Martha is baking me a cake that has two of my favourite ingredients: chocolate and coffee (espresso, to be exact). I came across this ad, produced a few years ago for the Italian manufacturer Zaini and its Kofli products.
One of my favourite drinks is a flat white, which is pretty much like a latte ... but (since we're being exact and pedantic) not quite.
The following chart, as seen here, helpfully lays out what ingredients go into what drink, although I'll note that I've been given several precise - and varying - definitions for exactly a flat white is!
[Surf’s Up, as published in the St. John's Telegram on Thursday, February 16, 2012.]
We’re going to hop, skip and jump around the digital neighbourhood, with stops for wine lovers, music buffs and aspiring Star Wars villains.
Let’s not waste a second.
Darth Maul Me The re-release of the Phantom Menace didn’t exactly stir my excitement, but I have to admit I had a laugh with this free app available from the official Star Wars site. Take a new picture or one from your library, make some taps and tweaks, and voila: you have the red, tattoeed and horned face of a Sith master. (Or Sith apprentice, to be precise.) It’s even more fun with kids.
Natalie MacLean: Wine Picks and Pairings Based in Canada, MacLean has earned a global reputation as a wine writer, and now has an app to complement a growing list of publications. Her newest book is Unquenchable, which focuses on bargains in the wine store; MacLean will be in St. John’s soon to promote it. The app is free, although you can pay for full access to reviews. A great feature: a barcode scanner that you can use while browsing at the NLC. MacLean also offers exhaustive suggestions for finding a good wine to match your food, and vice versa.
One Brilliant Bottle A couple of years ago, St. John’s novelist Kevin Major undertook an ambitious blogging project: picking one wine each week, and producing a small essay about it. Each was illustrated with rich photographs. The idea was to do 52 wines (Major specializes in organic and biodynamic selections) in as many weeks. Encouraged by the response, Major kept it going for another year. Now that 2012 is underway, Major has happily decided to keep updating the site, and few would be upset that the new entries come at a more leisurely pace. It’s one of my weekend reading pleasures.
Coffee Music Here’s a blog in a similar vein. Creator Josh Hooten intends to take a photograph every day this year of a coffee as he enjoys it, with a note about the music he’s listening to at the time. These happen to be two of my most favourite subjects, so I am a little biased. A daily pace is a bit of a grind and Hooten has been struggling to keep pace, although I intend to keep checking … in part for some random musical inspiration as I enjoy my own coffee break.
Valentine Abbey Valentine’s Day may have come and gone, but Downtown Abbey fans will relish these amusing virtual cards, any day of the year.
40 Noises that Built Pop From Word, the excellent British music magazine, here is a tribute to specific noises that made rock music what it is, from the sweeping glissando on a piano (think of the opening sound of Abba’s Dancing Queen) to the power chord (thank you, Kinks) to the fretless bass (a little jazz making its way into the rock world). The best part? You can play an audio sample to hear precisely what each entry is describing.
Donna Ramsay Photography Ramsay was among the recent winners of the Newfoundland and Labrador Bloggers’ Choice awards, in the photo category. Her blog showcases her work, particularly in portraits, and largely in black and white. The drawback? It’d be nice to see more frequent updates.
Scale of the universe Play a little big bang theory from the comfort of your own home, with a slider that shows you things that are small (an earthworm) or incredibly small (the nucleus of an atom, which is many times larger again than other options) and things that are large and then incredibly … well, you get the picture. Consider it bit of mind-blowing activity to put everything else in perspective.
John Gushue is an editor with CBC News in St. John’s. Twitter: @johngushue.
A few years ago, Martha gave me the nickname of Coffee Minion, as - in the division of household labour that we've worked out over the last, um, 26 years or so - I make the coffee. (Rather well, I might add.) Here's the scene from this morning.
I saw this episode play out several days ago when I was in Toronto on business.
A young man in a business suit is ahead of me in the morning lineup at a busy coffee shop, ordering a latte. "I want a single shot of espresso, and then another shot, and then do that milk thing," he says.
"Oh - you want a double," says the woman behind the counter.
"Noooo," he says, "That's different. I want it to have two single shots, and then you can do that milk thing."
The woman, who must have been struggling not to roll her eyes, says, "Of course."
Later, while we were waiting for our orders, I notice she had circled the "double" box on the paper cup anyway.
A snap of one of the coffee runs of late. Dave, who operates the canteen at the CBC building (a small business of one, but an appreciated one; he sustains us every weekday) is enjoying his vacation and hopefully decent weather. That's left those of us with coffee habits to wander out ... and for me, it's an excuse to a) get some air and exercise and b) clear my head. Nice things, but I can't wait for Dave to be back!
As I've mentioned, we were in San Diego in June for a family vacation. A bit of a working one for Martha, as she had a conference to attend. Our home base was the hotel where the conference was held, just few dozen metres from San Diego's harbour. Nearby was a place called Seaport Village, a cluster of shops, restaurants, boutiques and atractions that seemed to cater largely to visitors, although I imagine a lot of the business also comes from the southern California area.
Tucked in the area was a bookstore that became a hangout for us, partly because of the excellent coffee, partly because of the free wifi ... and definitely partly because it just felt comfortable.
It's very much the kind of bookstore I'd love to see in St. John's.
The Upstart Crow is in a building that seems like a cottage; if you didn't look at the surrounding buildings, you'd think you were in an English village.
It's what's inside, though, that mattered. The Upstart Crow has a fair bit of room. It has two levels, although the upper one is more of a partial attic, holding some of the books. It serves a variety of foods to go along with the coffee, with a cafe inside. The seating area is obscured in the shot below by a section of the bookshelves.
The selection of books wasn't particularly unusual; the pastries were not exemplary; the novelties and cards (a real profit centre of an independent bookstore, I'm guessing) can be found in other places.
But it all came together. The store had a vibe. We wanted to go there, just to relax and unwind. Nick and I played checkers on a table while Martha browsed the books; we stretched our legs and read quietly at the end of the day; we stopped in for a caffeine hit before we set out on the day's adventure. We never once felt rushed when we tapped into the complimentary wifi to catch up on the news. And, yes, we spent a fair bit there over the week.
It's something that's missing in the local retail scene.
We dropped in to the newly opened Best Buy on Stavanager today, and braved the crowds. I went up to the nearby tiny box that will be a Second Cup drive-thru. I'm not that excited about yet another drive-thru, but it's not bad having another option for stopping for a coffee and a read.
I snapped this quickly a week or two ago at the Second Cup outlet at the Avalon Mall. Maybe the pricing board has been like this for a while and I've just never noticed, but it struck me that when you buy beans there, you don't pay by the pound (I've become accustomed, what with the rise in prices in the last year, to shell out at least $15 for a decent variety, although I've also been keen ) but by the 100 grams. After all, it certainly sounds better to be paying somewhere between $3.50 and $4 for each pricing unit ... even though many customers will still buy a pound.
Before settling on a name inspired by the first mate in the novel Moby-Dick, the founders of Starbucks had first thought about calling the enterprise Pequods, after Capt. Ahab's ship. It didn't roll right off the tongue, and hence the switch. More here.
Dot Dot Dot is Morse code for the letter 'S,' the full message Guglielmo Marconi claimed to have received atop Signal Hill in St. John's in 1901. It ushered in the age of telecommunications. My maternal grandfather worked as a telegraph operator for Canadian Marconi on Signal Hill for many years.
As well, I have a habit of overusing the ellipsis when I write ... as frequent readers might notice.