Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Twitterpated - NOT!

About a week ago, at the urging of a good friend, I decided to go ahead and update my Twitter settings. I would choose a select group of people whom I follow and have their tweets sent to my phone.

First off, I realize that having tweets sent to your phone is an idea prone with problems. Immediately, I knew there were a few whom I "follow" that would not make it onto the phone. Those with a penchant to tweet about every little movement or thought in their day-to-day lives were eliminated, as were those who just tweet too much nonsensical (to me) stuff.

From there, I chose whom I thought would offer insightful and interesting tweets. People who supposedly have the reputation for tweeting thought-provoking discussions and other stimuli. I made up a short list and eagerly awaited a stream of wisdom and insight.

After not even a week of this, I don't think I can take it much longer. Tweet upon tweet upon tweet about things that I really either don't care about or have no interest. But what I really don't get is the need for everyone to @someone to everyone else. Hey, if you've got a response for one person, why not just "dm" that person? Do I need to be included in that conversation? Especially when I think that person your "@"-ing is a buffoon?

Most importantly out of all this, I've become increasingly aware at how stream of consciousness tweeting is horrifically irritating. It's caused me to focus on my own tweets and realize that those 140-something characters are extremely precious and that the reader has lost those moments spent reading my tweets so they should have something of interest.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Pound of This, A Pound of That

Whipping up some mac-n-cheese.

With so much snow and bitter cold, what better thing to do than cook? Really in need of something different than my normal repertoire of take away fried something or other, I decided to see what was in the larder for a little meal.

Sadly, there was no Velveeta anywhere in the house so I had to go with some Kerrygold Dubliner cheese and a block of Cabot Private Stock White Cheddar. Chop them up in the processor, whip them into some bechamel, mix with cooked macaroni and voila! A little mac-n-cheese base for now or later.

Mac-N-Cheese out of the oven with a side of bacong and roasted chicken for good measure.

The nice thing about this mac-n-cheese is that you can refrigerate (and I guess freeze) the mix until you need it. Then when the time is right, press the mix into a serving dish, add some chopped cooked bacon, cover with the cheddar and dubliner cheeses, top with homemade potato bread crumbs and bake at 350F.

Forty minutes later, your piping hot mac-n-cheese is ready to rock and roll. Add steak, chicken or more bacon to taste.

Simple Pound Cake

Baking. Such a curious pursuit. I like to cook. I even fancy myself a cook. But a baker? No, i don't think so. Sure, I've dabbled in breadmaking in the past and have even tried my hand at pastry stuff, but I wouldn't say that I know what I'm doing.

Which brings us to the pound cake. I like pound cake. I like the frozen Sara Lee pound cake I grew up eating in the tin pan. I loved how the brown cap of the thing peeled off and how you could dig out the bottom crust of the bread with your fingers from the bottom of the pan. I was amazing. I could go to town on that pound cake.

But now that I'm older and supposedly more sophisticated, it was time to make my own pound cake, using the ingredients I love and adore. Like I said, I'm not a baker - which is good because the pound cake recipe is rather simple:

- one pound Butter
- one pound Sugar
- one pound AP Flour

Okay, and a little salt and a little vanilla extract - maybe half a teaspoon each.

Cream the butter and sugar, add the salt, add the vanilla, then slowly beat in the flour until it fully combines then stop. Bake in a 325F oven for at least one hour, or until its' done.

It took two hours for the thing to cook through.

So it took a long time, but how tantalizing it looked in that oven. I could see the butter boiling in the pan. Amazing. But it took two hours.

Finally the thing was done and it had to cool. By the time I tasted it the next day the flavor was lovely. Buttery sweet, crusty and just tasty. A far cry from Sara Lee but more robust. Good thing I brought it down to The Spro where I could enjoy my labors with a proper coffee - the Montes y Colinas Colombia from Origins Organic, of course.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Eskimos Might Live Like This...

A cigar too nice to do "The Monica."

