Sunday, August 23, 2009

Cuppa Java

Life can be strange... I'm home, considering food miles and their implications when Amita arrives home with a gift of coffee all the way from Indonesia.

You are either passionate about coffee or you are one of those people who drink that instant stuff that tastes like oxo cubes. I must confess that all my enviromental scruples fly out the window when it comes to coffee. The only requirement is that it tastes great.

Back to my present... Inside a beribboned bag sat a gold sided box with an elborately carved, leather covered lid. Snapping open its magnetic catch revealed a golden chiffon bag fastened with more ribbons. Inside that, another golden parcel, a shimmering packet with a holographic label of authenticity. Finally, nestled in the vacummn, a small cellophane packet of ground coffee. The accompanying brochure declared it to be "The Most Expensive Coffee in the World" - not a word about flavour!

This is Kopi Luwak, only available on the island of Java. the reason it is so expensive is because it is produced by collecting the droppings of a small mammal called a luwak. This little chap (who looks very much like a possum) lives in the trees and likes to eat - guess? - ripe coffee cherries. The bean, which is the seed, passes through its digestive tract intact and is collected, cleaned and roasted before grinding. No one knows who thought up this idea but if you were poking and prodding around in poo to produce coffee, you would charge a lot for it too.

The first pot of brew was shared after dinner with friends. The aroma bought to mind the tropics with undertones of beans grown in rich damp earth, smelling faintly of patchouli. The first impression is of a liquid that is smooth and silky, not a word I would normally associate with coffee but this had a definite texture. The flavour is robust with the sweetness of mocca. Further back on the palate there comes a pleasant bitterness that bites across the mellowness, letting you know that this is a coffee for grown ups.

This is special coffee, it is great to drink. Whether it is worth the exorbitant price is debateable (in the showrooms they charge $US25 a cup.) Meanwhile, I will recycle and reuse the pretty, expensive packaging and enjoy sharing it with my coffee loving friends. I'll save on food miles somewhere else!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

More Chicken Talk

Eight baby chickens hatched last year. They were able to squeeze through the chicken wire so they could run, scratch and explore in the front garden under the watchful eye of our old poodle while their mother ran back and forth calling franticly from inside the pen.

Returning home one day we checked all the animals and found one baby was missing. I found it with a leg trapped in the wire, gasping for breath. Freeing its leg I lifted this tiny speck of life. Weighing nothing, it was a fragile two weeks old and had probably been lying in the sun all day.

Never one to admit defeat, I carried it into the house and fed it drops of water with Rescue Remedy added. I smeared the leg with Green Healer and settled it in a shoe box full of shredded paper. Every half hour I gave it more and although it was accepted it eagerly the chicken was not moving at all.

I sadly covered the box with a towel when we went to bed, knowing that small animals usually die from shock. At least it would die warm. I woke to the sound of a chicken having a nervous breakdown. On the window ledge next to the dining table stood the mother hen, screeching and scolding through the glass, demanding that her baby be returned to her. From the box came extremely loud cheeping. When I removed the towel, there was the baby, wobbling on the one good leg and telling its mother about what an adventure it had been having. They had been able to hear each other during the night and with such strong opinions about everything that I suspected the chick might be a rooster.

For the sake of the other babies who were missing their mother and the sanity of us all, I took the baby back to the pen. It was still touch and go as I had seen hens kill sickly chicks many times but it seemed she really wanted that baby back. By lunch time the injured one was hopping behind its siblings again.

We were glad to watch her grow into a healthy, if slow moving, hen and not a rooster. I always try to feed her a little extra away from the competition of the others.

One morning, there was some thing different about her. Looking closer I realised that her foot was missing! It had dropped off, leaving her with a tender stump.

Of course, she was “Stumpy” ever after. She has grown into a pretty, timid little hen who has just laid her first egg. She climbs the ladder into the pen but hasn’t managed to learn how to roost with the others.

Isn’t nature wonderful?