Category: food

On Coffee – Or why it’s more than just a simple cup.

This weekend I was invited to think back to my high school stint as barista in one of my favorite coffee shops – Boulevard Coffee. My best friend in Kindergarten was Amber, and her parents owned the coffee shop. Cliff roasted the beans, Karen ran the shop. It was always a fun treat to go in there and help my mom pick up beans. The smells, the feel, it all seemed special.

I started drinking coffee pretty young. I remember the joy of cafe au lait, mostly milk, as my first introduction to coffee. When I was an adolescent I was allowed to drink it black, which is how I take it now. This is no doubt in part to the fact that my mom drinks it black. My dad used to use “canned cow”, or evaporated milk. That can would sit in the fridge with a weird skin on the lip. He takes milk and cream now, but that just made me more resolute for black coffee.

When I finally needed to get a job in high school working for Boulevard just made sense. They needed people, I needed a job, and it was bikeable from school and home. Working there made sense. I liked my coworkers and I loved the work. Learning about coffee from people who really cared about the beans, the roasting, the grind, the brewing was trasnformative. All of my obsessions and rituals about coffee were codified then. My parents enjoyed that I came home smelling like beans, but the discount was also good. I loved that I got to try new roasts beyond the French Roast and Seattle Starlight my parents would always buy. Tanzanian Peaberry, Aged Sumatra, Celebes… all good in their own way. Drinking different coffees and really studying them helped me appreciate the variances in roasting, the acidity of the beans. To this day, I still hold Boulevard’s beans up as a standard in good roasting. Not burnt like Peets, not overly light like Blue Bottle. There’s an actual difference between a dark roast and a light roast.

Then there was the world of espresso drinks. I was a pretty good barista and could pull really nice shots with rich crema. I could get microfoam with no trouble. (Man, I wish soy milk was better at foaming…) It was here I learned to appreciate a proper cappuccino or macchiato. People would come in, asking for one of the bastardized espresso drinks from Starbucks and we’d shrug and tell them the fanciest they’d get from us was an iced mocha. There was no blender, no ice cream, no caramel syrup.

I recognize this sounds all very parochial. I admit that I have fairly traditional views about coffee. I don’t drink fancy beer or wine, I drink good coffee. This summer we ditched the Mr. Coffee for a Chemex. Expobar espresso machine. and a Mazzer mini. Life’s too short for bad coffee. (Yes, that is the most bourgeois thing I have ever said.) Though I will do stupid things for free coffee…

So tomorrow morning when when brew up a pot of “So Good” from Philz, it is in some ways a continuation of what I learned at Boulevard, and what I saw my parents do when I was a child. It’s more than caffeine and bitterness. (Hmm… that should be my new motto.) This corner of coffee culture is very similar to collecting vinyl… which probably speaks to another character flaw of mine, but we’ll tackle that later.


Thanksgiving food., originally uploaded by kendrak.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving here in the US. It’s one of the better holidays. There’s very little pretense to – you just enjoy a nice meal and think about how much you’ve got. I am very thankful for my lot right now. I have my health, a good job, health insurance, a roof over my head, and a very lovely partner.

Life is pretty good right now. Of course now that I’ve said that, it’s all going to go pear shaped.

hot sauce hogs – perhaps a deeper meaning

ok, so my issues with people who hoarde the hot sauce has already been documented, but it’s really been nagging me recently. here’s my conclusion: people who take the communal bottle of hot sauce back to their table and leave it there are inherent solipsists and ass holes, perhaps with republican or big-l libertarian leanings.

are you a hot sauce hog? do you steal away the tabasco sauce because you’re too inconsiderate to let other diners partake in the spicy goodness? if you are, then you seriously suck. i mean, really, it’s like not tipping your delivery man after he carries your fancy hd tv to your upstairs apartment. (ok, that’s a poor allusion, but you get the gist.) essentially, my issue is that people who do take the hot sauce (or ketchup/mustard/some other condiment) back to their table for their sole enjoyment are placing their needs above the needs of the community. do they have a responsibility to the other diners of the establishment? i would say yes, insofar as they expect the right to use the sauce when they see fit- others should also be afforded the right. if you are somebody so concerned about not having enough hot sauce every instance you need it, don’t hog the bottle- carry your own around! clearly your needs are so special that normal access will not be sufficient.

or screw over everybody else. i seriously think that if you are a hot sauce hog (especially a smug, liberal one), you have a major mark against your character and it will be hard for me to regard you as anything more than a scoundrel and a jerk. dramatic? sure. but i have my principles.

patak’s curry.

patak’s curry., originally uploaded by kendrak.

last year in england, neil cooked curry for dinner a couple of times. i remember that it was better than any jar stuff we could get in the stores over here. the other night i was grocery shopping and recognized the patak’s jars in the foreign foods aisle. it was a little confusing because rogan josh was “spicy tomato & cardamom”, but it was the same stuff.

