Saturday, February 28, 2009

Espresso, Campos, Newtown

Just overheard someone talking about a cafe that uses Campos coffee, but it is always made shitely.
Amen, sister. I discovered that last week at Institution. St Ali beans, but some serious problems with the machinery, its operation, and the operators.
Not here though. Campos. The Freshmaker.
I really needed this after the burrito I had around the corner. What's the deal with Mexican places always playing Cuban music? At least they're both Spanish-speakers. Nando's is where it gets confusing: Portuguese (allegedly) food, with Cuban music?

Latte, Little on the Side, Chippendale

GeoTagged, [S33.88854, W151.19531]

This was a much shorter walk than going to Campos again, and they also use Campos beans. One problem I'm having with Campos is the shite music it seems to attract. Today: Sneaky Sound System, a.k.a "the quickest way to end a Melbourne vs Sydney argument".
"Melbourne is shite."
"Oh yeah? Well at least Sneaky Sound System aren't from there."

Friday, February 27, 2009

Espresso, Campos, Newtown

GeoTagged, [S33.79951, W151.22640]

St Germain? Really? Maybe I should leave my headphones on.
Other than the jazz-house-shite soundtrack, this place is totally word. Lots of beans available, including the Obama blend: "great depth of character, strong and eloquent".
I'm sure I'll be back here soon.

Latte, Little on the Side, Chippendale

GeoTagged, [S33.88912, W151.19576]

If all lattes were made like this, I'd never need to order a "strong". I love it. The beans are from Campos and I realise I still haven't checked them out (in Newtown I think) but I'd really regret it if I didn't hit single Origin at least once while I'm here.
I'm still shocked by what happened to DrJMo (that's my sister posting those entries - I didn't just fly to Ireland this morning to have four coffees) in Ireland. Scroll down and have a read. It just shows we really take for granted that in Australia, cafe staff will almost never tell you to fuck off.

Anonymous Latte, Uni of Sydney

Triple J O Week broadcast. Hoss handed me this one, which was welcome after only 3 hours' sleep, but I don't know where it came from. Possibly the kiosk outside Manning Bar. Jumps thought his was too weak, but I had no complaints. Maybe, after 22 hours without coffee, I would have thought anything was strong enough.
I can't remember for sure if I've ever dissed Marieke Hardy on this blog. That made me nervous. Maybe I should stick to dissing shit baristas.

Espresso, McKenzie's Cafe, Killarney

Normally, I would say the furthest you are from a capital city the worse the coffee will be. Killarney was the furthest we went from Dublin, but McKenzie's Cafe were serving a near-perfect espresso. When it came out I said 'Now that's an espresso'. The barista/waiter(ess?) had obviously heard this before. She told us to order "single-shot espresso" for the rest of our trip, as Ireland has a "different understanding of the lingo". Fair enough. Needless to say, we went back for breakfast the next morning.

Espresso, Cafe on the Row, Limerick

Before we found Cafe on the Row we tried another cafe. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Hi, do you have a breakfast menu?
Cafe worker: Er... you mean toast?
Me: Er...
Cafe worker: ...and eggs?
Me: Er... That's fine. Thanks anyway.
Cafe worker: Fuck off.

Nice. We drove a little further and found Cafe on the Row. The espresso was way too long and way too watery, but at least they didn't tell us to fuck off.

Macchiato, Léon, Dublin

It was surprisingly difficult to find somewhere that was open for breakfast on a Sunday morning in Dublin. But Léon was. It was the furniture that told me the coffee quality would be impressive. It looked like Syracuse in Melbourne - wooden, antique and mismatched. The macchiato was the best coffee to be had in the coming week of driving around Ireland. A damn good start to a holiday.

Espressi, The Village Inn vs Starbucks, Gatwick Airport

While we were walking around looking for some breakfast, we debated whether the usual "avoid chains at all costs" theory sticks at airports. Starbucks was shiny and promising next to The Village Inn, which looked as ugly and sticky as the carpet at the old cinemas in Frankston. But we needed to eat. I knew we'd made a mistake in ordering coffee with breakfast as soon as I saw the coffee menu behind the bar. It was one of those menus that feels the need to give a description of each coffee, and the description for espresso was "The small one".

Watery and way too long. And such a bad taste that it made you squint. Bomb.

We walked straight to Starbucks next door. Even though it's a chain, at least they churn out consistently short, strong, non-squinty espresso.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Latte, Macchinetta, Melbourne Airport

Well, I finally got up to my eighth coffee at Macchinetta: the free one! The card was a little ambiguous: do I have to buy eight coffees and earn eight stamps before I get a free one, or is the eighth coffee the free one? Lucky for me it was the latter, and I felt a lot better about paying $5.50 for a bottle of slightly bourgeois water. So I ordered a latte. A small one, as always.
"Ryan. Ryan Seacrest? Hahaha..."
I'm not sure what you call that brand of humour, but the barista seemed impressed with his ability to call me by another Ryan's surname. I mulled this over, and he handed over the coffee. The giant, milky coffee.
"Here you go Ryan Seacrest."
"Oh, is that a small or a large?"
"It's a large. It's free."
"Oh sorry, I ordered a small."
"Do you want a large though?"
He seemed unconcerned that this bargain I had stumbled upon involved diluting the same amount of coffee with more milk.
"It's more for free isn't it?"
"Er, yeah."
They just don't get it.
It was still good though. Might have been better with less milk. But still free. Free!

Espresso, home

Cathy Dennis. Just Another Dream.

Yeah, I know what you're thinking. She was a one- (or possibly two-) hit early 90s wonder, and the backing vocals in the chorus sound like Rick Astley. What you might not know is how many other HUGE songs she has written since then. I'll start by saying "Kylie - Can't Get You Out of My Head", and continue by directing you to the List of Singles Written by Cathy Dennis page on Wikipedia. Reading through the list you will go through various phases: wonder, denial, anger, fear. But at the end you will probably think Cathy is very clever, and one of the most prolific pop minds alive today. But you'll probably want to slap her still, as she is responsible for Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl". Grrr...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Espresso, Pushka, City

It's like getting trampled by a tiny, tiny hippo!
I was about 15 meters away getting pre-paid broadband credit and figured it would be a crime to not Push it up while in the area. Let's hope Virgin's pre-paid activation is less clunky than Optus. It sure is cheaper. $10 for a SIM and 300MB. Sweet. At that price, I don't care which marketers they give my details to!
They're listening to My Bloody Valentine today. I'd better stick around. Oh no wait...I've got if on my iPhone. Even better.

