Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Long Black, a Flat White, and a Spider

If this is coffee, then please-bring me some tea. But if this is tea, please bring me some coffee" - Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

Can I get a three quarter double-shot fifty-fifty coffee decaf soy latte with one and a quarter Equal in a take-away cup; make it bonzoi" - from "The Life Organic", Dom and Adrian

Oh no! The Melbourne coffee scene is coming to New York.

But I suppose it was only a matter of time, because in reality the Melbourne coffee scene is quintessentially New York; in fact it WAS "New York" even before it came here. Pre avant garde if such a thing is possible.

The coffee culture à la Australien hit the "Menu Pages" column of New York Magazine (February 2012) where "flat whites" and "long blacks" are described in words that New Yorkers can understand.

A long black is defined as "a sort of antipodean reverse Americano (hot water first, expresso second)". And a "flat white"? "a single or double shot topped with milk that's been steamed into velvety 'wet' foam, smaller and less milky than a latte, served in a cappuccino cup but without the froth."

Surprisingly "Menu Pages" doesn't go into the decaf soy thing; perhaps because they've already arrived here. I wouldn't know, as I never get to Brooklyn, which I think of as a soy decaf latte organic kinda place.

When I'm not at work I tend to stay on my island, in Manhattan that is.

Most Manhattanites are like me - loathe to stray into any of the other boroughs, though most of us HAVE been to Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens. That leaves Staten Island. I've never been there. I used to think that I was unusual in that respect, but recently one of my New York friends mentioned in passing, with an element of horror in her voice, that she had to go to Staten Island to meet with her new attorney. "What's it like?" I asked her.

"Oh I have no idea," she told me. "I only went there once and that was forty five years ago on a school excursion and we only just stepped off on the pier for a sec when the ferry stopped before taking us back."

There's so much to do in Manhattan, and even seasoned New Yorkers can always find something new. Last night for example, my friend Babs who has lived here since the seventies, took me somewhere she's never been before - to "Bill's" on East 54th. She wanted to go there because it is about to close and so it was now or never.

"Bill's Silver Dollar Bar" opened in the mid 1920's when Bill Hardy converted the five-story brownstone into one of New York's most prominent and celebrated speakeasies.

"What are the bar's favorite cocktails?", Babs asked the food waiter when we were seated in restaurant upstairs. "We aren't that sort of place; I suppose you could get you a Manhattan or a Whisky Sour," he said.

"Oh, I don't like whisky," said Babs, declining the Manhattan. "I'll take the Whisky Sour." ... That's the sort of night it was.

Sergio's "Doggie Bag"
The waiter was right about the drinks menu. We ordered wine from the less than extensive wine list, and then crab cakes as the main course. Babs could only eat one crab cake, and New York style asked the food waiter to wrap the left-overs for her to take home.

When the waiter returned he was flourishing his own creation - "Sergio's Doggie Bag". It is meant to look like a silver swan. Fitting, as Babs is from Western Australia.

It was Babs who gave me the cutting from the New York Magazine about the coffee. We chatted on and on, until we both got our second wind when we chatted on some more. When we left to go home, we passed the Silver Dollar bar, now raucous and crowded.

Drinkers at the Silver Dollar Bar
On my way home in the cab I fished out the cutting Babs had given me, and thought about Melbourne. And remembered an old Leunig cartoon from last century - a diner at a café is being offered a "flat white", a "long black" or a "spider", and the bubble showing his imagination contains a flattened white guy lying Casper-like on the street, a tall black guy, and, well yes, a "spider". A real one that is, with eight legs. Not the drink.

Yes, the drink, for the Americans out there, which is a glass of Australian lemonade flavored with a pink, yellow or green coloring with a ball of vanilla ice cream dissolving in it.

Those were the days my friend ...

1 comment:

Boggy said...

Love the 'flat white'

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