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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Big mac

My coffee shop of choice is Sappho's across the road from the Glebe Public School. Usually I drink a macchiato.

After discovering this small but perfectly formed beverage in a coffee shop in Wgtn fifteen years ago I'd been disappointed by every one I'd had in Sydney until I ordered one at Sappho's in its new location. My daughter, now eight, was attending a preparation for big school programme at Glebe PS called Head Start. After we settled her in my younger daughter and I would go to Sappho's. On the first day I ordered a macchiato - a short that most places get wrong in a perplexing variety of ways. Buying one is always a leap of faith.

But this was liquid heaven - smooth, bitter, sweet, sharp, hot, warm, shocking and relaxing. The barrista of the day, Toby, restored my faith in Sydney coffee making. In a glass with a tiny amount of milk and a stain of froth. After seven years of mediocre or just plain bad macs I was instantly reminded of why it's my favourite drink.


artandmylife said...

I am pleased you have found good coffee! I am a long black girl but round here it is frequently over-extracted (ugh!) Sometimes I am a complete heathen and want a Romano though...

Fresh Local said...

A Romano? What's that then? I was appalled last time I was in Midnight Espresso to be asked if I wanted a long macchiato. Might as well've been in Starbucks.

One of my favourite coffee stories is of a person ordering a double-decaf soy late and the waiter shouting out to the barista "A why bother for table 12, please".

I also like the story of a person giving a convoluted order involving beans, chocolate, froth, low-fat milk and soya bean juice and the waiter responding "What, exactly, is it madam is trying to drink?"

artandmylife said...

A Romano is a short or long black with a slice of lemon. Its best if they put the lemon in and then pour the coffee over it. It is NOT Italian but apparently some Amercian bastardisation (but I like it!).

My mother-in-law has a crazy long convoluted coffee order. I've told her she should get cards printed with an illustation and hand it over when ordering. Its like a bowl of frothed milk (like a flat white not a latte) with a short black on the side and a jug of hot water - I think

Fresh Local said...

That sounds like something from the coffee ordering scene in LA Story. I didn't realise the lemon thing was real.

Does your m-i-l mix up a potion from those three ingredients? No eye of newt or tongue of bat then?

I saw a sandwichboard outside a Starbucks offering some caffeine based beverage with "pumpkin seasoning". Go figure.

merc said...

I had one of them little things yesterday quite by mistake and synchronicity.
Cutting down on milk in coffee, don't know why...
...a cow is of the bovine ilk, one end is moo, the other milk...thanks Mr Baxter, std 4 teacher.
Asked for a short black, the intuitive barrista said a wee shot o' milk in that for ye, I said mmmmkay in keeping with saying yes to pretty much any suggestion these days from strangers.

Fresh Local said...

merc sounds like you're on a roll with "saying yes to pretty much any suggestion these days from strangers.

Your version of Luke Rhinehart perhaps? 'The Nice Man'

Could you modify The Fall song:

I am the dice man
And I take a chance, huh
Do you take a chance, huh?
Where you two going?
Where you two going?
Is this a branch on the tree of showbusiness?
Do all these musicians
Have a social conscience?
Well, only in their front rooms
But I am the dice man
And I take a chance man
Do you take a chance, huh?
They stay with the masses
Don't take any chances
End up emptying ashtrays
But I push, push, push, push
Throw the bones and the poison dice
No time for small moralists
Cos I am the dice man
And I take a chance, huh
Do you take a chance, fan?
They say music should be fun
Like reading a story of love
But I wanna read a horror story
Where are you people going?
Where are you people going?
Is this a branch on the tree of showbusiness?
But I am the dice man
A balls-on-the-line man
Do you take a chance, baby?

merc said...

My take.


When you decide
to leave
your cliff-face
you will know
fears truth
and trusting
to the air
all you contain
with hope
knowing nothing
of outcomes
no imagination
can fool you
ascending upon
every possibility
your muscles
gain strength
as to the sky
you throw
your stone
while the sea
neither coming
nor going
you are
one small
translucent idea
filling up
the entire universe
from within.

From Imago.

Fresh Local said...

Thanks merc

Some connections - as a child I holidayed each year in the family cottage on Erangi Point. The island known as Ihumoana we called Uncle Stewart's Island. A cousin owns it now.

The cliffs around the peninsula were of a soft rock with lots of inclusions. Climbing them was a challenge as footholds would come loose without warning. That part of the coast, John Bethell's Beach, O'Neill's Beach, seemed like a second home to me and a more permanent one than any of the places I lived briefly for the first 35 years of my life.

One of the great uncles planted a Norfolk Pine on the peninsula years ago. A brother is rumoured to have proposed under it.

The old weatherboard cottage was burnt to the ground by Goths or Vandals or perhaps Berserkers. All the old rods, reels and wooden surfboards turned to ash. My uncle bought out the rest of us and replaced the cottage with an architecturally designed bunker.

Every time any part of that coast appears on the telly we say "That looks like Bethell's."

