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For those of you who like hanging out in cafes, and who have Google Earth, get ready for a virtual trip to Rome, Seattle, and Paris. First up is Valentina, Valentina Cinelli, that is, a talented 30-something Roman graphic designer whose photoblog, Cafe Experiment, has hundreds of gorgeous photos of coffee cups and other coffee-related images. Valentina, known as bastet.flickr on the Flickr photo website where I met her, loves cats as well as coffee and took the name of the Egyptian cat-goddess Bastet for her Flickr handle. You out there there who have some great coffee images should contact her to contribute to the bilingual (Italian and English) cafe website. My own Americano graphic is scheduled to make its appearance there on April 7. Valentina also has a great weblog (in Italian) called bastet.blog and several photoblogs including one devoted to lomography. Lomography? Lomography: photography using the funky Lomo Russian cult camera which now has a world-wide following.
Google Earth makes a rapid ascent to the stratosphere and then plummets through heavy cloud cover to Seattle's Capitol Hill district where last December I had a rendezvous with the redoubtable roaster tonx, another Flickr buddy, at Victrola Coffee. It was a perfect day to enjoy a Seattle-style cafe: cold, overcast, with windy gusts. Anybody can take pleasure in sipping espresso on a sunny Mediterranean terrace, but in Seattle you duck into a coffeehouse to get out of the weather and to sample some serious espresso or brew. Victrola had everything one might ask of such a place, a battery of busy baristas, broad tables for the laptops and the wi-fi, and great lattes garnished with artistic heart-shaped tops that you don't want to ruin by drinking the coffee but you gotta because you gotta get some serious caffeine into your system and besides, it tastes like coffee should taste. Tony (that's tonx's real name) showed me how he operates the roaster and told me about heirloom coffees (a subject for another Coffeeblog post). He doubled my knowledge of coffee in about 20 minutes. Victrola has some great retro seats out front but you can't sit on them because they're wet. Hey, it's Seattle.
And now, as Monty Python would have put it, for something completely different: my favorite Paris café, La Rotonde, hard by the Vavin metro station in Montparnasse. At the intersection nearby there are four legendary cafes, Le Dome, La Coupole, Le Select, and my favorite. I don't even remember why it's my favorite: maybe I thought it was cheaper than the others. I do like its style, maybe that was it. Henry Miller used to sit all day at one or another of these places, waiting for someone to come by and pay for his coffee. Known for their patronage by the artists and models of Montparnasse since before the First World War, including Picasso (who walked from his studio in Montmartre on the other side of town), these cafes also hosted the American expatriates between the wars, and are still going strong. In fact, they've become (imagine me saying this in a low, harsh whisper) bourgeois. I don't remember what the coffee was like or if I even had one the last time I went to la Rotonde (2001), but for the sheer thrill of the location and the ambience it's my ultimate cafe experience. (Yeah, Blue Bottle or even Peets probably have better coffee.)| Technorati Tags: Cafes Lomo Photoblog Roma
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