Archive for September, 2009

French Press

Posted in Coffee on 30 September, 2009 by Troy

Since not working in coffee I’ve resorted back to using the good old fashioned french press.  So simple, so basic and yet I have to make it as a complicated a task possible for the sake of complication.  I guess it all started when I saw James Hoffmann’s French Press Technique video that I started to play around with different ways of brewing with a french press. 

At first when I saw the video, with the weighting of the water and the clean afterwards, I thought that this was about as dorky it was going to get.  But then it dawned on me how by simply weighting the water you manage to control another parameter in the brewing process.  All those hours spent wondering why last cup tasted so good and the next not so good.  The whole clean off bit I figured was about mouth feel and getting rid of gritty bits of coffee but I soon became aware that wasn’t entirely the case.  With the clean off, certain subtleties in the coffees seemed to be that much more pronounced and it made for an overall more floral and nuanced cup. 

Life was good.  The new french press brewing style meant another way to enjoy the same cup of coffee  differently and it was cool to find some coffees tasting better skimmed and others whole.  Then one day I was at Cafe Crema on the North Shore and was talking to I think Chris.  He mentioned that they brewed their coffee for 3 minutes not 4.  I had read other people brewing at 3 minutes before but I just couldn’t get my head around the idea.  He went on saying that they used 21g of coffee too.  This intrigued me and the wheels started turning; less coffee meant more surface to water ratio but with less time over-extraction wasn’t a factor.  Eureka!

I’ve been playing around with different doses and times for the last couple months now.  28 to 4 min, 25 to 3.5 min and 21 to 3 min are my staples.  Sometimes I skim, sometimes I don’t.  It’s amazing the taste variations that occur with the different types of brewing methods.  Just when I thought that Kenyan coffee from Moja I was drinking wasn’t overly subtle, I found that it was a completely different coffee when I didn’t skim it, meanwhile that Flecha Roja, Costa Rica was bang on at 21g, skimmed.

It’s late and I should post this under written diarrhea.  I can’t wait to wake up tomorrow and drink coffee.

Subtlety

Posted in Coffee, Coffee Tasting on 28 September, 2009 by Troy

I’m really liking the more sublte of coffees lately.  The more boutique and floral coffees that you really have to look and taste to find their nuances.  The coffees that seem to have a secret it’s trying to hide.  When I first got into coffee I liked the more slap in the face coffees, namely from Kenya.  Ones that that you could grind on one side of the cafe and have someone on the other, pupil’s dialate and them ask you what coffee that is. 

I’m currently drinking and enjoying one of those coffees from a local roaster called Moja.  It’s a really good clean Kenyan of the style that really got me into coffee but I find that my palate yearns and enjoys the boutique type coffees.  Last I had of that was Flecha Roja, Costa Rica roasted by Intelligentsia.  At first I was like, “eh” nothing to call home and rant and rave about.  It was nice but didn’t seem to be as awsome as the write up on the Intelli website.  A few cups later I was enthralled by the coffee.  Amazing rose pedal and vanilla notes and with what I guess is praline, via the website.  I loved it right to the delicious end, which seemed to be better as it aged a bit.  This also makes me wonder; Intelli vacuum seals and nitrogen flushes their coffees (I’m sure), it seemed like it took opening the bag so the coffee could degass properly and open up.  It wasn’t until the 2nd or even 3rd day after I opened it that it really stepped into it’s own.  Perhaps this is what needs to be done for future bags…

beligerance – belligerence – belligerance

Posted in Written Diarrhea on 27 September, 2009 by Troy

I just noticed that I spelt beligerance wrong when starting this blog.  I see there’s 3 different spellings that come out correct on goggle but only one that comes up with a link to dictionary sites (belligerence).  I suppose this is kind of funny and could be a play on world of me being so belligerent that I just don’t care how you spell it.  Or it could be me and my terrible, terrible grammar and spelling.  But, really who needs proper spelling and grammar (or is it grammer?) when you have spell check?

