More posts about buildings and food.
I have a piece in the May issue of Vogue, out on newsstands soon. (Carey Mulligan is on the cover.) Title: A New Leaf. Cover line: Eat Your Weeds - Wildly Creative Salads. Topic: why anise hyssop, orach, salad burnet, curly mallow, oxalis, persian cress, lovage are so fun and freaky when dressed and tossed, and why you should use eat with your fingers.
Christopher Kostow makes an appearance, as do Carlo Mirarchi, Evan Shively and Alice Waters. The star is Madeleine Fitzpatrick, and her What the Fuck Did I Just Eat? salad.
This is my first food article for Vogue; more soon.
When news of the end of Ristretto ping-ponged across the twitternet, a number of you suggested following this Tumblr. The enthusiasm caught me flat-footed - I’ve been pretty bad about keeping the postings up to date. I’ll get on top of it in the new year: Tokyo, Seoul, Kenya, Ethiopia, San Francisco, New York.
Watch this space.
Kougin-amann, a pastry from Bretagne that tastes like a croissant was pulled apart and lacquered with a crunchy glaze of sugar.
It was baked by Belinda Leong, a San Francisco chef who was in New York for a dinner at at City Grit; her pastry shop, b. patisserie, will open in Pacific Heights in the next few weeks. Her kougin-amann is exactly right: buttery, crisp, not so sweet as to make you reach for the insulin. It reminds me of the kougin-amanns I was buying at Pierre Hermè in 2003.
Sun, storm, sun: It’s a good year for the garden.
Little gem lettuce, anise hyssop, Russian kale, red mustard greens, wild arugula that tastes like cracked peppercorns.
One last look at São Paulo: some skateboarders took over an Oscar Niemeyer building in Ibirapuera Park undergoing renovation.
In 2000, Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza produced 7,000 60-kilo bags of coffee; now it produces about 700 60-kilo bags. That’s a 90% reduction, but there’s an inverse ratio between productivity and profit. In 2000, Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza was operating at a loss; today, it’s in the black.
The math works when the coffee is this good.
But little of the drying at Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza is done directly on the patios. Recently, they built raised beds like the ones that I saw in East Africa, only longer and deeper - instead of being turned by hand, the coffee is spread with long wooden rakes.
Felipe is experimenting with how to lower the temperature during the drying process so that the coffee loses moisture in a more stable environment. It takes more time, which is exactly the idea: coffee that dries over a longer period maintains more structural integrity, and the beans tastes better months later.
Some coffee in Brazil is dried in drying drums, a cost-efficient shortcut; the coffee I saw in Kenya and Ethiopia was dried between seven and 21 days, or so we were told depending on what the coffee buyer wanted to hear. Last year, Felipe experimented with some coffee and let it dry for 39 days.
He said he was encouraged by the results. Letting coffee sit for 39 days isn’t economically viable - there aren’t enough beds to let all the coffee dry for more than one month - but he’s running more trials this year.
The infrastructure at Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza is that of a traditional Brazilian coffee farm, including a patio for drying the coffee.
This patio made out of terra cotta, and dates to the 1800s; an aqueduct that runs along the wall moved the coffee from one patio to another.
It looked like a Roman ruin.
Another example of passive organic farming: coffee is grown under the shady canopy of trees.
This is a second-growth forest. Not long ago, all the hills were cleared for coffee plants, acre after acre of a monoculture. Things grow quickly in this part of the world: the trees allowed to return are now towering monsters.
It tastes sweeter and more perfumed than bourbon coffee cherries, a little like what yellow raspberries are to red raspberries. It makes sense, as the yellow fruit doesn’t have anthocyanin, a pigment (also found in blueberries, blood oranges) that gives the skin its color and the flavor an acidic bite.
An example of passive organic farming: a spiderweb, nature’s pesticide.
The coffee variety is bourbon.
Jão, who has neighboring farm, is the consigliere of Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza.
Jão is a coffee whisperer who started to explore passive organic farming in 1990. His philosophy is that less land should be under cultivation, and the land that is cultivated should be a part of the natural environment: coffee should be grown in this forest.
Yields should be drastically reduced and quality should be dramatically improved. Grow less coffee, grow better coffee.
Marcos took over the farm from his brother-in-law in 2001, and runs it with his sons Felipe and Daniel. The land has always been in the family.
Marcos is a dreamer, a gentle soul. His farm also produces some of the finest coffees in Brazil.