I had the best coffee in Los Angeles last week at Caffé Luxxe. Following a tip from the director of Coffee Quality Institute—aka the Cupper Gods—I experienced the joy of having a real espresso outside europe: “espresso should have a rich honey-like texture topped off with a velvety, dark red-brown “crema.” This is the sign of una bella tazza di espresso: a beautiful cup of espresso.”
Here is my first cappuccino:
I was so sick and tired of (at best mediocre and at worst just plain bad) coffee served in the chain stores. The horror in the eyes of my european friends after receiving a bit of bitter coffee in the bottom of a big paper cup has always amused me! It looks like they are serving you what’s left from the previous customer…
I went back this morning for an early cup and standing at the counter, Italian bar style, I read a horrifying article about Putin and Georgia (call me a masochist) and remembered all the problems I was trying to forget… The great coffee brought back the vanished smile to my face!
They have a great Synesso machine and Yaniv, the talented barista creates these fabulous cups with panache! To see how, watch this short clip and if you have a better attention span (read more than 30 seconds) watch this one on the craft of making coffee art.
Finding a European style café that serves great espresso in Los Angeles can almost make one forget the world’s problems. Now If you really want to be scared just look at this map from Le Monde Diplomatique.
How is that for a nightmare in the making? Not only we are not at the End of History but people like Fukumaya should start paying attention to the latest conflict involving Russia! You take Kosovo, we take Georgia and Moldova!! Be scared people, be very scared…
“I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma: but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interests.” Winston Churchill
These are sobering times – now you know why I needed to find a good cup of joe.
“You eat your values – don’t let them be fast, cheap and easy” says Alice Waters, the revolutionary chef and cookbook author. Maybe it’s my age but I’ve started to think seriously about what I eat; junk food has never been a sin of mine but Waters and Dr. Oz have pushed me to eat better.
I’ve been too lazy to go to Farmer’s markets up to a few months ago but I am hoping that my health is worth a little more money and a little inconvenience. Cooking becomes a pleasure again when you use fresh ingredients like in this simple Thai chicken and mint dish.
Alice Waters has started the “Slow Food” program that teaches children to make the right decision about how and what they eat.
This doesn’t mean of course that great food shouldn’t be appreciated just because it’s not green enough. I was at a friend of mine‘s today for a fabulous sunday brunch that ended with these great cakes made by her talented sister, Mona; The chocolate mousse and the baby kiwi cakes were divine.
I took a tour of the kitchen and w o w…
Just look at these pastry molds:
it’s true that a beautiful kitchen like this one makes you want to cook but I have had very delicious food coming out of small/dark/chaotic kitchens in my life (just dare to go to almost any parisian café’s kitchen)…
Today’ s food crisis makes us forget that good food like flowers should be affordable to everyone. As Jeffrey Sacks says “you can’t tell people who are dying of hunger in Africa to tighten their belts, as if they had belts”!
I would like to finish the post with these pictures instead of some starving kids in Africa which is approaching a meltdown with the crazy Mugabe and the criminal Janjawids.
How did she go from chocolate mousse to Darfur? I bet that you didn’t see it coming…
Farah Pahlavi, the queen of Iran, is still alive and well, but people are not talking about her much. Things changed when it was reported last month that “the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art has put on display an exhibition that art experts call the most important collection of modern Western art outside Europe and the United States.” In the 1970’s she collected great works of art – about 150 paintings – by Picasso, Monet, Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, etc…
I bought some old Paris Match magazines some years ago in Paris spanning from 1958 through 1969. It was interesting to see her on the cover from practically the minute she met the Shah in Paris. I put some of the photos from Paris Match together to share them with you.
She lived a Cinderella story that turned sour at the age of 41 after the Iranian revolution of 1979.
In spite of my belief that monarchy is absurd in the 21st century, it seems like I can’t shake my affinity for this lady; the fact that we both went to the same school (Jeanne d’Arc of Tehran) and had to endure the same French nuns may not have much to do with it.
The deposed queen has somehow survived the animosity that follows the Pahlavis wherever they go. At the minimum she should be applauded for amassing a collection of priceless art, as opposed to worthless shoes or stolen jewelry (see Queen Elizabeth and Imelda Marcos).
Her good reputation lasted way longer than her jewelry.
