Friday, November 10, 2006
with coffee and a laptop
leaving for asia on the spur of the moment isn't my normal habit, but luckily the hotel in manila offers yoga. what a relief!
manila appears to be the province of a thousand mermaids -- coffee culture is taking all asia by storm -- so i bit the bullet and did the only intelligent thing: i ground the remainder of jessica's beautiful batdorf el salvador c.o.e., the santa julia, and packed my bodum travel press.
i wonder if anyone's ever taken jessica's coffee to manila before? the santa julia's floral, toasty, and bright -- with a prominent dark chocolate and orange zest feeling.
in short, lovely, lovely stuff. and i must say travelling with the macbook pro 17" has so far been a delight -- on such short notice i just popped down to j&r to pick up the world travel adapters and i was ready to go.
i fortified myself with a nice shot on caesar -- the vibiemme domobar super electronic -- pulled from mark inman's taylormaid espresso 0. caesar is the perfect temperature for mark's coffee: suddenly the espresso 0 seemed to drink like a molten dark chocolate french-salt caramel bonbon.
whoa -- it's a good example of why temperature matters in espresso! where has this coffee been all my life?
that is seriously yummuy stuff! no mermaid's gonna be serving anything like that anywhere.
armed with coffee and a laptop, what else does a modern skirt need? asia, here i come. . .but i will miss my cosy bklyn home & dh too!
will post when i next can. . .!
Thursday, November 09, 2006
and on extremely short notice, dear readers, i am instantly leaving for manila. it's a 25-hr. flight.
somewhere there must be coffee, bread, and chocolate. . .i will find it! i will bring my own yoga cd.
and i will try to post as often as possible. so stay tuned!
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
mark bittman, i'd have thought you'd known better. . .
funny enough my stats are filled today with people searching for jim lahey's sullivan st. bread recipe vaguely detailed in mark bittman's article in the nytimes today.
now i normally like mark bittman, but he does have this one flaw -- he is so convinced that he knows everything that when he finds out something he doesn't know, he trumpets it to the world like a new discovery. how could something exist that he doesn't already know?
thus it must be brand-new. many culinary guys have this character issue, i find. . .not that i'm trying to be arrogant, or diss him, you know. bittman's a basically good guy.
but alas, mark: lahey's method isn't new, and it isn't going to revolutionize the baking industry. bittman knows nothing about bread baking it seems, and since i do have a lot of respect for him, it really pains me to inform him that suzanne dunaway wrote an entire book based on this very method called no need to knead.
dunaway ran for many years a successful california bakery, buona forchetta, using this pretty much this no-knead technique and many variations on it before she retired and turned to cookbook writing full time.
the baking of bread in a pot as bittman describes is as old as the ancient greeks, and was most famously returned to most bakers' radar by elizabeth david's english bread book in its first edition.
so it can hardly be called a revolutionary or new idea. if those readers who come to my site are interested in following up on bittman's article, i suggest they check out no need to knead.
i myself bake slow-rising, slack-dough bread like this all the time, but i prefer the crust the bread cloche gives. . .jes' my 2 cents. i disagree with bittman: i think it's a good thing to have.
anyway, i don't know if lahey ever heard of dunaway, but this is a technique that has been "discovered" many times; and i guess i'd have thought bittman would've done enough research to learn this for himself. but no: it's the ny times after all.
Tags: bread :: mark bittman :: sullivan street bakery :: jim lahey :: suzanne dunaway :: elizabeth david :: cloche :: la cloche :: slack dough :: frelkins :: fortune :: fortune elkins :: bklyn :: brooklyn :: bread coffee chocolate yoga
more espresso from mark at taylormaid
and another long-time bccy pal, the scaa board member mark inman of taylormaid, rides to the rescue with a care package of beans! mark so sweetly sends his cute yellow cans (recyclable, of course!) of espresso a and 0.
thanks muchly mark! devoted readers recall my discussion of his espresso 0. in another great co-incidence, his coffees take a brewing temp. of 198 -- roughly in the range of the vibiemme domobar super electronic's (a.k.a. caesar)default temperature if i run a lot of water and start to brew with his heating lamp off.
hooray! let's how this coffee tastes tomorrow!