Latte, Mr Tulk, City

The Tulk is pretty onto it, but I got the feeling they were letting quality control slip a little today. The latte had too much head. There was a rogue chip in the calamari. All the salt had landed on one poached egg. The chai latte came out as a normal-ass chai. Hmm. None of these are dealbreakers, but there were four of them at once. Maybe it has something to do with how busy it was: we were there exactly at the time normal people have lunch. At any other (relatively less-busy) time of day, these problems don't seem to come up as it is less hectic and there is more time to spend getting orders right, not sending out sub-par coffees, etc. Another reason to come here at less-congested times is the one thing that really lets down the whole library-themed interior design: THE NOISE. It seems like everyone needs to yell to hear themselves. This may be due to the depth of the tables: you are sitting far closer to the person on the table next to you than you are to the person on your table that you are trying to speak to. The result is that the guy on the next table is yelling to the guy opposite him, and it just feels like he's yelling in your ear. Try to get consecutive chairs on the big communal table at times like this. Or alternatively, start shushing people and see if that helps.
"Shhhh! Please try to keep it down, this is a library!"

Latte, home

Maybe I should actually get some Java beans to celebrate the occasion. And maybe I should have saved this photo for then.
Nahh. I'll take another one.
It's raining in Melbourne, finally. Let's hope it puts out some fires.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Latte, Cafenatics, City

GeoTagged, [S37.80150, W144.96721]

That's me on the right.

Espressi, home

I couldn't quite get it in the zone this morning. One took 16 seconds, then I adjusted the grind and the next one didn't get anywhere near 30ml in 30 seconds. I tried them both, and the second one tasted better, but still kinda nasty. I was left unfulfilled knowing that I hadn't really made a good one. But I was running out of time: gotta leave the house soon.
(the more cynical of you may point out that I'd have had time to pull a third shot had I not got online to post this blog entry)
I'm glad I've got those chocolate-coated coffee beans that Lando brought home yesterday. Woo! Spring Break!

(sorry about that digression at the end there - I got into a habit of yelling "SPRING BREAK! WOO!" over the weekend (the reasons why are on my Twitter feed - it has a lot to do with attending a keg party) and it's hard to kick the habit now)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Espresso, Stax, City

I nearly came here last week when I walked past, but I was wearing my Stax t-shirt at the time and didn't want to be the guy with the relevant t-shirt. Like those douchebags who wear Elwood t-shirts in Elwood. Yeah. Clap clap. Real fuckin' astute.
Oh, I meant Stax the 60s record label: home to Booker T and the MGs, Aretha, Isaac Hayes, Sam Cooke etc. Not Stax the potato chips.
Honourable mention to this place for proudly displaying an orange Stax frisbee behind the bar. The Genovese coffee is pretty happening too.

Macchiatone, Cibo, Adelaide Airport

No, it's not the name of Ralph Macchio's barbershop quartet. It is, according to Cibo, the official Italian name for what I have clumsily referred to on the blog as a half latte, a halftte, or a Return of the Macchiato. It's perfect for people who regularly have nightmares about a perfectly good espresso being diluted with too much milk. The horror!!

Flat White, Cafe 31, Adelaide

Cafe 31. For no other reason than it being in the lobby of the hotel we are staying at. Coffee is not very inspiring, but they've got pancakes, and the pancakes have not been augmented to suit being eaten for breakfast. I think that means I'm about to eat ice cream.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Espresso, Cibo, Adelaide Airport

It's usually a bad sign, I think, when the cash registrar double checks that you really want to order just a short black. However, their views and opinions on coffee seldom represent those of the barista. The end result: good coffee.

That was an hilarious flight. We played Pictionary on airsick bags. I was impressed with All Along the Watchtower (lots of stick figures) and Knock on Wood (think euphemisms).
We also brainstormed some flight attendant pickup lines:
"You sure didn't need a light or a whistle to attract MY attention, baby."

Flat White, Dome, Perth Airport

I think I just noticed a correlation. If you pay $4.50 for a coffee, it will invariably be shit.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Espresso, Spring, Subiaco

Number two.
I just saw someone who I thought was famous, but then realised it was because she looked slightly like one of the waitresses at Batch. That's how severe my ignorance of current pop culture has become. I guess waiters and celebrities fall in the same category: people we recognise, but don't know. Yes, waiterfame is weird.

Is it un-PC to say "waitress" these days? I didn't want to suggest she looked like a dude who works at Batch, and "female waiter" felt a bit clumsy.

Espresso, Spring, Subiaco

GeoTagged, [S31.94659, W115.82495]

It's times like this that I'm glad I have Google Maps and an iPhone. I might never have found this place otherwise, and wouldn't have had the amazing espresso and incredibly bourgeois mineral water. Ahh. I walked here from Pier St though, so I think I deserve whatever ridiculous water is on hand.

Latte, Tiger, Tiger, Perth

GeoTagged, [S31.95314, W115.85205]

Yes, the name of this place has a comma in it. That's something I haven't seen before. It also looks confusing in my comma-delimited title: is Tiger the suburb?
I've been walking around for about half an hour trying to figure put where people eat breakfast before 9.00am without going to Subway or Muffin Break. Yes, that two-hour time difference gets me every time in Perth. Anyhow, Google Maps and Grendel's blog came in handy, and here I am at Tiger, Tiger. Eggs benedict on rye bagel. Cut Copy's first album. Interview with Howard Shore glued to the wall, and another with Phillipe Cohen-Tanugi (how's that for a triracial name) who is the director and secretary of Mariage Freres in Paris - easily the most mindblowing tea experience I've had. I would be happy to not drink tea again until next time I'm in Paris. It's that good.
But that's a subject for the tea blog (coming soon..?).

Friday, February 20, 2009

Espresso, Hudsons, Perth Airport

GeoTagged, [S31.92130, W115.96411]

Hmm. I think the one I'm holding looks far more ultra than the ULTRA size. I was informed, however, that the ULTRA involves three shots. That is rather ultra.

