Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Short Macchiato, Macchinetta, Melbourne Airport

Spotting the lid of the elaborately large stovetop-shaped storefront while I was checking in upstairs, I realised this was a good opportunity to check in on Macchinetta and see how the shots are shaping up. Things have changed. Last time I baulked at the grouphead sitting on the bench. This time, he pulled the shot, took a look at it, had a sniff, raised an eyebrow, tipped it out, and made another one. That's very rare, especially at an airport. But I was the only person in the queue. It seems everyone still is still going to the Hudsons on the other side of the metal detector. That's a perfectly good reason to go to Hudsons instead: it's hard to get your metal objects into the tray while carrying an espresso. I had to hold it between my teeth.

But Macchinetta care about the quality of what they serve you. Hudsons is more like fast food.

It looks like I just may fill up my loyalty card and get my free coffee at the end. Eventually.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Double Macchiato, Tate St Ives, St Ives

As predicted, St Ives is to Newquay what Byron is to Surfers. In other words: more art, less tacky souvenirs; less games arcades, more independent shops. Presumably there's also a lot more decent coffee, but I became utterly confused by the winding, cobbled streets, and it was easier to just follow the signs to the Tate Gallery.

The Macchiato was excellent, as was the sweeping view of the ocean. The current exhibition in the Tate was perplexing to say the least. Some pieces were damned impressive, but others looked like something anyone could devise with the help of a ruler and a set-square. The strangest by far was the piece that looked to me like a lump of rock, and was inexplicably titled "Sleeping Musician". Can someone else try and get a look at it and explain it to me?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

DIY Double Macchiato, Mocha Berry Cafe, Glastonbury

I needed a quick coffee while I was waiting for the abbey ruins to open. There were two options immediately opposite the entrance gates, and Mocha Berry barely had a seat free. A good sign. As always in England (see Sam's comment on my last post - well said!), went for the DIY Mac since they didn't actually list Macchiato on the menu.

The best thing about this place was that the ambience was exactly what you would expect in Glastonbury. Each table was handpainted, mine with bright flowers. And in one corner there was the self-explanatorily named "Book Swap Shelf", handwritten on a scrap of cardboard. Lovely.

Oh, and the abbey ruins were impressive too, even in the bitter cold.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Long Macchiato, The Bishop, Kingston-Upon-Thames

Yes that's right. A Long Macchiato, rather than a Double Macchiato, in England. That's because Maria made it. For the last 6 years, the most Melbourne-like coffee you can get in London has been from wherever Maria is. And this one didn't disappoint.

The Bishop is a pub owned by one of the big, big chains of pubs here. Apparently, whenever there are new staff, Maria trains them in making good coffee. And then she trains them in making coffee the way that this big, big chain of pubs expects. 'Nough said.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry, Xmas, Everybody

I'll be back on the 27th. To a caffeinated new year,

Monday, December 22, 2008

Long Macchiato, Brother Baba Budan, City

JB Hi-Fi was insane today. At their DVD section on Lonsdale St the queue went all the way to the back wall, took an U-turn around the Anime shelf, and made it half way back to the counter. People were still joining the queue. I said, "Fuck this, I'd rather have a coffee."
I didn't feel like much milk, and wanted an excuse to sit down for at least seven minutes to get away from the Christmas shopping crowd. This kind of situation often calls for a long mac.
This is quite easily the most spectacular long mac I've ever had. Except for that bit at the front. Sorry about that. I just had to drink some before I took the photo. Awestruck by the radness.

Halftte, home

Shit. Christmas shopping. Shit.

I think that sums it up.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Latte, North Island, Fitzroy North

A lot of places use the portafilter that can feed two cups at once. If someone orders a "strong", they point both ends into the cup. If they're making one non-strong, the other half of the shot just splurts into the dreg drawer. Some places actually pull the second half into a small metal jug, which is then ceremonially dumped into the dreg drawer anyway, or into the sink. North Island, however, curiously pull the other half of the shot into another glass. The glass gets set aside. When I turned up today, they had built up quite a collection. About four unused shots.
Ryan: What happens to them?
Barista: Iced coffee sometimes. Or they get thrown out eventually.
Ryan: It's a bit sad, really, isn't it.
Lea: Maybe you can sponsor a discarded espresso.
Ryan: "For the price of a coffee, you too can make a difference..."

Latte, home

I discovered that site at Brunswick Street Bookstore in the silly/stockingfiller/amusing section, as it is the latest blog to be inaugurated as a book-turned-blog for the festive season, in the tradition of Stuff White People Like - The Book. I hadn't heard of Sleeveface otherwise before, but judging by its status as the latest craze that everyone is talking about I'm sure I would have heard about it some other way in the next three days.

Blogs in book format. Wow, what a way to get people to read your blog. They might not buy the book, but they sure will go home and read exactly the same thing for free online when they get home. That would have to be the most effective - if a little long-winded - way to attract site traffic. The only other blog I can think of being actually promoted is the Muscles Music Blog. I saw rock posters advertising that, but it still took me months (until right now, in fact) to actually check the site out. This isn't necessarily a sign that using rock posters to advertise a blog is ineffective. It probably just means that I see posters while driving, and am less likely to write a URL into my phone while driving than I am while trying to not buy a book.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Espresso, Sousou, Fitzroy

This is my first decent espresso from here in a long time. If JD Salinger was writing my dialogue I'd probably say, "Christ, that damn coffee was really goddam decent, I swear to hell." I guess that might be the end of my "Maybe we should have coffee somewhere else" rule for Madame SouSou.
Espresso quality aside, it's still confusing when you go up to pay the bill. You can't stand in front of the bar opposite the cash register because there are glasses hanging in front of you. If you move slightly to the left, you will be uncomfortably close to the next table, and this may be interpreted as eavesdropping. The only option is around the end of the bar, the only thoroughfare between the behind-the-bar area and the rest of the restaurant. This area is frequented by staff. You'll feel like you are in the way. Unfortunately they leave no other option. Odd. Almost as odd as the fact that their business card is now a sticker. Just in case you want to stick the phone number somewhere.

Strong Flat White, Sousou, Fitzroy

We've all heard about what happens when there are too many cooks. But what about too many waiters? As far as I can see it just results in a lot of people in white shirts standing around not knowing quite what to do.
Out of all the coffees I've had from Madame Sousou, this has been the most satisfying. I thought this place was going downhill about a year ago, but I think this is a sign that they still know what they're doing. The fig & walnut french toast is still killer too. But as usual as soon as I saw somebody else eating the corn cakes, I wished I'd ordered that instead.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Latte, home

Yep, that breakfast sure was huge. All I've eaten since then is that large-ish cookie and ludicrously small apple on the plane, and I'm only really starting to get hungry now. Actually I'm not really that hungry, I just feel like I should eat something. I could do with a coffee though.
On the subject of the cookie: why is there so much packaging per passenger just for one freakin' cookie? It comes wrapped in plastic. They also give you the place mat, which contains a serviette and cutlery, wrapped again in paper. That seems like a lot of crap that's just going to get thrown out. The purpose of the place mat seems to be catching crumbs and acting as a rubbish bag at the end. I've never seen anybody use it so. And why does anybody need a knife and fork just for a cookie anyway? Come on Qantas.

Qantas, Sydney to Melbourne

The steward took our orders (a coffee and a bottle of water), headed towards the cart, and took a few more orders on the way, including two Cokes for Kish and Adam behind us. Bec, another row back and across the aisle, asked for a hot water. This must have confused the shit out of the steward, as he went off to the other end of the plane and disappeared for a few minutes. The cart kept moving, only increasing the amount of people the guy on our end hadn't served yet. He finally came back, totally forgetting about us, but finally filling the hot water order. I grimaced at Bec. The guy brought out one can of Coke for Kish, and asked Adam what he wanted. It was still a Coke.
He served someone else, and then came back to us.
"Is everything okay here?"
"We ordered a coffee and a bottle of water."
He went back to the cart, which had moved further down the aisle again. He returned with my coffee, and then asked Harry, "And for you?"
"A water."
This was starting to take a long time.
Finally, he asked Adam for his order again, and replied, "Oh, sorry, we're out of Coke."
But it was okay. It was our smoothest Qantas check-in ever. It still counts as a pretty stress-free flight.

