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Saturday, September 14, 2002


those dancing goats. . .

the always-wonderful mr. right bicycled over to the victory for me and picked up a pound of batdorf's signature dancing goats espresso blend. when he asked for the pound, the proprietress opened a fresh 10 lb. bag of beans for him and noted that she had received this bag just that afternoon. ah -- very fresh coffee, not three days old!

frankly, it takes me a while to go through a whole pound of espresso, so i carefully packaged up most of it all nice and airtight and popped it in the freezer. spare me your emails please -- while i know freezing the coffee isn't ideal, it's often the best method of preservation available to us at home. if only she would sell in 1/2 pound lots. . .

but the effort was certainly worthwhile -- ground at 4 notches to the left the arrow decal on the mazzer mini, and prepared in silvia, the dancing goats delivered a luscious 2 oz. of espresso with a 1/2-inch of pompeii-red crema. almost too nice to pop into the morning cappucino. but we must make sacrifices sometimes, hmm?

the dancing goats blend is delicious in milk, and as a straight espresso. highly recommended.

posted by fortune elkins | 11:30 AM | top | link to this |


Friday, September 13, 2002


yoga fashion for charity

yogis and yoginis for whom looking stylish is a way of life can now benefit charity with a new designer yoga bag and matching t-shirt. the limited-edition leather and canvas tote even carries your mat. proceeds go to the well-known charity, cancercare.

the bag's a collaboration in which yoga journal contributing editor, former model, and intense charity fundraiser christy turlington meets chic designer marc jacobs. the "christy bag" is available this fall only at neiman marcus and some stores that carry turlington's nuala line of yoga clothing. the bag's not cheap: expect to shell out $350 for this level of fabulousness -- but again, it's all for a good cause.

the more affordable $25 t-shirt can be purchased at nordstroms, saks fifth avenue, and marc jacob boutiques. it bears the marc jacobs and cancercare logos in black and red on a white background.

in more yoga news, those living in the up-and-coming fort greene nabe have long lacked yoga opportunities. as far as i know, the only place for yoga there is the occasional class at the mark morris dance studio near bam.

but yoga is coming -- yoga people is opening a second location at fulton and ashland above the deli sometime in the first week of november. it will offer ashtanga, vinyasa, and bikram-style yoga in a hot room. when i hear more, you'll be the first to know. . .

posted by fortune elkins | 6:32 PM | top | link to this |


Thursday, September 12, 2002


thanks!

let me take this moment to thank all of you for your lovely emails yesterday. i deeply appreciate your time and thoughtfulness. like orpheus, we new yorkers have gone down into and returned from the pit -- without our loved ones. now a year later we must focus on rebuilding.

a special shout-out to chipper in fanta se (om shanti to you!). chipper's work with coffee kids is just great. also, big thanks to storm flower, who sent photos of the fine & schapiro mural. fine & schapiro was a time-honored, old-fashioned jewish deli in the basement of the world trade center, and a place where i got my daily dark-meat-turkey-with-mustard-on-whole-wheat for years. fortunately they are still open at their original location on the upper west side, if you ever feel a need for a gallon of chicken matzoh ball soup.

now i think of it -- why haven't i noticed this before? -- i haven't had a turkey sandwich for lunch since 9-11. nowadays i hop over to the closest korean salad bar (these are institutions here in new york) or i enjoy a plate of palak paneer sak from chino chaudhary's place, diwan-e-khaas. . .

but you know, a blog shouldn't be about the boring details of your life! so let's get back on track with yoga: i was deeply moved to read that recent tragic events are encouraging more people to try yoga. and also pleased to see that the challenge to yoga in the schools in aspen has been resolved in favor of yoga.

however, i'm sorry to see that proponents of yoga have not yet been able to allay the fears of the conservative christian community. yoga is not a religion, as i've mentioned here before; although often presented in an indian cultural context, yoga pre-dates hinduism, according to reputable scholars; it is totally compatible with christianity; and that with the dangerous rise of obesity in schoolchildren, it's something that should be offered in all schools for health reasons alone.

the parents of conservative atlanta understand this -- let's hope aspen will come around.

posted by fortune elkins | 6:08 PM | top | link to this |


Wednesday, September 11, 2002


an update

even as i type this, president bush and the first lady are walking down the ramp past a police honor guard into ground zero to meet an assembled group of family members of victims, firefighters, and police.

the west point cadet choir will sing, and after greeting people informally, the president is to lay a wreath before he leaves the area to prepare for what is said to be a national address from ellis island later this evening, around 9pm.

the secret service sharpshooters took positions on all the building rooftops, quite visibly, before 4pm this afternoon. at that time, selected family members were allowed into the pit, where they gathered about the circular marker, now covered with flowers, flags, photos, and other mementos. several colleagues brought their binoculars, and it's actually quite easy to see the president clearly.

we have been asked to remain in the building until 5:30pm. after that, i'm going home.

