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PaniniGuy

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    http://aldocoffee.com

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  • Location
    Pittsburgh
  1. PaniniGuy

    Home Coffee Roasting

    Nice to see this topic bumped up again. A little over a year ago, we bought one of the first Behmor 1600's to play around with. It's a very capable unit with decent, but not wonderful profiling capabilities. If you enjoy home roasting and would like something that offers more repeatability than airpoppers or greater ease of use than heat guns, the $300 you'd spend on a Behmor might be worth it. As I'm a co-owner of a coffeehouse that uses primarily Intelli coffees, I'll suggest that the advantage of buying from a larger roaster is QC and dependability (along with convenience of not taking an hour out of your day to roast). Most important to us is that they buy coffees using a Direct Trade model. However, there's little doubt that roasting one's own is fun, will be less expensive in the long run, and allows you more opportunity to discover both coffees and roast levels that fit your particular palate As to home roasts being uniformly better? I've been a judge at several barista competitions and have had home roasters pull me shots of what, in their opinion, was the best espresso I'd ever taste. They weren't. Ever. And it wasn't the equipment. That said, I competed myself this year using a Behmor-roasted blend of Esmeralda (Lot 5) and Brazil Cerrado and did as well on the judges scoresheets for my espresso round as competitors who were using Black Cat, and in some cases better. With good beans, a reliable and repeatable roasting method, and a bit of tasting and tweaking, much is possible.
  2. PaniniGuy

    Greentree PA

    Angkor is still there, assuming that's the one you mean (it's about the only good resto in Greentree). The hotbed of South Hills dining is on Washington Rd. in Mt. Lebanon. Bistro 19, Il Pizzaiolo, Iovinos. But you'd be just as close to downtown as you would be to Mt. Lebanon. You can also try Tamarind Savoring India in the Scott Towne Center near the intersection of Greentree Rd. and Cochran (end of Rte 121 So).
  3. PaniniGuy

    Abay Ethiopian (Pittsburgh)

    I've only had their food at functions, not in the restaurant. Because of those experiences judged against Ethiopian I've had in DC and NY, I've not eaten there. I get to DC often enough to sate my cravings. However, many people who haven't had other Ethiopian experiences to compare fully enjoy Abay and the other one (can't recall the name) because it's a whole different experience. It's hard to describe as the spice blends are fairly unique to the cuisine. But you'd be somewhat safe calling it a fourth cousin by marriage to So. Indian cuisine. The use of yogurt, nitr kibe(ghee) and berbere (essentially a curry paste, heavy with red peppers) is common. Don't expect a lot of nuance in the spicier dishes, their appeal is in the assertiveness. There's not a lot of meat - it's used more as an ingredient, not the featured component of most dishes. Legume dishes are plentiful and range from bland from spicy. A good selection of dishes would also feature numerous different textures. And if they offer you awaze, don't get any on your hands and don't try much more than a pinhead of the stuff until you think your system can take it. The first time I had it (at the old Red Sea in DC) I thought my tongue was going to bubble up and melt off - and I've won hot pepper eating contests before. It was ridiculous. Maybe Abay's isn't that strong - you should hope so! The real fun is in the eating. No utensils (except perhaps for soup). For the entree you get a plate covered with injera (a spongy bread). The a la carte dishes (or a chef's recommended combo) that you ordered are scooped into piles on the injera. You then tear off pieces of the injera and use those to scoop food and eat it. As dining is communal, usually the selections of all parties are scooped onto the injera so all can share. It's unique, it's enjoyable. Go with the flow and let them recommend stuff for you if you have any trepidation. I think it's also BYO, but check their website. Beer is probably a better choice than wine. If it's to be wine, select something crisp and fruity like a Reisling.
  4. PaniniGuy