QANTAS, Melbourne to Perth

Watching the in-flight movie. Flash of Genius with Greg Kinnear. It's not bad, following the story of the guy who invented the intermittent windscreen wiper. I would have thought that an inventor with a PhD in Engineering would have a slightly more educated process than, "let's solder these together and see what happens."
It also featured two actors I can't remember seeing in anything other than their famous roles: Lorelai from Gilmore Girls, and Skinner from X-Files.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Latte, Mr Tulk, City

GeoTagged, [S37.80769, W144.96646]

Yes! That is more like it. If you are at RMIT and need a coffee, it's worth crossing the road. The faux-library atmosphere makes it feel like you are studying too. Guilt-free coffee.

Espresso, institution, RMIT, City

Not good. Too long, tasted nasty, came out to the table suspiciously quickly. I timed their next shot. 10 seconds. Back in my day, nothing took 10 seconds if it was done right.
You know what that means.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Latte, Brunetti, Carlton

Another free biscuit! Something tells me every day is Free Biscuit Day now at Brunetti.

Espresso, home

I think this counts as having a cup of coffee before my first cup of coffee. I'm not worried though. One of the interviews I read in Beanscene yesterday mentioned that the guy has around fifteen every day. It's a good thing he doesn't try to blog every single one of them.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Strong Latte, Pushka, City

It's half-price Portuguese tart o'clock! I was also just asked if I was reading the New Weekly in front of me. That was funny at first, but then I realised I don't know much at all about the Rihanna/Chris Brown thing: Another news item I heard first on Twitter. Unfortunately you can never tell the whole story in 140 bytes. Is that where our attention span is heading? The news fitting in a Twitter update with an URL? All signs point to yes.

Latte, Cafenatics, City

Reading the first issue of BeanScene. Looks like it could continue to be a good read. Plenty of heavy dudes on the local scene writing regular columns. Awesome. It makes me realise there's still a lot of places I haven't visited yet. First Pour, in particular. I guess I live at the wrong end of Richmond to be able to drop in there without having to seriously plan ahead to leave enough time to get there and then back down Victoria St again.
Directly under the "contact the publisher to subscribe" message, it also reminded me that they reserve the right of refusal. Hmm. I'd love to know what sort of behaviour or circumstances would be grounds (coffee pun not intended) for refusal.

Espresso, home

I've already mentioned this on my Twitter, but Optus are annoying. When I signed up for the iPhone, my old address (I moved out of there in 2006!) was on the contract. I was told to write my new address on the form, and they would update it later. Last week I had a suspicion that they never updated it, considering I hadn't had a bill yet. I called them this morning. I went through all the usual crap, describe what you are calling about, is it the phone you're currently calling from, enter your pin or if you've forgotten it just say "forgotten", then get put on hold. Talk to a person finally and give them the whole story again: mobile number, PIN, what you are calling about. Sheesh. I know from experience that asking, "Haven't I already done that?" doesn't speed up the process. So I gave him my new address, spelling the whole thing out in Wheel of Fortune "N for Nellie" style. He read it back. It was correct. He put me on hold so he could go and update my details.

"Hey Bob, back at the water cooler again?"
"Yeah, I'm "updating somebody's details". I figured that means I can have a few minutes' break."
"Right on. This morning, I went househunting while some guy was on hold."
"That's great Geoff. I love this job."

I listened to the hold music, which I have discussed at great length on this blog. It reminded me of last night when I tried to listen to Loaded by Primal Scream but realised it just made me feel like I was on hold. Sound-a-like advertising jingles are destroying music. The more music gets appropriated for advertising, the more the original recording reminds me of the ripped-off one. As a result, every time I listen to Primal Scream, Optus are getting a free plug.
Anyway. The guy came back on the phone and read out my address. The street number was wrong. He put me on hold again. Grr. Back to the water cooler.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Long Mac, Brother Baba Budan, City

Wanna see something funny and jazz-related? Look no further than the iReal Book. It's like the Real Book (copyright-law-shunning compendium of jazz tunes, essential for people who want to play songs they don't know with people they haven't met before) but inside your iPhone. As someone who spent his first few years of playing jazz carrying around a Real Book photocopied at an Officeworks where they couldn't print double-side, thereby doubling the number of pages, which had to be split into three books, this is amazing. The only problem is you have to keep the screen on while you're playing to be able to see the chords, and this much constant screen-on time probably wouldn't last you through a three-set wedding gig. Still a great idea for an app though. And it can transpose too. Perfect for when you've got a gig with a troublesome female singer.

However, I think it's a bit odd to be charging $10 for chord charts to songs you don't own the copyright to. But I guess this app isn't for everyone, and the author must have calculated this price because it won't be purchased by nearly as many people as the $0.99 Fart Machine app.
Wait a minute. Charging more because less people will use it? If only all jazz musicians could charge a price for their gigs and recordings that was inversely proportional to the size of their audience. Wow, how about that. Jazz career dilemma solved.

Latte, home

From the Cool Running site:
Our beginner's running schedule has helped thousands of new runners get off the couch and onto the roads, running 3 miles in just two months.

I'm not so interested in being able to run three miles, but getting some sort of exercise three days a week for the next two months sounds like a good idea. I'm starting today. Wish me luck.

