"This unique chocolate offers undertones of milk with fruity bursts of cacao flavor. Upon tasting, it presents strong fruit and floral notes with a mild acidic hue. It is lusciously creamy with a long sparkling finish." - packaging on that Fiori Chocolatiers bar mentioned in "The Senses Rule" post (and yup everyone has a blog these days - so here's Fiori's)
"First it was wine. Then it was specialty beers. Now coffee is the latest beverage to rise above its proletarian origins and develop its own elitist culture," starts Sal Pizarro's column today headlined "Coffee as art form at fancy food forum" in the San Jose Mercury News. Well, read the chocolate label above again and you can see the wine high art language pretty loud and clear.
``The Bay Area is really experiencing an espresso renaissance,'' said Andy Newbom, owner of Barefoot Coffee Roasters in Santa Clara.
Will coincidences never cease? I was planning on hitting Barefoot Coffee today (their website is their blog is their website). I am curious about my apparent inabiliity to desire much caffeine or alcohol or sugar lately and I was going to try an experiment.
I can enjoy a half glass, maybe a full one, of wine and then it's all downhill from there. I have been waking up at 6 a.m. bright and bushy-tailed for a month (if you know me long, this is radically atypical Evelyn-is-a-night-person behavior.) Except when and if I go out drinking with buddies, I can barely crawl out by 9 although I went to sleep the night before at the same hour.
I don't have to cut out caffeine altogether. And in fact there is something near magical about black, oolong, green and white teas. But my beverage of choice at Barefoot, the action-packed intense Cacophony, a cayenne pepper, chocolate espresso blend totally fries me to a crisp. The inner fire consumes at too erratic and high a level rather than being a slow simmer.
The other interesting thing is I adore slathering on real butter again which I stopped eating about the same time as I cut out all red meat (yes, pork too, it is not the other white meat - btw, have you seen The Meatrix? Cute: the message needs a tad more humor, less preachiness imho) just after college, which let's just say was a way long time ago.
So on toast I'll now have butter. Jam can be too much of a sugar-high. Like I said I'm like on a constant rush already. And the other thing is I love cream again too.
If I eat ice cream, which in our household used to be a daily decadence, I'm going all out. Give me the creamiest extravangance you have - a small cup will do.
I was visiting one of my David friends (there seems to be a string of Davids in my life), actually my best David friend, and we're driving from the post office where I accompanied him as he mails his friend and ex-lover a tub of super-chunky peanut butter overnight express...to France.
"They don't have super-chunky in France."
He explains his life-saving mission: "She said she was going to hurl herself off their new bridge if she doesn't get it soon." Sure that might total out to be the most expensive peanut butter on earth, but what are friends for?
Later on the drive home, he tempts: "Want to do something forbidden?"
I have no idea what he has in mind, but I say yes! these days. We end up buying some amazing ice cream at the organic grocer in town where you can see the waves cresting the Pacific - I'll remember the brand later - and nuts and whipped cream.
"It doesn't need the whipped cream," he confesses later. Agreed - it's complete in and of itself. Superfluous to add to it.
Fruits and nuts are like manna from heaven. In fact I can probably subsist totally on fruit, nuts, tea I think. I used to be too lazy to eat an orange - you know I'd have to peel the thing and that'd take too long - yet two weeks ago I spent forty-five minutes enjoying an orange with a pair of almonds.
Jon Kabat-Zinn has this mindfulness exercise where you eat a handful of raisins. Maybe just one or two and you actuallly notice. Feel the texture, the taste, everything. Eat slowly. Slower.
When I go on Buddhist meditation retreats (confession: I don't do much sitting meditation, everyday life is my meditation) I am intrigued how the breakfast, lunch and dinner hours are supposed to be a continuation of our mindfulness trainings. Everyone eats like slow-motion, and maybe I'm projecting, there seems to be a somberness, a seriousness about it at least in California anyway. Yeah, that's the way I did the mindfulness eating. Like we're intently focusing, concentrating on the food bite by bite like a dissection of that frog in biology class.
