Luwak Coffee, would you try it?

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Have you ever tried coffee that has been made by beans which are first digested by a cat? Well I have!

On a recent trip to Bali, we were on a day tour and our driver stopped off for an unscheduled visit to a coffee plantation. The coffee that was being grown, harvested and roasted there, it turns out, is quite a lot more famous than we had known. I’ve found that Luwak Coffee, also known as Civet Coffee, Kopi Luwak, and ‘cat’, ‘wolf’ or ‘crap’ coffee, is known as the Dom Perignon of the coffee world.

After doing my research when we got back, it also appears to get much attention from outside of Indonesia due to the unethical way the Asian Palm Civets, the cats which eat the coffee berries, are kept, some times in battery type cages. If I knew this before our visit then I probably would have asked our driver to miss out this part of our tour but I didn’t, and as a coffee lover, I was very excited to be there. From my research, I gather that the majority of the battery plantations are on the island of Sumatra and not in Bali where we were which makes me feel a little better.

So back to our tour… It started by us being shown around a small area of the plantation where they had many different fruits, vegetables and herbs growing. Some of which were completely exotic to us, some are regularly on my shopping list.

SCC Jack Fruit Bali 2014

Some Jack Fruit Growing at the plantation

SCC Pineapple Bali 2014

I had no idea that Pineapple grows like this!

SCC Coffee Berries Bali 2014

Coffee berries growing at the plantation

We then came across our first Civet in a cage, it was a pretty big cage and the cat was sleeping soundly curled up in the corner.

SCC Civet Cat 1 Bali 2014

Our guide explained that the civets are let out at night (they are nocturnal) which is when they eat the coffee beans, it is then the digested beans, which ferment as they pass through the animals intestines, that are collected from the droppings as they move out through the other end, if you know what I mean! They are cleaned and roasted before being ground and made into Luwak Kopi.

SCC Coffee Beans Bali 2014

It was first discovered back in the Colonial Era, the workers on the Indonesian coffee plantations weren’t allowed to consume the coffee beans which they collected so they got around this by instead taking the beans which had been digested by the Palm Civet and cleaning, roasting and grinding them to enjoy the coffee themselves.

SCC Coffee Roasting Bali 2014

After seeing all this, we were offered a chance to try some at the cost of 5 USD per cup, we got one to share. It was a good cup of coffee but I have had better, I really don’t quite understand how it caught on! I have read that a single cup sells for as much as £60 in London, well if you are in London and fancy a decent coffee then I would highly recommend that you head to the Monmouth Coffee Company instead! We also got to sample some other beverages which the plantation sells, they were really tasty but so so sweet!

SCC Lemongrass Tea Bali 2014

SCC Tea and Coffee Sampler Bali 2014

SCC Tea and Coffee Sampler 2 Bali 2014

Would you try Kopi Luwak? Or maybe you’ve already tried it? Either way, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Madeleines

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I love french supermarkets, in fact I love any new, foreign supermarket. Snooping around all the local produce and all the new brands, seeing what is to offer. When we lived in Geneva, we used to occasionally pop over the boarder into France to do our food shop. We didn’t do this too often as my fiancé hates food shopping (and the Swiss wouldn’t let me drive so he had to come), but if we wanted to buy more than a couple of boxes of beers then it would be worth the trip (for him!). Whenever we would pop into Carrefour, he would always pick up a bag of madeleines, the kind where you have a huge pack of about 50, each individually wrapped. They have a sell by date of about 6 months and one would expect them to last at least half that time . Well they never saw the end of a week in our home!

Cold Storage, our new local supermarket, do stock both Carrefour and Casino produce for the french expats and francophiles of Singapore. But until they start stocking his favourite little cakes it looks like I’m going to be pulling out my madeleine tray and switching on the oven. For my recipe I turn to Michel Roux Jr. He has a great madeleine recipe that is easy to follow in 3 simple steps. And his wine pairing suggestion? Prosecco. Do you need further tempting to give this one a try and pop open a bottle of fizz? Unfortunately it was 11am when I made these and I was home alone so some suspicions would have been raised should I have opted for the bubbles rather than a mug of coffee to go with my share.

The first batch I made looked a tad on the golden side and a little crisper than desired. I decided to turn down my oven a tad, it is the first time I have baked cakes since we moved here so I am still getting used to where the hot spots are and what temperature works best. It also doesn’t help that the temperature dial shows 160 degrees at 5 o’clock and 180 degrees at 7 o’clock, I don’t trust that anything in between these two is very accurate as the spacing is too big compared to the others. Anyway, back to madeleines. The second batch turned out much better. I had enough mixture to pour a little more into each cup leaving just a couple of millimeters space at the top.

I whisked the eggs and sugar together with my electric whisk to make them nice and frothy quickly

I then used my hand whisk to combine all the other ingredients

I then used my hand whisk to combine all the other ingredients so as not to over beat them, it looks a bit like frothy custard at this stage

Both batches cooling. Which one do you think looks best?

Both batches cooling. Which one do you think looks best?

Close up, although my camera decide to focus on the drooling pug - bless

Close up, although my camera decide to focus on the drooling pug – bless!

You can see here how light batch 2 look in the middle

You can see here how soft and light batch 2 look in the middle

Michel says they should be eaten within an hour of removing from the oven – well if he insists, it would be rude not too. Lets just not tell my fiancé I made madeleines today….

Spaghetti Carbonara

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Carbonara is one of my favorite Italian dishes but with all that cream and parmesan cheese it really packs in the calories, which is why I would usually avoid it unless I was eating out.  Until I found this recipe on the Philadelphia Cream Cheese website. You get the same creamy taste but with much less calories.  I also like to swap the regular spaghetti for wholemeal spaghetti and add in a couple of handfuls of chopped button mushrooms when frying the bacon. This is a firm favourite in our house.

Carbonara is also a great way to use up egg yolks. I had some left over from a healthy low fat feta cheese egg white omelette I’d made for lunch a few days earlier. I just froze the egg yolks and took them out the freezer the night before I needed them. They tend to get a bit lumpy once defrosted but this is fine! I’ve read that adding a small amount of salt or sugar to the yolks before freezing stops this. So you’d use salt for savoury sauces and sugar for custards etc. I’ll try this next time and let you know how it goes!

A quick shot of what I used (Angel Hair Pasta, not pictured, was my choice of pasta last night)

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Here’s the original recipe

http://www.philadelphia.co.uk/Recipes/Spaghetti-Carbonara?r=9295

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