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Making Ideas Happen: The Cake Edition

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My friend Scott Belsky spent nearly 5 years writing “Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming The Obstacles Between Vision & Reality” – a book all about execution and how some of the most productive people and teams in the creative world operate. The book was published two days before his 30th birthday, so his wife went all out and made him a cake. The cake was tasty, and the book is now a bestseller on Amazon.

Impressa S9 Review

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For coffee lovers of the world, these are heady days. There are so many options for brewing a cup of joe these days that you’re really forced to think not only about the end product but also about how it gets made. While I’m a lover of super manual techniques there is no arguing with the fact that not everyone has the time, energy, or patience to go that route. Enter the “super automatic.”

The Impressa S9 is a quintessential example of push button convenience. Fill with water, add whole or ground beans, select the type of brew you want and sit back. The machine grinds, doses, compacts, brews, discards, and cleans all on its own and produces a pretty decent espresso. Coupled with the fact that you choose the kind of beans that you brew, you’ve got a recipe for fairly consistent and tasty coffees.

The challenge with a machine like this arises when you try to do anything other than a brew and espresso or americano. Milk based drinks involve connecting a thermos/tube contraption and generally produces pretty lackluster beverages. Additionally, for the space challenged kitchen the size of the unit will be an issue.

Calling the Impressa S9 a coffee machine for the lazy person isn’t quite fair, but this is definitely a machine designed for a person that demands convenience and simplicity. For me it’s a great machine for an office environment but not what I would choose for home use. Given the quality of the machines and coffee from the likes of Nespresso there are a few great automatic machine choices for the discerning coffee lover.

Jamie Oliver’s TED Wish

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“I wish for your help to create a strong, sustainable movement to educate every child about food, inspire families to cook again and empower people everywhere to fight obesity.”


Pitch in and learn how you can help here. I’m sure the video will be up soon, Jamie was fantastic.

The Breakfast Machine

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Last month, Yuri Suzuki and Masa Kimura started to build the Breakfast Machine during Platform21 in Amsterdam.

The machine is a Rube Goldberg machine which can serve you an omelet, coffee and a toast with jam. Yuri and Masa invited other designers and the public to help build and design the machine. They’ve used recycled remnants of previous Platform21 projects to solve all the different problems to get to their goal. Last weekend the machine was ready and served all-day breakfasts to the visitors.

Did I mention I want one? Like, really badly? Full video over here. My Dutch is a little rusty, but damn it looks awesome.

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Lung King Heen: Hong Kong

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Asking a seasoned traveler for the name of a good Chinese restaurant is like searching online for a custom made shirt. With no chance to feel the hand of the fabric or compare that particular shade of blue you like with your skin tone, the search for right tastes and a healthy blend of ingredients is elusive at best and can often lead to a major disappointment if not a sour stomach. So, it was a rare and welcome discovery to sit down to the five-course near perfection offered up by Chef Chan Yan Tak at Lung King Heen in Hong Kong. Situated in the spectacular Four Seasons Hotel (the largest Four on the planet), this three star Michelin master holds court daily for diners whose adoration for dim sum bring them to the ongoing power lunch scene around the peaceful, spacious and beautifully arranged tables of this stellar restaurant. We passed up the initial invite for lunch so as to be able instead to savor a delicious dinner we will lovingly remember.

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Well prepared to feast on a variety of Chef Chan's Cantonese signature dishes, we passed over the objectionable but requisite opening page of twelve shark's fin this and that to make our selection from the not-so-obvious fish and seafood, tofu, vegetable, rice and noodle offerings many diners consider side dishes. Carnivorous reviewers of Lung King Heen have already waxed eloquent about the numerous beef and pork entrees which are a standard in Hong Kong; however, our intention was to ascertain whether or not a globe-trotting vegetarian, vegan or macrobiotic diner could leave feeling healthy and sated without exceeding the credit card limit. Following the complimentary opener "“ a nibble of bean curd floating atop three straight, bright string beans cleverly arranged to reflect the I Ching hexagram for Heaven, a platter of eight small servings of "Crispy Scallops with Fresh Pear" (pictured below) started the meal with sweet slices of fruit bonded to the tender seafood by a thin layer of rich shrimp pâté. Numbers play a big role in all of Hong Kong, the land of feng shui and good fortune, where three and eight carry promising significance. The scallop-pair combination was like a fine French pastry and made us giddy with anticipation.

