This is my favorite home coffee maker, though I usually use the more convenient drip machine. Every time I use the moka I wonder why I ever bother with filter coffee, which is inferior in taste and temperature, but every time I wake up at six a.m. I think, it's easier to use the machine. You have to go to the stove to turn off the gas when the moka is done, but the drip waits for you. Sometimes I drink the moka coffee straight, from a demi-tasse (with a bite of dark chocolate if there's one around), and sometimes I mix it with boiling water, which Italians derisively call an Americano. Even a few hours old, a shot of moka coffee topped with a few ounces of fresh hot water is a fine thing.
Because you are dying to know...I ate:
1. An olive oil tuna salad sandwich at Harlequin Bakery. Since I blogged tuna, many a searcher has found this site using terms like "tuna salad without mayo." At first when I saw these search strings I would rub my hands together in glee proclaiming, "Suckaaaz!" But after awhile I started to think that I should at least give it a try the trendy healthful newfangled way.
Mayo is better.
2. A Royale w/Cheese at The Social, an emporium of hipness that vexingly tries both too little and too hard. Too hard because they lavish too much attention on cutesy details of décor (a showy, retro room divider of large oval disks on thin rods of metal separating the tables from the bar) and gimmicky menu lingo (see below). And too little because the food, clever and fun as it is made to sound, still doesn't feel like the product of a kitchen in which people are totally passionate about cooking.
The Royale is one of the fancy-pants hamburgers that are sweeping the upscale enclaves of urban America (there was a whole segment on these gourmet burgers on the May 13 Good Food podcast). The patty, ground up from a cow named Kobe, is as thick as you would make it yourself. When you order it medium rare that's how they cook it. It is topped, as all such things apparently are, with a blue-veined cheese (Stilton) and a caramelized onion condiment (I don't remember if it's a confit, a relish, a chutney, a marmalade...ok the menu online reminds me that they call it simply "caramelized onion"). On top of that they slather perhaps eight ounces of a "red wine 'ketchup'" that has a consistency reminiscent of Thanksgiving gravy.
Aside: the use of quotation marks in restaurant menus has become unbearably pretentious and vapid. Originally, this nouvelle cuisine affectation was supposed to indicate the chef's sense of humor, a kind of antidote to the sanctified tenor of haute cuisine. But this condiment really was ketchup made with red wine.
Back to my dinner: the burger oozes juices, makes a stupendous mess, and despite its name betrays no trace whatsoever of cheese. As I suspected, the use of ground Kobe beef is a stunt to impress naïve, status-seeking diners. My sense is that the point of Kobe beef is that it is tender, but all ground meat is tender. What can I say? It was everything a person might want in a hamburger, and it came with a side of excellent shoestring fries, but I don't think I can taste a difference between Kobe and supermarket beef when presented in burger form.
I loved this food despite my attempt to maintain a cool, critical distance from it. And I even don't mind that they named the burger for Pulp Fiction, which wasn't exactly in need of homage.