Saturday, May 21, 2005
spring lamb & primitivo
after a day of brilliant and beautiful sunshine, suddenly london came to visit. in the evening the weather turned wet and frigid. with my sister-in-law in town we defaulted from our previous outdoor dining plans to bklyn nabe favorite (sometimes serving a tad slow) noodle pudding.
where i delighted in a dish of papperdelle and spring lamb ragu, with a side of hot barley and lentil salad. sure, it's almost a winter menu except for the lamb, but then it was almost a winter day. . .
for the wine, i went with a primitivo from puglia, the 2003 salento by masseria del pilone. it's a pleasant simple wine i knew my inlaws would be able to drink, with a pretty ruby color and a slightly velvety feel.
naturally, when it came time for the coffee, i just returned home to the fresh dancing goat. . .noodle pudding has great food and honest tasty wines, but coffee they alas still don't get!
speaking of getting, on my way to my hair appointment -- where i'm famous for the way they blow dry my hair, standing on a chair while three staff try to do the honors so that it takes less than an hour, much to the astonishment of new clients who aren't used to these antics -- i stopped in at the whole foods market on union sq.
and what did i see there? cheeses from neal's yard! alas, only pasteurized ones. . .the beautiful wigmore and the durrus irish i had in london of course are ridiculously illegal here. . .
seeing the cheese made me so nostalgic i immediately went back for another 4 drops of the rescue. it's a shame really to miss london so, with only p. ackroyd to keep me company!
anyway, i did cruise by the coffee counter to see the amusing air roaster they use to roast the coffee in the store, but the staff was so inattentive even when the timer went off it was tragic. oh, and i have to ask: why don't they sell gillies there?
they do stock 2 vastly inferior coffees they advertise as being roasted in new york city. . .why don't they sell the best? hmm?
the loom of time
i'm still enjoying this little book, the biography of london, because it's so beautifully written. p. ackroyd the author has wonderful little phrases, such as "the sound of london is the loom of time," and i understand what he means, even tho' my experience of london was all birdsong and the gentle tearing-cotton hiss of milk steaming.
i highly recommend this book for anyone with even a casual interest in london. but beware! it is an affecting read that may send you off for a cup of fresh batdorf (thanks jessica!) dancing goat to cheer you up.
i myself was left so weepy and tremulous not only did i need an extra-long headstand in danika's yoga class yesterday, but i also dosed my sorrow-reducing half-glass of hot milk with honey and turmeric with an extra shot of bach's rescue remedy.
oops! hairdresser time! gotta run. . .back later maybe.
Friday, May 20, 2005
sweet spot for charity
all long-time readers know i'm a big believer in philanthropy, and so bccy choco-pal john nanci informs me of this good cause, the chocolate cure.
while i don't know the girl involved personally, she is a friend of john's. and i am pretty darn fond of john (along with his black utili-kilt; only for dedicated 'net skirts who like ink!).
so go there in fairly good faith! in other chocolate news, some hack from godiva wrote me to ask if i would hawk their new chocolixir chocolate beverage product.
this is pretty funny, because if godiva actually read this blog, they'd know i largely prefer artisan chocolates, which they are decidedly not. "if you can help us out with this promotion, we can offer you a pound of godiva chocolate to either keep for yourself or give away on your site," they write.
sorry godiva; neither myself nor anyone i know is really gonna leap at that offer. . godiva, the gevalia of chocolate. . .can i bear to actually link to gevalia from here?
i guess i can, but i'm holding my bejeweled nose as i do so.
anyway, lemme tell you about the colten blend that's so great with the dulce de leche for those readers roasting along at home: it's 50% sumatra mandheling, 45% sumatra lintong, and 5% kenya aa. don't wait; try it out now!
Thursday, May 19, 2005
welcome rick peyser!
and it is truly my greatest pleasure to welcome long-time bccy pal, scaa consumer member advocate, and gmcr exec rick peyser to the presidency of our beloved scaa.
despite these amazing achievements, what to my mind marks rick the most is his complete devotion to coffee-related philanthropy, most notably my favorite charity, coffee kids.
during the recent scaa election, i understand many members worried about the future of the association. but for those few who still don't know, rick p. truly gets it.
he believes in all the things we members -- pro and consumer, roaster, hobbyist, retailer, and barista -- do, and he is passionately engaged in the issue of change, just as we are.
and despite other election-time fears, i know the improvements rick will be starting will be carried through by the new 2nd v.p. as she ascends to her presidency, the lovely mary petitt of juan valdez.
personally, as i've said before, i found myself happy that mary's been elected, as it sends a fantastic signal to coffee farmers everywhere -- remember that juan valdez is ultimately nothing but a co-op of coffee growers -- that we in the specialty coffee industry honor them for their commitment and sacrifice to offer the very best coffees they can grow.
it's just gonna be a great year for the scaa. really.
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
dulce de leche + sumatra = happiness
yesterday one of the longest-time supporters of the scaa consumer member effort, former scaa prez steve colten, gave me a most excellent gift.
and what he gave me was a batch of various sumatras he'd put together at the exchange and roasted for me himself in the antique jabez burns sample roaster (unfortunately carolyn there ground it, thinking we were coming back to cup it!) along with a jar of what is widely thought to be one of the best dulce de leches available, la salamandra from argentina.
what's great about this caramel is that the milk comes from just one herd of prize cows, and the milk itself is also of the highest quality. plus it's made with real mexican vanilla for a heady vanilla taste, which i happen to like a lot.
