Archive for September, 2005

Another great site

So, it’s a bit tacky, childish, etc. But I really think it’s great. Check out Natalie Dee’s site for a good laugh. One of her desktop images is on mine at the moment. People think I drew it, but no, I am leeching off this quirky Columbus, OH based artist. I was going to post today’s drawing, but she expressly forbids this without her permission. And I’m too lazy to seek it. So anyways, check out today’s. It’s titled “today’s lesson”. Hilarious. Watch out though, her site uses coarse language and other more adult forms of humor, so she rates it as 18+ only…


My New Job

So it’s official: I am the latest member of the Wicked Café on Vancouver’s west side. I worked a 4.5 hour shift today. No bar. I didn’t even want to go near that thing. Yet. Brad (the owner) is installing the new La Marzocco GB5 on Wednesday night, so it’s going to be fun then!

No, my tasks today involved making a lot of sandwiches (more than I would at Thistle’s on a busy day) – and they are good looking sandwiches! Artisan bread, quality meats and other ingredients that make them just that much better than pretty much anything available on the Calgary market (I can think of a few exceptions). Yeah. Cool stuff. I washed a lot of dishes too. My hands didn’t like that, but honestly, I don’t mind doing dishes.

The place was hopping today. In fact, I’m pretty sure this place did more business in my 4 hours today then I would have seen in a couple of weeks… and that’s not much of an exaggeration, if at all. I guess it’s just the Vancouver market (especially this one). Everybody was drinking lattes or americanos, with the occasional espresso or cappa. Oh yeah, a cool thing about Wicked is they only do a traditional cappa – 5-6 oz in a ceramic cup. I like that.

Anyways, I’m back there on Tuesday night, where I shall be trained some more. I need it. Today went by lightning fast.

A pretty cool utility/website

I started using this about a week ago. It’s a music listening tracker that allows you to do many things, simply based on your musical tastes. It’s like a community site… with purpose. It’s called Audioscrobbler. I use it a lot for tracking my recent habits, as well as checking out artist recommendations. The site will give you a huge list of artists based on what you have been listening too. Best of all is that the recommendations are weighted, so you know how much you really should be listening to a certain band. My profile is here.

Venturing farther out

So I’ve hit two more shops that I was told I should go to. I wanted to go to both and it was just a matter of time.

Last week, I made it down to JJ Bean on Main St and W 14th. Cool shop, cool neighborhood. Sometimes I get the feeling that I’m in a different country when walking the more international streets of Vancouver there’s just that much of an ethnic presence. I swear there’s a sushi place on every block. Anyways, JJ has quite the setup at this location. 4 grinders (2 being Roburs) and 2 Lineas. Yes, that’s right: 2 Lineas. They also pull two espresso blends there, at least for the time being. They do Nero Forte for milk drinks (it’s a dark roast) and their very nice Palomino Organic, used as a straight espresso. I got a shot of both, and a traditional cappuccino. The Nero wasn’t my style, a wee bit too harsh due to the dark roast. I must give it and the barista it’s due though, as I think it was one of the better dark roast espressos I’ve had. The Palomino on the other hand was very nice. Smooth, caramel notes and a great blend all around. Volume was comparable to other top shops around. The cappuccino was also very good, with a wet consistency (although I was asked if I wanted it dry or wet), no large bubbles kicking around, and some reasonable art. I would go back. Barista was great too, chatted with him for a bit on the local scene and he seemed to be on the ball for the most part.

Today, I went to Prado on Commercial and E 4th. Check out photos of the place on cGeek. I saw those photos back in May, when this was posted, and I thought that this was a place for me (big fan of minimalist decor). Had a double espresso, as I was already fairly coffeed from a trip to the Elysian earlier. It took awhile for the shot, but I’m always okay with that at shops like these. The Mazzer Super Jolly was used, not the Swift, which is good. Got the shot in a wide mouthed preheated demitasse that looked like it would be fun for macchiatos along with a glass of water. Shot was quite nice. The aroma took me off guard at first (still trying to remember what it was reminiscent of). However, it wasn’t quite my style of shot. The body was slightly less than I prefer, resulting in a mouthfeel bordering on thin. Maybe this is attributable to the blend – Artigiano’s new FT/Org espresso 49 Parallel. I’ll be back though.