Pick Something and Stick With It

Posted in Life on 26 September, 2009 by Troy

These were the words that echoed through the UBC Med library where I was studying.  There was a group of Med students talking about what they were planning on specializing in, when one piped in to “just pick something and stick with it”.  It cut throught the hushed mumbles of the library like someone slamming a book down and kind of struck a cord with me.  “You’re not going to have some magical epiphany as to what you should do.  It doesn’t work like that”, the voice added.

It’s sentiments like that that have been really sticking with me lately and swirling through my head.  I guess they pretty much started after reading Paradox of Choice, which has really got me thinking about decision in life, big and small.  PoC really goes into choosing a path, sticking with it and not looking or thinking about those other paths that you didn’t take or missed out on.  Aka the “what if game” and the “could of, should of, would of” syndrome.  Further to it all, you can’t have it all and many choices, if not all, have some sort of gain and some sort of drawback.  Drawbacks seem to be focussed in on after the fact, while the gains are often looked over, forgotten about and adapted to.

Too bad it’s not as simple as “just picking something and sticking with it”.  It’s been nearly 10 months that I’ve been working towards becoming a nurse and I’m nearly complete.  I thought I had picked my path and pushed out all other roads and directions and for a while I did but here I am 10 months later and other paths and directions are poping up in my mind. 

Is life really ever that simple?  Can one play the middle road and have it all?

Books

Posted in Likes on 23 September, 2009 by Troy

I’ve been reading some great books this last couple months.  I was in a major drought before that with the last novel I read being No Country for Old Men and then Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire.  Yeah laught it up but I read it when I was 14, thought it was great and saw it for sale for $1 so figured what the hell. Anyway, great books I’ve been reading…

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It all started with Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain.  Really good, fun read that really got me reignited in the kitchen and thinking about food more and more.  Since then I’ve been cooking and enjoying food a lot more.

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Just as I was finishing up Kitchen Confidential I picked up Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan.  Now that I realize it, it was probably a combination of the two that got me cooking and thinking about food more.  Omnivore really got me thinking more and more about freshness and simply knowing where my food was coming from.  It really sung to a part of me and a life I once lived when I was in Australia, living and working on farms.  That level of transparency was an eye opener and the level of freshness of the foods I was eating then was amazing.  While reading this book I started to go to the farmer’s market, which at first I was skeptical of but once I had tasted the food I bought there I was sold.  The lettuce is what sold me specifically.  From there I started to look more into free-range and grass-fed meats, eggs and poultry and have been finding some great producers in the area.  If I had more freezer space I’d buy a quarter or half a cow but the sample packs they sell will have to do.  And the eggs I bought, shit.  The yokes from the eggs I buy at the store look like crap compared to the farm-fresh eggs I bought.
In all this book had really changed the way I look at food, what I eat and what I want out of my food.

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The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz.  And again, my mind has been blown.  James Hoffman recommended this book in one of his video blogs and I decided to pick it up with the intention of knowing the consumer psyche more, including my own.  What I got instead was this amazing book about how we are all so inundated by choice in our society ranging from soap to careers to olive oil to lifestyle that we can truly never be happy.  It’s been a real eye opening read in regards to happiness, choices we make, living with regret, the “what if game”, and a tonne of other dumbass little stupid games we play in our heads that make us unhappy.  I feel a lot more greatful and just generally more happy since reading it.

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Next; God in a Cup.  I’m still reading it but it’s great coffee book.  It’s really interesting to see how far 3rd wave coffees come in a few years.  Read it if you’re hopelessly into coffee.

So yeah, books are good.

Movie Theaters

Posted in Likes on 20 September, 2009 by Troy

I’ve really like movie theaters lately.  There’s just something about them that I really enjoy.  I like going in and having the outside world around you seem to disappear.  I remember seeing James Bond: Casino Royale in Bangkok.  It was really cool to go from the loud, hot crammed Bangkok streets to the cool, quiet darkness of the theater, completely forget about the world outside for a while, only then to go back out and get assulted by the sights, sounds, smells and tuk tuk drivers of Thailand.

