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Saturday, September 09, 2006

completely ot: first few days with macbook pro

the 17" macbook pro is indeed the most beautiful computer ever, each detail is absolutely gorgeous. i'm blogging through the osx tiger dashboard widget.

omigod i love this machine.

my husband mockingly called it "your ferrari" as in, mid-life crisis gadget. of course i'm nowhere near mid-life, dear readers, and his comment is pure jealousy, even tho' he has a maxed-out screamin' g4 graphite desktop with the huge flat screen to call his own.

frankly everyone who sees it is consumed with object-lust. i thought the ipod nano was the most lovely thing i'd seen -- that gemstone gleam the surface emits -- oh i wasn't ready for the ineffable suchness of the macbook pro.

i will talk about tracy's zoka espresso paladino more in a little bit. despite being a little advanced in age this morning, the crema was delightful, the taste complex, and did i detect just a hint of blueberry?

hmm? did i?

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posted by fortune | 10:22 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 6 comments | leave a voicemail

Friday, September 08, 2006

tracy allen's zoka colonel fitzroy

with many thanks to tracy, i leapt outta bed this morning, ran to fetch the chemex, and popped open his zoka colonel fitzroy blend. the bag's roast dated aug. 29.

i took a good look at the roast level -- a variety of beans, not all of which appeared to have quite the same roast, as some had much larger patches of oil than others (some showed only pinpricks of oil) -- making me think this blend might be a mélange, a blend of different beans at different roast levels.

i'd say the lightest were vienna, while the darkest were definitely heading into french. of course zoka uses a slightly different roasting terminology in-house. . .

long-time readers know that this is much darker than the coffees i usually describe. seeing a coffee this dark, i would certainly have expected it to be smokey, piney, perhaps even almost char-y.

imagine my surprise when, after brewing it to the so-called "oren proportion," it displayed a gentle bright taste! considering the age of the bean, i was worried it wouldn't bloom much in the chemex, a fear that soon eased.

it bubbled and hissed as if only 2 or 3 days old. the fragrance of the dry grounds definitely were sweetly spicy -- coriander maybe.

i also would say a light tobacco nose and deep dark chocolate -- unsweetened chocolate -- aftertaste predominated this full blend. as a general non-fan of dark roast coffees, i was surprised by how truly enjoyable this blend was: i liked it quite a bit.

if you're a real fiend for the dark side, a devotee of the "west coast" style, i think you'll find the colonel fitzroy deeply intriguing. especially in a french press.

thank you again, tracy! we should chat more often!

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posted by fortune | 7:12 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments | leave a voicemail

Thursday, September 07, 2006

thursday care packages!

big thanks to everyone -- all great surprises!

  • andrew b's ecco brazil cerrado, 2005 quality competition #1
  • jessica's batdorf dancing goat, my husband's favorite for cappuccini
  • tracy allen's zoka:
    • espresso paladino, regular & decaf
    • the tangletown house blend
    • colonel fitzroy's blend

long-time readers will recall that it's been a great, great while since i've had any paladino around; my husband didn't like it last time, but now we'll see what he thinks of it this weekend!

but back to oren's guatemala antigua finca retana from yesterday -- i want to write a whole bunch more about this later. right now it's 3 days old.

oren likes to call his coffees full city, and that does describe the color. but his coffees always taste "lighter."

this is due to his unique and wacky custom roasting set-up, as devoted readers know. so i'd quickly describe it as snappy, with a floral fragrance, passion fruit aroma, toast nose, dark-honey caramel aftertaste and a slightly dry finish. medium-bodied, for sure.

i brewed it at the "oren proportion" in the chemex, as usual, but oren suggests may be even pushing this to 2.25 oz. per 26 oz. water. . .

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posted by fortune | 8:02 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments | leave a voicemail

the chocolate wind-up artist

of course my inbox has been overwhelmed with links to the anti-chocolate nonsense of the guardian's c. bennett today. altho' not without wit, her venom is foolishly misplaced.

but should be good for a nice load of website hits, which is clearly its purpose. since she's clearly writing to annoy, i'm sure the stats counter's piling up in her favor; however, i personally have always found this habit of winding others up boring.

people who enjoy this just seem dull to me; don't they actually have anything original to say that would genuinely interest and engage an audience? do they use these defensive and agresssive tactics to protect themselves from an inborn social insecurity?

why put so much effort in the unproductive? but then i also have better things to do with my time, such as brew oren's antigua from yesterday. . .

