Sunday, 23 September 2012

The illy experience :: coffee appreciation

On Saturday, I got a PM from Melissa Escarraga via FB asking me if I were interested in joining her for a coffee making class on Sunday morning between ten till noon. I thought to myself, "I'm not much of a coffee lover, I do like my cuppa." Well, it does sound peculiar. Why would I want to go to a coffee making class? I thought all you had to do was dump in all the necessary ingredients, add boiling water and voila! there's your cuppa! Reluctantly, I said yes, thinking that I would be enjoying Mel's brew so I thought, "yeah, why not?". Just tag along and have free coffee instead. 

illy coffee cup
And so, this morning, I got up early, got myself ready, went to St. Mary's and as soon as I was done with the communion, I took the prayer book and bible, put it back at the counter and dash to the car and left for Phileo Damansara. Met up with Mel and went up to the 9th floor. As soon as we got there, I did not take notice of the detailed surroundings as I went there half-heartedly but I knew somehow, it was going to be somewhat interesting, this peculiar subject - the art of coffee making. As soon as we were all settled at our respective seats (there were 4 of us, Mel and I and a couple of lovebirds), Irene started off with the introduction. It didn't take long enough for them to grab my attention. Suddenly the subject of coffee got interesting. It was evident when I rummaged through my handbag and got my pen and paper and immediately write away. We were introduced to various types of coffee in the world and the highlight of the first lecture was the difference between the top two coffees consumed in the world - Arabica vs. Robusta (click to read about the interesting facts of these two types of coffee beans; exactly the same facts told during our lecture). We were told that the Italians take their coffees seriously that if their favourite barista goes on leave, they wouldn't want the other barista to make them a cuppa. They are just simply attached to their barista.  Another interesting fact given was that 10gm of coffee killed a man before. So yes, coffee CAN KILL. Don't try this, ok? 

Once Irene was done, Francesco, an Italian world champion Barista took over and continued on with the types of coffee, a brief theory on how to create good coffee with detailed information of the right gauge of pressure (9bars/PSi), right milk froth temperature (65 deg Celcius), 2 second rule (let go once it's hot - at 65 deg C), the right amount of milk, the best milk - fresh milk - no other milk, hygiene, and how mood can affect the outcome of your coffee making. Next, Mr Enrico takes the class on a practical journey. He started off with making us espresso shots. We had three different shots - the first one was done the right way, the next: underdone, the last: overdone. The best one tasted somewhat bitter but had a sour aftertaste. Enrico told us that is how a good espresso should taste like. The other two were either really black plain and bitter coffee or oily black one - just like the P. Ramlee story, Nujum Pak Belalang whereby P. Ramlee's character in that story, instructed his son Belalang to prepare coffee out of the burnt debris bottom of the wok. I'm sure you can imagine the taste; a bit oily (oil from the coffee powder - too much powder) and really bitter. Yuck!!! 

After the much unpopular espresso (just not popular with us in the class), we moved onto the cappuccino, which coincidentally happens to be my usual order at any premium coffee joint (Starbucks, Coffee Beans, San Francisco, just to name a few) most of the time. This one was really interesting. This is where the art of coffee making really stands out. Not enough milk, you won't get enough to create the cappuccino taste, too much milk, it'll turn into cafe latte. Too hot, froth is separated from the milk. Not warm enough, the taste is a bit out. Right temperature is 65 deg C at 9 bars and a release of coffee within 25s. We were taught how to press the extracted coffee powder (which we twisted the lever twice to dispense about 2 spoons [flat, not mountainous] of coffee powder) in that thing-a-ma-jiggy (coffee press I guess), stamp lightly to initially flatten it out in the coffee press, then knock the side to let the powder settle. Next, press the stamper by adding pressure from your shoulder down to your hand and the stamp. Once it is settled, clear the sides of the coffee press, just before you fix it to its designated place, drain out the water from the dispenser. Only then, fix the coffee to the machine. Prepare your cups, then press the button, put down the cups. Oh yeah, before you do the coffee though, you should prepare your milk. There's this special pitcher they have for cappuccino. How to measure? put in milk right up till just one finger away from below the groove. Clean the milk steamer by releasing the steam to clean it and wipe with a towel. 