As the Blizzard of 2009 blankets the world around me with an expected two feet of snow, I decided to take refuge at home and indulge myself (with my lady-friend companion).

Tonight's indulgences include a 2002 Montecristo #2 Habano, a 2007 Coudoulet de Beaucastel Cotes du Rhone, Davidoff matches, Dupont lighter, Paul Garmirian cutter, a bunch of candles, a meershaum pipe (just in case) and a plate of homemade chocolate chip and pecan butter shortbread cookies (with Askinosie 77% Davao chocolate, for good measure).

Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

ph: The Cabinets Are Coming!

The boys from Artisan Interiors working their magic.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tuna Club

Even though I've dedicated an entire afternoon to preparing food, I'm still hungry and without something to eat. So, I decided to whip up something that might make it onto project hampden's menu in the future: the "Tuna Club."

Okay, it's not really original and a total riff on Bistro 1245's Tuna Club, but I didn't want to simply copy it exactly, so here's what I did:

- toast a piece of baguette until crispy
- slather with wasabi mayo
- Benton's smoked country bacon
- add mixed greens
- a tomato would be nice (but they're out of season)
- layer slices of seared yellowfin tuna (poke marinade
- season with Aloha Shoyu

Fold, show off to your hungry friends and eat greedily.

Kalua-ing Your Pig

Pork Shoulder Picnic ready to go.

I've got a problem. I enjoy tasting different flavors during my week and I'm absolutely terrible at planning my meals ahead of time. Because of this, I end up eating out more often than not - and I've got a larder full of fantastic foodstuffs.

Take this hunk of Pork Shoulder Picnic from Springfield Farm. It's been sitting in the fridge waiting for me to do something with it. I could dig the smoker out of the garage and smoke it up, but it's too darn cold and I'm too lazy to do that right now. Maybe something a little more low impact would be better.

Another problem is that it's just me, and this large piece of pig makes more than I can eat in a week. Really, it makes more that I would want to eat in a week. So the idea was to cut it in half and make two preparations of pork.

The first was chorizo. Simply chop the shoulder (with lots of fat included) into little brunoise (okay, maybe I might have pulsed it a bit in the food processor - but I'll never tell) and then mix with a slurry of chiles and seasoning. A little chipotle powder, some rehydrated pasillas, some fresh garlic, a little canela, some salt... Oooh, and I've still got some of that Hatch chiles from New Mexico - chop up and toss a bunch in there for good measure. Add some oregano and process in the Cuisinart until it turns into paste (note: sans pork).

Press the chile mix through a tamis and onto the chopped pork. Mix thoroughly. Pan fry a portion to check season and re-adjust if necessary.

Different recipes will give you precise amounts of chile but this one I just freestyled. It's not as delicate as Oscar Gutierrez's dried chorizo I had last year, but it will suffice for my morning pleasures.

From here, you can mix in some pink curing salt (not too much) then stuff into casings and hang to dry. That was a bit too much work for a lazy Sunday so I just rolled them up into one pound balls, vac bagged and tossed them into the freezer. Note: after bagging, I like to press the balls flat to fill the bag so I can lay them down and stuff as many into the freezer as possible.

The other half I decided to make Poor Man's Kalua Pig. Simply take the pork, rub with 'alae'a salt from Hawai'i, wrap with one ti leaf (also from Hawai'i and completely different than tea leaves), put it into a dutch oven (a Le Creuset, if you want to be fancy) and toss into a 250F oven for 10-16 hours.

The more traditional approach would be to rub with liquid smoke and wrap the entire thing in banana leaves, but I didn't have either on hand. The more traditional approach would be to put it into a mesquite smoker. Then the ultra-traditional approach would be to wrap everything in chicken wire and bury the lot in an in-ground 'imu with smashed banana stalks and lava rock heated by a keawe wood fire, but that really was too much work for a lazy Sunday.

Ten to sixteen hours later (depending on the size of the meat), the pig is done when it's tender, juicy and can be shredded with a fork.

