Saturday, August 7, 2010

Great Cafes: Milano's Cafe Bianco Latte







Milano is the birthplace of the ECM (espresso coffee machine, NOT electret condenser microphone! LOL!). Also the birthplace of Dolce e Gabbana. OK, caffeine and fashion, not anybody's ideal mix!

While I did look around the city for those glitzy designer boutiques, my true radar was fixed on coffee.

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The journey to a latte starts from the first step. Via Turati...



This cafe could've easily passed off as "uninteresting"... until you actually bother to stop by, drop in and sit down. The exterior looked essentially chic but seriously, you need more than chicness to entice a true coffee lover into the Venus flytrap.

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Entering Cafe Bianco Latte is like entering a white-washed fantasy playground... This is a place you know, will take your coffee presentation seriously. I paid special attention to its many house merchandise, hoping to get a few before I leave Milano. (But I never made it back to Bianco after this visit!)

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Window dressing at Cafe Bianco Latte...


I didn't stay long at this lovely cafe. Would've loved to, if not for a canine visitor panting and drooling away in a corner. Dogs and I don't mix. Unless it's a hotdog!

But I did promise my travel buddy Wahdi we will drop by again - sans canine!

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This cup now sits handsomely in my showcase...


I must return to this cafe one day...





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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Coffee Collectibles: Coffee Advertising Mugs






It's almost natural that coffee lovers are into collecting coffee mugs... I am no exception...

While I cannot consider myself a serious coffee mug collector, my collection is getting bigger all the time! Most of which are gifts from friends and family members who know I would anytime appreciate a coffee-themed gift!

These mugs I feature here are the latest additions... I have picked them up from the neighbourhood mall... Nothing fancy, just some ordinary mugs modelled after vintage coffee advertising graphics...


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Mother's Coffee? Not true! I have picked up coffee-drinking from both my maternal and paternal grandmothers...



These mugs, if they last that long, will surely serve me well when I run my own cafe in the future...

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In the meantime, they will need to sit very quietly in the display cabinet, along with all their friends... One day, they will be serving good coffee... handcrafted by me!






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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Great Cafes: Mobile Baristas of Jakarta






No, I have not been busy planning my next vacation! It's way too early for that... but then again, I have been known to be sporadic in decision-making... *sigh*

No, I am a tad busy working on some additional side-income business... One must make enough to afford all the travelling! LOL! And I have been working on going back to school, too... So, I will be busier in future but nothing can stop me from travelling!

Jakarta has been a city I find hard to describe... Being a neighbouring country to where I live does not make the country easily understood. It has ALL the similarities but then, the similarities are somewhat differentiations as well...

One specific thing I noticed about Jakarta was her mobile baristas. Yes, mobile, baristas...


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The first mobile barista I flagged down...


He would walk for kilometers to peddle his brew. By which I suspect, the hot water in his thermos would get cold on the way. Look, a thermos could lose temperature when it is opened too often...


Although stirring a cup of instant 3-in-1 coffee hardly qualifies him to be called a barista, one must not forget the role he plays in choosing the right one for you.

Tell him how you like your cup of joe, and leave it to him to pick one for you...

Some are luckier. They are more mobile:

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A smiling barista... and he's no Starbucks employee, OK?


I tailed a few of these mobile baristas to their "headquarters" on Jalan M.H.Thamrin 6, somewhere near the Bangkok Bank and Bank Rama...


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Ready to go...



I was most tempted to try a cup of "handcrafted" coffee from these boys but the travel guide book warned me of water quality in Jakarta. Getting a sick tummy isn't going to be a memorable coffee experience, so I had to quickly decline the thought...






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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Travel Story: Jakarta's Mobile Barista





Jakarta has never appealed to me as a vacation destination. I never thought there was anything interesting there for me. My dad was a frequent visitor to Jakarta, mostly for business. Heard so much about Jakarta from him. But still not convinced!

So, when boredom set upon me one day last year, I decided to give Jakarta the chance to show what it has to offer me...

I checked into a premium hotel just two doors away from Jakarta's only 24-hour Starbucks. And eagerly awaited to see what unfolds...

The next morning, I stumbled upon something I don't see in my native country...


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There she goes...


Move over, Rocket Man mobile backpack coffee dispenser! Here comes Jakarta's a la carte mobile barista!

More about Jakarta's "coffee-on-demand" mobile kiosks in a later entry!






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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Travel Sights: Seriously Severe!






Once in a while, I come across names and signboards that make more sense than what is obvious... And at times, I just laugh because they make no sense at all!

Spotted this lingerie shop somewhere in Mendrisio, Switzerland:

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Pa-what?...


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Parah in my national language means severe, like, severe injury... LOL!






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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Travel Sights: Walkway Biscuits





You may have walked a thousand miles in a city... but do know it inside out? When you looked around, you would have looked up, too...

But have you looked down?

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Early morning buzz on a Parisian street...


Have you noticed those metal "shields" that popped up every now and then as you walked?

They are manhole covers... and they have little stories of their own to tell...

Some are round, others are square or rectangular... Some are cast-iron, others are concrete... But they all come in various sizes! And colours!



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A rectangular one in Como, northern Italy...


We trampled over them, some even spat at them unknowingly... And some had their heels stuck in their gaps!


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This one must have been here since they first set foot on the island of Mykonos.


Nicknamed "biscuits", these manhole covers are to prevent us passers-by from falling into deep, dark, labyrinth-like networks of tunnels... They hide passages to sewage chutes, gas pipes, and drainage trunks away from our prying eyes.

I always find them fascinating... I can spend hours tracking each one down and photographing them... I like how they put in some elements of design to make them functionally presentable... They look like pieces of artwork intentionally embedded into our walkways as if to make the streets look decorated...

But above all, they are a testimony of what have been laid under, sometimes decades ago... And in London, it isn't difficult to see one which could easily date back to the reign of Queen Victoria...

They have been some which are so cute-looking; and as they dot the street, they look like a handsome string of shirt buttons from afar...

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A cute small one...







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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Great Cafes: Giselle's Suisse Cafe, Mykonos






What would I have done without this little cafe, tucked in an obscure street of the Mykonos chora? How often do you find a good cafe during a short holiday, but long enough to fall in love with it?


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My favourite hang out almost every morning in Mykonos...


Suisse Cafe looks cutesy from far - probably why it has that attraction power that somehow entices you to come close. As if that isn't reason enough to check them out, you'll be greeted by the friendliest face around. Meet Giselle, the owner.


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Giselle speaking to some customers...


Giselle runs this cafe single-handedly. How did she serve so many people and still find time to make them feel at home, is really beyond me. Pesky McD counter staff have loads to learn from Giselle.


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Is she the coffee pied-piper? She got me tailing her into her bar...


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Infectious disposition... Everybody seems to enjoy a tete-a-tete with Giselle!



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Giselle and I got acquainted instantly. And before we knew it, we were already talking serious coffee business...

Mykonos is an island quite a distance from the Greece mainland. To get her fresh supply of coffee, the type that she wants, she had to make frequent trips to Athens! Wow, such commitment!

But when a person is passionate about coffee, no distance is too far, and no trouble is too big... That probably explains why Giselle displayed such steadfastness in running the cafe alone, and still commanding the situation...

Giselle was such a fun person! I could see some Samantha Brown wittiness in her, and yet there was this certain motherly warmth... The interior of her cafe showed the fun side of her, with cute little bric-a-bracs in every corner...

All the mornings I was there, I had ordered only Greek coffee, while my travel mate Wahdi went with something milder, usually a latte or even a cappuccino...


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Fancy some cappuccino, served in a Coca-Cola glass?


Why Greek coffee for me? I somehow find the woody grind that she used actually went very well with such a thick brew... Woody coffee needs time to develop its full flavor and that probably works well with the slow-dreging that takes place in a Greek coffee...


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My Greek coffee.. hand-brewed by Giselle herself...


I didn't know there's a specific way to drink Greek coffee. Giselle somehow sensed that I was totally new to Greece, Greek culture and... Greek coffee! She took sometime to explain to me how Greek coffee is brewed and how it's supposed to be sipped. What I can say is, Greek coffee is one thing you don't order if you are rushing off somewhere..

Greek coffee, explained Giselle, must be given time for its dreg to settle in. In fact, they don't call it "mud coffee" for nothing, referring to the thick sediment that sinks as you drink...

Greek coffee... How heavenly!

While in Mykonos, I bought myself two ibriks - I hope to make some decent Greek coffee soon! In the meantime, have a tour of Giselle's cafe at my travel buddy's blog here...






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