Flat White, A Little on the Side, Sydney

Brilliant. First, the coffee.
Love it. I don't often talk about, much less photograph, the breakfast, but this deserves an honourable mention. The eggs benedict with bacon:
Trust me, it was even more exciting than my shitty camera phone photo can show. I wasn't even vaguely hungry until about 3.30PM.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Espresso, A Little on the Side, Sydney

Does anyone else think it's a little irresponsible naming the cafe joined to the Medina Chippendale thus? Are they referring to ordering a little avocado on the side, or to a little business trip adultery on the side?
Great cafe though, with great caffe. The beans are from Campos, who, I hear, I should check out some time while in Sydney.
They were actually closed when I ordered, but they still let me hang around and read about the Andrew O'Keefe fiasco.

Short Mac, Macchinetta, Melbourne Airport

New coffee at Melbourne Airport. Excellent. I'd really like to have a dependable regular here of similar standard to Quikfix in Sydney. If you check in with Virgin and take the escalator down, the red stovetop-shaped Macchinetta should be right there in front of you.
It's a great location. Where people are usually devoting a lot of energy to avoiding being signed up to American Express, there is now coffee. Now, on to the coffee itself.
The portafilter was sitting on the bench. Not attached to the machine. This is a bad sign. I often walk away in that situation. Depending on how long it had been sitting there, it would contribute some serious temperature issues and really screw things up. Perceptive, or just paranoid?
It turned out okay, if a bit, er, nonflavoursome. That could be a combination of the length of the shot (ie. longer than I thought necessary) and the portafilter thing.
Something tells me I won't be getting eight stamps on the loyalty card and claiming my free coffee. But the stamp is also shaped like a stovetop. Cute.
So it's not another Quikfix, but there's potential. I suspect that portafilter thing was a one-off. If I'm not flying to Sydney next time, or if I really can't get through the flight without an espresso, I'm sure I'll come here again.

Ristretto, home

The machine ran out of water halfway into the shot and I didn't have time to fill up and start over.
So I guess you could call that a ristretto.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ristretto, Brunetti, City

One of the few times where Pushka's late hours could have been useful, and I reckon I missed them by about ten minutes. That's okay, Brunetti is a fluorescent-lit beacon of caffeinated justice in the night. And they're open slightly later.

Latte, Shelley and Elizabeth, Richmond

There sure are a lot of cafes springing up around Richmond. I figured these guys were worth a try, considering their short walking distance from the studio. If they proved to be a winner, that sorted out my coffee situation for rehearsals. NY Tomato has disappointed me in the past with waiting time and weak coffee and adding sugar I didn't ask for (it makes you wonder why I keep going there doesn't it). Victoria Lounge is good, but slightly too far a walk - longer than it takes the other guys to have a cigarette, so it's hard to step out for a coffee and almost any time. First Pour is just not walking distance. Shelley and Lizzy could solve all my problems.

"Small, medium or large?"
That put me off. Am I becoming more perceptive, or just paranoid?
It wasn't bad. A bit on the weak side, but pretty well done. Maybe not enough to inspire more visits, but still pretty good. The schnitzel (insert synonym for "toasted sandwich" here) was damn good. The breakfast menu looks pretty happening too.

3/4 Soy Latte, home

There was only a trickle (or two trickles, really) of milk in the carton. I was experiencing that curious combination of running late and feeling lazy that tells you there is no way you're going to run out to buy more milk. I poured what was left of the milk into the jug.
"Yeah, that'll be fine," I thought. "It won't be much, but it'll be enough for a short mac."
"Wrong," said the milk as it was blasted to smithereens by the steam wand, the gag-inducing stench of too-hot milk filling the kitchen.
"Shithouse," I added, agreeing with the milk.
Who was that?
"Don't ask me, I'm dead, " said the milk.
It sounded muffled.
It was coming from the fridge. I cautiously knocked.
"Who's in there?"
I opened the fridge.
"Thanks. You should be able to understand me now."
"Bon Soy! I forgot about you."
"You cowdrinkers often do. You should always remember I'm in here. I make a tasty latte, you know."
"Well, it's worth a try. Thanks, Bon Soy."
"To Soy and Beyond!"
And with that, he poured into the milk jug. The rest is history. My first successful soy latte. It was damn good. It was strong enough that you couldn't really taste that carob bud sheen that often accompanies soy milk.
Thanks, Bon. Soy to the rescue.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Espresso, Victoria Lounge, Richmond

I still haven't gotten around to checking out any of the other coffee places around Richmond that I've heard so much about. Soon. Vic Lounge is still pretty dependable for a shorty, though, and required after a visit to Ha Long Bay for lunch. It's times like this that I think humans shouldn't eat that much food in the middle of the day. But that's why we have coffee, I guess.

Short Black, Brother Baba Budan, City

I forgot to Mythbust this nomenclature debacle that's going on here: I should have ordered a "short black" to see whether they deliver it to the table as an "espresso" or a "short black". Ah, I guess I'll have to come back here again.
That's a given, though.

Flat White, Brother Baba Budan, City

Don't you hate it when you hear something flipping amazing on community radio, and then the phone rings and you answer it, and then when they finally backannounce the track you're not paying attention because you're still on the phone, and you never find out what it was.
But then you get on the PBS website and find which show was on at that time, and check out the page for that show to find what the song was. Many of the shows have playlist history online.
But this one doesn't. So you might never find out who that sax player was who sounded like he was jamming with three cats walking around on an organ.
But then you realise you know the guy who runs the show that played the song in question. He works at the video shop around the corner. You decide to ask next time you're there.
Finally, you realise there is an easier way. Even easier than walking to the video shop. Just find the guy on Facebook and ask him.
As you read each sentence above, you may notice how the circumstances get more and more specific, and are no longer applicable to the "Don't you hate it when..." scenario I started off with. But the important thing is I found what the track was. It was Sun Ra. Off his 1978 album Disco 3000. It's one of the few things that are not yet on Youtube.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Espresso, Victoria Lounge, Richmond

1. First Pour
2. 7 Grams
3. Liar Liar
4. Atomica
5. Brother Baba Budan

That's the top five coffees list that was published, er, somewhere last week or the week before. First Pour and 7 Grams. Both in the greater Richmond area. Hmm. I've never checked out either of them. I had better get to work.
Actually, I tried to find First Pour today. I remembered glancing at the address last week and thinking, "Bond St. I'm sure I'll remember that name. Yeah, I'll find it."
That's hardly a foolproof address-remembering method. Today I found myself driving past more and more street names, each as familiar-sounding as the last. So I wound up at Victoria Lounge instead, but that is by no means a bad thing.
The guy next to me peered over at my short black when it came out (in the news: Brother Baba Budan were caught using the term "espresso" - I think it's now safe to say it can be used interchangeably with "short black") and seemed to look at it for longer than was necessary. I stared out of the corner of my eye at his pile of invoices and realised he was the Vittoria guy, coming to deliver some beans, or packets of sugar, or takeaway cups, or something. It's good to see he seems to care how the final product turns out. I'm sure he was impressed today. Crema of the Gods.

Latte, home

Seven o'clock on a Monday morning? Yes. Really.
I'm very glad I didn't have the last of my beans last night. It would have meant that
a) I would have probably had to stay up slightly later, and
b) I wouldn't have had any beans left this morning.
That would have been a crisis. Even less sleep with no coffee at the end of it.
In the news today, it turns out Melbourne's water storage has gone up by 0.2% - about a tenth of what I said it would be yesterday. According to my calculations, that means it's going to require precipitation of BIBLICAL proportions to get us back in the zone.
Luckily, it's a different story in our backyard. The catchment area received heavy rainfall over the weekend, and has kicked the capacity of the watering can back up to 100%. The venus flytrap is looking pretty healthy too; it's even getting that red tinge inside the traps. It just may catch some flies yet.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Latte, home

Well, it looks like the rain has stopped. Hopefully not for the rest of summer. But it's good to be able to go outside and be sunshined on again.
Hmm. Not terribly profound today, is it? I'm almost out of beans too. That can only be detrimental to the profundity.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Latte, home

While we're on the subject of Sopranos and video games, I can't help but notice that Furio says, "Let's a-go," quite a lot in season four. Every time it happens, I feel like I'm about to play Mario Kart or something.

