Up until now the patterns made in the foam or crema of espresso drinks might be a flourish of flowers, a heart or even words of love. Some can get pretty intricate but a cloud texting company, thinking “out of the cup” has taken the art of microfoam one step further. Using a Jura Impressa Xs90 espresso machine with SMS and printing capabilities plus other techno components, Seattle (of course) based company Zipwhip has come up with a system that makes latte art the next now choice for marketing your brand.
Textpresso is an espresso machine that can not only send and receive text messages, but can also print those messages on coffee foam using edible ink, opening the door to a world of personalization possibilities from imprinting your phone number for coffee pick up to identifying your company’s brand. Expedient yes, great marketing yes but . . .
In my mind nothing can replace traditional latte art as first practiced in Italy where foam is a sensual expression of the art and science of espresso.
Forward this video to time 17.06 for some awesome latte art!
A desirable collection of food, wine, art and design that shares the color Red and the Romance of Italy from a lipstick red espresso machine to an Italian red sauce make with tomatoes botanically related to the mandrake, or “love plant”, the tomato was once believed to be a powerful aphrodisiac, said to be able to “lead a man like a dog .
. . . (click) the Red Passion Collection.
With the cold weather and predictions for snow the best place to be this weekend may be inside. At least that’s what they think about the end of January in Italy. In Northern Italy the last 3 days of January are called giorni della merla “Blackbird Days”. They are the coldest days of the year and according to an Italian legend the reason is due to the actions of a female blackbird, la merla.
La merla attempting to outwit the frigid god of January collected food throughout December to avoid the cold weather of January. On January 28th, the last day of the month (at that time the month of January had 28 days), she ventured out to confront the god of January saying “I’m so smart and clever. Here it is the end of the month and I didn’t have to go outside and freeze my tail feathers off to collect food. I fooled you!” The god of January was not amused by the impertinence of la merla. He called out to the god of February and asked to borrow 3 days which he added to the end of the month.The pitiful la merla took refuge from the bitter cold in a chimney for the extra 3 days of January. When she flew out of the chimney into February her once beautiful white feathers were black from the soot and smoke, which they remain to this day.
The legends and lore of the Blackbird Days can be shared with a book written by children’s author Tomie di Paola. The Days of the Blackbird uses many Italian words and phrases and has whimsical illustrations of Northern Italy for a great bedtime read with the kids (ages 5 and up).
According to the web site Country Facts, there are 20 million coffee purchasing families in Italy and 16 million of them drink Lavazza including most of my Italian family. But what about the other 4 million?
Other Italian top coffee brands like Illy and Segafredo Zanetti (noted to be the leading espresso producer in Italy) always seem to show up in or on my cup. Illy from Trieste, the Adriatic port town where coffee first entered Europe, is certainly favored with stylish coffee bars that serve everything from a cappuccino to a caprese. Illy’s efforts in transforming the simple porcelain coffee cup into a work of art (more than 70 contemporary masters have contributed designs to a series of collections) is branding genius.
With coffee drinking in Italy taking on the status of a national past time, espresso preferences border on sentiments that may be as strong as the Pazzi-Medici rivalry of the Renaissance which I think in retrospect could have been more reasonably settled over a cup of coffee.
In espresso talk ristretto, also known as a “corto”, is a very “short” shot of espresso coffee achieved by pulling the shot faster than usual using the same amount of water as a regular shot of espresso. Since the water comes in contact with the ground beans for a shorter period of time the resulting drink is a very strong concentrated espresso coffee, much bolder and fuller with more body.
The technique of pulling a ristretto results in a “restricted pour” with a smaller espresso shot (less than 3/4 of an ounce). A regular shot of espresso is pulled to one ounce or 1 and 1/4 ounce. The expert hand that it takes to make a well-crafted ristretto translates into everything from sofas to bikes to laptop bags as designers take inspiration from their morning espresso with the belief that less is more.
So you think you know pizza. Well if you do than your pizza is truly Italian if
– it is cooked in a wood burning brick oven
– the pizzaiolo (pizza maker) is a maestro, a master of ingredients and technique with dough stretching skills and at least a 3 year apprenticeship (an oven operator addetto al forno or pizza maker assistant aiuto pizzaiolo must serve an apprenticeship for 1 to 2 years)
– the crust is thin, soft and light because the dough is made the day before allowing the yeast to rise for at least 10 to 15 hours
– the pizzerias that make the traditional pizza “verace” are members of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana.
Here are a list of AVPN US members who are committed to preserving and protecting the culinary and cultural history of a true Italian pizza. Bravi! Only 2 are listed in my area. I have been to Spacca Napoli Pizzeria in Chicago who believe that “pizza isn’t just a food, it’s a way of being”. Think about that the next time you order a pizza! I do everytime I eat pizza in Italy and bemoan my plight most times I eat pizza in the US.
Click to watch the making of a true Italian pizza.
Significantly known to raise my endorphin levels and put me in a very happy place, Italian style drinking chocolate is NOT to be confused with hot cocoa. Drinking chocolate is thick as soft pudding and not too sweet. Served in cafe’s and bars throughout Italy as cioccolata calda (hot chocolate), it is frothy yet dense with a deep chocolate flavor. Often served con panna, with whipped cream, it is meant to be sipped and savored.
You can make Italian style drinking chocolate on the stove top by slowly stirring the chocolate into the measured amount of milk or you can invest in a European style Hot Chocolate maker. There are several models on the market from cafe quality machines that cost over a thousand dollars to the $99.00 Bialetti brand, best known for the iconic Moka pot (the Italian version of the stove top coffee brewer). In Italy sachets of chocolate powder and milk are blended and therein lies the secret to this iconic drink -the chocolate powder mixture. Eraclea, Slitti and Venchi making some of the best.