Thursday, March 27, 2014

Is winter REALLY over yet?

Is it safe to call Winter 2014 over yet? Oh spring, how I burn and pine for you... I mean REAL you. With flowers and pollen and birds. Anyways, I think were just about there. 

It's been a pretty tough couple months at Capogiro Rittenhouse.  Supressing the memory of some weather from the poles vortexing it's way to the northeast United State in early January is impossible for us. Remember when we were closed for nearly three weeks due to exploding pipes?

Well, were in good shape now and gearing up for happier days.  We whipped up our first seasonal batch of italian granita in earl grey vanilla bean and it's delicious with bourbon butterscotch gelato.  

Turnabout being fair play and all that.

Ok so remember last week in this space wherein I tried to argue the case that we don't really want to be those incredibly over-bearing, snobbish coffee wonks and try instead to just be the professional folk who make your coffee?

Well, wouldn't you know it someone's taken up the flag and put together a video about what it can be like for us on OUR side of the counter:

"I'm a writer!" Oh man. And while we wouldn't invite you to exit the premises because you've ordered a pumpkin spice latte, it does pay to read our menu quickly to make sure that you'll be getting the drink you actually want.

So here's our assurance to you: if you're looking for simply a classic, well-prepared cappuccino, we'll make it for you. And we won't get snooty about how ordering a cappuccino after 11 in the morning or so really just isn't done. It's cool--you want to drink coffee, and we want to make coffee. It's kinda what we do.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

We do try not to be those people

So I have been making espresso (on and off) for...kind of a long time. If you want to know exactly how long, you'll have to come see me and ask me across the bar so that we can have a chat for a minute while I'm putting together your cappuccino. But suffice it to say that I've been doing it for long enough that I don't know what "wave" we're currently on, or even what "wave" I started on myself however many moons ago. Or what the whole "wave" thing really means, all in all.

Mostly what I know about coffee is that there are a couple of things I've become pretty curmudgeonly about. For one, the behemoth to whom every American espresso cafe owes its existence is now essentially a trans-national mega-conglomerate which has effectively removed any possible soul, craft, technique, or skill from the espresso experience at their cafes. Really, you're going to transition all of your stores to fully automatic espresso machines, huh? Awesome. Oh, and the freeze-dried latte thing? Really? Two thumbs on that one!

I also get pretty bummed that it's so hard to find a simple cup of decent drip varietal coffee. I actually get on this soapbox pretty frequently--certainly any time I'm training someone. But really, I grew up as a wee-lil espresso nugget abusing my kidneys with coffees from actual places like Ethiopia and Sumatra. Then we reached a point sometime between the second? third? (I really don't know) espresso wave where it all became about competition blends or whatever. Which is great! I'm all for an actual reflection of craft and technique in my food and drinks (see above). But do we really have to make it a competition? And moreover I'm kind of a big believer in terroir, and I really like nerding out about how Mexican beans tend to make for a fruity and acidic cup given the volcanic soil. That sort of stuff. (If anyone has a line on a good Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, lemme know, hey?)

So then there's this, which I actually found to be a pretty good (and funny) breakdown on the whole cooler-than-you coffee world we've somehow found ourselves in. I especially like the "hipster Ariel"--"the whole coffee thing was so much cooler before you showed up."

(Quick parenthetical for my favorite coffee joke--how did the hipster burn his tongue? Drank his coffee before it was cool.)

Listen, we make some pretty good espresso at your local Capogiro. We take it seriously...but man, there's a limit to that. I mean, we've all seen this one, right? (The only strong language is in the title, I swear):

I actually do encourage my crew from time to time to watch this video. Because alas, we do pretty regularly watch the latte we just made...die on the bar. And get sad.

So by all means don't drink swill-coffee. This town has a ton of great (ahem, independent) espresso cafes where you can get a drink made well by someone who's actually paying attention. But really man. Competition blends? When did it come to that? When did food have to get so...competitive? I don't get it, really.

