Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My favorite people!

I have been working in cafe's for nearly 8 years and one of my favorite aspects of working in a cafe is getting to know the regulars. It's nice to see people from day to day and get to know them little by little, learning their favorite drink or breakfast and getting it ready for them before they even ask, and to send them on their way with a smile. I look forward to the small talk and hearing their stories and local goings-on. I find out about all kinds of upcoming events and neighborhood incidents I would never hear about otherwise. It also helps develop a sense of belonging to the neighborhood. Not only do I see people at work but after only being at 13th St for six months I can rarely walk down the street with out bumping into a familiar face and I find that very comforting living in the city. It's nice to have people say hello and give you a smile just about anywhere, it definitely makes me smile and at least a few times has perked up my mood on a rough day.

So, Regulars, past, present, future, and, for that matter, all customers who take the time and energy to share a smile please know that you are appreciated. If you see one of the Capo13 crew on the street please feel free to show us your pearly whites and give us a wave because it feels nice and we'll be sure to do the same.

Friday, January 27, 2012

I think I might be a foodie

And for some reason, I really have had to come to terms with that. It just SOUNDS bad. I don't want to be a foodie. Do you?? It's like being called a hipster (I'm still not quite sure what that means, for the record). I think it implies brevity - following a fad. Is that right? Whipping your camera out and taking pictures of....everything. Stalking Mario Batali and Anthony Bourdain because you know they would love you if only they knew you (ok that WAS me).
My whole life is about food. I'm pretty ok with it. My bulldog's whole life is about food too, and I want to be like him when I grow up. I think it's possible that there are two factions: foodies, and food lovers. Without foodies we wouldn't have things like THIS or THIS, which would really just be a shame. Yes folks. It's a rock. A rock on a string. AND it's sold out.
Foam is a foodie thing. It used to be a molecular gastronomy thing. Which, before foodies, I'm pretty sure was just called haute cuisine. Or something. And now it's fruit paper, and shrimp cocktail in an atomizer.
Now, don't get me wrong - I think what Grant Achatz and co. have done for food is nothing short of extraordinary. And if eating is really all about sense memory (ok and, you know, sustenance), then I guess it gets the job done. It recalls the memory of the most perfect shrimp cocktail. Or the ripest, most beautiful tomato. But nothing can ever, never, replace an actual most perfect tomato. Especially if it's still warm.
The antithesis of atomized flavors has got to be these guys - the Slow Food Movement. It's people who do what their families have always done, within their culture, preserving terroir (a sense of place, loosely) and ensuring that it IS the most perfect tomato, or the most perfect cheese.
Another incarnation is Thomas Keller. Hero status? Maybe. The man is a beacon of all things good. And hopeful. When the Occupy Movement descended upon the French Laundry because a group of prominent bankers were dining there, what did he do? Passed out chocolate chip cookies. Dining at Per Se was one of the single most powerful, beautiful, and memorable nights of my young life. The care for the diner is so evident. The care of the food, the chairs, the flowers, There were NO burnt out light bulbs! I know he has legions of fans (foodies!?) following him around in worship comas, but...I have to say, I kind of feel as though he deserves it. I don't think it's such a bad thing getting people to care about food and where it comes from, even if it has become mostly a marketing tool. Who cares? I found this in the Acme the other day:

They're...potatoes. Fingerling potatoes, guys. If, as a culture, this is how far we've fallen, we might be in big trouble. Or maybe this is a glimmer of hope? I'd like to think so. Except then I think about the Organic Movement. And how it's gotten so big that the Big Bad companies have jumped into the pool. Aka, the sources of all things bad and evil in this world. Sort of. But because of how big it's gotten, it's impossible to sustain. You can call your yogurt organic and source the milk from an organic cow in Tajikistan. There's no consideration given schlepping your wares across the globe from an environment that's unmonitored and potentially hard to control (this is, of course, a hypothetic situation. We here at Capogiro love Tajikistan). End of story? It's organic. So it must be good. It must be good so people will buy it. And those people might be foodies, who only eat organic.
You know what's good? Farmers markets. Gardens. Your backyard. Your neighbors backyard. I know it's damn near impossible to live like this all the time - I mean it's just unrealistic. And let's be honest, expensive. But for me, it's an "every little bit counts" scenario.
I'm not trying to climb all up on a platform. It's just a whole bunch of truth, all this mess. I don't want to live like the Jetsons. I do want warm tomatoes forever and ever. I don't want bananas to go away. They're seriously one of my most favorite things in this world. I also don't want a genetically mutated banana. But, I'm a food lover. Maybe Grant Achatz can make one for me.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Time Moves So Fast

Time moves so fast. Capo is almost 10 years old. I now have a 15, a 13 and an 11 year old. Look at them there. They were annoyed to be stuck at Capo Midtown Village in the midst of construction. Bored and probably starving wandering behind the new bar which is protected with plastic during painting. Ages 6, 4 and 2. Wow. I am getting old. If it were not so sweet, I would have given up long ago.

