Monday, August 03, 2015

I'm sorry, Mark, I won't do it again


I was driving Owen and his mute adolescent companions to their art program in San Francisco this morning when we passed a sign advertising civet coffee. I'd never seen civet coffee for sale in the United States (or anywhere else, for that matter), and I broke our customary silence to excitedly explain civet coffee to my passengers. No one showed the slightest interest in this bizarre Indonesian coffee tradition. Not a flicker. Adolescents are tough nuts. 

Civet coffee, in case you don’t know, is coffee brewed from beans that have passed through the digestive tract of the palm civet, a cat-like mammal indigenous to Southeast Asia. The civets eat coffee berries which undergo some kind of enzymatic change in the their gut that (supposedly) renders the coffee healthier and more delicious. The beans are eliminated by the civets, collected, roasted, ground, and brewed into a fabled and very expensive coffee. I have just described the process with remarkable delicacy. 

I dropped the adolescents off, started driving home, and tried to talk myself out of stopping at the civet coffee place. So much to do, blah blah blah. Then I thought, why resist? So I could get home to my laptop, dirty dishes, and boring routine a half hour sooner? 

I am $15 poorer, but I can now report that civet coffee has a strong, rich, round flavor with no harsh, acidic bite whatsoever. Per the barista's recommendation, I drank it black, which is ordinarily impossible for me, but civet coffee really is noticeably smoother. It's very good. Is it worth $15 a cup? How absurd! No! Don’t fall for it. No cup of coffee is worth $15, but I’m not sorry I stopped because for a few minutes I felt like I was having an adventure. 
Why does she even bother?
As you might expect, there are ethical issues attached to consuming civet coffee. Another reason not to drink it.

Back to our previously scheduled programming: Unlike a lot of people, I really like Bon Appetit. I actually appreciate that it's flashy and sort of shallow. Maybe because I subscribe to the mighty, unstoppable New Yorker, the idea of yet more high-quality reading material flooding my mailbox exhausts me and I would probably cancel the Bon Appetit subscription if they started publishing great long-form journalism. I just want pictures and recipes and that’s what I get in Bon Appetit. I opened the August issue and it was full of stuff I wanted to make, starting with the grilled corn and chile dip.

To make this, you grill corn and poblano peppers, scrape corn off cob, chop up poblanos, mix everything up in a bowl with sour cream, creme fraiche, and hot sauce. Bake until bubbly and hot. Serve with tortilla chips. I took this to my sister's house for family dinner and it was spicy, smoky, creamy, crunchy, robust, and very popular. 

Two thoughts in case you decide to try this fine recipe:

-The recipe says it “serves 4.” As my father said, “Four what?” The recipe serves at least 10. Perfect for a big potluck.

-While the corn dip worked as an appetizer, I think it would really shine as a side dish. To me, it felt wrong to eat corn on a corn chip. The recipe also suggests serving it with pork rinds, but that doesn't appeal at all. My suggestions is to rename the dish “spicy creamed corn” and serve it like a casserole, to be eaten with forks. 
My niece and nephew collaborated in perfect silence and harmony to braid themselves a whip.  

40 comments:

  1. Caroline in San Francisco8/3/15, 3:37 PM

    Thank you...now I can cross civet coffee off of my "list". I agree on Bon Appétit magazine; it's like People magazine of the food world. It's a fun, easy read. Will definitely make the corn dip/side dish. Loved your dad's comment about serving portions. :) Appreciating the frequent posts! Always fun.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, no need to try the civet coffee. If I hadn't been paying attention I probably wouldn't have even noticed the mellowness, just added cream and gone on with my day.

      Delete
  2. I've never tried civet coffee for various reasons (including ethical), but cold brew coffee is less acidic. Have you tried it? Lots of independent coffee shops serve it and now even Starbucks is on board. For years I've been making it at home with the Toddy, but there are a few contraptions on the market, or you can use a French press.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A friend swears by the Chemex for reducing acidity -- she even travels with it. I tried Chemex at a cafe and it was really good, but something like $7. Cold brew. I've seen it, but never tried. I will.

      Delete
    2. I make cold brew all summer and it's so easy! Just coarse grind the coffee, put it in a big container with water, let it sit for a day on the counter, and then strain it through cheesecloth. It lasts forever in the fridge so I do two pounds of coffee at a time, about a month's worth. It's very smooth, and easy to drink it black.

      Delete
    3. As I recall, Laurie Colwin drank a lot of iced coffee and made ice cubes out of coffee. And then there was the coffee jelly.

      Delete
    4. Yeah, that coffee jelly was repulsive to read about! I bought the little coffee cookbook she wrote about. I think it was by Claudia Roden. I don't have it anymore. {Bonnie Slotnick once told me she was seriously thinking of putting up a shelf with all of the books Laurie Colwin had ever written about, since she still gets a continual stream of people looking for obscure things like "Curries and Bugles, a Memoir and Cookbook of the British Raj," and books by Josceline Dimbleby.

      An iced coffee in NYC costs between three and four dollars. Figure about four months of iced coffee weather, about $120 bucks a month, so that's close to $500. Eight pounds of coffee and four packs of cheesecloth is about $90, but it could be less if you don't maintain an obsessive insistence on buying your coffee beans at THE EXACT SAME STORE WHERE LAURIE COLWIN BOUGHT HER COFFEE BEANS. {Porto Rico on Bleecker Street in the West Village.}
      It's a big savings -- more than $400 over the course of the summer.

      Delete
    5. Naturally, I own Curries and Bugles as well as the Josceline Dimbleby dessert book. No one could sell a cookbook like Laurie Colwin, and she could do it in less than a sentence.

      Delete
    6. witloof, what ratio of coarse-ground coffee to water do you use? I like a fairly strong iced coffee. Your method sounds easy and delicious, and I even have cheesecloth in my pantry. Thanks in advance.

      Delete
    7. Lee, I am so sorry, I am a lazy git and don't measure. I figure I dump in about two cups worth into a half gallon Mason jar. That produces a very strong brew that will stand up nicely to the entire tray full of ice I dump in.

      And I also couldn't live without my Cuppow: http://www.cuppow.com/collections/cuppow-jar-drinking-lids

      Which turns any wide mouth Mason jar into a to go cup!

      Delete
    8. No worries -- I'm a lazy git too! Your directions make complete sense to me. Thanks :)

      Delete
  3. Hi, I just devoured your entire blog recently, and your book, too. Wonderful stuff, thanks for writing!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I really enjoy cold brewed coffee, too. If my husband would only drink it, I would not hot brew coffee at all. Civet coffee does not appeal, so I have never been tempted, but I am glad you had an adventure, and a cheap adventure at that! I like BA for exactly the same reasons that you do. I like being able to blow through it, pick out what I want to cook, and then put it down.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Beckster, I'm so glad you commented! I was missing you. It looks like now I really have to try cold-brewed coffee.

      Delete
  5. That corn looks like it would be GREAT as a side dish (spicy creamed corn.) I, too, was a little put off by the idea of dipping corn chips into corn.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It didn't taste wrong, it just felt wrong.

      Delete
  6. Thank you for the delicious looking eggplant recipe a few days ago, and this dip/casserole now. I have been following your blog for several years now and love your recommendations and writing style.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you for taking one for the team and trying the civet coffee (as an aside, my thrifty grandmother used to dump her leftover coffee into a pitcher in the fridge; voila, iced coffee for pennies! and my clever 8 year old told me to blend the cold coffee with sugar, milk and crushed ice -- voila, a frappuccino!).

    And sentences like these: "the idea of yet more high-quality reading material flooding my mailbox exhausts me and I would probably cancel the Bon Appetit subscription if they started publishing great long-form journalism." are one of the many reasons I love your writing so much. It's far too hot down here to turn on the oven or I might actually make the corn casserole. This is also why I never bake with summer fruit. When it's 95 degrees, honestly, who wants to make peach pie? Or a fig tart? This is actually a problem since I have tons of figs coming off our tree, too many for me to eat on my own. My family are not fig fans. I guess I could freeze them and make fig marmalade when the weather cools off. What do you think? Or could I use some kind of fig jam in the fig bars in Make the Bread?