posted by fortune elkins | 2:12 PM | top | link to this |



9-11 world trade center anniversary ceremonies

as long-time readers may remember, i work on the corner of church and cortlandt st. in downtown new york, which is directly across the street from where the south tower of the wtc stood. as i result, altho' my office did not officially open until 11a.m. this morning out of respect for the ceremonies, a few employees and executives were determined to arrive early to watch the ceremonies from our vantage point on a high floor.

i awoke at 6:30am to ensure that i would be able to navigate the expected crowds and street closures to arrive at the office by 8a.m. as i had breakfast at 7, i saw on tv the contingent of pipers march over the brooklyn bridge to ground zero. at that time i heard the first military helicopters that were hovering over the bridge and the east river.

the day was warm, brightly sunny, a tad humid, and extremely windy. the sky was just as clear and sparkling blue as this day last year. i took the n and r subway line to rector street, as has been my habit since my office returned to ground zero from its temporary location at the woolworth building in may. i doubt there were even 5 other people in the subway car with me. the platforms were deserted.

i expected that rector street would be a madhouse as i came up the stairs from the subway exit. i was quite surprised to see that the sidewalk was only mildly crowded. the crowd did thicken as i crossed thames alley towards what used to be liberty plaza. the respectful and quiet spectators however kept themselves well to the curb and the fronts of the buildings, leaving a surprisingly easy passage all along the face of one liberty plaza itself. the only truly crowded corner was cortlandt and church itself. although police stood at every corner and were walking freely all about, there were no security checks either. i had brought extra i.d., but no one was asking for it. i went into the lobby of my building and arrived in my office at about 8:05am.

in my office, we lit large candles and placed them in hurricane vases along the window ledges that face the ground zero pit. we had a clear view of all the ceremonies, the hudson river, everything. i cannot over-stress how lovely the morning was -- long, low crystal-white clouds, tinged in lilac-gray, swanned peacefully over the hudson's swift glass-green chop. two military helicopters paceed up and down the river.

the deutsche bank building remained veiled in its black habit, its flag tattered a bit, with distinct holes. next to it, the new york university law building was also veiled, its white throw covered with a 30- or 40-story banner featuring a red-white-and-blue heart and the statue of liberty. directly across, the world financial center's windows were partially covered by a large new flag. the just-restored panes of the winter garden atrium glistened in the brilliant sun.

for weeks the pit itself has resembled nothing more than a confused construction zone -- a helter-skelter of dumptrucks, backhoes, bulldozers, as men worked to rebuild the subway and path train track lines. and this morning the construction equipment was still there, but parked to the side, as if the machinery itself would observe the solemnity. directly below my perch in the sky, on the roof of the century 21 department store, network camera and tv equipment wires snaked all about. on corner was occupied by an elaborate anchor desk and news setup.

on the church st. side of the rim, police officers stood in a site-wide line, 6 rows deep. the vesey street side was filled with spectators. on the west side highway rim, the family members and loved ones of the victims stood around the platform where the ceremonies were to take place. the fulton street side was left free for passage. at various part around the site, large white tents shivered in the strong breeze.

the ceremonies themselves began at about 8:35am, as the contingents of pipers, who had each marched from a different borough to the spot, began their descent down the ramp into the pit. there they formed a teardrop around a center circular marker. we had a radio in the office, so we could hear the music both from the radio and barely, lightly drifting up from below. otherwise, we could hear no sound directly from the ceremonies, which lasted about 2 hours and 50 minutes.

they played until 8:46am, when the first moment of silence began, commemorating the instant the first plane struck. then they circled the marker, and marched back up the ramp. at that time, a ring of uniformed officers formed at some distance around the marker. at that moment, the wind kicked up heavily, dragging large and fierce clouds of dust across the site. myself and several colleagues sat on the window ledge among our flickering candles in silence.

at 8:47am, mayor bloomberg introduced new york governor george pataki, who read the gettysburg address. then some music. at about 8:55am, former mayor rudy giulani began to read the names over a contemplative cello accompaniment. at 9:03am, another moment of silence to mark the attack of the second plane, and then a bell tolled. various speakers read the names -- a heart-rending list -- until 9:59am, when there was a third moment of silence and another bell to mark the collapse of the south tower. the reading resumed. as it went on, time seemed to expand. all those of us watching could do was look on as loved ones and family members of the victims slowly streamed into the pit, into the circle of uniformed officers to gather around the marker, where they hugged, prayed, and left both flowers and small flags.

at 10:28am, two trumpters echoed taps, one in the pit, one on the rim. at 10:29, the last moment of silence, and the last bell, to note the loss of the north tower. the reading of the names continued with a mournful relentlessness. it seemed as if the list was as long as all humanity. when the name of our former co-worker who had died having breakfast at the windows on the world restaurant was read, even the men in my office fell into tears. finally, it finished at about 11:15 am. new jersey governor james mcgreevy tonelessly read the declaration of independence. military jets streaked loudly overhead. more music -- taps again.

