vindaloo, for $11.99. There are many vegetarian choices.
Kesavan recommends the crepe-like masala dosa, a Southern Indian specialty stuffed with potatoes and topped with coconut chutney.
A daily all-you-can-eat buffet is served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for $7.99.
India's GrilKennedy is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays till 9 p.m. at 4843 W Kennedy Blvd. Call (813) 319-4014 or 4015.
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