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Saturday, March 30, 2002

amazing weather today. . .just a lovely, perfect spring afternoon!

which was completely foreshadowed by last night's turn of events. . .mr. right made the pizza dough! that's right, following the easy recipe here, mr. right turned out a tremendous pizza crust. even tho' he had never touched yeast before. this is surely proof that the recipe is infallable!

today he and i took advantage of the charming evening to walk over to smith street here in brooklyn, which boasts the chicest set of restaurants in all new york. after a dinner at la banania, i stopped by halcyon for a cup of espresso.

halcyon is an ultra-hip coffee bar and music shop, frequented by the unemployed-information-architect-and-flash-designer- making-ends-meet-by-dj-ing set. they are to my knowledge the only place in all new york serving espresso vivace, which is one of my two favorite espresso blends.

since i was passing by, mr. right and i wandered in for a doppio. the barista sported the required black vans old skools and bleached soul-patch. i took a long long look at the grinder, which i swear was a mazzer major. it had that distinctive silvery ice blue metallic-colored housing and elegant, tapered hopper that just screams mazzer. when i asked the barista what it was, he frankly said he didn't know and he didn't seem too interested.

although the place was fullish, i could also immediately tell that they were experiencing a classic slow-bar night, meaning that the commercial espresso machine probably wasn't up to temperature. i hesitated before ordering the double. but then i went for it.

the coffee was frankly what david schomer himself would call sour, a sure sign of a cold machine. the crema was plentiful, but as blonde as jean harlow. proof once again -- the equipment can be good, the coffee beans superb, but it all comes down to the barista, who failed to keep the machine up to temp or to know that this would be a problem and how to correct it.

where o where in new york is the barista who cares?

posted by fortune | 7:47 PM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

Friday, March 29, 2002

recently i noted that cafe-ology was a hot japanese past-time. and what else is going on with tokyo's coffee scene?

james knows all. again, to borrow that fabulous feature of the old new yorker:

letter from a friend in tokyo

coffee is very popular in japan, but i'm no expert -- so this is just my hanging out in the city perspective.

japanese people like very dark coffee. drip is a popular method for brewing, and people who aren't too fussy or so rich just use a coffee filter holder on the cup and pour hot water slowly over the grounds. but japanese love whatever they think is best and coolest, so vaccum brewing is popular.

there are several coffee shop chains -- doutour is cheap and also serves sandwiches and things. it's a great place because in tokyo and other big cities there isn't any place to sit and rest and relax, unless you pay for a seat somewhere, and doutour is the cheapest coffee around. also mr. donuts has great donuts and american coffee, which is not so bad. it's like coffee in the midwest.

but popular now are american coffee cafes -- starbucks and stewart brothers (part of the seattle's best company). a year ago there were huge huge lines to get a latte at starbucks. its new and cool so that's what people want. it's always full and it's cheap.

the most interesting coffee has to be the canned stuff in the vending machines. there are a zillion brands. i even saw a new one the other day trying to seattle-fy and called something like ranier latte. these canned coffees are cold or hot. the hot is great, especially on cold days, as the cans come out hot, and you have to flip it back and forth between your hands to keep them from burning.

(a popular brand is coca-cola's georgia, first introduced in asia in the late 1980s. here too. see an ad for it [windows media player].)

posted by fortune | 7:38 PM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

Thursday, March 28, 2002

and we all know another great chocolate holiday approaches. . .easter.

easter confections mean bunnies and eggs. so naturally i was intrigued to read of a new venture in the chocolate easter egg arena.

but frankly, i've never been a big chocolate bunny fan unless you're serving the classic catalan dish of rabbit in a mole-like sauce of chocolate, raisins, saffron, almonds, and hazelnuts. so my personal easter treat will be a bar of weiss french 64% dark chocolate "Mendiant" with sultanas, pistachios, hazelnuts and almonds created by michel chaudun (he doesn't seem to have an english web page), a former protoge of french chocolate genuis robert linxe.

posted by fortune | 7:30 PM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

Wednesday, March 27, 2002

coffee can change people's lives. . .for the better!

an inspiring story is that of vietnam war vetern lee thorn, who's attempting to rebuild the specialty coffee industry in laos using fair trade principles. working with local villagers to build on the remnants of quality coffee practices from the 1930s, his goal is to recruit coffee farmers to join him in sustainable agriculture and improving their arabica. his website educates the public about this laudable activity.

posted by fortune | 7:01 PM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

Tuesday, March 26, 2002

it's amazing how many people are interested in playing with search engines!

all this google-whacking and google-bombing: incredible. but i also find that people love to play with the humble search engine here. who knows why?

of course, like all search engines, my little-engine-that-really-can't offers me a report of all the words searched. often i use this to fine-tune what i'm writing about, or when making links; all in the effort to make the site more useful to you, the reader. the most frequent search is, surprise!, not for any recipe, but for one or more of the various coffee pots, makers, grinders, or espresso machines i've mentioned in the past. after that, everything to do with chocolate. almost no one ever searches for my pizza recipes. . . .

but c'est la vie; i guess you're not really pizza fanatics, after all! that's when the report gets amusing. of course, i see the vanity searches, the people searching for their names. if i wanted to mention you, you'd know.

then there are the graffiti searches; people typing in witty faux search terms to leave me a sort of secret note so i know that they've been here. and unfortunately, there are also juvenile searches, people typing in obscene words. i mean, "on the internet no one knows you're a dog" -- until your behavior proves it. luckily, i don't get too many dogs here!

this is all a long preface to an annoucement that after i do the fancy facelift, i will look into upgrading the search engine to make it more useful. stay tuned and please don't forget to upgrade yourself!

posted by fortune | 7:15 PM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

Monday, March 25, 2002

what is that peeking out from my big pink longchamps bag?

why it's a half-pound of espresso vivace's dolce blend. even sealed up in its professional plastic shipping pack, its fresh-roasted scent is overwhelming. . .i just love this blend for its beautiful pompeii-red crema and amazing aroma. una bella tazza di caffe, indeed.

is it strange to go to bed already dreaming about the espresso you're going to have tomorrow???

posted by fortune | 8:16 PM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

Sunday, March 24, 2002

american chocolate week's gone. but not to despair. the beauty of our multi-culti and diverse world is that there's always another holiday for which chocolate is appropriate! in this spirit of plur -- peace, love, unity and respect -- i encourage chocolate-lovers everywhere to celebrate as many holidays as possible.

in this case, the venerable holiday of passover, which starts in just a few days. this family gathering traditionally involves a lot of very stressful and labor-intensive cooking and baking. thus the need for a fast treat that's easy to make, not expensive, and gives the children something to do. i think this simple, kid-friendly chocolate-coated matzoh fits the bill. and helps introduce children to the pleasures of cooking and the joys of working with chocolate.

(not to mention that actual real cooking has ceased to be a daily chore for most in this country and is now practically a luxury for most middle-class americans. also, if your child shows aptitude, there's nothing but working through a lot of dirty dishes until they're starring on food tv. tho' personally i might prefer if they took a cue from alice waters. . .)

since, dear readers, i know you always keep better-quality chocolate chips and plugra in your possession, you can take this recipe and make something pleasing out of it. in the spirit of the day, you can use any of the many high-quality kosher chocolates available. . .for example, callebaut callets are certified kosher. . .

posted by fortune | 11:20 AM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

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