Thursday, 27 March 2014

searching for THAT cappuccino

So it has been Lent for 3 weeks now.  Amongst other things that I have given up, or added on (like going to 6am mass on Fridays - I don't get up early well), I cut back on my coffee.  Substantially.  I feel it every day.  It 'burns" as our Priest says. 

I am amazed at how often I get up from my desk to make coffee, only to realise that I can't .... because I try and save that cup for a good time in the day.  If I know I have a meeting ... I save it for a decent coffee shop.  If I know that I am going to a restaurant that serves decent cappuccino .... it waits till then. 

Decent cappuccino.  I always battle with this concept.  I have a Nespresso machine.  I can make double shot capp with a ton of foam which is so spectacular it looks like white meringue.  So it completely eludes me as to why this cannot be done at coffee bars, or restaurants with fancy coffee machines ..... 

Cappuccino with foam means WITH FOAM.  Foam is the really whipped frothy stuff on top.  Very often you can sip your coffee through it right to the bottom and then literally eat the last of it with your teaspoon.  Why then do so many coffee shops and restaurants serve cappuccinos with something that resembles flat white bubbles on top, or so little froth that when you stir it is dissipates???  Why is cappuccino always lukewarm to sort of hot.  I say hot and strong, hot and strong ...... 90 % of the time it arrives sort of hot and really milky like a "latte". 

Abreu's, as I have said before ..... a single shop, not multi-franchised, not huge, but a coffee specialist, have it spot on.  In the past 18 months I have only sent one cup back.  It is hot, it is strong, it is piled with foam, it has a stunning pic on top.  Added to it are great, great staff. 

That is the other thing.  Went to a very fancy franchised coffee shop the other day.  The top of the foam had nothing, no artwork, no cinnamon or choc nothing ... just a tiny layer of white blah!
I sent it back.  They were horrified.  Not horrified in a "wow we are sorry" kind of way, just in a more like "why the hell are you sending it back" kind of way. 

So I remain on the prowl for the elusive capp with foam ....

Top of the Pops for sure is Abreu's ..... possibly with only Vovo Telo as the number 2 and Cafe' 41 as the number 3. 

Scraping the bottom is definately Fournos, Isabellas Montana, Caffenio, Cappuccinos WBoom and Stephanies.  Blah. 

The search shall continue

till soon
c'est la vie xxx

Monday, 17 March 2014

teenagers. full stop.

Once upon a time there was a couple 
who had two teenagers.  One is now 19 and the other one is 15.  Despite my hubby and I raising 2 highly intelligent, very sporty, very funny, very independent and successful kids, we still know one thing to be true.  Never, ever, seriously ever, try to understand your kids.  

With one at a chefs academy and one in high school we are reminded often that we will never know as much as the two of them combined.  We will always somehow manage to regularly say the wrong thing at the wrong time.  We never let them finish speaking without interrupting ..... etc etc. 

I love it.  Parenting is all at once exciting, funny, soul destroying, fun, loving, lovable, joyous, annoying, head banging ... the list is endless. 

Our daughter is at a top chefs' academy.  In order to churn out top class and highly skilled chefs, they do not namby pamby these kids, or release them when they are tired or go easy.  They prepare them from day one to understand the pressure, the ridiculously long hours, the standing, the depth of knowledge.  In the going on 3 months she has been there, she has learnt a phenomenal amount.  We literally see her in 2 outfits only nowadays .... her chefs kit and her pyjamas.  Everything in the laundry from her is white ... chefs jackets, neckties, chefs hats, aprons, tshirts, dishclothes ... it is week in and week out of stuff needing to be kept brilliantly white.  I am quite excited when I see the black chefs' pants, black skirt and black aprons in the wash.  She had her first Saturday morning / afternoon / evening off now since January .... it was decadently lekker she said.  If they are not scrubbing on a Saturday then she is at class or in the restaurant.  We have a pattern, each night she comes home somewhere between 6pm and 2am having had either just practical lectures and cooking all day, or that followed by restaurant service until midnight.  She falls on her bed, burst into tears and tells us she hates this.  In the morning she gets up, puts on her chefs kit and tell us she loves this unbelievably much.  Trust me when I say that you would be quite stupid if you dare tell her as she cries in the evening "but you tell us in the morning you love it".  Only a person with a death wish would do that. Also do not say such things as "but you have wanted this your whole life" or "you knew the hours that you were going to have to study".  She knows this.  But I suppose when you have been on your feet for 14 hours ... cooking for most of them, then you don't want to hear this.  On Friday she had to tunnel something or the other the bones of a quail, an art she had perfected on a chicken the day before.  Basically you work through only the small neck hole, and cut out the bones working from outside only by feel.  You have to bring the whole carcass out in one piece.  When you are done you pull out the entire carcass in one move and you are not allowed to pierce the skin whilst doing the procedure.  I for one was fascinated.  She was damn excited at this new skill.  So it is onwards and upwards ... she has a great future ahead of her. 

