Saturday, July 20, 2002
desperately seeking spoons
mr. right and i were headed into downtown manhattan in a cab for brunch at 12:38pm today, when as the car came onto the brooklyn bridge, we saw the plume of deep black smoke.
as we continued over the bridge, it was clear to mr. right that the fire was on 14th street. you could tell that by seeing what buildings were behind and before the smoke. "what's on 14th st?" i asked. "the con ed plant," he said, his knowledge the benefit of having lived in new york for more than 30 years. immediately the cab driver pulled onto the fdr freeway. we thought we would abandon plans for lunch on the lower east side and instead get off the freeway on houston and go across to a cute village cafe on the west side. but as we began to cross the island on houston, we noticed the stoplights were all out.
then we began to hear the fire trucks. as we crossed third avenue it became clear there was no power downtown, so we bagged it. we were afraid of getting trapped on the island. so we had the cab driver get on the west side highway and take the tunnel back to brooklyn's atlantic avenue. a total round trip!
we paid the whopping fare, just pleased not to be part of the mess downtown, wished the cab driver, one tanvir chowdhry, a safe trip back to turn in his cab, and went off for a pleasant goat cheese omelet at that fun little nabe cafe named after what's basically the french equivalent of ovaltine -- la banania, where the majority of patrons had yet to realize that anything at all had occured. (ignore the reviews about the brunch; it's fabulous. i too am a bananiaphile!)
thus i ended up walking atlantic avenue this afternoon, hopping from antique shop to antique shop in search of charming ornate antique demitasse or egg spoons for my rancilio espresso cups. and let me tell you these are hard to find!
i came across a beautiful victorian set of 10 spoons, with gold-washed bowls and full silver handles in the form of vines. alas -- $125! and i didn't need 10 anyway. i also found the greatest commemorative spoons, in honor of a vaudeville house that opened in 1898. alas, even pricier!
still, my search continues. somewhere there must be a set of 4 antique silver demitasse spoons just wacky enough to be cute and yet somehow mysteriously affordable. . .
Friday, July 19, 2002
it's looking like career week here at bccy (see yesterday), isn't it? in this spirit, i present one vincent hunihan!
after year and years as a trader, working for firms like goldman sachs, vincent had had enough. time for a change. so vincent did his last trade -- a power suit for a yoga mat. he's just opened his own studio in chicago.
i guess that's one way to beat the market. . .but again, i think this one career move most friendly to those who've a nice nest egg. . .
Thursday, July 18, 2002
with skilled bakers in short supply
for some of us, it's a dream come true -- the public appears at long last to be receptive to the joys of handmade, artisan bread.
in fact, there is such a demand for this bread here in new york, that the department of labor actually gave the city a grant to open an artisan baking school. people of all backgrounds are enrolled.
long-time readers know that i sometimes dream of becoming a baker myself. however, it's that sobering salary figure that halts me in my tracks: you start at $10 an hour and then move up to the big bucks: $18 an hour. not a payscale to cover anyone's mortgage, i'm afraid to say. plus, those hours: getting up at 4 a.m. and going to bed at midnight.
clearly baking calls out to those made of sterner stuff than i! so i'll stick to baking bread on cool days for mr. right. . .
Wednesday, July 17, 2002
which came first?
the coffee or the chocolate? thanks to new evidence discovered by archaeologists in belize, chocolate seems the winner.
beautiful mayan spouted chocolate pots found in belize were sent by scientists to the hershey corp. to be chemically analyzed for chocolate residue. and there it was! traces of 2,600-year-old cocoa.
the mayans were drinking frothy chocolate beverages with a foamy head mixed with honey and spices long ago. . .seemingly well before there appears to be any provable history of coffee roasting and drinking!
Tuesday, July 16, 2002
you don't have to bake alone
so few people actually cook or bake any more, i know. and some of you, dear readers, have written me about your devotion to the lonely pursuit of better bread and baking. naturally here at bccy i encourage everyone as best i can, but sometimes you want a more immediate and local response. someone with whom you can work out recipes, experiment, bounce ideas around, split the cost of 2 kilos of premium chocolate.
this is why i'm alerting you to the baker's dozen clubs. founded more than 10 years ago in the bay area by marion cunningham, author of the revised fannie farmer cookbook, and including quite a few famous pastry chefs, it has spread across the country. there are a number of local groups now. and if there isn't one in your area, you can start your own.
as for myself, i'm afraid i don't have much time any more for outside groups. baking for mr. right and making my yoga lessons is about all i can manage without stressing out! pity. . .
Monday, July 15, 2002
how to win big money
48-year-old pro golfer eduardo romero swept the scottish open golf tournament yesterday at the fabled loch lomond. he was fighting it out with 28-year-old fredrik jacobson for a US$576,525 purse.
while news reports tell of the young swede "visibly shaking" as he played the last few holes, the argentine romero stayed as cool as gazpacho. his secret? you guessed it -- a daily 50-min. yoga practice. "my concentration this year is the best it has ever been," romero said.
Sunday, July 14, 2002
orsini organic espresso "black"
it's tremendous stuff. just as good as the gold. no, it is a little sweeter. and this begets the problem.
the wood-roasted, organic, 6-bean blend "gold" with a touch of robusta is US$15 a pound, plus $13.50 2-day shipping UPS from oregon. the all-arabica black is said to retail for an amazing US$30 a pound, although my neighbor and i who shared a couple of pounds managed to get an internet deal of US$18. and we split the shipping. but still. . .
it's the classic 80-20 problem. the gold blend is definitely excellent. to improve upon it -- that's the last 20%. and you see that in the price, the difficulty of taking a really good thing even further toward the top. but heavens, even illy only sells for about US$24 a pound!
when i've finished this bag, i'm going to have to call max and ask him if he can tell me more about the price differential, if that won't force him to give up too many trade secrets. what's in it? some precious central american or kona bean that wholesales on its own for US$20?? only orsini knows. . . .
max makes a variety of coffees at different price points. if the black seems too rich for your blood, call his sales rep, gianna, and talk to her about their coffees. do find one that works for you, because orsini coffee is definitely most fine.