tonight i made robojo and myself dinner with the jar, some mushrooms, onions, green beans, and rice. see dinner? it was tasty. neil, i think it was the green beans!


this fast thing is sort of crappy. i’m not feeling very good and i wonder if it’s because i’m an idiot or i’m not 100% better from chemo or what. point is… my resolve is wavering and i’m not sure i am going to make it to friday. i’m definitely stopping by saturday so i can make myself ill whilst watching ufc 77. my will power’s cracking and it’s a pretty crummy feeling, but oh well.

of course now everything looks like food and it’s all around. i’m even thinking about eating a proper english fry up, though i also know that would be suicide. five live has been soliciting breakfast pics, and some of them are sort of gross, but this fry up makes me think about giving up this ascetic lifestyle for good. sad, innit?
i mean, look at it!

fry me up!

too fast, too furious

i know the blogging’s been scant, but i’ve been busy on bigger and better things. first of all, i’m djing at kalx again. (sunday mornings, 9:00-noon… tune in!) there’s also cavy watch 2007- where i make maude’s still alive. so far i’m not convinced she’s actually dying because she won’t stop eating, but it’s nothing i’m going to complain about. i also have a bunch of library related stuff in the works. oh, and there will be a thundershevitz record release/elbert’s birthday/my cancer victory party in a few weeks. but really… i’m too weak from this juice fast. i’m hoping to only drink fresh juices and pureed fruits and veggies until at least friday if not sunday. it’s stupid and i’m hungry, but it’s just something to do.


sprinkles, originally uploaded by kendrak.

today is the last day or my first hire here. we’re having a pizza party for her and the rest of the staff who’ve made this summer go as smoothly as possible despite the cancer. i made cupcakes for the event. check them out! my cupcakes are special because they’re not only vegan, but they also have fancy sprinkles to make them cute.

taste test: salt and vinegar

today robojoe and i had a taste test of salt and vinegar potato chips. i can feel the dead taste buds in my mouth and i thought the vinegar would cut through them. it worked… a little too well. of the three bags we tried the ranking went like this:

  • lays- thin, crispy, nice and tart. i dub these the winner.
  • kettle chips- thick, very pungent (perhaps too much). not bad, but not as good as lays.
  • tim’s cascade- thick, not very flavourful compared to the lay’s, but the taste grew with a couple of bites.

overall, i think i liked the lays the best. the kettle chips and tim’s cascade were all right, but not as even overall. the only problem with this test was that my mouth became extremely sore from all the vinegar. it still sort of hurts two pieces of gum later.

[tags]potato chips, taste test[/tags]

curry and chips!

curry and chips!, originally uploaded by kendrak.

remember my awesome lunch of curry and chips? here it is. maybe i should do this for dinner?

curry and chips.

after my lunch plans fell through today, i decided to finally have a curry and chips for lunch. sounds disgusting? it’s fantastic. i got a mixed veg curry and a bucket of fries. put them on a plate and i’m in heaven. sure i’ll probably feel sick in a little while, but for now i’ll savour the moment.

if i were a roast…

if i were a roasted animal, i think i’d be a whole roasted pig, preferably cooked over an open fire on a spit or in a bed of coals underground. i remember helping out with a pig roast my first semester at cloyne. there were plenty of obnoxious people moaning about the pig in the walk-in fridge. it wasn’t like the pig was just hanging out, completely exposed for the world to see while they went to hoard cheese. no, it was wrapped in plastic and paper. you could tell it was the whole pig because it was a giant lump that was pig shaped, but you couldn’t actually see it. so many quasi-vegetarians were offended, but they ate it in the end. i wasn’t vegetarian at the time, but i’ve been ok with where meat comes from for twenty years. (after the shock of lamby pie.) the pig cooked in the ground for the day and was great later that night. i already am a pig (remember my moral failure?), so it’s only fitting.

master chef mario batali was recently asked what roast beast he’d be. his response:

I’d be a guinea pig, the national dish of South America. I would want to be slowly poached in Chateau d’Yquem, starting at cellar temperature. By the time you were truly done you’d be wasted, so you wouldn’t really care.

have you seen roast guinea pig? not the most appetizing animal. looks allright. brined guinea pig looks allright, but i wouldn’t eat it. don’t worry, i’m still vegan. i wouldn’t eat a guinea pig anyhow, because i think that would give maude license to come and eat my face off in my sleep. i don’t want to give her any excuses.

eating booty

i was craving something salty so i went at halftime to get a salty snack. i bought veggie booty, and that was dumb. it’s not very tasty nor salty. i ripped myself off!

as soon as i get home, i’m making popcorn.

tall boy

this is my tall boy. i bought this giant soda because it was cheap and i was hot. isn’t it awesome? it actually tastes pretty good. i might become a fan of soho natural soda. it’s like hansens, only bigger!

oh, and who wants some jerky?