The iconic Lavazza brand is once again partnering with Wimbledon as the official coffee of the world’s premier tennis event. Serving over a million cups of coffee court side since their initial partnership in 2011, the Lavazza purple and green again waves over the grass courts of Wimbledon curated by former chef, Neil Stubley. Leading one to think that coffee may be a contender to replace the more traditional beverages of Wimbledon – tea and Pimm’s Cup.
Once the drink of choice for British socialites, Pimm’s Cup had become the official drink of cricket matches, garden parties, polo, tennis and Wimbledon. Made with Pimm’s No. 1, a gin-based liquor created in 1859 by English oyster bar owner James Pimm, this aromatic-infused digestive tonic relies on a recipe that is still a secret (only six persons know exactly how it is made).
It shares this mystique with many other famous herbal liqueurs including Italy’s bitter-sweet aperitivo Campari whose formula has remained incognito for almost 150 years. Only nine people know parts of the formula. A tenth person, the company president, is the only one who knows the entire formula for mixing the 68 herbs, spices and wood barks involved.
For those of you who were wondering about the number 1. After the Second World War, the Pimm’s company extended into other spirit bases – Scotch for No. 2 cup, No. 3 brandy, No. 4 rum, No. 5 rye and No. 6 vodka. Only the vodka cup and brandy (now called Winter) remain in production with the original No. 1 cup still the most popular.
Many of the towns and villages we visit in Italy fly the “Orange Flag” Bandiera Arancione, the symbol given by the Touring Club Italiano (TCI) for itineraries that promote the treasures and traditions of a specific region of Italy. These itineraries are generally outside the tourist flow and are chosen to reflect the authentic cultural traditions of a region with an emphasis on excellent hospitality and sustainable tourism.
As of last count there are 198 villages in Italy that are certified to fly the Orange Flag with three new towns (Civitella Alfedena (AQ) in Abruzzo, Offagna (AN) and Visso (MC) in Marche) recently added. The Orange Flag is a trademark of hospitality awarded to municipalities with less than 15,000 inhabitants that are distinguished by their artistic and cultural heritage, commitment to environmental protection, access and availability of resources, efficient tourist services (either locally or through the internet), quality of accommodations, catering and typical local products that reflect the culinary and cultural heritage of the region.
Thinking about traveling outside the tourist flow. Following the orange flag would be a perfect place to start.
A picnic in the Italian countryside in your classic Fiat 500 or ______.
Just fill in the blank and your picnic basket with salumi, salame and a crusty loaf of bread. My choice would be a rustic Tuscan pane and a selection of Italian cold cuts like mortadella, capicola and finocchiona (if I could get it). Finoccchiona is a salame from Florence and the Chianti region made from finely ground pork, flavored with black peppercorns, garlic, wine and fennel seeds. Traditionally wild fennel is used and gives this salame the aroma of the Tuscan countryside. Add a few bruschetta toppings, a selection of mostarda, some fruit and formaggi (a truffled pecorino would be very nice). For dessert, a melon with prosciutto and some biscotti to dip into my flask of Vin Santo.
Space is a luxury in Italy. Italians tend to live in smaller spaces than we do in the States. The typical Italian apartment is about 750 square feet, small by American standards . This is not uncommon. According to Apartment Therapy, if you’re traveling the world this summer, chances are you’ll come across smaller living spaces than your average U.S. house. Italians look for simple ways to maximize space without compromising on design or convenience. Multi-functional furniture providing high quality and high design can transform small spaces into attractive, livable effortlessly luxurious spaces. Like these –
I live near the Madhouse on Madsion aka Chicago’s United Center, home of the Bulls and the Blackhawks and tonight’s site for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. I’ve been a hockey fan since my college days at the University of Denver mostly because we didn’t have a football team so hockey was the sport du jour on campus (besides skiing).
My Italian antennae got me thinking about the status of ice hockey in Italy. I know there’s a lot of snow and ice in Northern Italy with heavy snowfall and minus Celsius degrees recorded over the last few years and snow reported as far south as Naples. So although playing on ice may not be Italy’s national past time, it is a contender. There is even a Supercoppa italiana (Italian Supercup) competition. Won this year by the Bolzano Foxes.
Ice hockey is, by no means, new to Italy. As a member of the Federazione Italiana Sport Ghiaccio, Italian ice hockey has been making power plays since 1924. The Turin ice area, the site for 2006 Olympic Hockey Games, has sound absorbing seating that would certainly make the Madhouse on Madison less mad as the fan sound decibel levels during playoff games have been recorded up to 122 decibels.
Although the Italians have managed to equip a Fiat 500 L hatchback with an espresso maker they haven’t managed to design a car fueled by espresso. Leave that to British engineer Martin Bacon using a process known as gasification. By introducing a controlled amount of oxygen (or steam) to coffee beans (or any organic, carbon-based material) and by increasing the temperature to above 700C (1292F), a fuel called syngas (synthetic gas) is produced and can be burned using a normal internal combustion engine or fuel cells to power a car.
The “coffee car”, brewed up by Bacon and created by the Teesdale Conservation Volunteers of Durham, England, is a modified British Leyland Rover SD1 appropriately painted mat black. It set a new land speed record for cars fueled by coffee.
Given the rising cost of gasoline, using renewable green energy to power cars is always on the drawing board. A previous American version, fueled by wood pellets achieved 47mph. The Leyland Rover SD1 averaged no less than 77.5mph with a Guinness World Record noted for the achievement.
Team Billy Goat Members
Eric,our marketing director, is spending the week mountain biking in the Nantahala National Forest in southwestern North Carolina. For the last 15 years he and a group of friends (Team Billy Goat) have a biking bromanace once a year camping and riding the trails on land said to more closely resemble coffee spatters than official survey lines.
More than 516,000 acres cut across the crest of mountain ranges and waterfalls to the river valleys and lakes below making the trail loops and switchbacks of the Nantahala bikeway a popular destination for off-road bycycling.
Like any white, green and red-blooded Italian male, Eric wants, needs and must have his morning espresso but sitting around the camfire on a brisk cold morning waiting for your Moka pot to boil may not be the best way to tackle the 4-loop trails of the Tsali. So on next year’s ride we’re having him trail test the Handpresso Espresso Wild, a portable handheld espresso machine that weighs just 2.05 pounds. Perfect for espresso to go. The Handpresso Wild pulls a 16 bar pressure, just as high and in some cases, higher than an electric espresso machine but uses power you create manually, much like with a bicycle pump. There are two models, one that uses pre-packaged E.S.E. pods or one that uses freshly ground coffee beans. All you need is hot water, which is easily made over your fire. All I would need is a Brioche S’more made with Nutella to make me one happy camper.