To the other side of the world and back…

December was quite an adventure for me and the dude. We were travelling from London to Singapore and Melbourne, then back to London. A whirlwind of trips. Luckily for Dishpiglets, there were some time after the two weddings to hang around in Melbourne to check out new cafes/ restaurants and return to some old favourites! The Dishpiglets also spent Christmas 2012 as an official family in Melbourne!

One of the many things which we were spoilt for choice back in Melbourne is coffee! Many new coffee joints have sprouted since we moved to London. The coffee standard in Melbourne remains amazing and St Ali North was one of the new cafes which we visited during our stay. Situated in Carlton North along a bike path, St Ali North is a welcome stop.

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It is a refreshing change to see a ‘bike through’ type of cafe. Situated in the space right next to Velo cycles, the space was simply filled with lots of coffee drinkers and cyclists!

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Weirdly enough, I was craving for a sweet brunch that morning and was hard pressed to find pancakes or the like. My best bet was the pan fried stone fruit with brioche, bacon ice cream and fruit jus. I was rather unsure about the bacon ice cream that early in the day but decided to go for it in the end. My vegan friend had the braised kale sandwich with saffron chickpeas, sumac onions with a green salad. As for the dude, he ordered the ‘St Ali Royale’ – a wagyu beef burger with aged cheddar, house bacon, russian dressing and pickles.

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My breakfast turned out to be one of the best that I have had in 2012. The bacon ice cream was actually vanilla ice cream with bacon bits but the sweet and salty combination was just the right combination and was an excellent treat for me. Delish!

Dishpiglet’s rating: 8.5/10

St Ali North
815 Nicholson Street,
Carlton North
Victoria Australia

St Ali North on Urbanspoon

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Just down Carter Lane…

A flat white please…

It’s always interesting to find a small quirky cafe near where you work. Just a few weeks ago, I discovered a tiny coffee house down Carter Lane. Right near Blackfriars and St Paul’s, you always find the usual chains like Starbucks etc. A refreshing change to see this little coffee house and one that makes me want to get a coffee in the morning. And for the people who know their coffee – they have a Synesso machine! Highly recommend this place!

*I had a take away coffee thus didn’t manage to take any shots of the coffee!

Carter Lane Coffee House
50 Carter Lane
EC4 London

Caffeine addict

I am a self-professed caffeine addict. Caffeine headaches were once a big problem of mine. Having lived in Australia in the last 10 years, I was really pampered with great coffee in the vicinity. I tried to term myself a coffee snob because if the coffee’s burnt, I’ll throw it out. I recalled once whilst rushing to work, I walked into a café for a quick coffee, headed straight out with my cuppa and chucked the coffee straight into the bin. The barista had burnt the crap out of my coffee. It was so hot that I could not hold it in one hand! Just one sip, I burnt my tongue, smelt and tasted an awful coffee and could not bear the thought of letting the coffee spoil my day.

Funnily enough, this self termed coffee snob is no expert in coffee. I know what I like and what I don’t like. Ask me any further questions and I have no answers. My very first espresso was in Italy and it gave me a benchmark of what coffee should taste like.

Moving to London was a huge challenge, caffeine wise. I don’t really stoop to chain coffee shops unless I haven’t had sleep for 48 hours. Initially, I made the big move and switched to tea. Afterall, the British has always been known for their tea culture. Then Tapped and Packed opened up along Tottenham Court Road. When I moved to Holborn area, I had Monmouth Coffee not too far away from me and now at Farringdon, I have Workshop Coffee down the road. Talk about being spoilt!
You hear about these speciality coffee places in London and some of the initiators actually are from Australia and New Zealand. Kaffeine is one of them. Stylist named them one of the “Top 10 coffee shops in London”!

Just two nights ago, I managed to get a lucky spot in their coffee masterclass, a part of Zagat Kaffeine contest, thanks to Google London.

It was my first time at Kaffeine. Kaffeine opened about 3 years ago by Peter and his business partner. Peter is from Melbourne originally and I heard his business partner is from New Zealand.

Our masterclass started with James, the lead barista at Kaffeine asking us what we know about coffee. Nothing came to my head except for the fact that I like coffee! Trust myself to be a coffee snob, with absolutely no knowledge! Later on, I did remember one fact that the most expensive coffee in the world is actually processed through a cat. It’s called Kopi Luwak but that’s a story for another day.

Did you know, after oil that coffee is the next most traded commodity in the world? Hah! FACT which I learnt at the masterclass!

We started our masterclass with cupping. For a long while, I was trying to figure out what cupping was. As according to Wikipedia

Coffee cupping, or coffee tasting, is the practice of observing the tastes and aromas of brewed coffee. It is a professional practice but can be done informally by anyone or by professionals known as “Master Tasters”. A standard coffee cupping procedure involves deeply sniffing the coffee, then loudly slurping the coffee so it spreads to the back of the tongue.

James demonstrated the cupping process to us and we had some hands on trial, sniffing and slurping away. The slurping of the coffee was actually noisy! Just like how we are meant to slurp ramen!

Shaun, the UK aeropress 2012 winner taught us how to make our home brew using cafetiere/ french press coffee. It came down to the temperature of the water, the amount of water there is to the milligrams of the coffee grind and wetting of the grind. Did you know that you should not put the plunger lid onto the coffee until the last 10-15 seconds?

Next up, we were introduced to ‘Nessie’, their Synesso Cyncra coffee machine. I have always wanted to operate one of these. They look so sophisticated and when the chance came for us to pull our own espresso, I was totally charmed by Nessie. I want one at home! (wishful thinking!)

James taught us how to make a good cup of espresso and a double ristretto. Mmm. If only it wasn’t 8pm, I would have drank all that coffee! Good coffee does come down to the water, temperature, milk fat and the barista! At Kaffeine, everything matters and they try and control these factors to try and serve you the best coffee they can!

The master class ended with a latte art competition. Peter announced that the winner gets 10 coffees free! My heart was pumping when I did my pour. There were coffees at stake. The heart that came out was a tiny one and actually not as pretty as the one I did during practice! Lady luck was on my side and I won! The little caffeine addict in me was jumping for joy. I had a little taste of my coffee as well and it was really good.

Just when we thought that we had enough of caffeine for the evening, the cascara was introduced to us. A whole new thing which I have never heard of! Cascara is the dried skin and pulp of coffee cherries. We tried this amazing summery drink which Kaffeine concocted themselves! So light to the tastebuds and delicious!

I must say that if you enjoy a good cuppa and live in London, you do have to head to Kaffeine to check it out! Ditch chains and support independent coffee shops! Do check out their coffee masterclass if you are into coffee. You might just appreciate your homebrew that little bit more in the morning!

*Note: This is not a sponsored post and purely my own thoughts on the whole master class experience.