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She's a French-trained chef, recipe developer, and food stylist with culinary roots in the American South. He's a food writer and photographer, a French Wine Scholar, and an in-depth coffee aficionado. Together, we're Bella Culinary Adventures: bringing you the best food, wine, and experiences we've had from out travels around the world and our home on the northern Oregon Coast.
In addition, Scott is an active automotive journalist, with a wide-ranging portfolio of articles on topics from competition and automotive technology to investing in collector cars. If you're thinking this is a great combination for an epic food-based road trip, you're exactly right.
Apple butter-cranberry bread pudding made from croissants. As you do. The apple butter came from Draper Girl Farms in the Mt. Hood orchard country; it smelled heavenly while baking, and was mildly sweet in the finished product. The dried cranberries really said winter holidays, and a sprinkling of pecans gave it a wonderful crunch. . Believe it or not, we slightly overdid it with the bourbon. I had added about a tablespoon (15ml) to a dollop of brown sugar on the bottom of each baking dish, but when Julie suggested drizzling another teaspoon (5ml) on top when I brought it out of the oven, I did it without hesitation. Prue Leith on the British Bake Show would have loved it, but it was a bit sharp where it hadn’t cooked. . Oh, the final trick? I used commercial egg nog in the mix, along with some brown sugar, an egg and heavy cream. A spice mix of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove finished it off. We’ll be making this again. . “Oh yeah. Please. I beg you.” —Julie
Scott’s Coffee Diary: what am I drinking today? I have found our favorite holiday blend: Frodo’s Cup from Columbia River Coffee Roaster in Astoria. A light-ish roast (2 out of 5), this is an organic Guatemalan coffee mixed with freshly ground Mexican chocolate and other spices (nutmeg is specifically called out on the label). It’s sold ground for drip so that the chocolate and spice are evenly distributed for brewing. . But I wanted to try it with the intensity that the Bialetti Moka Express gives. And since the Cortado is one of our favorite ways to wake up, I frothed milk and added a little turbinado sugar. . It’s marvelous, with spice and chocolate over a fragrant light roast. I think this coffee will do better in the Chemex, because the Moka Express does so well with dark roasts (and also requires a finer grind). But however you brew this, it’s Christmas in a cup.
Scott’s Coffee Diary: what am I drinking today? Since mid-November, I’ve been adding egg nog to Julie’s coffee as she normally takes cream and sugar in hers. It’s a nice, festive flavor for those who take their coffee sweet. . But this morning I conducted an experiment: I used the steam wand on my La Pavoni with a mix of milk and egg nog, about 2:1. In years gone by, I discovered that if you heat egg nog, you get custard, which is not what you want in a cappuccino. . So I steamed the mix carefully, watching for signs of thickening. The mix took more attention to get the liquid to froth, in particular holding the tip of the steam wand right at the surface to incorporate enough air into the milk mix. But the flavor… it’s a big cup of holiday cheer, even without rum, brandy, and bourbon. . Oh, the pix are in reverse order. The monks-head is the second one which I made after Julie got up. She loved it. The one with my “latte art” was my first attempt, and you can see how little foam it has. So I decided to call that shape a partridge in a pear tree. Hey, at least it’s not the Stay-Puffed Marshmallow Man. #badlatteart
Scott’s Coffee Diary: what am I drinking today?—*record scratch* “I’ve decided to reintroduce the custom of afternoon tea.” —Flora Poste, “Cold Comfort Farm” by Stella Gibbons We picked up some very good China tea at Uwajimaya, the wonderful Asian supermarket in Beaverton (and other locations in the PNW). This one is a beautiful Keemun, a China black tea of great delicacy but with full body and a dry, earthy finish. It’s great paired with these treats, cinnamon biscuits from Indonesia and my favorite Japanese ginger cookies. I fell in love with them at the Japanese Garden in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, so we took some home from Uwajimaya. They’re great for warming up on a grey coastal afternoon. Don’t fret, we’ll be back to coffee in the morning. But I had to break out the tea gear: this fabulous hand-knitted tea cozy by my oldest daughter, and these wonderful Japanese cup-and-saucer pairs from my younger daughter. A lovely way to slide into autumn.
