Rodin Museum at sunset
Paris in the fall can be quite chilly at times, although I wouldn’t actually call it cold. Still, a café au lait with a croissant in the afternoon was always welcome. And boy, did I enjoy the coffee. Even in our hotel.
So much so, I came home, not with expensive souvenirs, but with a determination to recreate the coffee from Paris – at least what we had in our hotel room. It was almost as good as any we had in any cafe. Luckily, I found a newer version of the machine we had in our room:
It’s a DeLonghi Nespresso machine and I love it. It came with 16 sample pods from Nespresso (re: very expensive) but I went on a hunt to find local, less expensive pods I would like (I also brought home our favorite box from the neighborhood Franprix). They are different than K-cups, so selection is limited. Thankfully, after testing out three small boxes, I found the one pictured above and we all agree, it is pretty near perfect.
A little bit of Paris whenever I want.
One more Paris picture – there will be more of the Père Lachaise Cemetery later:
We’ve had this thing long enough now to be able to give it two enthusiastic thumbs up. The k-cups are the go-to for a quick cup but we’ve had success with the adapters, shown in the foreground, using our own grounds. They even make little-bitty filters for them that are optional. They do cut down on the cup sediments.
I did some looking on line for the cheapest k-cups and ended up running to Best Buy where they had some pretty cheap. Green Mountain Dark Magic is a dark roast that we like, and they had a good tasting Donut Shop blend that was also on sale at the time. Since our visit they’ve bumped up the price on both. I’ve ordered a couple of different blends from Amazon that are very popular: A Kona blend and one from San Francisco Coffee called Fog Chaser.
I’m not sure when I saw someone mention Crio Bru as an alternative to coffee, it may have been a recipe post at Balloon-Juice, but I thought it sounded interesting, so I went in search of some to try. It wasn’t easy to find.
I looked around locally at all the natural food groceries and one of my clients is actually a coffee shop, so I asked there, no one had heard of it, much less stocked it. Finally, I turned to Amazon and ordered it and a stainless steel, double-walled french press. All the reviews recommended using a french press, though you can also brew it. I tried both methods and definitely had more flavor with the french press version.
Crio Bru is roasted and ground cocoa beans that you brew like coffee. It has very little caffeine, a rich, dark chocolate flavor and 10 calories. I tried it black, with cream and with a touch of sugar. Black was by far my favorite, with a rich creamy texture and dark chocolate flavor. The cream seemed to dilute it too much and the sugar seemed unnecessary. It makes for a nice evening warm beverage when I don’t want to drink caffeine before bed.
To make it, you use 2 tbsp of the chocolate per 6 oz of water (I use two heaping tbsps and 8 oz). Place the chocolate in the french press, add very hot water (I usually boil it and then it cools to about the right temperature as I measure it), stir well (I use a chopstick), cover and let steep for 4 minutes. Then press the plunger down SLOWLY and serve.
If you want to brew it, you need to have a coffee maker that has a bold setting, otherwise it’s very weak.
I highly recommend it for chocolate lovers who want an alternative to hot chocolate or coffee. Yum.
I decided early last week to go ahead and try Kirk’s Cold Brew method for a batch of coffee. The first thing that I realized was – it wasn’t as arduous as it sounds. I have 8 oz containers of ground coffee handy, so I did a half a batch. Let me tell you, it makes sludge. And I didn’t think to ask him if grind mattered, but my coffee was an espresso grind, a fact I realized after I mixed it all together. What I had when I as done was a thick liquid, even after I strained it twice.
Straining it was easy. I have a reusable coffee filter, I strained it through that using my glass carafe as the receptacle. The second time around I added cheesecloth – it didn’t make much of a difference. But it was easy both times. With the grounds that were left, I wished I had a compost pile to add it to. Good stuff.
The flavor is different, that is for sure. The best way to describe it, I guess, is that it’s more like what it tastes like to eat a coffee bean (sans the chocolate coating). It’s a rich coffee flavor, but decidedly different from hot brewed coffee. It is very good, just don’t expect it to taste like brewed coffee.
It is also very, very strong, but as Kirk states, it’s very drinkable because it’s not bitter. But the caffeine kick will do just that, kick you. I have an exceptionally strong tolerance for caffeine and can drink coffee late into the evening without effect. Not so with this, even watered down it packed a considerable kick for me and I had to give up any ideas of drinking it as an iced beverage. Even two parts liquid to coffee mixture was too strong for me and I was finding it difficult to sleep, even if my iced drink was in the afternoon. And at the two parts mixture, I thought the flavor a bit weak.