Of course, I've been making coffee since before it was cool. You probably haven't heard of the place where I first learned how.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Gross: relative.

So in the interest of preparing yourself for this week's post, you should take a look at this article, wherein the author (British) tries to do one of those funny posts about how weird other cultures' food can be and, as frequently happens, ends up being somewhat belittling and mocking. 

Granted I'm one of those people who's willing to eat a little more broadly than some others, but just because the thought of eating some of the more adventurous bits of an animal squicks you out doesn't mean that someone else is wrong for thinking that those bits they're delicious. To be honest, what's really more unappealing when you know more about the respective food chains of the two countries: the all-American pink-in-plastic boneless, skinless chicken breast in the cooler at your local mega-mart, or cibreo, the Italian pasta sauce that combines cocks' combs, wattles, livers, and un-laid eggs?

The American dish is the tail end of a food chain that seems to strive to keep the eater from knowing what the actual process is that brought that anonymous glob of protein to her plate. The Italian dish is the product of a focus on using as much of the animal as possible, and it just seems more honest. We Americans are still eating the combs, wattles, livers, and all from the the chickens who provided the breasts. The difference is that it's being sold to us as nuggets, salad, and whatever else is the result of mechanically recovering meat.

And in the long run, WHY mechanically recover meat, anyway? Yes, there are going to be leftover bits after you've removed the breasts and the thighs and all, no matter how adept you are at carving. But that's why you make stock, right?

S'anyway. I don't think it's fair to disparage what other cultures think is delicious, even if you find it off-putting yourself. There's the whole discussion about Asian cultures where dog is a fairly common protein source, and most of us object to that. But ultimately that's arbitrary--if you ask a vegetarian, they would probably tell you that it makes no sense at all to favor one animal over another for your diet because of sentimental attachment. (And you don't have to ask a vegan in the first place, because they're going to tell you anyway.)

Does all this mean that I'm champing at the bit to try my first roasted cow eyeball? It does not. At all. We're all always going to have our culinary limits. But try to remember that gross is in the eye of the beholder, and when the conventionally-produced chicken industry on the Delmarva Peninsula creates so much guano that it's killing the Chesapeake Bay, gross really is pretty relative.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Admit it, you've been wondering.

So we're heading up to St. Patrick's Day (happens every year, don't you know) and you can tell we're on top of the dates because the Irish Potato gelato has made its way back into our cases. And you sample it and you like it and you get that it's got cream cheese and coconut and cinnamon and all. But you still don't actually know what an Irish potato is. It's okay, you're totally not alone. I didn't know either until I got here! But an Irish potato is, quixotically, neither especially Irish or (usually) inclusive of any potato. But it is very, very Philadelphia. When they haven't been gelatoed, they look like this:
And you have to admit that they really do look an awful lot like potatoes, what with the pine nut "eyes." And cocoa powder is a whole lot more appealing than the usual gray dirt you usually have to scrub off your potatoes. So all in all they really might be altogether superior to your bog-standard Idaho baker, but probably not really as tasty covered in sour cream and bacon. That's just me, though. If coconut and sour cream sounds like a winning thing to you, then hey. You do that.

So come on in; we should have Irish potato in rotation for the next couple of weeks at least. And after that...who knows? Maybe it won't actually snow any more this year and then we really can start convincing ourselves that this winter will eventually become spring. will, right? It can't stay cold forever, can it? Let's listen to something vaguely tropical.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


Capo-Biscotti, so hot right now.

Pistacchio Spice, Chocolate Hazelnut, and Almond Anise

Coming in three different delicious fashions, capo-biscotti makes the perfect accessory to any hot drink.  We bake them ourselves, and ever since it hit the shelves, we’ve been having trouble keeping the jars on the counter full.

What else is hot?  Certainly not the weather, but we have been selling quite a lot of steaming hot chocolate and warmed-up croissants.  Dont be afraid to ask any of the baristas to heat up croissants, cookies, cakes, or sandwiches!!  They are all so gooey and delicious heated up!

-tori styner