Latte, home

The milk was a bit lacklustre. It looked like something you'd get served out of a machine at a servo in Germany. But it tasted a lot better, so I was happy. I didn't actually take the coffee machine on holidays with me. I won't bother posting entries for the last four days, they'll look mostly like this:
  • Aeropress
  • Aeropress
  • Aeropress
  • Aeropress
Etc. But let's get back to the reason for this post. World of Warcraft. I received a "Come Back to Azeroth" email a few weeks ago, which I thought was pretty funny, but made me shudder a little. It reminded me that, yes, I was a bit hooked on World of Warcraft for a few weeks back there in late 2006. I soon realised that the amount of playing time required to get anywhere was far more time than I wanted to spend, so I cancelled my account. So when I was invited back, I laughed it off. Little did I know, WoW's marketing division had another weapon concealed up their Gladiator's Dragonhide sleeves.

Genius. If anything has a chance of "pulling me back in", it's that ad.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Espresso, Midali, St Kilda East

Before I left the area, I just had to try Midali. The place just looks so red and Italian and inviting. The blown-up black and white photo of a vaguely Italian-looking girl usually indicates that you are in the vicinity of quality espresso, too. I feel such a traitor: this place is directly across the road from Batch. But I figured I had to try it once.
It's very good. I'm not sure what all that spluttery stuff indicates. I don't see that often. But it tasted right on the money.
Okay, I'm off on holidays until Friday. I'm taking the coffee machine with me. I'm not sure if that is obsessive, or just using initiative.

Latte, La Cafe on Nelson, St Kilda East

Las Chicas really picked the wrong day to close the kitchen and the courtyard for renovation. At lunchtime, if there's no kitchen or courtyard, I've pretty much got no reason to go to Chicas. The food and the sunshine is why I love it. The coffee is quite good, but there's a lot of places in this area that are just as good and still serving food outside. La Cafe is one of those.
Despite the bewildering ordering procedure (he took our orders, came back a few minutes later to commit them to memory again, then returned after another five minutes with a pen and pad to write them down just in case he forgot them again) the coffee was damn good. I also had the good camera with me today. Enjoy.
Unfortunately I was hanging out with a few people who haven't seen me take a photo of coffee when it comes out. So I had to explain that whole thing.
"I write a blog. I post every time I drink coffee."
I also explained how I lost six points off my driver's license in a game of paper scissors rock. Here's the thought for the day:
"Double demerit points over Easter? That's not very Easter. I thought Jesus lost all his demerit points for us!"

Halftte, home

Tesla coil guitar amp. 'Nuff said.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Espresso, home

I think I've gotten even better at procrastinating since high school. When I really should be working on something important, I do an amazing job of finding something else to do. Let's face it, we had TVs and the internet and video games back then. Sure they weren't digital TV or broadband or Wii, but they were still there to waste time on. Things haven't changed much there. But I think social networking and YouTube and fast mobile internet would have to be the main culprits, along with my personal favourite: the trifecta of using your phone to post something you found on YouTube onto someone's Facebook wall. You can't get much more timewasty than that.

Flat White, Tre Bicchieri

Soy confuses me a bit. How can the same thing be made into soy sauce and soy milk? Furthermore, why does Bonsoy cost so much more than the other brands? It's pretty close to $5.00 for a liter. It tastes slightly better, it costs twice as much. I'm not a huge soy drinker, though. I'm sure there's good reasons. And it's not as though cost is the only factor here. I'd have a hard time trying to explain why I am okay spending $3 or more on a 250ml glass bottle of Coke when I can get 2L in a plastic bottle for a bit over a dollar.

Latte, home

Surely it's high time somebody did a rad cover of this:

Unfortunately, if I did a cover of this, it wouldn't have a saxophone. You might think, "What is the point if that sax line isn't in it?" I think most things with a single saxophone can be improved by either removing or adding a saxophone.
Well, it turns out somebody kind of has done a cover of Infinity. Guru Josh has done a cover of his own song. Whatever you do, don't look up "Infinity 2008" on YouTube. Lyrics alert. It's not even worth it for a laugh.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Espresso, home

The weather isn't quite as inspiring as yesterday. It's a good day to sit inside and try to make your synthesiser sound like a broken Nintendo, while keeping an eye on the window for when the sun comes back out.

Halftte, home

Okay, survey number one has been up for a while now, I guess it's time to close shop. Let's wind back the clock a bit. I decided to create that survey because I wasn't satisfied with the statistics of my own coffee drinking. Surely other people's coffee drinking habits would justify more phony pie charts? Surely.

Unfortunately, that survey generated almost no usable data, mainly because none of the questions actually involved numbers. All I can really hope to find is a correlation between people owning many coffee machines, and drinking coffee often. Oh, er, there is no correlation there. Some people live in a house with coffee machines, but never drink it. There goes that theory.

But I did get some funny answers. Interestingly, a few people have had their best and worst coffee ever from the same place. Some people's worst coffee location is where others have had their best. The best "best coffee" I heard of has to be the one where the guy made a short black, then tipped it out because he thought it wasn't good enough, and made another one. The worst-sounding "worst coffee" would have to be this:

"hungover making an instant coffee in a glass half full of PassionPop"

Eurgh. Most of the worst coffee answers involved either instant (Blend 43 seems to be common) or the machine not being cleaned. Double eurgh.

This answer sums up everything we're fighting against:

"...very mediocre attempts by people who are only qualified to spoon instant out of a jar suddenly jumping on the coffee bandwagon 3 or 4 years ago, buying a fancy machine and assuming that as long as you get some sort of ground stuff to turn into some sort of brown sludgy stuff, wave the wand in the milk to create really hot frothy stuff, and combine in the one cup, people will thank you for a high quality beverage."

Tell it. Look out for Survey #2, coming your way, er, possibly this afternoon.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Short Mac, home

It's a beautiful day out there today. The first day this year that not only the calendar, but the weather also, indicated that it is in fact summer. Hot sun. A nice day to sit outside and listen to Angus and Julia Stone.

"They all would have been killed in the Sound of Music."
True... I know a lot of people out there had parents who pressed stop before the Nazis came into it though. Is it more ignorant to live a life never knowing that there was a war going on, or to believe that nuns can outsmart Nazis?
I'm on the House Mix from Romeo's. Strong; nutty; thought-provoking; just the way I like them. Let's hope the rest of these 250 grams provoke more thoughts like these.

P.S Speaking of House Mix, can anyone remember that late 90s track that goes "down down down, down down da-down, down down down, down down da-down.." etc? I think it's in F. The vocals and the bassline do the same thing. Then it does a descending thing from the V chord down diatonically, "down down down down", at the end of the verse. I'm sure it's there in whatever MP3s I downloaded towards the end of high school.

Espresso, Romeos, North Balwyn

Number two. Very nice. I'll have to grab some beans too.
But there's no way I'm doing three coffees in one sitting again... I think I learned my lesson on Monday with that.

Latte, Romeo's, North Balwyn

The cops should have a drug testing bus at the start of the Eastern Freeway to make sure I have enough caffeine in my system before I try to drive to Balwyn at this time of day. By the time I arrived, I was pretty desperate for a coffee.
"What's been going on man?"
"I wouldn't have a clue, I haven't had any coffee yet..."
Romeo serves up the goods once again. Jumps ordered a strongy, but I think my regular one looked badass enough.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Espresso, Tre Bicchieri, Carlton North

I still haven't bought any beans yet.If you sit outside that bakery on Lygon St on the corner of Fenwick and look out over the cemetery, it's not much of a leap of the imagination to think that the bit you can see of the grandstand at Princes Park is actually a giant mechanical spider that's just burrowed out of the ground and is about to wreak some havoc all the way down Royal Parade. I'd post a photo of it, but my phone's camera is nonsensical: if you zoom in and take a photo, the resulting image will be smaller than if you hadn't zoomed. That's not zooming. That's cropping. The only way for me to zoom in on the subject would be to run across the road, jump the fence, and hurdle a few hundred graves in the cemetery until the spider/grandstand is big enough to see in detail. But it probably wouldn't look like a spider anymore. I'll take a real camera over there some time.

Flat White, Sweet Source, Carlton North

I was so impressed with this place yesterday, I had to come back first thing in the morning. Also, I still don't have any more beans yet.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Espresso, Corner Hotel, Richmond

I most certainly ordered this one as a "short black".
Nope, I couldn't get the camera out before I'd already downed the whole thing. I'm starting to realise that some of the other millions of chemicals in coffee that aren't caffeine, that we don't know about but I'm probably still addicted to, are possibly lost in the instant coffee granule granulating process. As a result, if I have a few cups of instant in lieu of espressi (I made that word up a few posts ago, and I'm sticking to it), I'll start getting withdrawal symptoms. That's why I'm drinking coffee at the Corner. I'm getting desperate. The Corner's coffee still gets two thumbs up though.

Flat White, Sweet Source, Carlton North

I've been meaning to check this place out for a while, but seem to only walk past when they're shut. Not today, though. The place looks pretty cakey, and there's an elaborate gingerbread, er, diorama (I guess) in the front window. They sell jam. There are various enamel sieves sitting around on shelves. One would assume that cakes are the focus here. But it turns out the coffee is also treated with the respect it deserves. As the barista squiggled the milk into the creme-brulee-looking espresso, I thought, "I've experienced the two extremes in one day: the cup of a carpenter that this guy is about to hand me, and badly-stirred-for-ten-seconds instant coffee gone wrong." We thank the god of coffee for what we are about to receive.
This place could become a regular fixture on my coffee migration map.

Instant Coffee Stirring Time Mythbust Taste Test

Wow, that's quite the long-winded title. I mentioned in my post on Sunday morning that it would be good to test if stirring time actually does make a difference with instant coffee. I figured today was a good time to do it, considering I am out of beans, too lazy to go buy some, and desperately in need of coffee: I have no problem drinking three cups in a row in the name of science. So here goes:

Two cups. One scoop each. I pour water into the first one, set the count-down timer on my phone for ten minutes, and start stirring. After two minutes I can't take it any more, and decide that two minutes has to be long enough. I pour water into the second cup, and the stirring parameters are "keep going until it looks like everything has dissolved." This takes about ten seconds.
So, here it is: two minutes versus ten seconds. I tried both black first, then added a bit of milk and tried them both again. I gotta say, while they both had that unmistakable instant sheen, the two minutes cup tasted a LOT more like coffee. I'm not sure if further stirring could have increased this much more; there has to be a point where you've stirred in whatever can be stirred in.
Just for good measure, I tried another method: put the scoop of coffee in, pour in just enough milk to cover the granules, add enough hot water so it's hot (there should still be less than an inch of liquid in there) and start stirring. When you're satisfied with the stirring, water it down with some more hot water, stir a bit more, and start drinking.
It was pretty clear that this was much better again. It looks like the less liquid you're stirring, the more effect it has. Having the milk in there at the start sure made a difference too.
Next time I run out of beans we'll have a look at how much liquid is not enough, try to dissolve two scoops of coffee into a teaspoon of water, and taste the results. I never thought instant coffee could be so much fun.

P.S In case you got really bored reading that entry, consider this: in the title of the first draft of this entry I accidentally wrote "Taste Teste" instead of "Taste Test". Heheh...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Espresso, home

Well that's the last of the Mr Miles blend from BBB. Damn, I knew I should have bought some more on Monday. Or maybe it's even worth getting more than 250g next time? Of course it is; I'll drink it; who am I kidding?
The big news today is for second hand music gear obsessives on the northside of Melbourne who are also nerdy enough to read so many blogs that they use an RSS reader to keep track of them. The Music Swop Shop now has an RSS feed of the new items section on their website. If somebody goes in and decides to sell, say, their Linndrum on consignment, then it will get listed on the site as soon as it hits the counter, and Google Reader will tell me about it straight away. I can drive there in about four minutes. This could be the worst thing that happened to my bank balance since eBay.
Woah, better go to the gig. Hodge was setting up lights in there for about three hours. It's fun when a lighting guy has been hallucinating every time he hears the album, and calls up and says he's got some ideas and wants to come down and do the show. When I walked in, it seemed like the whole stage was swathed in a lurid green mist, with occasional strobe spasms. And those spinny siren beacon things were everywhere. Very BBC.

Latte, Small Block, East Brunswick

There's a bunch of places I wanted to check out while on the eastside (er, of Brunswick, that is) but I was too late. Either they're not happening on Tuesdays or they stop happening quite early in the day. Luckily, Small Block is always happening. Well, it happens at least until 5pm anyway.

Halftte, home

Yes, I had four coffees yesterday, three of which were nearly within one hour. But you know all of this already, unless of course you're reading down the page, in which case you won't have reached yesterday's entries yet. I'd better keep the caffeine count up, unless I want to find out the hard way what narcolepsy is like...

Monday, December 1, 2008

Espresso, Liaison, City

So that's three espressi in slightly over an hour. Not bad. This one looked kinda long in the scheme of things, but still pretty good.

Espresso, Brother Baba Budan, City

My argument is that you can't order a short black in Italy. But then again, you probably can't order a caffe latte, and most certainly not a latte, in Italy, but nobody has a problem with that. So by that logic, short black is acceptable.

Actually, upon consumption of further espresso, I think the staff at BBB may shy away from using the word espresso because technically all espresso-based drinks are espresso, as opposed to the Clover. Oh sorry, I got so hooked on the italics that I forgot that Clover doesn't need them. They're pretty proud of the Clover here. The guy opened it up, stirred it with some sort of Cloverwhisk, it looked pretty serious. The word on the street is that coffee made in the Clover can give you some flavours that the espresso won't. May have to give it a go some time.

Espresso, Brother Baba Budan, City

"Just the shorty? $2.50."

Here at BBB they seem reluctant to use the word espresso. I'm not sure why. Maybe they think it's a bit pretentious. Or perhaps it just looks pretentious because I wrote it in italics.

"I'll have a pot of Carlton Draught, thanks."

See? Italics can make anything look pretentious.

"Pretentious? Moi?"

Sorry, I guess I just can't pass up an opportunity to use the word's only two-word joke. I'm still on the hunt for the world's first one-word joke...

Latte, home

Did anyone else watch this last night?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Latte, Bean Pod Cafe, Barwon Heads

This street in Barwon Heads seemed fairly caffeine-rich, so it was a bit of a gamble only choosing one of them to go to, but we did okay. It seems like a fairly surfy yet foody town with lots of antiques and second hand books. Foodiness and books tend to require coffee, which explains the vast choice in this one street. Bean Pod gets the thumbs up. It took about twenty minutes to come out (I'm glad I got that mineral water to tide me over) but well worth it. That red saucer just makes it look even more satisfying too.

Short Mac, McKenzie and Ebbels Foodstore, Queenscliff

Yeah! That's a relief.

Instant, Queenscliff Music Festival

Damn. The artists area had a plunger and a jar of ground something yesterday afternoon. But this morning it's just a jar of Blend 43. Hmm. If I'd been organising the hot beverage area I probably would have saved the good shit for the morning, when people need it most. But it was to be only instant. I needed something to cut through the bacon and eggs, and to motivate me to get out there and find more coffee. One scoop, a bit of milk and about two centimetres of hot water first, then lots of stirring, then finally water it down and add a bit more milk to taste. I've heard that up to ten minutes of stirring makes instant coffee a hell of a lot better. I'm not sure if it was worth all the effort. It tasted okay, but it didn't taste like coffee.
Instant coffee stirring times could make an interesting mythbust on the blog later in the week. Hmm.. I'll have to remember that.
Also, I have to point out the interesting choice of breakfast availablity time: 8:30am to 10:00am. On a Sunday morning. How many musicians are going to get up that early? Maybe they chose that time for a reason: based on that kitchen's theoretical eggs and bacon throughput limit, they couldn't serve the amount of musicians who would turn up at, say midday.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Strong Latte, Coffee and Vegetarian Food, Queenscliff Music Festival

It's always hard to figure out which coffee van is the best bet at outdoor folksy music festivals. I chose immediacy over everything else; the hair-wrapped, quesadilla-squishing folk at the bus (which I assume they all live in) with the "Coffee and Vegetarian Food" sign had a very short queue. The other choice was around the corner towards the Lighthouse Stage, where a very small van with about four people inside, and a queue of at least ten, seemed to be the crowd's favourite. I figured I'd rather spend less time waiting for a potentially disappointing coffee, as pessimistic as that sounds.
It wasn't bad. Kudos, hippies! The shot itself might have been a bit over-extracted, but at least the milk was in good shape. I'll have to deduct a few points for the flimsy cups though. They were so flimsy that when I grasped the cup, it squished in and overflowed. They gave me a second cup, but that was equally flimsy. Two flimsies is still less than sturdy.

