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Saturday, July 01, 2006

a tale of 2 yrgs & various chocolates

My Odeo Podcast welcome to today's weekly podcast, and thanks for your patience. last week's was delayed so long, i finally just gave up on it. i hope this will never happen again.

it was a very busy day today at bccy, since i had to go down to supermodel central to have my eyebrows done. long-time readers know this always turns into a stop by hipster dive economy candy.

notable from economy -- they now have their own private label belgian chocolate at just US$1.29 a bar. while i was there, i also picked up some dagoba bars, the new organic valrhona, and a pile of cafe tasse.

it's a case of synchronicity, since i was on the phone yesterday briefly with long-time bccy pal mark inman of taylormaid, and we were discussing dagoba.

i do like the dagoba flavors -- esp. the mon cherri, with dried berries and vanilla -- but mark and i both agreed dagoba could be a tad waxy in texture.

i myself think such waxiness is a real downside found in many organic chocolates.

mark turns out to be a big fan of santander (i've talked about it here before). i personally put a lot of store in the new valrhona and hope to try that out tomorrow!

if anyone can make a perfect organic chocolate, it should be valrhona.

and of course, i also strongly twisted mark's arm to suggest that he hook up with another bccy pal, catie baril, since she's now free for exciting new adventures. they should do a high-quality organic chocolate together. . .that would be ineffably hip.

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Friday, June 30, 2006

breaking coffee news: batdorf, counterculture

new arrivals:

thank you, scott merle & jessica marshall and peter g! you rule.

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posted by fortune | 7:11 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments | leave a voicemail

i still love her

so now i've spent a couple of days brewing the intelligentsia version of the hacienda la esmeralda panama geisha. i've made the coffee in both the chemex and the vac pot, as promised.

and i have only one thing to say: descriptions of this as "a perfect coffee" or "coffee's answer to 1799 lafite" are suprisingly not hype. it's truly a world-class, benchmark bean this year.

(for discussions of this coffee for the previous 2 years, see 2005 and 2004. long-time readers know bccy has a strong and consistent interest in this bean.)

i do think doug zell has done a wonderful job with it. got your scaa flavor wheels nearby?

doug's roast level -- i don't have an agtron level from him -- seems to me to be city. i brewed 1.75 oz. fresh ground coffee to 30 oz. water in the vac pot, with a total time top to bottom of 4 mins., 25 secs.

the grind setting on my saeco 2002 was 11 (out of 15). i call this setting "fine coarse;" but naturally each grinder's a little different.

first, when i opened the bag, the scent of the new beans was primarily candied almonds. oh, just heavenly.

when ground, the dry fragrance was enchantingly floral, like orange blossom water. oren once remarked to me that no coffee fragrance was as aromatic as a good kona's; that's true, but i do think the geisha is very close to equal here.

as the water hit the top globe of the vac pot and the geisha bloomed, i could smell another fruit fragrance, like dried mango maybe.

the prime aromas of the geisha seemed to me to be sweet lemon oil -- think meyer lemon peel. the prime nose was malt-y -- balsamic rice is the classic descriptor here, i think.

the aftertaste is caramel, caramel, caramel, which is where the sweet candied almond thing comes back into play. the sensation the coffee left at the back of my mouth was a little dry, a little powdery, a little tart -- i do understand why doug zell describes this as green grape, altho' it seemed to me to be more like, say, if you had chewed on the on the slightly tart skin of a grape (for those of you who have peeled grapes for classic dishes like chicken veronique).

this is just one of the richest coffee bouquets i've had the privilege to witness.

the vac pot tends to attenuate body. however, this coffee had a lovely, lush medium body even in the stovetop bodum santos.

the taste of this coffee is lightly bright. i found this coffee so delightful that i drank it black.

this morning, when i brewed it in the chemex in the so-called "oren proportion," (2 oz. ground coffee to 28 oz. water), it was just as lovely, although a little different. it had even more body, for one thing.

i missed the dried mango with the chemex, and thought it became more dried apricot. whatever.

just a fantastic coffee. if you drink it with cream, you'll lose some of the lemon-y brightness. a little sugar enhances the sweet candied-ness.

nope, dear readers, i think this one is to drink black, or at best with a tiny pinch of raw sugar. just glory in it, glory.

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posted by fortune | 8:30 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments | leave a voicemail

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

breaking coffee news: intelligentsia geisha arrives!

and out of the blue, what arrived this evening at my home? the super-rare, prize-winning hacienda la esmeralda jaramillo panama geisha from intelligentsia that i've been enthusing about here lately.

thanks so much to doug zell, geoff watts and matt riddle for making this coffee available to us home coffee lovers! and thanks to the farmers, who made it all possible. . .

this coffee is roast-dated the 26th, so it's fresh, fresh, fresh. i have to leave a little early from home tomorrow, but unless i'm struck by lightning, this coffee has a date with the vac pot.

wow wow wow wow wow.

