Thursday, February 25, 2010

I understand your rage, Mad Barista.

Whilst biking around West Philly on this pleasant, lightly flake-filled afternoon, I decided to stop at a neighborhood cafe and grab a quick doppio to inspire the rest of my afternoon endeavors. After waiting almost two minutes for the gloomy grump of a barista to step away from the dishes and hastily and half-heartedly dry their hands, I was already getting a little frustrated. After placing my order, the slumping grinch stepped up to a shoddy, grind-covered wee machine and pulled my shot, which was then left on the grill a good thirty seconds after extraction while she glowered suspiciously at a group of tween girls who had just entered the cafe. When she placed the cup on the counter, I was hoping for something that looked like this:

What I received instead looked something like this:

My excitement over what I had hoped would be a tasty afternoon treat waned further as I put the paper to my lip and immediately realized that the liquid therein was mouth-scorchingly hot, and not at the pleasant temperature I was accustomed to when consuming my daily shots at Capogiro. I waited until the espresso had cooled enough to no longer render my mouth as shredded as half a box of Cap'n Crunch might, dropped my crummy little cup in the trash (zut alors! what a waste!) and walked out feeling a mite bit grumpy myself.

As a laborer in food service establishments for nigh-on ten years, and as a coffee connoisseur of fifteen years, my appreciation for the standards that we at Capogrio maintain grows daily. When I pour a perfect rosetta in a cappuccino and the customer, who might have never though twice about the drink she was about to consume otherwise, makes a glowing comment about how beautiful it looks, I do indeed feel a sense of pride. My smile widens as our kitchen staff brings out pan after glorious pan of gelato every morning, and getting that first little nibble of blood orange sorbetto is always a highlight of the morning. When Jason carefully hand assembles each plate of crostini, layering the prosciutto atop a fine layer of mascarpone, you know the assemblage is one of love. I am hard pressed to imagine a finer end of the night drink than one of our carefully selected (universally, uniquely delicious) draught beers.

As someone planning on working with food and drink for the rest of my days, the attention and love that everyone here gives to our work is a daily inspiration. It makes me feel good to let people know that I work at Capogiro. It feels wonderful to be the smiling face presenting you with a perfectly sculpted latte (with espresso at a proper heat, pulled from our gleaming Adonis of a machine) and a fine Au Fournil pain au chocolat, toasted ever so subtly. Sharing excellent experiences of flavor and presentation is really what cafes and bars should be about, and Capogrio is a gleaming example of that ideal.

See you at the bar for a Smuttynose IPA, perhaps, Mad Barista? The first round is on me.

And don't laugh; his name really is Adonis!

Remember when you could walk outside without 3 pairs of pants on?

I'm trying to focus on positive things about the snow. Hot cocoa is generally my "go-to" reason to love the cold weather but, after the last few weeks... I'm starting to need a bit more motivation to leave my cozy nest. This snow thing has gotten a bit out of control. Don't get me wrong; I do love my plastic, rain/snow boots. I have a little song that I sing when I put them on; "I know you jealous of mah boots... mah boots." [Sing, dance and repeat until someone punches you in the face...won't take long.]

I've started ordering particularly summery drinks at all the Philly bars just to try and trick the sunshine into coming out of hiding. I don't think I'd make it through the snowpocalypse 2010 without Steph's hot, delicious zuppa. She's in the big kitchen right now slaving over a giant cauldron of Potato bacon soup and listening to NPR. (Cutie*) 

My snowbound friends of South Dakota are making the most of the weather by diving face (or beard) first into giant snow piles and plastering it all over youtube. (I apprenticed at an awesome web design studio out there in my former life. Asio Studio, they're the cat's pajamas). My bearded South Dakotan friend, Dylan started a new winter sport and deemed it "FWAMPING". Check it out, it'll make you kick yourself for not going out and enjoying the weather... and you might get a little beard envy too.

Whatever you have to do to convince yourself that this weather is tolerable, be sure to have a good time doing it!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

BAGELS! You Want Us To Have Bagels?!?!

