Thursday, January 31, 2013

What's the point of a restaurant, anyway?

So go ahead and go read this article on dishes you might decide you're better off making at home. It's an argument I've heard before, and there is a certain amount of sense to it. One of the examples the article uses is edamame. Super-easy to prepare, so why would you pay someone else $6 for a small bowl of what probably would cost about $1 at the grocery store? It's really not that simple, though.

Mario Batali has a quote (I think it ended up in Bill Buford's Heat, my copy of which I'm only now remembering I've given away) that goes something like, "Here's what we do: we buy food. We do things to it most people don't know how to do, and then we charge them more then we paid for it." Beyond the hospitality that a restaurant provides its guests, it's really this that brings people in. It's about knowing how to find the best ingredients and having the skill and technique to do something with those ingredients that most people aren't capable of doing. I get that it sort of sounds callous to say out loud, but it's true of anything. If you could find all the requisite components that compose an iPhone and knew what to do with them to make them do their thing, well. You could build your own iPhone, right?

And I'll totally own as I've never been a chef. (For the record, I've spent about half of my career behind an espresso machine and the other half in various, relatively savory restaurant kitchens.) Good chefs (real chefs) are those rare people who can look at a stack of seven disparate ingredients and know instantly how to put them together to make them greater than the sum of their parts. I've never had that intrinsic talent--what I'm good at is being shown what my chef came up with, how to make it happen again...and then make it happen again. And again. And again.

So when I hear someone suggest something like above, where you're letting yourself get ripped off if you pay someone money to prepare something as simple as a good edamame appetizer, I get a little frustrated. (Bear with me, I'm about to get a little food-wonky. All vocabulary is used unironically and with awareness that it makes for some relatively purple prose.) I had two equally good, equally revelatory dishes last year--not surprisingly during the same meal--that were so deceptively simple that they put the lie to the article I posted above. How simple? One was fried eggplant drizzled with honey. The other was sauteed mushrooms with sherry. That's it. No obscure cuts of meat. No odd molecules holding together some unrealized-in-nature structure. No well-traveled herbs who's names I could pronounce without a guide. Just basic, relatively common ingredients--and only a few of them, at that.

But I don't know how to do what the kitchen (ok, this was at Curate in Asheville, North Carolina) did to those mushrooms. I mean, I AM a restaurant professional. I know how to saute mushrooms. But I don't LIKE mushrooms. Except there. Except those. They were transcendent. They were the Platonic ideal of sauteed mushrooms. They were so damn good and so well done that they made me like mushrooms. And ohhhhh man, the eggplant...

So yeah, there are plenty of restaurants to go to where you should know before you walk in the door that you're about to be gouged for bottom-dollar ingredients prepared roughly and without skill. (Someday I'll get on my alfredo sauce soapbox.) But if you know where you're eating, and you know the skill and investment of the people making your food? Find the simplest, most humble-sounding plates on the menu, and revel in them.


Standing over a fresh, unblemished gelato case early in the morning...

Standing over a fresh, unblemished gelato case early in the morning, I can't help but get lost in the sorbetti. The flavors are as bright as the colors.  Have you SEEN the Cactus Pear? It's wicked. And it's almost impossible to convince people that, yes, this color occurs in nature (we've got the fruit right here).  But even the less exotic fruits, the citrus, are ethereally glowing.  I'm staring at the Arancione thinking, orange is a fruit and a color.  Why is an orange orange? A lemon is yellow, and a lime is green.  Grapefruit is pink.  You know those chicken-or-the-egg labyrinths your mind starts meandering through, and you can't or don't see the end? Well, I'm still trying to find my way out, but luckily I haven't seen a Minotaur or a David Bowie yet. Actually, it'd be pretty cool to see David Bowie right now.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

This past week has really shown me the dedication that capo customers have to their gelato.  I really can’t believe how many of you were coming in for gelato in 14 degree weather!!!!  We love you all!!  Of course, the really cold customers were coming in for some Tea, Hot Chocolate, Cioccolato Calda, Latte, Cappuccino, Macchiato, Mocha, and Americano!!   We love all of you too!

