Learn how to become your own barista, build a gourmet cheese board, or mix like a master.
Become Your Own Barista
Larry Margulies has been steeped in the specialty coffee business for eight years. After buying Bagel Rising in Allston, he acquired three Espresso Royale coffee shops in Boston and then opened Pavement, a high-end concept shop. Margulies recently converted his Espresso Royale cafĂ©s into Pavements as well. Here he shares expert tips for tricking outyour own coffee station.
Margulies seeks out single-origin beans from Counter Culture Coffee. â€śWhen you order a breakfast blend, youâ€™re giving up the special thing about coffee,â€ť Margulies says, pointing out the fruity flavor of Ethiopian beans or the earthy flavor of Costa Rican varieties. When brewing a cup, getting the coffee-to-water ratio just right is an art. â€śYou canâ€™t eyeball coffee if youâ€™re serious about it,â€ť Margulies says. As a general rule, 24 grams of beans produces a 12-ounce cup of coffee.
Margulies suggests using theÂ Baratza Vario-W Burr grinder, which weighs the coffee while grinding it. And forget those fancy brewing machinesâ€”Margulies has two Clever Coffee Drippers at home (one for him, and one for a guest). Like a French press, the Clever Dripper steeps the grinds in hot water, but unlike a French press, it delivers fresh, filtered coffee straight into the mug. He uses the Bonavita variable-temperature kettle to achieve consistent water temperatures.
The La Marzocco GS/3 is the apex for in-home espresso machines. Handmade in Italy, it features a dual boiler system: one for steaming milk, the other for creating perfect espressos every time. â€śIt might be overkill for some, but itâ€™s beautiful. Itâ€™d be like owning a Ferrari,â€ť Margulies says. Regardless of which machine you choose, itâ€™s important not to skimp on the espresso grinder. Go with an Italian brand like the Mazzer Major or the Anfim Super Caimano. An espresso tamper is also essential to achieving the perfect cup. Reg Barber Enterprises makes beautiful tampers by hand in maple, rosewood, and stainless steel.
When it comes to serving coffee, size does matter: Two ounces for macchiatos; four ounces for cortados; six ounces for cappuccinos; and eight to 12 ounces for lattes. Margulies prefers the simple and durable porcelain cups from the Italian company Ancap.
For cappuccinos and lattes, skip the grocery-store milk cartons, says Margulies, who gets his dairy from Leeâ€™s High Lawn Farm. Because itâ€™s hormone-free and higher in fat, calcium, and protein, Margulies says, â€śthe milk is sweeter, creamier, and the foam doesnâ€™t disintegrate. It has body to it.â€ť And be sure your steaming pitcher has straight wallsâ€”the Rattleware â€śLatte Artâ€ť pitcher is a good choice.
The beans for a dark-roast coffee are roasted longer, which actually cooks off the caffeine. If you really want a jolt, go for the lighter roasts.
Clever Coffee Dripper, $20, Pavement Coffeehouse.
Build a Gourmet Cheese Board
When Ihsan Gurdal, co-owner of Cambridgeâ€™s Formaggio Kitchen, isnâ€™t searching for exotic cheeses in Geneva or the Pyrenees with his wife, Valerie, heâ€™s in New England sourcing local fromage. â€śWe really donâ€™t have to go anywhere else because we have so much going on right here,â€ť he says, â€śand we can still maintain our high standards.â€ť
Gurdal buys goat cheeses from Blue Ledge Farm, in Salisbury, and Sage Farm, in Stowe, Vermont. He also finds exceptional varieties at Jasper Hill Farm, in Greensboro, Vermont. Down at Connecticutâ€™s Cato Corner Farm, Gurdal picks up a washed-rind variety known as â€śHooligan.â€ť
When setting out a cheese spread, Gurdal prefers rustic boards made from reclaimed materials. Our Daily Bread Board, for instance, turns sunken wooden beams and fallen trees into functional art, while Brooklyn Slate Company uses black and red shards of slate from an upstate New York quarry to make boards and coasters, as well as other kitchen goods. And this fall Bruce Graham, of Grahamscape, will begin making boards exclusively for Formaggio Kitchen from the dozens of trees destroyed by last yearâ€™s winter storms on his own Westport property.
Gurdal selects knives based on their feel, design, and function. â€śTimes have changed and people want all these gizmos,â€ť he says. â€śThey think bigger is better, but itâ€™s not.â€ť His go-to folding knife is an Opinel, which features a wooden handle and a carbon-steel blade. Couteau des Sorgues, meanwhile, makes an excellent spreader and cutter that can be opened and closed with one hand. Gurdal often relies on his knife from Coltelleria Saladini, a co-op of knife makers in Scarperia, Italy (the medieval village is known as the â€śtown of knife-makingâ€ť).