Really one should observe the French and Italians instead. I wrote a piece on eating this forty-five minute orange. I have no shame. There is a sense of pure abandon. And so I have lost my mind and come to my senses. There is no guilt, no responsibility to this act of eating, it's more like care, devotion. And that spills over to everything else. Reading this piece you'd have a hard time distinguishing if I'm eating the orange or rather making love to it. The book, "French Women Don't Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure" makes absolute sense now. Oui, oui, of course how could I miss it. It's all in the subtitle.
Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia is an intriguing book I'm probably going to succumb to. Yet sometimes I am puzzled by its premise:
Plagued with despair after a nasty divorce, the author, in her early 30s, divides a year equally among three dissimilar countries, exploring her competing urges for earthly delights and divine transcendence.
Ellen GilchristElizabeth Gilbert travels to Italy to indulge in pleasure, India to plunge into "ascetic rigor and prayer" and she wraps up her journey in "a balancing act in Bali."
Maybe this is a uniquely American dilemma of compartmentalization. Competing urges? Radical of radicals: Consider what if maybe eating was praying was loving was eating was earthly was divine.
A cover feature in this June's Yoga Journal is timely enough (not online). It's on Tantra. The cover teases, "Tantric Secrets for Everday Bliss." (And nope tantra does not equate to sex nor does it exclude it.)
My definition of tantra is rejecting nothing as being outside consciousness; it's all manifestations of the formless Vastness - call it God, call it Nothing, or don't name It if you will. Another definition: "Samsara is just the dynamic aspect of nirvana - for a Buddha."
The article says that what ties the different lineages and schools of Tantra (in Buddhism it's Vajrayana) is: "The belief that everything is divine." There's no belief necessary, experience it for yourself. The Italian Renaissance was a very unique Tantric period of time. Effectively squashed...between the Counter-Reformation and the Enlightenment we got back to the neat divide of sinfulness and piety, earthly and transcendent, material and spiritual, and even left brain and right brain specialization again.
I'm guessing a new Renaissance is underfoot. Judging from this, I'd say Bob Fox is a new Renaissance architect (Worthwhile podcast).
"Bob Fox has a vision for New York: one with plenty of view, wonderful indoor air and energy efficiency to die for. He's developing that vision in the center of Manhattan, at One Bryant Park, the new Bank of America tower that will feature floor-to-ceiling glass for sunlight, individual heating controls and will recycle all rainwater and waste water." - "Bob Fox: Designing a new New York", Worthwhile Magazine blog
Forget the lobby lined with fake plants - give me a single fresh rose in a vase handmade with care. Give me blossoming plants potted neatly in the garden. Give me natural light. Give me flowing water. Give me lush colors on walls. Give me art. Give me high ceilings. Give me glass. Give me curves. I don't believe you when you say beauty doesn't matter.
Fox is taking his cues from my hero, William McDonough. I have heard McDonough speak several times. Mesmerized. I'm finally absorbing the last drops of his message. He's a sustainable, 'green' architect that steers clear of the frugality, the righteousness, the scarcity mindset of the term sustainability altogether. Rather he is inspired by the fecundity and productivity and creativity of nature. This Renaissance man says in this great essay titled beautifully enough (I love word extravagance almost as much as reverie) "The Extravagant Gesture" in the book, Sustainable Planet:
"Well, consider the cherry tree. Each spring it produces thousands of blossoms, only a few of which germinate, take root and grow. Who would see cherry blossoms piling up on the ground and think, "How inefficient and wasteful"? The tree's abundance is useful and safe." - William McDonough
When in doubt about your design, your product, your marketing strategy, your life, remember the cherry trees.
Bonus: If you'd prefer more rational, analytical underpinnings of my bent towards beauty and abundance, I suggest Trading Up: Why Consumers Want New Luxury Goods...And How Companies Create Them by Michael Silverstein, et al.
p.s. The experiment you ask? I had the Caffe Cacao - "espresso with pure cacao powder. Intense chocolate, not sweet." The terms "pure cacao", "not sweet" sold me. It was served in a small enough cup. Perfect. I'm not bouncing off walls. Oh, and baristas are now in guilds: the Western Barista Guild Jam is on June 4-5.
* If this makes sense great, if not you can totally skip over: I am already bouncing off the walls way too much as it is as I have what known in India as kundalini energy coursing, racing even, through me.