artisanal toast

It’s a sign of how broken the link of “I’ve read something interesting online” and “I should blog this” in my head, that I read this a few days ago, and didn’t share it here.

The history of the artisanal toast trend in San Francisco is not just a story about ridiculous hipster spending and how much money they can generate for their owners, it’s a story of redemption through cafe ownership.

fifty two (52) breakfasts

What’s your favourite breakfast? I recently made up a list of 52 breakfasts for a friend. Here they are.

  1. Weetbix with sliced fruit and milk
  2. granola with fruit
  3. bircher muesli
  4. weetbix with grilled cheese
  5. boiled eggs with vegemite soldiers
  6. eggs benedict
  7. french toast
  8. fried eggs with bacon
  9. poached eggs with spinach
  10. omelette – ham and cheddar
  11. omelette – spinach and mushroom with feta
  12. omelette – tomato and feta
  13. omelette – leftover roast lamb and mint
  14. omelette – tomato and bocconcini with basil
  15. croque monsieur
  16. omelette – mixed mushrooms
  17. omelette – rosemary potatoes
  18. omelette – chorizo
  19. omelette – smoked salmon with dill
  20. giant mushrooms on toast
  21. fruit salad and yoghurt
  22. ramekin lined with salmon, fill with scrambled eggs
  23. english muffins with fresh jam
  24. baked beans on toast
  25. scrambled eggs with crispy prosciutto
  26. omelette – asparagus and feta
  27. pancakes with bacon and maple syrup
  28. breakfast wrap – scrambled eggs and mexican spices
  29. sliced bananas and berries on brioche.
  30. breakfast trifle – muesli / granola with yoghurt and berry coulis
  31. porridge with brown sugar
  32. crepes
  33. porridge with peanut butter and mixed berries
  34. omelette – cheddar and pea
  35. croissant with jam
  36. croissant with ham and cheese
  37. potato cakes (left over mashed potato brushed with egg, mixed with some flour and some bacon or similar, then fried in a pan)
  38. blueberry muffin
  39. freshly baked bread rolls with boiled eggs
  40. baked eggs with leftover veggies
  41. hash browns
  42. mango smoothie
  43. baked ricotta with poached fruit
  44. marinated mushrooms and poached eggs
  45. chocolate coated brioche
  46. corn fritters
  47. mushroom bruschetta
  48. mushroom stuffed with goat cheese and ricotta
  49. vegemite on toast
  50. breakfast smoothie (add rolled oats, fruit and milk, with yoghurt)
  51. baked eggs with bacon and tomato
  52. breakfast stack – toast, baked beans, poached egg, spinach

What am I missing?

The Paramount Coffee Project, Surry Hills

Paramount coffee project, Surry HillsSeven Seeds, Reuben Hills, and a variety of other coffees. 80 Commonwealth Ave, Surry Hills. I’ve been avoiding this one for a while as they’re not really into decaf, and I’ve been trying to find a balance between low caffeine intake and exploring different coffees.

I buckled, and – seeing from the Paramount Coffee Project Facebook page that the shop was open for coffee, but not yet open for food – it seemed the perfect day for a visit. The entryway is a little low-key, but once you step inside, you can tell immediately you’re in the right place.

Paramount coffee project, Surry Hills

Tip for beginners, don’t sit at this bench which is physically connected to the grinders they use for pour-over coffee – the bench vibrates quite a bit, and you’ll feel sheepish given the wide variety of other seating options.

Paramount coffee project, Surry Hills

Across the way is the espresso side of the business and the kitchen: if the pour over (an Esmeralda) I had is any indication, there is spectacular coffee to be had here. The staff are highly knowledgeable without being condescending, and there’s a level of passion for coffee here that is everything you could hope for. A worthy part of any self-respecting coffee tour of Sydney.

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Book: Eyrie

Book: Eyrie

It’s been a while since I’ve read a Tim Winton novel – I think the last one was also a Christmas present.

Winton taps into the class struggle, environment vs mining battle and the dramas of middle age in a novel that is a bit of a page turner, with some achingly well crafted sentences and enough horrible happenings to make me wish I was still reading kids’ books.

Well crafted (apart from a confusing ending) and vivid, it was for the most part an enjoyable world to be lost in.

Brewtown Newtown, Newtown

Brewtown Newtown

Brewtown coffee (they roast their own coffee on site). 6-8 O’Connell St, Sydney.

