Thursday, March 26, 2009

Announcing the winner of Salty+Sweet giveaway...

(Image courtesy of 5 Senses)

And the winner of Salty+Sweet coffee series is.....(drumroll...) Judy of I cook-He cleans!! Thank you all so much for participating---remember to tune in next month for the next installment of the Salty+Sweet series!! Judy, please email me your postal address so I can send the gift to you. Congratulations!!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Introducing: A New Game, Coffee, and a Giveaway

Some things are just meant to be.

Some time back, the crazy and talented Mallory from The Salty Cod---writer, photographer, and baker extraordinaire--- whom I've befriended through countless back-and-forth emails and comments, had an idea. Of course, for she has always been the crazi-er one.

Mallory suggested a series of themed posts, for which we choose an ingredient and blog about it in our own style, based on our own experience and interpretation of said ingredient. Mallory from Seattle, and me from Melbourne. On top of that, there will be a series of questionnaire which context will more or less involve the chosen ingredient. Of course, since we are in many ways food bloggers, there will always be food involved. Oh, and we have thrown in a prize. Continue reading to find out how to be eligible.

To mark the first of many of such posts to come, we have decided on the ingredient coffee. Chances are, no matter where you live (save for maybe a handful of regions), you have heard of it. You may not like it, you may never have drunk it in your entire life, but you know it. And if you drink it, how many places make it exactly the way you like it?

I recently had an epiphany, involving a day at The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival and a flat white prepared by a local coffee supplier called 5 Senses. I knew they were really good, but before then, I really thought that I've tasted really good coffee. In less slurred terms, they were better than I expected. Way better. For the benefit of those who are not familiar with the term 'flat white', it is basically a shot of espresso with milk from the bottom of the milk frothing jug added to it. Flat white, unlike lattes and capuccino, has no froth, thus the term flat white.

Now back to the magical drink. The cup of flat white I had from 5 Senses was at the right temperature. Not too hot, and thus can be enjoyed right away. This is paramount, as the coffee changes in both texture and taste as it cools down.

So I sipped. The first taste took me by complete and utter surprise. My mouth wanted to say a word, any word, about how good the coffee is, but before that word could escape, I was taken over by another flavour, and another, and then another still. I was so overwhelmed by pleasant surprise that I did not register those different layers of flavours that preceded the smooth, rich core I was expecting. I just had to take another sip. This time, the words did came out. Wow, I said to J. WOW. He concurred.

So I came home feeling inspired, but at the same time dejected, because how in the hell am I supposed to enjoy a decent cup of coffee now that I know what a great cup taste like? I can already see myself holding back from a much-needed caffeine hit just because I couldn't stomach the taste of an awful cup (which to me meant just about any cafe down the block).

Then it hits. I'll make coffee marshmallows! I'll be able to eat them straight, or dunk them in a cup of hot chocolate to bring up the caffeine levels I desperately need! As you can see, a great cup of coffee hits twice.

Now for the fun bits! The following are the questions Mallory wanted to know about me and my relationship with coffee. Have fun reading through the answers!

Q. In a split second respond with either: coffee or tea?
A. Both. Hey, I didn't say I'll play by all of the rules!

Q. How many hits a week that you would say that you take?
A. I would say that I take about 15 hits, but in reality I probably take no more than 6. Why? Because I couldn't stomach bad coffee and would rather suffer slurred words and clumisness than drinking what is an insult to my palate.

Q. If there was to be a 'Christy' on the menu board at Starbucks, what would it be?
A. Probably a coffee drink with a mild and sweet introduction and very spicy, lingering aftertaste.

Q. What is the most pathetic cup of coffee in Australia? (Example, in the US we would say---oh that would be a three-way tie between Dunkin, Folgers or already chewed tobacco.)
A. Stale, bitter and lifeless. No, I'm not talking about angry old men and women. And the euphemism to that would be vending machine coffees, or Hungry Jack's coffees.

Q. What is the meaning of life and why is it so hard?
A. In the words of Wolfgang Puck: ' Food and sex...what else is there?' But seriously, if you want to come to Melbourne some time, we can have a cup of coffee and discuss it.

Q. Would you drink coffee when it's hot out? (Because I can't)
A. Well, my answer to that before this weekend would be a no. But seeing that I've just had the best iced coffee at a French Creperie called Le Treskiel, who also incidentally uses 5 Senses coffee, the answer to that is a resounding YES!

Q. How do you feel about Starbucks Frapuccinos?
A. Lukewarm. I was referring to my response, actually, and not to the temperature of the drinks.

