Friday, December 28, 2012

New Year's Resolutions Worth Keeping

I mean, we all want to start the year off with the best of intentions, right? I'm totally going to keep a budget! And lose ten pounds by March! And start writing thank you notes for holiday and birthday gifts! YEAH!

Sure, dog. GOOD LUCK WITH ALL THAT. I don't really get why we collectively decide that it has to be January 1st before we'll start taking all those steps to make the good changes to our lives. (Don't get me wrong, I'm TOTALLY as guilty of this as everyone else.)

So why not set yourself up for success? Pick resolutions that won't be so onerous to keep up with that come February 9th you're already feeling guilty. (Look out, some of these might actually be serious suggestions.)

#1: It's high time you did the Mummers. Yeah, I'm lookin' at you. You've lived in Philadelphia for HOW LONG? And you've never rousted your butt out of bed on New Years Day to join your fellow citizens in conspicuous public daydrinking? C'mon, man. I promise the intersection of Broad and Washington is never more cheerful. (I'll cop to maybe contributing to a distinct LACK of cheer at that intersection when I'm on my bike. It can be a little adversarial some days.) Fortify yourself with a substantial breakfast--it's pretty much THE day for scrapple and pork roll--and hop on the BSL with the rest of us. It's your duty as a Philadelphian! I'll save you some (scandalously) cheap sparkling wine and we'll meet for a late Mexican lunch.

#2: Eat more avocado. Jeeeeeeeez our avocados are so good right now. I mean, we're pretty adept at managing avocados generally, but it's more difficult than you might think. Seriously, though. Our avocados are right in that sweet spot, so you should come in today for a bagel. Today! I can't make promises about tomorrow. (We'll still have plenty of delightful avocados tomorrow.)

#3: Adopt a fugly dog. Loogit this guy:
      I'm not going to take the easy way out and tell you that's a face only a mother could love (though...crikey. That's a mug, inn'it?). My point is that there are a ton of dogs and cats out there who aren't altogether the most aesthetically pleasing little boogers. But that's not important to you! You're only motivated by giving some poor but lovable (and loving!) little beastie a good home. Right? Right. So. Do that! They'll love you forever.

#4: Play bingo with our seasonal flavors. Like, if you time it right you can probably get persimmon knocked off early without having to wait until next December. And think of the fabulous prizes you'll get when you win! (Suddenly occurring to me that I now need to come up with fabulous prizes for this game. Also...maybe something like a bingo board. Lemme get back to you.)

#5: Help me make 2013 The Year Of The Sausage. Bacon had its moment, and that was fine. It's a tasty meat, I've nothing against it. But I never really understood the bacon fixation (the baconation, if you will). Even bacon as awesome as ours is pretty one-dimensional. But sausage! SO MANY SAUSAGES. Blood sausage! Breakfast sausage! Hot dogs! Hot Italian! Knockwurst! Mortadella! Kielbasa! Seriously, why let bacon be the pork fat standard bearer? It's time to expand our sausage-y horizons. I'm not talking about gimmicky weirdness like sausage-flavored mayonnaise or lip balm or any of that nonsense. But how about a bloody mary with a summer sausage swizzle stick? Or a pizza with a sausage-stuffed crust? BLOOD SAUSAGE CORN DOGS. (For the vegetarians out there, if you want to make it the year of the nut loaf you have my full-throated support.)

#6: Keep a $5 Wawa gift card in your pocket. For my part, I am actually going to try to do this. I'm a pretty soft touch, and when someone on the street asks me for some help getting something to eat, I want to be able to respond. But then there's the whole debate about, if you give them cash, what they're actually going to spend the money on. So: give them a Wawa gift card (and eye contact and a smile).

So. All in all, do whatever's in your power to make your 2013 better than your 2012, regardless (actually--ESPECIALLY) if your 2012 was pretty awesome. From us and ours to you and yours, Happy New Year, Feliz Año Nuevo, best warm wishes, and ever a hope for peace.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

This? Just my soapbox. Gimme a minute...

Listen, I'd HAVE to get on a soapbox to read off the list of reasons why you should only patronize independent espresso bars. It'd be one of those scenes where I'd untie the scroll and it'd roll past my knees, past the soapbox, and into the (hypothetical and unlikely) crowd gathered around to hear my screed.