I never made it to Berkelouw Books in Newtown, though often meant to make the journey. Alas, I’ve left it too late, as it’s been replaced by a cafe. Around a six-week fit out to remove the shelves, bring in the fixtures and fittings as you see them.

Part of the wider trend in Sydney towards larger cafe hubs, like the grounds, kitchen by mike, and the Fountain St compound where Campos has its flagship store, this is a cafe on a grand scale.

Brewtown Newtown - interior

Sadly, if you want to see the place this empty, you’ll need to visit at opening time on a weekday somewhere near New Year’s Day – this is a very popular place, and deservedly so.

Brewtown Newtown - coffee cup

Here’s a decaf long black, which arrives at the table with even more crema. You’ll notice the branded cups – lending a sense of uniformity to the whole experience.

Brewtown Newtown - long black and syphon

The star of the show is the syphon bar – computer (Android tablet) controlled syphons that can be programmed in terms of water temperature and agitation. With all the decaf I drink, I haven’t had a lot of syphon coffee, but it’s a very clean way to drink coffee – there’s not much in the way of oil, and it’s delivered at a drinkable temperature.

Brewtown Newtown - corn beef hash

The food is really good. I’m a bit partial to corn beef hash, so I try it out. The eggs are really well poached, but I do prefer my corn beef to be melting apart a little more.

Brewtown Newtown - polenta

It’s the baked polenta that really shines. I don’t particularly like polenta, and yet this is irresistible.

Brewtown Newtown is doing great work. If you can head over there, you should make time to visit.

clearing all the inboxes

First day back at work, trying to handle all the messages that have come my way since Christmas. I spent the day working my way through two email inboxes, a series of Feedly feeds, tweets, Facebook messages and wall posts, and a series of other sites to check.

Working in social media is becoming more and more noisy. One conference presentation I heard last year highlighted the way that everyone is jumping on the same bandwagon – the same calendar events are being flooded by brand pages. “Happy Christmas”, they say. “Happy New Year”, they say.

Where once facebook was an occasion to see photos of family members and updates from friends, it has become increasingly crowded with different kinds of noise. Advertising, targeted in increasingly creepy ways, shared news stories (now with additional, tailored recommendations), meme images (think cat pictures with captions), inspirational quotes on unrelated photo backgrounds, viral videos and other content from sites that are deliberately writing their headlines to maximise clicks.

It’s not possible for a massive, multinational, publicly listed company to retain a lounge room feeling. People accept that. The challenge with running a brand or company page, or one for an organisation, is to keep the content engaging with your audience, distinct from the rest of the content that they’re seeing, and adding value for them in some way.

People are spending time on facebook partly to feel connected with the people in their lives, partly to hear from brands or causes they’re interested in, partly out of a fear of missing out on the latest information, and partly out of a compulsion that facebook itself works hard to make irresistible.

For myself, I fight with a desire to keep all my inboxes clear. The constant facebook updates are the toughest inbox to keep clear – every connection adds more updates to try and process, and the signal to noise ratio gets lower and lower. Occasionally I see a post where I have the urge to correct something I know is incorrect – this is rarely a worthwhile exercise. Sometimes I’ll have a conversation with someone that would not have happened without facebook facilitating the connection: this is why I put up with the rest of the intrusions in my facebook “inbox”.

I suspect a time is coming where that value equation will tip, and it will be easier to go elsewhere than facebook for these kinds of interactions. I already use instagram for photo updates and photo sharing in a way I never used facebook.

In a simplified view, if all my online interactions can be thought of as a giant inbox, it’s my goal to work through everything in that inbox and get back to zero. If there’s a source of content that is too much noise and not enough value, then I have to unsubscribe.


First coffee of 2014 from cafedave on Vimeo.

One of my favourite Christmas presents was a surprise. I’d talked for a while with Kel about getting an aeropress, but thought we’d agreed that it was a needless expense, and a way of making coffee that requires a filter each time you use it.

In fact, a colleague had talked me through the whole process a number of years ago, before they were trendy, and I’d thought “that’s great for camping, but I’ll stay with espresso / plunger coffee when I have access to modern conveniences”.

I was wrong. This is a really easy way to make coffee, the setup is very fast, making the coffee is faster than plunger, and it’s easier to clean than plunger. I’m hooked. For home coffee making, unless you’re wanting to play around with espresso extraction and latte art, it’s hard to imagine something better.

I would highly recommend trying it out. (The cheapest I’ve found them is over in Marickville at West Juliett – review forthcoming someday – closed until January 13, but you can find them at Grind for $40.)