In Italy, New Year’s Eve, l’ultimo dell’anno, is celebrated with rites, rituals and events that are meant to bring good fortune, happiness and prosperity in the coming year. Derived from Roman celebrations in honor of Janus, the god of gates, doorways, beginnings and endings, New Year’s Eve in Italy is a time to put an end to the problems of the past and open the door to the possibilities of a New Year. And being Italian you want to ensure that you do so in the most fortuitous manner!
So wear something red, the traditional color of good fortune, on New Year’s Eve. If you’re Italian that would be red underwear! And eat grapes and lentils for good luck and prosperity and throw something old out the window. Then think about the wonder, beauty and blessings of the past year with a short ringraziamento (thanksgiving) and begin Capodanno 2012.
There are travel journals, dream journals, project journals and wine journals. Why not a coffee journal? At least that’s what Dave Shelden thinks. Founder of BS Brewing, a homebrewing and extreme food collective in Portland Oregon, Shelden wrote 33 Coffees, a coffee notebook with prompts on recording your coffee experience. There are grids and check boxes with places to comment on the origin, roaster, producer and flavor profiles of your favorite cup of Joe so that you can quickly recall that memorable espresso, latte or cappuccino moment.
I was happy to know that the notebook is printed with US grown soy-based inks on natural colored paper to camaflouge my coffee- stained pages. Surely I don’t drink that many cups of coffee.
I love studying the Italian language. It is so descriptive, like the Italian word for snowflake “fiocco di neve” meaning ribbon of snow. It kind of takes the edge off last night’s forecast for 3- 5 inches when you picture snow following in ribbons of white rather than something to shovel.
That got me thinking about Italian words pertaining to winter so I decided to review my winter vocabulary and then mi metto la mia sciarpa e vado a fuori giocare nelle neve allora vengo indietro per un tazzo di cioccolato caldo*
* Oh no my Italian teacher is sure to find mistakes while my cousins in Italy smile as I continue my unending quest to learn Italian.
Golf clubs, watches, joint replacements, bicycle frames and cappuccino cups, what do they all have in common? -the rare and wonderful element titanium. It seems that titanium’s physical and esthetic qualities not only make it the perfect material for making prosthetics, sporting equipment, automobiles and high end jewelry but coffee cups as well. The element has lended its name if not its properties to the Titanium Collection by La Cafetiere, a UK shop that sells luxury café culture accessories. You can buy a ceramic Cappuccino Cup and Saucer set with a silver metallic glaze on the outside that resembles the sleek, modern look of titanium. Although it may not have the high strength and biological compatibility of the element it does have the Ti look – bold and silvery white, a perfect reflective surface for a cappuccino foam.
I’m not quite ready for the holidays. I haven’t started my Christmas shopping and I’m not ready to let go of my favorite summertime food. That of course is BBQ. Not that you can’t BBQ in the winter. Just like running out your backdoor through the snow to the hot tub for a steaming soak, cooking on the grill in your parka has a charm all its own. But unlike the sweet fruity flavors of summer BBQ sauces I prefer a more robust sauce for the wintertime grill.
Enter Michael Symon’s Coffee Barbeque Sauce. Baby it’s cold outside but the robust flavor of a strong coffee (I use an espresso) and the heat of chipotle keep you warm and satisfied. Here is my version of Symon’s Sauce.
COFFEE BBQ SAUCE:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons coriander seeds, toasted
1/2 tablespoon chipotle powder
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sherry vinegar 1 cup ketchup 1 cup strong coffee (I use espresso)
Add the oil to a small saucepan over medium-low heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion with a good pinch of salt, sweating until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the coriander, chipotle powder, brown sugar, vinegar, coffee, and ketchup. Stir to combine, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain, discard the solids, and let cool. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. Makes about 2 cups.