Monday, August 10, 2009

Happy Birthday

Today is my Dad’s 75th birthday and though we are not able to go to New Jersey to celebrate with him, I figured I’d pay him tribute with a little blog entry.

If you’ve been reading, you know that my dad is quirky. He cooks Italian Style Hot dogs and can belt out any operatic tune on demand. He has a roaring laugh and a warm smile. His heart is as big as it gets; he is always willing to give himself fully to others, and with five children that is no small feat. Even though we are all adults now, we still go to him for help.

My dad also has a few vices, both of which he has passed down to me. He loves salt and coffee. When I was a child, he’d reach for the salt-shaker, stating “There’s not enough salt in the Siberian salt mines to satisfy me,” and I’d laugh and nod along, shaking salt onto my plate with a heavy hand. It drove my mother crazy.

His second vice, good strong espresso, is one that both my brother Joey and I have inherited. Joey takes it to a whole new level, drinking seven to ten espressos per day. Like my dad, I cap myself off at three.

Before getting married, I had the pleasure of moving back into my parents’ house. Moving home as an adult has all kinds of implications, but, to me, the experience was invaluable. I got to enjoy my parents as adults and as friends. Like with my other friends, most of our laughs we shared over coffee.

I was teaching high school English at the time, so I needed all the caffeine I could get. I’d wake up at 5:30 am to get to work by 7, brewing the ten-cup espresso pot so that when my parents woke up, the espresso was already waiting for them.

At around 4pm my dad would announce, “I just made coffee” when he heard me at the door. We’d have our second cups together recounting the events of the day.

Finally, after dinner, I would brew the third pot, pouring myself a strait one while my dad reached for anisette and made his corretto.
So today, even though I am not with my dad, I brewed myself an afternoon pot, poured myself a cup, and picked up the phone to hear about his day.

How to make an Italian Espresso
( you don't need to go to Starbucks anymore)

You can make Italian Espresso even without a fancy machine. Most people in Italy make espresso at home with a stove top espresso maker. There are many different brands out there, but I like a Bialetti for its dependability, and exceptional quality.

Once you have the espresso maker, actually making the coffee is simple. Just fill the bottom of the maker with cold water until it reaches the steam valve, place the funnel into the bottom and fill it with espresso ground coffee*. Screw on the top and place the maker on the stove top on medium heat. Depending on the size of the maker coffee will be ready in 3-5 minutes. You'll know when its done because the entire top will fill with delicious espresso and your kitchen will smell better than Starbucks.

* There are many different types of espresso sold in supermarkets today. Some popular brands are LaVazza, Illy, or, my favorite, Cafe Bustelo

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