Over the years I have been asked to carry bagels. I thought for a second and then laughed in their faces. HAHAHA! We are Italian, dummy. Bagels, come on! I love bagels, but pu-lease. Don't ask me to do that. Besides, I grew up in Jersey, by the beach, and the bagels were delicious. Philly bagels, not so much. Okay, maybe I was not that obnoxious, but I was in my head. I could not imagine bagels fitting in with our cafes. We serve beautiful Au Fornil pastries and La Colombe that pairs well with our gelato and panini. Bagels? Bagels are for delis and bagel shops, not our cafe! Bagels make too many crumbs and all those spreads? No, can't do it. So, sorry. Go away.

Did my rant stop the requests? No. It did not. Why? I'll tell you why. Bagels are delicious. Bagels are the perfect morning accompaniment to drip coffee. I love bagels and I missed them. Could it be? Could I have been wrong!?! Apparently. I am so wrong because when I tell people that we can have the famous H&H Bagels sold at Capo, no one says, "You're selling bagels? Wrong, so wrong." They say, "FINALLY, GOOD BAGELS, SO EXCITED. WHEN? WHEN? AT ALL THE CAPOS?" Next Monday. Bagels arrive. Fresh bagels, made that morning.

I don't hate being wrong....not really.

What The F@#& Is A "Pastiglie" Anyway?

Walking past the gelato case at 13th Street is hard. (Especially on days like today, when we have Banana SORBETTO and Sea Salt gelato!!) But if you dare, you are greeted on the other side by an array of tasty treats. Some sweet, some salty, and some that will leave your head tilted. I mean, what the f@#& is a pastiglie anyway? And why is there a woman dressed like a flight attendant from 1983 on the Colt's Bolts' display? Let's examine...

A pastiglie is a... Well, it's kind of like a mint, but not... I say that because when you open up the box they look all chalky like little Altoids, but they're MUCH different. They are sweet, and dissolve smoothly in your mouth, and begin to come to an almost gooey consistency as they finish. To be honest, I was a bit hesitant to try them at first. I mean, I'm just not a gum/mint kinda guy. But once you try them, your stuck. And they come in a LOT of cool flavors too; Strawberry, Raspberry, Lemon, Orange or Viloet, or grab all of them in a Mixed Flavors box if you're the Tiger Woods type. Interesting side note, pastiglies are often recommended for digestion, to help settle the stomach after a rich meal.

I know all I want after a rich meal is some chocolate! Colt's Bolts are whole roasted almonds and peanut butter covered in either milk or dark chocolate. YUM! And yes, they are for all intents and purposes a decadent, less high-fructose-corn-syruped/ older, more mature brother of the Reese's cup. And while I can't answer for sure why the woman on the display hasn't updated her look in 30 years, we (the baristi of 13th street) have come to the conclusion that she is probably the maker of these fine treats, and that she was probably a beauty queen before her candy-making days and that she wants to be remembered forever as that beauty queen. Leaving that image of herself all around the world like the great sphinx. I know, that's a lot of speculation, but we seriously get a customer commenting on her photo at least once a week, and we've come to amuse ourselves with this answer.

So next time you're at 13th Street, walk past the case (I mean, go back eventually, you're gonna get gelato either way) and explore the wonderful candied world we've created for you. :)

Friday, February 19, 2010

It's starting to look a lot like...

The Dead Of Winter. Seriously. Mardi Gras is over, Valentine's Day came and went...even the Olympics are nearing their half-way point. (Incidentally, every single time someone wins a medal for anything, I find myself getting all misty-eyed and emotional...bizarre.) I think it's safe to say that anyone who hasn't found themselves succumbing to the slight lag of winter blues may or may not be a pathological liar. Or optimist.
However, in the midst of it all - the historic amounts of snow, leaking row homes and completely plowed in cars...the city, in its tenacious glory, continues to grind along. It's uplifting. It keeps me going. Whenever I leave the city for any extended amount of time, there's a piece of me I leave here with Philly. I can't help it. No matter where I go, how exotic the locale, there's something about flying over the skyline before landing that pulls at me. I even try to schedule my flights around sunset, if I can. No lie.
All I really have to say is that in eleven days, it's gonna be March. March! The one that goes out like a lamb! We're almost there, kids, we're in the final stretch. If I could dig my forsythia out of the snowbank in my back yard I'd start peering at it for buds, any day now (ok ok so maybe I'm trying to adopt that pathologic optimism, so sue me).
But you know what? Spring in Philadelphia is amazing. The Flower Show starts the day the Olympics end! And the first PHILLIES Spring Training game is in 14 days, 1 hour and 17 minutes, according to the count down on their website! CapoPenn has avocado sorbetto today!! And `Yunk will be open again before you know it.
Now there's some for real Philly optimism.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

We are open!

