Saturday, October 01, 2005
the other day i couldn't help myself: passing the market i was entranced by the perfume of local niagara grapes. despite what wikipedia says, these grapes didn't have any of that "diesel" going on, but were pure and intensely heavy with a jasmine and candied lemon rind thing.
i had to have some. they were flatly enchanting.
there are just some scents that the human nose can't resist; it's as if some wacky remnant of our evolution is lodged in our brains poking us, screaming "eat eat" when we smell intoxicatingly beautiful things. like real, pure vanilla or these perfect milky-jade grapes, as round and lovely as hand-polished beads.
and the little box came with some local concord grapes and a tiny branch of delawares, which mightily resemble the champagne or black corinth grapes, just being a tad larger.
i find these older non-glamorous varieties just so much tastier and more aromatic than the flabby and weirdly elliptical thompson or red emperor grapes you see at the supermarket. yeah, so the niagara grapes have skins you have to slip off, and seeds too.
big deal. they taste delicious -- the marvelous silky flesh bursts with ultra-sweet juice.
i thought i had finished up all of andrew's brazil fazenda esperanca, when i found i had just enough left for one sole americano. so that is now truly that. . .
Friday, September 30, 2005
first barista, now tv star
congrats to long-time bccy pal paul bassett, former world barista champ, on his new tv show, living with coffee. i hope this appears in north america and europe as well as down under and in asia.
if you thought anthony bourdain was an entertaining guy born for stardom, wait until you see paul.
not only is he funnier than bourdain, he's much nicer as a person too. and since tv is a shallow medium, we have to admit that paul's about a gazillion times better looking.
and he has a nice interview about it here.
let me once again stress that being a pro barista is a real career. to win the world championship can launch you onto amazing trails.
paul basset seems destined to be the first global celebrity barista. all of you who now labor with a heavy tamper in a shop where they don't understand you, take heed.
join the barista guild and set your sights high. if there's room for paul on the world's tv screeens, there's room for you too!
i expect the "paul bassett" line of home espresso machines will soon be on their way. . .
Thursday, September 29, 2005
cups with style
"think twice about the way you down your favorite hot beverage as you take in the latest exhibit at scottsdale museum of contemporary art.
in 'tea and coffee towers,' you'll see sleek, futuristic coffee and tea sets made from steel and glass."
sounds great! of course, it's all about alessi.
the only problem is that alessi never tells you how large the cups are in their online descriptions -- do they hold 2 oz. or 3? I make a lot of 2.5 oz. or so triples, and not knowing the cup size often prevents me from reaching for that "submit purchase" button!
finally, let me apologize for the comment spam posted yesterday. this isn't a problem i often have.
but believe me, when i see it, i delete it without mercy. and if possible, i call the perpetrator to complain.
thus breathe magazine got a polite but firm message from me this morning. they think they're so edgy and cool, but they're just clueless spammers. . .sorry! it's true.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
and i started my morning with the last of andrew's ecco super-premium, prize-winning brazil, the fazenda esperanca. it's just a sweet, floral coffee.
and as it cools, some nice fruity flavors seem to come to the fore. it's so not your average boring brazil, and i highly recommend it -- both in the vac pot and the cafetiére.
andrew gives it a nice medium-dark, northern-italian type roast, which lends the coffee a lovely long finish, particularly with light cream. if you think brazils are just for blending, do check this particular coffee out!
i think any coffee lover will be happy in the morning with this bean's satiny dried cherry feeling and dark cocoa aftertaste. (sorry andrew: i couldn't find the toffee that the c.o.e. cupping panel did!)
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
congrats to juan valdez
as part of ad week or whatever, long-time bccy pal and scaa 2nd vp mary petitt of the colombian federation spent her morning rejoicing: juan valdez and conchita took first place as best-known ad icons. congrats to you, mary!
and i found this bit intriguing:
"'probably, the potential chinese market for a product like coffee would limit to 200 or 250 million people.' said [i.c.o. chief nestor] osorio. 'nonetheless, this means a market as big as that of the united states, the main consumer in the world. . ."
could china in our lifetime, like japan, become a formerly tea-drinking nation?
while for many years i enjoyed my "commentary" relationship with marcus of blogback, he has decided to leave the commenting biz. thus yesterday evening i exported all the old comments and for the time being switched to the new blogger commenting system.
when i figure out what platform i will eventually adopt for bccy, i'll do the switch and re-import all the pearls of wisdom you dear readers have been kind enough to share.
in the meantime, turn off your pop-up blocker and go to town!
Monday, September 26, 2005
"if you want to compete with the mermaid, you have to be different. . .but a number of local coffeehouses have hit on an easy way to set themselves apart: sell beer."
the coffee-wine bar concept has been catching on for a couple of years here, but i think this is the first documentation i have on the coffee-brew pub trend.
oh, and it's nice to finally be able to prove that i'm far from the only one who calls starbucks "the mermaid" -- it's actually a widespread usage.
of course to many who are unfamiliar with the history of coffee, it seems strange to put alcohol on the menu of a coffeehouse. but in fact the earliest english and american coffeehouses always served beer and spirits as well as the more expensive coffee.
and of course most italian espresso bars serve alcohol too. so this is just a return to the roots of coffeehouse culture in the west.
finally, a big bccy congrats to long-time pals kenny nye of 9th st. espresso and doug zell of intelligentsia for the great mention in the recent wsj article!
Sunday, September 25, 2005
the sweetmeat of salento
after eyeing these in my local garden of eden for a long time, i finally fell for 'em, and frankly i'm glad i did:
". . .the sun, the sea, the ancient olive trees, the chirping of the cicadas, and at the end of june, the almonds, which often grow spontaneously. the sweetmeat [sic] of salento are fruits of a simple culture, which for this reason, last through the years."
of course what we're talking about here -- organic italian figs stuffed with toasted wild almonds, rolled in sweet cinnamon, and then dipped in 60% dark chocolate.
the elegant cream package simply says fichi farciti, stuffed figs from alda, an artisanal candy company in tuglie, a village of only about 5,300 souls located in lecce, puglia, perhaps best known for a particularly lovely, restrained, and simple church.
they are yummy, yummy, yummy, and i had 2 along with a dancing goat blend americano after a pleasant noon yoga class.
however, it is with a heavy heart that i warn you: these little mouthfuls are alas shockingly addictive. i simply cannot be held responsible for any associated cravings and obsessive madness. . . .sample at your own considerable peril.