Flat White, Tre Bicchieri, Carlton North

We just went and voted. On the way out, I noticed the Greens pamphlet guy fishing all the discarded Greens pamphlets out of the bin. He was going to hand them back out to other people. Recycling. If that's not practising what you preach, I don't know what is. Respect.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Espresso, Kamel, Albert Park

I just realised amid the traffic this evening that Richie 1250 is the closest thing I have to somebody on the radio that I actually want to hear. He plays rad rad rad stuff from all over the musical spectrum every Friday on PBS 106.7 from 5pm until 7pm. It's one of those shows on PBS where every time you tune in you hear something rad, and it gets backannounced, and you think to yourself, "I really should remember that," but you seldom do. Well, the playlist history on the PBS website ensures that you will once again hear 21st Creation's Tailgate from 1976; a cautionary tale about "dirty lowriders" trying to "slip up from the rear" and "tailgate another man's woman" on the "highway of love".

It's worth hearing the whole thing just for the lyrics ("woman can I tow you home" - even Prince wouldn't go near that with a ten-foot euphemism pole) and the decent slab of instrumental discosex from 2:54 onwards.

Espresso, Brunetti, Carlton

Carlton Espresso seemed to be packing up the tables. At twenty-five minutes to four on a Friday. Odd. Brunetti was pat to the rafters.

Latte, North, Carlton North

Have you got today's Age? Flip to the weather page. Go to the water storage bit. It says the level of water in each of the reservoirs. Add up all the percentages. Divide that number of reservoirs, multiplied by 100. That number should be, you would assume, the total water storage level.
Was your result waaaay different to the number on the front of the Age? Confused yet?
Also, one of the dams is listed as 100% full. That's not very conservatively rated; does that mean you couldn't fit another glass of water in there?

Halftte, home

This one went cold while I was playing Guitar Hero World Tour. Woah. Serious. This game must be addictive if it makes me forget about coffee.
I got to the finale where you're playing Hot For Teacher with Ozzy Osbourne and Sting and the drummer from Blink-182. Unfortunately, after all that, the credits roll and you are "rewarded" with an unlocked Dream Theater song. A bit of a let down. But on the positive side, this is pretty much the only situation where I would listen to an entire song by Dream Theater. If I have to listen to it, I guess I'd rather do it with a Guitar Hero controller in my hands.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Espresso, home

World of Goo gets pretty hard about halfway through level three. Even if you watch someone solve the level on YouTube, it's still hard to do it yourself. It's amazing how many people are doing screencasts of themselves playing the game, just so they can post it online, mainly showing off their scores: either using fewer moves, fewer balls, or most scarily, doing it really fast.

Like I said, it looks easy, but that's a lot of precise pointing and clicking.
Ah, blogging about procrastination. It's the highest form of procrastination.

Latte, Jasper, Fitzroy

It was Training Day at Alimentari. I think that French tagline in the image above roughly translates to "when only fools would order a latte". When I walked in I noticed that some of the staff were being taken through the method and apparatus of making a meatball wrap. Let's hope toasting the completed wrap doesn't constitute "simultaneous heating of a bread component and the sandwich filling"; they might get sued by McDonald's. My spidey senses were tingling. I figured it wasn't the best day to get a takeaway latte from Alimentari. As I waited for my wrap to come out (it took a while because they seemed to process each order in series rather than get five wraps on the grill, five plates ready, etc. I guess that's a sign that they're not infringing any copyright) I noticed everyone else's coffees were coming out. They looked amazing. Oh well, it's better to exercise caution, especially when I know Jasper is only a few doors down.

Latte, home

Read the previous post.
Read the comments.
I'm glad I made a difference.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Espresso, home

Wow, I thought this kind of thing didn't happen anymore. A random message from someone I don't know on Messenger:

icahyxsxanDo you want to get a Bachelors, Masters, MBA or PhD degree
from a prestiguous University within weeks?
Call 0044-207-692-7821 NOW!! (UK Phone Number)


This espresso turned out similarly amazing, like the one I had this morning. Let's hope this trend continues.

Latte, home

Some more info on the Mr Miles blend:
"A thick body with sweet, strong characteristics."
I got that thick slurpy crema thing to happen this morning, where about 1/3 of the volume of the finished shot is crema the colour of somewhere between the inside and the outside of a Crunchie, and it stays there.
I'm still figuring out what phone to get next. I've narrowed it down to an iPhone or a Nokia N95i. My main priority is a phone that is usable as a phone (surprisingly, not all phones turn out like that anymore), that I can take photos from and send them to Blogger straight away (this blog will be updated far more punctually as a result), and maybe with a GPS tacked on too.
It turns out I can get an iPhone for slightly cheaper than the N95i. The iPhone is slimmer. The N95i has a better camera than my camera does. The iPhone is an iPod. The N95i is one of the few phones with a normal-ass headphone jack. The iPhone's interface is rad, I'm familiar with that from my iPod Touch. The N95i is a Nokia, whose interfaces I've been pretty happy with in the past. The N95i has 8GB internal storage, plus whatever memory card you want to plug in. The iPhone has 8GB or 16GB. You can drag anything from your computer onto the N95i. The iPhone is a bit more closed; everything has to go in via iTunes. That's a pain in the ass. But as a music player, the iPhone is an iPod.
Okay, most of those pros and cons kind of cancel each other out: I can put up with the fatness of the N95i because it's a better camera; I can put up with the not-quite-as-good camera on the iPhone because it fits in my wallet. What it REALLY comes down to is how blog-friendly they are. I'm messing around with the iPhone Wordpress app right now on my iPod Touch. It is rad. You write your post, add a picture from the library or the camera, and publish it. That's exactly what I'm looking for. I haven't yet figured out if there is a similarly useful iPhone app for Blogger.
The N95i seems capable of blogging. I'm not sure how much yet, though.

Readers: do any of you have an N95 and have you successfully posted three photos of coffee per day to Blogspot?

Wow. That's a good 500-ish words of blogging about blogging. That's almost as redundant as freestyling about freestyling. I heard enough of that at the Laundry on Monday night. I also heard this:

I hadn't heard that track in a while, and I forgot that, even if you ignore how rad the rest of the track is, it also has the same bassline as the theme from Knight Rider. You can't really beat that.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Halftte, home

In the news today: McDonald's patents the sandwich.

Also, can anyone explain why the URL of my search page is so freakin' long?!014345598409501589908%3Amplknj4r1bu


Latte, home

New beans. Very nice. Mr Miles blend from Brother Baba Budan. Not as handful-of-blueberries as the last lot. That's gotta be my first documented case of getting through 250g of coffee beans in one week. I put this down to the combination of drinking lots of coffee, and being slightly more antisocial than average.
I couldn't get the grind right either, and had to tip a few espressos down the drain. Heartbreaking. I should have at least fed them to the venus fly trap or something.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Espresso, Brother Baba Budan, City

Christ. I rode my bike into the city twice today. I'm shagged.

