MINI REVIEW (Part 1): Bezzera BZ02 Espresso Machine

Many moons ago, Scott asked me about espresso machines. Specifically, he asked me how I liked our Francis Francis X3. My response? “It died.” In fact, much too my wife’s horror, its guts (and carcass) still adorns my workbench in our garage.

What Scott really wanted to know was “what espresso machine do I like?”

I finally got that answer (but alas, by that time, Scott had purchased his own espresso machine…and thus my recommendation was available a little late…at least for him).

Just today, the email box pinged with another email from Scott. His espresso machine died…so what was my recommendation again? Well, it hasn’t changed. I recommend the Bezerra BZ02. And I really need a “Part 2” in order to explain why.

For now, however, it’s worth posting up my email reply to him for both the links and for the comment about the grinder. Enjoy. Oh, and more from me on this later.

Scott:

Wow…blast from the past. I’m now almost embarrassed to have recommended the Francis.

Anyway,

We have a Bezzera BZ02 (Semi Auto) and love it. We have had it for a while and when I purchased it, it was hard to find….I don’t know whether it will be easier or harder now.

We bought it from a guy in Sac (http://www.vanelis.com/store/), but he doesn’t seem to be carrying it anymore.

As you re-enter this amazingly complicated world, read this thread….it’s a good one: http://coffeegeek.com/forums/espresso/machines/333116

And I can’t stress enough the “GRINDER. GRINDER, GRINDER” comments. I wish ours was better, but since I know how to baby it, I can make good espresso even with ours and thus can’t seem to justify the $$. I always wonder though, what I would get if we had a Mazzer, Macap or Rocky. As one of the guys in the thread said, “Buying a really nice espresso machine and a cheap grinder is a complete waste of time and effort.” I wholeheartedly agree.

Best,
JJ

The Speech — Yes We Did!

There is nothing more that can be said than Hooray!  Now…on with the hard work.

Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants

“Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants” is the advice that adorns the cover, and is the call to arms, of Michael Pollan’s newest book, In Defense of Food.

This is a marvelous book that, as the author asserts in his lecture at Google, really does go a long way toward offering a solution to the dilemma presented in his prior book The Omnivore’s Dilemma.  And his proposed solution is…drum roll please…contained in those 7 words adorning the cover.

What this book does NOT do:

*  It does not point toward wonderful or evil nutrients that should be either sought (through supplements or industrial fortification) or shunned (through abstinence or regulation).  On this topic, the book instead points out the flaws of that kind of “parking lot” food science.

*  It does NOT trumpet some new scientific advancement or wonder-drug or wonder-diet.  On this topic, it instead points out the inconsistent/contradictory history of such practices — from the Protein is bad for you and carbohydrates are good for you faze that ushered in breakfast cereal as the “healthier alternative to bacon and eggs” to just a nearly opposite recent trend (embodied in part by the Atkins Diet).

What this book DOES do:

*  It implores readers to seek to eat the way their grandmothers or great-grandmothers ate.

*  It implores readers to focus on food systems rather than food additives or ingredients.

*  It implores readers to focus on eating as an end in and of itself rather than merely a means to an end.

I could go on and on about obese, diabetic westernized Aborigines that cured their ills merely by returning to the bush (and a traditional diet).  I could go on and on about how red meat is not a problem, but how feed-lot red meat is a problem — and how the problem can be solved by eating range-fed, grass-fed beef / chickens / eggs rather than their “conventional” or even “industrial organic” cousins.  I could go on and on about how the French Paradox may be less about the red wine (although we are still learning about how beneficial small quantities of red wine can be) and more about HOW the French eat (no snacking, no eating in cars, no eating alone).

On a great many subjects explored in this fascinating book…I could go on…and on.

But I won’t.

I will instead encourage you to “eat food, not too much, mostly plants” and to read the book.

OiTF: Pictures From Florence

I would have loved to have attended this Outstanding in the Field Dinner. Yes that is Michelangelo’s David at the head of the table (the far end of the picture). And yes, that would make this dinner an “inside” dinner and, uncharacteristically, NOT at the source of any food. But then who would pass up the chance to host a dinner in Florence, Italy inside the Galleria dell’Accademia. Maybe next year it can be at the Louvre.

Michelangelo’s David

Michelangelo’s David OiTF Table

Credit: The OiTF Blog

Impressed So Far — Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle Just a note that I have started a new audio book. This one is written (and narrated) by Barbara Kingsolver and is a work of non-fiction entitled “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.” I am only an hour into it so far, but I can tell that it is pursuing the same premise as Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” — namely, seeking to shorten the length of our food chains.

I like it so far, although opportunities can be lost when an author reads his or her own work (with a huge caveat for Bill Bryson and “In a Sunburned Country”). Let’s hope that this audio book continues to deliver. I’ll let you all know in a week or so.