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Food


Boys, I am going to give you the most ridiculously easy and flexible recipe I know. It is definitely one of my top five favorite things to eat, and one of favorite things to make.

Chili is one of those things can cause fights during family gatherings. There is probably a different type of chili for each state in the Union. There are probably as many recipes as there are chili cooks. And each one is spirited and sure of their recipe’s superiority. I too am that way, though I love the absolute flexibility of the dish. Its original name, Chili con carne, means chili with meat.

There are people who think that the chili is only meat. Others like to add beans. Others even add stuff like corn or quash or chicken.

Here is my point, sons: take this base —protein, chili powder, tomatoes— and make it your own.

I love my chili, but I play with it. And I will show you how below.

Alberty’s Chili

Ingredients

- 1 lb. of ground chuck (or more if you want it meatier, or you can use whatever meat or protein you want…seriously, sometimes I use steamed lentils in place of the meat)
- 2 yellow onions, diced medium
- 4 cloves of garlic (or more), minced

- 1 28oz can of Muir Glen Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes (but I’m just being particular about my canned tomatoes)
- 1 15oz can Muir Glen Tomato Sauce

- 5 cans of beans (I love beans in my chili. LOVE beans. I use a mix of black, pinto, kidney, great northerns, and cannellini), drained

- Chili powder, tons, but to taste (Here again, I use a variety. I use what is probably two tablespoons of generic chili powder over the whole of the dish. I augment that with about a tablespoon of Ancho chili powder as well as a couple of shakes of Allepo pepper.
- Ground cumin, a tablespoon or so
- Salt and Pepper
- Cholula Pepper Sauce (my favorite)

- 4 tbs white vinegar (this is my secret ingredient)

Directions

Use a crockpot. Take time to let the flavors meld, six hours or so.

Pour all the canned goods in the crockpot and set it on high.

Heat some olive oil in a skillet. Sauté the onions until they begin to soften and get translucent. Toss in the garlic and add some chili powder, cumin and salt. Sauté for about four minutes. Dump into crockpot.

Brown the meat in the same skillet. Add some chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. When browned sufficiently add to crockpot.

Add a ton of chili powder, some cumin and the vinegar. Turn the crock pot down to low and cook for six hours. Taste it often to adjust seasonings.

NOTE

You can do anything to this that you can dream up. I usually like to add chorizo, but your mother doesn’t like chorizo, so I don’t. I also like to add jalapenos and dried ancho chiles, but you guys don’t like spicy food yet, so I don’t.

Sometimes I like to add cubed sweet potatoes or maybe go with all black beans. You can even add some cinnamon for that Cincinnati flair.

I could honestly probably enjoy a week of chili. Here are some ways to do that very thing.

Chili + melted American cheese slices + chips

Chili + spaghetti noodles + cheese (called Threeway, and you can add a little extra vinegar)

Chili + macaroni + cottage cheese

Chili + rice + broccoli

Chili + potatoes

Seriously, if you can make chili, you have one of the greatest basic meals in your back pocket. What you do with it is only bound by your imagination.

I live in a city that has a fair amount of good local restaurants, at least for our size. We have some awesome BBQ joints. Several great burger and hot dog shacks. And a handful of “family” restaurants. And not one, not one, can give me a good fry. Not one. It boggles my mind.

We have two awesome hot dog—great, plump, salty, juicy dogs. One place serves a killer Chicago dog, the other, a little more creative, but has a delicious chili-dog. Both places are tied for the worst fries on the planet. I could tie those bad boys in knots. Probably frozen, fried once, barely salted, blech.

Every other place is the same. I just want the fries done right: crispy outside, steamy fluffy inside. I want it to snap when I bend it in half.

I rarely say that there is a right way and a wrong way to do much. But, let me tell you, I have come to believe there is a right way to make fries, and it’s relatively simple.

First let me tell you, don’t use frozen fries. Get yourself some Russets. If you’re a restaurant, get a commercial fry cutter. You can get one for $100 from Amazon. If you’re serious about your food, you can get a really good one for $200. It’s not that much more work, and the outcome is considerably better. I’d also keep the skin on.

