Christmas blend

Having had a conversation with a friend this morning, regarding Christmas dining and preparation, it got me a little bit into the spirit.

Well, not really. But, that’s beside the point.

Anyhow, after wracking our brains on choices for antipasto (sorry, couldn’t spell the French term for it), turkey spices, and all that good stuff, we eventually arrived at the topic of dessert. Now, I’m not very particular about desserts. I’ll eat pretty much anything with sugar and/or dairy in it. So, I didn’t have much to say on the topic. But, dessert beverages are a different story. For me, anyway. Don’t get me wrong, I love eggnog (spiked or otherwise), hot cider, or whatever. But, I’m simple, and I usually just opt for a good cup of joe, instead.

Well, we went on and bickered about how it is/it is not boring to simply use the beat up, old coffee-drip brewer. But, come on, it’s Christmas. Do something special, for Jesus’ sake! 🙂 So, I recommended, if only for the occasion, what I’ve been using for the past fifteen years to brew my own coffee in… the lowly and humble French Press (Bodum only. No skimping, please)!

Bodum French PressMaybe, I’ve been living in the wrong century but, I realize that, to this day, the press is still not a very popular way of brewing one’s favorite java beans. Perhaps, it’s just a meager low-tech device lost in a crowd of auto-ultra-super-cyber-futuristic devices we’re so used to trusting with our very lives, these days. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen it in kitchens, just gathering dust up in the cabinets, for years. Although, I will take a guess, that the most popular way to do it, in this day and age, is to stand in line at the nearest Starbucks counter. Every single morning!

A very expensive shortcut, indeed. Thanks, but no, thanks.

Most coffee houses brew their coffee, espresso style. As far as I know, anyway. So, if you wish to replicate that same coffee house cocktail (latte, macchiato, etc.), don’t think you can get away, easily, with an el-cheapo espresso machine. I’m no coffee nerd, by any stretch, but I have virtually travelled a big part of the coffee-making world to get a clue on what’s good, what’s bad and what’s ugly. I love espresso. But, to make it at home, the way it’s supposed to be made, I would have to sell my car. Hey, if you’re going to get one, go for the glory. Or, better keep your hands off your pocket.

This brings me back to what I was talking about, earlier. The French Press. A simple person just wants a good cup of joe. Now, simple and good doesn’t necessarily go hand-in-hand, all the time. I told my friend, that it’s way cheaper than an espresso machine, and much simpler to use, but still, not quite that simple. You still have to have a good, yet expensive conical burr grinder. Now, I don’t have one, because I’d rather not miss payments on my monthly bills. I still use a blade grinder, but I don’t mind the sludge it causes to lay at the bottom of my cup. I still get an excellent flavor as long as I coarse-grind only when I need to; and the grounds/water ratio, water temp and brewing times are correct. Now, I’m not going to elaborate on the details. There are enough connoisseurs out there blogging about their own method, already. Go, do a search. But, I would recommend brewing your beans using this old-fashioned method. And, discover what flavors you’ve been missing, all this time.

Okay, if you’re really into espresso, a good, yet cheap way, is to use one of those stove-top percolators. I used to have one, but I accidentally left it in the stove to burn, a few months ago. So…

Oh yeah… use whole bean French Roast. None of them bag o’ Christmas Blends, please! Let your dessert do the sweetening.

Merry Christmas, everyone. 🙂

A stranger in my hometown

It was a year ago today (Actually, three days ago, but who’s counting?), since my trip back home to Manila. I feel sad that I’m not able to go this time. And it doesn’t help to think either, that before that, the last time I was home was in 1987.

You would then think ,that last year’s trip was nothing short of a joyous and momentous occasion. And it was. I am grateful, indeed. But maybe, it was my divorce right around the same time which made the trip a little bit of a blur now, as well.

I actually felt so bad also, that I hardly remembered the city I grew up in. The streets seemed narrower. And the traffic, unfathomable! The population, doubled. Half of them trying to cross the superhighway! Yikes! And, is that our house? You gotta be kidding me! But it was. And the food! I enjoyed it very much. Unfortunately, the ol’ beloved flavors seemed to have left my palate. Oddly, most of them tasted almost foreign to me. I was left wondering if this was, in fact, the same food I grew up eating.

One day, my brother drove me to my old high school and university. Wait, wasn’t this the football field? What’s this building doing down here, then?

For the first time, I had met my sister-in-law, my niece, my nephew and a few cousins too. For the first time! Where have I been? My dad is now sporting a cane? He used to be Robert DeNiro in Goodfellas. What happened? I’m glad, though, that my mom is still the same ol’ spunky woman she’s always been! The only one that has not changed or aged a single minute, I’m not even kidding, was my old pal, Buddy! Best friend since third grade. He’s still the same ol’ crazy redhead who’s more concerned about his Nikon camera than life itself! I love the guy.

But today, I am left with nothing but memories. Although, I had a great time then, I was sad. Still sad, as a matter of fact. Sad because I could’ve enjoyed it even more but I didn’t. Sad because I could’ve given to my family more but I didn’t. And sad because I seemed to have forgotten a lot about home.

Yes, I was a stranger in my hometown.

Who ya lookin’ at?

Call me ignorant, but I just noticed for the first time (There’s always a first time, dangwangit!) a very small but hardly noticeable smiley face at the very bottom of my blog. It’s almost annoying. Kinda sneaky too!

Now, just to make sure I wasn’t the only one being picked on, I looked around. Hey, you got one too! 🙂

Although I was glad to see I wasn’t alone, I still didn’t understand what it was for. So, I trekked down to the FAQ section and demanded for an explanation. Well, I was informed  that the little face was simply there to display a nice gesture by smiling on your blog’s visitors. To know who they are. To remember their faces. Aawwww…

Oh, and yes, to curse them with a big nasty zit on their nose!

the curse of the smiley face

But… only if they don’t leave a comment. 🙂

Whew! So, let’s dodge the curse by leaving each other a nice little comment, shall we? It doesn’t take much to say hi, now does it?

Happy holidays, everyone!