Gurdal ages his shopsâ€™ cheese wheels in underground caves, where temperatures remain cool and the flow of oxygen is limited. Once cheese is cut, however, it doesnâ€™t store well, so Gurdal recommends buying only as much as you will use in the near future, then keeping it wrapped in cheese paper (on the windowsill during the winter, or in the crisper drawer in the fridge). Another short-term option: Store Brie and Camembert on a piece of marble covered by a cloche.
Gurdal likes to use garnishes produced in the same regions as the cheeses. He enjoys his locally sourced slices and spreads with honey-roasted almonds and cashew crunch from Fastachi, in Watertown; pure raw honey from Carlisle Honey, in Carlisle; and preserves from Bonnieâ€™s Jams, based in Lynn.
â€˘ One spoonful of local honey builds your immunity to the regionâ€™s allergens.
â€˘ When enjoying a cheese board, taste each piece separately, then the condiment, then marry them together on your palate.
Petite cloche stand, $40, Sur La Table.
Mix Like a Master
Brother Cleve is Bostonâ€™s undisputed master of the vintage cocktail, having helped numerous local establishments refine their cocktail menus and develop signature drinks. Of course, this libation expert and musician also has a killer home bar, with more than 50 bottles of unique tinctures. Here, Cleve shares the ingredients youâ€™ll need to create your own cocktail mecca.
SPIRITS & LIQUEURS
Black Maple Hill Distillery makes a superb 16-year-old bourbon. For a drier mix, Cleve recommends Whistle Pig rye. When it comes to vodka, Cleve prefers the relative newcomers to the big namesâ€”American Harvest, an organic winter-wheat vodka from Oregon, or Zyr, a real Russian vodka. He enjoys American gin brands like Grand Ten Distillingâ€™s Wire Works, from South Boston, and Bluecoat Gin, from Pennsylvania. For a perfect planterâ€™s punch, Cleve keeps a 21-year-old Appleton Estate bottle around the house. His liqueurs of choice include Cointreau triple sec; Pierre Ferrand Dry CuraĂ§ao; Merlet creme de cassis; Rothman & Winter apricot, crĂ¨me de violette, and peach; and Dolin Vermouth de ChambĂ©ry for martinis.
Every bar needs a set of stemmed and rocks glasses, and Cleve suggests keeping several kinds around for special occasions. â€śItâ€™s like wearing different shoesâ€”it breaks it up so you donâ€™t need to use all the same glassware all the time,â€ť he says. Stemmed glassware is used for stirred drinks without ice: Rather than classic martini-style glasses, go with the Leopold Coupe variety (theyâ€™re rounded at the top, which helps prevent spills), or elegant Nick and Nora glasses, which are perfect for sidecars and drinks with a sugared rim. Rocks glasses are for more-robust cocktails served with iceâ€”Cleve prefers the platinum-band double old-fashioned by Riedel.
When shaking his concoctions, Cleve uses the Professional Boston Shaker, a set that comes with a brushed-steel cup and a pint glass. Once the metal gets cold, he knows the drink is ready to serve. He stirs up Manhattans and martinis in a Yarai pitcherâ€”made in Japan, itâ€™s both elegant and durable, and has a spill-resistant pouring spout. For mojitos and other drinks with crushed fruit, try Ăśber Bar Toolsâ€™ Pro Crush Muddler, which, when turned upside down, can also be used as an ice crusher. And if you want to mix any cocktail properly, youâ€™ll want to get yourself a jigger. â€śItâ€™s like when cooks follow a recipe and use measuring cupsâ€”they donâ€™t just throw a handful of flour in,â€ť says Cleve, who recommends the OXO SoftWorks stainless steel double jigger.
Cleve favors Tovolo ice cube trays, which come in a range of sizes, but to really dress up a pour, he goes with Drinksologyâ€™s Ice Ball Maker, which carves cubes into spheres. â€śThey definitely make for a good conversation piece,â€ť Cleve says. And if you prefer crushed ice? All youâ€™ll need is a classic canvas Lewis Bag and a mallet.
Avoid the red-dyed cherries found at most bars and instead opt for the Marasca cherries by Luxardo Gourmet, which are soaked in their own juice.Â
Yarai mixing glass, $60, Williams-Sonoma.
Source URL: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/home-design/article/2013/09/10/kitchens-2013-expert-advice/