Events

Chai Bar by David Rio Launch Party

David_Rio_Chai_Bar_09

In a few short weeks, the Chai Bar by David Rio, the flagship storefront location for the highly successful David Rio Chai company, will be open at 1019 Market St., San Francisco. I think this new café/bar/lab/restaurant hybrid will be a lot of fun to visit, based on my experience at its recent launch party.

David_Rio_Chai_Bar_12

The party was a chance for David Rio employees, their loved ones, and a few other invited individuals such as myself and visitors from upstairs neighbor Zendesk, to take a peek at the space before it opens. Fresh off two wins for their new tea frappé mixes at the Specialty Coffee Association of America Expo in Seattle, the excitement and anticipation of the company’s employees was palpable. Everyone wants to get this storefront opened!

The tiling and giant centerpiece of a bar were complete, but furniture, equipment, and the final interior design touches were yet to be installed.

I’m no stranger to using my imagination, so I could see the potential as described by David Rio’s co-founder, Scott Lowe. Opening a storefront was his and his wife’s, co-founder Rio Miura, original dream when they launched the company. It’s only taken 18 years to get there!

The bar.

The bar.

There will be a long, winding, and inviting couch along the left wall leading toward the experimental lab in back, where customers will be invited to give their opinions on the chai and tea creations under development. Teas from all over the world will be sampled here, not just Masala blends.

The Chai Lab.

The Chai Lab.

At the bar, one side will focus on making espresso drinks and the other will be full of wands for steaming milk. Different types of and methods for steaming milk products will be highlighted—and I don’t just mean dairy milk, of course. Not in this day and age.

Read more →

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather

Food Should Taste Good Brunch with Tablehopper!

It’s been three weeks since I was invited to brunch at the Cavalier in downtown San Francisco, hosted by Tablehopper Marcia Gagliardi and the Food Should Taste Good (FSTG) snack food brand. It’s never too late to write about great food, right?

The brunch was part of FSTG’s national promotional tour that’s been challenging star chefs, like the Cavalier’s Jennifer Puccio, to make inventive dishes featuring FSTG’s products. Obligatory disclaimer! The brunch was entirely free. The invitees were a fun mix of new media types in a variety of industries, and we were thrilled to be ushered into a reception in Marianne’s Room, a speakeasy-style nook concealed from the restaurant proper and full of lush red furniture and saturation-drenched artwork.

Cavalier_Brunch_05

Cavalier_Brunch_02

As we mingled, Bloody Marys and Pimm’s Cups flowed.

Cavalier_Brunch_14

Our expectations rose with our hunger; the Cavalier was a semi-finalist for the James Beard Best New Restaurant award last year, after all. Light appetizers included FSTG peppercorn crackers topped with deviled egg salad, provolone, and pickled jalapeno and FSTG’s “the works” chips with smoked salmon, avocado, spices, and sprouts.

Cavalier_Brunch_01

Both provided an appeasing nibble before the much heavier—and mouth-watering-delicious—roasted garlic and cheddar fondue appeared.

Cavalier_Brunch_04

The fondue was served with FSTG sweet potato kettle chips. While great on their own, the chips weren’t really large enough to hold up to fondue dipping. But that didn’t stop us from making messy attempts to scoop it all out anyhow. Hot cheese! Must eat hot cheese!

Read more →

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather

Coffee Fest Atlanta: America’s Best Espresso Competition

The America’s Best Espresso Competition at the Atlanta Coffee Fest

The crowd watches Bout #1 on Saturday, 2/7.

The crowd watches Bout #1 on Saturday, 2/7.

One of the fastest-moving events at a Coffee Fest is the Best Espresso Competition. I’m not just saying that because an integral part of the espresso-making process is using intense water pressure to extract a shot of espresso in around 30 seconds, give or take 10 of them. I’m saying it because the baristas competing in this event do a lot more than simply press a lever and a button. Rather, they work their way through all the major steps of pulling a shot with precision and intent. Those steps?

  1. Selecting the beans for their espresso. Arguably, this is the most important part of their preparation, and ultimately, they compete as the coffee roasting company, not as an individual. But you can bet these professionals have sampled and combined multiple types of beans ahead of time to find what they think will make a unique, memorable blend that will impress the judges.

I should note here that the judges and competitors tend to be Third Wave coffee aficionados, meaning that the traditional Italian roasts most associated with espresso by consumers, especially in Europe, are not what you’re likely to find at a Best Espresso Competition—or at least not at the bouts I saw. Instead, Third Wave fans prefer single-sourced, often washed, lightly roasted beans and blends as such processing leaves more of the beans’ unique flavor profiles intact. I spoke with Head Judge Cortney Kern of Barista Maniac, however, and he assured me that “sometimes a darker roast will come into the element—you’ll notice what it is visually and by smell. But most [competitors] do use a specialty light roast.”

Judge Cortney shares his rankings.

Judge Cortney shares his rankings.

Let’s continue with the other steps in a Best Espresso Competition!

Read more →

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather