Category Archives: Coffee

Gordon Ramsay, Ricky Gervais, African Cats and Nescafe

An Unlikely Way to Save a Species: Serve It for Dinner

The headline is slightly misleading in that the eater approach to conservation works better for plants than for small animal populations but overall worth considering. Strange to think that if left alone, many of these species will die out. Of course, on an existential note, what does it mean to be, only because you are edible.

Gordon Ramsay and James May eating bull’s penis and rotting shark and then cooking…

And now Gordon Ramsay and Ricky Gervais

And from DetectivesBeyondBorders a coffee discussion:

From Timothy Hallinan’s Thailand-set novel A Nail Through the Heart

“Twenty or so years ago, in one of the first invasions by a Western brand name, Nescafé shouldered aside the much more labor-intensive processes by which the Thais made some of the world’s best coffee, replacing taste with convenience.”
“But Rose [who is Thai] grew up with Nescafé. She adores it, hot, tepid or iced. He has seen her eat a teaspoon of it, dry. … [Rafferty] takes a sip, rolls it around in his mouth like red wine, and revises his opinion. It’s an interesting drink if you don’t insist that it’s coffee.”

I suppose that might work..I do remember when down in Mexico and then later in other coffee growing lands being puzzled about the ubiquity of Nescafe.

African Food – Mystery Meals

This wonderful little gem from someone who is not entirely up on the current (or is it just North American) slang.

Cats and Dogs – One man’s pet is another man’s meal. Ghana’s Volta Region is the place to eat pussy (tastes like chicken) In Nigeria dog meat which is roasted like beef is also belived to improve your sex life.

And back to coffee

Bargains found at



This coffee is first eaten by Weasels which then regurgitate it, no one knows why they do this but it is then collected by locals in remote forest areas and then cleaned and roasted.

It has a unique rich chocolatey flavour and is best served as an espresso with a dash of condensed milk, just as they do in Vietnam.



This is the rarest and definately most extraordinary coffee in the world! This coffee has been selected for us by Paradoxurus Hermaphroditis. Better know as the Common Palm Civet Cat. It prowls the Sumatran coffee plantations at night, choosing to eat only the finest, ripest cherries. The stones (which eventually form coffee beans) are then collected by cleaning through the droppings by the natives who collect it.

Kopi Luwak as it is known, is considered to be the world’s finest coffee by Native Sumatrans. This coffee has an Intense but delicate flavour and no aftertaste, which is unique in coffee. This flavour is due to the fact that the coffee has been partially fermented by passing through the system of the Civet. Only about 500 KG’s of this coffee are found each year.

But seriously, the coffee in this town’s restaurants…

Not long ago I was out at the Red Ox and though the meal was not great, parts of it were quite good but what was rather annoying was that the coffee after was of the quality one would expect while waiting to have your muffler changed. And perhaps what was most irritating about the experience was how common it was. The same thing happened a few months ago at the Hardware Grill as well.

Why is this even possible? Do chefs and eatery owners not realize that the last impression does in fact last. Brown swill will discolour the most remarkable dinner for me.

One would expect that with the amount of effort that is taken to pair not only parts of the repast, but the wine with the food, that some notice would be taken of the coffee. Its really quite strange. Theories anyone?


Madrid: May 2007:1

That day had started auspiciously. The night before our first meal in Spain was just bloody awful. Even the wine was poor. But this morning was a rainy but warmish day and the place we ducked into was alive with the clatter of early bird workers chattering over coffees, pastries and cigarettes. In contrast to other times of the day, the turnover was fast. You ordered, a minute later there it was, and a minute after that the bill sat in front of you. We each had cafe con leches (brilliant stuff; half sweet espresso and half steamed milk (figured out to make these as soon as we got home)) and glazed croissants filled with ham and cheese. Though the latter doesn’t sound like much, trust me, they were. And like the others, we ate them with fork and knife. It made sense since the glazing made the confection sticky. We noticed that in Spain everything was eaten with utensils.

From there it was a few kilometers through the city, iron grill work everywhere, and sculptural tops to many of the buildings. This was a real Spanish city full of Spaniards. Though there must have been quite a few tourists we really only saw them at the galleries. And the people were little different than people anywhere except that they were absurdly LOUD. I don’t think you would ever need a hearing aid in this country. And it wasn’t that the restaurants and bars were all that loud but on the street. I tell you, Spaniards and cellphones, a really bad idea.

So back at the Prado. It was insanely busy. One large groups of Japanese tourists who seemed to be following us, and many school groups with teachers. This seemed to occur at all the galleries we went to in Madrid. They did more that just build world class collections; they taught the children about the art and this heritage of theirs. We flip through large books or slides on a wall or sad little reproductions on our screens and they can stand two feet away and see the brush strokes and the frames. They can see the range of an artist rather than the one or two representative works.

One thing that you could learn here as nowhere else was how artists started out together and gradually moved towards their own style. Its one of those things you know but don’t really think about much. You see all those early works where Dali paints like Braque and Picasso like Goya. At the beginning they are all like green garden shoots, all the same, and then, some earlier than others, they take on distinctive shapes and like plants, we can only think of their distinctiveness and not of those earlier manifestations.

