Posts Tagged ‘coffee’

As an anti-dote to the Things that are Weird posts, since there are (of course) more good things about living here than weird things.

1. The light quality. It’s so much softer, more restful. Still bright, but not scorching. Love it.

2. Clouds. I’ve always loved looking at clouds, I even have a Flickr set devoted to photos of them. The clouds here are fantastic. They scud across the sky, or hang there as a gigantic sky sculptures.

3. Plants. They are green and lush and just everywhere. Wildflowers tend to be the flowers I love – foxgloves, sweet pea, blackberries (OK not a flower, but I love looking at them), and ones I am recognising and coming to appreciate.

4. The cafe downstairs from work with the lovely Italian men who call me Bella, and say Bourgiorno to me every morning and make my toast and coffee without me needing to say a word. They also the best steak sandwich on the planet. Tender, juicy, right balance of ingredients. It’s been a goal to find a good steak sandwich for years. Yay Italian cafe that is a restful place in the morning just before work! Wish I could take them with me to all future employment situations.

5. Summer is lovely. I don’t care what the popular opinion is, summer is really pleasant, like a few months of the nicest September or March days in Sydney, not too hot, lovely breezes, long twilights.

4. Berries! I didn’t really get the love of berries in Australia. With the exception of fresh blackberries. English strawberries are divine, raspberries are to be consumed whenever possible.

5. Most people speak softly. This has reduced my incidence of noise sensitivity which is fantastic. One less stress point is a very good thing.

6. Variety of ingredients. Sydney – Newtown has a better selection of places to eat, but England has a much better selection of ingredients, which are easier to access. Perhaps this is why I am doing more cooking here. Which is also a good outcome.

7. In my opinion the discourse around sustainability is more balanced and advanced. This is probably the subject of a future post. Or one in a related blog if ever I get it up and running which will focus on policy/sustainability rants, rather than muddy-ing the two together.

There’s more, but 7 will do for now.

Read Full Post »

Afternoon teaThankfully, in direct contrast to the previous week. The loveliness included:

Afternoon Tea (aka High Tea in Sydney, although I’m told that High Tea is actually much less fancy that afternoon tea) for the lovely flickgc’s birthday on Monday afternoon. I took two hours off work, overloaded on tea and sugary things, met some lovely people and participated in a lot of interesting conversation. Much needed social interaction. I was exhausted by the end of it, as I’ve not needed to use those social muscles in a while. Felt good though, had a wonderful time.

Also, I had my best “tea” voice on, so apparently I didn’t sound at all Australian for a few of the guests. Quite chuffed by this, as it means I still have good accent mimic skills and ability to pick up a language by osmosis, including dialects/variants of languages.

An interesting urgent project at work, which meant I had to rapidly absorb planning, water conservation and biodiversity plans. Got to take on an Us v Them mentality, which often helps me to get work done. Also had fun spreading large (A1) size maps over tables and plotting out major projects in our area, like a war strategy room. No small figurines though.

I’m still working on it, and it’s now becoming a drag, unfortunately. I’ve noticed that this place is very good at inital briefings, and then very bad at ongoing support and follow-up to make sure you’re on track and not having difficulties. This frustrates me as I feel that they don’t care, or that the need has been hyped and the task is actually not ‘urgent’ and then I feel undervalued. This seems to be an ongoing challenge for me.

I was reflecting on this today, what I want is to be trading my dedication and effort for money, not just time for money. Unfortunately at the moment it is most definitely time for money. On the plus side, I’m still waiting on news of the Civil Service job I had an interview for, which should be coming through sometime in the next 2 weeks. Perhaps that will improve my work life.

View over the Thames Dinner with Mikki in Putney for lovely catch-up chatson Wednesday. Photo at right is the view out the window of the pub we randomly found, after walking in the wrong direction for the one I’d found online.

We’re going to try to do these more regularly, as I need social contact, and she’s about to move to New Zealand. I know, I move halfway around the world and end up near my best friend from University and she promptly moves to New Zealand. At least it’s not personal, as this decision had been made before I told her I was moving.

Listening to a couple of bands on Saturday night with friends at the local, tiny pub. They were billed as metal bands, which I could cope with as long as they weren’t screamy-thrash metal, and the venue has an outdoor area if needed for escape. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find instead a more grunge/metal/funk style, which was fantastic. Jed bought the album.

poached eggs on toasted muffinsMy birthday on Sunday (yay!) was just perfect. We got up early-ish and trekked into London to go to brunch at the Pavilion in Victoria park. One of the things I have sorely missed here is a good Newtown style brunch. I’m pleased to say we found it! Picture of the perfect poached eggs at left, and the remains of the coffee.

