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Saturday, June 03, 2006

weekly podcast delayed until tomorrow

don't worry -- it will come. life just interrupted a bit. thanks for your patience.

and also thanks for the email in reply to #3 last week. quite a few of you suggested that my blog is the coffee appreciation column the ny times should be running every week, which was quite kind.

in today's yoga news, i met up with a teacher pal of mine who had also taken the dread sonic yoga class. we discussed what makes sequences bad or good.

obviously we all agree -- well, ashtangis aside -- that there is not one perfect yoga sequence for everyone. but there are some common guidelines many yoga traditions roughly follow.

it turns out the teacher of said dread class was relatively new. this might explain the poor sequencing i endured, as a newish teacher worked to put together an original class.

i accept that each yoga teacher has to take the tradition and make it their own. they have to devise their classes from their heart as well as their knowledge to make the class seem sincere.

but! i expect them to have that knowledge to be able to put together a safe yoga class appropriate for a broad range of students.

there are many "classic" vinyasa yoga sequences. i think you could combine them almost as blocks, or groups of sets.

to make them original and personal, you as a teacher may have to add only yourself and what your yoga has brought you. especially if you are new and in a position where you are substituting for a regular class whose students you don't know!

i do often find that many newer teachers also make the mistake -- besides poor sequencing -- of teaching an unbalanced class. instead they subtly teach the poses they prefer or "do well."

while this may ensure that they look yoga-magazine-cover-picture-ok to students while standing up to demonstrate in front of the room, it doesn't really do much for the students.

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posted by fortune | 2:12 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 2 comments | leave a voicemail

Friday, June 02, 2006

breaking geisha news: how to pre-order from intelligentsia

just off the phone with doug zell of intelligentsia about the hot coffee news of the week, the la esmeralda panama geisha auction results.

i've already posted how you can get on the stick and connect with your own half-pound from groundwork. now doug's told me how you can get yourself in a position to pre-order a half-pound from him if you're an intelligentsia fan.

matt riddle told me frankly that the amount they would have for online sale would be quite limited. remember there are only a handful of bags of this coffee, so . . .

here's what you do. run over to the intelligentsia website and register.

during the registration, you'll be asked if you want to join the newsletter. say yes!

when the coffee lands -- it's still in transit -- doug and matt will be sending out a notice in the newsletter with a link for pre-ordering. there's your chance.

probably only a few dozen people will be fortunate enough to buy this rare coffee from doug. will you be one?

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posted by fortune | 6:31 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments | leave a voicemail

while i'm still cranky on this yoga subject. . .

"the class involves a series of yoga positions that focus on those areas of the body that are critical to a good golf swing. 'in addition to an emphasis on twist poses to give more flexibility, i also include exercises for core strength, which help with distance; and meditative relaxation, which will help players stay focused and to relax through the swing,' said [the golf resort's yoga teacher]."

oh: g-oga.

actually, of all the yoga fusion movements i've groused about here so far, this one probably makes the most sense. you might just call it -- as others who have been teaching this for years have done -- "yoga for golfers." of course, some golf pros have been crediting yoga for their big wins for a while now.

anyway, i've been spending my mornings drinking the batdorf c.o.e. bolivia, the pico del tucan lately. if you're a lover of bright coffees, i urge you to check this out, either in the peter g. counterculture version, or in the batdorf roast.

in the meantime, thanks jessica for the dancing goat! this is my husband's favorite coffee outside of italy.

and let me also thank ric rhinehart for sweetly sending some costa rica. i can't wait until this arrives -- here at bccy we've never had the chance to look at any of his groundwork coffee before.

in other coffee news, i don't know about you, but i'm marking the days off my calendar until oren's new sidamo arrives. i think it's only a couple more weeks now until it's available. . .

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posted by fortune | 7:57 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments | leave a voicemail

Thursday, June 01, 2006

in response to reader email. . .

wow! ok, since i've already got some requests from people asking me how to buy the geisha, ric has kindly let me republish the info below:


Here at groundwork coffee we are excited to have the Hacienda Esmeralda Geisha again, for the third consecutive year. We will be offering it at our Hollywood Store for a limited time by the cup, and on-line while it lasts by the half pound. All of the profits from sales at both locations will go to our Scholastic Books program for local middle school children.

The coffee continues to be unbeatable on the cupping table, and we will roast it to a very light roast to highlight all of the luscious fruit and floral notes that this coffee is so justly famous for. We plan to brew it on a Clover, the closest thing possible to a cupping experience.


