It’s the day after the Royal Wedding and time to reflect on an event that truly lived up to expectation. The gown, the ceremony, the pageantry and the genuine happiness of the British people for Will and Kate made it the “wedding of the century”. So what do you imagine is fueling the fires for late night partygoers the morning after a night of royal revelry. Possibly un cappuccino.
In July of 2010, Buckingham Palace completed work on a public Café on the West Terrace of the palace with a panoramic view of the 40-acre grounds. Now you can enjoy a brie and cranberry sandwich or an almond croissant made and served by the same people who do the Queen’s garden parties. Palace baristas have been busily perfecting the fine art of “crowning” a cappuccino – literally. The frothed milk on top of every single £2.65 cappuccino will have the Royal Crown sprinkled in chocolate powder on it.
Where can you sleep in a bed of roses with a headboard made from a ball gown? At Milan’s newest contemporary hotel, Maison Moschino. The imaginative designs of Italian fashion design house, Moschino have been whimsically interpreted in a 65 room boutique hotel in a renovated 19th century neoclassical railway station near trendy Corso Como.
A bedpost becomes a forest and a giant teacup your occasional table for a morning cappuccino as you enter into a sensory sojourn for the mind, body and spirit. Each room has a unique theme from the overstuffed torta and cupcake pillows scattered on your bed in the Sweet Room to the stuffed rose patterned big bad wolf waiting for you in the Little Red Riding Hood Room. Breakfast is served in an acrylic shoebox and a playful menu of earthly delights awaits your further dining choices. Special offers include a family package, wellness and gourmet package and one fittingly called Escape into the Moschino Dreamworld where a surreal dreamlike setting is the perfect background for a weekend retreat.
As expected the prices are haute couture yet family friendly with a second room booked for the children free.
Why is coffee so popular? At last count more than 1400 million cups of coffee are sold every day worldwide. Problems are solved, deals are made, friends and lovers meet and road warriors find their Wi-Fi spot over coffee. Some say that coffee became so popular because of its mild stimulating effect but there has to be more to it than a momentary rush of caffeine for coffee to be the second most traded commodity in the world (oil is first).
I think that coffee has become the global drink du jour because of its complexity. The varieties of beans and the ways of blending and roasting them have given coffee almost limitless possibilities to please the palate. The aromas, strengths and combinations that arise from the coffee bean create an expansive menu of flavors that has made Starbucks famous. Breve, lungo, cappuccino, corretto, latte, mocha, macchiato, Americano; you can choose your own personal brew depending on how you feel at any particular time of the day and season of the year. In the hands of a skilled barista your cup of coffee becomes a canvas for latte art, in the hands of a chef de cuisine, it becomes an affogato or an ingredient in a delicious tiramisu.
Irish, Greek, Turkish, Thai, Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Indian – coffee drinkers all around world define their culture by the way they make and drink a cup of coffee. For whatever reason, we as a people have a preference for coffee. What’s in your cup today?
Latte art from Murky Coffee in Washington DC
Pouring latte art is as much an art as a science. Drawing a pattern of steamed milk on a fluid surface demands a steady hand, a vision and the proper foam. Microfoam is the medium of the latte artist and must be of the proper consistency. The physics of the foam is crucial. Latte artists seek to create a properly balanced foam, not too dry, not too wet. The ideal being a heavier, wetter foam controlling the amount of air so that the “bubbles” are not too large. To pour latte art, the milk should be shiny, slightly thick and have very small, uniform bubbles.
David Schomer from Seattle’s Espresso Vivace is a master of the microfoam describing it as “white chrome”. Here are some samples of his work and other latte artists whose canvas is a cup.
Since the perfect spot for growing the little green berries that ripen into coffee beans is between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, it only seems logical that coffee drinkers have a special position on the astrological charts somewhere between Cancer and Capricorn. Java junkies can buy their own horoscope inspired coffee mug and birth date aside, choice can now be made on their love of coffee.
Coffee lovers first began peering into the future in the 16th century coffee-house interpreting the patterns formed by the residue after the coffee was drunk . These coffee horoscope readings still exist, in fact the tradition of Tasseography, tea leaf and Turkish coffee reading is available on your iPhone and iPod touch. According to the publishers description “touch the leftover leaves or grounds and you will learn about the future of your life”.
So what particular traits are shared by those born under the bean. Capricans (Capricorn/Cancer) tend to order the same coffee beverage without exception and can’t seem to decide between a single or double shot. They’re highly influenced by the position of Starbucks and their sign is an overturned cup. As far as predictions for the future; it’s bound to be a daily grind.
Michael Gelb thinks that drinking wine is the key to creativity. Who am I to disagree, after all he wrote the book on How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci. Taking on the role of Doctor of Vinology, Gelb believes that when we drink wine we feel the “animated spirit of the get-togethers at the Medici Palazzo, the creativity around Thomas Jefferson’s dinner table, the joie de vivre, la dolce vita”. Think about it, there’s not too many things that can put us in that type of happy place that are legal.
I too have experienced the power of wine, the hidden codex that links history, culture, climate, geography and conviviality in a glass to uncork a memorable experience or “aha” moment. Not a first but after some time I too have come to know and believe in the power of wine. Little by little as I learn more about wine and drink more wine I have become convinced that wine has much to offer for those who take the time to think into the bottle.