    Vegetarian cookbooks

    Was shopping couple of weeks ago for a present at Half Price Books (one of the seven wonders of the world, IMO) and came across a copy of Donna Klein's "Vegan Italiano" for $5, so I snatched it up. Have only made one thing from it, and on first look it almost appears that most of the recipes are things that other Italian cookbooks have covered ad nasuem. But in perusing it a bit closer I found a number of bean-centered dishes that don't often show up in other Italian cookbooks. All in all, it's a nice book to have for convenience - I do lunch for a small coffeehouse with some vegan customers, so it's nice to have one place to go for vegan recipes. Mostly what we make for vegetarians/vegans are soups however, and for that I use my Deborah Madison soup book frequently for inspiration. On the bulgar in veggie chili - I'm not a big fan of fake meats either, but TPV works extremely well for a "meaty" bite. I've also used farro and quinoa in place of bulgar.
  5. Sus... I agree with you somewhat on Tessaro's. The burgers are very good relative to many other places, IMO, but honestly, are they worth all the acclaim they receive here? Not sold on that part. Abay... nice try, and it's great to have Ethiopian here, but if you've been to DC... Mexican... not much beyond combo plate specials, but I suggest you try Mexico City or Taco Loco (lengua tacos!). The El Campesino restos in Monroeville and Peters are probably the best combo places. There's also Azul in Leetsdale for more creative stuff, but haven't made that trip yet. I'm surprised that given you're a student and have a New Haven background, you haven't yet ripped into the awful state of pizza here. But there is a CT-like pie in Peters Twp - Harry's (recipe comes from West Hartford). It's excellent all except for the clam pie, which was a disappointment. For sushi, take the T to Mt. Lebanon sometime for Little Tokyo. They also opened a place on the South Side somewhere recently). And while in Mt. Lebanon, Bistro 19 is a great place for a creative dinner or for Sunday brunch (right next to the wonderful Il Pizzaiolo).
  6. PaniniGuy

    Percolators

    I know just from the trilogy of Ruhlman books I've purchased, I've given him a nice down payment for a Technivorm (which as many of you know, brews at 200F into a thermal carafe).
  7. PaniniGuy

    I'd like a hot latte, please

    In the US, ordering an extra hot latte (something over 160-165F) from a better cafe is greeted with about the same disdain as ordering a great cut of meat well done at a better steakhouse. They'll do it, but not gleefully. For whole milk, the flavor peaks around 160. After that it's downhill and above 180, you're talking scalded/burned to the point where it actually stinks. You can take skim a little higher, but be careful that the milk doesn't sit as skim will begin separating within seconds. If nothing else, it's good to know that this phenomenon of wanting superheated lattes isn't just limited to spoiled US consumers And yeah, an Italian latte macchiato (1.5oz to 6oz milk) is about the same strength as a 16oz chainstore latte (usually 3oz espresso to 12oz milk), just poured backwards (espresso through the milk). Italian cafes seem to generally only steam the milk to 140-145F from our experience. Btw, Rebecca... you sound like you were a pretty good barista. What do you do now?
  8. PaniniGuy

    Simpler sandwiches

    I understand the desire for simplicity. Just came back from Florence/Rome and much of the panini there has but two or three ingredients in addition to the bread. Delicious nonetheless. As my screenname suggests, I do this for a living. Taking the simplicity of Italian panini as a cue, I've tried not to overcomplicate things, but rather to combine flavors into something that makes sense. Still, our best seller is a turkey club with six ingredients (peppered turkey, fontina, arugula, roasted tomato and pancetta with a meyer-lemon aioli) so I guess that makes me guilty by the OP. On the other hand, the second-best is a tuna with just three ingredients (tuna salad, asiago and arugula). Although the tuna salad has cannellini, olive, orzo and artichoke in it... We did make a dynamite grilled fontina with tomato on a sesame semonlina bread but nobody was ordering it so we dropped it from the menu.
  9. As co-owner/cook of what I think/hope is decent at what it does (coffee/lunch), we get a lot of the stroller set in during late mornings/early afternoons. When we get a kid that cries for more than a few seconds - happens at least once a month - there is a noticeable discomfort with other customers (some of whom leave earlier than they would have normally, costing us potential business). There is also added stress on staff and me while the noise is going on - and sometimes it could go on for a LONG time - as if the parent is totally oblivious to it. We've never asked anyone to leave, but a few times we've had to intervene with crayons, puzzles, coin tricks or in a couple of cases, actually asking the parent, "What can we do to help your kid stop crying?" Needless to say, I neither encourage nor like being seated near small children when I'm expecting to drop a $100 or more on dinner and wine, and will ask to be moved on those occasions. However, I will add that if the child in question manages to be well-behaved throughout the dinner, I will always make a point of congratulating the parents on their child-rearing skills.
  10. PaniniGuy

    Best Coffee Chain?

