Runner Beans

February 22, 2009

Blue Bottle Coffee


Photo by A. Stutzman.


Move over Peet’s, this new kid on the block is filling mugs of Bay Area coffee drinkers faster than stock market is falling. Blue Bottle Coffee is all the buzz: one patron walking out of the downtown SF cafe enthusiastically declared, “That has to be the BEST coffee I have ever had!”

Bottles, let alone blue bottles, do not generally connote the rich, warming brew upon which so many of have come to depend, so how did Blue Bottle Coffee get its name? In the late 1600s the Turks were invading Central and Eastern Europe and besieged Vienna. One brave Viennese emissary named Kolshitsky stole through the Turkish lines to solicit help from the Poles. The Poles came to Vienna’s rescue and the Turks fled, leaving everything — including bags of coffee beans — behind. Knowing that these beans weren’t camel feed as some thought but the source of a satisfying drink, Kolshitsky taught the Viennese how to make coffee and founded the first coffee house in Central Europe, the Blue Bottle.


Photo by Frankie Frankeny.

What is making coffee lovers skip the 2 block walk to Peet’s and brave the city rush for 10 blocks to Blue Bottle Cafe? For one, the beans. Blue Bottle serves the beans within 48 hours of roasting, giving you the freshest beans possible. The beans are also roasted in small 21-pound batches, allowing flexibility in their roast profiles. As with any good, Bay Area local food business, the beans are organic.


Photo by Frankie Frankeny.

Second, the way the Blue Bottle baristas make coffee. When I saw the baristas pouring hot water into individual ceramic drippers over each coffee cup, I marveled at this new way of making coffee. Turns out the filter drip is actually the old way of making coffee; I was born of the French press generation. Still, there aren’t many places where you can get a cup of filter drip coffee made the moment your order. For detailed tips on making on making coffee with the filter drip, French press, Mokka pot or espresso method, check out the Blue Bottle website.


Photo by A. Stutzman.

Select restaurants in the area like Danville’s Sideboard Cafe, Berkeley’s Chez Panisse and SF’s The Slanted Door serve Blue Bottle Coffee, but no place I’ve tried it makes it as well as the Blue Bottle Cafe. The line might run out the door when you drop in, but it’s worth it. A kiosk is due to open in the Ferry Building Plaza soon, one more step in the showdown between Blue Bottle and Peet’s.

Blends we’ve tried: 
Giant Steps: Full-bodied with a thick chocolately, fudgy flavor. No need to worry about diminishing the taste when you add milk. 
Roman Espresso: Medium-bodied, fruitier than Giant Steps 
Decaf Noir: A decaf coffee worth drinking. We wondered if we had accidentally brewed Blue Bottle’s regular coffee because the Decaf Noir maintains the same intensity and body as Blue Bottle’s regular beans.

February 18, 2009


Filed under: Informational — Tags: , , , — Andrea @ 11:58 pm

NOTE: Click on the video below to PAUSE, then click again to RESUME PLAY. 

Let’s face it: we like videos. From video-conferencing on Skype to watching embarrassing clips on YouTube, videos are an altogether satisfactory and multi-sensory mode of getting information. Michael Scott of “The Office” unabashedly admitted his obsession with online videos: “When I discovered YouTube, I didn’t work for five days. I did nothing. I watched Cookie Monster sing ‘Chocolate Rain’ about a thousand times.”

Thankfully we don’t have to watch Cooking Monster sing “Chocolate Rain” a thousand times but can watch countless other things, like an expert showing us how to properly pop the cork on sparkling wine, oven-roast prawns in a salt bath or slice an onion quickly and efficiently.

CHOW’s video page has short videos on all these topics. The videos are organized into different Shows such as “Chow Tips,” “Grandma’s Cooking” or, my favorite, “You’re Doing it ALL Wrong.” With multiple episodes in the eleven shows, the video-viewing is nearly endless. CHOW’s videos are witty, entertaining and — drum roll — educational. If only chemistry had been this interesting.

Below, a video from the show “You’re Doing It All Wrong” on how to add sauce to a pasta (err, pasta to a sauce). 

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Videos – CHOW“, posted with vodpod

February 4, 2009

Apron Crazy

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — Andrea @ 1:13 am

Aprons are all the rage these days.

I first noticed their popularity early last summer when Robin and I were wandering through a farmer’s market in Boise. One booth displayed a treasure trove of aprons made of fun, colorful fabrics and shaped like sundresses. Peeking at the stitching and back of the aprons, Robin studied their design for a moment and confided, “I could make these!” A couple weeks later Robin and I were walking through San Francisco when bright swaths of material in a fabric shop window caught our eyes: the mannequins were wearing stylish aprons. From the smaller city to the bigger city, in Anthropologie and Sur la Table, wherever we went, aprons were taking kitchens by storm.

A month ago I got to stop dreaming about what apron I wanted and got to put on an apron made just for me by Robin. Her sewing abilities proved spectacular, and I LOVE the apron she made me. Thanks so much, Robin!




February 1, 2009

Meyer Lemon Soufflé with Cointreau Crème Anglaise

Filed under: dessert, Recipes — Tags: , , , , , — Andrea @ 10:48 pm

A couple weeks ago I wrote a blog for Diablo magazine about Meyer lemons, which included a recipe from Chris Fernandez of Piatti restaurants for Meyer Lemon Soufflé with Cointreau Crème Anglaise. Writing about Meyer lemons convinced me that I must integrate this citrus with its subtle floral fragrance into my cooking repertoire.

Today while all of the U.S. was watching the Superbowl (though I am convinced fewer people watch it than we think), I made this Meyer Lemon Soufflé with Cointreau Crème Anglaise. For the recipe, see Diablo magazine’s blog. I also highly recommend the link on the Diablo blog to Tom Hudgens’ article about Meyer lemons.





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