Saturday, December 13, 2003
another chocolate holiday; senses working overtime
as long-time readers know, we here at bccy celebrate each and every holiday across the globe that's with a traditional chocolate component. any excuse is good enough for us. . .
thus, i'm happy to remind everyone that chanukah is on its way. chocolate coins, chocolate menorahs. . .do however try to find versions that made of high-quality chocolate! take this opportunity to support your local artisan chocolate-maker.
for example, this milk chocolate menorah looks cute, but doesn't seem of the superior quality we'd wish for. . .
in other news, an interesting
editorial in the ny times notes the wide variety of coffee now available in even remote regions of china. the author think this may herald major change.
well, he's right of course. traditionally coffee drinking has been long associated with social and economic change, with free-thinking, with political discourse.
coffee lovers know that lloyds of london began as a coffeehouse; that the nyc stock market business began in a coffeehouse; that voltaire wrote in coffeehouses; that the american revolution was fomented in coffeehouses; that beat poet allen ginsberg frequented coffeehouses; that even the sufis drank coffee to help speed their mystical religious experiences, which put them at odds with the orthodoxy of their day; in short, coffee will spark a new direction in all human activities.
finally, i received the most overwhelming (literally!) gift from the amazing scaa chief ted lingle -- le nez du café. this gorgeous japanese-inspired case contains 36 vials of important coffee aromas to help coffee people sharpen their sensitivity to these component scents.
how do you thank people for such generosity? how to express your overwhelming emotion? for a coffee lover, this is close to the ultimate gift. it just once again proves that coffee people are the best!
the visual design is stunning. mr. right immediately coveted the box; he even loved the typeface on the flash cards that discuss each vial.
i sampled a few today. whoa! they are intense. just a few left a physical sensation like someone had taken my brain right between my eyes at the top of my sinuses and shaken it hard. . .
scent never seemed so embodied to me before as some of these do. not only does the box contain lovely scents i do recognize from coffee, it also contains some defects, or taints.
ouch! avoid the rubber! i was immediately transported back to the worst moments of my robusta tasting last april. . . .i thought that vial was gonna leave me flat on the floor.
of course this is only a sample kit of some of the most common aromas/flavors in coffee, but i was still surprised to see that some of the ones i am most familiar with were ommitted.
like, that kind of fresh basil-y one, or that cardamom one, even that one i experienced recently at the counterculture remote cupping, which cindy chang described as "paperwhite narcissus," a spicy, powdery smell. . .
but i am so appreciative and grateful for this gift, i wouldn't dare complain. now, to sniff at will!
thus dear readers if you see a blonde passed out on the sidewalk, pry open her hand and look to if the little bottle clutched therein is labeled "36". . .
Friday, December 12, 2003
unlikely birthday celebration; blame it on the bossa nova
i wouldn't have expected it, but there it is: a nice celebration of bks iyengar's 85th birthday at the community center in . . . bahrain. this alone speaks volumes for the universal appeal and acceptance of yoga.
and i know a lot of people are going to find this very cute. it might make a sweet present for the younger yogini on your list. . .
and speaking of yoga gifts, both yogis and yoginis might appreciate this new line of yoga-inspired silver jewelry, called kamala, which means "lotus flower." the bracelet seems male-appropriate. . .
myself, i began this morning with a cafetiére of gillies carioca blend. it's an especially sweet coffee.
don schoenholt says his inspiration for this blend was a trip he took to brazil as a child. this blend is a little bit of amber that captures his memory of a bossa nova brazil, the taste and scent impressions of a languid and elegant time. . .
finally, i've given in and acceded to winter, my least favorite season. this means i return to what to my mind is one of the most passionate and intense perfumes, l'heure bleu. it's a perfume with soul, a scent that fulfills chanel's dictum to "herald your arrival and prolong your departure."
i wear the eau de parfum because the true parfum is incredibly lasting. too lasting -- it can survive dry cleaning. this means that even if you are restrained and use it lightly in good taste, it quickly builds up in your hair, your clothes, your sheets. it can become overwhelming, which not everyone appreciates.
once long ago, i saw someone who disliked this classic and thought to wean me off it by giving me -- ack! -- a bottle of estée lauder's pleasures.
clearly he was no baudelaire: "my soul travels on the smell of perfume like the souls of other men on music." and as we know, mme. du barry noted that to change your perfume is a crime against your friends and family. not to mention oneself!
needless to say, he didn't last long. . . i think i left his so-called "pleasures" in a car.
Thursday, December 11, 2003
coffee from a silver tray
"colombian president alvaro uribe helped open the sleek, spacious flagship shop in bogota's financial district Wednesday by serving the first cups of coffee from a silver tray." (log your bad self in and think of bruce: saute, wednesday)
the juan valdez coffeeshops are now a reality; expect one in new york's upper east before spring. . .
