Archive | June, 2008

How Getting Wisdom Teeth Pulled is Good for the Specialty Coffee Industry

24 Jun

I’ve written previously about my trip to Intelligentsia Coffee and how getting lost on the way prevented my good friend Jonathan from being mugged. I should also state that I recently had my bottom two wisdom teeth out (in three and two large pieces, respectively), which has prevented me from drinking alcohol. For the first two days, I couldn’t even drink coffee, which was a relative purgatory for me.

I had the opportunity recently to tour Intelligentsia’s new LA roasting facility in Glassell Park (near Glendale)–my family might be opening a coffee shop sometime soon, and we wanted to take a look at different coffee wholesalers. Let me tell you: it was awesome! The wine analogy would be like visiting a wine cellar–not the vineyard, where the grapes are grown, but the place where the wine is actually fermented and bottled.

Five thousand square feet of roasting machine, tasting equipment, office space, sacks and sacks of green coffee beans (which are extremely hard, odorless, and tasteless, actually), and bags and bags of freshly-roasted coffee. The air was permeated by a delightful warm coffee smell, as if I were in the middle of a perpetual breakfast. Intelligentsia’s pretty damn serious about their coffee.

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Grüner Veltliner: the Perfect Match for Seafood Pasta (and Father’s Day)

16 Jun

So the thermostat has been going up slowly but steadily–we now are in the high 80s here in SoCal. This means beer and white wine weather.

Yesterday, as we all know (or all now know) was Father’s Day. My family decided to stay at home and cook dinner instead of go out for some fancy affair. My brother decided upon angel hair pasta with a sauce of mussels, shrimp, basil, tomato (apparently from Canada and therefore 100% immune from salmonella), garlic, and white wine. He was in charge of buying the food: I, of course, was in charge of getting a wine to drink and with which to cook.

We found ourselves at Whole Foods, which apparently is the nation’s #1 wine retailer for 2007 or something. They do have a pretty good wine selection, and I spied a bottle of grüner veltliner, that spicy, peppery Austrian white that is one of the next big things in the wine world (though not according to David J. D. over at Horny for Food). It’s still relatively obscure–though almost cliché in some circles–so it’s a great bargain, especially given its quality. I picked up a bottle of velt.1 grüner for a cool $9.99. Excellent.

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The Priest Who Became a Clown Who Became a Winemaker: 2006 Jean-Luc Matha “Cuvée Lairis” Mansois

14 Jun

Having been born and raised in the Los Angeles area, I had to drive quite a ways to get to and from Berkeley during my breaks. Luckily, I like driving, and I liked the sensation of starting the journey on the 5: setting out before the dawn and entering the hills and valleys of Angeles National Forest before emerging from the Grapevine on the other side.

I liked driving through the grand expanse of land that is the Central Valley, that incredibly rich swath of earth from which much of this nation’s produce is coaxed. I am always reminded of my mother’s roots in the South Korean countryside, of growing up on a country estate. We didn’t get too much greenery in Alhambra, California, so the abundant agriculture of the Central Valley always amazed me. Continue reading

Coffee Tasting

10 Jun

I’m beginning to think that I’m drinking too much coffee for my own good. My stomach feels sour, I’m tired, have headaches, and am super-dehydrated. What’s worse, I’m drinking less alcohol. WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME?

Coffee for me exists on a dichotomy: I love the cheap, quick stuff from Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonalds, coffee that serves as a quick pick-me-up in the mornings. Love it or hate it, fast food and donut coffee is all about drinkability. It’s delicious, inoffensive, easy on the body, and cheap. It’s also probably the healthiest item I’ll be having for breakfast.

I also love the artisanal, “third wave” varietals of coffee, beans that hail from single sources in Guatemala, Ethiopia, et al. These are coffees that have body, that have character, and have a “2” after the dollar sign.

Despite their price, I still consider artisanal coffees to be a bargain because I view them from a wine perspective. $17.95 for a pound of India Peaberry from Peet’s? Well, that’s about 30-35 cups of joe. $17.95 will get me a nice wine that will yield maybe four or five glasses.

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François Chidaine Sauvignon Blanc & Pasta with Soft-Shell Crab

1 Jun

I’m not such a big fan of crab. I do love its delicate flavor and firm, succulent meat; however, I hate having to get through the shell and picking through its carapace for little slivers of flesh. It’s a pain in the ass.

My dad and brother, on the other hand, are crab aficionados. My dad especially loves the green glands and other assorted guts underneath the top shell. He often mixes rice in the top shell of a crab once the legs and other assorted pieces of meat are gone.

I came across this recipe from “The Minimalist” of The New York Times for pasta with soft-shell crabs:

(Thanks to the Times for this picture!)

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