We’re thinking spring, we’re thinking green and we’re always thinking about espresso. So here are a few green espresso machines to remind us that the grass is growing, the flowers are blooming and this may be the summer to rent that beach house. Our selection includes stylish, green espresso machines by AEG and Lavazza , Ascaso and Espressione that makes Café Retro, an old world design combined with New Age features. Wouldn’t these espresso machines look good in that lake house kitchen?
“It was a good race and from Rome onwards I never had any doubt that I should win” Tazio Nuvolari – 1930 Winner Mille Miglia
Back home in Indiana excitement is building as the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500 is scheduled to begin in 6 days, 38 hours and 37 minutes. Racing fans all over the world look forward every May to the thrill of the Brickyard for the agony and the ecstasy of an event that has been called “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”
But before the gentlemen and ladies of the Indy 500 start their engines, there is another thrill to be had on the international racing stage with the vintage and classic cars of Italy’s Mille Miglia, an open-road endurance race that ran May 16-19 along the original Brescia-to-Rome route with some minor variations (due to areas affected by the earthquake in Emilia Romagna in May 2012).
An estimated 4 million Italian spectators and others from around the world relived a history of road racing that begin in 1927 with cars and drivers like Tazio Nuvolari , who won the 1930 race in his Alfa Romeo, reaching celebrity status. 415 cars were selected for this year’s race from 1,575 registrations based on their history and record of achievements including Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Maserati, Bentley, Porsche, Jaguar, Aston Martin, Lancia, BMW, Bugatti and Mercedes-Benz.
Sport’s car enthusiasts will not want to miss the stunning pictures of the cars of the Mille Miglia posted all over the Internet including fotos from the following sites.
Confetti (candy-coated almonds) is a traditional favor given at Italian weddings. Wrapped in tulle and tied with a ribbon, the sugared almonds are part of the bomboniere, a small gift or sweet given by the bride and groom thanking the guests for being part of their wedding day celebration. Usually there are five, each almond representing the hope for a happy, healthy, wealthy, fertile and long-lived marriage. Dating to the 15th century, the sweets given in a bomboniere were considered a delicacy and only given on special occasions.
Sweet treats and a little luck are part of the traditions of a typical Italian wedding and so are a few superstitions. In ancient times it was also believed that evil spirits could attend marriages with the purpose of causing mischief and disharmony. As Roman law demanded ten witnesses be present at a wedding, the attendants all dressed in identical clothing to the bride and groom so that the evil spirits wouldn’t know who was getting married. Following this custom today bridesmaids, groomsmen and ushers all wear clothing that is similar to the bride and groom!
*The classic Italian bomboniera is a little organza or tulle sachet, but much more elaborate fabric, ceramic, metal or even crystal containers are also common today.
In 1994 James Gosling coopted the word Java and invented a programming language designed to make the web fun and interactive. Within the annuals of computer mythology it is said that the name Java was chosen to reflect the essence of technology: dynamic, revolutionary, lively and fun. Kind of like a cup of coffee.
So what does this have to do with Italy? Enter the common denominator coffee (Italy’s favorite drink) and enter Exofficio, known for smart, innovative travel clothing (in our case for traveling to Italy).
Exoffico, recognized for its technically designed travel wear, has introduced a new line of lightweight clothing that uses an innovative fabric made from recycled coffee grounds. S.Café® JavaTech technology embeds processed coffee grounds in the fabric for T-shirts that keep you comfortable and dry. The grounds create an increased surface area to wick moisture away from the skin and neutralize odor molecules to keep your fresh.
We think that relaxing in this shirt with a cup of espresso on just about any piazza in Italy might be the perfect way to experience total immersion in la bella vita.
Although it is an American bred race, Kentucky Derby winners often have exotic names partly because according to Jockey Club rules you cannot repeat the name of any “permanently named” horse and 55,000 name choices have already been taken. For this reason, horse owners often translate their favorite name into another language.
With an Italian inspired interest in today’s Run for the Roses I did a little homework to find two Kentucky Derby winners with Italian names, 2006 winner Barbaro (Italian for “barbarian” fierce or brave) and 2005 legend Giacomo (Italian for James). Giacomo is said to be named after the son of Sting (rather than for the Italian composer Puccini) who recorded for A&M record producer Jerry Moss, the horse’s owner.
Although Barbaro was known to be a head strong competitor with a bold heart the origin of his name has nothing to do with clashes between Romans and barbarians but rather with a 19th century portrait of the English foxhound Barbaro that hangs in the home of the racehorse’s owners, Roy and Gretchen Jackson, at Lael Farm, near West Grove, Pennsylvania.
Has the everyday monotonous routine of life getting you down? The tedious pattern of work, the drudgery, the rut, the rat race. Italians working laboriously (lavorare sodo) look for a brief escape from the daily grind in a perfectly ground cup of espresso.
Al solito tran tran (the usual routine) the monotonous work of life, is always made better with a good cup of espresso. Problems and small worries seem to disappear into the crema. But to make a life-changing cup of coffee you need the right grind of beans to release the aroma and flavor, the bitterness and mellowness that provides a lingering, satisfying aftertaste – an espresso inspired metaphor for life.
According to Ernesto Illy, president of Illycaffe’ and a chemist by training, texture (i.e. grind) counts. Espresso is not made with coffee that has been ground to a powder. The espresso grind should feel like fine sand, smooth to the touch. Slightly finer than granulated sugar. Illy’s analysis after studying the passage of water through coffee with a supercomputer is that “there should be 35 million particles of coffee per gram“.
Here are a few precision machines recommended to ensure the perfect grind size. All will cost a hundred or so dollars but worth the investment if you are serious about your caffe‘.
- the semi-commercial grinder by Anfim – several sites like the Coffee Geek consider it to be one of the best
- the Illy Baratza Maestro grinder - described by Gear Patrol as being at the beginning of the “prosumer range”, Baratza grinders are known for their excellent grind consistency; I have a this grinder, it is fast and relatively quiet with no mess; good quality blade for the money
- Capresso Infinity - another burr grinder by Illy that ”cuts” the beans into a perfect grind
- the Rancilio Rocky Doser - legendary heavy-duty motor; designed to dispense the ground coffee directly into your espresso machine portafitler
I think we all pray to the first cup of the day. It’s a silent prayer, sung while the mind is still foggy and blue. “O Magic Cup,” it might go, “carry me above the traffic jam. Keep me civil in the subway. And forgive my employer, as you forgive me. Amen” ~Stewert Lee Allen in The Devil’s Cup: A History of the World According to Coffee
Oh how many fond memories are linked to a cup of coffee. A ritual to begin the day and an ending to a satisfying meal. A time to be alone with your thoughts or together with friends. A drink to begin or end relationships. Inspiration for your next project or support to keep going on. A cup of coffee is often our only companion in times of happiness or sadness sharing our joy or soothing our pain.
We can only imagine what Robert Downey, Jr, is thinking as he stares into the darkness of his cup of espresso.