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posted by fortune | 6:53 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments | leave a voicemail

the next juan valdez

yeah, it's kinda campy, but it's kinda fun too. . .it was big news when the actor who for so long played juan retired.

¿wanna see the crowning of the new cafetero? here's the info:

"juan valdez stepped forward from the heart of colombia nearly 50 years ago. now, the man behind the icon for the last 37 years, is passing the reins.

please join us - via live webast - for this historic event as we salute carlos sanchez and welcome the new cafetero who will represent our beloved juan valdez and fine colombian coffee to the world.

thursday, june 29th
starting at 10:30 a.m. est
live webcast at

but of course i'm wondering about conchita! what charming equine will fill her dainty shoes? thanks for the heads up, mary p.

in other coffee news -- heartbreaking this -- long-time bccy idol catie baril has left gmcr. let me wipe the away the tears long enough to immediately encourage her to start an organic chocolate company, preferably with gal-pal eve ensler.

finally, about this m.i.a. podcast of mine. . .i want to use it to make a cool announcement, but the details of this just seem to drift from day to day. so once again, forgive me for the delay.

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posted by fortune | 7:41 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments | leave a voicemail

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

the gillies sumatra mandheling gayo mountain

woo finally back to coffee. and, don't worry, the podcast is coming; thanks for your patience.

at about 9 days old now, don schoenholt's gillies sumatra mandheling gayo mountain estate grade 1, triple-picked, european preparation is still fresh enough to brew nicely. and after enjoying it last weekend as a single-origin espresso, i decided it was time to flip out over it.

it's at that roast level don calls "iv," which i think some might call viena. the easiest way to describe this coffee to a broad audience in short-hand is to say "it's like what peets dark-roast sumatra used to be when it was still really, really good."

well, that's not true, because it's probably better than peets ever was. as i never heard that peets was in the habit of purveying triple-picked coffees from sumatra, but that could just be my lack of inside-peets baseball.

(note to jim reynolds: you are welcome to correct my ignorance at any time! heart)

anyway, i brewed this up in dear sophia this morning and thought, this is darn fine coffee! i sank back into my distant past more than a decade ago when i always drank mail-order peets.

how to compare don's 2 sumatras? today's gayo mountain mandheling is a more classic sumatra-type taste, mellow, clove-y, with a pinch of earth; don's kuda mas lintong is a still mellow but cleaner, less earthy, and a little more nutmeg-y.

i know don himself prefers the lintong, and long-time readers know i love it my own bad self. i encourage you all to try a half-pound of each yourselves and decide at home which speaks to you and your family best!

they both have that fantastic sumatra body. . .brewed just a tad strong in the cafetiére, it can almost seem a bit gelatinous. yummy.

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posted by fortune | 7:27 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments | leave a voicemail

Monday, June 26, 2006

more somewhat ot: heirloom tomatoes and italian pasta pins

forgive me, dear readers, for continuing to wander far from our usual topics, but one of the joys of the csa should be access to heirloom tomatoes soon. i love 'em this time of year in the classic insalata caprese.

so i was quite happy yesterday to wander by my local bklyn garden of eden and discover several: a glowing pile of citrus-striped green zebras; an aromatic pyramid of near-coffee-colored bruno rossi; and a gorgeous basket of so-called black brandywines, which actually are quite red inside when cut.

obviously they made for a lovely and unusual caprese salad, which i drizzled with the suffered-for aussie olive oil. one thing i discovered about all these types of tomatoes was how easy they were to peel.

after slicing off the blossom end, the skin peeled up of its own accord. i could effortlessly take it off in strips with a veggie peeler.

i offered a plate to my husband, who at first said no, he'd just had a snack. but when he saw the jewel-like salad with alternating rows of brilliantly colored tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and generous scented basil, he caved.

i highly recommend you check out heirloom tomatoes like this for yourself this summer!

in other cooking news, devoted readers may recall that i reached for marcella cucina when the csa stuck me with sunchokes.

re-reading marcella inspired with the desire to make more hand-made pasta, and i mean hand-made and hand-rolled. i have a gi-normous maple rolling pin, about 18 in. long by 4 in. thick.

it's possible to make ok pasta with this, but it's really not long enough to get it as thin as it ought to be. for this, marcella recommends that one head to the local lumber yard for a 32 in. long by 2 in thick hardwood pin.

and this i did! i wandered into dykes in mall-hattan, next to birdland, where the super-nice man cut two such oak pins to order for me and gave me some eyehooks. i'll use an eyehook in one end to hang my pin so it won't warp.

all it needs is a quick sanding, a fast wipe with light dish soap, a fair rinse, and a nice few coats of salad bowl oil. then i'm good to go!

i can't even find pins like this for sale on the 'net. so i'm very happy to report that the entire adventure cost me a mere US$25.

now the question: what to do with the second pin? anyone looking for an official made-to-marcella-specifications pasta pin?