It used to be a long trek out from Auckland passing through the wilds of Swanson and Henderson and sometimes calling in on Captain Adair. A gravel or dirt track that was graded from time to time, fords where there are now bridges. No electrickery, pre-shoephone era, there was a diesel generator no one could start, Tilley lanterns and candles. And rumour of a kero fridge on the island.

No SUVs or 4WDs although later one of the other long term bach owners acquired two old Land Rovers left over from a movie or telly programme and passed one on to my uncle.

John Bethell used to haul people out of the sand or the creek with either a tractor or small truck.

The past is a different country.

merc said...

I have surfed off the back of that island, will never forget it, a very near run thing, I entered by jumping off the rocks in a hefty swell, there was a moment of suspended time as I wondered whether I would be flung on my back onto the rocks I had just left or would manage to penetrate the wave.
It took me some time to recover my composure. I go to B's periodically, have done for the past 35 years, occasionally take the trek over to O's.
B's is another country to me, although we lived up the back of Maori Bay and could climb down the cliffs by rope ladder to surf unvisited bays of excruciating beauty.
Surfing has taken me to the best places in the world.

artandmylife said...

FL - yep a potion is what she makes with precise quanities of each ingrediant - maybe I shoudl have given her a cauldron for Christmas - nope she would give us witches a bad name.

And Merc/FL - you guys are an inspiration

Fresh Local said...

Round the back of the peninsula there's a fishing rock that you can only get to by going hand over hand across a wire rope.

There's also a connecting series of tunnels under one part of the headland that end in a blowhole just below one of the tracks up to the house.

One of the sons of one of other old time bach owning families moved to Europe to be a wine dealer. The last time I knew he owned a sandwich bar in Paris called Cosi.

There's a lagoon nearby on the edge of an army firing range and we used to collect pieces of the old Mills Bomb WWII-era hand grenades there.

Fresh Local said...

I worked at a nightclub in Hammersmith for a while and one of the barstaff there was a young Welsh glazier named Quentin. He was a wild child and surfer and he took off one northern winter to Australia. He took his glazing tools, a surfboard and a spare pair of shorts.

He stopped off at Bali and was rumoured to have got his board out of transit to surf off the end of the runway.

By chance I ran into him at a fish and chip shop in Manly on my way back home to NZ. He just said "Mate, the birds here are blatant! Blatant!" and disappeared. That was January 1985 or thereabouts.

I know a South African surfie who is now a longboard rider at Port Macquarie. He used to talk about surfing alongside white pointers.

I'm more your spa pool type. I did manage to split a cheek open on a rock in the middle of a bay at Takapuna where my grandmother lived. I remember clearly the feeling of being powerless against the undertow and my first and only attempt at bodysurfing turning into a series of forward rolls being ground into the sand, the impact with the rock and the water going a bit pink.

I ate a lot of wine gums that summer. Must've been about 1969 - back when summers seemed endless and were guaranteed to turn up every year.

merc said...

You write like a surfer.

artandmylife said...

Merc - all the best writers do :-)

Fresh Local said...

Thanks - I am in awe of surfers.

The only thing I've ever done that comes close is a single dream run on Whakapapa when me, my skis and the mountain were in complete harmony.

My brother, a ski instructor, and one of his powderhead mates passed in a chairlift above me at one point. He actually whooped in support. None of it happened before or since.

I was enamoured of Art Pepper at one stage and I watched a doco on the telly about him. He described the sensation of being totally in the zone, leaving his body, going in front of the stage and several yards off the ground to watch himself play a solo.

I've heard Grant Fox describe the same thing when place kicking. He was coached by an oldtimer who would say "Foxie, there's just you, the ball and the posts".

There's a yen for zen.

Yesterday a local photographer offered to lend me his pb spare copy of 'Jung on Alchemy'.

merc said...

Do not beware of gifts from strangers...
The Hawaiians have an ancient tradition called, facing the ocean, you stand there and simply stare at the sea.
Like life, it's all about the line you take.

artandmylife said...

I was talking to my quite depressed brother-in-law yesterday(well more at a crux really)and i think facing the sea is just what he needs. I asked him what he wanted to do and he said "be near the beach". When at highschool and first year Uni before he knocked up the girlfreind he was well in the direction of marine biology, he was a beginner surfer etc. NOw thats all he knows for certain. Is was quite sad.

My kids have a Lynley Dodd book (the Hairy Mclary woman) about a baby turtle finding its way to the sea. On his journey he keeps hearing "the sea, the sea". I think maybe my BIL hears it too

merc said...

I just surfed with a shag and a boil up rock, way out near Shag's Rock way out west at the bay.
I simply had to position myself just inside of the boil and when a set came, very lully, long wait between, good for me, I just waited and took off at the very last second over the top of that submerged rock, watching the kelp tendrils do their stingray imitaion just under my fins.
Part way in the shag would sit there, right where I was heading, had to turn to avoid it, I got 6 waves like that all the way in, that shag didn't move the whole time. I'm thinking, do I know you?
My other mates the gannets flew overhead while I was sitting waiting, about 20 feet overhead, I whistle to them and hope they don't know what Maori did with their shin bones, of course they don't, they know me though, we both live at the edge of the known Universe.