The only problem is this: it's hard to get the timing right. The plan calls for running for 60 seconds, walking for 90 seconds, etc. Messing around with the timer on my iPhone might distract me from the actual task at hand, so I need some other headphone-confined way of telling me when to run and when to walk. I first played around with the idea of 32 bars of the Amen drum break at 128 BPM, followed by 24 bars of the same thing at half time. I started putting it together, but realised that the Amen break would just really piss me off after five minutes. In the words of Caiaphas, "We need a more permanent solution to our problem." Then Lea mentioned this:

The whole album is at 120 beats per minute, +/- 10%. Start running, count 32 bars of Don't Stop Til You Get Enough, then walk for 48 bars. Rad. If you get sick of starting on that song, start on another track. It's highly unlikely I'll get sick of running to Michael Jackson. If I do, I've got a feeling Daft Punk's first and second albums will serve pretty much the same purpose.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Espresso, Brunetti, Carlton

Wow, I'm visiting Brunetti a lot aren't I? Lea has a thing for their chai at the moment. We have no idea how it's made though. They seem to scoop something out of a jar and stir it for a long time, but that's all we know. We'll do some more research.
Spotted in Yarraville:

Ah, pizzas named after authors. I jumped out of the car at the level crossing to take that photo. Oh, and I was driving. I think it was worth it. It sounds like a bit too much information for one pizza, but I'm glad somebody has used that name. This comes hot on the heels of my Salman Rushdie sighting in the city on Thursday night. Actually, he looked more like the guy in Seinfeld who Kramer thinks is Salman Rushdie. Oh. Or a cross between him and the guy that Kramer follows onto the plane.
As for my actual espresso, that this entry is supposedly about, I think just the fact that the crema was still hanging in there after the time it took to stir in the mystery chai powder is testament enough.

Long Mac, Pickle Barrel, Williamstown

Yes! All the radness, satisfaction, and general tasting-like-coffee factor that was missing this morning was there in droves in this long mac. Love it.
The proprietor of the place we stayed at last night said there were two places worth checking out on Ferguson St for food: one groovy, one bohemian. I'm not sure what the difference is (Earth Wind and Fire, Phil Collins, Zhane and Dee-Lite versus Queen and the Dandy Warhols?), and I'm even less sure which one Pickle Barrel is. But the coffee was right on.

Latte, Strand, Williamstown

The CBD looked pretty smoky from where we were sitting. You can kind of tell from the eerie yellow sun reflecting off the table:

We tried to come here for dessert last night. The waiter gave us a rather bleak outlook:
"I'm sorry. I can't do anything."
C'mon man, it's not the end of the world. We were intrigued by the breakfast menu, and came back the next day. Er, today.
The breakfast was pretty happening (respect to the hash brown made from potato that looks like it's actually been grated), but the coffee seemed weird. Just in a general kind of way. Amusingly, when I walked out the front door of the restaurant to get to the toilets (I hate when it feels like you're running out on the bill when you're just going to have a leak), holding the door open for the bloke coming in, he didn't look at me at all, but found the time to say, "G'day mate, I'm just heading over to sit with some friends who already have a table." I tried to tell him "I don't work here", but he seemed satisfied that he had explained himself enough to keep walking.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Latte, Brunetti, Carlton

GeoTagged, [S37.81156, W144.96130]

It must be free biscuit Saturday again! Rad. Spin-off coming soon. Stay tuned...

Short Mac, Macchinetta, Melbourne Airport

GeoTagged, [S27.46352, W153.03555]

The next one is free. Hell yeah. I possibly made it to seven stamps so quickly because of what time doing right now: having a coffee after I land. Typically I would only have one while waiting for a flight to reach boarding, but hey, these guys are good.

Latte, Medina, Brisbane

Those cups look pretty giant. I went for the "say when with the milk" option. Good move. It was still a bit on the weak side. But nice work on the milk, most hotel lobby milk steaming isn't this good.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Flat White, Fatboys, Brisbane

Amazingly, this is the first time I've been here since I started the blog. I've been waiting for this day. The pricing structure is unique, and has many pitfalls.
Let's get started. A flat white is $3.00, but a latte is $3.60. As you may know, the main difference between these beverages is the glass it comes in. This is clearly the work of someone who is sick of hearing real estate agents use the phrase "latte lifestyle".
If that wasn't enough, these prices go up by 40c across the board after 5.00pm. As you can see, I knew all this in advance. A flat white during the day. The only sane choice in these times of economic turmoil.

Latte, Macchinetta, Melbourne Airport

Getting closer to that free coffee. I can taste it. Oh no, that's the coffee I'm having right now. And it's good. Macchinetta has expanded. There's a huge bakery type thing immediately behind it now. I thought they might be in competition, but it looks like they are affiliated. Hence, there are less croissanty things available at Macc now. I'm pretty happy that there is not only good coffee, but also food, on the near side of the metal detector.

Latte, home

Apologies to anyone reading this via RSS, you probably saw that blank entry I posted and then deleted. It only lasted the time it took for me to get from the iPhone in the kitchen to the Mac at the other end of the house, get into, and press delete. The reason for this is the Send and Attach buttons are frustratingly close together for someone with fingers as thick as mine. So you start a new post, try to attach a photo, then realise it's already posted, and there is no cancel button. Frustrating.
Off to the airport soon. I had nightmares about my bass getting stolen last night, maybe it was trying to tell me I should have renewed my insurance last November.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Latte, Brunetti, Carlton

Well, the barista only looked about fourteen, but he sure played a mean piano. Er, espresso, I mean.

Latte, Little Peninsula, City

I had a coffee with dad this morning. We walked down Elizabeth, and then he seemed to be veering up Little Lonsdale.
I asked, "Should we go to Little Peninsula?"
"Sorry, every time I leave the office I just automatically walk there."
We sat down outside, and the guy at the coffee machine asked, "Two lattes?"
Man. That's what being a regular customer is all about. You don't even need to enter the building and they still know what you want to order.

I surprised myself by eating lunch at 11.00am. It reminded me of Gary Busey in Point Break.
"Utah! Get me two!"

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Espresso, Las Chicas, St Kilda East

This iPhone keyboard is becoming a serious barrier to writing anything meaningful on here. More on that later when I get to a real computer...

Latte, Las Chicas, St Kilda East

GeoTagged, [S37.86957, W144.99260]
Geotagging. Awesome. I'm not sure how many people out there consider the latitude and longitude of where they're standing when they want to find coffee, but if you do, memorise the above two numbers. They'll come in handy one day.

Flat White, home

Mmm. Driptastic.
Unfortunately I can't really tell if that photo is in focus. If you have an iPhone, don't buy the Philips screen covers. They're too thick. They affect your ability to see what's happening on screen. I bought the five-pack too. Damn.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Flat White, North, Carlton North

Just told JB about the dream I had last night. He didn't quite know what to make of it. I won't tell you the whole thing, in case the phrase "in my dream last night..." puts you to sleep, but it's worth mentioning that at one point my metalwork teacher from high school was teaching me all these weird chords on guitar. Geddit? METALwork? My subconscious has a great sense of humour.

