Costa Rica is one of the few Latin American countries I have never visited, so I don’t have any stories to go along with this review. A lot of my buddies have been to Costa Rica, and they all sing its praises as a very modern, progressive and ecologically oriented society. Maybe someday…..
As for the La Minita del Sol coffee, I had to drink it a couple of times before I really appreciated it. The first time I had it, it struck me as a very pleasant brew, smooth and mild, but with little to distinguish it from the mass-market Colombian Supremo. This is a light-roast coffee, and the appearance of the roasted bean is indistinguishable from the Colombian Supremo, good aroma, no oil on the surface of the bean.
The second time I brewed this coffee, however, it struck me as quite different: still very smooth, mild and pleasant, but this time it revealed more complexity and more subtle overtones than I had noticed the first time. On the front of the tongue, the coffee is creamy smooth with just a hint of acidic bite. As the coffee reaches the back of the mouth, however, the complexity emerges. There are hints of citrus, orange or mild lime, maybe. The biggest surprise was at the very back of the tongue there was a flavor that reminded me of the pure sugar cane syrup I was so fond of as a youth growing up in East Texas, not overtly sweet, but somehow reminiscent of the mild burnt sugar taste of that freshly refined cane syrup. It made me wish I had a biscuit to go with it.
If you are a fan of mild, smooth but complex coffee, the La Minita del Sol is your brew. Purchase at www.dancinggoats.com
Andy – This is a little ditty I learned from my roommate. He got this recipe from his momma actually. I have taken a lot of liberties with this recipe over the two years I have been making it. I find that so far this has been my absolute favorite version! (Veggi Suggestion at Bottom)
I don’t know what else to day other than. Comfort. Enjoy 😛
1 pound ground turkey
¼ cup onion, diced
½ cup green pepper chopped
½ cup Halloumi Cheese, Grilled and Chopped
½ cup celery, diced
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon chipotle pepper
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
10 oz. Condensed Tomato Soup
5 oz. diced tomatoes
7 slices American Cheese
½ cup Parmasan
1 pound elbow macaroni
1.Grill Halloumi Cheese. Dice. Place to side.
2. Grill Onions,Green Peppers, and Celery together til soft. Place to side.
3. Brown Ground Turkey. When all the meat is cooked, add back the Onion, Peppers, and Celery. While you are doing this, it would be a good time to boil the water for your macaroni.
4. Add can of diced tomato, and can of soup.
5. Once the mixture is well blended, slowly add American Cheese. Allow the pieces to melt before adding too much more. Once all the American Cheese has been added, pour in the Parm, and the Halloumi.
6. Allow the mixture to simmer for 5-10 minutes. 7. Mix the Macaroni and the mixture together! Serve. Enjoy.
Our dear friend Colleen left a comment asking for a Vegetarian version. This was my response:
“Why SURE Colleen! For you we make it Veggi!
I would say take about 2, maybe 2 1/2 cups of your favorite mushrooms diced ( I would probably use portobellos… just meatier over all)
Cook down til they are nice and brown. I might even add a little bit of veggi stock, like a 1/4 cup. Cook all that.
Then add the rest of the recipe.
I have really considered even cooking up the veggies with a little white wine. This might work well with the mushrooms and stock. Don’t go too crazy on liquids though. You’ll have trouble getting it to thicken when you start adding the cheese!!”
I had been drinking black coffee for more than 15 years when I moved to Brasil in 1975. I mostly drank American brand mass-market blends, some of which listed Brasil as a source of their coffees. I knew that Brasil was one of the biggest coffee producers in the world, and I envisioned the coffee there to be an ultra-fresh and hyper-mellow version of what I had been drinking here at home. Was I ever in for a surprise! During the daytime, virtually every Brasileiro got a caffeine and sugar fix in ubiquitous walk-up cafezinho bars. Cafezinho, in the Portuguese language, means “little coffee”. And little it was, served in a shot-glass size white porcelain cup, with a little tiny handle. Each cafezinho was brewed fresh in a cappuccino-type machine which steamed and purred and noisily spit out the rich black liquid right into the little cup [ed. note: voila! Espresso! How does one say “voila” in Portuguese? -Ross]. The cup was then handed across the bar to the “fregues”, or customer, who proceeded to pour sugar into the cup….and pour….and pour….and pour, until the coffee overflowed the cup, and became syrupy thick with sugar. The concoction was then downed, shot-glass style, in one continuous motion, and the “fregues” walked away, the ritual completed. I could not drink coffee with sugar, remembering my Mother’s admonition to “drink it right”, meaning pure black, no cream, no sugar [ed. note: even for someone like me who likes a sugar-cream fortified cup, this sounds nasty. -Ross]. So I drank it black at the cafezinho bars, much to the amazement of the moreno baristas, who stared at me wide-eyed as I downed the strong, bitter brew. It was definitely an acquired taste, but I preferred the pure version over the thick syrupy version.