I may have a barista job too, but it’s not formal yet, so I won’t say any more about it.

In beer news, I have tried several more Belgians that I have not tried before. I acquired several at a specialty BCL location. So far, I have opened up Chimay Rood (a dubbel), Chimay Blauw (a strong dark), Trappist Achel (a tripel) and an odd one from England, Thomas Hardy’s Ale, a bottle conditioned numbered vintage Old Ale. Hardy’s was an odd one. It has almost no carbonation, has 11.7% alcohol in volume and has a bouquet of raisins, molasses, dates and burnt toast. The taste is fairly similar, and has a syrupy mouthfeel. At $4.50 for a 8.5 oz. bottle, I don’t know if it will be bought again, but it was an interesting experience. The Chimays were brilliant and the Trappist Achel was very good. I still have two Abbaye des Rocs (brune and Speciale Noel) as well as a Rodenbach Grand Cru and a Westmalle Tripel. I cannot wait for the Westmalle.

But, I must eat. It’s half past six in the evening, and the dining hall closes at 7.

My local spot

I’m a pretty lucky guy. From my room in UBC’s Tec de Monterrey house, I can walk to a bus loop in ten minutes. At this bus loop, I can catch the 99 B-Line, which is always at the loop (it runs more often than Calgary’s C-Train) and in twenty minutes, be at the corner of Broadway and Granville. Two blocks from there, I can be at Brad’s Wicked Cafe, home of an incredible selection of Intelligentsia coffees and a very cool atmosphere. Five blocks from there, I can be at Alistair’s Elysian Room, home of highly consistent excellent espresso and other drinks. Everything there is très stylish, serving many of their drinks in glassware, and some in the Bodum Pavina series of double walled, mouthblown, borosilicate glasses. But I digress.

One thing I must admit is my almost blind admiration for any shot pulled at Elysian. I’ve discussed this with Nick, one of the most excellent baristas there, and I attribute this to coming back from Calgary. Anything tastes good compared to what I can get in Calgary. Nick says this attitude will wear off soon, very soon, and I kind of hope so, because I hate not having a sufficiently trained or adjusted palate to be critical about the shots I get. Even if I keep my criticisms to myself. Mind you, I think the shots I have been getting there have been very nice (intense, rich and bittersweet chocolate, especially at the finish, a rarity with most espresso).

I’ve been told to check out a few other shops around, despite my satisfaction with sticking with the Elysian Room. Prado, on Commercial is one I want to check out, if not for espresso, but the decor. The pictures on Coffeegeek make it seem like quite the place. As well, I met Robert from coffeegeek (dasein), and he insisted I pay a visit to JJ Bean on Main and 14th. Apparently the set up is awe inspiring – two 3 group Lineas, 2 Mazzer majors and 2 Roburs. That’s what I’m talking about.

Currently, I’ve been pressing Kenyan AA from Hines, which is quite nice, and I’m still going on the Intelligentsias left over from my cupping session. Alex acquired some of the new Palomino Espresso blend from JJ as well, so we pressed some last night, to quite positive results. For my tastes, it’s slightly rounded, a good sign from an espresso blend, but it means a less distinctive cup from the press.

Until next time,

PS. This is where I live

On the loudspeakers

So recently, I have gotten into a bit of different music. It’s not that I don’t like my old standby progressive house, but it appears that this is just another one of those seasonal downturns as all the DJs recover from their summer long tours. I don’t even want to imagine their hangovers! So, at the residence here, since we’re all hooked into the same LAN, iTunes lets you share your music with the other residents. I found one library that I can drool over. Most of the others consist of the same old: mainstream (c)rap, boy bands, crooners and the occasional indie band thrown in, it is after all university. But this one I found belongs to Christine. I have not met her in person, but boy do I ever. Her collection is large (bigger than mine, and not many on the LAN are), and it includes albums from Metric, whom I am seeing tonight live, !!! (chk, chk,chk), Architecture in Helsinki, Bloc Party, Boards of Canada, Death From Above 1979 and a lot of others. When her collection goes mainstream, it’s still respectable: the Beatles, Coldplay, CCR, David Bowie, etc. So I’ve been checking out what she has to offer, because there is so much on there that I haven’t heard of, and that’s a bit rare for me, a constant reader of Exclaim, FFWD, the Discorder (UBC’s CITR paper) and other papers.