Simply box it up in a cambro, toss it in the fridge and reheat when hunger calls and serve with hot steamed rice, Aloha Shoyu
and chili pepper water - add some sliced Maui sweet onions and haupia on the side and you're really good to go.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

ph: The Brews

Our tasting crew points to their brew preference for the Dama Yirgacheffe - aeropressed.

Today was the day to take the coffees that we have selected for service at project hampden and determine which brew methods will be the "default" brew for each coffee.

The idea is that if you're the kind of customer who wants to come in and just try the coffee, you can simply order it and we'll prepare it for you utilizing the brew method that we think best highlights the qualities of the particular coffee. Of course, if you're a bit more adventurous, you can come in and request the coffee of your choice brewed in the method of your choice.

So while the "default" brew method for let's say, the Amaro Gayo Ethiopia from Barefoot Coffee Roasters may be in the Clever brewer, you can also order the Amaro Gayo brewed as a pour over, French press, aeropress, eva solo, chemex or vac pot - giving you the ability to try the same coffee and see for yourself how each brew method will enhance or diminish certain aspects of a coffees' flavor. No other shop in the world offers this array of brewing options - all to order, by-the-cup.

Jenny eva solos the Kenya Gichathaini from Ecco Caffe.

Here are the coffees that will open project hampden in early January 2010, and their "default" brew methods:

Amaro Gayo, Ethiopia – Clever & Cold Brew
Barefoot Coffee Roasters, Santa Clara, CA

Santuario Bourbon, Colombia – Aeropress
Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea, Chicago, IL

Yirgacheffe, Dama Cooperative, Ethiopia – Eva Solo
Ecco Caffe, Santa Rosa, CA

Gitchathaini, Gikonda Cooperative, Nyeri, Kenya – Chemex
Ecco Caffe, Santa Rosa, CA

Finca El Injerto Pacamara, Guatemala – French Press
Stumptown Coffee Roasters, New York, NY

Finca Mauritania, Santa Ana, El Salvador – Pour Over
Counter Culture Coffee, Durham, NC

Aida’s Grand Reserve, Santa Ana, El Salvador – TBD
Counter Culture Coffee, Durham, NC

Kigabah, Plantation A, Papua New Guinea – Chemex
Origins Organic Coffee, Vancouver, BC

Decaf House Blend – Aeropress
Origins Organic Coffee, Vancouver, BC

Espresso Blend – Espresso
Hines Public Market Coffee, Vancouver, BC

Lamarie and Rebecca vac pot the Amaro Gayo Ethiopia.

Holy Crap! 2010???

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Morning Musubi

Fried Spam, nori and press at the ready.

Spam Musubi.

That's it. That's all you need to know: Spam Musubi.

The ubiquitous Hawaii snack/meal is essentially the perfect sandwich. A balance of sweet, salty, sour, bitter, spicy and umami - well, spicy if you add some spice, or use Tabasco Spam. Take a slice of Spam, fry it up in a down and dirty teriyaki sauce, add a dash of Tabasco, top over steamed rice and wrap in nori. Amazing.

It's been something I've been thinking of adding to the menu at project hampden, but first, I need to understand how to make it. You see, in Hawaii, it's everywhere. You don't need to make it if you live in Hawaii, everyone else is making them so why bother? You can even get Spam Musubi (along with variants) at 7-Eleven.

Pressing the rice.

For today's Spam Musubi, I'm using a simple California medium grain rice, Japanese nori, Hormel Spam and a down and dirty teriyaki sauce made from soy sauce and sugar. The secret battle ingredient? Aloha Shoyu - that island made soy sauce that's light, nutty and refreshing. It is the flavor of Hawaii and I spend incredible amounts of money laying my hands on the stuff.

The other key? A Musubi Press. Those of you in California (and maybe living near the Mitsua Marketplace in New Jersey) probably can get it, but I get mine straight from Honolulu where I know it's going to be right - the mold fits a slice of Spam exactly. Beautiful.