Well, this month’s brew for review is Brasil Mogiana, which is a totally different experience from Brasilian cafezinho. The beans were ordered from Conscious Cup Coffee Roasters of Crystal Lake, IL. (www.consciouscup.com). This coffee was amazingly aromatic when the medium-dark roast beans were ground, with the sweet, earthy, mellow aroma spreading quickly throughout the house. (Refer to the December 2008 review for the grinding and brewing methodology.) With my cafezinho experience in mind, I expected an acidic, strong bodied brew from these Brasilian beans. What I got instead, was a smooth and mild, yet rich and full-bodied coffee. The coffee was creamy on the front of the tongue, with a hint of an oaty flavor (think cheerios). As the coffee reached the back of the tongue, the full richness came through, leaving a chocolaty finish, not milk chocolate, but a pleasant, semi-sweet chocolaty finish. The flavor is straight-forward, not complex, a brew that is honest and reliable, like a good friend. I really enjoyed this coffee.
Ross and I have decided to collaborate periodically on coffee articles. Ross claims his coffee expertise from his days as a Barista at Hyperion in Fredericksburg. I claim my expertise from almost 50 years of drinking hot black coffee. I first learned to enjoy coffee at home beginning at age 11 or 12, and continued to hone my coffee tasting skills at the fire department where I worked my way through college and during many years of drinking good coffee, great coffee and rotgut coffee around the country and around the world. Coffee is an acquired taste, especially for a 12 year old kid. My mother and father both drank coffee, Mama preferring Maxwell House and Daddy preferring Folgers. Mississippi John Hurt, a blues singer from the 1930s, did a song about Maxwell House coffee with its marketing slogan, “good to the last drop”. Maxwell House also used an advertising slogan “the coffee for particular people”, which Daddy quickly morphed into “peculiar people”, as he didn’t share Mama’s enthusiasm for Maxwell House. Anyway, Mama told me I could drink coffee only if I learned to “drink it right” which is black only, no sugar and no cream [ed. note: yours truly, co-writer of this blog and self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur prefers his drip coffe “the wrong way” with just healthy pinch of sugar and a few drops of his happy cow organic whole milk. It’s better that way, trust me.]. I had to choke down the first few cups, but soon I had acquired the taste, and I was off and running. I have been drinking quite a few cups of black coffee each day for almost 50 years. That’s a lot of coffee, so I guess that makes me as expert as anybody else on the subject.
I start my comments here with Mexican Chiapas coffee, purchased from Conscious Cup Coffee Roasters of Crystal Lake, IL. (www.consciouscup.com). This coffee was described in an article I saw as being medium in acidity, body and roast. That meant nothing to me, but something medium on the spectrum seemed like a good coffee to begin my first article with.
I brewed the coffee from whole roasted beans, ground just before brewing. [ed. note: I had to convince dad of this method. After drinking fresh ground and brewed coffee every day for a year starting at the coffee shop, there is no fresher and tastier substitute. I knew he’d come around to that conclusion ;).] I used ¾ cup of whole beans for a 12-cup pot of coffee. I used tap water filtered through a Brita filter, as I have found it to be very important to use a good quality water to avoid any mineral tastes. I will follow these same procedures for all coffees I sample and review.
Now to the good stuff. This coffee was amazingly complex and flavorful compared to the Colombian Supremo I am accustomed to drinking. At the first moment of the first sip, the Chiapas aggressively captures the taste buds on the front of the tongue with its bold, slightly bitter, but very pleasant taste. As the coffee warmed my entire mouth and worked its way to the back of my tongue, it really mellowed out to a smooth and less acidic, but still bold taste, with an almost creamy texture. The Chiapas left the mouth with a pleasant woody taste, not unlike the wood-aged taste of bourbon whiskey. The woodiness stayed on my tongue for a few seconds before fading to near nothingness. In summary, the Chiapas is strong and complex, but not overly bitter nor acidic. The sensation of that first sip lasted well throughout the entire first cup and to the end of a second cup as well. This is a very nice brew.
