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Saturday, January 15, 2005

fresh goat and the essenza

what a day! we here at bccy started the morning with a triple cappuccino made with absolutely fresh batdorf dancing goat. what fine coffee that is -- thank you as always jessica!

later as i proceeded into the boule process via st. hamelman, i made a napoletana of david's atomic organic espresso, the essenza. 7 days old now, but it is yummy, yummy; outta the napoletana it had a very strong dark chocolate finish.

tomorrow i'll brew it as espresso in silvia. due to the freezing cold weather today -- remember it was 60 yesterday, right? -- the bread was rising slowly, so it wasn't ready to bake by the time i had to leave for the dentist.

i stuck it in the fridge to hang out while i was gone. i must say, blanche performed as good as new. . . and i used my brand new roul'pat mat for shaping the dough.

this meant i didn't have to put flour on the counter, thus no flour on the floor, and so mr. right was a very happy camper. despite being sick as a dog.

but since he was as sick and sad as 3 dogs staring thru a plate-glass window at a string of hot dogs, i decided to make him some hot cocoa, which he loves.

my recipe for hot cocoa goes like this: 1 tablespoon droste cocoa; 1 tablespoon sugar-free da vinci white chocolate syrup; 1/8 teaspoon chinese 5 spice powder; 1 tablespoon light cream.

combine these in the bottom of a cup and stir to a paste with a fork. slowly add 6-8 oz. of the milk product of your choice, stirring the whole time.

heat for about 2 mins. in the microwave, stir again. add 1-3 drop(s) vanilla if you like; enjoy!

the bread turned out perfect, as all of hamelman's recipes always do. . .you bet.

posted by fortune | 6:37 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Friday, January 14, 2005

how to hook up with that cute barista

of course, since -- as everyone knows -- i'm married, this article is useless to me. i had no idea that baristi were such objects of grand passion -- live and learn.

while i got over that dreadful cold i had from xmas thru new years, everyone else i know is still sick; thus i dread catching it again in some mutant and more virulent form. terrifying.

the weather here is so crazy: it was 60 degrees this morning in new york(!), in january(!); then it started this weird snow and rain mix thing, which, after about an hour, stopped abruptly.

we are now returning to spring, interrupted. it may be impossible to stay well.

but i'm going to try. i got up this morning and had another cup of david's atomic coffee "veloce" while reading his summer newsletter. right, he's in new zealand, it's summer.

the veloce, like all coffee, is changing as it ages. there's a little fruity/ferment thing going on in there, i think, and it's easier to detect now that the coffee's on the move.

i have to say i do wonder what this coffee would taste like if it were roasted to that illy color. it might be a little brighter, which i think david is trying to avoid.

however the crema glob thing is happening a-pace. that's cool.

now that my kitchenaid stand mixer, blanche, has returned from the hospital, i'll be starting some more of hamelman's baguette this evening. i have no bread in my freezer.

it's weird to open it and see it so empty, since usually it's stuffed with evidence of all the things we here at bccy so love.

and finally, i want to offer a quick update on my newish black mat from peter at manduka. it is getting stickier with every wash. .

p.s.: for all dear readers with questions about the mermaid's new drinking chocolate product, chantico, please see my previous remarks.

posted by fortune | 8:00 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Thursday, January 13, 2005

thanks and ecco again

let me begin by thanking everyone who came out for the coffee meetup last night! it was fantastic to meet you all -- and i was so happy to see pro baristi luke and dan, who came all the way from pennsylvania.

i also want to express special appreciation to mary petitt at juan valdez (the colombian coffee federation); jim p. of 1st-line; oren; don s. at gillies coffee; steve colten of atlantic; and norman v. thank you for sponsoring this event and for contributing door prizes!

i'm deeply grateful. we decided as group that next month's event will be a basic origin tasting. more on that later.

right now i want to return to what seems to be theme of the last two weeks: superpremium brazil in espresso. i know, i know -- the pro baristi are still into the so-called "s.o.s." or "single-origin shot."

i love single origins, so i've no problem with that. but i do adore my blended italian-style coffee too.

this leads me, after yesterday's atomic, to go back to andrew's ecco northern-italian espresso, which also is a blend containing superpremium brazils.

again, grab those scaa flavor wheels. . .

i've been drinking andrew's espresso at intervals for about 10 days now. it's fascinating how during that time the coffee changes.

the ecco regular espresso -- you may recall that the organic espresso smelled so good through the valve a guest asked to take it back to vermont with her -- is a light-medium-dark roast, northern-italian style. if you put it next to the atomic veloce, it's noticeably lighter.

it too is a mellow, sweet coffee, with that heavy brazil motor-oil body. it coats the back of a demitasse spoon like thick thanksgiving gravy.