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"Fried Rice with Lobster and Seafood" was equally divine; the rich taste of the rice combined well with sweet peas, tiny slivers of carrot delicately mixed with small bites of succulent lobster, prawn and crab. The result was tasty without being too filling, as much a light vegetable dish as one with seafood. From the page entitled "Organic, Vegetarian" we selected the "Five Grain Noodles and Assorted Vegetables", abandoning our gluten-free preference for this special occasion. Both full of flavor and rich, this was as fine a noodle dish as any we'd ever had, the accent on the organic solidly noticeable with each bite. Since most noodle dishes in lesser establishments are often buoyed by water chestnuts, bamboo shoots and Chinese cabbage, the absence of these staple fillers has to be acknowledged.

More familiar with tofu than most other patrons (my family has made our own for four decades), we were eager to try the "Crispy Tofu Sheet Rolls with Vegetables." We'd happily devour this dish, with a bowl of brown rice (not served here) and steamed greens, on a daily basis "“ that is if we could prepare it as well as Chef Chan did. It was exceptionally appetizing and totally enjoyable.

Despite our sense that we'd ordered the right amount to share, we soon realized our dinner would pack well for a four-hour plane ride the next day. Our wish would be graciously granted as the remaining food was taken to the kitchen and boxed for travel. This gave us a chance to sample one of the eight dessert bean or fruit puddings and one of the eight innovative pastries offered on the menu. Accompanied by Fuding Silver Needle Tea, a surprising twist awaited us as we sampled the "Chilled Coconut Pudding with Hasma and Longan." While the "Red Bean Cream with Lotus Seed" was pleasant enough, the Coconut Pudding was truly unusual. It was a wholly unrecognizable taste: a sweet, light custardy soufflé layered between cool agar, somewhere between sparkling aspic and Japanese kanten.

Vegans, vegetarians and macros take note: don't settle for ordinary rice and bean curd just to save money in the great city of Hong Kong. Assuming they sample the beef, pork and shark's fin items on the menu, most people pay $150 – $200 each at Lung King Heen. Calculating that our meal served three people generously, the tab was $50 US per person, and we dined at the only three star Michelin Chinese restaurant in Asia. If that's not great value for money, then my tai chi is full of hungry ghosts.

The surprise ending? Hasma, known for its health-giving properties, are moist, chewy morsels with almost no taste. Hasma is said to be very good for the kidneys, lungs and women's skin as it contains many hormones and has a high lipid content. This is because it is a combination of fat and part of the reproductive area of a white-bellied frog from the north of China. Thus, as the meal ended, we conceded that when searching for healthy food, it just might not be essential to avoid all four-legged creatures that evolution moved out of the water. Astonished that we'd ingested our first amphibious body part, we both left of the same mind, feeling blessed that dinner at Lung King Heen was the best Chinese meal we'd ever had.

Il Gelato di San Crispino

It might be the weather, the water, or the love with which it’s made, but regardless of the cause, the fact remains that the gelato is just better in Italy. Most gelaterias in Rome are pretty amazing. Of course, there are ones that are sub-par too (Blue Ice is the chain you’ll run into frequently). But for true craft gelato, the only choice is San Crispino. For the last couple of decades it’s been the gelateria that’s stayed true to the art of gelato, using only fresh, local ingredients and constantly striving to innovate new flavors. In the past 24 hours I’ve been to their location by the Trevi fountain three times. Here are my flavor combos: strawberry and Barolo wine (made with a 15-year-old bottle), honey and ginger & cinnamon, and hazelnut and plum. I’ve only scratched the surface and I’m already addicted.

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