Saturday, February 23, 2002
dear readers, today i had to break my own heart. . .
that is, the wonderful and delicious dark-chocolate heart mr. right gave me for valentine's day. i had been gradually nibbling away at the bon-bons hidden inside the box. finally today, nothing was left, but the box itself and its cover. i had to do it; with a sad face, mr. right cut a piece from the floor of the box. who am i kidding? we both fell on that piece like ravening wolves. . .
i know jacques torres doesn't use valrhona; he seems to prefer belgian chocolate, perhaps using one called belcolade for some applications. i think the box may have been made of this belgian delight. . .
the chocolate, even at 10 days old, retained its kitchen-filling, intoxicating aroma -- just an unending perfume of chocolate essence. the bits we had also kept a nice clean snap but had perhaps a slightly waxy texture. in taste, not too bitter and fairly sweet. i'd call it sweet-dark chocolate. the texture wasn't so perfect, but this could have been caused by the unfortunate fact that due to the unseasonably warm weather, i'd been forced to briefly refrigerate it yesterday to keep it from softening. . . i certainly didn't detect one of the hallmarks of refrigerated chocolate, the so called sugarbloom.
Friday, February 22, 2002
i've mentioned brooklyn-based gillie's coffee here (and here) before. but it suddenly came to me that i had never posted their price list.
so lemme do so now. here's a link to the gillies price list in adobe acrobat pdf format (370k). it should download in less than 2 mins. on a 56k connection. if you don't have the acrobat reader, download it here.
the owner of gillies, don schoenholdt, is one of the most-respected roasters in the country. order 2 lbs. or more and he'll ship it UPS for free. that's a great deal for fresh coffee straight from the master roaster! with so many varieties you should be able to find to something to your taste.
Thursday, February 21, 2002
in our multi-culti world, i only think it wise to take advantage of every holiday; each one offers yet another opportunity for chocolate. . .
in this case, purim. normally one thinks about the large triangular cookies known as hamantaschen, often filled with fruit preserves.
but my friends, stop and reconsider: chocolate is perfectly acceptable and not unheard of. the cookies are often larger than your palm, meaning each one can hold a nice pile of chippy goodness. however, greed isn't necessary. . .on the other hand, if you were to use 1.4 oz. per cookie that would give you and your loved ones their daily recommended requirement of flavonols for optimum heart health. . .
since these cookies bake for just about 12 minutes, you should be able to use chocolate chips without fearing the chocolate will scorch. still, i'd be on a close watch. . . an important purim tradition is the exchange of large heaping plates of prepared food. perhaps any favorite chocolate recipe could be acceptable here! sending cards is also popular.
and after spending so much darned time eagerly noting how good chocolate, coffee, and yoga are for your health, i feel compelled to give equal time to the humble yeast. however, it's not that the yeast itself is so nutritious, but rather that its genetic code may soon prove useful in treating cancer.
Wednesday, February 20, 2002
it can't get better than this . . .
a diet rich in cocoa and other types of dark chocolate may help keep your blood pressure down and your heart healthy, sez new and reputable studies. harvard medical professor dr. norman hollenberg chaired the conference that reported the results. even tho' part of the conference and research was paid for by chocolate giant mars, i think there may be merit to this study.
take your doctors' advice: eat dark chocolate. drink coffee in moderation. add some whole grains to your bread. do your yoga. who knew being healthy was so fun and easy?
Tuesday, February 19, 2002
has the independent coffee house as we know it -- already near to being an endangered species -- just been saved from certain extinction?
i think the answer could be yes.
although chain coffee stores are overrunning the nation -- heck, the world -- those independent coffeehouses that focus on maintaining quality coffee and a welcoming personality manage to thrive. their long-term survival has been in doubt however, not from starbucks, but from the uber-chain, mcdonalds.
unknown to most americans, mcdonalds has actually been dabbling in coffeehouses since the early 90s. these mccafes/aroma cafes now exist in several countries, such as england, portugal, australia, and argentina, but the u.s.a didn't see it's first example until last year in chicago (here and here).
could mcdonalds be starting to abandon the concept by selling off its english aroma cafes? we will have to watch the fate of that chicago mccafe closely.
if this concept thrives, it could be the death knell for your favorite coffeehouse. or could lovers of quality coffee sit back in our favorite upscale local places and watch as starbucks and mcdonald's battle it out against each other for the mass-market coffee business?
either way, it's just possible that the charming local coffeehouse has just been given a new lease on life! so take advantage of it. support your independent neighborhood coffee place!
Monday, February 18, 2002
long-time readers know that i'm working on re-making these pages in spiffier web technology.
but before i do so, i'm going to need to collect better statistics about what browsers you're all using. so i'm considering briefly adding site meter to this page. i think two weeks would be all i need. by knowing what browsers you readers use, i can more carefully tailor the new pages to ensure the greatest number of people will have access to the new design. if however it causes the page to load too slowly or other problems, i'll quickly abandon it.
to the best of my knowledge, this software does not drop any cookies. i respect your privacy and refuse to use any intrusive means to find out more about you. further, i will never accept any advertising on this site. just wanted you to know!
and in other big news, i have to say that i'm thrilled in just a few short months to have jumped so high in the alexa page rankings! that's right friends -- i've gone from 392,325 to 150,936. incredible!
excuse me while i pick myself up off the floor and struggle to stop laughing my lungs out. . .but seriously, i suppose i owe it all to sara aase. thanks, sara, you're a sweetie! i'm your soul-blog. . .(stax-y horn riff here. . .)
Sunday, February 17, 2002
sometimes you come away confused. . .and ranting. . .
for example, today -- after years of gentle suggestion -- mr. right came to yoga with me. i thought carefully and took him to a class with a good teacher that i knew well, one known for her ability and good cheer with absolute beginners, for her fun and inspiring classes. sure: her class can be a little crowded, but the regulars there have a great vibe.
and in a wacky fluke, ended up in one of the worst yoga classes i've ever taken in my life! how could this be??
although i told her mr. right was there, she taught the class offering no modifications or explanations. few of the fun regulars where there; instead a group of women who seemed to want to achieve poses they weren't ready for at all. for example, one woman requested -- in a room where basically we're all elbow to nose -- that the teacher demonstrate the correct way to fall out of headstand!
her approach seems like going to driver's ed and saying, "forget about the parking brake: can you teach me how to have an accident?"
wouldn't you think it would be more beneficial if she could practice diligently at the wall or a foot in front of it until she could balance without falling? shouldn't she devote her time to learning how to do headstand correctly and safely? then she wouldn't need to learn "how to fall." instead, she would have achieved her aim -- headstand.
ah, but that might require actual hard slow boring work, doing a little every day in preparatory poses to practice her headstand balance. no, it would be much easier to just "learn to fall"! why bother to master control or grace: tapas, what for? sad to say, the teacher indulged her. . .
it's not about headstand per se or about this one woman or even about a bad class that left mr. right shaking his head in disbelief. don't get me wrong -- i'd like to be able to do all kinds of fancy poses too. instead, i choose a realistic pose, work on the preparations, the poses that will teach you how to get to the full pose, and i just plug away. maybe i take a private lesson or two.
but there aren't any shortcuts in yoga. you have to work to learn new poses. but that work teaches you so much more than just how to bend over backwards until you can set your own rear on your head. or how to fall over on everyone you don't know so you can have the thrill of "doing headstand. . ." that work teaches you that to get anywhere you have to release your ambitions and let your bad habits go begging.