Q. Where in the world would you most like to sit down (stand, lie, kneel, roll) and order a coffee?
A. Sit down: Parisian streetside cafes.
Stand: In front of the 5 Senses booth at Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. Or
at the Brother Baba Budan coffeeshop, where it is always standing
room only.
Lie: In my bed, when my dream of being served a fresh, hot cup of coffee by a hunky male finally comes true. (Note to J: If you are reading this, OF
COURSE I was referring to you!!)
Roll: See above.

Q. If someone was lucky enough to find the prize with an odds of one-to-ten-million, do you think they could ever get hit by lightning?
A. Okay, three things. Tell me what the prize is, let me win it, and I'll tell you.

Q. Were your parents heavy coffee drinkers?
A. NOOOOOO... My mother has practically NEVER drunk coffee in her entire life. She used to claim when I was young that caffeine damages your brain cells and stunts its growth. Well, that would account for me, wouldn't it? My father does drink black coffee or cappuccinos once in a while when we go out. Otherwise, it's instant cappuccino mix all the way, and I'm not sure that's coffee.

Q. Would you prefer coffee in a shop or at home? Remember, at home you can be naked, but in a shop you can pretend everyone else is naked.
A. So how many good looking people are there actually in said coffeeshop???

Q. Would you ever wear jewelry made out of coffee beans or earrings shaped in the likeness of coffee cups? Like teachers who wear apple earrings and pencil-shaped pins?
A. What's that again? I was still thinking about good looking naked people......

Q. What would be the first thing you would do on a trip to Seattle?
A. Go and meet you!!

Q. What is the absolute most perfect pastry or baked good to be taken alongside a coffee?
A. Depends on the flavour profile and the type of roast of the coffee, really. But a french canele is pretty close to perfection.

If you are still reading, chances are that you have not been offended by my writing. For this, I have saved the best part for last. Remember I mentioned somewhere in this very long post that I am giving away a prize? Can you guess what it is by now? Those of you who answered 'something from 5 Senses Coffee' got it right!!

As a parting note, the following is how the people from 5 Senses described the flavour profile of the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe beans:

'When you first meet the Yirgacheffe, you’re greeted by a deeply complex, enticing, mega floral aroma. It packs a pretty punch! This Ethiopian coffee rolls over your tongue leaving a sweet spicy scent, with hints of cinnamon and orange zest. The gentle, rounded, easy acidity matches the floral scent to perfection, and complements the smooth warming mouthfeel. Hints of fruit, currants and cinnamon spice flow over the taste buds, leaving complex flavours of fruit, wonderful floral notes and a tingly, spicy finish. Orange zest, blackcurrant and pepper mingle with hints of rich dark chocolate, leaving a soft, gentle and truly satisfying aftertaste.
Notes by: Luke'

What you have to do to stand a chance to win a 250g bag of single origin Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee beans from 5 Senses, is to leave a comment on both my blog and Mallory's blog, between the 22nd March to the 25th March at 11pm AEDT. A draw will be conducted, and the winner will be announced on the 26th March.

Now, go check out Mallory's post!

P.S. All right, I surrender. Here's the recipe for the coffee marshmallows I made. I did not post it because I did a lousy job measuring the additional ingredients (namely the coffee), so here are the approximates. Also, I noticed that the instructions on how to dissolve powdered gelatin varies. The one I used instructed me to simply dissolve the gelatin in hot water. The one in the book, however, asked me to sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water to soften first before dissolving it in hot syrup. Thus I've adapted this recipe to hopefully work well with both methods.

Coffee Marshmallows

1Tbspn+1tsp powdered gelatin

1/4cup+2Tbspn water

About 10g instant espresso coffee

11/4 cups +1 Tbspn caster sugar

3/4 cup glucose or corn syrup

3 large egg whites

Spray a rectangular baking pan with oil, then line the bottom and sides with baking paper. Dissolve the gelatin in water according to the manufacturer's instructions, taking the weight of the water required to dissolve it from the amount of water required by the recipe. Heat up the leftover water and dissolve the coffee. Strain, and place coffee in a saucepan, together with the glucose and sugar. Place on high heat and bring to 120 degree Celsius, or the soft ball stage. When it reaches about 115 degree C, whisk the egg whites at full speed in a stand mixer. Do not overbeat. Add the gelatin to the hot syrup, and whisk to combine. With the motor running, slowly and carefully add the hot syrup into the egg whites. Whisk at high speed until mixture is thick, glossy and starts to gather around the beater. Spray an offset metal spatula with oil, and spread the marshmallow evenly in the pan. Leave to set at room temperature. Cut up to desired size with a well-oiled knife, and coat in cornstarch. Sprinkle with ground coffee beans.