Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Swept away.

Coffee: I seem to be alternating between Colombian Supremo and Guatemalan Antigua at the moment. Today, it's the Colombian. Just a darn near perfect cup of coffee, but so is the Guatemalan.

Mug: Another Chinese made "diner" mug, although slightly smaller than my normal mugs. I haven't measured it, but I suspect it only holds 8 to 9 oz. of coffee. But it's a wonderful example of the style. Thick walls, with a flattened rim along the top, it has excellent tactile qualities to the hands and lips. It is very well balanced with superior ergonomics, and the two-fingered handle feels just right. It's a molded mug (you can faintly see the seam along the handle side), but it seems to have irregularities to it, which gives the mug a subtle "hand-crafted" look.

Note: This mug comes from the Cafe du Monde coffee stand in New Orleans. I've never paid too much attention to CDM (as my New Orleans-native friends call Cafe du Monde), as I've never been to New Orleans, and while I've been served their canned coffee (yellow can), I can't say it did anything for me. I got interested in CDM because my good friend and Christian sister Noreene Hurst loves the stuff. She was lamenting not being able to find "CDM Yellow" in Dallas. I knew where to look, and I've been getting some for her on occasion as a token of my appreciation.

Further note: Two years ago today, Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans. Noreene was one of the evacuees. Over one thousand people died. Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced, and still haven't returned (many never will). Some (like Noreene) have found a better life, while some have found no life at all. The tourist spots are back, the sin merchants of the French Quarter are thriving, but 65% of the city still lies in ruins, abandoned to roving gangs and other vermin. George Bush will be in New Orleans to talk about what wonderful work that has been done along the Gulf Coast to help his constituency, while the poor remain neglected (and worse). Some suspect that the ultimate plan is to turn NOLA into a sort of Zuider Deesnyland... a place for wealthy tourist to come and dip their toes into the exciting lifestyle of open sin, and then return to Idaho or Des Moines or Highland Park to their self-righteous lives. Once the middle class and the poor have been eradicated from New Orleans, more New Urbanist condos can be built, with more shops, more Cafe du Mondes, more Brennans... and more topless clubs, more beads, more gay bars, more of every guilty pleasure America wants to enjoy away from the prying eyes of the very neighbors they themselves judge.

Good-bye, New Orleans. I hardly knew you.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Blue Monday

Coffee: The Alternate Choice: Guatemalan Antigua.

Mug: Cobalt blue glass with a fake (screen printed) etched logo. This was a premium from the local NPR station's pledge drive a few years ago. It's for "Morning Edition with Bob Edwards", who has since been "retired" and now hosts the "Bob Edward's Show" on XM satellite radio.

An attractive, if unpleasant to use, mug. The tactile qualities are awful, to the fingers (sharp mold seam inside the handle) and most importantly, to the lips.

Note: I miss Bob Edwards. He is one of the few reasons I have considered (but rejected) subscribing to XM. I have not given to my local PBS station since the 2004 elections, when their newsroom covered up an important story about the so-called "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth", involving the work one of their guest on-air commentators did for them (and refused to do for them) as part of their smear campaign against Senator John Kerry. I vowed (to their station news director and manager) to never give them another dime of my money, but that I would continue to avail myself of their programming, guilt-free.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Coming full circle.

Coffee: A return to the base Colombian.

Mug: Chinese-made "diner" mug, made by M Ware. Even though it is larger than my 11 ounce Waechsterbach mugs, it only holds 10 ounces. Very heavy, with very thick walls (hence the smaller volume). A substantial mug.

Note: Picked up this mug at the Circle Grill on Buckner Boulevard at I-30. The Old Circle Grill (which burned down a few years ago) was located on the traffic circle at Buckner Boulevard/Loop 12 and Texas State Highway 80. My dad was a somewhat regular there in the late fifties and sixties. It is currently owned by the Vargos family (who also own the Market Grill on Harry Hines and whose family owns the old Record Grill next to the Dallas County Courthouse... an infamous greasy-spoon/burger joint frequented by jurors for at least half a century).

Vargos, the proprietor of the Circle Grill, used to run a delightful little restaurant downtown called Streetside Grill. Because it was next to City Hall, I got to know her and grew to love her restaurant. A combination of a misguided business plan, City neglect, and corporate indifference led to its decline and closure. I still miss it.

When you come to Dallas, you must go by the Circle Grill. Very good coffee-shop food, decent coffee (in the big, heavy mugs), and the friendliest waitstaff in Dallas.