You know you’ve found a good coffee/brunch venue when you’re told your normal style of coffee won’t work with their coffee blend and perhaps you’d like this other (little known, but actually the one you prefer but never ask for as it’s too hard to explain) style. Also, they had Bonsoy! And moorhens! And tables beside the lake! And people with dogs and children (not always together)! And wait staff who were stylish and cool, but also cared! And! And!

I was in heaven, in case you can’t tell.

Celebrations that evening in Balham with 7 unconnected friends who happened to be free to attend a very last minute drinks-and-dinner. Just the right amount of people. We found a fun Italian place, Cuitto’s, on Balham High Rd, which I’d recommend. Good food, fantastically friendly service, and a surprise piece of birthday tiramisu delivered after a whistle was blown so the entire tiny restaurant stopped and sang me Happy Birthday. Fun, thoughtful, and amusing.

Jed and I were quite gentle with each other all week. Designating quiet nights together, and more space and understanding for the other’s moods. Possibly the week before was our pent up emotions and stresses venting, and hence this week was a lot more even tempered and understanding. This included a lovely Friday evening where I made pork escalopes with elderberry sauce, made from the elderberries we picked on the common the previous Sunday. Very yummy! I’m having a great time with experimental cooking.

Read Full Post »

Fish Cafe
Originally uploaded by Miss Krin

No, it’s not closing, but it might as well be.

Newtown has many coffee shops, and as a resident you start to develop a list of coffee shops for particular moods, people you are hanging out with and how far you want to walk.

One of my happy coffee homes for many years was the Old Fish Cafe, usually as a weekday morning thing when all you want is some nice punk barista to make your coffee and someone to take good bread and cover it with butter and vegemite, while you sat in the open air and watched the world wake up.

Fish Cafe was perfect. It had tables by an open side of the cafe. It had good music. It had a string of baristas that would engage with their customers. It had thin sliced sourdough toast.

Which is my complaint about the Fish Cafe now. It appears to have changed ownership. Gone are the interactive staff, but more importantly the ONLY bread you can get is 1 inch thick sliced white or brown or turkish. And apparently asking for vegemite on it means no butter, somehow. I’ve given them the benefit of the doubt a couple of times, but it doesn’t seem to have changed.

Why is it that there seems to be a particular concept that a “cafe” has to have thick sliced bread?? And why is it that I immediately will rate that cafe as second rate as soon as they serve it to me?

Thin sliced toast which is crunchy and tasty is heaven. Thick sliced toast is dry and difficult to chew and not very tasty.

So, the wonderful thing about Sydney’s cafe culture is that there are lots of good cafes. The horrible thing is that sometimes one of the cafes you adore gets popular, gets sold and then someone who has no experience in Newtown cafes takes over and changes the entire reason you went there in the first place (first it was Cordial, and now Fish).

Oh well, at least there is still Moose Cafe, Lou Jacks, Varga Bar, Barmuda, Campos…

Read Full Post »

One of my favourite things to do on a quiet weekend is to pay someone else to make my breakfast for me while I read the weekend paper and watch the world go by. Generally I head to Envy in Summer Hill for this, since they have a wonderful courtyard to relax in, or gorgeous Vietnamese art inside to look at, good food and good coffee and attentive staff.

Very occasionally I head out to the Bakehouse quarter in Homebush to a cafe called Zenja, and I’m not entirely sure why I still do so, and after today I won’t be doing it again. Service there has always been patchy, the owner is a grumpy Italian man who is quite patronising, the food is decent but only comes in one size: huge. Generally I just want a poached egg or two on some toast.

Today I headed there for breakfast, arriving at about 9am. Gave them my order for scrambled eggs and ham on toast, which was way more than I wanted to eat, but was the compromise, since I’ve experienced their inability to cook outside the menu on the weekend before.

9.45, after the tables around me had received their breakfasts I was still waiting. Flagged a waitress over to ask her if my breakfast had even been started, and if it wasn’t then I’d be leaving. She spoke to grumpy man, who spoke to the kitchen, and then she came back to say it was “up now”. Upon questioning I discovered that meant it was starting now. To which I responded with, “stop them, I’m starving now, and I will be going elsewhere to find my breakfast”. Paid $3.00 for coffee, no word of apology and walked out.

Never, never, never going back. That was strike three hundred million. Time to stop poking forks in my eyes.

