Saturday, June 11, 2005
coffee as a health food, as always
one of the many ironies of life is that i am often questioned by well-meaning dead leaf people -- i.e., tea drinkers -- about the supposedly well-known harmful effects of coffee. and of course at the head of this false list of dread is always cancer.
so i always revel in yet more credible, peer-reviewed scientific evidence that disproves this kind of talk. because as long-time readers know, coffee actually appears to protect against many kinds of cancer.
and from japan we have another such study; drinking even just one cup of coffee a day appears to offer the body aid against liver cancer, even in those with diseases that pre-dispose them to it.
as a result, being concerned for the well-being of even the dead-leaf lovers, i always encourage them to try a little coffee, and consider finding a nice, regular yoga class that challenges them.
because without your health. . .
it's true the last few days have been unseasonably hot and humid, very late august. this kind of weather is native to me from my childhood in kansas, so i actually revel in it.
i realize this makes me unusual. perhaps one of the reasons i do so well, practically flying through the muggy days, is due to the fact that i live on iced coffee.
many people are reluctant to try coffee this way, probably because they've suffered through weakly brewed, overly watery concoctions.
but the iced coffee you can make at home is a superior and refreshing beverage. many people who don't otherwise enjoy iced coffee do like some version of thai iced coffee.
i recommend you brew a pot of coffee at 60 or even 65g. (about 2 oz.) of ground beans to 1 liter (about 32 oz.) of water and chill in a closed container.
if you like, brew another pot and pour into ice cube trays and freeze to create coffee ice cubes, which help keep the beverage from being too watery.
in a 12 or 16 oz. iced tea glass, pour 8 or 10 oz. of coffee, add flavored or unflavored syrup with splenda (long-time readers know i favor da vinci or routin), a few coffee ice cubes, and as much condensed milk as you prefer.
it's really that simple! but you can of course fancy it up with liqueurs, stalks of lemon-grass to stir, etc. etc.
Friday, June 10, 2005
fresh honey chocolate caramel
one of the best things about landmarc is the fresh homemade honey chocolate caramels that come with the check. and of course it's already well-known for its wine list.
one of our colleagues i had gone to see in england has been over for the week and i finally got 'round to taking him out to dinner. naturally, he wanted a plain, rare new york steak; and so i wanted to order a new york wine as well.
after perusing the 1/2 bottle list, i selected a 2001 north fork cabernet franc from schneider, even tho' it might have been technically on the light side. it actually worked out pretty well: he enjoyed what i thought was an assertive oaky and smoky flavor, and wasn't put off by its strong violet perfume.
well, it was an editor's pick, after all, i guess.
the chef was kind enough to autograph a menu for my friend and we left all happy, clutching our caramels. how much of this experience was previously conditioned by the vast amounts of syrah we downed model-watching at the soho grand could be discussed. . .
but no, landmarc is justly acclaimed. spending the evening with him was quite enlightening; he is originally from surrey -- he actually says "the home counties"(!) in sarcasm, i think -- and speaks proper queen's english, just like the bbc.
nonetheless, almost no wait or staff person we encountered all evening -- whether born in the states or abroad -- could understand him. at all.
watching him clearly and plainly request a beer was a hoot. the beautiful models/waitresses just stared at him for a beat before looking at me for help.
"may i have a pilsner urquell, please?" he inquired in hugh grant tones. "what would he like?" the leggy brunette from california in a very short, one-shouldered, belted versace tunic asked me.
"i'm sorry," i said to him after she left. "what?" he said. of course his attention had been directed, um, elsewhere, and he hadn't even noticed that i had had to translate from english to english. . .
on a completely different subject, i find this study amusing. the smell of fresh bread enrages; that of fresh coffee increases concentration?
Thursday, June 09, 2005
growing your own
coffea arabica does grow well indoors, with care. you probably won't get cherries unless you live in the right latitude, but it can be a pretty plant.
the ny times tells ya how. (if you need to login, use bugmenot.)
also, a big thanks to scaa pro member and altie, marshall fuss, who notes this interesting article on artisan bread in nyc.
let me also take this time thank kenny nye and rob of 9th st. espresso for holding our fun nyc coffee meetup last night. we did indeed sample an experimental espresso blend based in two super-premium brazils, one of them from daterra (i cupped this, as you may recall).
the door prize, a caffe rosto home roaster, was won by schneider! thanks to jim p. of 1st-line for donating this.
and we scheduled next month's coffee meetup to coincide with the annual scaa member reception on july 11. as usual, we will also be touring the fancy food show the day before with the guidance of steve schulman, dallis coffee's roastmaster.
for full details, run on over to the meetup event page. . .
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
coffee blueberry chocolate smoothie
that's rather the feeling i got this morning after blissfully drinking some of the stumptown "ravishing indigo" as an iced coffee, made in my little vac pot. add sugar and plenty of light cream. . .
i was surprised how strongly the blueberry came through in the cup, and the dark dutch cocoa aftertaste made this beverage feel like a complete breakfast -- no need for a chocolate croissant!
also, i was completely delighted to return home last night and find some of don schoenholt's gillies guatemalan shb, euro prep waiting for me. yum!
that also makes an excellent iced coffee or a very pleasant breakfast cup. in fact, i believe this what don himself usually drinks in the morning.
and don't forget the nyc coffee meetup tonite at 9th st! i do have a door prize to give away!