Next, you have to soak these bad boys in water for at least an hour. This gets rid of a bunch of starch which is one of the things that help get the fries crispy. The starch creates sugar. Too much sugar keeps the fries limp. You have to get those fries dry also. Otherwise, it’s going to spurt the oil at you.

The oil is also important. You need one that has a high smoke point, like peanut.

Here is the main thing. You have to fry them twice. That’s right. Twice. I think that’s one of the main problems. Most people don’t do that.

Why fry twice? Honestly, I’m sure there is some funky scientific answer to this. All I know is, if you fry it once, you get soggy fries.

The first fry is done at 325° for about four or five minutes. This basically gets the thing cooked. I think it’s for the middle, but I’m not sure. Drain them on some paper towels.

The second fry occurs at 375°, or 400° if you’re a kitchen samurai. This one makes it golden brown and delicious. Again, I’m not sure how, I just know that second fry is the magical part.

Take them out, drain on paper towels and salt. Or, if you are particularly interested in the best of the fry world, salt and pepper the ketchup or mayo you are dipping them in. That way the salt doesn’t get the chance to fall off the fry.

Now I just wish my favorite joints read my blog.

Alas.

Well, crockpot season has hit and I couldn’t be happier. I love my crockpot. But I admit to being in a crockpot rut. Don’t get me wrong, I love my roasts and chilies, but I’m pretty sure that the wife has gotten enough of them.

Well, this season I am breaking out, baby! I’m planning on a new crockpot a week. Each Sunday I will embrace and prepare a new and hopefully funky recipe.

My first foray into the funky footwork was a doozy. It is so good, I have dreamed about it after eating it. I’m serious. I hope you try it.

This is my variation on a recipe from Better Homes & Gardens. They use couscous, but I used a wild rice blend.

Crock Pot Moroccan Short Ribs

Ingredients

THE RUB
1 tablespoon dried thyme, crushed
1 tablespoon dried cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 1/2 pounds beef short ribs, bones in
olive oil

2 cups beef broth (plus one to deglaze)
1 16-ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained
1 large onion, cut into thin wedges
1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into thin wedges
2 medium carrots diced
1 medium sweet potato diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dried, washed lentils (or better 1 pkg of Trader Joe’s Steamed Lentils)

Directions

Mix all your dry rub ingredients together and rub all over the short ribs. Keep your short ribs in the slabs, or cut the slab in half to help the browning or the crockpot accommodate them.

Get an iron on skillet medium. Put enough oil in to just coat the bottom and put your short ribs in flesh side down. Let this brown for about five minutes. Turn it over to the bone side and brown for three to four minutes.

While the ribs are browning, put everything else (except one cup of the broth) in the crockpot and give it a good stir. Go ahead and turn your pot on high.

When the ribs are fully browned lay into the crockpot and deglaze the skillet with the last cup of broth. Pour the tasty deglazed brown-bits over the ribs and put on the lid.

If you’re home, I would let it go high for two hours then turn it low for four. Otherwise, you can leave it low for eight to ten hours.

You can tell it’s done when you pull a bone and it the meat pulls away.

When it’s done take out the meat, remove the bone and chop the meat.

Serve the veggies over rice or couscous with the meat on top.

This is a delicious recipe!

 

Yup, you read the title of this post correctly. I just read in The Guardian online that the unfortunate next “new thing” is called, I shit you not, “body fragrancing functional candy.” It’s exactly what you fear it might be. And I have added links to prove it.

You can now eat candy that, through your very pores, excretes the smell of potpourri. Apparently discovered by the Japanese —who else— this candy uses the idea of geraniol, “a naturally occurring compound found in plants such as roses, lavender and vanilla.” It works like garlic, apparently. And asparagus. And most of us know how well asparagus works.

The Japanese created a chewing gum a couple of years ago called Otoko Kaoru, which means “man scent.” Unfortunately the man scent they chose was rose, and, for some reason, few men decided to use it and it folded.

Well, now it’s being sold in Europe and is poised to unleash itself on the American market as a product called Deo Perfume Candy. Deo. As in deodorant. And the packaging, if what they show on ConfectioneryNews.com is correct, makes it look like it should come flavored with vinegar and honey in an easy to use squirt bottle, if you know what I mean. Not the best packaging choice for me.