A bounty of Spam Musubi!

Simply marinade the Spam (marinading Spam, that's got to be ironic) in the sauce, pan fry until it's caramelized and set aside. Cut the nori into strips and lay a slice of Spam across the nori, put the press in place, add the rice and press to form the shape. Pull the mold, wrap the nori tight and you're done! Spam Musubi 101.

Now, if only I knew some girls from Hawaii I could seduce over lunch today...

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

ph: The Results

Joy, Ilenia and Jeremy ponder their evaluations.

And here are the results for the last three days of service cuppings for project hampden:

Score / Coffee / Origin / Roaster / Roast Date

9.43 Amaro Gayo, Ethiopia - Barefoot, 12/1
8.69 Wondo Worka, Ethiopia - Caffe Pronto, 11/11
8.44 Amaro Gayo, Ethiopia - Barefoot, 11/23
7.50 Dama Yirgacheffe Organic, Ethiopia - Ecco Caffe, 12/1
7.44 Santuario Bourbon, Colombia - Intelligentsia, 12/1
7.40 Don Pachi, Panama - Stumptown, 12/1
7.38 Santuario El Mirador, Colombia - Intelligentsia, 12/1
7.30 Organic Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia - Intelligentsia, 12/1
7.19 Finca Mauritania, El Salvador - Counter Culture, 12/1
6.60 Sidama, Ethiopia - Intelligentsia, 12/1
6.57 Malacara Lot 119, El Salvador - Barefoot, 12/1
6.44 El Injerto Pacamara, Guatemala - Stumptown, 12/1
6.36 Gichathaini, Kenya - Ecco Caffe, 12/1
6.14 Palo Blanco, Guatemala - Barefoot, 12/1
6.13 Cruz del Sur, Peru - Intelligentsia, 12/1
6.00 Los Luchadores, El Salvador - Counter Culture, 12/1
6.00 Tablon 12, El Salvador - Barefoot, 12/1
5.90 Ndaironi, Kenya - Counter Culture, 12/1
5.90 Lot 91, El Salvador - Barefoot, 11/23
5.81 Monte Cristo, Brazil - Barefoot, 11/22
5.80 Gichathaini, Kenya - Intelligentsia, 12/1
5.71 El Porvenir, El Salvador - Barefoot, 12/1
5.69 Nueva Armenia, Guatemala - Counter Culture, 12/1
5.64 Piura Organic, Peru - Ecco Caffe, 12/1
5.63 Sidamo Washed, Ethiopia - Origins, 11/23
5.31 Montes de Oro Honey, Costa Rica - Stumptown, 12/1
5.29 Tingo Maria Organic, Peru - Ecco Caffe, 12/1
5.21 Ixii de Avelina, Guatemala - Barefoot, 12/1
5.00 21st de Septiembre, Mexico - Counter Culture, 12/1
4.80 Thiriku, Kenya - Intelligentsia, 12/1
4.31 Gathuriri Reserve, Kenya - Stumptown, 12/1
4.13 Ndaroini French Roast, Kenya - Counter Culture, 12/1
3.86 La Guatuza, Nicaragua - Ecco Caffe, 12/1
3.75 Pashapa French Roast - Counter Culture, 12/1
3.19 Organic Emera, Timor - Zeke's, 11/30 ?
2.86 Monte Cristo, Brazil - Barefoot, 12/1
2.75 Supremo, Colombia - Kirkland, ??

Again, we used a subjective scale of 1 to 10 and all coffees were cupped on December 4th or 5th, or in the case of the Ecco Caffe and Barefoot coffees roasted on 12/1, they were cupped on December 9th.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

ph: Pondering Paper

All sorts of paper goods from the paper suppliers' showroom. I won't need TP at home for a week!

As project hampden moves closer and closer to its' opening, more and more details need to be attended and time seems to be in very short supply. Time to think about paper goods. The quandry: how to present a thoughtful and refined approach without increasing costs to the point where it has to affect the retail price? Sure, we could go with nice linens, but that costs money and may mean the difference between a dessert costing $3.75 and $5.50, or more. And while I'm fine with charging what's appropriate, we don't want to scare people away because of price alone.

To my mind, many things in the coffee business are played out. Cheap is played out. How about something refined? Corn lined paper hot cups are nice but the premium is pretty steep and does the wax lining of "regular" paper cups really mean that it will take a bazillion years for the thing to decompose? The irony here, of course, is that all "bio-friendly" disposables inevitably end up being sealed in plastic bags that will always take a bazillion years to decompose...

Of course, nothing beats ceramic. Give me beautiful white plates and we'll fill them with something beautiful and tasty. Eating stuff for "here" is the easy part. It's the "can I take it with me" that it all falls apart. Plastic containers are nice and reusable, but there's going to be some tree-hugging jerkoff who's going to complain about the petrochemicals used in the container. I'll then be tempted to point out that the Horizon Organic Milk they're drinking at home is rubbish but that would only serve to irritate the problem rather than soothe.

Foil has the ability to go from the oven to the bag, so if we decided to make fresh mac 'n cheese, we could just pop it in the over, bake it off and let the customer take it home in all its' molten, oozy, cheezy glory. But the foil containers look about as classy as the stuff I used to get from the Washington Square Diner while attending NYU.

Then there's the pseudo-chinese-takeout-looking flat boxes in bio-friendly brown paper. They're stylish, kinda retro and very bio-chic. They can take the microwave, limited oven and look classy. I think we'll go with those.

Cups? To go paper will probably remain standard white because I'm unconvinced that the wax lining is that destructive to the environment, and because no matter the cup, the lid is always going to be plastic - until they figure a way to stop corn based plastics from disintegrating when warm.

Plastic cups may go to corn-based plastics. The concern here is not with cold beverages, where the corn plastics excel, but with the method we prepare some of our cold drinks - starting with warm to hot ingredients that we cool down. Does the additional expense of corn plastic also justify the additional labor of changing our production methodologies? Not sure yet.

Another conundrum is the utensils. At The Spro in Towson, we use all black plastic utensils. They're stylish, functional and disposable. Do we maintain those utensils for project hampden, or change to bio-friendly tan colored utensils? Or do we just use stainless utensils in-house and screw the convenience and tell people to go home with their take out, use their own utensils and save the environment? Idealistic but not very accommodating for the customer.

The curious aspect is the paper towels. The recycled towels cost less because they're not as pretty as the white towels. Hmmm, bio-friendly and cheaper? Now that's some tree-hugging I can get behind!

Meanwhile, I've spotted a bit of whimsy while perusing the stacks of our paper supplier. Soap dispensers geared towards children. I'm determined to find a way to use them at project hampden to bring a little fun into our serious world of coffee...

Sunday, December 06, 2009

project hampden: project cupping

The cupping begins!

It's been over two months since we started on this journey of the barista for our project hampden crew. In the process, we've cupped lots of coffees, learned and proofed brewing methods and visited cows and other coffee places. In training new baristas, I've never taken the route we've taken. For our crew of baristas, I've been doing my best to train the best rounded baristas that I possibly can - and I still wish I had more time.

A by product of tasting and learning about coffees is the formation of preferences. It's simply not possible to taste some of the best coffees available and not become tainted by it. As our time together has progressed, I've been hearing more and more reports on how increasingly difficult it is for them to find coffee that they can enjoy outside of our little world. It is a hazard of our business.

As such, I almost never drink coffee outside of The Spro or my own home. I only drink coffee at select places that I know take the time to do it right. Sadly, most places brew poor examples of coffee. For most people, it's not too noticeable, but when you're drinking some truly spectacular coffees, the difference is starkly apparent.

So, after two months of subjecting my crew to truly amazing coffees, as well as a number of horrific coffees, it's now time for them to take the big step: the evaluation and selection of coffees for the opening of project hampden.