Oneof the drawbacks of the Prado other than the sheer size of it, is that there is so little modern work. It would have been nice to break up the old with just a bit of the new. There are of course the seeds of modernism everywhere, the hallucinatory light in the El Greco’s, Goya storming the ideological barricades, Bosch’s utter lack of discretion. But the rule is big, and bigger, religious pictures. Its all a bit much, an upscale version of St Agnes where art took second seat to the correctness of the time. Symbolism over reality. And even the Goyas I found ultimately wearisome. Rooms and rooms of them, and you had the sense that were it not for his political power, he would not have quite the stature he does. Don’t get me wrong. The Prado is full of remarkable and awe inspiring paintings; this is the hall of the great ones; this was not to be missed but it is like being trapped at a really great traditional restaurant for a week with a decent range, every meal a big one, a plate buster, but boy could you go for some Thai.

Eating in Warsaw (and more) May 2007:3

Earlier in the day it was rainy and slightly cold. Not having planned for this, and working with carryon luggage only, we were raincoatless so it was a damp morning. And I had only running shoes with airgrids since I was expecting heat so the socks and feet were wet as well. No matter it was great to walk the old town.

The three of us (C an I and my colleague) found a croissant and coffee place after about a kilometre of walking (Warsaw is still more Polish than international so it is not quite as accomodating to the Western idea of breakfast or of multiple eateries at one’s disposal.) (I remember my father telling me about a trip he took through Russia years ago before the change and how the bus would stop at the side of the road and if you didn’t have your own food you would go into town and knock on doors and see if someone would feed you for a little money; most towns did not actually have restaurants).

We did walk by a couple of very smoky places and one strange white industrial room where someone was amassing a large mound of chopped pink meat. But we got some food in our bellies and then walked some more looking at the old buildings and then parted ways since colleague wanted to look at some Warsaw Uprising sites.

C and I trundled about some more and then found another cafe with pastries. This had a menu of espressos from about 40 sources with detailed descriptions of all. We selected a couple and found them to be utterly bland though the pastries were absurdly good (in general all the Europe we visited well knew its way around baking). A major difference sitting there as we remarked throughout the trip was the relaxed atmosphere in these places. There was no sense that you ever had to leave. In many cases, getting the bill was difficult. That’s it for the writing for this day. See the pictures.

Mocha Sambuca Shooters

Loved the presentation of this dessert. Had to try it and it turned out beautifully.
See below for two day method of preparation if you do not want to do this all at once.

Cocoa Sambuca Mini-Cakes

1/2 C all purpose flour
1/2 C unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 C. granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 C black sambuca

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Line each miniature muffin cup with mini size (15/8″) foil bake cups.

Sift flour, cocoa powder and baking powder onto large piece of parchment paper and set aside.
Place sugar, egg, and egg yolk in an electric mixer bowl fitted with a paddle.
Beat on high for 2 minutes until mixture is thickened and light in color.
Operate mixer on low and add butter slowly in a steady stream. Mix until incorporated, about 1 minute.
Continue to operate on low and add the dry ingredients. Mix until incorporated, about 1 minute. Scrape down sides with a spatula.
Continue on low while adding the black sambuca in a slow steady stream, mix until incorporated about 30 seconds. Now beat on medium for 30 seconds.
Remove bowl from mixer and use rubber spatula to finish mixing.

Position 1 tablespoon of the cake batter in each bake cup.
Place muffin tins in top and centre of oven, rotating halfway through baking time.
Bake 10-13 minutes until toothpick comes clean from the centre of muffin.
Remove from oven and cool at room temperature in the tins for 10 minutes.
Remove the muffins from the tins at set aside at room temperature.

Mocha Sambuca Ganache

4 oz semi sweet baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/3 C heavy cream
3 T whole expresso beans
1/2 oz unsalted butter
1 T black sambuca
2 tsp granulated sugar
24 chocolate covered espresso beans
Makes 24 shooters

Place the semi sweet chocolate in a medium bowl.
Heat the heavy cream, espresso beans, butter, black sambuca and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. When hot stir to dissolve the sugar and butter. Bring to a boil.
Pour the boiling cream mixture through a strainer held over the chopped chocolate; stir with a whisk until smooth.
Transfer the ganache to a baking sheet with sides and spread evenly. Refrigerate 45-60 minutes until firm to the touch.
Remove the firm ganache from refrigerator and transfer to the bowl of the electric mixer, fitted with a paddle. Beat on medium for 30 seconds until slightly lighter in color. Remove from mixer and finish mixing with rubber spatula.
Transfer ganache to pastry bag fitted with a medium straight tip.
Pipe approximately 1 heaping teaspoon of ganache onto each cake.
Place a whole chocolate coated espresso bean onto the ganache of each mini cake and serve immediately.


The shooters may be prepared over 2 days.

Day 1: Bake the individual cocoa sambuca mini cakes. Once they are cooled, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Day 2: Remove the mini cakes from the refrigerator. Make the Mocha Sambuca Ganache. Pipe the ganache onto the mini cakes. Garnish with chocolate covered espresso bean.
Assemble Shooters: A long stemmed shooter glass works best. Pour white Sambuca in bottom bottom third of shooter glass. Using a spoon, angled in the glass, slide the black sambuca onto the white sambuca in the second third of the glass (layered look).

Place the finished Cocoa Sambuca Mini Cake on the top and serve. (Mini Cake should be suspended on the top of the glass over the Sambucas)

Taken from Celebrate With Chocolate by Marcel Desauliniers.

Cafe con leche

The best coffee in the world.

Prepare espresso but the trick is to put a thin layer of sugar in before you lay down the ground coffee. It comes out sweeter and foamier.

Try it.

And this makes the base for great Spanish coffees. Just add a little Kaluha and a little brandy. Torres 10 year is very good.