Monday, June 13, 2005

Brewing Up Trouble

It's funny... I haven't ventured too far afield lately, so when I do get out of town even for part of a day, it feels like a fabulous vacation. And when I get to spend that time with a delightful friend, everything becomes all that much more enjoyable.

Yesterday, Phoenix and I headed up to the Big City for a buffet lunch at a terrific Indian restaurant (with bright, carroty halwah and rich pistachio burfee for dessert), followed by a showing of the new Judi Dench-Maggie Smith movie Ladies in Lavender. But since we arrived at the theatre an hour early, we decided to walk about the neighborhood.

And lo and behold, we stumbled across Phoenix Coffee, appropriately enough. (Yes, Phoenix herself was tickled to find her "name" on the sign.) I had read good things about it from Superbarista, which is the blog is by one of the main people at Phoenix Coffee. But since her writings reveal the almost obsessive care that the company puts into selecting, roasting, and brewing the best possible coffee, I knew I had to step across the threshhold to find out for myself.

The long, long service counter had one section devoted entirely to enormous apothecary jars of freshly roasted coffee beans... easily 30 different varieties! After looking over the list of varieties, I asked to get a whiff of the organic fair trade Phoenix Blend. The fragrance that came wafting out of the jar struck me as a dark, intense mixture of bittersweet chocolate and freshly roasted peanut butter, strangely enough. But when the barista noted that she thought it smelled like fresh-baked bread when brewed, I knew I couldn't leave the premises without a half-pound bag of beans in my purse.

But of course, smelling and tasting are two different things. And since Superbarista has recently been touting the perfection of espresso shots, I wanted to sample something containing said espresso. Normally, I'm a straight-up mocha fan, though recently the hot weather has had me indulging in frappuccinos and mocha mudslides. The barista at Phoenix, however, suggested a Speedball, which the menu describes as "like Cafe Mocha, but more intense, with two types of chocolate and two forms of coffee" and the barista herself described as a "liquid brownie."

I never expected to hear those two words put together. But as I think my Dear Readers have guessed by now, I'm a big fan of brownies. And so, after sampling this concoction, Phoenix and I agreed that we both wanted Speedballs, iced, to keep us awake during the movie. (Not that we needed to be kept awake, as it was a beautiful movie, but with the lights down low in the middle of a hot afternoon... well, you never know.)

The Phoenix Coffee Cafe also has a long list of other drinks I would like to try, and they even serve bubble tea. I don't care for bubble tea generally as I don't like the big bubbles, but since they say they can make the tea without the bubbles AND offer flavors like coconut, plum, green tea honeydew, and Thai, I might just have to overcome that prejudice.

So, any time any of you good folks want to catch a movie in the Big City, I'm all for going with you...

As long as we can visit the Phoenix.

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