At the moment, I am really getting into Death From Above 1979. Yes, that’s right, I am into a heavier bass and drum duo. I didn’t see that one coming, but it’s really good stuff. Distorted and breakneck fast. Very nice stuff. We were playing it in the CITR studio during my training. Sounds good on professional sound systems. Kind of makes you want to break stuff.

What else is on the playlist? A lot of local Calgary bands, thanks to the 90.9 With A Bullet CJSW album, I am listening to Shecky Formé and Reverie Sound Revue. I also enjoy former Calgarian and Torontonian, now Parisian, Leslie Feist. Her stuff is on the most excellent Arts and Crafts label and is very downtempo.

Anyways, I figure that’s it.

On the coffee side of things, I have been fairly low key, due to a sore throat/head cold. But, I acquired some Hines Kenya coffee, recently roasted (it was within a week) and it is playing out very nicely. More people on the floor are becoming aware of my obsession, as I brought out my press and made some Perla de Oaxaca for a girl from Turkey. She has already declared it an excellent cup of coffee.

First day of classes

Totally non-espresso related: I finished up my first day of classes just now. I had four of them: EOSC 110 (geology), EOSC 112 (atmospheric sciences & oceanography), MATH 102 (calculus) and BIOL 111 (cellular and organismal biology). They seem alright, with some classes looking better than others: geology and bio. Calculus I can deal with, but it took me a bit to get into that math groove. I’m not sure about EOSC 112… the prof is a bit sketchy, but I can deal with him. It’s an interesting syllabus, so we’ll see how it goes. Tomorrow I have english and physics.

The campus here is pretty big, but I can still get to my classes fairly quickly (within the allotted 10 minutes). I don’t know why people claim you need a bike to get over to the health sciences complex from Vanier (my residence), when it’s only about half a kilometre. I was sick today (a cold of sorts) and walked slower than normal and it still only took me about 7 minutes to walk over there.

In other news, I joined the Bike Co-op here. It’s pretty cool, and my membership gives me free shop time as well as discounts and access to their resources. I got some Netti gloves (just like yours Jon!) for about $18. Good deal. In half an hour I have a tour (the start of volunteering) at CITR, the university radio station. I’ve already talked to a few people, and it seems really cool, and not as political as CJSW. Maybe I’ll have my own show soon! (We’ll see about that though…)

For coffee, I have been relying on my stash of Intelligentsia: La Perla Oaxaca and Musasa. I bought some Avalon Farms cream (it wasn’t much more than the standard cream) and it seems to really complement La Perla. In the Musasa, it just seems to increase the woodiness of the coffee. As well, I picked up a couple of Bodum Pavina 12 oz. double walled borosilicate tumblers from Alistair. They work for cold and hot drinks, insulate well and are very, very cool. Check them out on the Bodum site. On the beer side of things, I have found that MacAuslan St. Ambroise is available for $3 less than Alberta’s prices. I can get it for $11 at the BCL. Pretty good deal, considering that’s the price of any other standard microbrewer (Big Rock, Okanagan Springs, Granville Island). I’ve also picked up some Granville Island Hefeweizen and was pleasantly surprised: it’s good stuff.

Anyways, I best be off to the SUB for my station tour. I will add more coffee news hopefully this weekend.

Imbibe safely,

On tap

49th Parallel El Salvador La Montaña
Excellent coffee for everyday drinking. Well expressed acidity and classic El Salvador profile.

Bulleit Bourbon
By far the best bourbon available in BC for the price. $35 for a bottle gets you the highest rye content bourbon on the market. Lots of spice and typical bourbon corn sweetness. Excellent on its own, but also makes a mean Old Fashioned. Better than Knob Creek in my books and pretty close to Woodford Reserve.

The Phonograph

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