Latte, home

If, like me, you sort your digital photos in directories named after the date they were taken in the format YYMMDD because then if you sort them alphabetically they will also be chronological, then you probably will notice that the date today is 090210. Channel Ten really should have waited until now to premiere the new series of 90210. Imagine that.

90210 - coming soon - 9/02/10

You may have noticed that 9/02/10 has also ushered in a new theme for the site. If nothing else, it looks browner than the old design. I think the font size could be bigger for the subheadings in the column on the right, but other than that it's pretty happening I think. The zeitgeist is a weird place; I was totally happy with Minima Ochre for over a year, and then all of a sudden I wake up and decide I'm a Thisaway kinda guy. Have I subconsciously been noticing more brown things with smaller fonts?

I've also changed my mind on the Twitter thing.
In one day.
I removed the Twitter feed from the side column on this blog yesterday because I decided I was only going to use Twitter to let people on Twitter know when I posted a new blog entry, which I'm sure you'll agree would be extraneous information if it was on the blog. Yeah, just in case you're reading my blog you might want to know that it has a new post. Hmm. So I got rid of the feed.
But then a few hours later, inexplicably, I felt a need to start Tweeting again. Before I knew it I was back on there, reading about what ?uestlove did last night (highlight: "nigel godrich is a hip hop head. and a great dj. best moment. playing "tomorrow never knows" and mccartney walked in on CUE. and danced!") and signing the band up to Twitter, and before I knew it Yoko Ono was following me! Oddly, I only know about three people in real life who are on Twitter. Mind you, I remember the crisis point of Facebook around July 2007 where it seemed like everyone I knew was jumping on there. Maybe Twitter isn't there yet in Australia. Anyway, I'll have to explain to the band why they need a Twitter account, and why I've already made one.
"Well, it's like Facebook, but all you can do is change your status and read other people's statuses."
"I's like a blog but you can only write an entry one SMS long."
"Can we put our tracks up on there?"
"No. Just the status thing."
"Oh. So why would we do it?"
"So people know what we're up to."
"Why would we want people to know what we're up to?"
"Because it's interesting to read about in 140 characters or less."
"But we're not up to anything."
"Yes. So that's what we write on there."
"Why would anyone read that?"
"Because it's on Twitter."
"Why are we on Twitter?"
Yeah, I'll have to think about how to handle that.
Anyway, as it relates to this blog: when I post a new coffee blog, it will come up in my Twitter feed. Other stuff I'm doing will also come up there. But you won't see it on this site. Head over to Twitter for that.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Espresso, Atomica, Fitzroy

Still reading about the bushfires. That was a nasty weekend. Plenty of coverage on

Espresso, home

One of the more illogical things about the iPhone:
Let's say you're walking down the street and you just have to email someone, possible along the lines of "OMG I'm emailing you while walking down the street!" You pull out your iPhone, and just as you start typing, a box comes up on screen with a list of Wi-Fi networks belonging to the houses you are walking past, asking if you want to join any of them. You click "No", as you have 3G access and want to keep walking, and would feel a bit sus if you stood outside a stranger's house writing an email. Waiting for that box to zoom up and back out again doesn't take much time, but it gets annoying when it happens every time you use your phone. In the Wi-Fi menu in the Settings app you find the option "Ask to Join Networks", which can be set to on or off. You turn it off. Problem solved.
A few days later you notice that the phone has not been connecting to your Wi-Fi network at home, and Wi-Fi has been defaulting to off. Switching it back on gets you back on the network (and stops you from sucking up that valuable 3G bandwidth), but next time you leave the house and come back, Wi-Fi is switched off again. That's when you see, and actually read, the explanation under "Ask to Join Networks":
Known networks will be joined automatically. If no known networks are available, you will be asked before joining a new network.
Something tells me it would make more sense for those two sentences to each have their own on/off button.

Latte, Carlton Espresso, Carlton

Good morning, blog. Uh oh, my toast is here. Gotta go.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Espresso, home

You might have noticed that since I added the Twitter feed to the side of this website, I've gotten fairly far behind on the coffee blogging. The two are not related. If the app I use to blog from my iPhone allowed me to back-date posts, I wouldn't have a problem. But if I miss one post (due this week to my iPhone cacking itself) then catching up seems like a big task, which I don't get around to for a few days. Twittering, on the other hand, why am I on Twitter again? I haven't quite figured that out. It seems to serve the same purpose as changing your Facebook status, but anyone who changed their status that often would come across kind of narcissistic. So far it's been kind of like the coffee blog, but limited to 140 characters long, coincidentally about as long as I'm prepared to write before I get frustrated with the iPhone keyboard. If anyone can explain why I shouldn't get off Twitter right now, please leave a comment.

Flat White, home

I had a wedding gig last night. They are often a source of amusement, like that one I did last year where the best man got up on stage and took it up to level 42 and did a slap bass solo. But there was nothing as cool as that last night. The MC was terrible. If I was going to have an MC at my wedding I'd probably go for Method Man. Also, there was no alcohol for the band. Mind you, I spied some longnecks of Lite Ice going out to tables, so maybe we weren't missing out on much.
I heard a story about a wedding band a few years ago who, upon finding out they weren't getting any alcohol, packed up their instruments and left. Respect.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Espresso, home

Ahhhh. The espresso blend from BBB. Seriously good.

Apple has altered the EULA for iTunes slightly. This annoys the piss out of me for two reasons, mainly travel-related:
  1. When they alter the EULA, you can't purchase anything on the iTunes Store on your iPhone until you plug into a computer and accept the new terms. If I was away from my computer for a few days and couldn't use iTunes Store until I got home, well that would be annoying. The useful thing about the iPhone is buying digital music anywhere.
  2. The new terms include not buying tracks off iTunes unless you are in your home country.
That is really annoying. I think back to last July, at Tel Aviv airport, when I had about two hours to kill before the flight. Yes, it turns out there is almost zero traffic on the road between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv on Friday nights. I probably could have worked that out for myself and got a taxi much later. Mind you, catching a taxi from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv to fly to Amman is a pretty retarded-arse thing to do anyway. The flight from Tel Aviv to Amman took less than twenty minutes: less than the taxi trip, even with the guy driving ON the line between the two lanes at at least 140kmh the whole way. Looking at the map, a taxi from Jerusalem to Amman makes far more sense than going anywhere near an airport. Anyway. Back to the story. I had two hours to kill. I got on a wi-fi network and downloaded a bunch of songs by Hall and Oates. Under Apple's new EULA, I'm only allowed to do that in Australia. I guess I'll just have to set up a bunch of phony addresses and iTunes accounts in every country I visit. Is that the solution? No, probably not. I'll just buy CDs.