I've always felt strongly that our baristas should be passionate about the coffees we serve because it's far too often that I see baristas (yes, in the Third Wave) that merely recite verbatim the description provided by their roaster. Perhaps that description is accurate but, in our experience, it's not always so. The vision that I have for project hampden is that our team of baristas will evaluate and vet out the coffees for which we feel most strongly.

Jenny crunches the numbers.

I'm lucky to have great roaster partners to work with. Friends in the business who are willing to join me and our crew on this exploration/aberration of the coffee industry. The practice of using multiple roasters is still relatively unheard of in our business and certainly the few places that have done this have not executed to the extent that we are planning to execute.

For project hampden, our primary roasters will be:

- Hines Origins Organic Coffee, Vancouver, BC
- Counter Culture Coffee, Durham, NC
- Stumptown Coffee Roasters, NYC
- Barefoot Coffee Roasters, Santa Clara, CA
- Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea, Chicago, IL
- Ecco Caffe, Santa Rosa, CA

All of whom are friends and companies whom I believe are sourcing, roasting and producing some of the best coffees in North America.

Our cupping protocols follow along the industry standard but our cupping forms mimic those developed by Counter Culture Coffee for their informal cuppings. In the evaluation of the coffees, I wanted more notes on the flavors, aromas and characters of the coffee rather than the numerical scores given in either the SCAA or CoE cupping forms. I wanted more "gut" feeling about the coffees than the clinical numbers of formal cupping sessions.

Writing their evaluations.

This past weekend, we cupped twenty-five different coffees from a variety of roasters, both named suppliers and outside sources. The results were both surprising and not so surprising.

A new feature to our cupping form was the additional of a numerical score for each coffee. The point scale ranged from 1 to 10, with ten being the highest. Again, this numerical score was completely subjective. Did the barista like the coffee or not? Loved it or hated it? The numerical score would be the easiest way to gage likability by our staff and readily tell me which coffees to target.

Certainly an argument can be made against this system of grading- what are the criteria? None. What does a "5" mean? Whatever that barista deemed it to mean. It's not "fair"! True, it's not fair. But neither is the likes of any customer. It's not meant to be a "fair" grade. It's meant to tell me which coffees our baristas feel most passionate about. Which coffees will they champion? Which coffees will they sell the most? It's human nature to push something you like. Why not fill our selections with coffees our baristas like?

More smelling and cupping.

Of course, that's not to say that the selection of coffees for project hampden is completely egalitarian. project hampden is about my vision and what I want to project upon the world, so if a coffee doesn't meet my standard, it won't make it - even if everyone on staff gave it a "10". Conversely, if there's a coffee that I'm particularly interested in highlighting, it will be there.

But for now, our crew is cupping, evaluating and determining the coffees that will be there the day we open.

Friday, December 04, 2009

project hampden: ASAFP!

Electrical outlets ready to rock and roll.

After what seems like (to my pockets) interminable delays, project hampden is rolling once again. Electrical and plumbing are done and now we just need to get cabinets and counters installed and we're on our way!

Of course, the installation of mechanicals has left an absolute mess of project hampden. What were once beautifully painted walls are no more. Tiny holes and large patchwork abound. Everything is covered in dust and the once polished floors need serious attention to bring back to life.

But project hampden will be opening. As Soon As Frakking Possible!

The Tasting Lab.

This is progress???


Oh my floors!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Egging It On

The sous vide versus the pan stirred.

A bit of time ago, I attempted to recreate Alex and Aki's Scrambled Eggs and met with disaster. After some coaching from Alex and a water bath running a 48 hour short rib run, I decided to try the egg thing once more.

This time I decided to forgo the problem of the eggs solidifying in the ISI Whip Charger and just vac bagged the mixture of eggs, butter and sour cream. This way, if the eggs solidified, I wouldn't have such a task cleaning out the whip charger - just toss the bag and it would be done.

62C not looking too promising.

