Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I've Been Everywhere, Man

Every time I look at my passport I get this kind of warm glow. I open it up and finger the pages, feeling pleased at the number of stamps and number countries represented inside. Anyway, I was browsing the interweb the other day and came across a tool for mapping where one has been. So I did. And now I feel defeated. So many countries, so little money.

Anyway, you can create your own here. Have go, and I hope your map looks even more miserable than my own ;)

PS Drop me a comment, and let me know the coolest place you have ever been. If I get enough comments, I will post a list of them.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Making Perfect Milk with Miss Silvia

Actually, the perfect bit was just a hook. I'm not at all confident that I am yet making perfect milk with my Rancilio Silvia, but I thought that I would write down some of the things I'm doing in my pursuit of a better cup of coffee. This article is probably of little interest to those who don't like coffee, so I won't feel offended if you push off at this point ... honest.

  1. The first thing I am doing is trying to give myself a little more steaming time to get the milk right. I keep my milk chilled and the milk jug in the freezer. I reckon this gives me a few extra seconds to get the milk right before it's "cooked".
  2. Next, I am making sure that the steam is dry before starting steaming. At some point after flicking the steam switch on and before the heating light has gone off, I am turning the steam handle and letting it run into a spare jug or cup. I do this till the steam runs dry.
  3. Once the steam light is off, I am pouring my milk into the jug I have just removed from the freezer and beginning steaming. To start with I steam to get as much volume as possible while not letting the bubbles get too big. I'm aiming to have the steam wand just below the surface so it makes a sort of slurping noise, while having the steam wand at the lower left corner of the jug so that the milk swirls round the jug in a fast whirlpool. If the bubbles start appearing to large, I lower the steam wand a little.
  4. While doing this I keep my hand under the left hand under the jug to measure the heat. Once it's too hot to touch I assume the milk will be at perfect temperature with another few seconds steaming.
  5. I am aiming (for a latte anyway) to get milk where the volume has almost doubled, but I can see no visible bubbles. The surface of the milk should have a velvety sheen. If I get these two factors, plus the milk isn't too hot, I figure I have done a good job.
Thats how I do it anyway. Let me know if you have any tips for me, or you do it differently.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A Real Coffee Hit

Sure, coffee is a drug. Mostly safe, but a drug all the same. Mind altering, delivering positive feelings like "mmmm, nice coffee" and "ohhhh, I feel awake now" and so on. But given its street price is somewhere around $3 a hit, and its not just sold by heavily tatoo-ed men at night clubs and and rarely sold by seeding looking individuals in parked Monaros (a type of iconic/infamous Australian car for those of you out of town), I've not felt too guilty in obtaining and taking this particular drug. Granted, thats not much of a rationalisation, but its still only $3 a cup. Well, no longer. Check this one out! $50 bucks a cup. If I get hooked on that stuff, I could just find myself nipping over your back fence with your DVD player and CD collection. Dave Barry has something to say about this in an article delicately entitled, "Java weasel makes fine poopacino". Read and enjoy friends.