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Saturday, September 06, 2003


improved steaming on carlos expobar

after trying the several tips the ever-wonderful todd of wholelattelove was kind enough to send -- one of his own design, a 3-holed "flat" bottom one from the rancilio s27, and of course the stock expobar tip, a 2-hold "flat" bottom design -- i have to say that so far the "new" tip from chriscoffee works the best.

the "new" tip is a 2-holed "pointed" bottom thing, which definitely gets more of the circular whirlpool action we need for wet, soft italian-style microfoam going in the milk.

the others are fool-proof, it's true, for making dry, stiff starbucks-style foam.
however, i find i still make the best microfoam on silvia, which probably comes from sheer practice.

on the other hand, it does make me wonder what would happen if todd machined a 1-holed style "diamond" tip for expobar. . . .like silvia has. . .

posted by fortune elkins | 7:06 PM | top | link to this |


Friday, September 05, 2003


furry beasties

i just can't make stuff like this up. to celebrate bread mold, scientists seek coffee mold.

"chemists in britain are looking for photos of colourful and creepy coffee moulds to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the discovery of penicillin.

to commemorate the discovery, britain's royal society of chemistry (rsc) wants people to e-mail photographs of furry coffee cups from their offices and factories," the article sez.

and by the way, what exactly is wrong with riding your horse through the coffeeshop's drive-in window? that's what i'd like to know.

ok, maybe ramming the police car with the horse was a bit much. . .although i do find that a bit hard to believe.

as a former farmgirl let me assure you no saddle horse -- you don't train horses, they train you! -- is going to do anything it doesn't want to. if you can get a horse to "obey," well, trust me: it's only because it's part of their own larger grand plan. . .or because they feel like indulging you at the moment, fool.

if the horse attacked the cops, it's because they annoyed it, that's for sure!

posted by fortune elkins | 12:00 PM | top | link to this |


Thursday, September 04, 2003


stylin' at the peninsula

had to keep an important personal coffee appointment this morning at the lovely peninsula hotel, where don schoenholt of gillies fame most kindly took myself and two other coffee lovers, bill thompson and julia campbell, out for an amazing breakfast.

those of you dear readers who have not had the privilege of don's company can still surely by now understand the incredible hoard of coffee knowledge he holds. an hour with him is a graduate seminar in coffee.

we drank the peninsula's own rich blend, created for them by don, heavy with indonesian coffees. just a tremendous breakfast cup.

but the joy was don's second coffee, the kona star, a delicate coffee, yet one so intense in flavor that with a touch of light cream its chocolate note sings out clear. a pinch of raw sugar is not unthinkable, tho' really unnecessary.

we had no espresso this morning -- unusual for me, i know. and for bill too; he's a huge espresso fan.

back at gillies itself briefly, don took pity on mr. right, who lacked the syrup he loves for his weekend latte. don offers da vinci syrups (see here for my love letter to da vinci) to this customers.

but today he gave me some samples of the famed french syrup, routin 1883, which is quite difficult to find in new york. thanks to his generosity, i have 2 bottles of hazelnut. and i look forward to trying them.

altho' i'm not a big fan of syrups in coffee, i know many people -- mr. right among them -- loves their lattes, and so naturally i want to offer him and my guests the highest quality and purest taste possible.

after all, the idea behind all this is to share time with others, to create things those we love and care about enjoy.

julia asked don "what's your perfect cup of coffee?" to which don replied, "all of them." and he's right. all good cups of coffee are delights.

and yet he added that the perfect cup of coffee's role is only to add to the ambience, to be another factor in the memory of enjoying the most beautiful moments of our lives in the most beautiful places that we know with the most beautiful people we deeply love.

i don't completely agree. the perfect cup of coffee will not go unnoticed; it will not just be a small plus. with its rich scent alone, the perfect cup of coffee announces that it is a form of art, a thing of grace, a delight to the soul. it is a tribute to those whom we offer our purest love.

on some rainy new york mornings gliding up to the elegant entrace of the peninsula in a sleek car and having the entire sidewalk stop to gaze in a brief moment of admiration as 2 leggy blondes slither out like film stars to stand underneath the doorman's huge umbrella is only a prelude to something even better:

and i'm referring to the feeling of warmth and togetherness we all surely felt as we laughed together at breakfast this morning. that is the priceless gift given by the perfect cup of coffee.

posted by fortune elkins | 6:38 PM | top | link to this |


Wednesday, September 03, 2003


caramel candy & yoga nidra

please bear with me. i have not yet gone off the deep end. . .

"the right prefrontal cortex, for example, communicates with certain types of immune cells, and stress appears to alter the functioning of a chemical messenger, dopamine, in the region," the ny times reports.