Wow. Never thought we would actually take the time to post our first excursion in to food madness? WELL YOU WERE WRONG SUCKA! We aint jive turkeys. (Though I am planning on making some on Thursday.)
Just like any story you will end up hearing from us… it starts off with “We were pretty hungry so..” and this one isn’t any different.
We were pretty hungry ( after running some chores, and returning a gift I got for a girl I thought I was into… but it turns out she was a little bit of a flake.) So… we decided we should head back to Ross’ casa and make some chops. We had experimented with some flavors in the past (always use protection when experiementing, please) and came up with something we really enjoyed. We had to do some quick thinking to come up with a meal and were very easily inspired by our surroundings. Once we got back to Ross’ I saw a pile of apples sitting on the counter… immediate thought : Apple Sauce. I didn’t grow up like most of my American friends, so I had never experienced the joys of apple sauce with my dinner until I started living with my friend Randy. Anyways. After sharing my idea with Ross, he was able to pair the smokey porkchops, and sweet apple sauce with a creamy and rich rice dish. The culmination of the flavors and textures made for a pretty awesome meal. Here, we share it with you!
Mix all the dry ingreidents in a bowl. Rub down the Chops like your rubbing down a sexy fireman with some scented exotic oils. (damn girl) While cooking, I recommend making a wet rub with any remaining dry ingredients ( or just make a little more ) add a little olive oil and a little bit of water. It should be the consistantcy of gravy. Only use the wet rub while cooking and keep the chops coated. For best results you should cook the chops on a charcoal grill. Make sure you cook the meat to the proper tempture and avoid burning the outside.
Simple Home Made Apple Sauce
8 MacIntosh apples (2 apples per person is a good estimate if you’re preparing this meal for more or less people)
1/4 cup (approx) apples cider (water can be substituted)
1. Cut apples around core and into slivers. Throw these in a pan big enough to fit apples and cider (or water).
2. Cover and put on medium high heat. Stir occasionally. The apples will begin to break down and get mushy. Once all the apples have broken down, it is done. Serve hot or chill in the fridge for 30-40 minutes.
How do you like them apples?
Note: MacIntosh apples are the best for breaking down into applesauce. It appears that there are others that will do this, but Macs are the best. For some added texture, mix apple types so that some break down and some get soft but stay chunky. If your apples don’t break down, cook them until they’re soft and run them through a food mill or mash them witha hand masher like potatoes.
Hearty Mushroom Rice
1 can Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tbs worcestershire sauce
1 tbs butter
1 small onion, diced
2 cups long grain brown rice
1. Pour condensed soup into 1 quart measuring cup. Add water to condensed soup to equal 1 quart of liquid. To this, add the cream and the worcestershire sauce – stir until all condensed chunks are dissolved. Heat this in a microwave for about 1 1/2-2 minutes, just enough to make it warm. Everyone knows you don’t add cold liquid to a hot pan.
2. In a pan (about 2 quart size), melt the butter over medium high heat. Saute onions until translucent (optional but highly recommended: add 1 clove chopped/minced garlic), then add the dry rice. Continue to saute – the idea is to brown the rice slightly, but keep stirring so that the rice doesn’t burn.
3. After about 2 minutes, pour in the cream soup mixture and bring to a boil. Stir one last time then cover and reduce to a simmer. Let it do its thing for about 40-45 minutes. Remove from heat and let it sit for about 5 minutes before serving.
Note: Brown rice takes longer to cook than normal. If you use white rice, check the package and it will probably say to cook it more like 20-25 minutes.
Aw yeah, you like that? Thought so.
After you make this meal, call 703-449-7100 and tell them how much you loved it! Seriously. Do it. They’ll appreciate it.
The Joy-syf is presented by Ross and Andy. We’re just two average guys with a great passion for food. Over the years, we have made many great meals with friends, which have turned into some of the best memories we all share. We decided to share our experiences with others, cause really… anyone can cook, and everyone can laugh.
Grab a bottle of Wine, a bag of ingredients, and share some stories, some laughs, and some flavors. We hope this blog helps you create some memories, as we and our friends cook our faces off!