Sunday, October 3, 2010

Recovering from jet lag without Italian coffee really sucks!

While I'm thrilled to be home, I am not enjoying the first day of Italian coffee withdrawal. We thoroughly embraced the Italian coffee culture while on vacation in Rome, Amalfi coast and Umbria by starting our day with a cappuccino and a pastry, followed by at least one espresso/macchiato later in the day, if not two. It helps when you have a view like this:

View from a coffee bar in Positano, Italy
We followed the Italian custom of consuming coffee and eating breakfast at the bar, instead of lingering at a table. Not only was it incredibly cheap (two cappuccinos and two pastries usually came to less than 5 euros total), we also enjoyed the surprise of some of the staff when we insisted on standing at the bar - judging by their reaction, it seemed like tourists usually opted for seating.

The bar was also a great vantage point to watch the locals up close in action. Man, Italians can pound back their coffee and cram their pastries down their throat in no time flat. Granted, portion sizes for both the coffees and pastries are much smaller than in the States, but 3 gulps and 3 bites was all it seemed to take to consume a cappuccino and a croissant. I'm a notoriously slow coffee sipper, so trying to drink at the Italian pace was a challenge. I'm generally a fast eater, but I was usually covered in powdered sugar by the time I was done with whatever pastry I'd chosen that morning. We weren't there long enough for me to figure out how the Italians could eat/drink at the speed they did at breakfast (lunch and dinner were definitely more leisurely) and still look impecceable, but it was a long enough period for me to get used to their coffee culture and become thoroughly addicted.

We tried to get our coffee fix at home by going to Bloc 11, a coffee shop in Union Square (Somerville) that uses Intelligentsia coffee, which became our go to brand after our visit to Chicago in the spring. We tried to recreate the experience by ordering a cappuccino for me and an espresso for the husband. The espresso was ok, but the cappuccino made me downright ill. I'm inconsistently lactose-intolerant, which means that often I'm fine with dairy products but out of the blue with no predictable pattern, I'll get sick from a milk-based item. In Italy, I drank full-fat milk in cappuccinos every day with no problems, but the one I tried from Bloc 11 made me nauseated and dizzy for a good 5 hours. That's never happened before, so I think it has to do with the amount of milk they used - this one had at least twice the amount of milk than the cappuccinos I'd been drinking in Italy. I used to drink Americanos before, but now that I'm used to the strong stuff, I'll have to order macchiatos if I can bring myself to return to Starbucks. That or else we're going to be purchasing an espresso maker for home, something that we were wondering if we were going to do before we left. I'm hoping we can make do without one but we'll see how long we can hold out...

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Buy the espresso machine, it's the only way to consistently (and affordably) get great coffee. You can mail order the coffee (I use 1800espresso.com to order Caffé Kimbo) or find a decent local roast. I used a $200 semi automatic Krups for ten years, and more recently a $600 super automatic Krups and it makes great coffee every time.

Cheers,
Stephen

Laura said...

Luv your post - great view from Positano and I share your sentiments in missing my morning espresso with a shot or two throughout the day on return to the US!

PharmaFoodie (aileen) said...

Steve, that explains the status updates on your coffee making! I had no idea you're a connaisseur and a $200 starter model is definitely reasonable. We have been using the Bialetti models, first the stove top and then the electric version. Sounds like it's time for an upgrade for us!

Steve Marshall said...

mmm I do enjoy viewing/learning about the history however I do hate waiting in lines... I think there's a lot you can learn about the culture and history through food...

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...