Saturday, April 06, 2002
a little birdie told me about a new chocolate boutique!
set to open in may, the chocolate bar will be located in the west village, at 8th avenue between horatio and jane. it's supposed to feature all the goodies we love -- candies by jacques torres, sweet bliss, garrison confections and lunch box. (when will these people get with the program and put up websites?!) also look for illy coffee, pastries and hot chocolate.
Friday, April 05, 2002
will the germans ever learn to pronounce caffe latte?
they'd better. starbucks has hit berlin, and the germans, used to only black coffee or coffee with milk, seem a little overwhelmed by the changes sweeping their centuries-old cafe culture.
on a more serious note, the world bank, the iadb, and usaid are having a regional meeting to see how to combat the social and economic catastrophe in central america wrought in by the recent low in coffee prices. they are trying to strengthen quality standards, to keep the glut of poor-quality coffee from depressing the world market any longer.
about time, i say! but will this alphabet soup of global development agencies actually do more than just palaver in their poly-modern plexiglass office cocoons? will they try creating and enforcing a workable plan to make the lives of those who depend on coffee revenue better?
and on an upbeat health note: the prestigious journal nature reports that coffee may stop tooth decay. if you don't put so much sugar in it!
Thursday, April 04, 2002
are you wearing eyeglass today because you ate too much white bread as a child?
scientists at the university of colorado think the answer could be yes. this new research seems to suggest that diet may be as important in near-sightedness as genes and environmental factors, such as reading in poor light and computer screens.
i'm a big lover of bread, and of course as a child, all we ever had was horrible supermarket white bread. bunny bread, to be exact. this probably explains why i'm personally as blind as a bat! that aside, while this new research is far from definitive, it offers further encouragement to one of my major themes. . .
readers, bake your own bread and use more whole grains in it. i know, i know -- many adults and almost all children refuse to eat whole wheat bread. they dislike the bitter aftertaste often found in whole-wheat bread. fortunately, hard white winter wheat lacks the bitter compounds found in the red wheat normally ground for whole wheat flour. try using king arthur's whole-grain flour from white winter wheat for a sweeter, more pleasing bread.
Wednesday, April 03, 2002
friends -- they are lovely, aren't they?
a friend of mr. right's is touring hawaii and was kind enough to fed-ex us a 1/2 lb. of langentstein kona, medium-roast. the langenstein coffee estate is one of about 30 recognized authentic kona plantings. for those of you who may not have had this coffee, it's spectacular.
the perfume! before i made this coffee mr. right and i were both happily sniffing the bag. we'd wander into the kitchen and just press our noses against the one-way valve. that's how great the scent is. delicate, fragrant -- i wanted to dab it on as a cologne! and remember, mr. right is not a coffee person but a diet coke person. . .even he admitted it smelled wonderful.
used to fake-o marketing claims saying you can use less coffee but still get a rich cup, i didn't pay too much attention to this statement on the langenstein label. so i filled my bodum stove-top vac pot to the 8 cup line, and put the usual amount of coffee in the top globe. surprise! john langenstein -- who actually autographs every single bag of his coffee -- means what he says! the coffee was a tad strong -- i might have been better off with a scoop or so less.
so i added a little extra water and some milk and sat down for a delightful cup. rich, smooth, with a body like wine. i thought i wouldn't like the kona, which is generally considered a milder and lighter style of coffee. remember, i spent years drinking nutty, heavy aged sulawesi in a press pot. but uh-oh: i may be a convert. needless to say, i highly, highly recommend this coffee.
Tuesday, April 02, 2002
while some may find italian chocolate good only for nibbling with coffee, no one could dispute that gianduja is an amazing thing. . .
since we americans generally don't cotton to hazelnuts the way europeans do, it could be safely said that we don't appreciate giandjua enough. in fact most americans don't even know what it is: here most gianduja is called simply praline. oh, sure, most people won't turn down a baci or a godiva oyster if offered one, but still it's not a big deal to us.
this great article describing a tour of the gobino factory, a famous gianduja maker in turin, might help change that. . .
mostly i sighed with joy to see the magic word bicerin. i don't think you can get this delightful coffee, chocolate and cream mixture (it's thicker than a syrup but not quite a mousse; think really heavy honey) anywhere but in northern italy. . .
Monday, April 01, 2002
tea retreats. . .
as coffee makes inroads in places formerly associated with tea drinking, such as russia and southern india. when you say russian here in new york everyone automatically completes it with tea room. those famous russian samovars are for serving tea, after all. but now russia's got the coffee bug. which master roaster will be the first to introduce russians to the pleasure of truly fresh coffee? coffee drinking is still so new, there are no roasters yet operating there!
as for india, web guy extraordinaire madhu menon offers this eyewitness report on the coffee scene in bangalore:
. . . in the last couple of years, the country has seen a sudden burst in the number of coffee houses. These are typically a cafe-style place, much like a Starbucks(no, they're not here yet) and serve stuff like espresso, machiato, latte, cappuccino, cafe mocha, etc. Some even serve (supposedly) exotic coffee from Colombia and some African countries.
They're becoming a place where the upper-middle-class youth hang out. The coffee is usually not cheap, with the average cup costing anywhere from Rs. 25 - 50 ($.50 -$1), which is about 2-5 times more expensive than regular Indian coffee.
A prominent coffee chain in India is Barista.
although i have heard reports that indians will drink coffee with buffalo milk instead of cow's milk, madu says no:
While some Indians like their tea milky, this is not so for coffee. South India coffee especially tends to be served relatively strong. Cardamom in coffee? Goodness, no. And cow's milk is used more than buffalo milk in India anyway.
japan, russia, india. . .as coffee consumption is generally falling in the western world, it seems that the east is picking up on the beauties of our favorite beverage!
Sunday, March 31, 2002
does anyone still run across one of those wacky, cute, definitely home-made websites that really make you smile?
i have. this site is just a hoot. i can't endorse all the recipes or techniques, but still, i just love it. enthusiasm and joy are beautiful. the name of this fun place is perfection: pizza therapy.
perhaps my favorite section is where readers write in to name their favorite pizza places across the usa. none of the quality pizza places in new york are listed, but somehow i don't think this site is concerned with neapolitan authenticity or professional technique! and so what? why should it be? not everyone has to be like me, devoted to hunting down the perfect pizza. . .
when i'm obsessing about the amazing qualities of italian 00 flour and whether i'll get a better flatbread if i let the dough autolyse. . .it's good to just remember the child-like happiness pizza brings to all. which is definitely where pizza therapy comes in.