The best line on ConfectioneryNews.com is as follows:

… “a move to enable penetration into the market sooner.”

These dudes aren’t playing around.

And the effects are supposed to last for hours. And through multiple orifices.

Yes, we will all finally be able to say, “My shit don’t stink.”

Every Christmas morning that I can remember I woke up to the smell of Danish Puff. Besides my kooky family and their odd shenanigans, eating and smelling Danish Puff is my favorite Christmas memory.

And, boys, I hope that I can work it so that Danish Puff is high on your list of happy Christmas memories. Even better, I would love it to be something that we make together because there is a moment of absolute chemical magic in the making of this bad boy.

You know, I didn’t make this until I was 42 years old. It took your grandmother getting cancer for me to make this one. That’s because she always told me it took two hours to make, which was only a little misinformation. I was always happy to sit back and let her do it. But this Thanksgiving (2011) to help out your grandmother I decided to make the food. And since we all were having two Thanksgiving dinners that night, I suggested we change one to a brunch. And what better to start out with than our favorite family breakfast item?

It isn’t the fasted thing to make. But the time served is certainly worth the end product. So, while I don’t normally spend much time thinking or pining about the future, I certainly see you guys in kitchen patting out the crusts for these tasty pastries.

Danish Puff

Ingredients:

Puff Base
1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter
2 tbsp water

Puff Custard
1/2 cup butter
1 cup water
1 tsp almond extract
1 cup flour
3 separate eggs, each slightly beaten

Puff Icing
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
some milk
some sliced almonds

Directions:

Heat oven to 350.

Put first cup of flour into bowl and cut in butter. Sprinkle with 2 tbs. water and mix with fork.

Round into ball and divide in half.

Put in fridge for a while to let it stiffen for about 20 minutes.

Remove from fridge and, on ungreased cookie sheet, pat into two strips about 12″ by 3″. Place 3″ apart.

*****

Bring water to a boil and add the stick of butter.

Once it melts remove pan from heat and add almond extract.

Slowly beat in flour, stirring quickly to prevent lumping.

When smooth, add one egg at a time, beating well after each egg until smooth.*

Divide in half and spread one half evenly on each pastry base.

Bake for 1 hour. Center should still be moist and custardy.

*****

Put a little milk into the bowl with the powdered sugar and mix until smooth, but not too liquidy.

Add just a hint of almond flavoring.

Drizzle over finished puffs.

Sprinkle with sliced almonds.

*NOTE: When you add the first egg to the warm flour/water/butter mixture, it may turn your stomach. It becomes the weirdest nauseating looking alien gloop you could imagine. But keep stirring. It will turn back. It will do this with each egg you add. It’s a little bit of magic.

Okay, boys, I’m going to let you in on a little secret of relationships. And it revolves around food. If we are smart, we understand that food can speak for us, especially to those we love.

It’s a pretty simple rule to remember: entrees are for romance, but dessert is for love. That is something to take with you forever. I hope that when you are 80 year-old men you’re still firing up the brulee torch for the love of your life.

Your mother has, on occasion, made me crème brulee. She does it, even though she is horrifically lactose intolerant.

If you want to show your mother how much you love her, make her Apple Crisp. She would eat it until her stomach explodes. She loves it that much.

There is a bit of psychology to it, which is really where dessert lays in the whole thing. Dessert usually sends ups back to childhood, which, hopefully, is a comfortable, nostalgic, warming place.

Apple crisp is her youth. But it’s also yours. You make her apple crisp and she will remember the happiness of us on one of our fall apple picking excursions. Of you picking your first apples and eating the red balls with the blinding white flesh in the sunlight of a crisp autumn breeze. And she will be overcome with her love for you. For her, Apple Crisp is a beautiful thing, like her boys.

Your Mama’s Apple Crisp Love

Ingredients

Topping

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick melted unsalted butter

Filling

3 lbs. apples (about 7 medium), peeled, cored, halved, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges *
1/4 cup sugar **
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup applejack/apple liqueur or apple cider
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions

FOR THE TOPPING

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine everything but flour in a bowl. Stir in the melted butter until mixture is thoroughly moistened and crumbly.