how hard it must be for our friends the artisan chocolatiers -- dedicated and talented craftspeople who have devoted their careers and artistry to the notoriously "temper"-mental substance -- to run into the attitude hidden in this article, an attitude denying chocolate its rightful place in sensible food appreciation.

of course bennett reveals her ignorance by discussing cadbury's and nestle, as if they were actually chocolate. she doesn't even appear to be aware of the single-origin movement.

i can't imagine any serious paper would publish such an ignorant article about wine.

why can't chocolate seem to get a good break? it's an object worthy of serious appreciation and effort: if bennett can't get that, all she has to do is trundle down to chantal coady's to benefit from an instant education.

long-time readers will recall that i'm a big fan of coady's chocolate, esp. the dark bar with arabian spices. . .

posted by fortune | 7:34 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments | leave a voicemail

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

shout out to martin d!

and here's a nice mention of long-time bccy pal, marty diedrich of kean!

but we here at bccy must completely disagree with this comment:

"one caveat: unless you spend thousands of dollars on professional grinders, brewers and water filters, you won't get the kind of quality that comes from a place like kean."

piffle. tosh. stuff and nonsense.

you can make perfect world-class coffee with specialty-grade beans, freshly roasted and freshly ground, good water, a muslin sock, and a glass jug.

lacking the muslin sock, a good french press (how, you ask?) or chemex with a solid quality burr grinder, good water and the same good beans works too!wink big nose

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posted by fortune | 8:31 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments | leave a voicemail

does life get any better? no.

macbook pro 17

in here.

and not to belittle it, long-time bccy pal oren sent a pound of his new guatemala antigua, finca retana. he personally visited that farm last winter.

this is the same finca retana that won at the recent c.o.e., but oren's coffee comes from a different lot. oren's lot is entirely of the sought-after heirloom yellow bourbon variety, not the caturra and catuai of the c.o.e. lot!

"the farm is very beautiful," oren says, "good people and quite interesting. each parcel is labelled, all the trees are labelled." oren bought all this coffee from the farm; it's exclusive to him now.

a point of interest for antigua lovers, this coffee is the lowest grown antigua; later on in the season, oren's going to feature the highest grown -- so we can literally taste the spread here!

chemexi! as i like to say. . .

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posted by fortune | 7:59 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 2 comments | leave a voicemail

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

new yoga doings in florida

long-time readers will recall the awesome yoga teacher nancy la nasa, who's been most recently in the news for her yoga classes in florida aimed at veterans of the iraq war. that led to a spot on cnn, which led to a nice editorial in the la times.

which now leads to nancy expanding her unique and beautiful yoga teaching to a new, larger space in the next couple of weeks. abhaya -- sanskrit for fearless -- yoga doesn't yet have a working website, but remains in pensacola (n tarragona st at belmont).

the first class date will be sometime around sept. 16; the big workshop no doubt is ashtanga goddess estelle eichenberger's coming oct. 5. truly devoted readers may recall that i took my very first ashtanga class from estelle in 1999.

while estelle is all about ashtanga, the new center will teach a variety of styles, including nancy's own trademark vinyasa. (it seems so easy when you're doing it -- and then you wake up the next day. . .)

anyway, i'm sure the abhaya yoga center website will be up in a few days. until then, email nancy and stay tuned.

congrats to nancy, and good luck to you! fearless is exactly what you are, and so i know your new yoga venture will prosper.

it's about time you got your due and more people discovered your incredible yoga!

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posted by fortune | 8:31 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments | leave a voicemail

coffee consumption to grow

"the international coffee organization forecasts a 2 percent rise in global coffee consumption. . ."

2 percent growth next year may seem modest. but this continued growth -- as opposed to the slow erosion we've endured for decades -- will be the true end of the so-called coffee crisis, more than the temporary market up-turns we're seeing now.

so it's possible that we are beginning to see a way towards the goal of eliminating coffee poverty, while offering consumers a higher-quality beverage.

while on the subway recently i once again bumped into an elegant acquaintance who happens to be a long-time editor at chocolatier. we happily gossiped about the very small chocolate world all the way into mall-hattan.

that was a fascinatin' conversation. and yes clay, we talked about you! chocolatier remains a big fan, no doubt!