Preparation of the milk froth should coincide with the pressing of coffee liquid into the cups. While preparing your milk, make sure the steamer sits at the surface for a good while then once the machine stops, bring the nozzle all the way down for it to froth the milk and feel it with your palms to check on the temperature. The best way to gauge what 65 deg C feels like is when you can hold your pitcher for more than 2 seconds. Once that is achieved, remove your milk from the steamer. Before you fill up your coffee with the milk froth, make sure you stir the milk froth well. If there is a presence of big bubbles, tab your pitcher on the table and shake well till your froth turns shiny. Once that is achieved, start pouring into the cup, starting high, right in the middle, then towards the end, bring down the pitcher and let go to the front slowly - depending on the pattern you wish to create. If you'd like to make the pattern interesting, you could add cocoa powder or cocoa syrup and toy around to create the shape of your choice. 

And finally, the last person to show off his coffee making skill was Mr. Goh. This is the outcome. Simply simple and beautiful. :) 

Cappuccino Art

Here, I leave you the link to illy's website for you to discover about real good coffee. Thanks illy coffee! Or shall I say, Universita Del Cafe? Goodnight! 

Friday, 21 September 2012

Feline Friend

"Ooohhh... mamau..." that's how I'd speak to Fatty, my cat (pic). I just loooove cats. I grew up with cats and dogs but somehow I have a more special affection with cats. I guess I like them cats because they are adorable in their own ways, manja,  independent, demure, soft and furry. Oh... I miss my Fatty...

Whenever I return to Kuching, when I go to bed at night, Fatty would meow away from right outside my window, begging me to let her into my room. When I've horizontally placed myself on bed, she would crept up to my feet and sit on it. LOL! She's heavy alright but I like her warmth. However, of late, Fatty no longer sleeps with me anymore. Last I return to Kuching, my mom made me sleep in my sister's room. During the previous trips before that, I still sleep in my room. However, there was an incident whereby in the middle of the night, Fatty had her seizure and bit my finger, that was when I had to not let her enter my room any longer.

Fatty has epileptic fit. It started off when she kept sleeping on the Astro decoder box. I have the impression that perhaps it was caused by the electricity or some kind of wavelength that messed up with her neurons. It's just a guess, I can't say, I only assume. Besides Fatty, I have 2 other orange cats. Her sister Mamau and an older cat name Kinky. Mamau usually sleeps with my brother whose room happens to be next to mine. I'll have Fatty over. Kinky has been the custodian of our family "kebun" house in Samarahan for quite a long time. At one time, Kinky grew big, long, and fat. But now that she has grown old and a lil more cranky, she has shrunk somewhat, a shadow of her former glory. She's a lot more grumpy than she used to be.

I remember as a child, I had a lot of black and white or shall I say, cow patterned cats. LOL! The mother cat was called Mimiey, I thing there was Mimiau too... one of my cats was called Kitty even. However, at the end of the day, you just call out "Meow, meow, meow, meow", they would all rush to your side. Again, it was my brother and I who grew up with the cow cats. But that batch didn't last and for a good number of years, we were cat-less until Kinky came along. Aunty Alice was our so-called cat supplier. Hui Ling has a cow cat at home. Oh yeah, not forgetting another cat lover, Jojo. hehe...

Living in a condo doesn't really give me the privilege to have a cat. Yeah sure, boleh curi-curi simpan kucing tapi kalau travelling nanti siapa nak jaga? I know they have pet hotels. Hmm... I would love to have pets but only if I stay in a landed property. Rumah awangan ni susah sikit. Ah well, someday I guess...