Come on in, we'd really love your company. We can sip craft beers and watch the snow fall, or sip Darjeeling tea and tuck into some macroeconomics texts. And, you know, it's never too cold for an affogato (with or without a warming touch of Jameson or Frangelico!).

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Celebrity Flavor Combos: A Baristi Tradition

Over my 3 years at Capogiro there has been an endless game of "Celebrity Flavor Combs", that today I would like to begin to share with you. The rules? There are none, other than to comically compare traits of a flavor of gelato or sorbetto with traits you might find in a celebrity. For example, a Jennifer Aniston might be Pinoli, because no one ever wants it. (To be fair, I personally LOVE Pinoli, but to be honest, it's almost always looked over in favor of Pistachio, or Hazelnut, or... You get the idea.) Ok, let's play!

If Lady Gaga were a flavor combo at Capogiro, I think she'd be Aloha Monkey with Sea Salt. Why? Well like Aloha Monkey, Gaga is a fruity drunk with a side of coconuttiness. And Sea Salt simply because people are always amazed when they see it in the case. The Lady Gaga will have you "Just Dance[ing]" with delight. (Ha, ha, ha... Get it?!)

The Beyonce combo would probably be Pistachio, because of it's strong, classic flavor, with Dulce De Leche and it's curvaceous sweetness. Whereas the Taylor Swift combo might be Dark Chocolate, because it's the best seller (can you believe she's sold over 10 million albums?!), with Mexican Chocolate whose spice interrupts it's milky chocolate flavor like Kanye at the VMAs.

Political flavors? We got them too! The Sarah Palin combo would probably be Lemon with Toasted Almond, because it don't make no sense and you would never elect it President. On the other hand, the Barack Obama combo would be anything you dreamed of, until you got to Capogiro and realized that we were closed due to the second Snowmageddon in one week, ultimately leaving you incredibly disappointed. (Ok, I'm having a little fun with that one, we seriously almost never close, and if we do you'll have plenty of warning from our email list, or our Twitter, or this blog. I'm just a little disappointed with D.C. is all.)

Last but not least? The JD Salinger flavor would be Chocolate Peanut Butter, because we miss it when it's gone. :(

Ok, your turn! Leave a comment with your own witty (or not witty, it doesn't really matter, we just want to hear from you) "Celebrity Flavor Combo". Well, what are you waiting for...

Monday, February 8, 2010

WHO DAT!?!?!

Congratulations Saints! Wow! I am speechless. New Orleans is a special place for my family. We spend every Christmas in New Orleans and Jazz Fest and Mardi Gras are always in the cards. We love it there. I hate to admit this, but I just did not think that they would win last night. I mean, Peyton Manning. Peyton Manning. That is why. Only reason. New Orleans worked so hard, and perhaps I was projecting my Eagles angst, but I just thought we would be disappointed. We were all in our black and gold and just shook our heads as they were getting outplayed in the first half. Not crushed, but definitely outplayed. Then, someone in the organization grew a huge pair and that onside kick was it. Brilliant. Cannot see Andy Reid trying that one. At least, not in the Super Bowl.

Wow! I am not sure if it was the guttsiness (not a word, but leaving it) of their play or the fact that Peyton Manning just could not beat his beloved New Orleans. He went to Newman, which is so rich in tradition. My nephews are students at Newman and the pride they have for their school and city are amazing. The owner on accepting the trophy attributed the win to the city. That is pride. I want some of that pride!

