This blog is about the intersection between evolutionary biology and food. But also about practical applications, sustainable agriculture, and general tasty things.
I have a complicated relationship with coffee because I seem to be very sensitive to it. Even if I drink it regularly, it seems to make me a bit jittery at times. I reserve it for days I really need an edge in productivity. Other days I drink tea. I used to not be able to tolerate coffee at all because it upset my stomach, but I figured out thanks to reader Mike White that I could drink paper-filtered, but not French-press coffee. There is a lot of great coffee here in Chicago, so I'm happy I know this.
I've been drinking Cocoa tea, Tisano, for awhile now, but someone mentioned that they were enjoying a similar beverage that was a bit heavier more like coffee called Crio Bru and I got some online to try.
I first tried the Crio Bru Cavella. When you open the bag it smells like chocolate heaven bliss. It's wonderful.
It probably works best with a french press. Because of the thicker grind it takes a long time in the paper filter. The caveat with the french press is that it is a fatty brew and you can get some oil slick on it. Since ahem some people put butter on their coffee, they might not mind it. When I'm drinking alone I usually don't care but if I'm serving it to other people I usually filter- a metal tea filter can also work OK.
The cavella has a natural sweetness and lightness to it and does not get bitter easily. The other one I am trying now, the Coca River, is much much heartier and easily becomes a bit bitter. It probably holds up a little better to cream though. I look forward to trying more of them. I will say that it does affect me a bit like coffee if I drink the entire french press..
I also picked up some local Chicago Kishr at the nearby Green Grocer. It's a spicy Middle Eastern drink made with the coffee cherry that is also nice as a pick-me-up.
I mostly eat locally produced foods, but I do like to have some treats now and then. Today I had two incredibly delicious things.
On an impulse I picked up some French sauerkraut from Fairway made by Andre Laurent. Yes, the French really do it better. Maybe some day we'll figure it out. Yesterday I had some sauerkraut at Fette Seu in Williamsburg and while my friend Zev appreciated it, I found it rather chrunchy and "young" tasting, meaning it just didn't have any flavor besides acid.
The Andre Laurent sauerkraut contains lard, bacon, champagne (it's from the Champagne region of France), and juniper berries. It is cabbage transfigured and tastes redolent of sumptuous fat. Mmm. I only wish Fairway would carry their entire product line (White beans cooked in goose fat anyone?), but I guess the raw stuff wasn't selling well because they don't carry anymore and only have the tins. I suspect we have more work to do to convince people that duck fat and lard are GOOD things to see on ingredient list.
Last week when was perusing a tea display with a handsome & intelligent young man, he asked me "what made you get into tea?" Well, I think tea is a gourmet pleasure, but I have to admit that it also replaced soda and candy for me. So yes, I do appreciate fancy smancy roasted oolong, but I sometimes buy more pedestrian flavors like chocolate. Unfortunately, almost no chocolate teas taste like anything at all. Luckily, though Steepster, a tea rating site, I heard of Tisano.
Suffice to say, it tastes deliciously like chocolate. Not sweet, just like what good raw chocolate tastes like. Definitely a winner! And it's made from fair-trade minimally processed chocolate! If you miss hot chocolate or chai, this is something to consider! No sugar.
Let's get real about chocolate. First of all not paleo: it requires advanced processing and the addition of sugar to make it edible. If you found the raw fruit growing on the tree it would taste pretty gross.
Second, it's one of the hardest foods to give up. It is admittedly tasty and has a powerful flavor. The problem is that many of us are addicted to it. I used to study alongside a bag of almond chocolate kisses and by the time my term paper was done, I had eaten ALL of them. I was ashamed, but I couldn't stop myself.
Looking back, I had to wonder if it's the mixture of chocolate and either soy or dairy that makes it powerfully addictive. Casein, a major protein in milk, can break down into an opioid that may be addictive. Some people have shifted towards dairy-free dark chocolate bars, but almost all contain soy.
Either way, modern technology and ingredients have made cacao into a food way more addictive than when it was originally used by the Mayans. The Mayans drank the bitter concoctions for religious purposes and it was forbidden to women and children.
My personal experience is that it is best to phase out consumption of chocolate because of the sugar content. I personally started by only consuming "raw" chocolate, which is the least-processed edible form. It's a treat that can teach you to respect the bitter qualities of the substance, while still allowing you to enjoy its culinary virtues.
I eat these treats occasionally:
Artisana Cacao Bliss is made with pureed coconut and just a spoon of this rich concoction satisfies!
Fine & Raw chocolate bars are made with the highest quality full-fat cacao and fully display the complex flavors inherant in the cacao plant.
Or make your own. I made this truffle using a Swedish recipe that is known as Ice Chocolate. Simply mix raw chocolate powder with coconut oil and honey to taste! Roll pureed berries in nuts in the chocolate coconut oil mixture to make truffles.