With a conference to help organise (Eat. Drink. Blog. 2014) and an impending overseas holiday, there’s always lots to do and many lists to make and tick off. Here’s a quick look inside the Tiffin Box to catch up with what’s been happening and an opportunity for you to let me know what you think about my bite sized food adventures.
Merlo Coffee Appreciation
Last year I went to the launch of the Shakerato at Merlo Coffee. An Italian iced coffee made to order by the barista, it’s a delicious caffeine jolt to keep you going through a long Summer afternoon. At the launch, I learned that Merlo also run coffee appreciation classes. This was the perfect gift solution for a number of friends who are becoming increasingly hard to buy for. The other activity they run are the professional cupping sessions, every Tuesday morning at their Bowen Hills Torrefazione (roastery).
Coffee cupping is where single origin beans and blends are roasted, ground and them tasted alongside one another. It’s a chance to review the quality of the beans and their current flavour profile. As an organic product, the taste and aroma of coffee beans changes over time and is affected by environmental conditions during growing, transportation and storage. I had an opportunity last week to attend a cupping session and test my palate. Merlo bean expert, David, talked to us about different coffee styles and sources, took us through grinding and making coffee at home and on to the hilarious act of ‘breaking the crust’ and loudly slurping the coffee off a large spoon to allow maximum aeration on the palate. Whilst I don’t consider myself to be a supertaster or even to have a particularly refined palate for coffee or wine, I was able to pick the Geisha beans from Panama, the world’s most expensive coffee, on scent alone.
This professional cupping session is run each week by and for the Merlo roasters/buyers and other staff so they really understand the nuances of the coffee that Merlo roasts and serves. They welcome other coffee fiends to come along and be part of it for a modest $10 fee.
Going Palm Oil Free
In the last ‘In The Tiffin Box’ I talked about how we have made a conscious choice to move towards a palm oil free household. Palm oil has a number of impacts on the environment, flora, fauna and local communities where it is grown. The big thing to watch out for is the tricky labelling in Australia and New Zealand that can list palm oil as ‘vegetable oil’. This is quite deceptive and is clearly meant to disguise the fact that a product contains palm oil. If it says sunflower, rice bran, olive oil etc, that’s what it is. If it says vegetable oil, it’s probably palm oil. Click on this link to see just how many guises palm oil is known under: palm oil’s many names.
As we re-stock pantry items, we look for palm oil free alternatives. Anthony likes his butter but living in Queensland, it’s just not practical to store it in a butter conditioner on the bench. It would be rancid in a matter of a few days. Of course, butter straight from the fridge is rock hard so, he likes to use a spreadable butter. We had been using a variety of spreads but have now moved on to palm oil (and additive) free Mainland Buttersoft. As far as we can tell, there is no discernible difference in flavour and has good spreadability so this is the one for us! We’d like to use an Australian product but are supporting the Kiwis on this one. If you use butter spreads, I hope you can make the switch too.
It’s been well over 6 months since I moved to my new self hosted website. Thanks for coming along on the ride. Perhaps you’ve noticed some gradual changes. Snazzy graphics and slide shows. I sometimes use headings, still post twice a week, have tried some new post styles (Lists), taken a break from some posts (Random Recipes) and still re-visit other posts from time to time (Local and/or General). But what do you think? What do you like? What do you want to see more or less of? Is there something you would like me to write about? Here is your opportunity to tell me. Please let me know what you think in my 10 question reader survey. It’s anonymous, only takes a couple of minutes and will really help me understand what’s working and what needs further consideration.
Go on – you know you want to!
As you read this, I am sitting on a plane, heading towards LAX. Whilst the journey is sometimes better than the destination, we know in this case that being crammed inside a silver tube with 200 hundred other people, rocketing through the atmosphere for 11 hours is an example of where clearly the destination will be better than the journey. I look forward to sharing my bite sized* food adventures with you upon my return. Don’t forget you can follow along on social media via the hashtag #TiffinUSA
*scaled to US portion size