I've worked for Big Coffee before (not entirely voluntary. Long story). It wasn't altogether the most uplifting experience. For one thing, I died a little inside every time I had to make a non-fat decaf caramel macchiato with extra syrup and whipped cream (oh, can you make that sugar-free?). I could never remember if I was supposed to swirl the caramel sauce (distinct from the caramel syrup) or draw a cross-hatch pattern. So when I came on at Capogiro and found out that they (we) only serve a traditional, simple Italian espresso menu, it was like a ray of sunlight beaming down on my otherwise relatively curmudgeonly heart. 

(Another major plus is that I can randomly drop videos of bulldogs bouncing on trampolines into my blog posts without any real rhyme or reason. Bulldog on a trampoline!)
And then, you know. I was living and making espresso in Seattle, and the organization for which I was working decided that the best course of action over the long term would be to shift all their espresso bars from using real espresso machines to fully automatic espresso machines. IN SEATTLE. Still haven't really gotten over the wrong-headedness of that. We take our espresso seriously at Capogiro--you know that. We put a lot of time, thought, and effort into training our baristi. It's difficult and it's on-going, but it's worth it. We'd rather give our baristi the training, tools, and ingredients to make awesome, real drinks. To actually CRAFT something worth savoring for a few minutes, as opposed to hiding your mediocrity under a blanket of corn syrup and artificial colors. For sure it can take a newcomer to one of our stores a minute to adapt.

But really the inspiration of this blog post--what I'm up on my soapbox about today--is this. What you've got there is a story out of Seattle about how a regional coffee chain there is looking at a hostile takeover (my interpretation, maybe not entirely accurate) by a group of out-of-towners who's mission is to have their crews dress trashy. Now, listen. I've got nothing against people dressing trashy if that's their wont. You do you! No issue with that. And trashy is for sure subjective, and my trashy might be your subtle. It's fine! Really. Really!

But when your employer EXPECTS it of you? Who gauges your value as an employee based on your perceived attractiveness and tendency to put yourself on bodily display? I sort of can't go any further with it because it leaves me pretty grossed out. I'm a son, a brother, an uncle, a boss, and a friend, and I wouldn't want any of the women in my world to work there. (Do applicants have to do a cat-walk strut as part of their interviews? The mind boggles.)

Listen, you can trust that the people that head the CapoCrews are very serious about making our workplaces welcoming and safe for the people who work for us. We respect and value our crews at least as much as we want them to respect and value themselves. We want individuals working for us, and we want them to feel like they have a fair degree of latitude in expressing that individuality.

Ok. Stepping off of the soapbox. The whole "I'm your boss and I need to you turn around so I can decide if you're dressed trashy enough" thing definitely gets my (Scotch-) Irish up. So degrading, and so indicative of the challenges women STILL face in this world, in the 21st century.

But hey, guess what time it is!

Y'know, I'm a little concerned I might not get to watch ANY of A Christmas Story this year, given my impending travels to see family. Which is not the greatest sacrifice an uncle can make. If you've already had a holiday, I genuinely hope it was full of warmth and joy, and if yours is coming up, I hope that it will be.

Happy Holidays from all of us at Capogiro. The world's a better place with you in it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The King is Here!

While aesthetically it apparently resembles a scene from a b-list horror movie (it's crime scene appearance might accentuate the broken glass of our gelato case, soon to be repaired!), King Leo Stracciatella could be one of the best Chrismas-centric culinary creations to ever grace my pallet....

The recent staff Christmas party really got me in the Christmas spirit and reminded me of how thankful I am this year!

Thankful that I'm in Philly and very thankful I work for an independent cafe - a world-renowned one at that! Thankful for the artistic freedom, the ability take care of staff and patrons alike with stories worth hearing. I feel that in larger corporations an element is lost - mainly the human element. In many of the corporate environments I've been employed, in people get lost, you lose the license to provide people with what sociologists call a 3rd place. A venue outside of work and home life where people can know and be known....where "everybody knows your name." Which, in a city such as ours, is a rare and beautiful thing, in a culture where people crave connection and  authenticity it is a necessary thing. Call me an can take  the boy out of a small Oklahoma  town but I'm proud to say it's harder to eradicate the small town values of genuinely caring about your neighbors and patrons, and the assumption that ever one who is willing to give us patronage is worthy of a genuine smile, an attentive ear and heartfelt attention. Values which I am proud to say we have the ability to exemplify at Capogiro.

So whether you need a warm reprieve from the shopping insanity or a last minute dessert for your get together, drop by and stay a while - there's always a place at the counter for you!

From the bottom of our hearts thanks for making us apart of your tradition and giving us the pleasure of serving you!

