Saturday, December 18, 2004

kenya americanos and the almondine

as noted yesterday, awesome altie and scaa consumer member jim schulman sent me some of his home-roasted kenya, meant for a single-origin espresso. i think it's best as an americano, personally.

i pulled it as a triple (about 2.25 oz.), added 4 oz. water, a tablespoon of light cream, a pinch of splenda, and sat about with the paper. the kenya hadn't lost all its brightness, offering a little muted twinkle, so that was a good time.

today i did have to finish up the office gift-giving list, so i wandered down the hill to jacques torres, which was a zoo, filled with weird stepford people who were literally from connecticut, if the plates on the double-parked cars were to be believed. the place was packed, yet stripped barren -- invasion of the greenwich locusts -- and smelled like hot chocolate and fresh croissant.

long-time readers know that jacques has opened up a pastry place slantwise across the street, called almondine. i wandered in, even tho' early reviews of it haven't been good.

they had the usual too-frou-frou pastries -- opera, mousses, napoleons, fruit tarts, etc. etc. not a single thing new or interesting -- in a dimly lit case, and four kinds of bread. the bread: a competent-looking baguette, a flattish pain de campagne, a honey-whole-wheat-oat boule, and an olive boule.

the pain de campagne did catch my eye, altho' it was baked too dark -- the edges of the slashes actually appeared singed. i engaged the person-behind-the-counter, a listless young man in a crooked apron.

"could you tell me about the pain de campagne?" i asked. "what?" he said. "um, that flattish sourdough rye, whole wheat, and white bread in the basket." "oh, the rye country bread," he said without a trace of recognition in his face, "it's made with all organic flour."

"and it's not really sourdough," he offered after a pause. "is that a 2-pound loaf?" i asked. "can i have half?" "no," he answered, "we don't sell halves anymore."

i looked around the charmless white boxy storefront so unlike the chocolate shop across the street. "ok, how much is it?" i inquired. "lemme ask in the back," he said.

suddenly the bad reviews all gelled in my head; the place was empty but for me. "no thanks, i really only need a half," i waved goodbye as i fled back into the street. . .

why do i bake bread myself at home? why do i take all the trouble? is there any doubt?

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