February 5, 2011 § 1 Comment
I can’t say my weekends normally include spending much time in the Tenderloin. That could be because, sitting in a café today, we were all distracted by the guy standing across the street in spandex shorts jacking off, but really that’s not what I’m here to post about. Today I went on the Tenderloin Coffee Crawl and was a “coffee tourist” for an hour or two. Wow, it’s exhausting work. My morning routine of boiling water and letting it seep in the French Press while I shower for approximately five minutes after my run seemed, well, embarrassing when confronted with the masses of San Francisco hipsters who own Chemex filters and use them to extract just the full body of coffee and who can talk for ages about letting coffee oils seep through and shine but not over extracting the grounds. Yes, it’s hard to compete, especially when there are a multitude of cafes who will do it for you.
But I did learn a thing or two about coffee on the crawl, which I think was the point for the non-coffee fanatics. And I mean, you really would have to be a fanatic, because I’m saying they are fanatics and I’m one of those annoying people to dine with who tops-out every meal with an espresso. First, we stopped at Farm: Table, the official organizer of the tour and arguably the first neighborhood small roasters shop in the area. As the brewing demonstration wouldn’t start for another twenty minutes, we enjoyed a free espresso and remarked that while it was refreshing to see sweet treats in the small sizes (the small sticky buns were especially adorable yet priced at $3.50), the prices didn’t seem to have dropped at all. Then we headed over to Little Bird, where De La Paz and Ritual Roasters were hosting a coffee tasting. I tried a little before getting distracted by the amusing hipster who walked down the line, aggressively slurping spoons of coffee and spitting them back into the cup one after another after another.
We might have skipped one or two stops along the way, but we ended the crawl at Hooker’s Sweet Treats, which was holding a 4-way coffee demonstration i.e. demonstrating how to brew Kenyan Kii coffee beans in four different ways — a ground through a B60 filter, a finer ground shaken over ice, a Chemex-filtered brew using a coarser ground to avoid clumping and finally, seeped in a French Press for three minutes. According to the Sightglass Coffee Roasters presenters, the bean in question really shines through the most through the third preparation process. After each demonstration, we passed the coffee around and filled our little espresso cups for tasting.
Though the crawl itself could have used a bit more organization and guidance from one place to the next (perhaps they could take cues from the Dublin Pub Crawl), I’d say it was a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon, off the beaten track in my own city.
February 4, 2011 § Leave a Comment
I’m back on the 9-5 schedule. I just wrapped up my first week at my new work, which is hidden in a tiny, sunny enclave park just off of the Embarcadero. At noon, the little park is alive with workers on their lunch break, the tiny, European-like cafes in the area swarming with people and the play structures hosting the occasional child enjoying a sunny weekday afternoon. Across the street, a little blue-fronted French restaurant serves $2.50 cappuccinos, which we take to go in china mugs (because we are an environmentally sustainable office), and makes rich, addicting dark chocolate truffles in house. Um, can you say dream-like office location? It doesn’t hurt either that there have been free samples of Tell Tale Preserve Co. caramels on my desk these past few days.
But proof that I’m not entirely a grown-up yet, I still haven’t adjusted to having to run at 6:30 a.m. in order to get to work on time. Seriously, I don’t know how people do it. But since I’ve decided I’m gearing up for a marathon — I’m looking at Vancouver May 1 if anyone has any input — that’s the way it’s going to have to be. Yesterday morning I discovered that firemen dispatched to put out the fire that burned an apartment building in the Castro take a break to catcall a girl running down the street. Today, I saw the sunrise over the Bayview. Who knows what I’ll see tomorrow. Oh wait, tomorrow’s Saturday. Happy weekend.
Yesterday evening, I took these cookies into Italian class with me. I think they were orgasmic. These are probably the first cookies I ever made entirely on my own. I took them to a swim meet when I was about thirteen, heavily coated in icing, because, well, I was thirteen and didn’t appreciate dense, subtly sweet, doubly incredibly dark and rich chocolate cookies yet. I mean, there is an entire pound of dark chocolate in these. And if you’re looking for a way to tell that these cookies are dated, the recipe is from a 1999 issue of the now-dead Gourmet
And guess what I said when I presented them yesterday? Ho fatto dei biscotti chocolati per la classe. What, did you think my Italian was good enough to say something more complicated than that?
Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt (I used fleur de sel)
1 pound fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (I used 74%)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. Coarsely chop chocolate. In a saucepan or double boiler, melt butter and three-fouths chocolate, stirring until smooth.
Remove chocolate mixture from heat and stir in sugar. Stir in eggs one at a time until combined well and stir in flour mixture until just combined. Chill dough, covered, at least 10 minutes and up to 1 hour.
Drop rounded tablespoons of dough about 1 1/2 inches apart onto baking sheet and stud each cookie with a few pieces of remaining chocolate. Bake 10 minutes, or until just set. Cool cookies on sheet on rack 5 minutes and transfer with a spatula to rack to cool completely.
Top with icing sugar, icing or melted white chocolate, my decoration of choice!