Ric Rhinehart

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posted by fortune | 7:16 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments | leave a voicemail

standing among the shards of glass

"a panamanian specialty coffee, a rare variety of the geisha plant strain, sold for a record-breaking US$50.25 a pound in an on-line auction hosted by the specialty coffee association of america. . .with judges competing for superlatives and florid descriptions of its flavour."

as the price ceiling for fine coffees is not just broken, but destroyed.

long-time readers immediately recognize this coffee: the panama geisha i wrote about here so often from scott & jessica at batdorf. i urged everyone to get it then, despite what seemed like a high-ish price.

this year, whoo -- while there's no doubt that this coffee is worth absolutely every penny. this is one of the world's great coffees.

i'll go farther: this is one of the world's great beverages. like a 1799 lafite.

i'm not exaggerating here, or speaking for effect: it is a coffee people will be talking about for a long time in the future.

considering the 40 cups of coffee a pound makes, you realize that even prices at this level are quite reasonable for the beverage quality! esp. in a world where people don't blink an eye at paying US$1.25 for a can of mere soda.

even if scott & jessica were to retail this at US$75.00 a pound, that would only be US$1.88 a cup when you brew it at home. you can barely touch a decent glass of premium wine for that price, much less a wine of the same quality as the geisha, beverage-wise.

alas, scott didn't buy any; the whole lot went to long-time bccy pals doug zell of intelligentsia, duane at stumptown, tom at sweet marias, and ric at groundwork -- that semi-formal group known as the "small axe alliance."

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posted by fortune | 8:16 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 2 comments | leave a voicemail

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

the out-of-towners

at some point everyone who lives in nyc must deal with the out-of-towners, those relatives who come for the cheap theater tickets and blockbuster museum exhibits. my out-of-towners are very sweet people and i like to see them because they provide me with an excellent excuse to eat at franny's and then visit the chocolate room.

the pizza at franny's is fantastic, of course, partially because they use long-time bccy pals king arthur flour. the crust is thin, soft, and marked with small charred spots from the well-maintained and properly-fired brick oven.

i like this crust a lot; however my husband i think would prefer if the crust surface were a little crunchier when the teeth first met the top. and i do make my regular sunday at-home pizza that way.

i personally might prefer the all-soft franny's myself, however; it reminds me of what you actually find in naples. on the downside of franny's however is the mozzarella.

it seems odd to me. i'm used to using the best mozzarella i can get my hands on -- look, the traditional neapolitan attitude is that mozzarella older than 6 hours total isn't fit for eating by itself.

by the afternoon, natural hand-made mozzarella does stiffen up a tad. that's just its nature.

and so the proper use for left-over morning mozzarella is on evening pizza. even then, the "old" mozzarella is still a brilliant white, and melts into bright snowy puddles.

at franny's the mozzarella seems a tad yellow-ish to me. that might be from the soot of the wood fire, i admit, but still, i wonder. . .

what's undisputed at franny's however are the salads. the salads are fantastic, with the most wonderful greens.

it's amazing how just the best, freshest greens, tip-top quality olive oil, and careful use of herbs can make a salad shine. i'll also sing praises for the deep-fried artichokes with lemon.

again, simple, simple stuff. but a properly, lightly-fried artichoke is a beautiful thing, my friends, and too few restaurants have the discipline and precision to do deep-frying correctly.

the chocolate room's only about 4 blocks from franny's so it's always best to wander down the hill and breeze over to a table. while many claim that the star of the chocolate room is the retro-style chocolate layer cake, i frankly prefer the super-moist flourless chocolate cake.

and of course, joan's chocolat moderne treats -- devoted readers know i'm a huge fan of the apricot bask. . .

now that memorial day is over and everything's relatively back to normal, i can at least look forward to a return to the regular yoga schedule. alas, this means today i face a class that's essentially yogilates, tho' it doesn't use that name per se.

i've done some pilates mat work, so i guess i "get" that. and i've been doing vinyasa for about 7 years now, so maybe i've learned something about a pose or two -- but i don't understand these popular yogilates classes.

the two systems use completely different and contrary breathing, for just one thing.

i do understand from my own experience how some pilates improves your inversion practice, and is certainly helpful with things like kukutasana (rooster pose). but i don't comprehend these classes where you do an opening flow, some standing poses, lay down for what are basically stomach crunches and oblique exercises, and then end up in shalabasana (locust pose) like nothing happened.

it's like you started doing yoga and then were briefly mugged in the middle, you know?

rockstar pose and yogilates, honestly. i can't wait until my local yoga studio installs portable poles with radiant heating so we can do hot-yoga-strip-ilates to brazilian hip-hop in designer g-strings and heels.

at this rate, why not? that should make the cover of time out, i'm sure. . .