Tags: espresso :: coffee :: brewing :: mark inman :: taylormaid :: a :: 0 :: vibiemme :: domobar super :: jim piccinich :: 1st-line.com :: frelkins :: fortune :: fortune elkins :: bklyn :: brooklyn :: bread coffee chocolate yoga
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
peter g's counterculture holiday blend
peter g. of counterculture kindly saw that i was once again running low on beans and so sent me his new holiday blend, roast-dated the 2nd. an interesting thing about this coffee is that part of the proceeds go to buy cows for people in rwanda.
since peter describes the dried-cherry and chocolate flavors in the blend as a "black forest cake," i thought to myself that black forest cakes really need cream, a lot of cream.
this is why i decided to pull it this morning as an espresso on the vibiemme domobar super electronic, a.k.a. caesar. with some nice microfoam for a "creamy" mouthfeel, i think i took the black forest concept a step forward.
peter's coffee may be a tad too bright to my mind to make a great espresso on its own -- but as a cappuccino, it seemed mighty fine this morning! it didn't even need to be dialed in, the first shot pulled within acceptable parameters.
more on this later. . .
Tags: coffee :: espresso :: peter giuliano :: counterculture :: machine :: vibiemme :: domobar super :: demo :: review :: holiday blend :: frelkins :: fortune :: fortune elkins :: bklyn :: brooklyn :: bread coffee chocolate yoga
Monday, November 06, 2006
the vibiemme: pump mystery explained
so i was talking to my macbook pro the other day -- i'm totally rocking out on this concept of voice computing -- and i blogged about this pump mystery i had found with the vibiemme domobar super electronic, a.k.a. caesar.
anyway, the ever-awesome jim p. of 1st-line has explained the enigma:
"on this class of machine with 2 gauges, this is what people notice. whenever the heating element kicks in, some power is lost to the pump which in turn is lost in the pump pressure.
this happens to alot of machines in this class. the things that affect the variance (are the fineness of grind and the voltage of the outlet."
cool. ok, that makes sense. the question is, how do we work around it?
jim offers these ideas:
"program the desired boiler pressure 'maximum' to where you start your shot. like this, the heating element kicks in at the lowest point.
and you always start your shot when boiler pressure reaches maximum. this technique would maximize the amount of time for brewing before the pressure dropped.
the alternative is to grind fine enough so that your initial pump pressure is 1.0-1.5 over the desired brew pressure and you would start brewing at the lowest possible and desired boiler pressure setting so the heating element kicks in right away. here you would program the lowest boiler pressure setting as the minimum boiler pressure setting for the machine."
clearly at home you've gotta experiment a little and see which technique is going to work best for you.
Tags: espresso :: coffee :: machine :: vibiemme :: domobar super electronic :: jim piccinich :: 1st-line.com :: demo :: review :: frelkins :: fortune :: fortune elkins :: bklyn :: brooklyn :: bread coffee chocolate yoga
Sunday, November 05, 2006
the vibiemme: pump mystery & backflushing
those coming to read bccy for the first time these last few days would be no doubt mystified by what would seem to them as a complete machine focus -- a concentration on learning to use the new vibiemme domobar super electronic (a.k.a. caesar) and on writing applescript for my macbook pro, which seems to this old flash hand so much like the fabled actionscript.
so let me hasten to assure you all that i am in fact still making pizza from scratch, chowing down on my cafe-tasse 77% dark chocolate, doing sun salutations at home around the pizza schedule, and reading the scholarly doctrine of vibration, a philosophical yoga tome filled with exciting sentences so reminiscent of heideigger: "the inner is the domain of pure Being, where the Subject's power of Knowledge [jnanasakti] operates within the Self, while the outer is the domain of the Subject's power of Action [kriyasakti]."
after a few pages of that, is it any wonder that backflushing caesar seems likes a relief?
actually, it sort of matches the philosophy on vibiemme's wepage: "the discretion of a moment requires the total lightness of a non-protaginist actor, as well as the scenary capacity of componing the wider difference in the energy of the particular. simplicity, linearity, monochromy: this is the horizon where the break becomes the opportunity to 'stop to do something,' opening a passage to the possibility of 'being somebody'. . ."
