Exploring Coffee Around the World

by Samantha Scott
( April 4th, 2014 )

Coffee Around the World Irish Coffee at Buena Vista San Francisco North Beach


If you’ve ever made the mistake of stirring a fresh cup of Turkish coffee, then this post is for you. The nuances of coffee culture around the world presents a fascinating portrait of how different countries and peoples enjoy this most magical of drinks. Continuing on the thread of last Friday’s post, and inspired by this article from travelchannel.com, today WanderFood explores coffee around the world!

Italy is not known for its breakfast food but absolutely nothing beats Italian espresso. I’ve heard my dad say he didn’t start drinking coffee until a short trip to Italy as a young man completely changed his mind. He has been drinking coffee ever since in a quest to find that taste again. (Subsequent trips to Italy have proven that it wasn’t his imagination! Coffee indeed tastes better there than anywhere else). Italy is one place where there really is a culture surrounding the drinking and enjoying of coffee, as beautifully illustrated in this blog post by Walks of Italy, appropriately titled “How to Drink Coffee Like an Italian.”

When I was living in Hungary, I found that the coffee tasted rather sugary and sweet. I noticed this in the surrounding countries as well, especially Austria, which is mentioned in the travel channel article as having a coffee drink known as Melange, similar to a cappuccino but sometimes served topped with whipped cream. To me the sugary nature of coffee drinks I had in Central Europe seemed to come from the milk rather than the type of coffee. I’m not sure why this is. Perhaps they have sweeter cows?

Yes I make bad jokes. Thank you for noticing.

Moving on: Australia is another country to have truly embraced a European approach to coffee. It was while living there that my mom and I discovered the joy of the Macchiato. An espresso with a shot of foamed milk. It’s the perfect drink for people who find Lattes and Cappuccinos to be just a tad too milky. Only problem with a Macchiato, as with straight shots of espresso, is that they are SO much about the taste of the coffee, that if you pull a bad espresso, basically the only thing to do is start over. Once you’ve had a perfectly pulled espresso it’s impossible to accept anything less. Luckily, tips abound for doing just that, like this article, featuring some really beautiful photographs of the process, from Blue Bottle Coffee.

For dessert, how about an Irish Coffee? A drink with an interesting history and varying accounts as to how, when and why it was invented. As described here, the most popular story is that prior to the construction of an actual airport, passengers on transatlantic flights to Port of Foynes in Ireland during the earliest years of regular commercial air travel frequented a restaurant at  the port for hot food and drink. However after a grueling 18 hour flight, requests started to come in for “something stronger.” The owner of the restaurant asked his chef, Joe Sheridon, to create something and lo! Irish Coffee was born. Enjoyed by passengers time after time, including then-owner of the Buena Vista Cafe in San Francisco, Jack Koeppler, who was determined to bring the drink home and perfect it. Which he did. The Buena Vista is still known today as one of the best places in the world to get Irish Coffee!

Have you had a favorite coffee experience somewhere around the world? Share your stories in the comments!

Photo Credit

Buena Vista Irish Coffee: Dmitri Chekhter via Flickr

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WanderFood Wednesday: Sunday Spaghetti

by Samantha Scott
( April 1st, 2014 )

Cooking spaghetti then and now family recipeGrowing up, one of our staples during the wintertime was Sunday spaghetti. We’d pop on some Opera (Tosca or Turandot being major favorites) and channel our inner Italian, as the smells of tomato sauce, mushrooms, garlic, onion and sausage filled the air. Spaghetti night was always one we looked forward to and we’ve been perfecting the recipe for the past twenty some odd years.


Winter is coming to a close and I thought tonight I’d honor that by cooking my familys’ Sunday spaghetti! No way it will taste the same, but one can always try.


Wine Pairing: 1998 Private Reserve Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon, from Napa California

Bread: Fresh Ciabatta, paired with Ancient Trees Olive Oil

Scott Family Sunday Spaghetti

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs Ground Chuck

  • 3 Mild Italian Sausage

  • 1 Jar good quality marinara sauce.  We use a local brand from Bryans Market, but have also had delicious results with Muir Glen garlic roasted garlic

  • 2 Medium Roma tomatoes, chopped

  • 1 Medium yellow onion, chopped

  • 4-5 Medium white mushrooms, chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 pack spaghetti noodles; we use Rustichella d’abruzzo

  • 1 Tbsp butter

  • 2 Tbsp EVOO

Directions

  1. Set a large pot of salted water to boil (use about 1 tablespoon kosher salt)

  2. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil and 1 Tbsp butter in a large saute pan, on medium heat. Pro Tip! Turn the burner on about 30 seconds before adding the EVOO and butter. It helps the heat be distributed more evening and prevents burning.

