Coffee cat

What does it take to sell coffee beans for $250+ per pound? Try harvesting them after they’ve passed through the digestive tract of an Indonesian wild cat. Joe from Nashville’s Bean Central comments on the science behind the world’s most expensive coffee, Kopi Lawak.


Joe knows joe

The Bean Central weblog has received a sharp new design since the last time I visited. Besides being a great site for buying coffee, it features occasional updates with coffee-related articles. Speaking of, how did I spend four years at Vanderbilt without knowing that this existed?


Cicada hives?

Cicada update: adventurous diner Erin says, “Just for the record–the act of putting fried cicada in your mouth is a bit disconcerting; however, the taste is not half bad.” Also, Justin sends in this warning on possible allergic reactions to the buggers.


Harley Maki

Only in Nashville (actually the nearby town of Lebanon, pronounced “Lebenin”) would you find a place like this: Krooners, the “world’s only biker sushi bar and leading parts supplier for Harley Davidson and custom bikes from over 200 suppliers.” Yep, really. How’s that for convenience? Their motto is ‘Ride American – Eat Japanese.” The restaurant part of the store, Sushi Dogs, features traditional sushi and some rolls with southern ingredients, like okra.

Unfortunately, I didn’t find out about Krooners till it was too late for me to give it a try. But if I had, I have a feeling it would have gotten a 6.5 on the Jake-wishes-he-was-a-samurai-biker-hog-food-critic scale.


I didn’t know Milkbone makes biscotti

Half of my posts since returning to Vanderbilt have been about coffee shops. This one is no exception.

My shop of choice tonight was Fido, which used to be a pet store but is now a part of the Bongo Java Roasting Co (home of the infamous NunBun, the cinnamon bun that looks likes Mother Teresa). The store kept the neon dog sign, has a dog in its logo, and names all of its specialty drinks with dog terms, like the Rollover or the Pink Dalmatian. This historical digression is relevant because it explains why Fido is the only coffee shop I know that also sells dog biscuits. Not just any dog biscuits, but really big dog biscuits, each half-covered with white icing and colorful sprinkles. I don’t know if this actually makes them more appealing to dogs, but they look pretty darn good to me.

As evidenced by tonight’s incident, I am not the only one who salivates at the sight of these tasty treats. While I was examining the menu, trying to decide what would go best with writing a paper on evolutionary theory, a young Asian man approached the counter to ask the barista a question. Gesturing toward the large glass jar of iced dog biscuits, he asked, “Are these for dogs or for people?”

“Those are for dogs,” answered the barista, a bit surprised by the question. “Ohhhh,” said the customer. It was at this point that the barista and I looked down to see in his other hand a fragment of dog biscuit. “Did you just… eat that?” I asked him. Indeed he had.

It turns out that he was not the sole biscuit eater that evening. Happening to sit down next to his table, I realized that he was with a date. They sat across from each other, each with a cup of coffee in front of them. In front of the coffees, two napkins. On each napkin, the remainder of a dog biscuit. Yes, he had not only eaten a dog biscuit, but he had fed one to his girlfriend as well. They made it through the iced portions, stopping several bites into the plain halves (for the record, the guy ate more of his than the girl did of hers).

All’s well that ends well, however. The girl got cheesecake, which the guy presumably recognized as fit for human consumption by its pie-like shape and the fact that it comes on a plate. The guy can now point to the brand new Post-It note on the biscuit jar that reads “Not for humans” and say, “You see that? That’s there for me!” And us? We learned that when you’re really hungry, frosted dog biscuits with sprinkles make a semi-delicious dessert.


Back to Café-Philo

Some sad news this week for Nashville’s coffee scene: Joe’s Bean Central on West End has closed its doors. Bean Central was the first Net cafe in Nashville and the home of café-philo for the past year. Adam reports that Joe is focusing instead on the roasting side of his business. You can purchase his coffee here; I recommend the Ethiopian Yrgacheffe.

The first café-philo of 2004 will be held tomorrow night at 9:00 at J-J’s. After that we will probably go back to our old rotation of J-J’s and Fido unless we find another permanent home. If you’re in town, come check it out. To receive a weekly email announcing café-philo’s time and location, sign up here.


Continuing education

Yesterday was the 70th anniversary of the 21st Amendment, the one that put an end to Prohibition. Even an ascetic like me was willing to celebrate this with a few (ok, more than a few) drinks last night. However, I think this excerpt from an actual conversation at the bar demonstrates that I learned all the wrong things in my first three years of college:

Court: “Here, try this, it’s a Long Island iced tea.”

Me: “Oh, no thanks, I don’t like tea.”

After being informed that there is no actual tea in a Long Island iced tea I decided I liked it. Other new experiences last night included tej, an Ethiopian honey wine, and tequila shots with my buddy Wyatt to honor my impending departure from the internship program. I think I’ll be repeating the tej before the tequila.

Celebrating the end of Prohibition was fun, but there’s reason to beware of neoprohibitionists sneaking in stifling regulations. New from Cato, see “Backdoor to Prohibition: The New War on Social Drinking” by Radley Balko.


D. C. links

Added a new section of links to the sidebar tonight called “D. C. Links.” The most noteworthy is Tyler Cowen’s amazingly thorough ethnic dining guide. Cowen is an eccentric economist at George Mason who has written extensively on culture. His mini-reviews are often fun to read and he’s not afraid to speak with authority:

“[I]f you don’t like [these restaurants], you probably didn’t follow my advice for what to order. Or you are to blame in some other manner, I don’t know which one, there are many possibilities.”

“How can I get good Mexican food around here? That is perhaps the most common query I receive. The answer: you can’t. That being said, here are some options.”

Some of the reviews are more light-hearted:

“Formosa Café… Great, great, great. You won’t believe this place exists. Total mom and pop atmosphere, formica tabletops, real Chinese food, excellent prices. Beware the spicy dishes with chiles, even *I* can’t really finish them or even get halfway through. Two red stars means the kiss of death here.”

I had the good fortune to have dinner with Cowen in the Georgetown cafeteria this summer at an IHS conference. Rather, I should say we students ate while he wisely declined to partake. Friendly though he was, I made a point to wait until he left to have my Lucky Charms for dessert.

Two of his books are In Praise of Commercial Culture and Creative Destruction. I enjoyed the first more than the second, but both are good and the second is more relevant to globalization debates.

The second new site I think is interesting is this blog map of the D. C. Metro system. It lists local bloggers by their nearest Metro (subway) stop, conveniently superimposed on the familiar colored map. My link is now listed in Rosslyn. I’ve yet to get any practical good from the site, but it’s a cool idea.