There are many stops along the road to adulthood: getting your driver's license, going off to college, taking your first (legal) sip of beer. Before all those, however, there's another: your first cup of coffee. I remember mine clearly. I was a teenager at an outdoor sporting event in Wisconsin. The weather was damp and chilly and the concessions stand ran out of hot cocoa. Understanding how cold-to-the-bone I was, my family let me order a previously verboten cup of coffee. Oh, the thrill of tearing the lid off non-dairy creamer and ripping open a packet (or three) of sugar! I hugged the Styrofoam cup for warmth, reveling in what tasted like melted coffee ice cream and my newfound, semi-adult status.
Since then, I've had too many cups of java to count, some more memorable than others, like my first café crème when I moved to Paris after college, my first cup of Peet's as I walked along the waterfront in San Francisco, my first cup of Ethiopian Fancy from my own French press. At Shish Kabob Grill, which I review this week, I added another to the list: Turkish coffee. See also: - Shish Kabob Grill skillfully embraces both tradition and change - Arash: Best Middle Eastern Grocery Store
Made from powdered Arabica beans with a whiff of cardamom, this drink is the polar opposite of that first cup I had so many years ago. Very dark, with no cream and just a hint of sugar, it puts much of what counts as coffee in our culture (like those pumpkin latte calorie bombs) to shame.
Eager to replicate the exotic taste at home, I stopped at Arash International Market, stocked full of so many imported jams, cookies and teas, not to mention produce, meats and breads, it feels like you've crossed continents, not just county lines. At home, I cut open the package of Café Najjar and cardamom's unmistakable fragrance - slightly fruity, with hints of lemon and ginger -- filled the kitchen.
Making a cup turned out to be surprisingly easy, even without the traditional pot known as a cezve or ibrik. I tried an online recipe with a few simple steps. If you make it, by all means resist the urge to stir, and wait a few minutes before drinking to allow the grounds to settle. If you don't, you'll have to contend with unpleasant coffee pulp against your teeth.
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While my Turkish coffee never got as foamy as it did at the restaurant, the taste was nearly identical, a pleasant change from the normal half-and-half spiked cup that kick starts my day.