Espresso, Elizabeth St Espresso, City

"How was your coffee today guys?"
I love it when they ask.
But I'm usually too stunned to be able to come up with a good answer.
It was damn good today, and I'm glad. I haven't been here for at least five years; it's good to see they're still serving it up like they should. This cafe is where I learnt, way back in early 2000, that some people actually get the milk to such a temperature that you can drink it straight away - I can remember thinking, "Wow, I can start drinking this now. I bet I could finish it before I cross Flinders St if I really wanted to...why doesn't everyone do it like this?"
Why indeed. Little did I know that eight years later I'd start a blog asking that very question three times a day.

Espresso, home

I was up pretty late last night watching jingles from Australian TV in the 80s and 90s on Youtube. I bet I'm the first person you've had that particular sentence from today. This has gotta be one of my favourites, that I totally forgot about:

How mind-blowingly awesome. Molly Meldrum, gratuitous BMXes (or is that BMices?), 3D computer-generated landmarks, rad music...yeah! It makes me wish the "Bike Bright and You'll Bike Right" road safety ad was also on Youtube, but I couldn't find it.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Espresso, Carlton Espresso, Carlton

I'm hooked. This place is awesome. Order. Pay. Grind. Tamp. Pull. Espresso. Consume. Leave. In and out in forty-eight seconds.

Latte, North Island, Fitzroy North

I've really gotta come back here for breakfast. It looks damn good.
Is it antisocial to turn up to a party with a takeaway coffee? Some people interpreted it as "getting caffeinated up before you start drinking" or "lining your stomach before you move onto the hard stuff". Either way, I can't believe people thought my not drinking alcohol meant I must have been a hard drinker. I grabbed a martini glass full of gazpacho and ate some nachos, which only complicated things more. I must have REALLY been lining my stomach.

Latte, home

The big news this month is that the Beatles might be releasing some new material. Carnival of Light is thirteen minutes and forty-eight seconds of "distorted, hypnotic drum and organ sounds, a distorted lead guitar, the sound of a church organ, various effects (water gargling was one) and, perhaps most intimidating of all, John Lennon and McCartney screaming dementedly and bawling aloud random phrases like 'Are you alright?' and 'Barcelona!'" that was recorded in early 1967 and has never been released on an official Beatles album, or on any bootlegs.
Paul McCartney tried to release Carnival on the Beatles Anthology 2, but George Harrison voted against it.
As much as I want to hear a 13-minute Beatles jam and people yelling "Barcelona!", I feel more comfortable agreeing with George than I do disagreeing with George. He must have had a good reason to say no; either musical, or to spite Paul. I'm happy with either.

Double Macchiato, Ismael, Tunbridge Wells

If you ever happen to be in Tunbridge Wells, this is where you want to go for your coffee. If you're coming from the train station, head up the hill and you'll get to it before the Chain of Chains (Costa, Nero, Starbucks and even Muffin Break are within about 20 metres of each other).

Don't be put off by the fact that Ismael is located within an outdoor clothing and camping shop. It is easily the best coffee in town. Incidentally, it's also the best tea and hot chocolate. If you drink macchiato, as I do, it's not on the menu, but they'll make it anyway. And they'll even ask you to say "when" with your milk and froth.

They roast their own beans, and these you can buy. And they sell all the harder to find ones, including Hawaiian Kona. Last time I had to buy beans, after asking me what I use to make my coffee at home, one of the excellent baristas asked me at what time of day I drink it, before recommending a variety. That's a cafe that cares about coffee.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Espresso, Brother Baba Budan, City

Two. Spectacular.
It's been raining all day.
I got a parking ticket - I was eight minutes late.
I left the ticket under the wipers, for spite.
I drove off.
It started raining again.
I put the wipers on.
The ticket went flying somewhere on the corner of Queen St and Latrobe.
I thought, "There is no way I'm getting out of the car in the rain for that."
They'll track me down. They always do.

Flat White, Brother Baba Budan, City

In the weekend vapornews today: girls get rich and famous blogging, or as the article says, they use their blog as a foothold, or rung, or some other metaphor, up the ladder to greater fame. The criteria seem to be late-twenties (done), have at least 1000 page views per week (I'm a fair way off from that), female (out of the question), and possibly wear a dress made from condoms, or something. That last one is also pretty far out of the question.
Sam, of Ask Sam fame, says in the article that blogging is a 24-hour job; she is up replying to comments all night. Wow. Replying to comments! I've never really thought about that. One does wonder how she can be such an authority on "relationships, dating, cheating, flirting, romance, or love" if she also spends this much time blogging - wow, nerds must be cool again.

Latte, Cafe 639, Carlton North

Honestly, we only went here because Rathy Food Store and Bicchieri were full. Waay full. Who would have thought so many people would be going out for breakfast today, when it has been hailing most of the morning, when it is supposed to be late spring? Anyway, the coffee wasn't bad. The breakfast was a bit weird (I don't think putting two hash browns in an omelette constitutes a "frittata" that contains "potato"), but the coffee was okay (quite good, actually), and hey, they had free tables. And glass bottles of Coke.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Latte, Tre Bicchieri, Carlton North

They've got the sexy cups back in stock. And they're listening to Primal Scream again! I never hear that band anywhere else except this cafe, and now I've heard multiple albums.

Bobby Gillespie looks more like Bobby Gillespie played by Arj Barker in that video. That's Little Barrie there on guitar too. Rad. Watch out for the boobies at 1:43.

Espresso, home

Eurgh. A bit over-extracted I think.
I just received word that Jeff Beck is touring. Woah.

That's Scatterbrain, about two years ago. We tried to play that in the Genie a few times but we got confused.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Espresso, home

I downloaded World of Goo.
This game is going to require a lot of coffee to play, but I'll probably want to keep playing rather than write a blog about the coffee I'm drinking in order to play it.
Quite the predicament.
By the way, the survey results are streaming in. I can't believe somebody who had coffee in the same building as Leo Sayer is reading my blog!

Halftte, home

I'm getting pretty close to finishing Hey, Nostradamus! by Douglas Coupland. If you've read anything else of his, a word of warning: this book is no walk-in-the-park pop-culture-namecheck like jPod and Microserfs. It's a bit of a downer. A bloody clever, beautifully written one with page after page of exquisitely-applied semicolons, but a downer nonetheless.
But I guess I should expect that from a book about a high school massacre.
In other Coupland news, I read in the Green Guide last week that there is a TV series of jPod out there somewhere. The bad news is:
  1. It's only screened on FOX8 in Australia, on rich person (cable) TV
  2. It was axed after one season
These are bad newses for me because:
  1. I can't watch it, unless it happens to be on when I'm on a really long Virgin Blue flight and I've swiped my credit card in the hope that FOX8 is screening some sort of fifteen-hour Simpsons marathon
  2. Maybe it was axed for a good reason
Mind you, a lot of things are axed prematurely. The Mick Molloy Show. Rove, when it was on channel nine. Way to go, Nine! You're still number nine! But some things get axed because they suck. To which category does the TV series of jPod belong? We'll let YouTube decide that.

Woah. I just watched a bit and decided the book is still funny without being read out loud on TV. TV sucks.

Long Black, home

Woah, what happened to the weather? Well, if it weren't for the water crisis I would have no other reason to possibly think today's weather was a good thing. In the news today: Monty Python have their own channel on YouTube now.

To combat the growing number of unauthorised sharing of Python content on YouTube, they are re-posting it up there themselves, the only trade-off being that there is a link to Amazon where you can buy the real thing on DVD. This is much more cost-effective that dishing out takedown notices, and will actually result in more sales. Nice one Python. As you can see above, you can even embed the content. This is the kind of thing that will get blogged about (by people like me), increase awareness of Monty Python's online presence, and who knows, maybe even sell more DVDs. This is a concept that so many other official YouTube channels aren't cottoning onto.
Take Universal Music Group, for instance.
Let's say I just remembered that new Q-Tip song I saw on Rage a few weeks ago. I think to myself, "Yeah that song was alright, I might find it on YouTube, the defacto iPod for songs I don't own; I might even put that song on my blog, that ought to eat up some column inches," and so off to YouTube I go. The song comes up as the first result, posted in the Universal Music Group channel. But I can't embed it in my blog. It's a shame, embedding that song in my blog might put that song out there for readers of my blog to hear, maybe enjoy, and maybe think, "Wow, Q-Tip's still got it after 20 years, I'm gonna check out his new album."
But I can't embed the video on my blog.
"Embedding is disabled by request."
This doesn't really achieve much. I'm just going to search for the song again, find somebody who shouldn't have posted the song because it's not theirs to post, but they won't have disabled embedding. The song still gets blogged, but not because of UMG. Strangely, me posting the song kind of helps them out; I'm not sure why they're trying to prevent that. Anyway, here's the song:

He looks kinda like something from Super Mario Bros 3 in that raccoon hat. I'm worried he's gonna spin around and knock me out with his tail.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Espresso, home

Okay folks, part one of the Ryan Blogs Coffee Survey is now open for business. Click over here and fill it out. I'm mainly testing the waters, seeing how much coffee is being had out there at the moment. The questions will get slightly more specific as we go on. Enjoy!