  3. Sautee the mushroom and onion in the pan on medium heat, until lightly browned.Onions and Mushrooms for Spaghetti family recipe

  4. Add the garlic and saute for another 30 seconds. Remove pan from heat and transfer the mushroom, onion and garlic to a plate and set aside.

  5. Return the pan to medium heat and brown the ground chuck and sausage, usually takes about 10 minutes. Drain excess liquid if necessary.

  6. Transfer onion mixture back to the pan and add tomatoes and sauce. Cover and simmer on low.Sunday Spaghetti sauce simmer family recipe

  7. Meanwhile the water for the noodles should be at or near boiling. Drop in pasta and keep at a steady boil until they are at your desired firmness. We usually prefer al dente, but it’s entirely up to you. Remember that pasta will continue cooking slightly after you take it off the heat so if a noodle test tastes just a tiny bit too hard it’s usually safe to drain them as by the time you’re done, they will have reached perfection!

  8. Drain noodles and add right in to the spaghetti sauce.

  9. Serve and enjoy!Sunday Spaghetti ready to serve family recipe

I would love to hear about your favorite family recipes! Be sure to share in the comments!Spaghetti Dinner wine bread salad family recipe


Link to your WanderFood Wednesday Blog below and join the WanderFood community!


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3 Places to Get Amazing Coffee in the Bay Area

by Samantha Scott
( March 28th, 2014 )

Blue Bottle Coffee in the Bay Area


If you’re like me, you need a jolt or two in the morning but you also appreciate a jolt that tastes amazing! Luckily there’s no shortage of great coffee here in the Bay Area and I’m still exploring. But in the meantime, here are three of my current favorite places to get coffee in the Bay Area.

Flying Goat, Healdsburg CA: On your way to a day of wine tasting? Start the day off right with a delicious offering from Flying Goat Coffee. What I especially love about this place is the light, the friendliness, and it’s usually not too difficult to find a place to sit. Just off the beautiful Healdsburg square, it’s a great morning spot to get energized, spread out the Wine Road map and make a list of where you plan to hit that day. FYI you will, without fail, hit less than half no matter how much stamina the coffee gives you, so make sure to plan at least a two day trip up to Wine Country!

Sunflower Cafe – Sonoma CA: This delightful cafe is a Sonoma institution, frequented by locals and tourists alike. It’s the kind of place where you will overhear conversations from people in the wine industry and usually a European accent or two from people visiting the area. Light and airy, it has a tucked away outside area that’s perfect for enjoying a leisurely lunch after a busy day of visiting the diverse shops around the historic Sonoma Square. In addition to making superb coffee, they offer an assortment of sandwiches, breakfast items and serve wine and beer during lunch.

Blue Bottle – Oakland CA: I would be remiss not to mention this Oakland born and bred, stand-in-line-for-a-half-hour-it’s-that-good coffee shop. With locations that do, in fact, find lines snaking around the corner, Blue Bottle prides itself on serving exceedingly fresh (no more than 48 hours out of the roaster) expertly made drip coffee and espresso drinks.  I will say that sometimes, the coffee I’ve had from Blue Bottle is a little too strong. It’s not bitter or shoddily made, just very intense. But if you’re in the mood for a great coffee experience, definitely check them out! One of my favorite locations is just off Hayes St. in San Francisco. Tucked away in a nondescript ally, it has a great ambiance and feels like a hidden secret; a great place to go to impress your friends with your insider knowledge! (Blue Bottle also has an excellent Instagram page if you’re ever in a mood to satiate your coffee art cravings).

What’s your favorite local spot for delicious coffee? When I’m traveling, if there’s one thing that can make a good day even better, it’s finding the perfect coffee spot!

Photo Credit

Blue Bottle Coffee: John Walsh via Flickr Creative Commons

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