Saturday, April 27, 2002
don't say i didn't warn you!
here it is. i'm starting with the home page and will update the rest shortly, in due order. if you notice any problems with various browsers that i didn't catch, please email me using the link below. . . if the browser in question is a version number 5 or 6!
otherwise, i'm afraid i'll just have to ask you to upgrade to a standards-compliant browser of your choice. . .
Friday, April 26, 2002
tough guys do yoga. . . .
just ask offensive tackle todd wade of the miami dolphins. to stay competitive, he's added yoga to his training routine. he's a little behind: the new york giants have been required to attend yoga classes as part of their training routine for 2 years now.
also, for those of you who couldn't make renowned yoga teacher rodney yee's recent and too-brief web chat, here's the transcript.
and in other news: it hasn't gone away. . .the look of this site is changing very soon! probably this weekend or next, if i can find the time. i still advise those of you with older browsers (netscape 4, internet explorer 4) to upgrade now!
Thursday, April 25, 2002
we coffee lovers are at their mercy. . .
i mean, you can acquire the freshest beans, exquisitely roasted, blended to perfectly balance the flavor. you can plug in a $2,000 commercial espresso machine and let it warm up for an hour. you can ensure that the machine is filled with the purest water. and you can grind your lovely beans with a precision grinder. but still your espresso is often a disaster. why?
the barista! only a barista is capable of taking these elements and turning them into a delightful cup.
but who do we usually get for baristas? bored teens who'd rather be talking to their friends at the gap? harried bartenders, pushing buttons in between sour apple martinis? until baristas get better pay, better training, and respect, we won't see much good coffee here in new york! it needs to become a recognized profession, a real vocation, a career path. . .
and some wise people in australia have the light. . . in response to complaints of bad coffee, the government of australia has stepped up to the plate, creating a set of regulations to define the barista, to standardize their training, and to elevate the position. soon eager coffee lovers will go in one door and emerge from another, transformed by technical knowledge and expertise!
with this serious attitude, how long will it be before australia will be able to boast the world's best coffee?
Wednesday, April 24, 2002
of course, one lone study of just 100 samples doesn't prove anything. . .
but many people are shocked at the discovery by swedish scientists that cooking high-carbohydrate foods at high temperatures -- foods such as bread(!), pizza(!) -- apparently create large amounts of a known cancer-causing chemical. the swedes were so concerned about their findings, they released them immediately instead of waiting to publish them in a scientific journal. reuters said the release of this early study is sparking a worldwide food scare.
what is this chemical, acrylamide? this white, crystalline chunky powder (think sea salt) is a known chemical hazard; the government has set a low safety threshold for it in air, for example. breathing it may be fatal and very small amounts cause genetic mutations and birth defects.
also, it appears to kill fetal mice and paralyse the mothers -- dangerous stuff, no doubt!
however, before we burn our bread recipes and toss out our pizza flour, let's remember the hullabaloo over saccharine, which was banned in the 70s from soft drinks when tests appeared to prove that it caused cancer. years later those tests were shown to be poorly conducted and reputable figures say small amounts of saccharine are safe. . . .
but it is a funny reminder of woody allen's quip that in the future all foods thought now to be good for you would be proven deadly. . .pass that heart-healthy dark chocolate, would you?
i've always liked rodney yee's yoga . . .
long-time readers may recall i took a workshop with him a few months ago at jivamukti. he certainly is a very inspiring teacher. with the release of his new book, it's natural that we'll be seeing a surge of articles about him, like this one in usa today.
i might go back at 5:30pm EST to see how his online chat goes. i've no doubt it'll be instructional.
the workshop i took with him last fall stressed backbending, particularly full wheel pose (urdhva dhanurasana). at that time yee demonstrated how to move the tailbone "in between the legs" to shift more weight onto your feet. this is the action that will allow you to stand up from wheel and also learn to gracefully and safely drop back from mountain pose (tadasana) into a beautiful wheel.
i'm still working on the tailbone action, but with his advice, i have often done a full wheel with my hands at the base of a wall, thought about moving my tailbone, and then successfully walked my hands up the wall to stand in mountain. the trick to coming back down is to lift up at the sternum, not just slouch backwards. then you can put your hands in prayer at your forehead and start to go back to the wall. walking your hands down the wall, while it may seem scary, is actually much easier than walking them up.
if you've never tried this before: don't do it at home without first practicing this several times with a qualified yoga teacher to aid you! falling is dangerous, but more importantly, you could hurt your back if you don't learn the actions correctly.
