9 January 2009

Not velvet

Hello, Dear Friends!

After numerous holidays’ parties and family dinners, I am dearly happy to see you here again! I mean it.

It so happens that every now and then I register a fat lot of brainwaves which eagerly associate themselves with my decent personality, when my mind is like a young green bean that sprouts up wisdom and all that. However, to balance out such shameless self-appraisal, I should propose to your attention, My Dear Reader, a short oration on the matter rather contradictory to my common sense. I shall be conciliatory just so as to say that to have arrived in Russia with a semi-winter coat on my shoulders was certainly not among my ripest ideas ever. Because what should happen – a surprise! – but fierce temperatures below zero. A very downward way below zero, so to speak.

In other words, I am cold. I am all cold.

True, I am inspired by the pristine whiteness of thick snow that crackles under my feet like a prickled cabbage or cucumber does when munched away (I took my time to think up a proper comparison): by the stillness of air in early morning: by fragile-looking stars strewn in the sky as if grains of Fleur de Sel sprinkled over the chocolate fudge: by winter sun that does not warm but cheers up instead: by mysterious icy/misty decorations on windows: by silent shades: by everything in fact. Still, a nippy frost is not velvet, you understand. Let me just say it is a very cold-hearted character, this frost.

In short, at cold times like that I am a fixture in the kitchen. (Where else would I go, apart from brisk walks to keep my blood circulation all right, if I don’t have a frost-friendly, so to say, outer wear?) Generally I am known as a reasonable thing, when it comes to survival in winter, however, I give reason a miss just so as to become and stay alive (which is decidedly very important) and jolly thing. So please cluster around: I am going to offer you an imaginary – at least for now – summer that’s securely tucked away in a cup of Caribbean coffee.

A few words on the beverage: as the name suggests, it is an exquisitely tropical one. Besides, it is an interesting way to have your coffee, what with a reassuring touch of citrus, or rather hug: a good thing in winter, no?

Plus, er...[crystal silence] (Honestly, just as I was going to say something here, my thought slipped away as that illusionary winter sun, don’t you know. So with that, I’ll repair back to my kitchen to fix myself another steaming cup of the coffee. I’d dare gently urge you to do just the same.)

The Caribbean Coffee

Adapted from Gastronom, November 2008 (Russian counterpart of Gourmet and such)
(As with all things simple - to enjoy the coffee absolutely, you may need to go for the best ingredients you can get, in the first place)

For 2 servings:

8 Tsp coffee beans
rind of ½ organic orange
A pinch each of: ground cinnamon, ground cloves, ground ginger and ground cardamom (the total combination should amount to ½ tsp)
1/4 tsp pure vanilla essence
2 tsp dark brown sugar (optional; I personally prefer a pure, natural bitterness of coffee to that with sugar.)

1. Preheat the oven to 120 C.
2. Dice the orange rind and put it on a baking sheet layered with parchment paper. Keep the orange zest in the oven for 20 mins or until the zest is thoroughly dried out. Let cool.
3. Put the coffee beans, the orange rind and combination of spices in a coffee grinder and grind them finely.
4. Put the ground mixture in a 200ml coffee pot , add vanilla essence, sugar (optional) and cold water almost to the brims of the pot.
5. Over low heat, stir continuously, and slowly bring the final mixture to a gentle boil. Serve immediately.

P.S. I’ve noticed that with the present post the total number of entries on this blog amounts to 50 (!). (Purely for the record, I am twice younger.) Anyway, here is to more (self-congratulatory approach, you understand)!


toni said...

Love, love love the photo of the orange on the table! And the coffee cup. And the shadows.

And your coffee is a variation of my morning chai. There are only 2 differences: coffee instead of Assam tea and orange. I don't use orange in my tea. But the other spices - definitely. Every morning, winter and summer.

Happy New Year to you. Stay warm, my friend....

jesse said...

Wow, I LOVE your pictures... they all speak to me of nostalgia and wonder, and you write so beautifully as well. Happy 2009 to you too!

Cinnamonda said...

Oh, proper winter! Lovely pictures! The one with the, is it a mandarin?, is brilliant. It would make a nice poster.


anya said...

Toni - thanks! I feel inspired to introduce the spicy tea in my life, really! Although I treasure my coffee cup - filled with coffee, of course! - it is always nice to give it a short break, especially when no lesser delicious beverage is looming on the horizon. Again - for the record, - lately I've used the word 'beverage' more times than I can actually count. I hope it merely has something to do with cold and all that. :)

Jesse - sometimes I tend to label my own photos and writings with it-sucks tag. But when I get comments like yours, I feel I wrong myself. Really, I'm endlessly grateful for your kind and reassuring words!

Tiina - the photo with the mandarin is my favourite too! :)