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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, September 04, 2006

descaling silvia

it's a lovely first-day-of-fall day here in bklyn, so naturally i took some time this afternoon to descale my gorgeous italian princess, silvia. it's a steamy operation so i like a cool-ish day for it.

long-time readers know that the number one cause of home espresso machine problems is, bar none, scale. it's crucial to descale your machine regularly; i recommend you do it every month, minimum.

untreated limescale build-up can destroy your espresso machine. descaling is not optional.

it only takes about 20-30 minutes, so there's really no excuse to ignore it. everybody knows i'm a big cleancaf fan for this task because you just pump it through and the nice blue color tells you of its presence.

so while i was waiting for the cleancaf in the boiler to do its thing, i also took the time to scrub up my grouphead. long-time bccy pals espressoparts (hiya, terry z!) so kindly sent me a care package not long ago that included a really great grouphead brush by pallo, one that looks like a giant toothbrush.

it works great; i highly recommend it, as it cleans very effectively with much less effort (and fewer wrist burns!) than other brushes. the fewer wrist burns is key!

i used the little scoop on the end to mix up some of the joeglo cleaner and scrub away. that's great.

further, if you have the usual steam wand problem -- a tiny band of milk build up caught in the itty-bitty crevice where the diamond steam head attaches to the wand -- soaking that bit in joeglo cleaner for 20 mins. causes it to just fluff right off by itself.

all good. then i wiped silvia's faceplate with the joeglo wipes and i was done.

shiny! time-saving! clean-tasting coffee and a longer-lasting coffee machine!

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posted by fortune | 12:17 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments | leave a voicemail

Sunday, September 03, 2006

mailin' it in yet again

sorry, sorry -- just havin' some trouble connecting to blogger today --
it seems like they have been having a lot of blogspot troubes again
since they moved the beta into wider circulation or something.

so once again i must apologize for the non-formatting of this mail-in
post. and at the same time i'll dread it when they finally convert the
system to the new format. . . who knows what will happen to everything
here then?

but on to our core subjects. yesterday it poured cats, dogs, and wild
hyenas with the remains of hurricane ernesto here, which i why i stayed
indoors and played with new forms of flour products.

today dawned bright-n-boo-di-fal however, so i made pizza dough as
usual. so it's not as if i spend all my days lounging about chewing el
rey apamate 73.5% bars and watching episodes of "danger man."

but a girl has to got to kill time somehow until her new macbook pro
arrives, hmm? again this being a long holiday weekend, i then did a nice
bit of viniyoga at home while the dough rose.

in short, an average bccy-kinda day, exactly the thing all readers have
come to expect, down to the batdorf dancing goat cappuccini.

i will however answer one emailed question i received today here because
it might be useful to those googling in the future.

yesterday i noted the tendency of cookbooks and recipes to make easy
things seem hard and to skip the really hard parts altogether. this is
certainly true when it comes to hand-made pasta.

it requires a little bit of feel, and a tiny amount of practice -- but
c'mon, it's not like you're making one of those superhydrated naturally
leavened poilane-style loaves that takes 5 days or anything, you know?

it doesn't require rigging up a wacky lab appartus as long-time bccy pal
m.b. at quiltr did to nurse her yeastie boiz along as she started her
own bread culture. it's just eggs-n-flour vs. a monster rolling pin.

i've looked at quite a few italian cookbooks now, classics all, and
almost to a t they make hand-made pasta seem like rocket science (or
building a lotus seven in your kitchen).

i won't give the instructions here now. but i will point you all to what
i think is the best (and most encouraging!) explanation: carlo
middione's food of southern italy.

which is of course ironic, since in the south italians mostly eat dried
commercial pasta. but there it is.

this book came out in 1987, which means you can easily find it around
used for a good price. i think i paid US$5 for my perfect remaindered

what marcella hazan takes12 pages to try to describe -- in a manner i'm
sure that has convinced millions they can't do it -- carlo does in 3.

most importantly, carlo is sure you can do it too. "you must have good
coordination," he writes humorously, "so if you can rub your belly and
pat your head at the same time, you should have no trouble."

i've read many blogs where newbie pasta makes complain about not being
able to get the hang of the "trick." this is because their heads have
been wired into hazan's complexity (and they lack pasta boards of the
right size!).

carlo has a much better attitude: "don't be compulsive." "if the dough
comes out the shape of the state of texas," he says, instead of being a
fair rectangle or nice circle, "it may need some remedying, but
otherwise. . ."

when it comes to thinning the dough by stretching it, instead of
describing it as some difficult operation, as several books do, carlos
takes care to call it "the fun part."

and he notes that "it's much more difficult to explain than to do." with
which i agree, only if you're not carlo middione, because he then
proceeds to give a clear explanation in just 2 paragraphs.

in short, if you're a would-be pasta maker, buy marcella's book for the
sauce recipes, look at her pastamaking pics, then put her book away and
place your trust in carlo. that's my practical advice.

posted by fortune | 9:10 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 4 comments | leave a voicemail

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