Two of her kids committed suicide: Leila and AliReza Pahlavi; that would be way more painful than losing a country. Aside from her oldest son, the other three never really had a chance…
Check your facts people! Until a few years ago, being judgmental was politically incorrect (a very tired notion today) but as I am growing older, I am realizing that Life is too short not to judge. My good friends André Démir and Tamas Ungvari are “Messrs Opinion” both; in these times of “chilling apathy”, it’s refreshing to see somebody take a stand on something (in their case, on everything). This post is an homage to these two gentlemen, both hungry observers of the life around them and armed by an uncanny fluidity of intelligence.
I get frustrated when I hear all these unworthy opinions rolling out of everybody’s mouth; it’s good to check our facts before sharing them with everybody. Trust but verify. I am ready to listen then but I can’t even count the number of times that somebody has recited an article from a major newspaper or repeated a pundit’s interpretation of the news as an absolute fact to me. I am not completely innocent myself.
André is a mean Tango dancer (here with his angelic wife, Carol Kelly):
My hero, Isaiah Berlin, believed in “the power of the wisely directed intellect to illuminate, without undue solemnity or needless obscurity, the ultimate moral questions that face mankind”.
You just have to watch TV a bit to see how this power is misused by the kinds of the anchormen at the Fox News (or CNN for that matter). Beside making me sick, Ann Coulter makes me doubt Berlin’s philosophy:
‘Life can be seen through
none of them necessarily
clear or opaque,
less or more distorting
than any of the others.’
There is so much going on in the world with the renegade Kosovo, the two-headed Russia and Ahmadinejad in Iraq but those should wait another post to exploit your patience – I’ll try to make the next one all about flowers and butterflies.
It seems like I’ve been back to Los Angeles for ages but it’s been only a mere week. Paris faded fast in my memory thanks to a nasty stomach flu I caught after a great dinner of oysters and choucroute at Maison d’ Alsace with my friends; there is a gastro epidemic in Europe and for the second year in a row, I fell victim to it.
There’s been so much to think/talk about – from the chaos in Kenya to the phenomenon of the Kenyan’s son and his new Kennedy friends but I’ve been sick and tired. To look at the African problems in a fresh way I suggest looking for Caroline Elkins’ view about the possible source of these African tribes’ sudden violent behavior towards each other. In general, a lack of vision and rampant corruption is the hallmark of African leadership. Needless to say that after the Super Bowl it’s the Super Tuesday that occupies the mind of America and not Kenya…
Ok people I was just joking when I said I was going to have plastic surgery! I talked about the United States’ dire economic situation (true), having a kid in law school (true) and needing cosmetic surgery (maybe true but won’t do it) to make you guys buy my stuff.
I hope that you had a good thanksgiving – I always cook two turkeys no matter how many people are coming to my house (one in the oven and one in a pot) and this year wasn’t an exception – great persian stuffing camouflaged as the usual stove top…
“Thanksgiving is when gluttony becomes a patriotic duty.” To me, this is one holiday that is not tinted with religion or acute nationality.
The real turkey this week will be president Bush going to Annapolis when thousands are protesting in Jerusalem and Gaza against the talks.
Mike Luckovich sums it up in the above cartoon; I like Bob Gorrell’s too:
one of the greatest minds of the twentieth century, he remained true to his humanity. “I came to the conclusion that there is a plurality of ideals, as there is a plurality of cultures and of temperaments. I am not a relativist; I do not say “I like my coffee with milk and you like it without; I am in favor of kindness and you prefer concentration camps” — each of us with his own values, which cannot be overcome or integrated. This I believe to be false. But I do believe that there is a plurality of values which men can and do seek, and that these values differ.”
How unlucky can you be to have these three as your presidents? I am iranian by birth, american by choice and french by nostalgia; these three guys are today at each other’s throats. Sarkozy is still the more tolerable of the three (which is not a big accomplishment).
I actually think that he can do something for france (that will be another post, another day) but now his foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, wants to bomb Iran. Bush is as trigger-happy as always and Ahmadinejad wants to wipe Israel from the face of the earth. I just read on today’s LA times that he is a hero to the underrepresented muslim/arabs of this world and has the audacity to go to Columbia university and be jeered! I am waiting to see him on Charlie Rose tonight; his second 60 minutes gig was as ridiculous as the first one: bad questions, worse answers (and lots of giggles!) NY times has this article about the subject. Life is tough…
“At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols.” Aldous Huxley