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posted by fortune | 8:45 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 1 comments | leave a voicemail

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

women love coffee; coffee loves women

"a 15-year study published in the american journal of clinical nutrition shows fewer deaths from heart disease or other noncancerous inflammatory diseases for postmenopausal women who reported drinking at least one to three daily cups of coffee.

women who reported drinking one to three daily cups of coffee at the study's start were 24% less likely to die of heart disease during the study, compared with those who didn't drink coffee.

women who reported drinking one to three daily cups of coffee at the study's start were also 28% less likely to die of other noncancerous inflammatory diseases, compared with those who didn't drink coffee, the study shows. cancer deaths did not show any association with coffee consumption.

those results are adjusted for other factors and 'were not repeated for other beverages, including tea, fruit juice, sugar-sweetened drinks, diet soda, and skim, low-fat, and whole milk,' write A[the study's authors]."

while of course scientists will want to confirm this, the study looks solid -- published in a highly regarded, peer-reviewed journal and containing 27,312 participants. we coffee-lovin' yoginis have to remember that heart disease is the major killer of post-menopausal women; if coffee-drinking can help somewhat, that's great news.

women's heart disease is often ignored and undertreated, or so medical studies have revealed. while a lot of press goes to other worthy women's health issues, like breast cancer, heart disease can't be swept under the rug.

a sensible diet, a regular vigorous yoga practice, and now perhaps moderate coffee consumption, seem to help. but don't load your cups up with heavy cream and sugar!

how might coffee help?

as devoted readers know -- and as long-time bccy pal dr. joe vinson reminds us -- it always seems to come back to those groovy anti-oxidants in coffee. remember, coffee has many natural phytochemicals, such as chlorogenic acid, that appear to have beneficial anti-oxidant properties.

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posted by fortune | 8:21 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments | leave a voicemail

Monday, May 29, 2006

more yoga with which i struggle

this being a holiday weekend, my local yoga studio is offering only a truncated schedule and with mostly subsitute teachers. yesterday i went to try a new teacher, who was certified out of the sonic studio.

as you can tell from sonic's website, it's trying too hard to be hip, which means, well, it's not. . .

i had already heard about the sonic penchant for making up "asanas," such as the dreaded "rockstar" pose, and the cutesy renaming of common poses and mudras -- i nearly fell outta my virabhadrasana (warrior one pose) when the teacher referred to uttarabodhi mudra (sometimes called "jupiter mudra" for those who are into jyotisha) as "charlie's angels mudra."

and when the teacher urged us to send loving thoughts towards our favorite movie star, think about what qualities that star had, and then realize we too were movie stars, i thought, to retreat from sanskrit to pure noo yawk-ese, "i wuz gonna plotz!"

the class itself was mixture of straight-ahead vinyasa, with a little shiva rea thrown in -- the "dancing warrior" sequence is familiar to everyone who's done her cd -- some kundalini bits as evidenced by brief bursts of fast repetitive movement, a parsvottonasanaa (pyramid pose) vinyasa right out of gary kraftsow, all tossed together in a rather confused sequence (as might be expected by this dog's breakfast of stylistic combinations i'm describing), and overly loud disco music.

thanks to gloria gaynor, i did survive.

long-time readers know that i often say how ashtanga makes me grumpy, but boy howdy sonic yoga nearly turned me into a ravening lha-mo. it's enough to make me run to eddie stern's and never leave.

is yoga now some kind of free-form dance-movement? i shouldn't just slag sonic; i was likewise alarumed when another very popular teacher at my local studio (the one who refuses to do sun salutations) also introduced a pose he invented.

he called it "krishna pose," and it consists of a rather square-dance-like curtsy, whereby you cross one foot behind the other, bend at the knees slightly and hold your hands out to the side of your face as if playing a flute! said teacher confessed he didn't really know how to hold a flute and had no idea how they were played, but "we could get the idea, you know."

i did it twice before i realized it was a classic aerobics "grapevine" with wacky arms.

i feel lost in a world of gym yoga taught by bored aerobics hunks who need to pick up an extra paycheck on days when there aren't any auditions for reality tv. there has to be a middle ground between ultra-yoga purism and this, a place where a diversity of serious yoga can play itself out. . .

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posted by fortune | 10:16 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 4 comments | leave a voicemail

Sunday, May 28, 2006

important points on yellow mole

following up from yesterday:

  • no matter what rick bayless says, yellow mole will destroy your house. you'd use less dishes, pots & pans making an escoffier banquet for a sun king;
  • what rick bayless doesn't tell you is that yellow mole is worth it only if you also make the corn meal dumplings, the chochoyotes. they are delicious;
  • yellow mole still isn't worth it;
  • when are standing in your hallway, retreating towards some sense of safety from the ever-growing pile of malanga peelings that crawl from kitchen, remember that you are doing all this work for something that doesn't even contain chocolate;
  • double the chicken. the bayless recipe is unbearably light on the chicken;
  • cooked malanga has a wonderful, silken texture much nicer than potatoes;
  • bayless is also way wrong about the chayote. definitely peel the chayote
  • by god i hoped you doubled the recipe or else the amount of effort yellow mole takes will kill you. that means, quadruple the chicken;
  • yellow mole is wonderful but there is a reason the great hospitality spirit invented mexican restaurants.

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posted by fortune | 7:33 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 2 comments | leave a voicemail

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