the mattos family andrew's brazil is noteworthy, grown by afonso mattos (pictured far right in green tie, with family members and lula, the president of brazil, red tie), whose fazenda braúna is located in matas de minas, the north of minas gerais. this coffee came in the top 10 of the 2003 brazil cup of excellence.

due to its slightly ligher roast and different components with the brazil, however, the ecco espresso offers a different flavor. and when i say different components, i'm talking about the famed monsooned malabar.

again, this is a prize-winning coffee: the malabar's from aspinwall and won the 2004 india fine cup of coffee competition. as you can see, andrew is intent on offering only world-quality beans.

no doubt the fresh dry grounds are also intensely floral, but with a bit of fruitiness, probably from the malabar.

when younger (say at day 4 to 7), the ecco espresso was nutty (that should be from the brazil?), and caramel-y. specifically, i'd say malty, toasty, and with a roasted almond feeling.

later, as in now, i'm feeling the heavier notes more, a maple-syrupy thing, but a little less candy-like.

the monsooned malabar aftertaste, that distinctive earthy quality, was less noticeable when the coffee was young; but has risen more into prominence as the coffee matures.

at day 4, i nearly despaired making triples with this coffee, because it offered so much crema that a reasonably timed pour was overflowing my shot glasses with foamy mousse before the coffee could settle out. i attributed this to the combination of the superpremium brazil and the malabar.

now at day 14, the crema's more manageable, almost "normal." if you like an especially distinctive sumatra, then you'll love walking through the ecco espresso lifecycle: it will seem familiar, but different.

you'll say hmm, earthy, i know this, but somehow it's also a little different. maybe you might say the difference between "wet earth that cracked hard" and "dry potting soil with vermiculite."

or however you want to express that. . .in a cappuccino, the ecco does stand out more than the atomic. it's distinctive, again, due to the malabar.

of course fans of dr. john's josuma cult espresso, malabar gold, will love this coffee. but since the ecco is all-arabica, it remains its own person.

and those who don't like the robusta in dr. john's coffee might very well appreciate the ecco too. however, if you don't like monsooned coffees, you are going to have to stretch yourself to "get" andrew's espresso.

highly recommended! what a fun journey with andrew's coffees!

posted by fortune | 6:51 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

motor oil, changing to crema globs

i only know one way to say this, so i'm going to say this: david's atomic coffee "veloce" blend from yesterday is an effing awesome espresso. it's what you wished illy would be.

grab your scaa flavor wheel. . .

i didn't cup this coffee, but just brewed it up this morning on silvia, my italian princess, as a triple. i ran a lot of water to try to bring the temperature down.

david didn't really give me any temperature or time guidelines. but i think this coffee is best at 25 seconds (um, i brewed a couple shots to check this out).

the veloce is a medium-dark roast; at 4 days old, some beans show pinpricks of oil. it has a sweet, mild taste, and i couldn't find any brightness at all.

the body is exceptionally heavy -- it flowed out of the single spout like motor oil, in a stream spiraled with crema. at about 13 seconds, the crema "globbed up" and fell out in discrete honey-colored spheres.

the dry grounds were very strongly floral. david said he was blending for caramel, and i think he found it -- caramel and vanilla syrup.

the aftertaste had just a hint of, hmm, how to describe this? walnut skin!

you know, if you chew on a bit of the papery skin on the toasted walnut meat? the finish leaves your mouth a little watery.

david describes this coffee as earthy, but i couldn't find any of that today. . .or maybe what i'm calling "toasted walnut skin," he's thinking of as "earth."

this is a very yummy coffee, as sweet and heavy as advertised (those superpremium brazil cerrados!). after having a shot plain, alas, in the interests of fair review i was forced to make another as an italian-style cappuccino.

here's where it reminded me most of "illy. . .plus." in italy, the illy really blends into the milk; it's not lost there, but creates a new, happy thing with the microfoam.

and the veloce blend is exactly the same. however, when i drink illy, it's a good coffee, but seems a little dull to me; this may be an age issue.

the veloce is like the illy, in that there's nothing overly fancy -- you could in fact drink this coffee all day, in the italian style (that is, you know, italians will stop by their favorite bar for 3 or 4 shots throughout the day, which is possible in italy, since an espresso there is usually just E0.75).

for this model, you need a really pleasant, friendly coffee, interesting enough to finish the cup, but not so complicated that it twists you up trying to figure it out.

so the veloce offers the plus of freshness and interest!

i think the veloce is just a beautiful, beautiful coffee, not to mention that incredible body. i'm crazy about this espresso; why does it have to be roasted completely around the planet away from me?

ok, i can't sob on the ground over this. but i'm tempted to.

if i were a home roaster, i might buy a large amount of this green and parcel it out to other interested parties -- then the shipping might be vaguely affordable. . .only then. . .sigh.

posted by fortune | 6:40 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

clearing customs


and what has just come to me? but david's atomic coffee from new zealand!

albeit wrapped in wacky u.s. customs stuff and also packed to endure the rigors of dhl, this coffee smells so sweet and delicious everyone commented upon it.

what do i have? 200 grams of the "essenza organic," roast dated just 3 days ago, and the same amount of the "veloce" blend.

i believe -- correct me if i'm wrong here -- that the veloce is what emma markland-webster used in the world barista championship in 2002, where as you can see she placed fifth, soundly kicking the u.s.a. contender's rear.

but enough ancient history -- what does david have to say about his coffees? ok:

"Our blends are all-arabica. And virtually all is used in espresso. It is unusual to see a drip machine in a cafe [in New Zealand].