Some coffee cravers who haven’t been to Capogiro often (or ever) ask the baristi why we don’t offer flavors like Vanilla or Caramel, etc in our specialty drinks.  Folks, they are better without them!! At least, that’s what I think.  I used to drink coffees and tea lattes from other cafes that had flavoring and added sugar.  Ever since I switched to Capogiro coffee and tea, I don’t even enjoy the overly sweetened drinks I used to love from other cafes.  Our drinks have NO added sugar (with the exception of Hot Chocolate, Moka, and Cioccolato Calda, and Espresso Fizz which are typically sweetened with real sugar to cancel out the bitterness of our extra brute cocoa) so that you can choose how sweet you like your drink.  Now if you are like me (a health freak) you don’t add anything except a little honey.  Other people like something a little more exciting, so I made a little something for you.  We have a variety of spices and milks that you might not be aware of but that you can request at any time.  So here’s a list of drinks ordered on the regular by some of Capogiro’s most loyal, most loved customers:

The Crazy Cinnamon Concoction:  2-3 shots of Espresso with a generous amount of cinnamon sprinkled in.  Smells and tastes delicious and the kick it gives you can kick start any workout :P

The CioccoLATTE:  This drink seems to be a family tradition among a couple of Capogiro regulars!!  A regular latte mixed with a whole lot of cocoa shaken on top.  Looks beautiful and has that wonderful bitter chocolate after-note.

The Caffeinated Soy Queen: This regular loves her drink iced, not matter how cold outside it is.  She gets an iced three shot latte with soy milk every week!  Not many are aware that we can make ANY drink with soy instead of dairy.

The Cayenne Coffee:  Another beloved regular of Capogiro likes to spice things up now and then by adding some cayenne pepper to his coffee!  This is a drink that makes scalding hot coffee even hotter!  Definitely try it if you love spicy foods.

The Chai-spresso: A large chai tea with two shots of espresso!! A little on the wild side for coffee and tea lovers alike!!

Thanks to you wonderful regulars for creating these drinks!!


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Seriously though, I want a donut.

I'm sort of of two minds about the New Years resolution thing. I mean, on one hand why confine yourself to January to make the changes to your life that you think are probably important? And on the other hand January DOES make for a nice cusp every year.

Regardless, yeah. I'm trying to do the healthier eating thing. Ease up on the meat, modulate the cheese intake a little and, y'know. Carbs. We sell such wicked good carbohydrates! Bagels and croissants and some of the best focaccia around...when you work in a busy cafe and you're spending your days hustling, one of the most satisfying things to grab on the fly is a hunk of bread judiciously slathered with butter and sprinkled with a little sea salt. Barista snacks!

Of course, people can't live on bread alone and all those other hoary aphorisms. I was recently introduced to these things called "fruits." Have you heard of them? All kinds of varieties--bananas and apples and oranges and pomegranates. They're tasty! And apparently "nutritious." I've really been digging our granola coppas lately. Fresh cut fruit, a grip of Pequea Valley yogurt, and a generous sprinkling of our own homemade granola. Obviously great for breakfast, but if you ask us nicely we'll make you one at just about any time of day.

But then we all have that little monster inside of us that wants hot fat and crispy bits and salty goodness. My own inner monster is seriously starting to bellow for fried chicken. Pretty sure it's high time I actually made my way to Federal Donuts. What's the best protocol--get there super early for coffee and a few donuts and then hang out until it's lunchtime and you're hungry for chicken? I shall travel forth and explore and return with my findings. And Sarah's regularly nagging me to go to Fette Sau. Haven't had real barbecue since I was in North Carolina over the summer and my brisket tank is running alarmingly dry.

For now though? Gonna go make myself a scuro and coconut frappe. You should come have one, too!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I affogat-this.

Let me start by saying we do not live in Canada or Norway and should be thankful our banana peels aren't freezing and breaking.

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, it's really fraking cold. Like "I'm pretty sure my fingers and toes are going to have to be amputated" cold. In weather like this you would think you wouldn't want gelato, but I have a solution. Have an affogato! You get the sweetness and milk from the gelato mixed with the warmth and bitterness of the espresso. It's amazing. I'm going to have one right now. You should come in and have one too. This is one of my favorite combinations: Saigon Cinnamon gelato as an affogato. (I usually take mine with some complimentary panna)It's a nice way to get all your cravings satisfied at once. See you soon.

What the heck is mangosteen?

It's delicious and makes an awesome pure white sorbetto.   When I first saw them in the kitchen I had no idea what they were and they don't really look all that edible, but under that dark purple tough skin is a delicate, sweet, tasty white aril perfect for sorbet and gelato. 

They are really hard to come by in the US and they have a very short season when they are available (only about 6 weeks) so the next time you see it at capo get it before it's gone!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Gelato is the perfect gift for any occasion.

