Thursday, January 25, 2007

Linger at the Menger

Mug: Another souvenir mug from San Antonio. Chinese made, generic mug. No complaints, but no raves either. Basic, functional design with the preferred handle shape.

What makes this mug special (to me) is its source: The Menger Hotel. The Menger is on Alamo Square in San Antonio, and was opened in the 1850's. It has quite a colorful history.

  • One of Texas' first commercial breweries operated there.
  • General Robert E. Lee lived there when he commanded the U.S. Army garrison in San Antonio. He was there when Texas seceded from the Union, and a mob almost lynched him as they demanded the Union Army leave San Antonio. He left, later to join the Confederacy.
  • Teddy Roosevelt lived there while he recruited his "Rough Riders" in the lobby bar, and trained them nearby at what later became Brackenridge Park.
  • The Battle of the Alamo was fought on this site. The wall that Santa Ana's forces overwhelmed on their four-point assault was the picket wall that would have been next to the Menger's eventual location.

I love to stay there, usually in the old wing that dates back to the late 19th century, but also in the "modern motor court" wing that was built in the booming 1950's-60's. All true Texans love the Menger.

Coffee: I'm currently drinking the Nicaraguan coffee that I roasted. It's very nice stuff, and gets an "Approved for Future Purchase" rating.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

A Hardy Mug of Coffee.

Mug: Linden brought this home from Marshall's the other day. It's a china mug (I believe), made in England. The decoration applied is of a bucolic scene reminiscent of a Thomas Hardy novel. The old church on the hill is a nice touch that reinforces the Hardyesque look of the scene.

The mug is a nice "drinker". It has a nice handle, a pleasant tactile experience for the fingers and lips, it's not too heavy or too light. All in all a very satisfying conveyor of coffee.

Coffee: The Colombian. On deck is some Nicaraguan coffee that I roasted last night. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Coffee Slushee.

Mug: Another Starbucks Travel Mug. Pretty leak-proof, good heat retention, an all-around good travel mug that holds 14 ounces. The plastic lid and handle have a nice "rubbery" feel to them. Good to the lips and fingers.

Coffee: A bean from Timor that I roasted myself to a Full City roast. I bought the beans from Sweet Maria's Green Coffees in Oakland, California. Very nice flavor, sort of like a Sumatra I guess.

Note: Before there was Slurpee, there was (and still is) Slushee. 7-Eleven Corporation bought the machines and technology for their Slurpees from Slushee and took it to a new level, but the original Slushee Frozen Beverage can still be found. They have a polar bear as their mascot. There are aficionados who claim one is better than the other. Slurpee/Slushee aficionados. Who'd have imagined?

I suppose there are fanatics for everything... including coffee mugs.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Christmas remaindered.

Mug: Starbucks Holiday Mug from the Clearance Shelf at a local Starbucks. $2.99 of post-holiday joy (marked down from $9.99). It says, "PEACE on earth", with wintry designs decorating it. On the bottom, it says "Holiday 2006". Chinese porcelain, it holds 14 ounces of coffee (or whatever one might put in it). Is 14 ounces Grande or Vente?

Coffee: Colombian Supremo ground in my new burr grinder (that I'm starting to get the hang of). I neglected to document the mug when I got it Tuesday morning and had it filled with a Guatemalan coffee,

Notes: Peace on Earth Holiday Mug. The generic Winter Holiday Wish. Of course, that's all that one can really expect from a "holiday"; just a wish. I don't want to get into the "War on Christmas" stuff, because truth be told, that war was lost long ago. I just want to point out how sad it is that we would make a mid-winter wish for peace, when in Christ alone there is the reality of true peace. "Peace on Earth. Good will to all men" said the angels heralding the Christ's birth.

Postscript: Of further interest is the meeting I had that provided the opportunity to secure this mug. In my clumsy efforts at being an Alpha Advisor, I met two young "missionaries" who are trying to run Alpha at their church plant in downtown Dallas. One of them was sent here five years ago as a church planter from Antioch Church in Waco. You may recognize Antioch as the church that sent the two women missionaries to Afghanistan a few years ago.

What do Afghanistan and Dallas have in common? A need to know Jesus and his Gospel of Salvation.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Old Mugs never die... they just become pencil cups.

Mug: Handmade, low-fire mug from Italy. It fell to the table and shattered. The hand-painted decorations were just too cool to throw it away, so I glued it back together with Emer's Carpenter's Glue and saved it to use as a pencil cup.

Contents: Various stuff that fits in a verticle holder. Hi-Liters, Xacto knives, #2 pencils, tape measure from IKEA, Palm Sunday cross, and other floatsom and jetsom from my life.

Background: This mug was made by an artisan (Ceramica DeSimone) who had supposedly studied under Pablo Picasso. It's a very thick mug, but made with a very light-weight clay (and very brittle). Each mug was unique, the glaze is very rough and primitive, looking almost like something that would have been made in Roman times for general, almost disposable use (the "Big-Gulp" mug of the Roman Circus, perhaps).

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Mug o' suds!

Mug: This is a Burt's Bees shaving mug with an interesting "knob" handle. Made in China, but a very authentic, Victorian design. The brush is a wood handled boar's bristle brush.

Soap: I currently alternate between two shaving soaps: a blue glycerin soap that my daughter Catherine gets for me out of Houston, and a handmade clay/lye/stuff shaving soap that my daughter Anna hand-makes herself. That's what I am currently brushing with. When I run out of soap from my girls, I use either an amber glycerin soap from Surrey out of Leander, Texas, or I use Burt's Bees Bay Rum Shaving Soap.

Background: My girls heard the "clack, clack, clack" sound of my brush against a mug many a morning while they were growing up. I presume it evokes fond memories for them.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

For my inner-Yankee.

Mug: Another diner mug. Good heft, shape, and tactile experience. Ugly design, but of an esoteric sort appealing to immigrants from New Jersey, Delaware, and regions thereabout.

Coffee: Back to the Colombian Supremo. I'm still trying work out the best settings for my burr grinder, so going back to my coffee base helps in the experimentation.

Notes: White Castle is a much-beloved hamburger chain from the Eastern Seaboard that has failed to penetrate the southwest. A White Castle burger (lovingly referred to as "Sliders" for the puck-like size) is similar to a sausage/biscuit sandwich. Imagine a flavorless sausage/biscuit sandwich with ketchup and a pickle. See why they haven't made inroads into the land of the Hunger-Buster?

Monday, January 01, 2007

Eine kleine Kaffee Kup

Mug: Yet another Waechtersbach mug, this one from their limited edition German Composers Signature series: Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart. I only got the Mozart, mainly because of the PMS 285 yellow/orange color (my "official" accent color in my earth tones colored world). This mug came out of the Spanish plant, and is de facto inferior to the German mugs.

Coffee: Guatemalan Antigua that I ground in my Santa Gift burr grinder. For thirty years, I've been told that burr grinders are superior to blade grinders, but I was happy enough with my blade grinders that I didn't feel the need to spend $50+ on a burr grinder. Sam's Club has these Cuisinart Burr Grinders for $29, so Santa got me one.

Note: Regarding the list of German composers above; Austria has the world's best Public Relations team. They have convinced the world that Mozart was an Austrian, and that Hitler was a German.