Food Blog - Best Food Blogs - Gourmet Food Blog THE NIBBLE Blog » TIP OF THE DAY: Red Kitchenware For Valentine’s Day

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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

TIP OF THE DAY: Red Kitchenware For Valentine’s Day

For food enthusiasts, Valentine’s Day isn’t solely about chocolate and cupcakes. Look in the housewares department for Valentine gifts.

For every price range, red items abound. From a burger/pancake flipper or “spoonula” set (spoon/spatula) to a CrockPot, hand mixer or stand mixer, the housewares department yields bright red gifts that will grace the kitchen every day of the year.

We received an early Valentine gift yesterday: a Bialetti Mini Express single-serve espresso machine. It uses capsules that produce a perfect taste of Italy every time.

The machine is $199.00, not expensive for a good espresso machine. If you enjoy just one espresso a day, you’ll break even in about two months, including the cost of the capsules.

And the Bialetti Mini Express has a modest footprint: 7.5″ wide x 10.5″ deep. It fit easily into the small available space on our kitchen counter.

 

Treat yourself or your Valentine to a bright red espresso machine. Photo courtesy Bialetti.

 
ESPRESSO WITH EASE

We love espresso, and previously had owned a conventional Italian espresso machine. It looked like a work of art, but we found that it was cumbersome and messy to grind, tamp and insert the group head (the device that holds the ground coffee). Too often, we found ourselves either out of fresh espresso beans or tossing out the ones we’d had for weeks (the flavor of the beans declines with each day after they’ve been roasted, and is even more noticeable in a strong-brewed drink that is drunk black).

Instead of the chore of making espresso, we started brewing French roast coffee in a regular coffee maker. We gave the espresso maker to the first person who said, “Wow, I’ve always wanted an espresso machine.”

But we are espresso-less no more! The Bialetti Mini Express is a great little espresso machine that produces a terrific cup. It delivers authentic espresso in no-mess capsules, in about 15 seconds—a bit more if you want a double. We couldn’t be happier.

 

Enjoy a rich cup of espresso whenever the mood strikes. Photo by Luke S.Z. | SXC.

 

THE BEST ESPRESSO MAKER UNDER $200

Bialetti may not yet be a household name in the U.S., but the company is the world’s leading espresso maker.

It put its technical know-how into a small, single-serve espresso machine that has all the pressure needed to make a perfect espresso: a 20 bar high pressure system. Easy-to-use capsules load and expel with one motion. And it’s a great price for such a fine espresso machine.

The Mini Express has these other features that we really like:

  • The water reservoir is on the side. It’s so much more convenient than the typical reservoir-in-the-back design, which requires pulling the machine away from the wall to check the level and refill the water.
  • It’s easy to brew as short or tall an espresso as you like (we always like a double). The cup platform easily holds an eight-ounce-size American cup.
  •  

    5 DIFFERENT TYPES OF ESPRESSO

    So you thought there was only one type of espresso? No: Espresso is not a type of bean but a roasting style (see our Espresso Glossary for more information). Each region of Italy has its preferred blend of beans. Bialetti offers four different styles plus a decaf—a boon for espresso lovers who are off caffeine.

    All of the styles are rich and round with the most wonderful aftertaste that you can enjoy the cup long after the last drop is gone. The variations are in the body and intensity, with subtle flavor nuances.

  • Milano is a smooth and light-bodied espresso style favored by the Milanese.
  • Venezia, a light roast preferred in Venice, is a round and delicate espresso.
  • Roma, a rich, bold style preferred in the Eternal City, has complex flavors.
  • Napoli, a full-bodied and intense espresso in the Neapolitan tradition, is bold style, what many Americans think of as espresso.
  • For decaf drinkers, there’s a velvety medium roast.
  •  
    The Bialetti Mini Express comes with a “starter kit” with two of each capsule, so you can quickly decide your favorite. It’s easy to buy capsules online (Amazon.com, BialettiShop.com) or at retailers such as Bed, Bath & Beyond, Crate & Barrel, Kitchen Kapers and Sur la Table.

    A box of 16 capsules is $11.95. That’s less than 70 cents for a rich, delicious cup of espresso. And it will make you or your Valentine happy for years. Can you say that about a box of chocolate?

      





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