Let's talk about coffee....
What makes a good cup of coffee great? Who is to say that one method of brewing is superior to another? When I think about the question, I am inclined to reply - you, me, each of us, our taste buds and our experiences. Some love their instant, others their drip and I really enjoy espresso! It is just like food. I can cook for hours perfecting a slow simmering tomato sauce but for some reason it never tastes right to me. Why? It doesn't taste the way I remember it should, the way my mother and my aunt makes it. I really feel that memories have a significant impact on what we eat and drink, just ask anyone what their comfort food is and why. Often times, just one whiff of something simmering or brewing and instantly we are transported back in time, we remember places, people, feelings... Like a modern day time machine!
I can't know for sure when and where my love of coffee began, but while thinking about this post I had the inspiration to talk about merenda. So maybe it all stems from there... Merenda is a light snack between lunch and supper, not always cooked but always always with coffee, at least in our home it was. Born to Italian parents, I have only recently started to explore, appreciate and make my own the rich gastronomical heritage they have given me. Merenda was our tea time growing up and up until we left home. 4 o'clock meant drip coffee was brewing and sometimes espresso too, if extra company was expected. It still amazes me how even though the precise image of those moments are vague, the emotions, the aromas and even the sounds still resonate within me. The power of memories .... whose purpose is, I think, to comfort us and ground us. Those moments didn't completely define what I would drink but rather what the act of drinking coffee would come to signify in my adult life; a break, a time to share, a time to breath and be in company! I don't like to drink coffee alone, just feels like something is missing.
Now that we are on the topic of sharing and of coffee obviously, you need to check out these café's on your next trip to New York City. We were there last summer, and discovered two café's. One by accident, Blue Bottle Coffee, as we were walking by, and the second one, Zibetto, was on our list of places to visit. Each café was different from the other, both in presentation, style and ambiance and both made amazing coffee! Blue Bottle Coffee was trendy and the way we expect coffee houses to look like today. Zibetto was like stepping off the streets of New York City and arriving instantly on italian soil, time stopped! A must see and their affogato, so worth the trip!
Enjoy your next sip!
Blue Bottle Coffee:
Zibetto: a shot of their espresso, what beautiful crema, and their affogato!
Now my mouth is watering and I so feel like an espresso!!
Ever been to Great Exuma in the Bahamas? Ever heard of Great Exuma? We hadn't but decided to go anyway. It was a last minute trip, fueled by weeks and weeks of increasing stress, an intolerable never ending winter and as it happened a week of vacation just around the corner. Mr.S, ever the resourceful hubby, found a great flight deal to Great Exuma, the Bahamas. I knew nothing about the island except that it was in the Bahamas, and that little detail was enough for me! We did the minimal planning required; i.e. googled the island, found a place to stay, shopped, made a vacation list...that's me by the way I'm the list maker, and then off we went!
Great Exuma is a remote island, with breathtaking beaches and sunsets. It is all about you and the surrounding beauty. No skyscrapers that block your view, no crowds of tourists, no light pollution to hide a night sky full of stars, no big food chain stores, and intermittent wifi, just to name a few... Coming from city life, I admit that the adaptation is at first quite drastic but you quickly get used to it and realize just how perfect and pleasant it is to live in such a way. We loved it! We rested! We enjoyed each day and how it didn't pass us by at alarming speed, but just fast enough to enjoy it and learn from it...that is what vacations are about for me!
We rented an apartment thinking it would be more economical, and I still think it remains the best option. It was a good experience. It is important to know that on the island everything is pretty expensive; buying groceries, eating at restaurants, excursions and boat rentals. Grocery stores are limited, we only found two. Not all restaurants are worth visiting, again we only really enjoyed two. Next time I would plan on renting a place closer to the beach!
Next on my list - food...it's always about food isn't it? Well on this trip it wasn't and you know what, that is ok with me! Mr. S on the other hand would probably disagree. One of the things we dreamed of when planning this trip was eating a never ending quantity of fresh local fruit, vegetables and fish. Not only are their fruit and vegetables imported but exorbitantly expensive. It seemed as though there is no agriculture on the island. Now if I am wrong on this point, please someone let me know and tell me where to find fresh produce for a possible next trip. What about fish? Well the only place to get fish was either at a restaurant or by the side of the road from a fisherman preparing it right then and there...needless to stay that we limited ourselves to restaurants. I work in health and safety so I always tend to err on the side of caution. Others may have chosen differently, and that is fine just let me know how that worked for you?
The island may look small from all the different aerial views but renting a car is a must. You cannot get around only on foot, and the most breathtaking beaches are practically at each extremity of the island! The beaches are free and access to any beach is open to all! Google Hoopers Bay and Coco Plum Beach, it was love at first sight! I dream of going back! Also, to get to the best two restaurants in our book, Santanna's Grill Pit and Big D's Conch Stop, you need a car. They are each located at what seems like opposite ends of the island.
Bring sunblock! Yes sunblock, not UV 30, not 60 either. The UV index is so high that we burnt without realizing it, even when we thought we had enough protection. This tip is a must and a hat is just as essential.
Finally, Great Exuma is the best location for a family getaway, renting boats for excursions costs the same price regardless of the amount of people you are. Car and apartment rentals can also be shared so family and friends, this is a vacation we do together! If you love swimming, there are so many activities you can do. We tried kayaking, with Out-Island Explorers. It was our first time and it was memorable, such great service. They really went out of their way to give us the best and safest experience!
Hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it!