Espresso, Brother Baba Budan, City

I got out of the car, almost got blown off my feet, and then realised how hot it was. Not just a hot day. This was a "there's something wrong" hot. It got over 46 degrees. Yikes. You might think I'm mental drinking an espresso in this weather, but I was just adhering to my Brother Baba Budan rules:
Rule number one: you do not talk about Fight Club
Rule number two: you do not talk about Fight Club
Rule number three: if you're only here to buy beans, you still have to have an espresso
I would have posted this earlier, but my iPhone quite seriously shat itself. It crashed in the Photos app, the screen wouldn't turn off, and holding down either of the buttons for ten seconds wouldn't reset it. No instantaneous blogging for me. It might be the heat.

Strong Latte, North, Carlton North

No, I still haven't bought any more beans. That means I have to leave the house for coffee in the morning and run the risk of my pyjamas hanging out of my awake person disguise as I walk. Watching the X Files move that came out last year. It's quite good, but sorta makes me want to watch some older episodes. I also get the feeling that a knowledge of the latter episodes (that I didn't watch) was required. Mulder and Scully are a couple? What the faq? Is this a new thing or did it happen in the series? That's one of the facts you just have to accept to get along with the story. But it was good to see Skinner back in ass-kicking Russian-scientist-pistol-whipping action, if only for the last 20 minutes of the film. It didn't have the classic government conspiracy feel going on (except for that chilling shot that hangs on the portrait of Dubya that has equal prominence with that of J Edgar Hoover) and I guess that's hard without Smoking Man involved. But like I said, watch the old episodes if that's what you're after.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Espresso, Gerald's, Carlton North

I didn't really mention it in this morning's post, but the espresso I made was pretty bad. I think those beans have been sitting around going stale for a bit too long. The problem is this: when I went in to buy my coffee machine they threw in a kilo of coffee beans with it. The guy said, "You probably won't come all the way to St Kilda for coffee, I'd better give you the whole kilo now." I agreed for some reason, but if you've been reading this blog for long you'll know that I often go to St Kilda solely to drink coffee. So anyway, that kilo has gone a bit wrong since then. I threw out the last few hundred grams (painful, but worth it if it forces me to get more beans) and will go elsewhere until I get to visit BBB for more beans. Elsewhere in this case (this case being after 5.00pm in Carlton North on a Friday) being Gerald's.
Gerald opens for business at 5.00pm every evening and they always seem to play good music and their manual meat slicer's shininess has to be seen to be believed. What's more, their wine-by-the-glass list is whatever they've already opened that night. It's a constantly evolving menu. But that's not why I'm here. I'm here for coffee.
A bit on the pale side, a bit on the long side, but still pretty happening. Thanks Gerald.

Latte, Apte, Alphington

I have to confess that I only visited Apte because I noticed that The Breakfast Blog gave it a 20/20. Being not a regular reader, though a fan of their BB100 system, I was not entirely familiar with their scoring system. It was good to see Las Chicas and Mart 130 scoring pretty close to 20 though. Anyway, to sum up: I had breakfast at Apte today because a blog I don't read gave it their only 20/20 in a scoring system I am not familiar with. But it was all worth it. The latte was spectacular. I was so impressed with what was flowing forth from the big shiny Synesso inside (with a steam handle that looked more like it could put the Millenium Falcon into hyperspace than it could steam milk) that I almost had another coffee, but Lea pointed out that it would be my third in the two hours since I woke up. That might have been overdoing it. I'll have to come back here. If this blog had a "revisitable" tag, Apte would get it.

Espresso, home

The "Specials" board at a restaurant is frequently populated with stuff that the chef wants to get rid of. He's got two crates of squash back there and they'll be unusable tomorrow, better get them out of here via the patrons' intestines. It's a culture of recommending something the customer probably wouldn't go near if they knew the whole story. How far does this go? Does it extend to, say, fruiterers?
I asked the fruit guy which apples were good, and he steered me toward the Royal Galas. "That's noble," I thought. Not only did he know which ones were good, he was willing to tell me about it. Well, biting into that Royal Gala was like trying to eat a handful of the styrofoam balls (or beans perhaps) in a bean bag. That's not a good apple in my book. Did he tell me to go for that apple because he wanted to get rid of them? It wasn't just that one either; I bought two and they were both in the same condition. Then again, I'm sure 46 degree heat can do weird things to apples.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Espresso, home

Have a look at Christoph Niemann's coffee rantings on the NY Times blog site. Thanks for the link Luke. I like his philosophy of having tea first thing in the morning so you're not half asleep for your first cup of coffee. I'm not a huge fan of his tendency to make Starbucks synonymous with espresso-based coffee in general, but I really like the coffee bias graph. That's the kind of stats I was hoping this blog would generate.

Saw Alice Russell's gig tonight at SoCo Cargo. Alice was great, and her band were on it too, but I was still dumbfounded by the radness of the set the Bamboos played immediately before her. Those guys should each be awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for their Services to Funk. Unfortunately SoCo Cargo is lame beyond belief. SoCo stands for Southern Comfort, in case you were wondering. The whole venue is a marketing exercise to convince people that drinking Southern Comfort is not just a pastime for fifteen year-olds. The way they achieve this is having a cocktail menu where every drink involves Southern Comfort. The beer pricing (Cooper's Pale Ale $8, Cooper's Light $6, no other beer available) is almost heinous enough to drive you to drink Southern Comfort too.

