it’s a bird, it’s a plane ….

 

Actually, no; it’s my new piece of Japanese fetish kitchenalia: a coffee syphon [sic]. I’ve been fascinated by the idea of a coffee siphon since I first visited Blue Bottle in San Francisco.  Their version looked more like a renegade backyard pot still than something suitable for the home brewer, yet there was no denying the wonderfully rounded taste of the coffee.  In Philadelphia for the weekend, I stopped for lunch at a little hole in the wall in Chinatown on the recommendation of a friend.  She said I wouldn’t believe it at first, but their coffee was amazing.  I didn’t – and it was.  Aside from serving up inexpensive and tasty Cantonese food, a small section of the front counter was devoted to a handful of siphons and specialty coffees, like Jamaican Blue Mountain and a Japanese charcoal roast I had never heard of before.  The diminutive proprietress took pains to explain the entire process as she performed it before serving the coffee in tea cups laid out formally on a tray with accompaniments.  It was a little like witnessing a tea ceremony without the geisha. I love a good ritual and knew I’d be hooked from the moment she started to fresh-grind the beans.  The  resulting brew was dark and steamy, with a faintly acidic bitterness from the charcoal roasting.  This was no morning java jolt but more like a digestif.  At $6 a cup – and $70 a pound – I wasn’t about to start experimenting with that particular roast but I did opt to indulge myself with a new toy. Stay tuned for future updates as I expound on the ritual of the coffee siphon along with what I’m sure will be a multitude of experiments, too.

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bucket list: 2010 – september

SAN FRANCISCO/HERSHEY:  September drew me back to San Francisco in search of redwoods, which I found in abundance just over the Golden Gate Bridge at Muir Woods National Park.  For all of the times I’ve been to the city by the bay, it’s rather remarkable that I’d never made the short trip north to hike the primeval forest.  Nor had I indulged, it turns out, in many of the touristy attractions the city is famous for like dim sum in Chinatown, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge on foot, strolling the shelves of the City Lights bookstore and taking the boat to Alcatraz.  I  made sure to remedy that on this trip.

Another overlooked opportunity finally rectified this month was a visit to the historic Hotel Hershey and Hershey Park.  Having spent four years passing it back and forth during college, I was eager to one day stop and smell the chocolate.  It didn’t disappoint – especially when it came to designing my own chocolate bar and packaging.  And the roller coasters were pretty good, too.  Plus, the history of chocolate-pioneer Milton Hershey – and everything he did for the town founded to house his factory workers – satisfied my hunger for a real slice of Americana as all those faux patriots began their hysterical crusade toward the mid-term elections.

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