I haven’t been going to any big huge mega complex theaters lately but instead a number of smaller theaters that do some pretty cool stuff.  The last dozen movies I’ve seen I think I’ve seen alone.  A lot of people think going to movies alone is weird.  I don’t get that.
I always liked the Garneau theater in Edmonton (and it’s awesome that the new Transcend will be right next to it).  It’s fairly spacious with a beautiful interior and was always nice, warm and cosy in the winter, which also meant it was unbearably hot in the summer…

Here in Vancouver there’s 5th avenue, which the Elysian room is right around the corner from and share the same complex.  It’s a solid theater with good sound, good seats, a balcony and plays movies that aren’t in the mainstream.  There’s also the Rio just off of Commercial Drive, which I really like.  It’s got an older working class, family feel to it that I like plus it’s less than a 10 minute walk from my house.  They play midnight matinees of old classics ranging from Army of Darkness to The Labyrinth to whatever the hell they want to play.  I’ve only been to a couple but they’re pretty fun and usually bring in a lot of people.  I passed by when The Labyrinth was playing and people were lined up down the street.

In Portland I ran into a couple really cool theaters.  The first was the Avalon.  I passed by it and the place was lit up like a Los Vegas casino.  I had no idea what the place was at first.  All the signage was for old penny arcades and nickle and dime machines.  I pulled over to get a better look and see what the place was about.  I thought it was maybe just an arcade but people of all ages were going in so I followed suit.  Ended up it was an old theater still alive and well doing cheap movies.  $2 to go see Star Trek and the latest Disney 3d extravaganza.  I figured what the hell, the Star Trek was cool and bought a ticket.  Inside, along with the theaters were rooms filled arcade games, mostly vintage like the ones you’d play at Chucky-Cheese or a carnival where you could win tokens and buy crap but I think in this case you could but candy and popcorn.  Pretty good idea I think.  A lot of the games looked pretty cool and there were lots of people lining up for them.

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The Avalon

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Arcade Games inside the Avalon

Another theater I ran into while in Portland was this place called “Living Room Theaters“.  This place was awesome.  They mostly had playing documentaries, foreign films, obscure comedies, classics and art films.  The price was reasonable ($9) and I hadn’t seen Food Inc. yet.  Inside there was a full bar, full coffee bar and light fare ranging in tapas, pizzas, salads, paninis and the likes.  You could go in, take a booth or seat at the bar, eat, drink and if you didn’t finish take it with you into the theater.  Before the movie started there was seat service.  The theaters themselves only held about 30 or so people but all the seats were plush, had tonnes of leg space, reclined and had a good cup holder and table/stand for your food.  There was no one sitting next to me I put the arm rest up and laid across 2 seats durning the movie. 

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Just like home.

Scotch

Posted in Likes on 19 September, 2009 by Troy

I am by no means a exceptionally knowledgeable, have a very developed palate or tasted a tonne of scotches but I do enjoy and appreciate a good glass. I’m just about to finish off a bottle of Highland Park 18 and it’s been a treat.  I think the entire bottle I’ve drank myself while relaxing and unwinding.  The previous bottle I finished off in good company at Andrew’s wedding.  That was an awesome night.  In between the two was a bottle of BruichLaddich 18 that Poul gave me as a going away present.  An other  bottle of deliciousness. 

As I said I don’t have the most refined or developed palete but I know good from bad, or so I think.  Last weekend I went out to some relatives place for a BBQ and a bottle of some “good” scotch was brought out.  It was a blended undated malt of of a distiller who’s name I don’t remember.  Upon it hitting my lips that sour/harsh gag-like reflex hit me.  I knew this was bad scotch.  The next night I was at home and poured a glass of Highland Park 18.  I don’t know if it was because of the experience the night before was still fresh in my mind or what, but that scotch tasted amazing.

Next on my shelf to drink is a bottle of Clynelish.  It’s a Distillers Edition, individually numbered and the whole shabang, distilled in ’92 and bottle in ’08 so I guess it’s a 16 y/o (?).  I got it for my birthday the other day from Colby and Sterling (thanks guys).  Should be tasty.

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