Monday, June 21, 2010

Animal crap, or the most expensive coffee in the world

The most expensive coffee in the world, Kopi Luwak, comes from Indonesia, where the coffee berries are eaten by a little racoon-like beast, Luwak, or Asian palm civet. The beast supposedly picks the best berries. Natural quality control.

My friends just came from Bali, where they got lost looking for some tourist attraction, and stopped to get directions in the middle of nowhere at a coffee farm. The Luwak lives in a narrow long cage where he runs back and forth very fast, obviously on caffeine high, feeding on coffee berries. The farmers' kids carefully pick the coffee beans from the beast's crap, wash and dry them thouroughly, and so produce the best coffee in the world.

The price that my friends paid, 69,000 Indonesian rupies for 100 grams, or $32 per pound, is nothing compared to $250/lb that you would pay for it in the States, but it's still the most expensive coffee I ever had. They got me a little bag of perfect meduim-roast beans, that I asked one of my dinner guests to grind in a manual grinder, then prepared it Turkish style.

It's perfect. Beautiful balance, sweet, fruity, no sharp corners whatsoever. The beast knows what he is doing.

But you know what? You don't taste the beast. It's just a good coffee.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Look at the 'shroom!

The mushroom stall at the farmers market never stops to amaze. Today they had this fine specimen on display (at 2 pounds @$24/lb it would cost $48, but I doubt that she would sell it anyway). It was one of the biggest cepes I've ever seen.
After realizing that I forgot to get cash and only have a $20, I didn't even attempt to bid for the king 'shroom, but settled for his younger brother the prince, and just one half of him. $12, good two servings.

I've sliced the half-mushroom thin, seasoned with salt and pepper, sauteed it in half-olive oil/half butter over medium heat untill dry, added thinly sliced red onion and sliced asparagus, sauteed some more to soften the onion.
Served over buccatini pasta tossed with fava beans puree, garnished with grated parmesan.
For the fava beans puree: Double-shell (remove the pods, put in hot water for about a minute to loosen the skins, pinch and remove the skins0 1 lb fava beans (makes about one cup). Cook in a small amount of water until tender, about 15 minutes. Puree in blender. Season with salt and pepper. Fold in 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Serve over pasta, in sandwiches, on toasts, or about anywhere.

Yes, it's vegetarian again. I told you it's a conspirasy.
I thought about adding some of my home cured bacon but realized that it would overpower the precious mushroom. The bacon'll have to wait.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Marinated baby octopus, and more flowers

There is a conspiracy: they are trying to make me a vegetarian. Marinated octopus and eggs are vegetarian, right? With all these heirloom tomatoes, tender salad greens, local avocados coming from the market, and fava beans and eadible flowers going crazy in my garden after the rains, every time I make myself something to eat it's a salad.

"Baby" octopi come frozen from the Chinese grocery store. They are not really babies, they are just small octopi, correct? If they are, I'm in trouble - R. doesn't eat any baby animals. Not even veal. It took me a while to convince him that Cornish hens and quails are grown up birds.

Anyway, I defrost the "babies", cook them in a large pot at a slow simmer until tender, about an hour, then marinate them with rosemary, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper in 1 part sherry vinegar and 2 parts olive oil.

Serve over a salad of baby romaine (he's fine with baby plants), avocado, heirloom tomatoes, and fava beans. Garnish with a soft-boiled egg and nasturtium petals.
The marinade doubles as a dressing.

Vegetarian delight.