"it simply isn't going to taste as robust as if you had ground the beans right before brewing."
so true. i know these 1-cup pod and capsule systems are in all the catalogs and department stores right now. but they're just too expensive, and the coffee isn't good enough, it's just not ever going to be as fresh as you want it. . .
Wednesday, December 10, 2003
how i fight colds
every year i get a flu shot, and this year was no exception. being sick's a drag, not the least because then it's just about impossible to taste your coffee. . .
but with my wacky yoga sadhana or practice in mind, i also want to remind newer readers that the flu shot doesn't prevent or shorten the duration of any common cold virus-thing you may catch floating around town. or using a rented yoga mat at your favorite yoga studio!
so scoff if you like, but experience has proven to me that ayurvedic rasayanas -- traditional herbal jams -- seem to help fight colds. i eat a teaspoon in the morning and another in the afternoon.
while my co-workers and mr. right suffer all sorts of little cold bugs, they mostly pass me by. but if a nasty one does latch onto me, the rasayana does seem to shorten the duration from the usual 9 days or so to only 5 or 6.
look, you don't have to believe me or take my word on it. in fact, i'd rather you didn't! like all things yoga related, you should ignore what i say and go with your personal experience. be skeptical; i always am.
if the idea interests you, buy the rasayana that's correct for your constitution and try it out for 30 days.
like many people, i have a blended constitution: i'm a mix of the kapha person and pitta person, but probably more towards the pitta type.
so i buy the pitta rejuv chyavan prash. and i have to say, it does work for me. but your mileage may vary. you just have to check it out and see.
also on the yoga front, i love this kd dance clothing for yoga. like all dance clothes, the designers assume you are some petite soul.
be aware: the clothing is sized small! it does stretch some, however, and it's nicely form-fitting.
but it looks great -- flattering stuff for the most part-- and is very comfy for yoga, casual, and even office wear. i've taken to living in these clothes, when i'm not wearing blumarine.
if you know someone who does yoga, these clothes would make great gifts, particularly the sweaters and tops. . . they are a tad pricey, which is why i sometimes buy their offerings on discount dance. (search for KD to find them there.)
the selection is limited, but the prices are a little better!
Tuesday, December 09, 2003
holiday quick bread
this gingered-pear walnut quickbread just sounds delicious, tho' of course i would swap out the shortening for normandy butter and add a touch of vanilla or brandy. but that's just me.
with that treat in mind, let's think for a moment about a serious fact. long-time readers may remember that with the exception of gillies exceptional yrg and counterculture's sidamo, i am not a big fan of african coffees -- they tend to be too bright for me. but even so, i'm sobered by this:
"ethiopian farmers are paid less than US$0.10 a kilo for coffee, which will sell in western countries for around US$26. five years ago they received six times that amount. [the illegal drug] khat brings in over US$9 a bushel."
some may remember my recent wacky rant on how messed up the current world economic system truly is, particularly when we think about coffee, the world's second most-traded commodity. and long-time readers know that i've written about this before.
either way, we consumers -- especially those of you who love your ethiopian coffees -- should seriously be alarmed about the effects of the coffee crisis.
in much lighter news, the spa trend of using chocolate and coffee in facials and body wraps has spread from the u.s.a. and japan to southern indian brides. a wise cosmetics entrepreneur would start a full-scale mocha line, i think. (richard donnelly, are you listening?)
looking outside at the piles of snow and the endless gray sky, i know it's not really time to think of cycling. however, i also know it's a sport growing in popularity.
those of you who can't wait to get back out on your bikes shouldn't be wasting this time: yoga is a great winter prep for improving your road cycling.
Monday, December 08, 2003
ah, the pic of the lovely silver napoletana, as discussed yesterday.
and here's a nice article about the well-respected chocolate maker kee ling tong, whose tiny jewel box of a store here in new york draws quite a following.
if you plan to give chocolate truffles as holiday treats, you should start gathering materials now. if you're making a lot, plan to get dipping by this weekend.
the truffle recipe i recommend is richard's; he also has great instructions on how to store them until it's time to give 'em. . .
Sunday, December 07, 2003
if you were to return from yoga on a sunny but incredibly cold day to a house scented with simmering pizza sauce and another fresh pot of yesterday's gillies kona, you too would be happy.
the only improvement would be to learn that you had won the silver macchinetta napoletana (neapolitan flip pot) of one's dreams on ebay! with rosewood handles nonetheless. . .at an incredible, i mean cheap cheap cheap price. . .
i have to thank the amazing altie, roger barrett, for the heads up on this auction.
since my next lifetime is pledged to cate baril of green mountain, i promise roger to marry you in the reincarnation right after that, ok?
will post pix on monday!