Yesterday someone asked me if my daughter worked at one of our cafes. I know that I will have to address that issue soon. Our peeps, as wonderful as they are, are not a PG crowd and I believe that although they are gracious, they would not be appreciative if my kids worked there. I could be wrong. My daughter is hilarious, but who wants to work with the boss' daughter?

I used to carry around on my phone a pic of two of my employees. The pic was snapped at a party without their knowledge. These men looked as if they had been snatched from the early 70s and were clearly having a great time. Guitars in hand and shirts unbuttoned, skin tight jeans and heeled boots; they made you smile and wish you were there. Whenever a friend would ask if I could hire their high school aged kid, I pulled out the image. I then stated, "Sure, if you don't mind one of these two rubbing up the back of her...or him." That usually ended the conversation.

Additionally, I have watched some Capogirians get married and have their own kids. It is happy and sad and wonderful.

I'm sitting in a cafe. Blogging! What's happened to me?!

So I randomly have a weekday off, since Becca has to go bowling with her in-laws on Sunday or something. And there are a ton of things I've needed to get done in my personal world that I've been neglecting, mostly because of Skyrim. (If I can reliably beat up a dragon, why is it that I so often get pummeled by a stupid bear? Not many of you are going to understand that, I'm guessing. Video game nerd thing.) So I knew that if I didn't drag myself out of the house today I wouldn't get anything done.

Thought to myself, "Self, where could you go at the bright, shiny crack of 1:00 in the afternoon to get coffee and wifi and settle in for a bit to do some work?" Well. Capo13, obviously. For starters, Sean and Nelson are nice guys. Plus it's not MY store, so I know I'm unlikely to run into anyone I know to distract me from getting stuff done.

The thing is, I sort of never hang out in cafes. Like, never ever. I honestly can't remember that last time I sat and had a cup of coffee and read a magazine. You mean I could get a bagel and not have to abandon it in the middle to go do something else? Is this how normal people live? Seriously, old, lukewarm bagels are incredibly disappointing. I'm honestly a little flummoxed. You'd think I'd be familiar with all this, given how much of my career I've spent running the places where people do exactly what I'm doing now. But I'm all at sixes and sevens, awkward elbows and feeling conspicuous about all the stuff on my table. (Laptop, iphone, list of stuff to do for the day, my planner, my staff's request-off-book, a diet coke, and a cup of coffee. Is that a lot? It feels like a lot. Then there's my backpack, my jacket, and my laptop charger.)

And then. Super-embarrassing. Little chagrined that Sarah was here to see it, because I'm fairly certain she'll bring it up again at a later date. I'm one of those people that can focus better when I have my own music to listen to. Not totally earth-shattering, right? I'm hardly the only one. So...launch itunes. Start something playing. Don't realize for about five minutes that my headphones are still plugged into my phone, not my laptop. Everyone has been listening to Yo Yo Ma and I'm too clueless to get the awkward glances I'm assuming everyone around me is casting my way. When did I become unsuitable to be in public? Clearly I need to leave the house more.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Shiny new things at 20th Street

So, it's been a pretty quiet week all over the city, and Rittenhouse is no exception. Even though not much has been going on this week, but we've been doing loads of cleaning, telling corny jokes to customers, and slinging some top notch gelato. We salute all of our brave customers who fought through ice and snow to visit us this weekend. You're amazing! We got a huge shipment of British candy this week, so feel free to drop by for some Cadbury Double Decker or Bounty Bars. Also, SO many Happy Hippos. So many! We are also teeming over with cookies, brownies and bundt cakes. Come and hunker down with some tasty treats.