After an hour of cooking in 62C water, the eggs were not looking too promising. They seemed cooked but the texture looked like coagulated broken milk in coffee. To say that it didn't look appetizing would be an overstatement and the thought of salmonella or some kind of other food poisoning due to improper handling came to mind.

But since I'm an intrepid kind of chap, who's too foolish to heed his own cautions about food poisoning, I thought I would still give it a try. Afterall, I spent the past hour waiting for this thing to cook.

Scrambled Egg Foam - not quite the result I was looking for.

I should note here that under other circumstances, like me giving you advice on the preparation of this dish, I would tell you to quickly throw the bagged eggs in the trash and start again with a different approach. Under no circumstances would I ever recommend to anyone that they attempt to consume this potentially hazardous/lethal product.

But it was breakfast time and I was a bit on the hungry side, so full speed ahead as I toast to Living Fast and Dying Young.

Scrambled Eggs and Scrambled Egg Foam. Could be an Eggs Two Ways kind of dish...

Happily, as evidenced by my writing of this post, I was not debilitated, poisoned or killed due to my reckless nonchalance with the eggs. After yet another phone call with Alex, I realized my error. Since I hadn't consulted either my own notes or the previous blog entry, I didn't realize that 62C is simply too cool to cook the eggs properly. I had just gone gonzo and winged it - which could have resulted in my being sent to the hospital. Not smart.

Since Hope Springs Eternal, I lived another day to try more of this sous vide eggery foolishness and proceeded to heed Alex's recommendations of cooking the eggs for 25 minutes at 75C.

Scrambled Huevos Otra Vez!

Into the bath went two eggs, two tablespoons of butter and a dollop of sour cream. Wait, wait, wait and then it was time.

Pulling the bag from the bath and already I could see something different. It looked much better than the 62C eggs but still kinda was separate from the eggs and the cream. In spots, the eggs had clotted together. This was remedied by a thorough mixing of the ingredients by mushing the bag over and over again until the mix had combined.

Looking promising in the bag.

From there, it was just a matter of cutting open the bag, seasoning with salt and then layering over a piece of toasted Struan bread from Atwater's Bakery. Lovely.

Perhaps a topping of dill would suffice but I'm thinking that maybe shavings of bacon instead of the slices shown below might make for a fun presentation. Imagine someone coming to the table with a hunk of bacon and shaving slices/pieces of bacon over the eggs. Fun!


Sous Vide Scrambled Eggs on Struan bread with applewood smoked bacon, and Kenya Gaturiri from Stumptown Coffee.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Scale To Measure

The Scales of The Spro: Pelouze Postal Scale, Ohaus CL Scale, CAS digital scale and IKEA scale, along with some of the brewing methods we'll be employing.

I don't know how it is for most of you, but I always seem to find details that I just never gave too much consideration towards giving me serious obstacles. Take scales, for instance.

Scales seem so ubiquitous in what we do that I don't really think too much about them. Yes, they're necessary and yes, we've had all the scales we needed at Towson, so I never really put that much thought into them. But now with the impending opening of project hampden and its' multiple brewing methods, the need for really great scales has suddenly come into focus.

Aside from our main scale in Towson, we've gotten by with small kitchen scales, postal scales and whatever we've had at hand. Now that our brewing is more focused and serious, these stand-by scales have started to show their weaknesses. From the ergonomics to the length of time the scale stays on to the shape and space, all of it takes a toll and needs reckoning.

Where once was a void that I didn't have to worry about suddenly has become a kink in our system that's growing more desperate with each passing day.

This week, a new scale showed up at The Spro, the Ohaus CL Series Scale. It's a laboratory scale that is either battery or wall socket powered. It's small form factor means we can set up several brews side by side and its' design allows the scales to be stacked on top of each other for greater storage capability. Plus, the scale stays active for four minutes, much more generous than the 25 seconds other scales allow during moments of inactivity.

Initial impressions from our baristas has been quite positive for the Ohaus CL and I'm thinking that it might just be the one we're going to go with - thank goodness it doesn't cost an arm and a leg!