Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Fresh grated nutmeg & dried arbol chili

Instead of grinding spices to a formless powder by mortar and pestle, I decided to take the micro-plane to task on these two ingredients. Nutmeg is always better freshly grated. You will taste more of the sharp, clean notes than with pre-ground. Chili is the same way. As we aren't going for as much spice as pepper flavour, the longer it stays whole, the better.

So I brought the micro-plane into the coffee shop with a nutmeg seed and a dried arbol chili. Grating directly into the holder requires a bit more of a feeling or artistic touch to achieve the same measured balance as with our usual standardized shaker method. I was surprised to find it quite balanced on the first attempt.

It is easy for chili to overpower whatever its in, not only with heat but its assertive pepper flavour. A minuscule amount (3 light grates) provided enough heat to notice, and pepper flavour to taste without losing everything else. Nutmeg added complexity and toyed with the natural nuttiness of Brian's Steampunk blend. You can still taste the nuttiness! It isn't just chili in a cup, rather a balanced shot and a progressive flavour experience.

*Update* We tried the combination again but significantly spicier. It didn't really hurt it too much. If you like spice, you will love this drink. It lightly pops you in the gullet on every sip. You can still taste the coffee, but a few of its subtleties are overpowered by the pepper flavour asserting itself. A patron tried this shot with me and seemed to love it, a spice fiend himself. I tasted a distinct chocolate note in the beginning of the aftertaste.

Inspired, we tried another spicy shot with a bit of chocolate at the bottom of the cup. The chocolate nearly wipes out the flavour of the coffee, but compliments the chili seriously well. I'd like to call this shot a gateway espresso for those just getting into drinking shots instead of cups. The intense coffee taste that normally is too strong for newbies is mitigated by the sweetened chocolate syrup. The spice adds a zing for a great cascade of taste. Perhaps a bit less chocolate would allow for more coffee taste to come through, nickel instead of quarter sized pool on the bottom of the espresso shot glass.

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