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Saturday, July 16, 2005

chemex filter feng shui, part ii

as promised earlier in the week, i took some time this afternoon after my usual saturday noon yoga class to ponder the exact positioning of the chemex filter.

ok, so i boiled up a lot of water, pre-wet the filter, and placed it just so -- centering the 3-ply portion of the filter over the spout so the the "peak" points directly over it -- added 100g (3.5oz) of oren's fresh sulawesi ground on my saeco 2002 at setting "14," poured over 1.5 liters (about 51oz.) of 198 degree f. water, and got a total brewing time of 7 mins. 20 secs.

what did i get? coffee that was a tad too strong for my personal taste.

however, this is different than the slow-brewing overextracted coffee i was getting before. so that's progress.

tomorrow, i'll making this coffee in the chemex again, exactly the same way -- but with only 3.25oz coffee. if that's still a tad strong, i'll be taking it down to 3oz. flat.

i feel like i'm narrowing in on this thing; i feel like i've got the grind right!

tomorrow or the next day should be it. please stay tuned.

posted by fortune | 11:43 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Friday, July 15, 2005

fresh coffee

and a big bccy thanks to tim fleming of caffè d'arte! as a surprise gift he sent his firenze and fabriano espresso blends, as well as his velletri wood-roasted drip blend to try out in the chemex.

and, like clockwork, the beautiful jessica of batdorf also sent mr. right his usual lovely dancing goat. honestly, he loves that coffee more than any other; it's pretty much the only blend he'll drink at all. . .

its delicious walnut flavor is pretty distinctive, no doubt! again, thanks to jessica and tim.

posted by fortune | 2:13 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Thursday, July 14, 2005

subtle change?

ok, so as long-time readers may have figured out, i've been doing this yoga thing now for, oh, about 6 years. it's true that when i began i couldn't even touch my toes.

i was well past 35 when i learned to do headstand, forearm stand, and handstand. everyone knows i'm still studying to learn how to float up into handstand from a short down dog, no hopping, piking, or kicking. . .

walk your feet up as close to your hands as you can, shift all your weight down into your fingers and knuckles, pressing down like a mad dog, and it's true -- your feet will begin to float up off the floor (it's called physics, you know).

for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. or, what goes down must drive something else up!

the trick is to keep your balance while this process occurs. yes indeed.

so while i work on this little feat, i continue to go to my usual classes, including my twice weekly basics. basics classes are great, because the generally slower pace means you can really focus on co-ordinating your movement to your breath and honing your alignment.

i've never been a big believer in one universal "perfect" alignment, altho' it seems to me from experience that some alignments are better for most people than others. anyway, one of the supposed benefits of yoga is that over time your actual body will begin to naturally adopt some of these maybe-better alignments, improving your posture, etc.

those who've had the great sorrow of meeting me in person have no doubt noticed that i do have this habit of walking like a duck. big ugly turned-out flop feet, on which i go galumphing around.

almost everyone in my family has this unfortunate gait, sadly, with the exception of my aunt judy, who i think was adopted, because she is naturally as slender as a stalk of celery and as graceful as a swan.

sorry you got stuck with us, judy! the crux of this whole bit is to note that in yoga today i looked down at my feet.

this is unusual because the feet aren't a common dristi, or gaze point. ok, so i was wandering a little in the pose!

but i noticed for the first time that the left foot was actually parallel to the mat's side of its own accord. wow.

yoga slowly works. one side at time. . . check back in 2011 when my right one has likewise straightened out. . .

posted by fortune | 6:24 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

chemex filter feng shui

so today i get an email from long-time bccy pal and scaa pro member, oren. devoted readers will recall that oren recently sent me a chemex in a gesture of lovin' kindness, or maybe a desire to drive me insane.

because dialing in the grind for this puppy has been suprisingly difficult. on the other hand, once i figure out what grind works best -- then i know.

on my deathbed, that will be the last fact that ricochets around my brain, i'm certain. . .

