Saturday, July 27, 2002
ever since dismas smith took top honors as america's best barista at the recent scaa contest, i've been hearing more and more good things about the espresso blend his employer roasts, espresso paladino.
dismas placed a respectable 6th at the world barista championship in norway last month. at both events he made his specialty drink with zoka coffee's paladino.
i've been drinking a lot of west coast coffee lately -- orsini, vivace, caffe d'arte -- and i'd been meaning to try even more, like vita and ladro, which now serves fair trade coffee. but i think i'm going to move the paladino up my list.
look for a review in the next 2 or 3 weeks. . .
Friday, July 26, 2002
team u.s.a defeated team france at the recent 2002 world pastry championship contest, with a stunning chocolate centerpiece of a tiger jumping through a flaming hoop and innovative pulled sugar techniques.
actually this isn't saying much, since all three members of team u.s.a. are actually french themselves. so our french chefs beat their french chefs.
but newsweek has a nice article on the competition, and the entire story of the competition can be found on the contest's website.
on a more sobering note, new statistics reveal what i have suspected for a while: coffee farmers, near bankruptcy by years of low prices, have turned en masse to growing cocaine, thus creating a new high for drug production in latin america.
Thursday, July 25, 2002
everybody wants coffee at their desktop, so why not coffee in their desktop? as long as you can pour with a click of the mouse. . .but when he converts it to an espresso machine, where the heck will he put the steam wand and drip tray?
it's not exactly a new idea tho' -- those wacky young'uns and their soda! please notice that people don't seem to feel a need to do these strange things to their osx machines. . .perhaps because macs do something useful right out of the box?
Wednesday, July 24, 2002
long-time readers know i kinda have a hate-love-hate relationship with the new york times food section. at least i'm not alone in thinking times' so-called food-writer amanda hesser must die (indeed hatred of her is so prevalent that one prominent food board, chowhound, actually had the moderator begging people to stop slagging the blathering ditz); or that the recipes and reviews in the times are often incorrect and unworkable.
but today the august times gets it right with several articles on fun and quite simple chocolate projects with one of my personal heroes, jacques torres. it's a rare food article worth going through the paper's tiring and pointless "registration" process. plus a nice recipe for chocolate mousse. read 'em and eat. . .
Tuesday, July 23, 2002
rebuilding new york
i've been studying the 6 proposals for rebuilding at the world trade center site with some care. these have been widely, roundly, and correctly criticized for lack of artistic vision. plus, all of these designs would fail to create a vibrant, 24-hour city-space.
and what else is new york, if not a vibrant, 24/7/365 kinda place?
i suppose of the 6, i prefer the last, the "promenade," by some tiny margin, mostly because i like its skyline the best. well, like is too strong a word. i suppose i'm so disappointed because i expected a greater artistic effort, especially for the all-important memorial. in all these plans, the memorial section is too anemic. i want something as brave, moving, and bold as the vietnam memorial was in its day.
finally i'm stunned to see the absense of global architectural talent in the proposals. i would have thought the world's greatest living architects would have been solicited for their ideas. where are these visionaries? would a truly world-class architect please stand up and offer a design?
long-time readers know that personally, i believe half the site should be a stunning memorial in a garden setting, preferably with water, to recall the fountain of the old wtc. the other half of the site? what should we build? we must build the tallest building in the world. and this building should comprise housing, offices, restaurants, movie theaters, a health club, stores, subways. if there is feasible room, a smaller building or two could be included on either side.
it is said that no one would lease or live in a tall space on that site. but i don't agree. if the place is beautiful and artistic, if the amenities and transportation are well-planned, then even a large building should succeed. . .
Monday, July 22, 2002
international man of mystery
who is the anonymous investor who recently bought up 7% of the world's cocoa futures? prices in the cocoa market are currently at a record high.
is it a major company attempting to lock in needed supplies at a fixed rate in the face of a feared shortage, a speculator attempting to drive up the price to even higher levels and make his killing as chocolate king by "cornering the market," or as oxfam seems to think, an evil monopolist out to rob farmers?
only time will tell what this market move means. . .
Sunday, July 21, 2002
back to yoga
long-time readers may remember that a few weeks ago i tweaked my hamstring in a fancy yoga pose. and that i dumbly went on with my usual practice, while my right leg became more and more stiff.
finally i listened to reason and took a break, cutting down to just one or two gentle viniyoga classes a week. today i went back to one of my regular open classes. i was terrified that i would have lost much of my flexibility. while my hamstring still isn't all there, i was so pleased to discover that i hadn't lost any strength or ability. and it was just a great relief.
this is one of the real benefits of yoga -- it helps you develop patience. i found that i didn't have to keep pushing myself for no benefit. i didn't have to be anxious, to obsess; i could simply step back for a bit to be where i was. and enjoy that.
but today i even managed a straight-legged forward fold with my nose between my knees. the secret? putting my feet in a severe pigeon-toed position, really pressing the big toes together with the heels wide apart. this allowed me to bend to my legs, straighten my back and my legs, but take the pressure off the hamstring. it might also help to sit on a blanket. these little modifications help me get on with my practice in a gentle way while my hamstring comes back to full strength. . .
it's a great tip if you're ever in my situation, one given me by australian iyengar teacher renata smenda. she teaches at yoga people in brooklyn and around town. check her out!