My Bean Around The World series is offering up some Coffee Lover’s Kitchen recipes today! Not only has cold brew coffee become popular, but it’s the summer season here in the northern hemisphere and many people turn to cold coffee drinks to cool them down. First off, let’s not confuse cold brew coffee with ice coffee – they are not the same. Ice coffee is simply putting ice in your coffee beverage. Cold brew is different and easy to make, so it’s fun to try at home. By using cold or tepid water (not hot) to brew your coffee, that causes the beans to extract different oils and compounds. So you’ll have different tastes from the same beans if all you change is the temperature of the water!
All you need is a mason jar and a metal strainer or French press pot to make your basic cold brew concentrate. In the old days, this was called Toddy coffee. Anyone out there remember this? Use 1 part coffee to 5 parts water. Coarsely grind the coffee and mix it with cold (preferably filtered) water and put it in a jar or French press. Let it sit at room temperature for 12-24 hours and then strain it. Keep it in the fridge and use within 2 weeks time. You can dilute the concentrate 1:2 parts with water or any other liquid such as milk. Of course, adjust this to your personal preference.
Cold Brew Coffee. Image source: http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/food-recipes/cooking/a33597/how-to-make-cold-brew-coffee/
Are you taking advantage of Europe being on sale these days? I know many readers are heading over the pond. If Italy is in your plans, either now or sometime in the next year or so, be sure to read this post. After all, who doesn’t plan on visiting Italy sooner or later. I’ve got four Italian destinations for you, so let’s get started. In Part 1, I talked about Venice and Milan, what to see/do/eat and what not to eat in Venice! In this post I’ll share tips with you about Firenze, so let’s dig in.
FIRENZE (Florence, Italy)
Florence, Italy at night. Image source: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/italy/florence
When in Florence, I stay at Hotel La Scaletta. It went through a renovation a few years ago, so it’s much more modern than it was back in 2011 when I first discovered it. I like a lot of things about this place. First off, Silvia, Sara, and the rest of the front desk crew are absolutely the best. They are so Italian and warm and when you’re there, you’re family! The hotel is well-positioned in being on the side of the river AWAY from all the crowds and heavily-visited sites. Yet, it’s close enough that you could walk there from the train station and you can certainly get to any of the main sites from Hotel La Scaletta with an easy 15 minute walk.
The Hotel La Scaletta rooftop has tables and chairs where you can have meals or just hang out and enjoy the views. The rooms aren’t large, though, certainly clean and recently refurbished, but the WiFi was glitchy, so if you have a lot of work to do, it’s frustrating. Breakfast is an extra fee, so I’d suggest taking your breakfast out at one of the many cafes in the area. Hotel La Scaletta is very reasonably priced and if you use your Citi Prestige Credit Card 4th night free benefit, well, it’s even a better price!
Rooftop View from Hotel La Scaletta in Florence, Italy. Image source: http://www.hotellascaletta.it/?act=gallery
Are you taking advantage of Europe being on sale these days? I know many readers are heading over the pond. If Italy is in your plans, either now or sometime in the next year or so, be sure to read this post. After all, who doesn’t plan on visiting Italy sooner or later. I’ve got four Italian destinations for you, so let’s get started.
VENEZIA (Venice, Italy)
Venice, Italy by water
Venice is an amazing place. I could easily sit all day and watch the waterway life. But of course, I had to stay somewhere, eat something, drink coffee and indulge in gelato, so here are some tips for you. When I’m in Italy, I have my priorities, so let’s start with gelato :)
There’s actually a place in Venice I’d suggest staying AWAY from. It’s called Gelateria Alaska. It was on some lists of top gelato in ALL of Italy, which totally baffles me. First off, the guy working there was plain nasty. “Can I taste a flavor?” I asked him. He responded with a gruff NO. I should have walked out at this point because his energy was plainly foul, but I didn’t. And the gelato was not very good at all. Oh well. Lesson learned, stay away from Gelateria Alaska. My preferred gelato in Venice is Grom. They’ve been around for a while now and can be found throughout Italy. I’m definitely partial to their pistachio and chocolate with hazelnut flavors.
Grom Gelato in Venice, Italy. Image source: http://comradechufood.blogspot.com/2011/12/grom-venice-italy.html
Do you live where you were born and raised? Given the transient nature of life these days, and perhaps because the United States is such a big country with so many possible “hometowns,” it’s likely you don’t. I was born and raised in New York City and frankly, I don’t get back there nearly enough. And feeling like it had been way too long between visits, I recently spent 5 days there. Wow, not only did I have a fantastic time, but I’m leaving there feeling proud to be a New Yorker. What a great, vibrant, amazing place!
I know that every article and blog post about NYC will tell you what to see and do, and in fact we have quite a few Boarding Area bloggers who call NYC home and do a great job covering the NYC scene, so I’m just going to mention two wonderful sites to see that don’t come up on lists. I’ll also suggest a coffee place that has locations throughout the city. And how can I not mention my trip to JFK from Manhattan on the subway??
I walk A LOT when I travel, and NYC’s 23 square miles provides plenty of walking opportunities. I averaged about 11 miles a day walking, so please, get out on the streets and walk. It’s the BEST way to see and experience the city!
One of my favorite places to walk is Riverside Park. The people who live by and use Riverside Park probably won’t like me spilling the beans, but this park is wonderful. It spans 4 miles and the views of the river and New Jersey are wonderful, there are wooded paths as well as paved paths for walking or running, lots of dog parks, plenty of benches for enjoying the park or hanging out and reading, tennis and basketball courts, as well as fields for soccer and baseball. I really enjoy this place! Check out the VIRTUAL tour of the park!
Grant’s Tomb at the end of Riverside Park – New York City
I guess it’s time for a true confession. I’m a coffee snob. And when I travel, I have a passion for supporting local roasters and coffee houses. Let’s just say I’ve BEAN Around the World and I’m feeling like now is the time to start sharing the love… and caffeine, one city at a time. Recently, I had a fantastic holiday in Slovenia. Given the shared border with Italy and all the cafes around Ljubljana advertising Illy brand coffee, I wasn’t sure if I’d find coffee shops worth sharing with my fellow Bean Around The World travelers, so I was thrilled to find two fantastic places owned by some very special people. I’ve got lots to share with you, so let’s open the TWG cafe society doors and talk coffee, Slovenian style.
Please read part 1 of my Ljubljana coffee blog post. It will help you understand the general coffee scene and why I chose only two coffee houses to review. They are by far the best two, though! The next coffee house I spent a lot of time in is called Cafe Cokl. Cokl is the family name of the owner, Tine. From the first moment I stepped into Cafe Cokl, I knew I was in the right place with the right attitude and the right coffee. My flat white was excellent! The interior of the cafe is cozy and there’s plenty of seating outside.
While I had my first flat white, the head barista sat with me and told me all about the cafe and the coffee, then a loyal fan who happened to be at the table next to me joined in the conversation. Then Tine himself came into the cafe, and so the conversation went on and on. I learned a lot, laughed a lot, and sampled some coffee :)
Cokl Flat White