FOR THE FILLING

Stir the apples, vanilla sugar, and cinnamon together in a bowl.

Simmer applejack/liqueur or cider in a 12-inch iron skillet over medium heat. Cook it until it’s reduced to about ½ cup. Pour the reduced liquid into a bowl. Stir in the lemon juice.

Using the now empty iron skillet, eat butter over medium heat. When it stops foaming add the apple mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until the apples begin to just soften and become. You can’t cook them all the way here, because you’re gong to toss them in the oven, too. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the liquid.

Sprinkle the crumble topping over the apples. Place the iron skillet on the center rack and bake until the topping is golden brown and delicious, about 20 minutes.

Let it cool a little. Serve to the one you love.

*I like to use a variety of apples, some sour like Granny Smith, and some sweet like Braeburns.

**For this I like to use vanilla sugar because your mother likes it.•

•Vanilla Sugar: Two cups white sugar. One vanilla bean. Put the sugar in an airtight container. Split the bean lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds and put those in with the sugar. Cut the split beans in half widthwise and throw those into the sugar too. Toss everything around. Use after two weeks. Taste nirvana.

One of favorite childhood food memories is of our family’s little Indonesian Rijsttafel.

I lived my first five years in the little village of Rumbai on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. It wasn’t just the middle of nowhere, it was literally the middle of the jungle. I kid you not. Our house was on the edge of town. It was our house, an oil road, fifty yards of grass clearing, then the dark green imposing, seemingly impenetrable wall of jungle.

How close were we to the jungle? We sometimes had monkeys living beneath our house—our houses were built up on stilts and cement blocks to mitigate the monsoon flooding.

How close were we to the jungle? I was once caught in the front yard playing with a green mamba, one of the world’s most poisonous snakes. I still don’t know why it didn’t bite me.

How close were we to the jungle? I got to once a pet tiger. It was dead. It had killed a local guy, so the town company called in a crazy Australian tiger hunter to come in and kill it. I still remember what it felt like — I have a horrible memory.

My mother seemed to embrace Indonesian food. And even though we never called it Rijsttafel, we did eat that way from time to time.

Rijsttafel is Dutch —I know, weird, but click here for a brief history of the Dutch in Indonesia — for “rice table.” It’s a bit like tapas.

Anyway, we would have a major entrée, then fill the table with tomatoes and olives, dill pickles and gherkins, eggs, and anything else mom may have thrown onto the table.

The mainstay of our Rijsttafel was Saté Ayam.

There is a scene from the animated film Ratatouille. Anton Ego, the villain puts a bite of ratatouille into his mouth and he is suddenly transported to his childhood. This is the one dish that does that very thing for me.

I really do hope that you try this bad boy. Now, it’s deecidedly an Americanized version. But it is so tasty.

Saté Ayam

Ingredients:

2 lbs. Chicken breast, cubed
4 clove garlic, thinly sliced
4 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp water
some oil

For Sauce

1 onion, Chopped
1 tbsp oil
1 c. water
1/2 c. crunchy peanut butter (Sometimes, I admit, I add a bit more. It depends on how thick you want the sauce.
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp chili
to taste salt
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp almond extract (this was Mom’s secret ingredient. It punches up the flavor)

Directions:

You will need bamboo skewers for this dish…or not.

1   Mix garlic, soy sauce, water into a bowl.

2   Add chicken pieces and pour in oil until the chicken is fully covered.

3   Shake, then marinade for up to three hours.

4   If using skewers, skewer five pieces of chicken on each skewer. If not, then, obviously, omit skewering chicken pieces.

5a  If skewered, grill until chicken is fully cooked.

5b  If now skewered, saute the chicken until fully cooked.

Peanut Sauce

1   Saute the onion in hot oil until soft.

2   Add the water, peanut butter, spices, sugar, and stir well top combine.

3   Cook over low heat, stirring constantly.

4   Add soy sauce, lemon juice and almond extract. Stir until combined.

* I always like to add some sambal (an indonesian garlic/chili chutney available in any Asian grocery. It has a rooster on it.) but it makes it spicy. And soooooo goooooood.

The Finish

We usually put the chicken on a bed of rice and pour the sauce over the chicken.