i'm not mocking vibiemme here: i understand they are trying to describe in modern academic terms how the social ritual of coffee allows people to construct a public identity in a safe space. they are talking about how coffeehouse culture is important in the creation of an individual's sense of self and how those selves find space to forge a community.
it's this unique capacity of the coffee ritual that explains why coffeehouses and coffee culture have been such historically important agents of social change. but i digress. . .
aside from the arduous dialing-in process, which entails pulling many shots and so goes through coffee and water like mad, i'm estimating that caesar takes about a gallon of distilled water a week. that gives you 3 cappuccini a day.
please note that because i'm in nyc, with my famous water, i can get away with using the 80/20 mix of distilled and tap. part of owning a quality heat-exchanger espresso machine like caesar is spending a few minutes checking out your local water situation and devising a strategy for it.
another part of moving up to a machine like caesar is backflushing -- that is, cleaning the grouphead and valve. some people who own a silvia do backflush her, even tho' her boiler seals aren?t really made for it.
i've never done it, myself, tho' i was always careful to use cleancaf every month.
and of course the carlos expobar's killer feature was his auto-backflush. to my mind, that should be standard on all machines of that class and above.
i think caesar should have this, frankly. because aged, rancid, burnt-on coffee oils at the grouphead will ruin your shots.
since vibiemme has taken all this effort to make caesar programmable, there's no reason in my mind not to automate this important care component too. that would encourage people to do it regularly, which will result in a better coffee experience for the buyer and contribute to proper maintenance of the machine.
caesar comes with a blind filter basket, so my husband deftly used the church key to pry out the single basket from one of caesar's 3 portafilters, and i popped in the blind filter. it?s called "blind" because it has no holes.
here's where last summer's care package from long-time bccy pal terry z. at espresso parts came in so handy. long-time readers will recall those kind folks sent a pallo grouphead brush and some joeglo backflush detergent.
the grouphead brush, which looks like a giant mutant toothbrush, has a little scoop on one end for measuring out your backflush detergent. so all you have to do is drop a scoop of joeglo into the blind portafilter.
then you fit the portafilter on the machine and press caesar's manual pour button for 3 seconds. then release. do this 5 times.
each time you release, you'll notice a spurt of sudsy ugly-dirty-dishwater-looking stuff fall into the drip tray from the column under caesar's grouphead. that's good! because otherwise that nastiness is in your cup.
after your 5th time, remove the blind portafilter and look at it. woog. don't be surprised at the brownish mix of sludge and dishwater you see there.
now mix up some more joeglo in a pitcher of water, dip the grouphead brush in it, and scrub away. scrub the dispersion screen, the gasket, all around.
then press the manual pour button for 5 seconds to let water run freely out the group to help rinse.
clean out the blind portafilter and reattach it to caesar. now backflush with plain water to rinse -- try 5 3-second bursts again.
remove the blind portafilter. using either the rinsed grouphead brush or -- with care -- a wet towel, wipe the gasket all around and the dispersion screen to make sure all the soap is gone.
now switch back to a regular portafilter basket and pull a normal shot. you?re done.
this entire process doesn?t take but 5 minutes, honestly. but i?m fabulously lazy, so my thinking is: why should i do this at all when i know perfectly well caesar can be programmed by the factory to do it himself?
and yes, this is a hint to the nice italians at vibiemme for future models. to my mind this is far more important than the nitpicks other reviewers have made about the kind of rubber on the feet. . .
anyway, after having had the vibiemme for about a week now, i really have to comment on the mystery of the pump gauge. i've noticed that every time the heating lamp next to caesar's "left eye" boiler pressure gauge goes on -- that is, whenever caesar turns on his heating element to maintain his brewing temperature -- the pump gauge instantly falls by 1.5 bar.
why? this remains something about caesar i don't fundamentally understand. . .still researching this. . .
i also have to get more distilled water today and on monday order more dancing goat from jessica, since i spent so much on the dial-in. luckily i have the gillies to drink thru the week!
Tags: espresso :: coffee :: machines :: vibiemme :: domobar super electronic :: backflush :: backflushing :: terry z. :: espressoparts :: jim piccinich :: 1st-line.com :: jessica marshall :: batdorf :: don schoenholt :: gillies :: demo :: review :: frelkins :: fortune elkins :: bklyn :: brooklyn