"press the sumatra and drink it with the dulce spread on plain white toast," he said. "you won't believe how beautifully these pair at breakfast." he's right about this.
don't hesitate, dear readers! check this out yourself!
when i called him this morning to thank him for this fantastic treat, he gave a verbal shrug: "forget london," he said. "new york always loves you."
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
what coffee shops mean, redux
"the arrival of a coffee house culture, where party politics, whigs against tories, began to be played out, marks the real start of informed public opinion."
and thus begins real, modern democracy, yes? over coffee. . .
i cover this topic a lot, because it's one of my favorites -- the local neighborhood coffee house has an overwhelming community purpose, more than the bar or the pub. why?
it just has to do with the nature of the beverage itself; whereas pubs (i've learned this first hand now!) encourage a lot of meaningless chatter, flirting, storytelling, soccer-watching, smoking, and some political talk, real social change happens at the coffee house.
maybe that's because at the bar or pub everyone gets drunk, goes home, sleeps it off and forgets about it. but at the coffeehouse, the intellect is nurtured and real human bonds can be formed.
in other news, one of my favorite yoga teachers, mark whitwell, has announced a yoga workshop at kripalu july 1-3. if you can make it, do!
believe me, i'd love to be there myself. . .but i might be able to make the nyc workshop at be yoga on may 21, if i'm lucky!
Monday, May 16, 2005
back to yoga
there's nothing like a good yoga class to cure jet lag. seriously.
after this trip and also the recent scaa conference in seattle, i dealt with the time differences effortlessly by yoga.
there's just something about a nicely choreographed yoga class i find that instantly resets the body clock -- i'm not sure which poses might do this, but some sources suggest that a series of inversions does this trick.
i know a lot of people remain skeptical that yoga pose combinations can have these deep effects, but i have to say that while i myself am quite an empirical and even materialist person, my personal experience and that of many others i know simply show that for some things yoga works really well.
jet lag appears definitely to be one these things. . .
for example yesterday at my regular sunday night yoga class with mary beth at yoga people, we did a 5 min. supported headstand at the wall. traditionally, yoga describes jet lag as a condition caused by too much vata, so poses that act to reduce or balance vata should be helpful.
headstand of course will do this, as would boat poses, supine spinal twists, and chanting mindfully while meditating on the sound. also pranayama that focuses on lengthening the breath.
mary beth's particular class yesterday just happened to include all these elements, so my jet lag instantly vanished and i felt as right as rain!
it's just amazing how much i missed my yoga practice while i was away. it was wonderful to come back and find my sadhana waiting for me like a good friend!
Sunday, May 15, 2005
so i woke up this morning and realized i must have been possessed with an unknown form of passing madness, because it's true: for some inexplicable reason, i appear to have left wimbledon voluntarily.
london is fantastic, albeit unwelcoming -- if only someone would open a open a coffeehouse like monmouth but with a more modern roaster. . .
i did manage to pick myself up off my big leather couch and dry my frantic tears -- those sarcastic english people do grow on you even as they break your heart, those wombles of wimbledon roaming the high street -- thru a consoling audience with my italian princess the rancilio silvia and a fresh pound of the classic batdorf dancing goat.
decent cappuccino in hand, and as the warm late spring day blossomed over my view of manhattan from the verrazano bridge to the chrysler building, i began to feel better and better. it took just a quick glance over at p. ackroyd's biography of london -- i love the completely non-english romantic passion with which he writes about his beloved london, he must be a coffee drinker -- to give me another case of the transatlantic blues.
as a dyed-in-the-wool new yorker, i was quite surprised at how fond i grew of london, with its short buildings, short business hours, and eccentric but beautiful characters. even tho' i did too often have to put up with all the usual gibes about being a stupid, neurotic, poorly-dressed, shallow, tasteless person with puerile fast-food conversation: an american.
it just gave me a severe case of the mixed-feeling thing, you know? i wanted to like all the english people i met and they are quite charming, but again, as my russian friend reminded me, i am a foreigner to them and they can never truly get over that. . .
the whole election there with the hue-and-cry about foreign affairs really stirred up a rather french-type anti-americanism and casually open anti-semitism (prince harry was just following public feeling with that armband thing after all), it seemed to me. and of course i couldn't expect them to understand what being from a blue state means, you know?
to the majority of them i appeared little different than a stereotyped texan. . .and of course if you politely challenge them on it, they then turn on a dime and accuse you of having no sense of humor. . .but politics is boring, while coffee is interesting.
i will close my london travel journal by remarking on a wine i had for dinner the last night i was there, back at the enoteca turi, with its famed wine cellar. this was a chardonnay from piedmont, rivetti's 'lidia' la spinetta 2000.
i generally dislike chardonnays, but this was easily the nicest one i have ever, ever had. unlike the reviewer, i didn't find it overly oaky, but rather enjoyed the vanilla and passion fruit creamy flavor. . . .
it graced a lovely bit of roast guinea fowl with fresh silken asparagus and a delicate puree of the sweetest young peas i've ever had the pleasure to eat. highly recommended.