While in Chicago — Arlington Heights, really — my wife and I went out for tapas. And I just cannot get enough of it.

The choice of that phrase is actually kind of funny. The first time I went for tapas was with my best friends from our theatre. We had won first the state and then regional AACT contests and were up in Kalamazoo for the nationals. We decided to go to a tapas joint —I think it was called Fandango.

Our friend — we’ll call her “Sally” — was super excited to go because of the sangria. “Sally” is one of the most continually positive people I know. And not in an obnoxious way, either, which is difficult to pull off. She is deeply nice. She’s one of my best friends. So when she gets upset, it’s unusual, so it’s kind of funny. Sorry, “Sal.”

Anyway, we had big group, and the tapas started rolling in. But “Sally” had sat herself at sort of this apex of the seating horseshoe. So all the tapas started way down on her right, or way down on her left. I think by then of the end of the evening she had three sangrias and a single stuffed mushroom. She may have also had a Serrano-wrapped shrimp.

And though she be little, she is fierce, especially when she’s hungry. The rest of us were having so much fun trying everything that we didn’t even imagine she wasn’t getting anything to eat. And she is simply too nice to mention it. But she ended up fuming a bit. It was funny, not necessarily at the time, but it’s become a bit of a running joke/button for the group.

I was one of those gorillas gorging at the top of the table. And I fell in love with tapas.

There is something so ancient, so viscerally pleasing about eating tapas that it just pulls me to it. It forces communication and conviviality. At regular restaurants when you eat “your” meal, your focus can fall into your own plate. Sometimes, your partners may not even be there.

But tapas forces you to pass food, to discuss the samplings and compare, to look each other in the eye during the course of the meal. I love that.

And the sangria doesn’t hurt.

We ate at a great tapas place in Arlington Heights: La Tasca. It was packed, which usually turns me off. I’m not a crowd guy. But they gave us time to drink lovely sangria and plan our attack. I pulled out the menu and the little memo book and began writing down our order.

Tortilla Española: Spanish omelets with good stuff
Champions relents: mushrooms stuffed with pork pine nuts and brandy
Mejillones a la mallorquina: mussels in garlic and garlic with garlic

And two things off their specials menu, which I can’t remember.
A Spanish flatbread pizza with goat cheese
Some other egg concoction

And an all-all-you-can-eat bowl of the best olives I have ever had.

It was a wonderful meal. And we will be going back. But not just for the food. I think we may try to take “Sally” and cleanse her of the mala experiencia de los tapas. Because I believe good tapas with good friends can heal just about anything.

¡Viva tapas!

Bangkok Café
Arlington Heights, IL

I hate going to a restaurant with great anticipation and getting ravaged by mediocrity.

Now, I am no arbiter of taste, but I know what I like. And I don’t think I’m too picky. But since the owners of our favorite Thai restaurant packed up and moved to California, Xena and I have been looking for a replacement.

There are only two Thai places in our hometown; both of them are okay, but not great. Actually, the one we loved is actually not really okay anymore. We don’t go there, now.

So, whenever I get out of town I look for Thai food. And my main source is Urbanspoon. Well, you have let me down twice now on the Thai front.

I went to the Bangkok Café in Arlington Heights with great anticipation. The reviews were fantastic. I walked in at 12:30 on a Saturday. There was only a four top in the whole place. I probably should have turned around at that. But I had my tongue set on Thai food.

I don’t like writing poor reviews. I know there are people who joy in the negative turn of phrase. But I realize that writing a poor review means that I have paid for and consumed a poor meal. I take no joy.

But here it goes.

I should have known when the tea arrived. While it’s not always a tip off, a hot tea pitcher with a bagged tea does not usually bode well. I want the loose leaf in an Asian restaurant. The tea also tasted more of the water than the tea. I really don’t want to taste water at all, much less over the taste of the tea.

I ordered the Spring Rolls because I love those things. Paper thin, diaphanous rice paper embracing crisp veggies, cellophane noodles, cilantro, maybe some tofu or shrimp. I love them. And, I have to tell you. I was stoked when these rolls showed up, because they were gorgeous. They were cut and displayed like maki sushi with bright orange julienned carrots and a huge sprig of cilantro. They were sitting on a wash of orange plum sauce. Beautiful.