Latte, home

I've been trying to watch Underbelly. I don't think I'm going to make it through all the episodes. The score and most of the dialogue are offputtingly mediocre, and most of the characters are so one-dimensional that they are almost caricatures, and that CRT TV whistle blasting out of the speakers every time there is a scene at the police station surely could have been tamed in mixing so the viewers don't all think they have tinnitus, and the gratuitous titty shots seem only to be there so we all know this is an edgy-beyond-belief controversial series (Chances, anyone?). I can tolerate all that. There is something that's really getting to me. The prices are not right.

The events in episode four are supposed to have taken place in 1999, and I should be convinced that I am watching something that happened ten years ago. But then that blue Jaguar convertible pulls up at a service station and the price is clearly 126.9 cents per liter. That third digit to the left of the decimal point didn't even exist in the late 90s. But it gets worse. In one scene, a guy pays $3.50 for an espresso. That just didn't happen in 1999.

Flat White, Tre Bicchieri, Carlton North

That's some serious shadow, and some serious sun. I think I'm about to prove how much of a white guy I am by getting sunburnt before 9.00am.
Ok, croissant has arrived, better go investigate.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Espresso, home

If you are of the belief that "netbook" and "hackintosh" are real words that are in common usage and should therefore be permissible in Scrabble, then you can probably figure out what I've been up to this afternoon. Otherwise:
netbook. n. 1. diminutive laptop computer, named thus as it has limited brains and storage and is mainly useful to get on the internet and be easy to carry. 2. instruction manual for fishnet stockings.
hackintosh. n. 1. a PC that has Mac OS installed on it, therefore a very cheap alternative to buying a real Mac. 2. what Jack the Ripper wore when it was raining.
tower burger. n(?!). 1. the KFC Zinger burger with a hash brown inside it - burger and chips in one bite - for a limited time only. 2. incidental character from Police Academy 4.

No, wait. That was Hightower. Nevertheless, in usage:

I'm making my netbook into a hackintosh. I've got time for a tower burger though, let's go to KFC.

For the record, I really did eat a Tower Burger today. It was a revelation. What it revealed, precisely, is that I shouldn't eat KFC very often. Furthermore, the attraction of making a netbook hackintosh is that the netbook is a market that Apple currently do not have a product for, aside from the alluringly slim, yet cost-prohibitive, Macbook Air. What the netbooks manufactured by Asus, MSI, Dell and Lenovo lack in slimness, they sure make up for in cheapness. But this should not be treated as a "I'm getting a Mac for free!" situation. It's harder than it looks.

Some men climb mountains. Some run marathons. Some go out in the shed on the weekend and make a disc sander out of an old washing machine motor. Some put themselves through challenging operating system installations. Hackintoshing is for this last group. If you see a Playstation 3 and want to paint it Linux, this is for you. If you've installed a DOS emulator just to play Alley Cat, this is for you. If you know what the letters of the acronyms POST, BIOS, SCUMM, WINE and PAKISTAN stand for, this is for you. If you've installed an image of Wikipedia on your GPS... okay I think I've made my point. You have to be willing to read countless pages of forums in the hope that someone with the same laptop, attempting the same thing, has had the same error message. You have to be willing to void warranties. You have to be willing to sacrifice that perfectly good Windows XP installation in the hope that you might get an Apple logo to appear. You have to be willing to violate End-User License Agreements. But for a quick way around that: the running joke in the Hackintosh community is that to get around the "this software must be run on Apple-labeled hardware" clause, all you have to do is stick an Apple logo sticker to your machine. If you really think you want to give a PC a sex-change, I highly recommend this page to find out which machines are most suitable for the task. They are keeping it very up-to-date; in the time since I bought my netbook on eBay (less than a week ago), they've already changed their mind already on which machine is the best.

Woah. That just might be my longest post.

Flat White, home

This is reassuring.
During this morning's troubleshooting (messing around with a 9g single basket, doesn't taper as steeply as the stock Rancilio 7g one) I made an espresso that totally sucked ass. It looked right, it took somewhere between twenty and thirty seconds, but it tasted horrible. Not only did I spit it out, but it made me want to scrape what was left of it off my tongue. I could still taste it five minutes later.
The reason this was reassuring is that it means every other coffee I have made on the Silvia has been downright MAGNIFICENT in comparison. I must be doing something right. Every other time, that is. Even the bad-ish ones I've made in the last few weeks have been better than this.
Even more reassuringly, I switched back to the 14g basket, put the grinder back to 11 or 12, and made a smashingly satisfying flat white. Good morning.
Then the courier turned up with my netbook, but I only had time to open the box and marvel at its size before I had to go to the studio. More on this later.

Espressi, Paris and surrounds

You may think that the title of this post would indicate countless excellent espresso moments, but the situation is always a little different if you are a teacher on school camp. Even if it does involve Paris.

Apologies for the vagueness of some of these coffee venues...

1) Most of the cross channel ferries have an espresso machine somewhere on board. This one didn't.
2) We were staying at a "chateau"; or more truthfully a slightly old building with a series of new buildings around it. There was a push-button coffee machine in the dining hall. On the first morning, Grant hit the "black coffee" button. Big mistake: slightly murky water. I hit the "espresso" button. And then I hit it again. Success (in so much as a coffee machine involving hitting one button can be successful)! We stuck to the "espresso" button from then on.
3) While I was attempting to make sure 47 Year 9s made their way down the Eiffel Tower before me, someone located coffees somewhere at the bottom. It was in a plain white cardboard cup, but it was damn good! If anyone knows where this came from, let us know for future reference.
4) This was potentially the best espresso of the trip: on the Champs Elysees, next to the Meeting Point for our students (also known as McDonalds). It left me feeling whelmed. It was good, but not that good.
5) Eurodisney. I'm not kidding. The highlight of this espresso was that the espresso-sized cardboard cup it came in had Goofy on it.
6) Lastly, and I can't believe it, but this espresso was the stand-out coffee of the entire trip. Somewhere between Paris and Calais there's a servo with a cafe/patisserie called Paul. Despite it being in a cardboard cup, and being drunk whilst counting kids back on to the coach, it was amazing.