Scott’s Coffee Diary: what am I drinking today? One thing we enjoy about the Celilo Inn just east of the Dalles: their complimentary breakfast includes freshly brewed Stumptown Hair Bender coffee. Much nicer than bags of stale cheap beans for the in-room drip pot. But it’s not the star here. If you’ve been with us a while, you might remember my occasional feature, Cinnamon Rolls That Don’t Suck. Well, right now, this is the apex of not sucking, cinnamon roll division. We always have breakfast at least once at Bette’s in Hood River, an old-school diner with all the egg dishes, breakfast treats, and baked goods you could ask for. But as this was the second weekend in October, they had pumpkin flavored pancakes, French toast, muffins, and cinnamon rolls. Naturally, as the pumpkin king, I had to get one. “Regular frosting or caramel glaze?” our server asked. Silly question. The dough was firm, without too much pumpkin flavor, a good balance. And it could have been rolled thinner for more layers, if I wanted to get picky. But this roll had Enough Cinnamon Even For Me. And the caramel glaze was rich and sticky—better use a fork (or have a wet washcloth handy). Yeah, even shared it was probably four days’ worth of carbs. But for an anniversary weekend away, it was a lovely splurge.
Scott’s Coffee Diary: what am I drinking today? Peet’s Crema Scura in a lungo, our usual these mornings. It’s 14g of coffee in 80ml of water, twice the water as in a shot of espresso. It splits the difference nicely between the intensity of an espresso and the lingering feel of a pour over. But that pear tart… you had to see the surface without ice cream covering it. Those thinly sliced pears were so ripe, Julie said it almost had the texture of an applesauce cake. So good… so cold… like something out of William Carlos Williams.
Scott’s Coffee Diary: what am I drinking today? There’s something about lingering over a mug or two of pour-over coffee that espresso just doesn’t match (as much as I love it). So when I read about this Peet’s seasonal blend, I ordered some. . Vine & Maple refers to the intersection in Berkeley where Alfred Peet’s original shop and roaster was located (so no, it’s not a description of the flavor). Blended with coffees from Burundi, Yemen, and Sumatra and with a medium roast, I expected a complex flavor palette and was not disappointed. . Yemen produces some of the best coffee in the world, rich and lightly sweet with cocoa and dates in the nose. Sumatra uses a unique process called wet-hulling to remove the pulp from the coffee cherry, which involves fermentation of the fruit layer. This lends an earthy, umami character which can taste like mushrooms or truffles. And Burundi has deep and classic coffee flavor that leaves a tingle on the tongue in the finish. . All together, this blend has a smoky aroma that opens up to a creamy but balanced cup. The date and cocoa sweetness from the Yemen beans is there, especially in the lingering caramel finish, but it’s balanced against the vibrant, clean tingle of the Burundi. And that smoky aroma yields to the earthy flavor of the Sumatran. . Delicious, and a wonderful example of how a great blend can really be more than the sum of its parts.
Scott’s Coffee Diary: what am I drinking today? I love the combination of espresso and croissants. But when you top the croissants with homemade golden plum jam, everything goes up a notch. . This jam is special: the golden plums grew in the backyard of the Casters, my daughter’s in-laws in Medford, Oregon. And my son Charlie made it. . It’s like honey, with little slices of plum to give it texture and tartness. With that buttery croissant, the flavors dance. (And these mini croissants are just 10g of carbs each, leaving room for the jam.) . Time for another espresso, I think.
Scott’s Coffee Diary: what am I drinking today? Part of this complete breakfast: Peet’s Major Dickason’s in the Chemex. This is an old favorite blend, dark and uplifting yet smooth enough to linger over on a Sunday morning. . Those baked goods, though, came from the Beach Bakeshop here in Rockaway Beach. Julie prefers a savory breakfast, so she’s already tucked into her cheddar bacon biscone, as the shop calls them: round like a biscuit, studded with goodies like a scone. (And yes, you can get them smothered in country gravy.). . That cinnamon roll, though… I fell in love with them when we first moved here, and the previous owners made them with or without raisins. The ones with reminded me of the French pain aux raisins, croissant dough with raisins and a light glaze, perfect with dark coffee. . The new owners dropped the raisins but made a few very minor improvements (the domed center makes the best part of a cinnamon roll even better), so these are my standard here. Not too sweet and with a soft yeast dough, they satisfy the craving for a little something with my coffee. I wouldn’t say no if they returned the raisins as an option, but I’m fine with them as they are. . Maybe the best part: the shop is about a quarter of a mile from the Tiny Beach Cottage. And on the last Sunday in August, it’s a beautiful walk.