Talking about cats just make me feel like a little girl again. I know I sound childish but cats always make me feel excited. I love them. Feel like hugging them. Playing around with them. For now, I just look at their pictures online. Sometimes, I feel like I'm like a lil Kitty too. I guess I can relate with cats. I see some of my traits are like that of a cat. LOL. Wishful thinking... goodnight peeps!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

The truth shall set you free

 People hunt for the truth. They say the truth will set you free. Some say, truth hurts. Truth makes the path straight. Jesus says He is the Truth. I'm not here to preach. Na'a... I'm not qualified to do so. I'm just discussing this subject called truth.

Have you ever been in a situation that demands the truth that it becomes a dilemma to convey or express it? I think many of us have been in such situation. We struggle with our inner self, our morals and standards as well as believes on how to react to such situations that beckons just that, the truth. I like how Paolo Coelho puts it: "Telling the truth and making someone cry is better than telling a lie and making someone smile."

The truth has made my heart sank, put a smile on my face, at times - made me angry, made me somewhat just non responsive, at times bewildered. Welcoming truth in an unexpected way, in-your-face or a rude shock... well, it may not be in the nicest of manner, but the spirit of it is that it was all about the truth. It can be just as painful to tell the truth as much as it is to receive the truth. Sometimes, we have the perception that, people may not be able to handle the truth so we lie. We lie to protect them. That is what we thought. However, when we lie, we might expose them to danger, to the fake believe that all is alright. Even in a situation with regards to black news like a death of someone, the news needs to be conveyed but the art of conveying needs to be tread delicately. Still, truth is important. It needs to be heard.

I can go on and on about truth, but it will just go around the bush. It's still the same story, same message. Do a kind thing, be truthful. Being truthful irons out the crease. Goodnight world.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Project overdue :: (Re-)starting a blog

Hello, hello!!!

Aaaaahh!!! So relieved that I have finally decided to create a blog again. I've been mourning my old blog and much ado about nothing about it for quite a while... until... after some observation and personal reflection on electronic social media, I've decided to open up an account and start blogging... again.

blog background: Northampton's pink rose
Yeah, you read that twice alright. AGAIN. I used to have an account with Friendster during my uni days. Kitty K8's Bloggie (yeah, lame...). It was a whole bunch of memories that obliterated into thin air when Friendster decided to turn into a gaming space. How sad. My blog used to concentrate more on my passion for my beloved sports - running. In between, I had recipes - yes I love cooking and still do love cooking; personal reflections, ... can't really remember much, but for most of the part, it was about my track and field experience, how I've come a long way and why I love that sports so much.

Times a-changing, It's been 5 yrs since I left uni and entered the working field. My writing style or gist will probably differ from what I used to write during my uni days as my experience in life has grown. I will post some of my previous postings from my previous blog (if I can still find the drafts) from time to time to keep the memories alive.

Muka excited kunun...
After dragging my feet (or rather, finger) to do it, I finally made it happen!!! Haha... yes I sound excited alright. Very the VERY!!! My initial thought of creating this blog is to put out my thoughts and expressions where I can feel that there's more privacy and that there are things that I can just blurt out and not care a rat's ass about what other's might think or perceive of my views. Hey, this is my space. You don't like it? F*ck off!! Not my problem, it's yours. (ops... cool, cool... time to calm down)

So, yeah. That's the initial (or rather long) introduction, or, if you must call it, "welcome speech" to you readers. Welcome to the canvas of my mind, where I shall paint myriads of pictures of my thoughts for you to "read" me and understand me as a person better. I must firstly put it out that, hell yeah, I'm not perfect, pardonez moi if I do spell wrongly, go grammatically wrong or just don't sound SANE at times to you -  like I said, my entry are my personal thoughts.  

So... there you have it, and may I conclude in French : Bienvenue sur la blog de Mlle. Petite Chat (Welcome to Miss Kitty Kate's Blog!). A bientot et bonne nuit, mes amis!!!