The problem with school camp is that you need more caffeine than usual just to get through the day. But unfortunately you can't abandon kids while you search for quality. At least I didn't have to revert to Instant this time round.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Latte, Wall 280, St Kilda East

Back to the Wall again. After all these years. It's good to see they're still doing their thing. I tried to go to Dweezil, but again I was too late. I've tried to go to that place about three times since it opened, but I'm never there during business hours. I think the lesson we can all learn from this is that if you're going to open a cafe named after Frank Zappa's son, you should know that you're going to attract the Zappa-fanboy demographic, who do not operate during business hours. If you're going to start putting the chairs up at 3.30pm, you'll seldom get business from the only people who know why you named the cafe as you did.
That said, it's bad luck on my part. I often drink coffee before midday (this blog has plenty of evidence of that) but none of it has been at Dweezil. Yet.

Latte, Dancing Goat Cafe, City

Damn. I left the camera in the car. It's a shame, this caffe latte was a Kodak moment. That's a lot more useful than a Kodiak moment, where, I assume, a bear jumps out of the glass. I'll be back here, I'm sure. It is situated on my "we can't go over the CBD, we can't go through it, we'll have to go AROUND" route. I also really want to know why it is named what it is named.
I almost wrote "maned". Lions. Goats. Bears. Oh my. I'll have to go to the zoo real soon to stop these animals ottering up mid-sentence.

Latte, home

Firstly, some site news. I've added the Ryan Reads Blogs section in a tab over to the right there, which will be updated with interesting things I have found on the web recently. This is likely to replace the "In the news today, this" posts as a way of letting you know what I'm reading. If you're reading this via RSS and never look at the real site, come over and have a look. You can subscribe to the Ryan Reads Blogs feed if you really don't want to come to the site though.

Secondly, accents. I heard New Order's Sixty Miles an Hour yesterday and, aside from it making me feel like I was watching Sports Tonight, I realised that some of those lyrics only rhyme in Bernard Sumner's accent. He makes "car" rhyme with "hour".

Why don't you run over here and rescue me?

You can drive down in your car
Why don't we both take a ride and turn that key
We'll drive at 60 miles an hour

Of course, we'll never be able to explain how Iva Davies makes these two lines work in Icehouse's 1987 hit My Obsession (at about the two minute mark):

Hey boy, that girl is just no good
She's only gonna do you harm

Or maybe "hoom" is actually a word.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Espresso, home

Oh crikey. A caffeine headache. Really? After all I've been through? Just because I waited until after midday to dose up? That's worrying. It reminds me of when I first found first-hand how caffeine addiction works.
It was a few years ago, around the time I realised that sporadic interstate touring is easier when you integrate it into your normal life. I got into the habit of, for instance, packing dirty clothes in with my bass and then, after arriving in Brisbane, doing a load of washing at the hotel. Brilliant. I didn't need to schedule laundry around going to the airport, and it gave me something to do before soundcheck. I've never looked back.
Anyway. On one of these days I didn't even drink coffee. I must have gotten out of bed and gone straight to the airport, not letting "breakfast" and "coffee" get in the way of maximising my sleep-in time. We touched down in Brisbane, and I probably fell asleep at the hotel. I turned up to soundcheck with a pounding headache. There were only a few bottles of Coke in the rider (our real rider hadn't turned up yet), so I slammed one of these down pretty fast. Suddenly, I felt great. I peered down at what I was drinking.
"CONTAINS CAFFEINE," warned the warning on the label.
"Oh crap, really? Is that what all this is about? Maaan...I've got a problem!"
I probably went out and had a strong flat white at Fatboy's shortly after to celebrate.

Flat White, home

Dear Sir/Madam,
My wife and I were very excited to see this property for sale. It is exactly what we are looking for, however we are a little concerned about punctuation in that neighborhood. While we do want to live somewhere close to all the city has to offer, we also want it to be somewhere the kids will be able to ride their bikes without seeing quotation marks recklessly misused...


"The"? Why exactly are there quotation marks around that? I've been trying to pronounce the word "the" sarcastically in that sentence for five minutes and I still don't know where to start. Maybe it is actually a sly way of quoting testimonials from previous occupants.

That would have to be the poorest rat-infested excuse for four walls and a roof I've ever had the misfortune of being signed up to for twelve months. On the positive side, the incessant hammering next door at 5.00am every morning at least distracted me from the traffic.

As you can see, it's hard to truncate that into something positive. Maybe "...the..." is all you can really use. Hence:

"The" City Pad

Leaving aside Johnston being misspelled and that there should probably be a colon in place of the first comma, I'm a little worried about the courtyard that "doubles" as off street parking. What's really going on here? Am I destroying my private courtyard by parking on it, or is my balcony overlooking a slab of concrete and a roller door?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Latte, North Island, Fitzroy North

I figured this was a good idea before I head to the tennis. North Island have proven themselves very reliably ace (sorry, I promise that was my last tennis pun), and I don't want to take my chances with tennis coffee after what I saw there two weeks ago. I was about to tell you my tennis coffee story, but then realised I already have.

Latte, home

At the Australian Open this year, the latest innovation in the Things That Light Up department are the disposable martini glasses that light up. I'm not sure what they're serving in them. It looks like a Slurpee, but the martini shape makes me think it's alcoholic. I cannot think of an easier way to market alcohol to kids. Anyhow. A guy came up to our table, which had a number of finished drinks on it, including one of the light-up plastic martini glasses.
"Do you mind if I take that? My daughter really wants one."
"Sure, go for it. It wasn't ours." I tried to distance myself from the glass that had been on our table.
After he left, Lea said, "Isn't it a bit weird to go around picking up random glasses?"
"Yes, but they light up."
"So do boys, but you shouldn't go around randomly picking them up either!"

I'd like to preserve one of the stupider things that are written on the Boys Light Up Wikipedia entry, just in case it gets edited out soon for its irrelevancy:

It is estimated that the song contains the phrase "... boys light up..." over 40 times.

Wha? Surely if somebody has the wherewithal (of spare time) to add that sentence to Wikipedia, they also must surely have time to listen to the song once and keep a tally? Start counting:

Nice harmonica miming James. Nowhere near the mic, though.
I got 43, plus an additional 13 occurances of "light up", without "boys" at the start. It was harder than I thought; you have to be quick on the tally when they start doubling up towards the end of the song. One of the "boys light up" is masked by an indecipherable "aarrrllgh!" at 3'30", but I let that count in the tally too.