Flat White, Tre Bicchieri, Carlton North

These photos are starting to look pretty bad; it might have something to do with the two or three cracks in the camera lense on my phone. Hmm. I should do something about that. But hey, this is much easier than carrying a camera around. Eventually I'm going to have a system going where I can take the photo and post the blog straight from my phone. It's the future. My mobile contract isn't up until February, which is also in the future. Until then, let's see how much these lense cracks affect my photos.
Not a bad cup from Bitchiery today, the pumpkin pide was okay too, but I'm starting to realise I just don't like parsley. Everything else in the sandwich was great, but the (curly) parsley just put me off a bit. Remind me to steer clear of tabouleh for a while too.

Latte, home

If you don't want to get hooked on a very addictive and quite clever game, look away now.
World of Goo. You can get the demo for PC or Mac (and Linux is coming soon) at 2d Boy's site, and the full version is downloadable if you pay via Paypal. The game also has no DRM, and as a result 2d Boy have estimated an 82% piracy rate of the game based on the number of sales versus the number of registered users. They are still convinced DRM is a waste of time and money though, as it's usually cracked in the first few days of a game being released.
Rad game though. You build things by connecting balls of goo together, so all the goo can get to the exit. It gives me a Lemmings kind of feeling, with a Loco-Roco-meets-Edward-Scissorhands aftertaste.

I finished the demo, might have to get my Paypal on.
You can also get it (either now or very soon) on WiiWare. But that doesn't seem as attractive to me, I'm pretty sure my Mac has better graphics than the Wii, and buying Wii points and and then spending them on the game is slightly more annoying than Paypal.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Espresso, home

Brother Baba Budan said these beans taste like blueberries. It was hard to imagine at the time, but now I see what they mean. It's kind of a weird sensation having these beans in a latte. It tastes like it should be purple, but it isn't.

Halftte, home

I'm watching Goodfellas. A word of warning to anybody who has seen all of the Sopranos and wants to watch Goodfellas: it gets confusing. There are at least five actors from the Sopranos in it. Not just that, but most of the characters have similar names. Paulie. Tony. Etc. It's hard to put names to faces when you're used to that other guy being called Paulie.
Rad movie though. There's some cool commentary on the DVD by Henry Hill (the real life guy whose story Goodfellas is based on) and the FBI guy who brought him in. But what I don't get is how Henry Hill has not been whacked after getting so many hardcore mob guys arrested. Maybe because they were all in jail, I guess.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Espresso, home

Er, catching up on the blog. Not much more to report.
I've gotta stop giving myself a day off every time I catch up. It only puts me back where I started.

Flat White, Switchboard, City

On the grapevine today: Ridley Scott is making a movie of Monopoly. Yes, the board game. Wtf?
It could be awesome; the storyline could be like Scarface: dude starts out on the streets in London with nothing, then pretty soon he's holed up in the penthouse of his hotel on Mayfair with a bazooka and a kilogram of coke. But how did he get there? We flashback to the same guy walking around London, occasionally collecting $200, paying rent, etc. Pretty soon he wins second prize in a beauty contest, but then realises that same contest was once won by a SHOE and a DOG. He's pissed off, but he keeps walking. He is soon arrested, sentenced to go directly to jail. He gets released a week later and collects another $200. Etc.
I'm just really hanging out for the turning point in our hero's rise to notoriety: the scene where he goes to the ATM, prints out his account balance, and realises there has been a bank error in his favour.

Espresso, Brother Baba Budan, City

Continuing our BBB question and answer series:
2. What's with all the chairs on the roof?
A: I don't know. But it gives you opportunities for one liners.
"It's full of chairs, but never anywhere to sit."
"Yeah. I can never find a TABLE at this place."

Latte, Animal Orchestra, Carlton

I think this is a very good coffee, but I'm sick of lattes. Maybe I just need some time off from them. Or to just have stronger ones. Or to have less milk in them.
That reminds me, I forgot to mention the best bit about the latte I had at Hudson in Canberra Airport on Wednesday morning last week. She hadn't steamed enough milk, poured it all in, and it filled the cup about 3/4 of the way up. I said, "That's enough, don't worry about the rest." I think that's the secret if you want to get a decent strength latte out of Hudsons without ordering an extra shot.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Double Mac, Paul, Regent St, London

I had to go to London for the day for a work thing. And I wasn't going to have time to travel via a Monmouth site, our most trusted coffee in London, but only really handy if you're somewhere near Covent Garden or the Borough Market. I also didn't want to risk the transit coffee from Tunbridge Wells Train Station, after my last experience there. The only thing to do was to gamble on finding somewhere decent between Oxford Circus tube station and the venue I was heading to.

The first thing I saw was Costa. Incidentally, it had the words 'Espresso Bar' on it (see Ryan's post from November 10), but I would argue the words 'Espresso Bar' are superseded by the fact that they were on a chain cafe that is on every major street in the United Kingdom. Further along the street was a Pret, similarly chainy, and at least part-owned by McDonald's. No good.

But on the other side of the road I saw the words 'patisserie' and 'boulangerie'. I also saw, in an overly-large font, the word Paul. A strange name for a patisserie/boulangerie/cafe. It's rather like having a Prime Minister called Kevin.

On the inside it looked like Laurent: windows full of colourful cakes and pastries. Macchiato was not officially on the menu but they made one nonetheless. The guy did try the upsell of the food, which I declined. The Macchiato was good, a little too much froth for me, but certainly did the trick.

In a land where it seems like the chains are taking over, and a decent coffee is hard to come by, there is still a light at the end of the (tube) tunnel. Even if it is called Paul.

Espresso, home

Okay, I hit the Spanish Festival way too early today, putting me in the neighbourhood seven hours before my gig. I watched SiB's gig at the Laundry, had two beers, and then realised there was still six hours to go. I went home and slept for two hours. So I'll need an espresso to get back into music mode.
It was a fun gig. With about 200,000 people in Johnston St for the festival, it was good to see that at least fifty of them knew that the Laundry also has an upstairs. Some rave dancer guy was totally losing his shit while we played Epic. Some guy came up afterwards and demonstrated the maximum amount of times you can logically use the word "psychedelic" in one sentence. Alex Dimitriades was DJing before our set too. You can't really ask for much more than that.

Latte, Tre Bicchieri, Carlton North

She pulled the espresso shot into a flat-white-looking cup, and then dumped that into a takeaway cup. Hmm. Can anyone tell me why? Surely any insulation benefits of the porcelain cup are negated by the fact that you're going to pour it into a paper cup anyway? And it sure looked like a lot of residual crema was going down the drain. But there must be a good reason.

Halftte, home

I bought that second My Bloody Valentine album yesterday. It's spectacular. I'm going to file it under Why Didn't I Buy This Ten Years Ago When it Caught My Eye In That Top 100 Albums Ever Poll in Rolling Stone? It also fits under the Revolutionary When It Came Out But Now Useful as Slightly Edgy Filmscore Fodder category. Sure enough, Sometimes was on the soundtrack to Lost in Translation. Strap this on:

Magic. Listening to that, I can imagine how loud their gigs must have been, and why they gained the reputation of being England's Loudest Band. There's a few new tracks on their Myspace too. This sixteen-years-in-the-making third album could be quite rad.
I also got TV on the Radio's Return to Cookie Mountain and Sufjan Stevens' Illinois, based on the conversation I had with Richie and Bec on Friday night. It was a bit like that "I can't believe you don't own this fucking record!" scene from High Fidelity.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Espresso, home

Okay, I've spent a few days with Guitar Hero World Tour now. I'm sure you've all seen the ad on TV or the internets.