Then I tasted them. They were actually dry. Dry as in difficult to eat dry. The “paper-thin” wrapper was not paper thin, and it was triple wrapped around the roll. It felt and tasted like they didn’t soak the wrapper enough. The vegetables within were medium diced, not julienned.  The large diced tofu was dry. The plum sauce was more sweet than flavorful. And —sacrilege! — instead of scallions they used large slices of raw red onion. It is possible the first time I have ever not finished a plate of spring rolls. It was something I might imagine producing the first time I tried spring rolls at home.

The soup, which came with the meal, was kind of unbelievable. Mostly because I can tell you exactly what was in it. Chicken broth, large chunks of red pepper, sliced carrot, barley. No herbs, no spices. It was the kind of thing I might quickly whip up when I’m sick. Except, I would at least add some cilantro. One of the things I love about Thai food is that I can rarely name everything that I taste in it. This was a very sad moment for me.

The entrée, however, boded well. It looked fun and smelled fantastic. I ordered Rama Noodles, which is a peanut sauce based chicken with spinach and carrots over very broad noodles. It smelled fantastic. And the noodles that I could see around the sauce had been lightly fried —almost always a good thing.

But, alas, again I was hammered with disappointment. The peanut sauce, which was lacking any solid peanuts or even peanut matter, looked, tasted — and more importantly felt — like it came from a Trader Joe’s bottle. I know this because I have recently used such a bottle to make dinner.

And the noodles…oh the noodles…which looked so promising…. I don’t know how they managed it, but half of them were crispy, the other half was gummy. Gummy! So sad.

I once had a date with a gorgeous woman. I asked her out because she was gorgeous. I guess she accepted because she thought I was funny. It was one of the worst, most painful dinners I have ever had. It turned that not only was she unrelentingly uninteresting, but she expected me to do all the work that night. She actually said to me, “Say something funny.”

She told me she liked shoes and bags. “No just purses, either.” She didn’t read, because nothing she read was ever interesting.

Honestly, I can’t even remember her name. Mandy, Mindy, Monica? I can’t remember. I did not call her back. She did not call me back.

This lunch reminded me of her.

Okay. So one of the things I like to do when I stay with my parents is to head out to a local coffee shop in the morning and do some writing.

Still in bed, I whir up the old Urbanspoon and start cranking through my options. Today I found a little place called La Barista, on the corner of Grand Ave, and EP True Parkway in West Des Moines. But don’t look for the name “La Barista.” It’s not on the awning. It just says, “Coffee Bar.”

And it’s tiny. It seats perhaps eighteen people.

I love places like this. I walked and the woman behind the bar — well along into pregnancy — said, “Grandma, can you bring in the new plates?” And in came Grandma with the new plates.

I’m not exactly sure what Grandma said. She spoke with a thick accent, perhaps Eastern European.

I ordered my customary cappuccino, dry, and a cinnamon scone. It was one of the best cappuccinos I have tasted. Just a little bracing, just a little bitter, and strong, healthy foam. And the scone, made in-house, also very good.

I was shocked to hear they have been open for 17 years. Seventeen years. My parents have lived here since 1979. I have never been to this place. It actually struck me a little dumb.

There is Starbucks across the street. It opened about two years ago. But the young barista said that it hasn’t really done anything to their business.

A man came into the café and café and she said, “Hey, Dave. Same thing?”

“You betcha.”

Just then another car pulled to the drive-up window, which is right behind the counter. Dave said, “Hey, John,” to the man in the car. I am not making this up. The three of them — Dave, standing at the counter, John, in his car at the window, and the young barista — carried on a conversation about a third customer who had recently had a heart attack.

Now, I don’t really have anything against Starbucks. I know that to Seattleites they are a local company. But there is something about size that almost necessitates a simmering hierarchical anonymity. The further away a leader is from led the less connection they have, thus the less empathy and understanding they can have. It’s the same with customers. Decisions become matters of cost analysis, branding, and public relations. They really aren’t about the customer any more.

La Barista is about the customer. For them, small is powerful. I mean, 17 years? There is pluck in a family coffee house that survives for 17 years.

I may be done browsing for my café away from café. Now, if I can just find a good Thai place again.

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