oren casually mentions that, oh, by the way, the printed instructions on said chemex box are wrong. the paper filter in the chemex has to face a certain way.

um, what? where do i place the mirror again?

for those of you without the pleasure of experience here, chemex paper filters come folded in four, like a paper napkin. you pull the fourth layer away from the other three to form the cone that you put your freshly ground fresh coffee in when you brew.

the charming pictures that come with the chemex show the 3-ply section of the filter centered at a right angle to the chemex spout. whereas oren says the 3-ply section of the filter must be centered over the spout.

to follow the official chemex pix, oren says, results in slow-brewing, overextracted coffee. and for the most part, i've been getting slow-brewing, overextracted coffee, which i attributed to not yet having found the best grind.

ah, but now we have another variable! the filter feng shui!

i have no idea why the filter must be pointed towards the brightest star in the crab nebula for good chemex coffee, but i'll take oren's word for it. in fact, i'll make a deliberate experiment: brew it once oren's way, brew it again all cockamamie.

how have i been placing the filter so far? honestly, i have no clue; i never paid any attention to it, having been focused on the grind and the water temperature. . .

will check this out and report back in the next couple of days.

posted by fortune | 6:35 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

a gesture of beauty and respect

"some 1,700 small white cups containing freshly brewed coffee stand on a bed of soil in the visitors' lobby of united nations headquarters in new york this week, a poignant memorial to the thousands of bosnians slaughtered in the security council-proclaimed "safe area" of srebrenica exactly 10 years ago."

i found this memorial/installation moving. . .the srebrenica massacre was a shocking crime against humanity.

" 'foreigners buy coffee to carry away in the morning, but chinese like to drink it socially,' said the manager of one of shanghai summit coffee co.'s five shops. 'they prefer to drink at the tables here, usually as part of a business meeting or if they are waiting for someone.' "

shanghai coffee culture! the new saying: "for all the coffee in china. . ."

"a metal coffee pot packed with explosives blew up in the doorway of the italian culture institute in barcelona on tuesday, slightly wounding a policeman, police said."

disturbing! very disturbing!

posted by fortune | 3:13 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Monday, July 11, 2005

scaa reception tonight!

don't forget:

the scaa membership reception is tonight, 6-8pm at the juan valdez cafe, 57th & lex! there'll be cocktails and finger food.

business casual please! it's a great chance to meet scaa consumer and pro members from all across the country, as well as scaa staff, like the awesome surfer babe wendy jensen.

it'll be great to see you all there. don't forget to r.s.v.p.

posted by fortune | 12:16 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Sunday, July 10, 2005

ecco espresso & a family treasure

first of all, devoted daily readers may think i've been remiss in not mentioning andrew's awesome ecco espresso with 2004 daterra super-premium brazil. you recall he sent some to me last week as a surprise gift.

well, i haven't said anything because i've been trying to keep this to myself! yup, i've gone thru 1/2 pound of this sweet, heavy coffee already. . .(mwah-hah-hah-ha).

i have it and you don't. well, unless you buy it -- which, frankly, you should -- highly recommended.

today was the fancy food portion of the nyc coffee meetup; i'll talk more about that tomorrow. remember, the second part of the event is the swanky cocktail party at juan valdez.

if i didn't see you there today, i hope to see ya tomorrow. . .go now and r.s.v.p.

mr. right wasn't feeling well, so i rushed home to start on dinner and make sure he was ok. tonite we are having an easy-to-make family treasure, my renowned "actual crab cakes."

they have no filler in 'em, which is why they are called "actual crab." 'cuz i think those bready discs with a few stringy crab bits suck, and shouldn't be called crab cakes at all, but rather "seafood croutons."

in a spirit of generosity, i hereby endow the planet with this treasured recipe. it takes only about 5 mins. to make, and must be made about 2 hrs. ahead of cooking, so they can chill.

plus, if you wanna make the dill aioli, that needs to be made 3 hrs. ahead so the flavors can blend.

dill aioli is luscious stuff; homemade mayonnaise is so much better than store-bought. actually, they really aren't in the same class at all.

i hope you have a food processor, a blender, an immersion blender, or a really really strong arm with a stiff whisk, because aioli requires vast amounts of beating in a very short time. . .i mean, intense.

dill aioli:

1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/8 teaspoon fresh black pepper (or to taste)
1/2 clove garlic, pressed
1/4 c. coarsely chopped fresh dill fronds
1/4 c. grapeseed or canola oil
1 teaspoon champagne vinegar (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon boiling water
pinch saffron (optional)

place yolk, mustard, salt, pepper, and a little of the vinegar in a bowl, or your blender, processor, etc. whirl or whisk till fluffy.

the oil must be added really slowly at first in a teeny-tiny stream or else the mayonnaise won't come together. so while the yolk mixture is whirling, drizzle in the oil. if you are whisking it, you probably need someone to help with this step.

once about 1/2 the oil is drizzled in, you should have a nice, smooth emulsion that will coast the back of a spoon, at least. now add the garlic and the rest of the vinegar. whiz or beat more.

when you add the rest of the vinegar it should whiten and start to look like mayonnaise. but it will be thinner than store-bought.

keep drizzling in the remainder of the oil.

it will look like thick gravy. this is good; keep beating/whizzing.

if the mayonnaise breaks or won't come together, don't worry. you can take the broken mixture and drizzle it into a new egg yolk.

there is a second chance for redemption! now add dill; whizz/beat.

raw eggs + hot summer can be bad news. this is where the boiling water comes in.

if you like the saffron, take a tiny pinch and infuse it in the boiling water. then add this to the mayonnaise.

whiz/beat more. scrape into a clean bowl and refrigerate immediately. i mean, immediately. did i say, immediately?

chill for at least 3 hours before serving. but don't try to keep for more than 24 hrs.; just don't, ok?

with an electric whirling device, the aioli takes 2 mins. to come together total. honest; it takes more time to measure the ingredients than to make the stuff.

by hand, heck, it's still quick, but a workout.

now for the crab cakes:

1 pound fresh small or medium lump crab meat, uncooked
1 egg
1/4 - 1/2 c. finely chopped sweet red bell pepper, sauteed and cooled
1/2 small shallot, sauteed and cooled
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
black pepper (optional)
2 tablespoons flour, for crab mix
1/4 c. flour, for dredging cakes
1/4 c. grapeseed or extra-virgin olive oil or 2 tablespoons oil + 4 tablespoons butter

saute red pepper and shallot together in 1 tablespoon of the oil and let cool. gently, gently, gently with a broad tined fork, mix crab, egg, mustard, salt, black pepper if you like, the red pepper/shallot saute, and 2 tablespoons flour.

don't break up crab lumps! don't!

cover this mixture and set in freezer for 5-10 mins. this helps it hold together as you shape it into patties.

quickly and gently shape crab mixture into 4 nice patties. line a plate with plastic wrap, put patties on it gently, cover with more plastic wrap.

refrigerate for at least 30 mins. or freeze for 20. they will keep up to 1 day. but that's it.

the longer you chill 'em without freezing 'em, they more they hold together as you dredge and cook. plus the flavors blend and they taste better. . .

when you're ready to fry, put the oil or oil and butter in a 12-inch skillet. turn heat to medium.

when oil is hot, or when butter foam subsides, gently and quickly dredge a crab patty in some of the 1/4 c. flour. don't use too much!

gently tap off excess flour. carefully place crab patty in pan. repeat for the other 3.

once all 4 cakes are in the pan, turn the heat to medium-high.

cook about 5-8 mins. the first side, rotating gently every now and then. carefully turn cakes over and cook about 3 mins. on second side or until they are lightly brown or golden, as you like.

don't overcook or they will be rubbery. that's all bad.

serve cakes hot with chilled aioli sauce on a bed of microgreens or mesclun, decorated with sprigs of fresh dill, and thin stalks of steamed asparagus. gentle readers, you can steam asparagus, right?

posted by fortune | 1:21 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

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