Hmm. On TV in Australia she keeps the shirt on. I've had a weird relationship with that song though anyway. I first saw it on an episode of Alf, with Alf coming in and impersonating Tom Cruise in Risky Business. Then I saw the Risky Business scene shortly after. My dad bought me the single of the song (one of my first singles..possibly before I got Stutter Rap). I listened to it non-stop. I even took it in to show-and-tell at school, in prep. The song gradually grew to become that song I used to like when I was a kid. Then some time in my early 20s I thought, "This song sucks! There's nothing funky or cool about it...I don't even know what decade it's from any more. Bob Seger sucks!" Then I learned a few years later that Bob Seger freakin' RULES and the song is GENIUS, and the Muscle Shoals cats who recorded it were freakin' BADASS and their toenail clippings contain more funk deposits than all of my limbs combined. I also read somewhere that Bob Seger wrote the verses and didn't ask for a cut of the songwriting, and it was worldwide Tom Cruise/Alf/Guitar Hero huge and he's regretted it ever since. And then the ad featuring the sporadically-shirtless Heidi Klum hit TV, cultural reference critical mass was imminent, and all were helpless against its powers: we all went and bought Guitar Hero World Tour the day it was available. The song isn't even featured in the game, or any Guitar Hero games, but it worked. I'm not sure who Activision should thank more: Bob Seger, Heidi Klum, Alf or Tom Cruise.
Here's my thoughts on the game:
  • Drums are difficult, require co-ordination, and are slightly defective. Yes, I think I'm ready to blame the drum controller itself for my shitty out-of-time playing.
  • Bass is fun. As Flea said on his instructional video in the 90s (co-hosted quite spookily by River Phoenix), upstrokes are for pussies; it's gotta be all downs.
  • Singing in tune is hard, especially for people who can't sing in tune, and even more especially when there is a line on screen showing how far out you are.
  • The song choice is awesome. Eye of the Tiger! Beat It! Love Me Two Times!
  • 30 Seconds to Mars are horrid. But I knew that already.
  • You earn dollars every time you complete a song. You can only spend all the money you earn from the gigs on clothes or guitars. Just like a real musician.
  • If you do a really good gig, you get offered an endorsement. "EMG Pickups want to give you all the pickups your bass can handle! Radical!" This message is shortly followed by, "EMG Pickups now available in the store." So even if you're sponsored, you still have to buy stuff, and you can choose to use pickups made by companies whose gear you aren't endorsing, but want to use anyway. Just like a real musician.
  • Another thing you can spend money on is unlocking more songs. For example, to play the three Tool songs, it'll cost you $8000. Wtf? This is where the whole dollars-as-points system falls flat. Why does my band have to spend all its money just to play even more songs we haven't written?
  • No matter how much I make my character look like me (by having the right hair and clothes and guitar) his stage moves still make him look like a complete douchebag.

Espresso, Carlton Espresso, Carlton

I think I may have posted today's Carlton Espresso yesterday, and vice versa. It doesn't matter. They were both perfect. This place rules.

Halftte, home

Well, I still can't listening to that My Bloody Valentine track I posted a few days ago. Will have to get some more of their stuff today. Their Wikipedia entry details some interesting career highlights:
  • Guitarist Kevin Shields, on auditioning singers: "It was pretty dangerous, I made the mistake of mentioning The Smiths because we liked their melodies, the whole thing was disastrous and excruciating, you should have seen some of the fruitballs we got."
  • On hiring Bilinda Butcher as a vocalist: she "sounded all right and she could sing one of our songs which sounded fine, we just had to show her how to play guitar."
  • On 1991 album Loveless: The making of the album was rumored to have cost £250,000 and to have nearly bankrupted Creation Records, claims which Shields has denied.
And finally, most interestingly:
  • My Bloody Valentine signed with Island Records in October 1992, reportedly for £250,000. The band spent their advance on constructing a studio in a house in Streatham. The studio was completed in April 1993, but problems with the studio and attempts to repair them caused the group to go into "semi-meltdown", according to Shields.
  • In 2007 Shields announced that the band had reunited and that a new album they had started recording in 1996 was "3/4th finished."
Well, they didn't release another album after 1992's Loveless. Let's just say that the album they started recording in 1996 is still the third album, which technically they started when they signed with Island in 1992. That's sixteen years ago. That's even longer than Chinese Democracy, which looks like it might actually get released before the year is out. Free Dr Pepper for everyone! C'mon MBV, can you beat GnR to the line?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Espresso, Brunetti, Carlton

Ahh. I don't think it's worth going back to Big Harvest. Not when Brunetti is only two minutes' walk away.

Espresso, Carlton Espresso, Carlton

Following on from the question posed in the previous post, I'm trying Carlton Espresso again. I was disappointed last time, but last-coffee-of-the-day is not the best environment for developing an opinion about this place. Here's what take two looked like:
Yeeeah! I'll be back. Repeatedly.

Espresso, Big Harvest, Carlton

Well, that's the last time I'll ever trust "I've never been there before, it might be worth checking out" as an excuse to go somewhere new for coffee. Kids, if your espresso looks like this, clear the area!
Waaay too long.
I should have known from the non-central position of the coffee machine. The coffee is an afterthought at this place.
This brings us to today's homework question: if you try a place for the first time and you dislike the coffee to the point of not drinking it, do you ever go back there again? Is it worth giving them another chance, or should you just go somewhere else?

Latte, home

In what is possibly the greatest thing to happen to a newspaper ever, Squarepusher is now writing for the Guardian music page. The highlight has to be the bit where he "reviews" that week's pop singles, "picking them apart one at a time like an angry, deconstructionist Casey Kasem."1
There's a rad article about Stockhausen, a scary-as-fuck drum-n-slap-bass video, and an article about Italian noise futurists that led me to discover the following song, for which I'll be eternally grateful:

That's You Made Me Realise by My Bloody Valentine, from 1988. I'll have to check out more of them. What's going on from 1'40" to 2'22" in that track? Woah.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Latte, Atomica

Meh. Not the greatest.
But maybe I'm just sick of lattes. What I was served today was a bit milky, not that interesting, but maybe I would have loved that a few years ago. Hmm.

Latte, home

In the news today: Virgin Blue fires thirteen staff members for posting "less than pleasant comments about passengers and aircraft" on Facebook. This is a bit scary. What if these guys had just said the less than pleasant comments to one of their mates at the pub? Unless said mate was pretty high up the chain at Virgin, it wouldn't have been a problem. But it seems Virgin Blue wants to stop any more disrepute from getting out there. Just in case you didn't get the Age this week, this is what those thirteen poor bastards lost their jobs over:

"...planes were full of cockroaches..."
Green Guide page 22, The Age, Thursday November 13, 2008

Cockroaches. Just in case you missed it the first time. Let's hope they've cut the allegations off at the source, we wouldn't want anyone to think the planes were full of cockroaches.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Espresso, Brother Baba Budan, City

Shit. Guitar Hero World Tour. Do I get the whole bundle, with the drum kit and the mic and the guitar and the game? Or just the game? I don't need another guitar, I can use the Guitar Hero III one. But if I want the drum kit I have to get the second guitar. Hmm. It's a lot of money. But fuck it, it's a drum kit! It'll be awesome.
Nahh, it's too much money to spend on a video game. This is ridiculous.
Maybe the drums will come in handy; some guy on the internet will have figured out a way to Bluetooth/MIDI/etc the GHWT drum kit into Logic. That would be cool. That justifies some of the price.
Hmm. JB Hi-Fi are doing the "just the game disc" pack for $64. That's nothing. C'mon EB Games, pay attention.
BUT what use would the game be if you can't play drums on it?
Ok bugger it, I'll get the whole thing.

P.S. Eye of the Tiger is one of the first songs on drums. Yeaah! Totally worth it.