Merry Chrisma-Hanna-Kwanzika!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Festive (and corny) Adaptation of a Christmas Jingle

I was feeling particularly festive and merry after the Capogiro Christmas party last night and composed this silly tune.  Unlimited free samples to whoever comes in and sings it from memory.

Sung to the tune of “Here Comes Santa Claus”

Here comes Santa Claus Here comes Santa Claus
Right down 13th Street
Vixen and Blitzen and all his reindeer
hungry for a treat
Samplers are sampling, Ron is singing
The gelato case is lit bright
So take a sample and try some flavors
cause Santa Claus eats gelato every night!

Here comes Santa Claus Here comes Santa Claus
Right to Capogiro!
He’ll comes around when there’s gelato in town
and Dulce de Leche’s out!
Peace on Earth will come to all
if we eat gelato under Christmas lights
So let’s give thanks to the lord above
that Capogiro is open tonight!!


by Tori Styner

Thursday, December 13, 2012


Guys, I hafta say. It's with overwhelming pride that today we celebrate 13th Street's TEN YEAR ANNIVERSARY! And because restaurant years are kind of like dog years, this is a seriously big deal. Come see us, come celebrate with us, come share your stories and memories with us. We have gotten here today with the help and love and support of all of you. Could never have done it without you. Gonna get all emotional, so just listen to birthday songs. xoxoxoxo, All of us, to all of you.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Global Warming = Perfect Excuse for Awesome Gelato!!!

While today was slightly cooler, I can't seem to get in the mood...the mood for Christmas, that is. When I think of Christmases past, memories of snow, snow fights, snow men, and other absurd and ludicrous winter activities come to mind.

This year, however (much like last), seems a bit out of pocket. Warmer weather and fall leaves still clinging to the boughs of trees gives way to worries that maybe there is something to this whole "global warming" thing...or perhaps as per the Mayans, the world might just end!

My resolution: love life, enjoy gelato and let the chips fall where they may. And at the end of the day, isn't this mild winter a great justification to enjoy the best gelato in the world?

And if you need some help getting in the holiday mood there are some amazing Christmas-centric flavors lurking about like egg nog, chocolate mint and coming soon King Leo Stracciatella! (Italian chocolate chip with the best peppermint candy we could find.)

And if the Mayans and the homeless man on the corner are correct and we all go out in a blaze of glory on the 21st, it's been a fun ride. Don't forget to drop by and get one last pint of your favorite.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The holidays are coming fast!

We are dashing through the Holiday season.  Today is about mid-way through Hanukah and exactly two weeks until Christmas.  If you are like me then you can’t possibly squeeze enough Holiday activities between Thanksgiving and New Years. 

What am I doing tonight? Baking cookies and watching White Christmas!  Tomorrow?  My annual Philly Christmas tour with my beautiful mother where we do all the silly holiday things in Center City and have a few spirited beverages along the way.  This includes the Christmas Village in Love Park, Macy’s Light Show, Comcast LED Holiday Spectacular.   We’ll also be going to all my favorite shops on 13th Street.   Steve at Duross and Langel has me hooked on these little beauties that need to be gifted to many people I love.  Of course, no holiday fun day is complete without checking out the seasonal selections at Capogiro.
Next week I’ll probably take a drive down to South Philly to see all the festively decorated neighborhoods and have dinner at a restaurant with a fireplace like Beau-monde.  I hope to get together with friends for some wassailing about the town next weekend. 
So, if you need more ideas about what to do to get into the holiday spirit, come talk to me.  I’ll make you a cappuccino and put some Bing Crosby on Pandora.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

We're pretty happily not the only awesomeness in town, you know.

You know...we try to be pretty humble. We really do love the food that we serve, and we take real pride in it. For me it really comes down to the milk we use for our gelato. SERIOUS milk, that. If you know from food, our milk checks off so many of the things that really matter: grass-fed cows, no hormones or antibiotics, super fresh and local from our friends just up the road at Wholesome Dairy. And it shows in some really interesting ways--if you've been here for as long as I have, you notice that the color of our Fior di Latte changes throughout the year. It tends to be a bit yellower in the warmer months and a more pure white in the colder months. It's because of the chlorophyll in the grass, don't you know. Warmer months means more sunlight means darker, greener grass, and then that shows up in the color of our gelato. Wicked.

(One second for an inside joke, please.)

