Friday, July 30, 2010

So Long, Mr. Coffee

I have a love hate relationship with coffee. I love it and it hates me.

It's like an abusive relationship. I'm addicted to the ritual of making it, intoxicated by the smell that permeates my home, the deep, rich flavor and how the caffeine highs can make me feel almost invincible. But then, the euphoria gives way to the heart palpitations, the extreme blood sugar dips and the fits of anger - but yet I stay - I love him anyway and convince myself we're good together. The angst, I tell you.

Recently, I switched to decaffeinated for the sake of my health and only treat myself once or twice a week. I treasure our times together and make sure I purchase only the best coffee I can find. Just a year ago, it was hard to find good decaf, but that's not the case anymore.

Coffee, like other foodstuffs these days, is going through a renaissance. All across the country, specialty purveyors are roasting limited-edition coffee beans using artisanal methods and sustainable practices. These are the beans you should seek out, whether going out for coffee or bringing the beans home. Because of the attention to detail, the taste is incomparable.

Here are some of the best artisanal coffee roasters in the country who will ship you beans online tout suite:

Intelligentsia Coffee
Metropolis Coffee Company  (They make my absolute favorite - Decaf Redline.)
Blue Bottle Coffee
Gorilla Coffee

The real question is: Are you willing to give up your relationship with Mr. Coffee? The seemingly indefatigable, saggy-assed octogenarian who piddles out his weak-brewed love day after day? You really want to settle for that?

I didn't think so.

You need an Italian Stallion. One who has proven his mettle time and time again creating a dark rich brew that really satisfies.

Stovetop Espresso Maker, $39.95 by Bialetti

To learn more about what you need to make a great Latte or Cafe Au Lait at home (inexpensively!), click to read the rest of the article on The Possessionista.

Also, be sure to read my post on Maria Callas & Coffee. It's a goodie.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Quick Fix: Baby Tomato Recipes

Brace yourself for the onslaught of summer tomatoes. I especially love baby tomatoes. They're versatile, easy to use and as the band Cameo says, "They taste like Can-day." Get them at your local farmers' market now through September. Baby tomatoes come in a vibrant array of varieties, so the more you mix and match, the more colorful, tasty and healthy your meals will be.

Here are some super quick and easy recipes you can make with baby tomatoes throughout the season.

One Recipe, Many Uses
Slice the tomatoes in half and catch their juices in a big bowl. Mix with minced fresh garlic, torn basil leaves, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Let sit for a few minutes to let the flavors meld. Then, toss over:

A piece of fish, chicken or steak hot off the grill.

Hot pasta like farfalle or spaghetti and finish with lots of grated parmesan or pecorino cheese.

Some garlic-rubbed, grilled bread for a great bruschetta appetizer.

Slice tomatoes in quarters, catch their juice and mix with chopped red onion, garlic, cilantro, jalapeno, lime juice and zest, salt and pepper to taste. Let the flavors meld and use as chunky salsa for chips, over grilled quesadillas, or fish or skirt steak tacos.

Also, check out this 15 minute roasted tomato pasta recipe I wrote last summer.