What I did find though, was it made for a nice, rich frappaccino. I could use a tray of ice cubes, about a 1/4 cup of the coffee brew, milk, touch of sugar and chocolate syrup and the taste was great. And for that reason and the idea that it holds up well in the refrigerator all week, I would do it again.
My next test will be the double brew method and how best to cool down the coffee without watering it down too much. Until then….
I don’t normally worry about disappointing my waiter. Our final dinner in San Diego, it was clear I might have done just that and my gushing over my dinner was not going to sway him.
Arrivederci Ristorante is a neighborhood restaurant, which is always the best kind. We stumbled upon it after aborting another dinner plan on the way to the airport. It was charming and the staff was friendly and very good at their craft.
The wine was excellent and the food was impressive.
It was clearly a local hangout and quite busy on an early Sunday afternoon. We had two hours before our flight and I was not all that hungry, even though the menu held many temptations. My original order was for what looked like an excellent soup. It must have been, because they were sold out.
I then went with my standby. I’m from a very traditional Italian family. Good sauce on good pasta with a great bread is really all you need. Meatballs or sausage are an option, not a necessity. (I look at pizzas much the same way – if your crust and sauce are not excellent it doesn’t matter how much stuff you throw on top, you’ll never overcome that deficit.)
You’d be surprised how badly most restaurants do this simple dish, treating it almost as a throw away. They put all their effort into fancy pastas, cream sauces and sun-dried tomatoes topped with fancy cheeses and multiple additions. Often they are good, very good, but I really judge an Italian restaurant on the basics. A great sauce is a requirement. I’m quite often disappointed.
Arrivederci looked promising. The dipping sauce they served with the most excellent bread was fresh, tangy with just the right amount of spice. It was kissed with fresh basil, so it didn’t overpower the delicate tomato flavor. They took it seriously.
So when the soup was unavailable, I knew exactly what I wanted. A simple pasta, sauce and meatballs. I was not disappointed. The sauce was fresh, well spiced, light and served on top shelf linguine that was perfectly al dente. The meatballs, which are quite often done poorly, were perfect. Moist, filled with flavor, not filler, a good complement to the sauce.
So how did I come to disappoint my waiter? I was only able to eat about a quarter of my plate (as you can see from the picture above, I could have served 4 with it) and since we were about to board a plane I couldn’t take leftovers with me. I assumed TSA would frown on a doggy bag. No matter how he tried to convince me, I could neither clean my plate nor take leftovers with me – though I would have really liked to have them at lunch today at work. No matter how much I raved about my meal, I don’t think I convinced him how wonderful I found it. The face he made when he walked away was priceless. It was sweet. I’d go there again in a heartbeat.
They also have a pizzeria down the street which I can only assume is some of the best pizza anywhere.
My friend had one of their gnocchi plates, which was equally delicious – and the gnocchi was light as a feather and the sauce was delicate, not overpowering as some cream sauces can be. We finished the meal with a really good coffee. Dark, rich with a chocolate finish (we’re coffee fanatics and love a good brew). From staff to atmosphere to food and drinks, there was nothing to disappoint here.
Elfie thought he’d make the morning coffee with mixed results:
Special Correspondent Kathy M. H. reports that while Elfie made a bit of a mess, the results were quite good. Heck, if someone would make my coffee in the morning I probably wouldn’t complain about a little bit of a mess either.
Wonder what Elfie will ‘cook’ tomorrow? Stay tuned….
Someone mentioned bacon jam. I had to go look up some recipes. There are plenty, some involve more effort than others, this one seemed just right.
We had an uh-oh moment this morning, the door on the big freezer stood ajar all night. We didn’t lose any thing other than some phyllo dough and a wee bit of ice cream. Some baggies of homemade smoked bacon a friend gave us were pretty much thawed so the bacon jam sounded like a good plan this afternoon.
We used a store brand sugar substitute in lieu of the brown sugar, and Mrs Butterworth’s lite syrup rather than the maple the recipe called for. Mmm… maple syrup. Sigh. I fixed Mrs J a turkey sandwich midway through the bacon jam project and topped it with the candied bacon/onion mixture that was nearly ready for the processor. It was good with the leftover sweet potato slices and the dab of cranberry relish.