Tuesday, April 23, 2002
for several years now there's been a fad for old-fashioned, herbal flavors in chocolate -- fennel, lavender, verbena. and lately we've been introduced to asian flavors: ginger, green tea, chinese five-spice, rosewater.
so how about the two together? a specialty florist in bangkok is expanding into artisan chocolates. his chocolate bars are touched with herb and spice flavors rooted in thai cuisine, such as chrysanthemum and lotus seed, as well as the familiar green tea. let's just hope he doesn't add any of those fiery thai chiles! since new flavors travel fast, i suspect we shall soon see these and other thai flavors in cutting-edge artisan chocolates here. . . .
in fact, since indian cuisine had a boomlet here just 2 or 3 years ago, i'm still surprised we don't see more indian-inspired chocolate flavors beyond the rosewater. maybe something along the lines of a mix of cardomon and cumin for the adventurous?
but of course, it's important to keep it elegant and clean. beyond that you get into the confusion flavors that i just can't help mocking savagely. . . .
Monday, April 22, 2002
can't wait to log on to my coffee pot!
i'm not kidding. after much delay, salton has announced the definite existence of its line of internet-connected kitchen equipment. the appliances also talk to each other over a wireless home network. so log on to set the coffee machine and the alarm clock -- "you've got coffee!" a perky voice will chime just as the pot's finished brewing.
also, on the coffee social front: i've talked about fair-trade coffee, shade-grown and bird-friendly coffee, and organic coffee. now there's a new kind of progressive coffee: humane coffee. i know, i know: you're all pretty darn tired of this stuff, except i have to note that unlike many progressive rants, this political coffee claptrap may actually have some meaning to it.
could the dreadfully low coffee prices be already beginning to affect the social stability of two countries of importance to the united states: guatemala and indonesia? guatemalan farm workers have seized 14 coffee plantations, demanding that their land be redistributed among the poor. as for indonesia, farmers in the lampung area are pulling up their coffee trees and demanding government aid, according to the jakarta times. are these small warning signs of further problems to come?
on a brighter note, farmers in the far mountains of myanmar (burma) appear to be taking part in an effort to replace opium poppy cultivation with that of quality coffee. let's hope that the present world-low in prices doesn't doom this promising effort to failure.
and even though long-time readers know i'm no fan of starbucks, one man's quirky quest to visit every starbucks on the planet made me smile. . . naturally, he's got a website. seems like he needs to hook up with these two.
Sunday, April 21, 2002
and the sweet spot is two clicks to the left of arrow decal!
yes, i've spent a grueling day dialing in my new mazzer mini grinder. but after half a pound of caffe d'arte's yummy parioli blend went to science, i found the notch. thank goodness this grinder is so quiet -- if i'd spent so long with my old lux i'd be even more deaf than i am already! unfortunately, i didn't get the magic 25-second 1-3/4 oz. espresso pull until 7 p.m. since i wasn't pulling decaf, i thought twice about drinking it! but tomorrow is another day. . . .
in more coffee news, a recent observation made by the new york times that adult american consumers are eagerly adopting lifestyle trends often first identified in japanese teens -- "we are all japanese teenagers now" was the way the paper put it -- seems to be borne out once again. beyond hello kitty, pokemon, and the return of platform/wedgie sandals, japanese-style canned coffee drinks are being launched upon the nation. you heard it here (and here) first, dear readers!
trust me, the beverage giants have focus-grouped this one all out. look for a pile of new coffee beverages to appear in your grocery store's soft drink and dairy aisles very soon. you could start seeing ads later this spring for summer product launches.