Colin's Journal: A place for thoughts about politics, software, and daily life.
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Today I booked tickets for a week-long visit to Toronto. It’ll be one of the more peculiar trips I’ve taken; visiting an old home that still houses most of my possessions, a city that I know and friends that I’ve left behind. The trip is scheduled for 22nd April, a good couple of months away yet.
Last weekend was mostly a lazy one. On Friday I met up with Easter Bunny, Aca and Haggis The Second for dinner at a small restaurant called Pierino’s. On Saturday I had intended to get up early and catch the sun, instead I got up late, perfectly timed for the skies to have clouded over.
Sunday was also rather cloudy, but I decided to go for a walk along the river anyway. I can’t say much for the pictures, but it was definitely good to get out the camera again. The move over here has kept me busy enough the past two months that I’ve not really had the chance to get out and take photos. Hopefully a bit more effort on my part will take me out into London this weekend for more photography.
Another goal is to head out to enjoy some live music. It was only occasionally that we would go to see live music in Toronto, at the excellent Hugh’s Room and the Dora Keogh, but it’s something I’d like to do more of.
Canary Wharf, and the docklands in general, is a peculiar part of London. On the one hand they look like any typical North American city, full of sharp angles, glass and brushed metal. Yet it’s an area of London that certainly isn’t typical, more like a city within a city.
Like a lot of people I have particular tastes when it comes to coffee. I like dark, rich tasting coffee. The kind of coffee that’s full of flavour. Flavour that you can sit and analyse in much the same way as you would a good wine.
Most coffees that you buy in shops and at restaurants tend to be either watery, or strong but bland. The exception is espresso, which if you buy from a coffee shop, can be excellent in flavour. Buying espresso in restaurants usually doesn’t work. It’s probably a combination of the low volume they produce (resulting in lack of expertise and older coffee beans) and the failure to treat the espresso correctly (use a warmed cup and bring to the table as fast as possible).
For the last few years I’ve been buying ground coffee and using a Cafetiere (AKA French Press) to make reasonable tasting coffee at home. The result is certainly better than filter coffee, and usually above the taste of most coffee you can buy while out and about. One of the downsides of this approach however is that you are relying on the coffee shop staff to be competent at their jobs. The only way to ensure you get coarse ground coffee put through the non-flavoured coffee grinder is to watch them like a hawk and be ready to speak up when they get it wrong.
As my first step on the ladder of coffee obsessiveness I received a Rancilio Rocky for Christmas this year. Although the grinder turned up a week and half ago it is only this weekend that I went out of my way to get some good coffee beans to go with it. Following recommendations from a suppliers in the UK site I went into town to visit H. R Higgins (Coffee-man) Ltd.
The selection of available beans is impressive, almost to the point of being overwhelming. Several varieties were pointed out as being likely to appeal given my criteria, and of them I chose the Kibo Chagga. Although my taste buds are currently dulled by a cold, I have still been very impressed with my choice. Freshly ground Kibo Chagga made in a Cafetiere produces a very fine cup of coffee indeed. When I next need to get some more beans I’ll have a dilemma, do I go with something that I know is very good, or explore the alternatives in search of something that might be even better?
Remember summer? The season with warmth and flowers lives on in photographs from our holiday to Nova Scotia. The weather this weekend has been grey, although with no rain. Maybe next week I’ll grab the camera and take some of the sights of London.
Copyright 2009 Colin Stewart