Thursday, August 27, 2009

Introducing Miss Sylvia

Meet our Rancilio Silvia, principesa of the kitchen. Rancilio, btw, is pronounced Ran-chilly-o. She's Italian.

It's been many years since we've had an espresso machine in the house, and so far it's remarkably similar to having a puppy or an infant. I expect to sleep little (downside of sampling too much espresso) and clean up a lot.

It's a sign of something, perhaps maturity, that we're back to espresso. Over a decade ago, in a fit of nutritional living, we cleared our counter of a sleek La Pavoni lever espresso machine to make room for a hydraulic Norwalk juicer. (I bet at the time I thought that change was a sign of maturity.) Anyway, I kept up with the juicing for several years, but the Norwalk hasn't seen a carrot in years. I was going to say that it hasn't seen the light of day in several years but I realized that's not true. In addition to grinding up fruits and veggies, the Norwalk is capable of grinding meat (tho I never used it in that capacity) and shaving ice. Since my daughters inherited my sno-cone gene intact we occasionally haul out the 60-pound machine and enjoy - with some help from Torani - some sweet, colorful, icy goodness. But I digress...

Sil arrived yesterday, we we're still getting to know her. So far I've steamed some gorgeous milk and enjoyed a few slightly bitter caffes. My last effort, about an hour ago, was my best yet - a two-shot Americano type drink (equal parts hot water and espresso) and some warmed milk. The sugar-free thing is totally new for me, but a Murano glass salesman showed me the light. His opinion - adding sugar to espresso makes it too clingy in the mouth - is right. Espresso is much more clean without sugar.

Anyone have any home brewing tips? If you have experience temperature surfing, hand tamping, or shot timing I would love some advice.

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