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Plat du Jour: Tuesday April 16, 2013: How Do You Like Your Espresso & Major League Diets

On this spring Tuesday afternoon, we’ll give you an espresso jolt with this excellent and very thorough comparison of “Third Wave” espresso with the classic Italian espresso, courtesy of Erin Meister at Serious Eats.

Yours truly is a classic “Third Wave” coffee drinker, consuming one of these types of espressos each afternoon (or many more than one if away from San Francisco on assignment). Interestingly, my “local” cafe is really an Italian caffé of the sort where if you order an espresso, it’s meant to be a quick one minute shot and you’re out. I often describe this Italian espresso as “watery” and “meager,” so it greatly benefits from a dollop of steamed milk foam as a macchiato. Is the espresso on its really that bland and liquidy? Well, yes it is. It’s not meant to be swirled, sniffed, and examined from all angles like the “Third Wave” espressos.

IMG_8802

Is one of the espresso types better?

Absolutely. There is no debate that the “Third Wave” style is the superior product. The depth, the wood, citrus, and herbal notes, complete with its silky structure compared to the Italian’s water– this isn’t even a contest.

However, as the article so beautifully explains, there is a complete difference in the barista’s process, the beans used, and often even the machines that pull the shots and grind the beans. The most glaring reason for the “Third Wave” espresso’s superior body and complete flavor profile is usually because more of the beans are used, creating a much denser shot with a smoother, thicker texture.

It’s an art and a science to pulling espresso shots. For me, there really isn’t a question here of which I prefer, but I know many advocates for both sides. There isn’t a right or wrong answer. If you’re an espresso drinker, you already have a clear preference.

Continuing on this Tuesday, here is a fascinating interview from Epicurious with George Kontos, a relief pitcher for your world champion San Francisco Giants.

Except, it’s not an interview about last October’s victory. O.k. there is one question about that.

It’s a look into the diet and eating habits of a Major League Baseball pitcher. It just goes to show not all Major League pitchers end up with the physique of David Wells.

Kontos is a professional athlete and a very passionate eater, balancing a challenging line between the two. Just keep him away from those skillet- sized chocolate chip cookies. That being said, he needs calories and lots of them.

I’ve eaten many times at At&T Park’s concessions and media dining rooms. I wouldn’t exactly describe either as special or particularly healthy (except the Krazy Krab rolls in the Centerfield Plaza). A dining review from the Giants’ clubhouse will certainly be an upcoming article project.

Finally this afternoon, we recently tackled the never-ending debate about restaurant reservations and no-shows with reservations. One of the newest reservations forms is to sells tables as “tickets,” started by Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas at their Chicago restaurant Alinea and Next.

Yesterday came word that the much-anticipated new restaurant, Trois Mec, from a trio of Los Angeles chefs with audacious, brilliant minds and equally adoring audiences– Ludo Lefebvre (LudoBites), and Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo (Animal and Son of a Gun)– will employ a similar ticket based system.

Son of a Gun's Shrimp Toast Sandwich

Son of a Gun’s Shrimp Fried Chicken Sandwich on the left

Why not? The common argument is that there are no refunds if you can’t make it to dinner. Then again, the Dodgers and the L.A. Opera don’t refund you for being sick or stuck in traffic either.

The discussions will continue and continue. This will be an interesting experiment. Alinea and Next are different in that they are worldwide destinations. Trois Mec is a destination, but I’m not sure many diners from London are flying to Los Angeles to with Trois Mec being the main purpose of the trip like Alinea might be. We’ll see. One thing is for sure– this is definitely the next of many restaurants who will adopt this reservation style this year.

Have a great rest of your Tuesday everyone!

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