Playing Favourites: Blogs I enjoy

On a regular basis, my email inbox is filled with posts from many bloggers that I have followed. These are my current and long-term fave

Getting into the Spirit of Local

  • Rachel’s Table: A Local Food Experiment
    • Rachel is not local to me, but she is serious about what is local to her in Delaware, USA. Rachel posts regularly about discovering local food at markets and restaurants, and recently blogged about the difference between supermarket eggs and organic farm-fresh eggs. I re-blogged that here.

Wit

  • Dooce
    • There are really few wittier or more transparent bloggers out there than Heather Armstrong. If any. She is also a photographer, author, and style maven. All of which you will experience on her blog site.
  • The Pioneer Woman
    • You may be familiar with Ree Drummond from her Food Network show, or have heard about her cookbooks, etc. She does post about some fabulous-looking food, and definitely has some great photography, but what I enjoy most is her rambling wit. In the spirit of transparency, I don’t love all of her posts. I have seen more of her children and pets than I really care to, but in between all of those family photos is the frank good humour of “P-Dub”.

Style

  • The Sartorialist
    • Scott Schuman is an international fashion photographer who shares some of his favourite outfits on his blog site. Models, street style, unexpected combinations of textures and patterns… it’s all there. Prepare to be inspired and perhaps confused.

Random

  • Caffeinated and Random
    • A fellow (though less snobby) coffee lover, Jenny regularly posts a “Coffee of the Day” photo and description, and often blogs twice or even three times a day about food, people, TV shows, style… whatever is exciting to her that day.

Real Food

  • 100 Days of Real Food
    • Lisa is a wife and mother who decided to take her family in the direction of real food. Now, she challenges her many readers to do without sugar or flour or processed foods, in the name of getting healthier. You’ll find recipes and creative real food ideas.

 

 

Advertisements
Wee cuppa

Playing Favourites: Reductionist Americano

Wee cuppa
My wee cuppa java

Contrary to the bold and bright magnet on my fridge, I am not a coffee slut.

I don’t think.

I’m pretty sure what I actually am is a coffee snob.

If you ask Johnathan, he’ll tell you that I’m snobby about a lot of things, but I continue to maintain that I merely have discriminating taste. And, sometimes, I’m a snob.

Coffee is one of those cases.

It’s not that I want to hate sub-par coffees. I have just been ruined for the ordinary.

I blame someone named Dan for introducing me to awesome coffee, back when I lived in Mexico. Then there grew to be a wee gang of us: Dan, Roger, Matt, and I. Not sure why none of the other ladies really got on board. Hmm.

Funny thing is that Dan no longer drinks coffee. Go figure.

Dan et al introduced me to what I like to call “real” coffee: fair trade, organic, freshly-roasted, freshly-ground, strong, French press, and all that good stuff. They introduced me to Cuban coffee. And to Jamaican Blue Mountain. And to Kona coffee, which I believe is the best in the world. Alright, alright, it can share the limelight with Jamaican Blue Mountain.

Thus began my true love affair with “black gold,” and it continues unabated years later.

These days, I find myself unimpressed with most drip-brewed coffees (that’s your regular everyday coffee, if you’re not up on your java terminology). It’s too weak. It doesn’t have enough flavour, enough depth, enough richness. (Told you I was a snob!)

I haven’t used my fancy-schmancy coffee maker for months and months now.

Fancy-schmancy coffee maker
My fancy-schmancy coffee maker (Cuisinart Grind & Brew)

What I am using surprises even me: a cheap espresso maker and a handful of other implements.

Every morning, I grind up a mix of 2/3 decaf and 1/3 “high-test” Coastal Coffee Company (fair trade/direct trade, organic) beans (not “espresso” beans, but usually dark roast beans) until they are very finely ground. I would highly recommend grinding your own coffee beans at home. It’s a cheap, easy way of boosting the flavour and freshness in your cup. You can get a basic grinder for about $10-$15 at your local department store. Mine looks like this.

I then use a heavy-duty coffee measuring spoon that I got at Starbuck’s to scoop the ground coffee into the part of the espresso maker where the grounds go (highly technical language here). You don’t need any fancy spoons. Any spoon will do.

Part of the brilliance of espresso has to do with tamping the coffee down tightly into a disc. Some fancy-schmancy espresso makers or espresso grinders come with these, but I don’t have one. So I make do with a straight-sided shot glass. True story. It’s fiddly and a touch messy, but it works. I do it over the sink ’cause I always spill grounds over the side.

While my little espresso machine heats its water and spits out a shot or two of “espresso”, I turn the kettle on.

The final product is what I call a Reductionist Americano: roughly equal parts “espresso” and hot water, depending on how strong the brew is that my little machine produces (read: the stronger the better).

When I need a coffee fix away from home, I wish I could just say “reductionist Americano” and know that the barista will understand, but alas! such an official name doesn’t exist yet. So I continue to ask for an Americano with just as much water as espresso and no more.

They don’t always get it right, but 95% of the time, it’s better than a drip coffee any day.