the cermony at ground zero was over, although family members will be allowed to place flowers at the marker until 1:30pm. at that time, the streets will be cleared and sealed off for an extra block in each direction to prepare for the expected arrival of president george bush later in the afternoon. also, various other ceremonies will begin around the city -- a service at riverside church uptown at 2pm, a 5:30pm mass at st. patrick's cathedral, a 7pm ceremony in battery park, where mayor bloomberg will light the eternal flame. at 7:30pm, new yorkers can attend any of several concerts around the city: manhattan, central park; bronx, van cortlandt park; queens, flushing meadow park; brooklyn, prospect park; and staten island, snug harbor. at 7:12pm, the mayor also encourages everyone at home to light a candle there.

coming back with lunch just now, the street-clearing process has already begun. the police are sheparding away the spectators, who seem more grave and respectful than the tourists have been recently. city workers have set the blue barricades in place at cortlandt and broadway, and my i.d. was scrutinized before they let me down to my building. the white rose i carried with me in hopes of leaving at the memorial wall wouldn't find its place today -- instead the stiff wind blasted the fragrant petals from the stem and scattered them down broadway.

highlights of previous 9-11 world trade center coverage here:
the day
the day after
another view
vigil on the brooklyn promenade
my return to downtown
tourists
century 21 re-opens
3 months
6 months
end of recovery ceremony
congressional wreath-laying

posted by fortune elkins | 10:03 AM | top | link to this |


Tuesday, September 10, 2002


colombia innovates

let's hope it's not too late! while coffee farmers face bankruptcy and coffee workers literally starve as central american governments seem to twiddle their thumbs, colombia's new president has taken a bold step forward in combatting the coffee crisis.

while it's true that uribe has gone the much-needed and more traditional route of extending subsidized loans to stricken farmers and asking for aid (he just received approval for US$42 million from congress), he's also started thinking out of the box. even as coffee prices have started rising this past week, he understands that coffee-producing countries need to reach out to consumers directly if they wish to survive in the long term.

here in the united states, despite the dominance of starbucks, when people think of coffee, they immediately think of juan valdez and his little donkey. the colombian coffee ad campaign featuring these two has been one of the longest-running in memory. they have appeared on our tv sets every year since the '50s. coffee -- "the richest kind" -- still means colombian for many americans.

uribe understands the power of this brand, and so he has announced a unique plan of public-private cooperation to open a chain of juan valdez coffee shops. if anyone can challenge the starbucks hegemony, it's gotta be juan valdez. the donkey's set to debut in miami this december.

nb: i will be at ground zero tomorrow to report on 9-11 world trade center anniversary events. expect my report sometime in the early afternoon.

posted by fortune elkins | 6:12 PM | top | link to this |


Monday, September 09, 2002


chocolatefinger bets on coffee

anthony ward, executive of u.k. trading firm armajaro, made quite a splash for himself this summer by presciently cornering the cocoa maket. prices have kept rising as bad weather in africa continues to suppress production.

as a result, the british press has nicknamed him "chocolatefinger" along the lines of the james bond villian goldfinger, who planned to destroy the gold bullion in fort knox and thus become the world's largest owner of usuable gold.

it's expected he will make many tens of millions in pounds sterling profit when he finally sells the last of his stock to desperate manufacturers in time for the holiday rush. fortunately for us consumers, we should not see a big rise in the cost of our holiday chocolate gifts, since the actual cost of the raw cocoa is a small part of the overall cost of premium chocolate.

what's most interesting about this is that the savvy speculator suggests that coffee may be the next hot area. if so, this could be a boon for the coffee industry. i won't re-iterate the human costs of the current world-price depression, particularly in latin america. coffee workers in nicaragua have already starved to death; and it appears the hunger and resulting social instability continues to spread to mexico and guatemala.

but will a price increase reach the farmers in time to save their farm -- and the lives of coffee workers? readers, you don't have to wait on the market: you can save lives yourself today by donating to that excellent charity, coffeekids.

posted by fortune elkins | 6:17 PM | top | link to this |


Sunday, September 08, 2002


chocolate flourless cake with chile

normally i'm not the biggest fan of the above dessert -- usually chefs use too much of the wrong kind of chile, to my mind. but tonight i had a very nice one at a nouvelle-regional-mexican, alma. the dense, moist cake's deep chocolatey-ness was subtly enhanced by a light touch of mild, nearly-somehow-sweet ancho. normally, i think this cake is kind of a holdover from the early 90s. but alma offers a pleasant rendition and for some reason tonight i wasn't rolling my eyes at the cliche.

while a roof-top overlooking the dock cranes at red hook may not at first strike you as a promising place for a yummy chocolate nibble, alma works. their sweet plaintains bathed in a rich mole poblano sauce with sesame seeds could also be a dessert instead of side dish if the chef just dusted a little powdered sugar on the plate. . .

the intense vanilla flan is also quite good. unlike most, this is not too heavy, not too rubbery, and not too sweet. it's fluffy, light, delicate but drenched with a pure vanilla flavor you just want to bathe in. imagine a lovely creme brulee but without any of the too-burnt caramel you so often suffer through. . . . . all good.

posted by fortune elkins | 5:27 PM | top | link to this |

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