But we're hardly the only respectable place to eat around here, and of course Tony Bourdain (who we really do like a whole lot) finally premiered his Philadelphia episode of The Layover this week. It wasn't at all perfect. (Why did he keep calling it "City Center?" The Mutter Museum is decidedly NOT in Mantua. Blame it on the interns, it's cool. That's what I'd do, anyway.) 

I'm sort of relieved about the places he DIDN'T mention, though. Don't get me wrong, Marc Vetri is, I'd argue, maybe the number one chef in this town that's not only leading the way on great food for us locally but also really helping Philadelphia get the culinary respect it deserves. But one of the worst things that can happen to your favorite jawn is for it to get so famous that, like Yogi Berra said, no one goes there anymore because it's too crowded.

And Capogiro...we seem really lucky to end up near other amazingly good restaurants. Vintage is just south of Capo13 on 13th Street, and it's just one of those prototypically great places for a glass of wine or three (also a blind date, but that's neither here nor there). More on the topic of actually being a grown-up: I finally did figure out only a couple years ago that white wines are actually just as interesting as reds. Who knew, right? And Vintage pretty reliably has one of my favorite whites--a Vinho Verde from Portugal. Semi-dry and with such a high mineral content it almost seems carbonated. It's also...nearly cheap! I hate to call it cheap. But it's not a budget-breaker--further proof that you don't have to spend a ton of money for good wine. 

But all in all...look. If you found me guilty of all my emotional crimes and sentenced me to eating only one more restaurant meal in this, I'm going to Good Dog. Totally a comfortable walking distance from both Capo20 and Capo13 (and I sure did walk there more than a couple nights after closing!). Solid beer list, really well-done food, great, great crew....when my favorite people come to town, it's where I take them. Which...holy pants can that be a gamble. When one of your best friends comes to town, and she brings someone you don't know, and you take them to your local...Sarah (not that Sarah) is one my favorite people, and she's a traveler. Knows how to absorb local culture without stomping all over it, can get along with most anyone, doesn't get freaked out in a proper city despite being a mostly a small-town girl. But her The first thing he did (I'm hesitating a little because I'm still so embarrassed) know what's coming. He didn't even look at the menu. Just drawls at the bartender, "Y'all got any Philly cheese steaks here?!" 

Listen. I like cheese steaks. I do! They for sure have their place, and I could go down the whole pantheon of cheese steaks. But...he was that guy. Straight tourist. Actually got into a pretty heated argument with one of the Good Dog bartenders, exclaiming that there isn't any real difference between bourbon and whiskey and you're obviously a terrible bartender it you think there is, etc, etc. I really was embarrassed. Tipped excessively and conspicuously well and hustled out. Went back (alone, though at the same time during the week), apologized profusely...and again tipped excessively well. 

Anyway. I got rambling there. Blah, blah, blah, Philly's a great restaurant know that. You're probably reading this within a four mile radius of me and you've probably got you're own favorite haunts that you'd rather not tell anyone about. But if you haven't gone to Good Dog or Vintage yet, you really, really should. Just....just don't ask for a cheese steak, man. C'mon. You know better than that.

(Yeah. I'm drinkin' deep of the HomerAde today.)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Ancient Pomegranate

People have been eating and cultivating pomegranate for about as long as history can remember.  They originate from the Middle East and are a staple of many different cultures cuisine from Iraq, Iran, China, India, and Pakistan all the way to Mexico.

The French word for Pomegranate is grenade.  Soldier noticed the similar shape of the small explosives they they were issued and thus the common name we all know stuck.  Grenadine syrup used to make Shirley Temples at a bar is sweetened and thickened Pomegranate juice also deriving it's name from the French term.

In Japan and Korea it can also be found used in Bonsai as the twisted trunks and ornate blossoms are very desirable.

In India it is frequently used in medicine for treatments ranging from indigestion, tonic for the heart and throat, nose bleeds, and even sagging breasts.  

In the west Pomegranate juice has been found to be rich in antioxidants which in addition to it's sweet and slightly bitter/astringent taste have brought about it's popularity in recent years.

All of these uses aside we love to make a delicious Sorbetto out of our pomegranates.  Sweet and tangy and slightly tart it is a perfect compliment to our Cioccolato Scuro or paired with almost any of our fruit flavors.  I have even seen a number of people ordering it as an Affogato with espresso poured over the top a few times.

If you haven't yet stop by and give it a try.  If you have never had pomegranate before we can give you a great introduction to a long eaten and widely enjoyed fruit rich in history, flavor, and antioxidants.