June 28, 2011

Back in the USSA, Part II: Apologies, and Food & Drink

First off, let me apologize for the lack of spam moderation in the comments while I was away. I checked the blog a few days ago and was appalled. So please accept my apologies -- except for all of you who are enjoying a bargain basement NFL replica jersey you bought through the comments thread on this blog.

Second, some of you know I waged a long but ultimately successful insurgency to get CNAS to change its coffee machine, which could credibly claim until earlier this year to be the worst in Washington. And since this blog's readership is in part populated by highly caffeinated graduate students, let me report back from the United Kingdom and Italy on the State of Coffee abroad:

The 1942 Instructions for American Servicemen in Britain
note that British people cannot make a proper pot of coffee and that Americans cannot make a proper pot of tea and that we should consider it an even trade. But the Australians and New Zealanders who live in London are turning the old rules on their head. In Italy, I probably had seven cappuccinos and a dozen or so espressos. They were all very good -- especially the espressos. But as unbelievable as this might sound, the best cups of coffee I had in Europe were in London at Grind in Putney, where we stayed with some South African friends. The cappuccino was very good, but the flat white was simply amazing. If I still lived in Walthamstow, I would travel all the way to the SW15 for this coffee.

In terms of food, meanwhile, my top three eating experiences (apart from the two wedding receptions and some tasty homemade sandwiches in the Alps) were:

  1. Lunch at Peck in Milan. (The maître d'hôtel steered me toward a steak tartare that was not on the menu but blew my mind.)
  2. Dinner at a cozy pizzeria, Da Martino, in Champoluc in the Italian Alps. (Again, the owner-waiter took tremendous care of us and paired our pizza with a lightly sparkling Barbera.)
  3. Lunch at The Market Tavern in Mayfair. (Eating alongside Londonstani, I paired my rather fancy "bangers and mash" with a murky cider that was really great.)

Update: Speaking of coffee...