    Wow, that was rambly; sorry!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Too many figs!!! You are so lucky. I have two producing fig trees and we still haven't reached "too many." I don't know how to cook with figs. When I see a recipe for something with figs I just pass it by because figs seem too precious to cook. I will think. Fig ice cream?

      Delete
    2. I know, I'm torn because I love them fresh but I've picked over 35 off the tree in the last two days and more are ripening. It truly is an embarrassment of riches.

      Delete
    3. Figs with chevre wrapped in prosciutto.....figs on "firebread" (aka pizza crust) with brie and honey...and wine....and I wish my fig tree didn't drop all its fruit before they ripened.

      Delete
    4. Try sprinkling borax along the drip line.

      Delete
  8. Could I use chipotle peppers in adobo instead of Poblanos? I have 1/2 can in fridge from a pork carnita recipe. You know how that goes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would think so, though you'd want to adjust the quantity carefully -- chipotle in adobo is pretty spicy.

      Delete
  9. Feeling this huge cultural divide between the US and Europe opening up as I study your coffee picture. The world's most exepensive coffee in a p-a-p-e-r m-u-g? Seriously? :-)

    Love, love, love your blog and your writing. Keep up the good work!

    Lots of thanks from France.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Kannur University Result 2016 for all course
    Kannur University Admit Card 2016
    Kannur University Hall Ticket 2017
    Kannur University Result 2017
    Kannur University Admit Card 2016
    Kannur University Entrance Date 2016
    Kannur University Degree Allotment
    Kannur University Trial Allotment 2016
    Kannur University Admission 2016
    Kannur University Onlie Admission
    Kannur University Distance Education Result 2016
    Kannur University Hall Ticket 2016
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University BA Result 2016-2017
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Hall Ticket 2016
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Result 2016 for all course
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Admit Card 2016
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Hall Ticket 2017
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Result 2017
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Admit Card 2016
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Entrance Date 2016
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Degree Allotment
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Trial Allotment 2016
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Admission 2016
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Onlie Admission
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Distance Education Result 2016
    Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Hall Ticket 2016
    Karnatak State Open University BA Result 2016-2017
    Karnatak State Open University Hall Ticket 2016
    Karnatak State Open University Result 2016 for all course
    Karnatak State Open University Admit Card 2016
    Karnatak State Open University Hall Ticket 2017
    Karnatak State Open University Result 2017
    Karnatak State Open University Admit Card 2016
    Karnatak State Open University Entrance Date 2016
    Karnatak State Open University Degree Allotment
    Karnatak State Open University Trial Allotment 2016

    ReplyDelete
  11. Karnatak State Open University Admission 2016
    Karnatak State Open University Onlie Admission
    Karnatak State Open University Distance Education Result 2016
    Karnatak State Open University Hall Ticket 2016
    Andhara University BA Result 2016-2017
    Andhara University Hall Ticket 2016
    Andhara University Result 2016 for all course
    Andhara University Admit Card 2016
    Andhara University Hall Ticket 2017
    Andhara University Result 2017
    Andhara University Admit Card 2016
    Andhara University Entrance Date 2016
    Andhara University Degree Allotment
    Andhara University Trial Allotment 2016
    Andhara University Admission 2016
    Andhara University Onlie Admission
    Andhara University Distance Education Result 2016
    Andhara University Hall Ticket 2016
    Symbiosis University BA Result 2016-2017
    Symbiosis University Hall Ticket 2016
    Symbiosis University Result 2016 for all course
    Symbiosis University Admit Card 2016
    Symbiosis University Hall Ticket 2017
    Symbiosis University Result 2017
    Symbiosis University Admit Card 2016
    Symbiosis University Entrance Date 2016
    Symbiosis University Degree Allotment
    Symbiosis University Trial Allotment 2016
    Symbiosis University Admission 2016
    Symbiosis University Onlie Admission
    Symbiosis University Distance Education Result 2016
    Symbiosis University Hall Ticket 2016
    IBS Hydrabad BA Result 2016-2017
    IBS Hydrabad Hall Ticket 2016
    IBS Hydrabad Result 2016 for all course
    IBS Hydrabad Admit Card 2016
    IBS Hydrabad Hall Ticket 2017
    IBS Hydrabad Result 2017
    IBS Hydrabad Admit Card 2016

    ReplyDelete