Anyway, it was now 3.5 hours since I’d woken up and I was starving. The closest place I was likely to find some decent food was Majors Bay Rd in Concord. I’d never stopped there before, only driven through, but it was precisely what I wanted.

A street lined in crepe myrtles in flower, one of my favourite trees. Large footpaths, with tables set out under umbrellas. A wealth of cafes to choose from, ranging from a coffee and toasted sandwich place in the back of a boutique to a good Italian cafe and some patisseries. I was in heaven! eventually chose the Italian place, got good decent coffee immediately, had my order made up in 10 minutes, with my simple request listened to. I felt like gushing all over the wait staff, a quiet Indian man and a gregarious and friendly Italian man. Although that might have just been the relief of eating some food.

I noticed a Macro wholefoods, some good fish and chip shops, a patisserie that reminded me of the cake shop that reminded me of Ackland St in Melbourne and the one that my mother used to take me to when I was young.

So despite the grumpy/disappointing false start to the morning it became relaxed and shiny.

Read Full Post »

the coffy man goes for germany
Originally uploaded by deepwarren.

The weeks surrounding Christmas and New Year’s are my favourite, full of friends, family and rituals. However I have re-discovered the one aspect of this time of year that I dislike: the Christmas New Year’s close-down of all the decent coffee shops. What is with that? The decent coffee shops with the simple vegemite toast that I eat for breakfast while reading a book close and the dodgy, popularist coffee shops that think breakfast for an office worker should be fluffy, calorific and frou frou stay open!

This week I have tried 4 different places around Parramatta for a simple breakfast of two pieces of wholemeal toast with vegemite and a decent (not brilliant, I’m not that fussy) soy milk cappucino, or macchiato. Each time it has been a complete failure.

I tried a coffee lounge in the middle of Wedstfield, they didn’t even list toast with vegemite on the menu. So I ordered sourdough toast with ricotta and marmalade and the coffee. It was alright, but I don’t do sweet foods in the morning, as I can feel quite tired afterwards. Unfortunately I only really remember this after I have eaten said sweet thing. Why, oh why, can they not have a simple breakfast option? (my standard rant about cafes, don’t get me started!) The coffee was alright, nothing to get excited about.

My second coffee of the day is generally a macchiato, which I get from the lovely Noam and Vivione. They have closed for this week, so the task to find a decent replacement was on. Max Brenner is not that decent replacement. Their choclate is fine, their coffee is too bitter for my liking.

Ate at Starbucks (gasp!). You see the depths I am pushed too at this time of year? In fact it is the only time of year that I will patronise the place, and mostly because it is open and they do an alright coffee (better than gloria jean’s coffee, the other option we have). My main gripes were again: no breakfast option that wasn’t incredibly sweet, you have to have a large coffee, there is no small option, and they FORGOT to make my coffee, I had to walk back up and ask. *sigh*.

Today’s macchiato attempt was at pie face, which was decent and came with friendly service, although with less banter than we get from Noam, so that problem was fixed. When asked, they assured me they made toast so I thought my breakfast worries were over.

Fronted up to pie face for breakfast. “We don’t do toast” came the reply. So one croissant and coffee was taken back to the office. The croissant was decent, but not really what I was after. Scratch that for an alternate breakfast option.

Macchiato taken care of.

My first day at this job I arrived in plenty of time for my 9.30 start, knowing that I might have difficulty finding a place to have breakfast and that I had some reviewing of notes to do. The place I found for breakfast didn’t have any vegemite, as they had “run out” so I determined to not go back there again, ever. However, this morning I was desperate and thought I would give them another go.

I ordered wholemeal vegemite toast, and they passed the first test, there was wholemeal bread and vegemite. However, and this is the confusing thing. They took the pieces of wholemeal bread, covered them in some vegemite, no butter, put the two vegemite halves together and placed them into a sandwich press. WTF!!! When I prised the two pieces apart the insides were steaming! I took two bites and sent them back. What returned was actual toast, again with no butter. It was dry and horrible, but at this point in time I needed food.

I can’t wait for all the decent places to be open again next week. All I want is toast and vegemite. (let’s not discuss the fact that I could have bought a loaf of bread and toasted it at work. Half the point is to eat out of the office to relax before starting the day. Oh, and I keep forgetting to buy a loaf of bread)

*the photo has nothing to do with parramatta’s (lack of) coffee, but it is the photo of a previous stop-gap coffee shop I frequented.

Read Full Post »