During the Christmas holiday everything was Saints, Saints, Saints. The milk tops had fleur de lys on them, every store had a Saints flag, "Who Dat?" was on EVERYTHING. We were on our way home from a delicious dinner at Antoine's, when we passed by a store selling everything Saints. Tiger (Chris' husband) declared that he would return this week to buy that, as he pointed, "Who Dat?" shirt. Everyone laughed. Since I was not feeling any pain after the one maybe two old fashions, I asked at great risk, "What does that mean 'Who Dat?' Is it from...something?" Everyone stopped and looked at me. Christine replied (also not feeling any pain) with a huge smile on her face and said, "It is just 'Who Dat?'" The NFL is issuing Cease and Desist letters to small tshirt shops in New Orleans that are using 'Who Dat'. Who dat being disgusting? The NFL, Dat Who! It belongs to the City of New Orleans and the small businesses who pride themselves on their city and their team. Always has, always will.

I love New Orleans. Congratulations NEW ORLEANS SAINTS!!!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Snow Lovin'

Have you gone out and made angels yet? Nailed your neighbor with a snowball? (it's perfect packing snow!) Gone out just to get chilly and have a reason to drink a hot chocolate?

What're you waiting for?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Delores & Buddy's Barbecue

It is 11 am and we are thinking about lunch. We have all decided that we want pulled pork for lunch. Dan walks past Percy Street every day and the siren song of smoked meat is almost unbearable. Kamala claims that Horizons has a great vegan pulled pork sandwich. We looked at her skeptically, but if anyone can pull that off, it's Horizons. Horizons is amazing.

Dan and I start to reminisce about our trip to Creamery this summer. We were on our way home when we spotted a little house thingy with a billowing black smoker attached to the back. There it was, just sitting in a cleared area next to the road. "What the?" A screech of tires and a near miss and we were there! Delores & Buddy's Barbecue! There is a couple sitting in their car and enjoying sandwiches.

Dan and I peruse the menu. Oh man, we hit the motherload. This guy is out here smoking meat on the porch of this little wheeled house, this little mobile house, this....I asked Kamala what one would call this mobile smoker house. She paused, looked carefully and replied, "Awesome." Yes, that's it.

So, we decided to order the pulled pork sandwichon the menu. The sandwiches arrived. You can smell the pepper and the vinegar and the meat is perfect. This guy does not fool around. It is amazing! Cool and crunchy cole slaw, sweet tea and lemonade, and a pickle on a stick. Not kidding. A humongous pickle on a stick. I ask the owner, Frank, if he would mind if I snapped a few pictures. He said, "I don't mind at all, if you don't mind sharing the pictures." OF COURSE!! If you don't mind my amateur photography skills. Then, Frank the Awesome Smoker Man, delivers us EVERYTHING ON THE MENU! He needs pictures. Holy, holy, holy. The people eating in their car yell out, "Nothing beats this!" We raise our cups of sweet tea and lemonade and toast Frank. Frank the Genius.

We leave full of smoked pork and pickles, smiling and complaining how tight our pants have become. Pennsylvania is an interesting place. Roadside bbq on Skippack Pike in Creamery, PA. Look at Dan's face! His thumbs speak volumes.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Look on the brighter side of life

D'you ever wake up thinking, "I love my life. Today's gonna be a great day!"
It's cheesy. I know. But I do... pretty much everyday.
And it's true, I'm the kind of person who loves ponies and skylines and balloons; someone who believes in the magic of the every day.

And I work in a gelato shop.

[cut the saccharine violins]

Everyone knows gelato is delicious.
But let's get down to the nitty-gritty.
Gelato is a great equalizer.
It doesn't care about your socio-economic class, your race, your sexuality, or anything else... it just wants to be there when you need it.

Gelato allows your palate to be challenged and expand... think about the difference between pineapple mint and pineapple sage sorbetto; do you have a favourite?
I know I do.
Or remember the first time you tried goat's milk with rosemary gelato...
wasn't that something.

For me, it was chocolate with peanut butter gelato, glorious peanut.
Painstakingly ground fresh for each batch, hence all the more rare.
And I don't even like peanuts or peanut butter; it's not something I ate growing up in Germany. But I saw it and thought I should give it a try, reluctantly.
And my mind was blown.