A little bit about my life. I recently had surgery of the mouth. This has prohibited me from eating like a normal person. While my friends are eating pizza, burgers and Chinese food, I'm ripping up little pieces of bread and having soup. I hadn't had anything exciting and delicious and was beginning to get into a food funk. Then I came into work and saw we had Blood Orange, Spicy Cajun Peanut, Chocolate Ginger and many more of my favorite flavors. Gelato saved my taste buds. After changing my diet to gelato and soup, I realized the only thing I would want as a gift would be more gelato. All of this lead into me thinking of ways to gift gelato. Your friend just moved into an awesome new apartment. Bring a few pints of Cioccolato Scuro and a bottle of wine. Your son sprained his ankle playing soccer. Bring home some Stracciatella and chocolate chip Emergency Cookies. You can make ice cream sandwiches together. The moral of the story is; no matter what life throws you, or who is having a baby or getting a new house, gelato is always a perfect gift.

Better know a rosaceae!

I might have mentioned it before, but one of my favorite parts of working here is that I get to meet a lot of fruit I wouldn't otherwise come across. We all know I've got some reservations about rambutans, tasty as they are. And starfruit was always something I walked past in the produce section without much of a glance.

Past few weeks though, we've had quince around. Quinces were another one of those fruits that always sort of lurked in my sub-conscious. Maybe I'd heard of them first in a nursery rhyme? Or...did Dickens mention them at some point? Maybe I'm somehow conflating them with mince meat pie? Who knows.

But we've regularly had quince sorbetto for the last little while, and lots of people have questions about them. Their Italian name (mela cotogne--I had to go downstairs and check, I definitely don't know it off the top of my head) is intimidating enough, but people sort of roll around with even just "quince." It's pronounced "kwints," beeteedubs. But we pretty regularly hear "keen-tseh," "kween-tseh," and once even "kweinz." Trust that we're pretty politic about when and if we correct someone's mis-pronunciation of any of our gelato names...

So what IS a quince, exactly? Well, they come from the same botanical family as apples and pears, but they're denser and not as grainy. They're maybe a little more astringent than either and definitely not as sweet as a pear. Usually they're cooked before being used as an ingredient, though they can be bletted to sweeten and soften them. And since they're high in pectin, they make wicked good jams and jellies. The word marmalade actually comes from marmelo, the Portuguese word for quince.

C'mon, when was the last time YOU had any quince? They'll be around for a little while longer, so come get some! And it's a sorbetto, so we've got you covered, you crazy vegans, you.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Gelato that sets you on fire.

Capo13 has been spicing things up behind the case lately.  I’ve heard more than one request for mexican chocolate the past month, and folks, your wish has been granted.  Along with Mexican Chocolate (also known as Cioccolato Messicano) Spicy Cajun Peanut gelato also made an appearance in our gelato case for the first time in a long while.  Both flavors are made with cayenne pepper!!  Who would have thought that gelato could heat you up so much?  

Sorbetto that fights flu season!

Nothing fights sickness better than a good dose of vitamin C!  Capogiro 13 has citrus sorbetto everyday that is made with 100% natural, fresh squeezed citrus!  If you are a morning regular, you might spot one of our kitchen staff at the juicing machine squeezing a ton of citrus.  Guess where all that freshly squeezed juice goes?  Right into our sorbetto.  The maximum health benefits from fruit juice come from freshly squeezed juice, not from some preservative-packed shelf product.

Here’s some more info on the benefits of consuming freshly squeezed juice:
(at Capogiro, we have a Zumex Juicer)

Our sorbetto is made from fresh fruit the morning you enjoy it!  Citrus is packed with vitamins C, A, E, B1, B2, and B6! so come in and order a grande of a citrus sorbetto!

-Tori :)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

My increasingly carb-free lifestyle can make a little room for this.

You know how sometimes two things are better when you smoosh them together? I mean, that's definitely one of our priorities. I am still jonesing pretty hard for our Bluecoat and blueberry sorbetto, but that's gonna be a minute obviously. Blood orange will do nicely in the meantime.

(Obligatory mildly odd, perhaps totally unrelated youtube clip that maybe doesn't have much to do with the topic at hand. COMBINATIONS, PEOPLE! Bears and frogs, coming together magically.)

So we get our rippin' good brioche from Au Fournil fresh every morning. Brioche is a sweet bun that's been made way, way better by the addition of all the butter and eggs the dough can stand--pretty much SuperBread. It's of course great on its own with a little warming, and you can't go wrong by using it as a vehicle for debatably appropriate amounts of Nutella or jam. It's the breakfast of lazy video game champions! But then there's us. We're always the ones who stand around, look at all the good stuff we have on hand and think about how we can combine all of those good stuffs into even more good stuff that's maybe greater than the sum of our parts. So, our gelato. It's okay. Y'know. We're pretty proud of it. So here's what we'll do for you: we'll take one of the already stellar brioches, whack it in half, and toast it. And then. THEN. Well, this:
Gelato con Brioche, yeah? I made this one with Cioccolato Scuro, but any of your nuts will do. Or white chocolate, if you're feeling that. Or burnt sugar. Bananas foster wouldn't make me mad. Shoot, it's your dessert. You want to do grapefruit campari sorbetto with it, I'd be delighted to whip it up for you. So. If you're feeling like you're stuck in a rut gelato-wise, there ya go. Wicked!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Bloody 'Ell This Is Good Sorbetto.