    Like most things, this gets down to what you really like. Not being facetious. At our cafe we serve Intelligentsia beans, yet, despite the fact that we're serving some of the best single origin coffees on the planet every day, a surprising large number of people want "the darkest thing you have", or "just give me the house coffee." There seems to be a limit to what emotional investment many folks will make as regards coffee. People like what they like and often can't be bothered to move up the chain without being confronted on it. Taste can be a weird thing - guy stormed out angrily today because we'd eliminated a 20oz. serving of what he wanted from the menu - we didn't think that size drink showed us in the best light. I guess that's saying that if you're choosing to go out and experiment, that puts you in a discerning minority of coffee consumers, so good for you - the industry thanks you! So "best coffee at big chains"... if it's retail beans to brew at home, could be Caribou - they've done some surprisingly good blends that rate highly on Coffee Review. Could be Peet's. A whole lot of people buy Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts beans, so there's some safety there. Green Mountain is served in a ton of gas stations, yet is hugely respected in the quality segment of the coffee industry. But as you're in SF, have to think once you've experimented with the breadth of what Ritual, Blue Bottle or Ecco can offer, there's little chance you'll go back to a "major" chain's offerings again.
  11. PaniniGuy

    Celebrities you have cooked for

    There aren't many BIG celebs in these parts, but many athletes and local Pittsburgh celebs live in the Mt. Lebanon area, where our coffeeshop is. While we see various pro and major college coaches, players, newscasters, etc. in the shop and try not to make any out-of-the-ordinary fuss, there was one night that was pretty amusing... A techie guy and old school blogger is in line at the coffeehouse and is pointing to a woman while talking to others in line. After the woman ordered and stepped away from the counter, the techie came up to my wife and asked if my wife recognized the 60-ish woman whom she just served. My wife said "No, I don't. Should I?" He then proceeds to act indignant and says in all seriousness, "I can't believe you don't know Mark Cuban's mother!" I bet Ms. Cuban didn't even realize she was that popular.
  12. PaniniGuy

    Viva v. Bounty and beyond

    Absolutely - the pick-a-size is the most ingenious paper towel ever invented. Saves a ton of paper and absorption isn't too bad either.
  13. PaniniGuy

    Coffee Glossary project

    Will make a note to look at more menus when in Italy next month. But... was just in Chitown at Intelly two weeks ago. Their "cortado" is a tall, thin juice glass that is basically a small latte. If there's someone here from SF, I've heard a couple of different definitions of the "Gibraltar", which I think might be a Blue Bottle creation. My understanding is that it might be a latte macchiato in an 8oz cup, but I've never had one, so couldn't really say... all I know is that they do "reverse" latte art, using the coffee itself to make the rosettes in the milk. Mr. Tacy might be able to clarify since he's already posted a fairly comprehensive list (although is it "corretto" or "correcto"?)
  14. PaniniGuy

    Canned Tomatoes are Fine

    When I'm loading up on provisions at Restaurant Depot, I often toss in big can of "Full Red/Stanislaus" Filetto di Pomodoro. Those do the trick in probably 90% recipes in my repertoire - including, amazingly, gazpacho.
  15. PaniniGuy

    American palates

    What a great subject for a thread. I don't have any evidence to support this, but I don't believe that palates change significantly over time if one doesn't choose to develop their palate. It is not a passive activity. Since black coffee is noted often in this thread, I'll note that I own a coffeehouse. When I invite people to try some top auction coffees - but insist that they have to drink them black, no milk or sugar - people are astounded that they can actually tolerate the taste of black coffee. We give them challenges like looking for a specific berry, or type of chocolate or nut flavor in what they're drinking. And they accept that challenge and end up enjoying the experience. If we can get them to change their minds on the subject of coffee, anything seems possible.
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