Everyone deserves a little happiness and gelato can help.
Treat yourself to something nice.
A small price to pay for a smile and knowing your day just got a little better.

Fickle Valentine?

I hate cut flowers. It is something that has always driven me nuts. Thanks! Bring me something that will die or stink or make the water in the vase brown and slimy and I will never be able to scrub out! Sorry, I ranted... Sure, they are beautiful and most smell lovely, but when I see a bunch of flowers on a table, I immediately think...."What a waste! Leave ‘em in the ground! BAH!”

Yes, I am the Scrooge of Valentine’s Day. While we were dating, my sweet husband would buy me flowers, constantly! I quickly informed him that it was not the way to my heart. Men find this confusing. Friends find this confusing. I am confusing.

I’ll tell you the way to my heart - CHOCOLATE! We are rolling out our new chocolate gelato this week. We have worked and tweaked our gelato until it was deemed, the BEST! We played with the sugars, the chocolate, the milk infusions and we think it is rich and round. Just like a perfect peony. Do you have a Flower Scrooge? Maybe someone who just appreciates good food. Trust me, they want gelato. Chocolate Gelato!

6 pints of chocolate gelato for the food lover in your life

Rich, round and classic.

Bittersweet, dark & delicious

Chocolate and hazelnut (means “kiss!)

A little chocolate, a little banana, say no more

Italian candied cherries with white chocolate because
Dan says girls like white chocolate... and Dan only
knows about 3 things; gelato, metal and the ladies.

I know, it’s not chocolate, but it is soooo good.

Click here to order your Valentine's Day package!

(The artwork at the top is by Banksy... we figured he would'nt mind.) Written by La Regina

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

It's a machine, not a gun.

Hi, my name is Kamala and I’m a tattooist. Well, lets say… “junior tattooist”. (I’m learning!! Anybody want some stars? I rock at tattooing stars… and hearts… and names. I’ll be graduating to butterflies and shamrocks soon.) I’m the Resident Artist for Capogiro by day and an ink pusher by night. When do I sleep? Whats sleep? Sounds laaaaaame.

So, all the tattooists in Philly are required to take a blood borne pathogen test at the health department every 3 years or so. It’s a fun tattooey tradition for my boyfriend and I (who are just about the biggest geeks you’ll ever meet…). Its great bumping into other artists that you haven’t seen in years, catching up and hearing the latest rock star gossip that almost ALWAYS involves prison or smack. The questions that people ask the poor woman in charge of the class are always a roar; “Why can’t I pierce babies?”

After a long morning of talking shop, we decided to trek down to the Gayborhood for some vittles. (Tattooists have strong stomachs. I watched a guy eat fried chicken while he was tattooing a girl’s foot once…bleh!) We hit Fergie’s for some of Carey’s Perfect Manhattans and 2 giant orders of nachos. Half cocked at noon; our motley crew swaggered over to Capo 13th for a gelati tasting frenzy. My coworker at Tru Blu Tatu, Mike, is a fat girl trapped in a 40 year old man’s body. He talks frequently and passionately about food; his eyes sorta haze over when he raves about sushi and for a second you might get the feeling that if he doesn’t get a dragon roll soon, you might end up being it’s alternative.

So, needless to say, I was excited to be his liaison to the land of Capogiro. I was pretty sure his head would explode and a fat girl named Molly would crawl out, jump behind the counter and devour every pan of gelati in the case… even single malt scotch. Fortunately for our baristi (who just hate cleaning up brains…) his head did not explode. But, the boys did try just about every flavor in the case and they got sent back to the burbs with big bags of ice, pints of Thai coconut and big goofy smiles on their faces. Viva Capogiro!

A Classic Cocktail, Reinvented Capo-style

Craving an afternoon cocktail, but realize it's a bit too early in the day for one? Wondering what Ramos Gin Fizz is? You can have your cake and eat it too with one pallentine (that's a gelato spoon,) Ramos Gin Fizz gelato is one of the many boozy flavors we showcase in the winter and it has a unique history in the cocktail world. It is
a drink that originated in New Orleans. It is a signature mixed drink in the South, and is now available to you in
gelato form in the North (ba dum cha.) The drink, as well as the gelato, contains gin, lemon juice, lime juice, egg white, sugar, cream, orange flower water and soda water.  It has a refreshing and satisfying flavor that needs no companion, although some Thai Coconut Milk would make an excellent pair. 