Many of the NZ espresso blends I find a bit acidic, but our main espreso blend 'Veloce' I deliberately designed as a full-body, lower-acidity espresso."

wow. i wish i could describe how this coffee smells, or the intensity with which it fills the room. . . .i'm drinking this one tomorrow, you bet.

"essenza" here i come! thanks very much david!

i don't think anyone in new york has ever had this prize-winning, barista-champ, international-quality coffee. ever.

i can't wait. really.

posted by fortune | 1:49 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

drinking chocolate & don't forget tomorrow

today the mermaid launches her new drinking chocolate product. i won't say "hot chocolate," because everyone then thinks "swiss miss cocoa."

this is a full chocolate, ground and melted in a dairy-type base, along the lines of what you see classically in famed parisian teahouse angelina (the so-called "l'africain") or at the bar rivoire in florence.

but of course adapted for a quik-serv situation and with american tastes in mind. at angelina's this drink is said to be valrhona manjari melted in what we americans might call "light cream" and slowly stirred until it evaporates to serious thickness, almost like a drinkable pot de crème au chocolat. . .

and please, don't forget tomorrow's coffee event at juan valdez! it's true it may rain a bit, but don't be shy: please r.s.v.p. and bring your umbrella!

the door prizes seem set to include: the floor model capresso coffeetec, possibly a bodum caftiére; (a.k.a. french press), a set of 4 demitasse cups, and lots of fresh coffees, most whole bean.

it looks like we will have quite a mix of people: a couple of scaa consumer members; several pro baristi; maybe a roaster/retailer; and a lot of people who are just interested in coffee and brand-new to the group.

so no matter who you are, you won't be alone. please feel free to drop on by!

posted by fortune | 8:33 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Monday, January 10, 2005

the little train that could

"coffee is the engine that pulls breakfast," says scaa chief ted lingle. he's always full of pithy quotes like that, you know?

this remark is generated by the official announcement that mickey d's is going upscale with its coffee. notice it says "premium;" i think that means, "better, but not specialty."

i could be wrong about that tho' since the scaa's own website sometimes uses the term specialty and premium interchangeably.

as a consumer, i'm just glad to see any movement toward better coffee at the mass level.

and here's an interesting piece about changes in the u.s.a.'s coffee culture. . .featuring, of course, another pertinent observation by, yes, ted lingle.

and finally, speaking of coffee culture, the new italian ban on smoking in public places is to my mind a very good thing for business owners, if only they would see it. i myself don't like smoke, and mr. right has allergies.

instead of drinking coffee at the bar and running out when i was in italy last autumn, i would certainly have paid the extra to have coffee (and dessert) at a table where i could people-watch, if the smoke hadn't been so bad.

especially at the tazza d'oro! but since most people in italy don't smoke (about 70% are nonsmokers, it seems), a clever cafe owner can seize this opportunity to increase business and the size of the average check to boot.

posted by fortune | 8:50 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Sunday, January 09, 2005

a clear and present danger

the new year always brings out new yoga students, which is a good thing. but why o why do they always seem to insist on practicing right next to me?

yes, today saw me knocked forwards as an arrogant newbie guy decided he would try to hop up into tripod headstand from prasarita padottanasana. why do people in their second class decide to try these moves?

naturally, he had no idea what he was doing, and just tossed himself into the air. but since he didn't know how to pick his feet up off the mat, he ended up doing a very ugly forward flip over his neck(!) with his feet landing full force right where my leg meets my rear.

naturally i was also bent over and went tumbling forward, with my leg where he hit it making an interesting popping noise, similar to that at thanksgiving you twist the turkey leg out of its joint. ouch!

to make matters worse, i got a real beavis & butthead kind of apology. "heh heh," he mumbled, "sorry, man."

hey guy, i wanted to snap, could you go threaten lives elsewhere? but actually, the responsibility here lies with the teacher.

when teachers see people like this in class, they need to rush over and offer assistance as well as explaining that these fancy tricks not are good things to do when you're an ultra-beginner. . . .

thus, i limped home and broke out the tylenol and the china gel. i think i'm going to be taking lunges, warriors, and side extended angles easy for a couple of weeks!

i just had to let it go, and limp home with a bruise at the top of my hamstring.

posted by fortune | 4:42 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

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