[Free Stuff by Wilfrid: June 8, 2012]
A charming invitation to fly to coffee country with Padma Lakshmi dropped into the inbox recently. The flight in question turned out to be earthbound, and packed with the rest of the New York fooderati, but it was well worth taking for all that.
Take-off point, the Nespresso boutique on Prince Street, SoHo, the rear part of which had been retooled as mock flight cabin for the evening.
Nespresso is very much in the machine as well as the coffee business, and the store doubles as a museum of their many, sleek models. I enjoyed an espresso mojito while waiting for the fun to start. The espresso martini looked pretty, but was a bit too much like milk 'n' alcohol.
We were figuratively strapped in for presentations on Nespresso's coffee -- and in particular the sixteen "Grand Crus," a selection of blends and single origin coffees from a range of territories.
Padma's the brand spokesperson for Nespresso, and she described the flavor notes we'd be looking for in the three single origin espressos we sampled.
The Indriya, the most powerful of the three, was a rich, dark brew from Indian beans. The Rosabaya, medium and fruity, was from Colombia.
The Dulsão was Brazilian, very mild and creamy, a good starting point for anyone who takes their coffee light and is nervous about concentrated shots. No surprise that the Indriya was my runaway favorite, although I liked the Rosabaya fine.
The air travel theme produced a tray of snacks, more or less representing the countries we'd been talking about. An empanada with carne molida, a rather good chicken-stuffed arepa, and I suppose a kind of chaat - cumin and turmeric-spiced potato pieces on a flatbread. I suppose the skewer of grilled vegetables provided balance.
I spent some of the evening gazing at the trim lines of the coffee makers on the shelves around the room. A brief video interview with the designer behind their newest machine, the Pixie, grabbed my attention. He said the idea was to make a machine so simple that it didn't need an instruction manual ("a handle and two buttons..."). More about the machines here.
Anyone who left the event craving a Pixie was not disappointed. Seriously. We each received one and a bunch of other gifts. Right after an espresso ice-cream float conceived by Padma. That's a night out.