So when you feel yourself slipping into the dreary days of winter, treat yourself to a warm place to enjoy some Ramos Gin Fizz gelato. For more Ramos Gin Fizz knowledge, feel free to take a break from your day and
watch this video from master mixologist Chris McMillian that will also teach you how to make the drink for your next party. (Don't forget to top off your drink with a scoop of gelato for an adult float!)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


I force my kids to listen to my music and/or NPR every morning. Yes, I am THAT person. I feel that my kids should be exposed to independent, non-mainstream music and know the current events. I do not feel the least bit bad about this. My kids may not be able to have a debate with you discussing the merits of healthcare or why the Devil Makes Three has not hit it bigtime, but they are aware. This is more than I can say about that American Idol tart. Don't send me hate mail. No one can deny how scary that is. I over.

This morning I was driving in listening to WXPN, which is one of the best stations in the country. Between the incredible music being played, a discussion of Goundhog Day occurred, of course. Apparently, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow and we will have 6 more weeks of winter. He described the scene that he witnessed on the morning television programming as this and I paraphrase, "A scared rodent surrounded by some drunk college students and a few reporters desperately trying to do their best Bill Murray impersonation." I find this description hilarious. I am a big fan of the movie Groundhog Day. They went on to say that they preferred the name woodchuck to groundhog. What?!? Come to think of it...I prefer woodchuck!

Six more weeks of winter. I am not sure I can handle it. Phil is a rodent. I don't really like rodents. Ah well...

On a lighter note, expose your kids to good music. I took my kids to see this band at WXPN's venue and my nine year old danced behind our table.

Chilly, Philly? Come let us warm you up...

The recent chill that has taken the whole city by it's mittens has put me in quite a mood about things. Often leaving me alone by enticing me to leaving my house as little as possible, and even when I do have the unfortunate task of shuttling myself around the city, I do so completely isolated from humanity. Mostly by the 3 layers of sweaters, the coat, the hat, the scarf and the gloves, but also because I can make it all the way up Walnut street with barely noticing a sole. That's due, in part, to the streets being almost entirely bare, aside from the quick moving, agitated 9-5 commuters, but also because the simple act of looking up, to maybe nod at a fellow person and smile, leaves you entirely open to the possibility of a wind gust watering your eyes and making the whole thing just so truly unpleasant. This has left me praying for summer's humanity friendly warmth to get here as quickly as it can. However, that time is still months away, until then, I beg you to fret not my fellow frozen Philadelphians, and let Capogiro warm up your day.

Yes, I know, you know we sell the most magnificent gelato. But do you know of the other things we sell that are equally as magnificent? Let's start easy and wean you away from our frozen delicacy. Have you ever tried an Affogato? It's a scoop of gelato of your choice, with a shot of espresso. Ok, easy right? How about a Gelato Con Brioche?! That's a scoop of gelato on a toasted sweet bread with sugar. Yum! Ok, let's step away from gelato for a second. You must know by now that we sell soup, right? My favorite is the Cream of Tomato (I have that with the pressed Formaggio or, cheese, panini), but we also have Chili, Lentil, Aqua Cotta... You get it. If that doesn't settle you, our hot drink menu should! Aside from our famous cappuccinos (seriously, I can't work one shift without someone telling me that it's the best cappuccino they've had in the city), we make the most brilliant Mochas and Hot Chocolates I have EVER had. It's the chocolate we use. It's amazing. And it's a "family" secret. Oh, and don't forget to get a pastry warmed up with your drink. I love our Almond croissants, and when they're warmed up they are to die for. No lie. I would consider it. Back to the gelato for a second, if you ever see "Chocolato Mexicano", or spicy chocolate, on our daily flavor list (it's been at 13th a lot lately), just know that could warm up a family of 4 with a single sample.

I think you get the point already. So come in! Look another human being in the eye, and just relax for a bit with the warmer side of Capogiro.