Big news this week is the arrival of two shiny new sugar bowls at 20th Street. I am hopeful that they are indestructible, and that no one, especially Zach, will be able to break them. They're cute, they're functional, they look kinda like Muppets!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Vanilla is not the same as plain.

I might be a bit of a foodie or food snob even for this being a peeve but I feel like helping to educate people will alleviate that feeling.

We get a lot of people who think of Vanilla as "The" plain flavor. But our Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla is certainly incredibly different than the Fior di Latte which would be considered the plain. (Though in my opinion nothing we make is plain but the Fior is our unflavored and un-messed-around-with flavor and it is wonderfully delicious.)

I would like to point out that Vanilla is actually the second most expensive spice after saffron and is very tasty, incredibly unique and treasured.

It comes from an Orchid. The "bean" is a sort of pod growth that shoots out from the body of the plant.

There are multiple varieties of Vanilla but at Capogiro you will most frequently find Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla (which has no actual bourbon in it). It originates in Madagascar (obviously) but is also currently produced in the Comoros, and Reunion (both islands in the Indian ocean).

Vanilla is delicious and amazing and now everyone who has read this knows that our plain (though awesome and tasty) is not the same as our wonderful Vaniglia or Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla.

Monday, January 23, 2012

What Makes a Good Cup of Coffee?

We take tremendous pride in our coffee. When we opened a little over 9 years ago, I was convinced that we did it for two reasons. One: John wanted a slicer. He wanted access to his own perfectly sliced prosciutto. Two and most important: John wanted to have a $10,000 espresso machine that made a perfect espresso.

What goes into the perfect cup? Well, the coffee is key. We only use La Colombe. Our hometown roaster is bar none. I just returned from the west coast and although the coffee was good, it was not La Colombe good. How luck are we, here in the city of brotherly love?

The second thing is the espresso machine. Ours is a specimen, is it not? I love things that are gorgeous AND work tirelessly. Our gorgeous Victorio Arduino. It is worth every penny.

The third and most important part of the great coffee equation is the barista. You can have a great machine, great coffee and still have a horrible cup if the person making your cup has no idea of what they are doing. We train and train. You don't make a perfect espresso, you are not allowed to make espresso. That simple.

Coffee is as important to us as our gelato. That means it is as important as the air we breathe. Breathe deep, my friends and join us for an espresso.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Mulled wine? Isn't that just wine that's been well considered?

Get it? MULLED wine? Ha? Sorry. Busy day. Little off my game. BUT. If you're chilly--and I'll bet that you are--you should stop in and have some. Not only is our mulled wine piping hot, it's also quite...brawny. If you see what I'm getting at, and I think you do.

Totally distressed that Seattle's getting more snow this year than we are. What IS that? Seattle has no idea what to do with snow. You don't want to know what happens to the articulated buses at the top of the hill on Montlake Ave. Where's OUR snow? People get mad at me when I ask. Maybe because I've been asking for snow since July? Maybe.

Anyway! Come stop in and warm up. Wine not your thing? How about a little Gran Gala for your hot chocolate? Irish whiskey for your americano? There's a proper toddy, you ask me. (We can make a proper hot toddy as well, if you're of a mind. We've got you covered.)

Past the holidays...got a ways to go until the spring. But pitchers and catchers report in less than a month! Keep your head up.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Gelati flavors that aren't meant to be

Rocky vs Apollo Road

Oops! All Cream

Cookie Crunch Dough with Extra Dough

Sweet and Sour Milk

Chocolate Syrup Schuylkill Swirl

All-Natural(tm) Organic(tm) Artisan(tm) Fruit

Mac'n'Cream Cheese

Tropical Citrus Punch Burst

Energelati Plus

Garlic WhyKnot

Franklin's Mint Choco Chip

Relaxing Blend of Herbs and Spices


Local Mint Whitening

"Cheese" "Steak"

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Lessons from Italy

So, last week, Steph brought up a really great concept that I personally had never heard before. More of a lifestyle really, is the Italian notion of "fare bella figura", which basically translates into "making a good figure" or making a good impression. This is a great motto to live by, it pretty much means that you don't eat or drink to excess, don't act like a rowdy fool, and basically just try to be classy. Maybe this is why you hardly ever see Italians posting their zany stunts on YouTube, and why it's so rare to catch them mid keg-stand. It just isn't their thing.

