Saturday, December 14, 2002
bks speaks. . .
for all you readers who are big iyengar yoga fans -- i know several of you are -- check out a nice interview with bks himself in today's new york times.
what's great is the picture: the 85-year-old iyengar in reclining virasana. may we all be photographed in the same position at that age!
actually, the times is all yoga today with articles about yoga for kids and yoga fashion and ashtanga, that is, eddie stern.
looks like the good gray lady has finally caught up with yoga's vast popularity in new york!
Friday, December 13, 2002
chocolate as an art form
back from the company party, where honestly i had too many chocolate martinis and too much molten chocolate lava cake. forgive me if i don't feel so well. . .
nice article today on world-renowned pastry chef ewald notter, famed for his large sugar and chocolate decorative pieces. i find this stuff hilarious and mega-kitschy, but the man makes piles of money.
however, notter has to work for it. 85 hour weeks -- the reality of the top-flight artisan pastry chef. . .chocolate is a hard row to hoe, dear readers. otherwise i would have been in pastry school and apprenticed to a chocolatier long ago!
i mean, who really wants a 7-foot tall replica of the new york skyline in chocolate? well, some people do, and they are prepared to pay the highest dollar. seems like his chocolate school does well, too.
Thursday, December 12, 2002
more cookies; humor is a must
at holiday time everyone wants more cookie recipes. this flourless chocolate cookie recipe certainly caught my eye.
when making it, however, be sure to use an intense, high-percentage, chocolate, or else you might find the results lack a strong chocolate flavor. i hope to try making it myself in the next week or two. . .if you beat me to it, dear readers, tell me how it went.
finally, whenever you lose your sense of humor about yourself, you are ripe for satire. in fact, you deserve it. a definite feeling of fun should be a required element in yoga, to my mind.
in this vein, i read the account of a beginning yoga student at an ashtangi holiday party and laughed a lot. even tho' the author takes some cheap shots, and is writing for a horrid magazine i couldn't agree with less, i still have to say that i have met yoga students and teachers too much as described. that dread kernel-of-truth thing.
before i give the link, however, i have to note that this is british humor, and not family reading. consider yourself warned. however, i can't help but remark that the author clearly intended to be comic in the british manner by giving the hostess a cheap, touristy brand of hard cider. like bringing a bottle of ripple or thunderbird to a fancy dinner party. . .and i do like the phrase "out of that door like a long dog."
fans of real british cider and perry -- which tends to be a local, hand-craft product -- take their stuff very seriously, just as lovers of fine microbrews do. they are slow people.
Wednesday, December 11, 2002
it is so great to see this article in the new york times, which details the nightmare the city of new york is imposing on one of its own historical and cultural treasures, gillies coffee, which has been a fixture of new york life since 1840.
as i've said before, new york has been a coffee city since forever. we should have a great and flourishing coffee culture; we should be the host to the coffee phenomenon. and this article partially explains why we are not; because the city doesn't understand its own assets. yet it should: don s. himself is a leading light of specialty coffee not only in new york, but across the u.s.a.
the petty government official who sneers that gillies, and by extension, specialty coffee, is just "the next unfortunate little economic boomlet" shows his total lack of understanding. in our battered, suffering new york, economic boomlets are not "unfortunate." i support don s. 100 percent.
in fact, if i could, i would picket the hearing with a sign that says "free gillies!" and indeed, the city of new york should unshackle the coffee industry in this city and let it free to dominate the world, just like, well, you know who. . .
ok, maybe that extreme. but definitely don s. has the latest and greatest pollution devices on his plant, and they should let him off the hook. in fact, the next time i see mayor mike on the subway, i just might buttonhole him on this. . .actually, i encourage all new yorkers to email mayor mike and express their support for gillies. i just did!
Tuesday, December 10, 2002
u.s. gov't moves on quality coffee
an interesting development today: the governmental development agency usaid signs an agreement with green mountain coffee roasters in which green mountain will offer expertise to help struggling coffee farmers increase the quality of their coffee.
as part of this, the u.s. senate will begin offering fair-trade coffee in its cafeteria. they should choose a blend that goes with bean soup.
doubtless, you're going to be hearing a lot about the new consumer reports test of coffee makers. this test concludes that different methods -- french press, vac pot, chemex -- don't make a significant difference in the taste of the coffee. once again, we must shake our heads in despair at how little consumer reports gets right.
using blandish, generic colombian beans doesn't let the different methods shine. vac pot in particular is great for estate varietals (such as here), where the subtle flavors of fine coffee can really sing out when you drink it.
normal people really can tell the difference; this isn't effete wine snobbery! what should tip you off to how clueless this report is: they claim folgers is a fine coffee. spare us!
long-time readers are well aware that most supermarket brand canned coffees are actually cheap robusta beans that taste so terrible, they have to steam them in large factories to remove the burnt rubber and other off-tastes and then add artificial coffee flavor and aroma to the remaining plant cellulose so it sort of tastes like coffee again. spare us!
and finally, yet another interesting article about the coffee crisis. long-time readers will have heard about this stuff several times before. . .
Monday, December 09, 2002
those wacky genes
as coffee lovers, we've all met people who are unusually sensitive to caffeine, people who claim that coffee bothers them or makes them nervous. they often sometimes write me intense letters calling coffee a "poison."
well, fellow coffee lovers, now we can truly sympathize with these individuals. they are genetically deprived; prevented from loving coffee. it's not their fault -- they were in fact born that way.
it's completely true -- researchers from chicago have discovered that these people have wacky variations in four places in their genes, which causes coffee to affect them differently. what's interesting is that these genetic variations also appear to predispose these poor souls to other anxiety problems, such as panic attacks. that probably explains the intense emails.
i confess, i have been wrong: decaf does have its place, after all.
as the holidays approach, i'm going to remind everyone about the great work done by that fine charity, coffeekids. a somber story brought this to mind: after reading earlier this fall that nicaraguan coffee workers were starving due to the current world-price depression in the coffee market (the so-called coffee crisis), the problem of starvation has spread to guatemala, where we now have reliable documentation that children are beginning to die there as well.
please find a little extra in your holiday budget to direct to coffee kids. they have active projects in guatemala and can actually help.
Sunday, December 08, 2002
completely off topic
but crucial, has to be mentioned: perfume. i'm a big perfume fan, as those who know me have long realized. thus i also haunt the wonderful diana vreeland hell of aedes de venusta, possibly the best perfume store in the entire world.
period. i've been shopping there since it opened. if you need an exquisite present, a perfume that almost no one else will have, something unusual. . . pop over to the corner of christopher and gay. ask karl, robert, or miguel to find something original and wonderful for you. . .