Then the younger sibling, he who is much taller than her.  He eats.  A lot.  He is slim and has probably zero body fat.  Muscles in a slim body.  But at 6ft2" he has a lot of height to feed.  And boy he does.  Dinner at 7pm.  I am hungry at 756pm.  Can I have a smoothie at 930pm.  He plays sport.  Every afternoon, 2 evenings a week and on Saturdays.  Many days both hockey and soccer.  He eats, drinks and sleeps and lives sport.  Although he does very well academically, school it appears, is the extramural.  Sport is his life.  He has an answer for everything and more, and on most days can "out-wise" me on any life topic, because he ponders and always words his answer slowly and carefully after much thought.  Fiercely protective of his sister, we know we can never win a battle when he is her lawyer. 

Today our priest asked how is our Lent going, during his Homily to all us parishioners.  I realised that they have stuck to theirs resolutely ..... again a reminder of how much we can learn from our kids ...... if we take time to listen. 

till soon 
happy week everyone
c'est la vie xxx

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Everything all at once

Lent is succeeding in giving me much "pondering" time.  Even though I am still working on the "slow it down" part of my life, I am managing to try and be more "present" in what I am doing. 

I read something this week to do with Lent where it said do not do 3 things at a time, be present in the one you are doing.  If you are peeling an onion, peel the onion.  If you are watching a programme, watch the programme.  In my case it seems that I am usually peeling the onion whilst watching the programme, reading bits of my book and eating something.  I also have a conversation with either my hubby or one of my kids and can be found to be on whatsapp and facebook inbetween all this as well.  No wonder my head spins when I lie down. 

So I am currently trying to make sure that when I am writing an appeal for something, I concentrate only on that.  When I am doing administrative work, I concentrate only on that.  Same when I am driving, reading, watching a programme etc.  

In Mass I am focusing even harder on every moment.  In Adoration I try not to let my mind drift because this is often a great place to get so "drifted" that in the quiet you end up calculating your budget in your head etc.  I now spend even more time in Adoration talking to God.  Mostly out loud.  And not always in a soft, gentle tone, because sometimes I am angry when I get there, or defensive or questioning and God loves having these debates with me.  My priest says this is ok. 

So as we end the 1st week of Lent tomorrow, I pray for patience, and presence and that wonderful thing a friend told me "Slowly, slowly, be gentle with yourself". 

Till soon
c'est la vie 
xx 

Monday, 10 March 2014

The Winds of Change

Sometimes introspection is needed.  Sometimes we decide to do it ourselves. Sometimes God finds a way or messenger to shove us into this introspection.  Lent seems to be a good place to start this study.  In amongst the "giving things up culture" and the "give more" culture, I try to involve myself more deeply in my religion, I try and give up an extra hour or so snuggled in bed in order to make a 6am Mass, I try to be more mindful of my religion, my prayers, my prayers for others.  I try to slow down my life *although my dad said today that has not appeared to have worked in the first 5 days of Lent* ... baby steps, dad, baby steps. 

I have a friend who once wrote a blog along the lines of feeling great winds blowing towards him, the grit hitting him.  This weekend I think I felt exactly that which he had described.  I know now what I think he was trying to illustrate so vividly to his readers.  The "wind" that blew came unexpectedly and it came in a great big gust which left me reeling with grit stinging my face.    It had me crying and then questioning. It hurt me. I did not deserve to be blown over.  



However it cannot be ignored.  As I stand and dust myself off, I know that the introspection I have been pushed towards must happen.  I think God hand delivered this message to me.  So as we enter the 6th day of Lent, I will identify one thing every day off our parish's list of Fast from ...... Feast on ...... that perhaps is a weak area of mine and I will see if I can change that behaviour.  It seems like a mammoth task. But it surely begins with just one step.  I will look for guidance from those I trust with myself.  My family.  My close friends, both old and new.  My parish priest. 

I was focusing on less coffee.  Maybe I need to focus more on the above ... 

till soon
c'est la vie xxx 



Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Rushing from Rushing

Time.  My biggest friend and my own worst enemy .... All rolled into one.  Each day has 24 hrs ... Mine always has 27 hrs of activity, work, driving, to do lists and other stuff.  Every day .... Even creeping steadily into my weekends.

Ash Wednesday, and thus the beginning of Lent has heralded a stop sign, or at least a yield sign for this treadmill for me.  I am giving up rushing.  I am giving up too many appointments in a day.  I am giving up people who add to my daily stress.  I am, for 40 days, going to slow my life down.

It takes 21 days to break a habit I am told.  I have 40.   Hopefully I can leave the rush behind

Till next time
c'est la vie 


Mo Salah, My car and other stuff

Each year a group of bloggers circulates a questionnaire around this time, intended to be answered by bloggers on Google and other forums, t...