Another cool thing Italians do is "fare una passeggiata", or to take a walk. Every evening in Italy, folks take a leisurely stroll down the street, dressed well and feeling groovy. This is a chance to stretch their legs, talk with friends, get a lovely gelato, show off their kids, and just chill. Basically, Italians care about being and acting civilized. Sound pretty nice, doesn't it? I think we could all stand to care more about civility and not be racing around like crazy people all the time. That's why I'm so glad that Capogiro is bringing this notion to the States. When was the last time you took a nice walk to get gelato?

Stroll on down.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Flu Season is here!

Hooray!! Everyone loves that scratchy, feverish time of year when it seems everyone is sneezing and coughing, aching, and just uncomfortable.

Don't worry we've got your back. We've got all kinds of food and snacks that are healthy and will help you get through the dreaded flu season.

Every morning we have Granola Coppa's with fresh cut fruit and plain yogurt loaded with probiotics. And we always have fresh fruit in our kitchen so if you feel like just having a banana or and orange we can make it happen for you, just ask!

We have homemade soups each day like Creamy Tomato, and Tuscan White Bean (with chicken stock), Red or Yellow Lentil, and a whole bunch of others made with real food ingredients and lots of love!

Even our Gelati and Sorbetti are made with whole, nutritious ingredients too. Try the citrus flavors for some Vitamin C with your dessert. Coconut milk has been found to have anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-microbial properties to it so add a scoop of our Thai Coconut Milk for a little extra boost. If your feeling congested and brave maybe try some Mexican Chocolate or Hot Pepper to help clear you right up!

Last but not least we have lots of Tea. Try some green or white tea with honey and lemon for those sore throats. At 13th we keep sliced lemon and lime behind the counter all you have to do is ask for it. (Oh and the trick with the honey spoon is to turn it like your twirling spaghetti on a fork and it won't drip everywhere!)

Best wishes everyone!

Friday, January 13, 2012

"Everyone deserves a palm tree once in a while," says Sarah.

Wise words, those. And it's true. Myself, I'm looking forward to a pretty good 2012 when it comes to vacation time. (Have I already started pestering the powers-that-be about my plans for June and July? You better believe it.) My best friend's getting married, mom and dad are both (separately) celebrating major milestones...though to tell the truth, the only palm trees I'll likely see will be of the Los Angeles variety, but I can dig it. I'm starting to really like LA, which is a pleasant surprise. GREAT restaurant town, though I was seriously disappointed by the movie-going experience when I was last there. I know, I know. It's LA, and the real problem might have been that "Cowboys & Aliens" might not have been a...good...movie. Which is to say that it sucked. Kind of a lot. And for a long time. Anyway. Different blog post, that. The takeaway is this, though: keep your vacation (hypothetical as it may be) in the back of your head. It'll help you keep on keepin' on.

So what's going on at Capogiro? Enh, you know. We're sort of in a hunkered-down, behind-the-scenes moment. There's definitely some awesome new stuff on the horizon, but we're not really ready to lift the curtain yet. Soon, though. Soon. Good things for those who wait, and all that. I'll say this much: you may have a new favorite brunch habit by Super Bowl Sunday. (SUPER BOWL. The competition to get the day off has already started among my staff. Of COURSE I was the first to ask off. I'm the oldest here, and thus the smartest.)

Anyway. I swear my regular blog sessions aren't simply an excuse to cruise youtube and look at goofy dog videos. But c'mon:

That's pretty good. As always: have a good weekend. Stop in and say hi!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Pretty things

It was a lovely weekend here at 20th Street. Thanks to all of the new folks who came in on Saturday, it was great to meet you. Whilst we absolutely adore our regulars, it's always rad to see so many fresh faces coming in to check out our gelato and panini. Thanks for all of your questions too, we love talking about what we do. I think the most popular comments/questions this weekend we're along the lines of "Number one in the world, eh? Awesome!" and "what on earth is a quince?" (For those of you who don't know, a quince is a magical little pome fruit that tastes like the lovechild of pear and apple). Creative wunderkind Kamala came in today to give our menu boards a fresh coat of paint. Thanks, K! They look great, and so do you!


Such a majestic fruit. My childhood referred to this contraption as the "Chinese Apple". Anyone remember that? I remember the rare, and it was oh so rare, occasion that my mother would cave to my pleading and purchase one, and only one, at Foodtown. Foodtown.....hee.