Well it's about that time mates. We've had many folks wondering when we were getting in blood oranges. They are here and they are brilliant! If it's not your cup of tea, which I don't see how it couldn't be, we have golden kiwi to satisfy your fancy fruit cravings. You healthy types would be pleased to know blood oranges are packed with antioxidants and vitamin C. We use Moro blood oranges, which are the brightest and most colorful of the types. We also serve this seasonal delight in juice form. If you are 21, or 18 in England, you should try taking a few pints home and pairing the blood orange sorbetto with a good wheat beer. Did you know if you're between the ages of 5 & 17 in England you can drink with permission from your parent? Any who, come in and indulge yourself with some seasonal delights. Until then, you can watch Dexter doing his daily routine which includes juicing a blood orange. Blood oranges are the bees knees with those vigilante characters. Ta ta for now!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Capogiro Fraiche

What’s a Kumquat?

A good question indeed.  One you might soon find yourself asking at the gelato case at 13th street Capogiro.  Creme Fraiche and Honeyed Kumquat Gelato.  First let’s explain the Creme Fraiche.  Here’s Randy Marsh for the explanation:


If that wasn’t clear enough, Creme Fraiche is a type of gourmet sour cream that is sweeter than average.  It has a pH of around 4.5 and contains butterfat, which makes it sweeter than regular American sour cream.  To better understand Creme Fraiche, please follow this link:

Now for Kumquats.  Long cultivated in Asia, Kumquats are basically smaller, sweeter, oranges.  The rinds of normal oranges are normally too bitter to be enjoyed by themselves but the rinds of kumquats are sweeter and even more delicious when honeyed and mixed in with delicious creme fraiche gelato. Keep your eye out for it and grab a sample, it is extremely good.

In other news, BLOOD ORANGE IS BACK!!!  I can’t count how many requests for blood orange sorbetto I have had through the summer and fall.  It is finally here and you can probably expect to see it often.  Other new and interesting flavors include Candied Chestnut gelato and Persimmon sorbetto.

<3 Tori

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Everyone needs a little nagging round about resolution time

Hey it's the new year! WICKED. It's early and of COURSE it's only now that the cold weather decides to settle in. But didn't I see you at the Mummers the other day? You went, right? I did prettttty firmly suggest that you finally make it to your first Mummers parade. C'mon, don't bail on your resolutions THAT fast! If you resolved to go to the parade this year and didn't make it...I dunno, man. I dunno.

But the beginning of the year is one of the best times around Capogiro way. You know we change our flavors out as the year goes on, and there's really sort of a nice pattern to it. It seems like as we get further past fall and into the holiday season, there are a particular set of flavors that really signify all that--your zucca, your King Leo stracciatella. Cold weather stuff that makes you think of pie and candy canes and spoiling the littler members of your family.

But now we've turned the corner. Know how I know? I've officially heard the first rumor of blood oranges. Best sorbetto ever? Mmmmm...could be. Could be. I might have to hold out for blueberry and Bluecoat Gin, but that's definitely a summer flavor and not at all helping my argument that winter's a solidly awesome time of year for sorbetto. But it is! Now I'm left wondering if we can't do something with Bluecoat and blood orange...

Don't get your hopes TOO high, though. I know we don't yet have our blood oranges yet. Maybe by this weekend? MAYBE. I wouldn't want to make you hollow promises, but trust that we'll be tweeting loud and proud once they show up for real. Follow our twitter feed! @CapogiroPenn has to be the most entertaining frozen aweseomeness-related twitter feed going.

So. You're not already sliding on what you promised yourself, right? Get some momentum going! And if a little espresso is what you need to get moving, well. You know where to find us.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

We've made it!!

Well despite the "Mayan Doomday," holiday shopping, travel insanity, fiscal cliffs, getting wasty-faced on New Years Eve, and the Mummers annual takeover of Broad Street and most of South Philly it seems that everyone at Capogiro has survived and we are already 2 days into the new year!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and spend as much time as possible with your friends, families, and loved ones.  I myself gained a new family member this past Thursday.  Little Patrick Robert O'Connell is the first O'Connell gentleman born in over 23 years and we are all very excited to have him.  His older sister Lily is turning 3 next week and is also very excited to have a younger brother she can fight with in the coming years.

I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year and don't forget to keep on stopping by and seeing what fun flavors 2013 may bring for us all.