Monday, May 02, 2005

brew ha-ha

one of the interesting things about being in england is the great variety of newspapers. i'm reading a different one every day, which is how i came across the observer.

the observer has a sunday magazine rather like that of the ny times, but i think with better food writing -- certainly the wine writing is very accessible, upbeat, and unpretentious, even when attempting to explain something as technical as brett.

at any rate, yesterday it had a nice little article on home coffee machines. the writer, some ian tucker, ranted about his love-hate relationship with ikea, and then offered his capsule reviews of several coffeemakers, including the kitchenaid dual-boiler artisan espresso machine.

since this section is called "interiors plus," i wasn't expecting a lot of coffee knowledge here. but he does allude to the advantages of the dual boiler system, gives it the best review, and deems it the "king" of home espresso.

his flip, closing "plus it makes all the right coffeehouse noises" i think is just the mandatory english humor, since to appear earnest or enthusiastic here about anything appears to be a social faux pas worse than, oh, first-degree manslaughter.

lemme note that the GBP499 price of the kitchenaid is not that far out of line from the u.s.a., where it's often seen for about US$950. however, i personally have to say that everyone i know who has bought a kitchenaid machine has returned it, mostly because they seem to feel it's underpowered in the steaming department.

the article goes on to approve of the alessi "geo" pour-over drip pot by medini, which with its little face on the filter cone, straight sideways "ear" handles, and a pointed "hat" through the water reservoir, looks rather like a cross between a kachina doll and pinocchio.

this gets a good review for whimsy and function from the author. in a more minimal style, tucker also likes a pot i've never seen in the states, a white and silver auto-drip cube by rowenta that appears to me to be a missing piece of the 2001 space odyssey set decor.

finally he offers tepid praise for a simple bodum-style drip pour-over from habitat, the "kenya" model. from this piece, and the fact that i see the eva "solo" for sale in upscale kitchen stores about wimbledon, i'm gathering that we are witnessing the birth of a more serious home coffee culture here in england.

as always, however, i must regret that the article doesn't mention brewing temperatures for the auto-drips at all. since so many don't brew hot enough, i always have a difficult time recommending them.

on the other hand, i will note that the article does use the term cafetiére correctly. which makes my day.

this being a so-called "bank holiday," i'm off not to work but to the tate modern after lunch. i'll be taking the subway, which is just fantastic, as are the buses.

i can't help marvelling at how clean, bright and comfy the underground here is. in fact, it's much nicer than an american amtrak business class train car!

how do they keep the plush upholstery fresh and clean?

posted by fortune | 4:32 AM | top | link to this | email this: | links to this post | | 0 comments

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