"in addition, the right prefrontal cortex interacts with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, a major player in the body's stress system, which in turn is linked to the immune system."

what made me take notice was that i was reading pretty much this exact statement last night in swami saraswati's book, yoga nidra.

this is wigging me out as i sip my morning caramel delight, don schoenholt's gillies perfect yrg, which with a pinch of raw sugar and a touch of light cream becomes the perfect yummy center for a new kind of dark chocolate candy. (hint, hint, richard donnelly. . .)

i've been doing the "short" yoga nidra from swami janakananda's cd and it is an intense experience. few things can so powerfully change the way you feel in so short a time.

i'm working with the 20-minute "condensed" version for a while before going on to the 45-minute "big" one. as i've been working through it. but while the emotional effects cannot be denied -- i certainly can believe that over the course of several months the effects would be both subtle and profound -- i was um, at best, uncertain about the scientific claims the swami makes.

[note to self: there has to be a better title than swami. with all due respect, it's just a humorous-sounding work in english and so works against acceptance and credibility. . .]

and then in one of those funny co-incidental synchronistic moments, i read it in the times. "the brain has the capacity to modulate peripheral physiology," the doctor says, "and it modulates it in ways that may be consequential for health." (log your own bad self in: saute, wednesday. hiya bruce!)

but if all this could possibly be true -- and it seems very much as if it might be -- then using yoga nidra to soothe the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis could very well form part of the treatment for many disorders, from depression to even obesity!

posted by fortune elkins | 7:16 AM | top | link to this |


Tuesday, September 02, 2003


tell me something we don't already know

yes, yes, yes: yet another study (log your own bad self in and think of bruce -- saute, wednesday) proclaims the benefits of dark chocolate for the heart.

long-time readers know i've been talking about this for, oh, 3 years now? at some point all these studies pile up!

while no individual piece of research is conclusive, the trend here seems pur-ty clear. it all apparently comes down to anti-oxidants -- and i feel compelled, dear readers, to note that coffee is also chock-full o' flavonoids. . .

in fact, coffee is the u.s.a.'s number one source of anti-oxidants in the diet. need i also point out that the tomato sauce on the bccy weekly pizza contains the anti-oxidant lycopene?

unbeknownst to me, i have to confess that time has proven this site to be all about health food. so eat your home-made pizza once or twice a week in a sensible portion; drink your moderate 3 cups of coffee a day; and don't forget that daily 1 -1.5 oz. of dark lecithin-free chocolate.

combine that with a yoga practice that's right for you 5 or 6 days a week, and it looks like we're golden over here. . .

frankly, i'm puzzled by this u.k. study -- that most people would surrender their chocolate before their 'net connection. what a false choice! you need the 'net connection to order the best chocolate online!

and in a totally unrelated social note, i'd like to take this opportunity to congratulate my canadian online coffee pals, bill and carl, on their important step forward towards human rights for all. it appears to have been the most lovely and tasteful wedding ever.


may they live happily ever after. . .

posted by fortune elkins | 10:48 AM | top | link to this |


Monday, September 01, 2003


instant autumn

just add water! crazy weather all year so far, so why should it change now?

one benefit is that it's not too hot to cook, so i popped out my beloved kuhn rikon pressure cooker and went shopping for all the great stuff in my seafood risotto. yum.

we're discussing clams, bay scallops, peas, mushrooms, zucchini, tomatoes, saffron. . .and of course loads of artisanal red cow parmesan cheese. i'm an all-olive oil girl; no cream or butter in my carnaroli!

ok, ok, so some purists scream that i make risotto, which should be "slow," quickly in the pressure cooker. but again, i say: slow is about preserving the environment, too.

and i save natural gas with the pressure cooker. so no drilling in alaska on my account!

and for the sake of completion, i include here the
washington post article on home-roastin' your own fresh coffee
.

of course in my snobby co-op i can't do it regularly, but it's a viable alternative for many who balk at the shocking 2-day shipping rates for mail- or online-ordered coffee. . .

posted by fortune elkins | 1:59 PM | top | link to this |


Sunday, August 31, 2003


should this be weeping gnashing weeping part x?

reading this, it becomes clear that we scaa consumer members have to get in touch with good housekeeping right away. . .

mr. coffee, indeed! they don't even mention what kind of coffee they were using for the test.

but i have to make some more red tomato pizza sauce first --

i don't normally read much of msnbc (we bloggers are known for our preference for alternative media sources) but they are talking about our gig, yoga. oh wait! it's actually a webmd article!

this is the horror of syndication, that all websites will soon have the same 12 stories. but that aside, it's a good general article with some decent advice.

and yeah, be cautious; seek a certified teacher to avoid injury! of course these yoga students accept injury as the norm.

but few of us should ever emulate pro rugby players!

posted by fortune elkins | 1:48 PM | top | link to this |

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