Way back in the 16th century when Katherine of Aragon crossed the sea to the "Island" and married Hank (well, first his brother, but that tale is for another time), she brought with her badge (seen here). The pomegranate was to represent the persistence of life, fertility and regeneration. Which happened to be extremely important to a monarch.

Tis the season for pomegranates. Sometimes we are lucky to keep them into March. Right now, we are donning our garbage bags and wacking out the seeds with the backs of ladles. Seed by glorious seed. It is worth it. I love how our sorbetto is filled with small red flecks. I do get calls from puree people telling me how much money we would save buying juice. The POM people can sell me just the seeds released from their prison. Yes, yes I know. I will save money and labor and time! But....it just does not taste as good. No one can tell...they say. I say...You can! You can tell the difference.

Get them while they are here because not unlike Queen Katherine, another young fruit is waiting to replace you...

Friday, January 6, 2012

It's just one of those restaurant things.

If you see one of your CapoManagers walking around the cafe muttering numerical incantations with a clipboard in their hands and stubby pencils stuck behind both ears, don't worry. We'll all be okay in a couple of days. Promise.

Resolutions, schmezolutions

New Year's has come and gone, and I'm sure we've all made promises to ourselves to better our lives for 2012. Typically, these things revolve around fitness, finance, and good will toward others. Problem is, most of us will fail miserably at keeping these promises to ourselves. Why not save yourself from the disappointment? Here are some...

New Year's Resolutions You Can Actually Keep.
1. Eat More Gelato. Gelato is good for you. Gelato makes you happy. Gelato has loads of calcium, and Sorbetto is full of Vitamin C, so you can avoid getting that pesky scurvy again. Yar! Also, please refrain from saying that Rosemary Honey Goat's Milk tastes like "chicken and cake". This actually just happened.

2. Tie Shoes Every Day. You don't even need to tie them in the morning, you can just tie and untie at will. No pressure here at all. You can even tie a friends' shoes, this still counts.

3. Don't Go To Tijuana. By not going to this place you will save yourself from being kidnapped, getting stabbed by drug cartels, buying shady pharmaceuticals, or seeing a monkey riding a burro. Well done!

4. Don't Drink Cyanide. Who would want to do that? See how easy it is to keep these resolutions?!

5. Vote. At least in 2012, for the love of GOD! Unless you live in Texas, Arkansas, Alabama, Alaska, either Carolina, or Georgia. If that's the case, I hope you got the memo that elections have been pushed back to December.

6. Don't Punch a Kitten. Kittens are adorable life companions. Save the punching for unwanted creatures like opossums, small lizards, and Zach.

7. Eat More Soup. It's cold outside, and hot soup is delicious. Especially at Capogiro, where we are currently serving Yellow Lentil and Cream of Tomato, with a side of yummy Metropolitan bread. The best thing about soup is that it's sort of like it's already chewed for you, so there's no extra work!

8. Breathe More. Breathing is sooooo easy to do. In fact, I'm doing it right now! Try to take the time out of your busy day to sit on a bench and breathe. Unless that bench happens to be under water. Or in Newark.

9. Get A Haircut. Seriously. You've had the same hair for years now. And your neckline is just out of control. Have that trimmed up, you look like a werewolf.

10. Get Back Into Something You Used To Be Good At. Did you used to be super rad at a certain sport, or maybe an instrument? Do it again! You know you like it already so there's no chance of disappointment. It can only boost your ego. Win!

So there you go, kids. I've given you ten easy ways to have a happier and more fulfilling New Year. Have fun!

By Tandy

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A New Year....

Happy New Year everybody!

I hope everyone had a safe and fun New Year! I know my house is still covered in a thick layer of silly string marking how much fun the Mummers Parade was.

For us at 13th St. the new year was bitter sweet. Dawne has moved on to prepare for her upcoming and incredible trip around the world and we all wish her the best and can't wait to hear about her future experiences. She will be greatly missed around here but we are happy that she is doing something awesome.

We love you Dawne!!

Luckily for us we have been joined by two bright lovely new ladies. Whitney started with us during the holidays and is super fun and awesome behind the bar and she has a dog (we love people with awesome pets here). Meagan started her first shift today and is off to a great start.

So if you stop by and see a new face in the store make sure to give them your brightest smile and help us welcome them to the Capo13 crew. And if you happen to catch Dawne before she departs be sure to wish her well on her epic journey!

Happy New Year everybody!!