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
save these dates
- tomorrow, june 8, nyc: the nyc coffee meetup at 9th st. espresso, 7pm to 8pm; please r.s.v.p.;
- june 17-18, greensboro, n.c.: southeastern barista jam; for more info check out the jam page;
- july 11, nyc: the annual swanky scaa member cocktail party at the juan valdez cafe on e. 57th & lex, from 6pm to 8pm;
- july 23, long beach, ca: scaa consumer member homecoming; check out the homecoming page for workshop list -- this is always a super-cool event;
- july 24, sydney, oz: rocks aroma coffee festival, the planet's largest consumer coffee event; last year something like 90,000 coffee lovers went
- sept. 9-11, chapel hill, n.c.: the southeastern regional barista championship; for more info and registration, see the regional competition page for updates.
Monday, June 06, 2005
regional coffee culture, part xxxxiii
" 'our business is down about 10 percent in july and august compared with the winter, but back in the 1960s it was down as much as 40 percent,' said donald schoenholt, president of gillies coffee co., roasters in brooklyn, new york. 'after air conditioning spread from movie theaters to office buildings and then to homes, people for the first time could sit cool at home and drink a hot cup of coffee.' "
great press mention, don! and by the way, did you know your coffee's fantastic?
i'm also extremely happy to report that the beautiful stumptown "ravishing indigo" harrar i ordered arrived today! yowsa!
Sunday, June 05, 2005
maybe lebovitz can do it
dear readers, sometimes i undergo these trials so you don't have to. case in point: the cape gooseberry or physalis, a currently chic fruit.
what interested me about it? it's rumored to be great when dipped in chocolate.
so i tromped over to my local garden of eden and plunked down a kidney for 8 oz. of these. they are a most cheerful yellow color, and mostly indistinguishable from yellow cherry tomatoes when removed from their papery shells.
with high hopes, i rushed home, tossed the shell aside and bit: yikes! it's filled on the inside with a smooth, cherry-like pulp completely dotted with tiny white seeds that pop in your mouth.
and unlike the "pineapple-y" flavor i'd been hearing about, frankly, it tasted to me just like the green tomatillo, but somewhat sweeter, not tart.
ok, so raw was a bust.
naturally i quickly broke up part of a bar of el rey that i had handy, tossed it in the microwave to melt (no seizing!), and did the big dip.
well, it tasted like a yellow cherry tomato that had been coated in 70%. another winner -- not.
several years ago i attended a lecture where a famous chef-personality in orange clogs talked about italian cooking, that what made it great was how desperation forced innovation. or as he put it:"the italians will try out any way to make an ingredient delicious before they have to give up and feed it to the dog."
with this addage in mind, and a quick look at chocolatier david lebovitz' blog (in which he candies cherries), i thought, aha! i will candy these puppies and use 'em as a topping for vanilla ice cream.
thus i poached the remaining 6 oz. in 2/3 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar, and 2 tablespoons cognac. i reduced and reduced (say 20-30 mins.) until they were barely coated in a light caramel-colored syrup and the fruit had collapsed, turning a nice dark saffron color.
i thought i was on the right track here. i added a pinch o' cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and in homage to their tomato-y character, some fresh basil on top in chiffonade.
(this basil idea actually comes from a classic french macedoine of fruit, often seen in a sauce made with courvoisier or grand marnier and topped with said basil. yummy! i used to eat this at the cute and funky hotel savoy in san francisco all the time. . .)
this mixture did vaguely taste like something you might want to eat, altho' any flavor the fruit contributed to it was, um, honestly, minimal.
i spooned this over a small scoop of vanilla -- and regretted it. those horrid little seeds were just annoying. a-n-n-o-y-i-n-g.
in sum, i don't think you can do anything with these cute little critters. i mean, i don't think i can. . .
but maybe lebovitz, he can do it?
due to various happenings, i didn't get a chance to make pizza last sunday.
thus i stored the biga i'd made the previous night in the fridge and brought it out today, gave it a stir, let it warm up, offered it some fresh flour; and soon it seemed as good as new!
then i proceeded to make pizza as usual according to st. hamelman's recipe. . .and lemme note that never had the dough turned out so silky. i'm not sure whether this is a good thing yet or not.
but the dough didn't have that broken, watery quality i associate with overworked or overaged dough, so i'm pretty hopeful! let's see how it bakes up and how it tastes.
in other news, it just so happens that i came to mention my london adventures recently on alt.coffee. several londoners there just didn't believe what i was saying -- "it sounds like something out of dickens," one commented skeptically.
"you make it seem like a surreal avengers episode," another wrote me privately.
alas, what i can i say? wimbledon village is a very special place that doesn't operate like any other part of town, and the inhabitants prefer it so.
on the other hand, the disbelieving shouldn't be the least surprised by my tales of the half-naked madman in the tuxedo jacket, torn kilt, and ragged ballet slippers standing in the pub with its sweet 3-legged dog.
p. ackroyd in his most excellent biography of london takes great pains to emphasize london's innate and unchangeable paganism, the radical sense of individualism held by all londoners, and the innate theatricality of the people and the place together.
i'm just coming to understand how lucky i was to be adopted by the wimbledon regulars and how charming -- and really english -- their little world is.
once again, i highly recommend ackroyd's book! it's just a hoot to read. how good is it?
it's so amusing that a hard-core new yorker like myself can scarcely put it down. i wish ackroyd would write a "bio" like this of new york!
and altho' my experience of london was partial and quite brief, i can tell you there is much obvious truth and wisdom to it, actually.
i'm deliberately parcelling myself out a chapter a day, which goes really well with some classic stan getz and a nice americano. . . no, not that americano, this americano.