Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Yep. You Guessed It. MORE Eating Out.

Exciting news.  My machine finally arrived, sans grinder, a bit beat up and rather later than I had intended.  The best laid plans of mice and men.  Fortunately, Renzo from Di Bartoli has fixed me up with a grinder to pull me through 'till I get back to Melbourne.  I owe him some grumblecakes.  All of this means that the Eating Out series is coming to an end.  Yaay!
Saturday proved to be a nice opportunity to catch up with Matt, coffeegeek extraordinaire, who was generous enough to take me on a tour of a few little haunts that I would probably never have otherwise gotten around to ...  I really ought to take notes, as I am already having difficulty remembering what I had for breakfast this morning, let alone what I did on the weekend.

Ringa's Cafe, Marsfield (?)

A neat little place in a university type suburb.  The , particularly the funky water bottles.  In the spirit of internet-stories-cum-reviews getting stuck into relatively inconsequential minutii, I have to say that I hate the font Comic Sans with the fiery passion of ten thousand suns.  Glad I got that off my chest ;P  (It will make more sense when/if I get around to uploading photos for this adventure.)

Matt and I started off with an espresso.  It struck me that the flavours were oddly separate ... almost as though there were two liquids in the cup, sitting side by side.  The shot ended with an intense cocoa flavour that persisted for quite a while.  This was cocoa proper, not chocolate - it was somewhat dry and savoury.  In a good way.  However, the shot began with a flavour that I can only remember as being rather unpleasant.  I seem to remember it being a bit sour to start off with or something like that.  Hopefully Matt will post up if he remembers.  Matt and I followed the espresso with some milk drinks of some description.  I do remember that the first sips started with the same let-down, but the cocoa flavour certainly came into its own.

Kafenio, Cronulla

Yes, we drove to the other side of the city!  Kafenio reminds me of some of the old-school cafes in Melbourne, like Mario's Coffee and Candy.  I am quite sure that if I stared at their sign for long enough I would be transported back into the 1950s.  (Again, wait for the photo.)  The shop itself is quite tiny.  A constellation of random espresso cups from all over the place peppers the walls.  (Reminds me of the drawer beneath my espresso machine ;P)  Some bright spark had the idea of putting an office style water cooler by the front door to ward off the heat.  Perhaps they're hoping to stimulate conversation.

We took a seat outside and ordered some food.  Fortunately, there was plenty of seating on the sidewalk.  In contradistinction to the actual shop, lunch had generous proportions.  In fact, watching six dishes come out at the same time was like watching a clown car trick at the circus.  The plates looked like they were bigger than whatever kitchen area they have!  And man I love bacon.  (Hmm ... bacongeek.com isn't registered ...)

Espresso on a hot and sunny day is bound to disappoint.  In this respect, Kafenio didn't disappoint.  (Think it through ... continue reading ... good ...)  The first sips were quite violent, reminding me of cheap and nasty stale coffee.  Fortunately, once the crema was aside, what was underneath was simple, rich in mouthfeel and somewhat sweet.  In hindsight, I ought to have also ordered a coffee with some moo juice in it, but at that stage my dreams were porcine, not bovine.

Grind, Cronulla

A stone's throw from the beach, it was kind of odd to find a cafe without outdoor seating.  The guys running the place obviously enjoy themselves; the walls are plastered with photos of people around the world holding up signs saying "I'd rather be at Grind," and the specials board asks "are you a goose or are uganda?"  Perhaps what you'd expect from a place that has a sign that looks like it came off a 1980's T-shirt.  (I figured that I should mention signs again; I seem to be on a roll.)

The Ugandan robusta that we tried first was interesting.  Massive crema bubbles, monster mouthfeel and less of a medicinal/chemical type taste than I have had from some of the Indian robustas.  Good fun, but the taint wasn't quite kosher.  Or perhaps that was just a hangover from the bacon.  The main blend was a better experience; balanced and heavy in mouthfeel, but I can't for the life of me remember any more about it than that, other than wondering whether the main blend also contained robusta.

Of the shots that I had on the day, I'd say that Grind was the prize pig.  This is odd, seeing as most of the time people seem to remember coffees from earlier in the day as being better.  Judging from the latte art photos on the wall and the espresso shot, it looks like Grind's milk drinks bring home the bacon, but unfortunately there's more chance of pigs flying than of me fitting another trip to Cronulla into my schedule.  Fortunately, having been reunited with my espresso machine, I am pigging out at home.  Nearly half a kilo of coffee pucks attest to my tragic binge, but for the moment I'm as happy as a pig in mud.

OK, I need a BLT.