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posted by fortune | 8:34 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 3 comments | leave a voicemail

Sunday, June 25, 2006

somewhat ot: the great olive oil debacle

yesterday i had to run down in the pouring, flooding rain to chic central to have my hair done, after which i planned to acquire some olive oil.

simple, no? long-time style-oriented readers may recall that chic central's frighteningly close to whole-ladda-hype foods. many people call it "whole paycheck," but of course, marketing spin's expensive stuff, no?

some people have told me i'm too hard to whole-ladda-hype; they mean well. yeah, but the staff remains a bunch of counter-monkeys.

what they know about food or even their own products is nil, nil, nil. yesterday was an enduring example of this.

having just mortgaged my husband's great-aunt's kidney to pay for said hair styling, i looked out the window only to watch the rain increase from mere "cats and dogs" to "australian hurricane." acquiring the olive oil was suddenly going to be difficult.

now, mr. sahadi has a great store here in bklyn, but alas his variety of olive oils is not top-notch. if you just need something simple for cooking or salad dressing, yeah, you can get some colavita cheap.

but i needed not only basic olive oil, but also a wonderful, sweet ligurian oil. now, when i buy high-quality olive oil, i look for clear facts, either on the label, or in the retailer's literature.

i want to see the region and estate from which the oil comes; i want to know the olives are actually grown there, and not brought in from somewhere else and just pressed there; i want to know the exact acidity level, that it's extra-virgin 1st-cold-pressed, and preferably organic; i want to see the d.o.p. or d.o.c.; and i definitely want to know the olive variety and harvest year.

i expect to pay between US$25 and US$40 a liter for oil like this. when the label doesn't tell me all this, i look to the retailer to offer flyers.

faced with the storm, i agonized and finally surrendered to laziness. i walked around the corner to da whole-ladda-hype to check out their oil.

ok, i go down into the basement there and i see about 1 bookcase worth of olive oils on display. not much.

i begin assiduously to read the labels, just skipping the greek, spanish, moroccan, and portuguese oils. remember, i'm seeking ligurian, from the italian riviera.

after about 5 minutes, i see the only label that says ligurian is a truffle-flavored thing from da medici. but there's none of the quality info on that bottle i need.

so i seek a wandering staff person, an aisle monkey. he's handsome, with great diction, and clearly still unsuccessfully auditioning for those soap-opera parts. i ask him about the olive oil.

he has no clue. i politely send him to fetch a manager. who cannot be found. no one in the building knows anything about their products or olive oil generally.

"i'm sorry," soap-opera wanna-be says sheepishly, "i guess olive oil isn't really our strong point." too true: over-priced fake vegetarian junk food is.

i'm in mall-hattan and the rain continues to howl. no choice for me but to trek across 14th street (gasp! i brought my passport) to the west side and up to my beloved fairway on the upper west side.

i rocket up to 72nd on the 3 train. fairway is packed and familiar, the fantastic sawdust strewn all about.

there they have 110 varieties of olive oil and a tasting bar with a display of their own custom oils. yes!!!

above the tasting bar is excellent signage describing olive oils, what to look for, important regions, just wonderful info. i begin searching thru the italian bottles.

after 20 minutes -- since the olive oil section behind the bar is dimly lit and the oils aren't well-sorted by region, i have to inspect just about every single bottle -- i don't see anything that says liguria, even tho' above excellent signage discusses it.

but! fairway has famously wonderful customer service! i run to the front and fetch the manager. i ask my question. i receive a look as blank as i did downtown.

once again, there is no one in the store who has a clue about olive oil or their products. "did you read the sign?" the manager says. aaarrrgggh!

but i really needed olive oil, so after some tasting, i chose their australian picual as being the closest in taste to a ligurian profile. which isn't very close, the picual being originally a spanish olive, iirc.

it was US$12.99 a liter. cheap, but not the region or quality i sought. . .

i was prepared to part with a noteworthy amount of cash to get what fairway should have. is it too much to ask them to find it for me or if they were mysteriously sold-out, to be able to suggest an alternative of similar stature?

why does it remain so hard to find basic high-quality stuff like this in nyc? oh. . .dear readers, the humanity!

anyway, look for my podcast later. . .

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posted by fortune | 8:03 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 1 comments | leave a voicemail

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