I just woke up in my apartment for the first time in a while. OK, I slept here Thursday night and Friday night too, but between jet lag and rushing around to be places (more on that in a minute) it’s almost as if it never happened. The place is a bit of a mess – piled up mail all over the table, the remainders of last night’s superbowl leftovers hanging onto dishes in the sink, and an unmade bed that I’m still lying in.
OK, now that I’ve set the scene, I’ve a few things to blog about today, so let’s break this down…
English: Dmitri Yarochenko during sprint in Pokljuka in 2007 Polski: Dmitrij Jaroszenko podczas sprintu w Pokljuce w 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
1. Leaving Ljubljana Vegas, Part Dve (that’s Slovenian for “two”):
Why not start here – Brooke and I spent the last two weeks back in Ljubljana. Celtra needed her there to sync up with her team, so I asked Zemanta if I could go too and sync up with my guys as well. Overall impressions were that it felt as if we never left – aside from the new Bazilika, staying in someone else’s awesome apartment, and the urgency to try and see as many people as possible in what seemed like barely any time at all, I think we both felt right back at home in Slovenia. We worked basically for the entire duration of being there minus a couple of weekend days off. I spent my birthday cross country skiing in Pokljuka with friends, enjoying a huge late lunch at a traditional Gostilna in a small village, eating a homemade blueberry pie (thanks Katja!), watching the Celtics/Heat go to double overtime, and then having some drinks at Bikofe. I played music with my old band, listened to a talk at Spletne Urice (and another at FRI), and played basketball with the old crew. Things were right back to normal, and before we knew it we were saying goodbye yet again before being yanked back across the Atlantic Ocean to New York (aboard an Airbus A380, mind you!).
Perfect caffe latte from Cafe Coffee Day (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
2. The Quest For The Cup:
Fast forward a long, turbulent flight, hours of immigration/security checks, traffic back to Manhattan, walking into my apartment to have my coat rack fall on the floor, and a jet lagged attempt at sleep, followed by a full work day back in the New York office, an awesome dinner followed by a great show with good friends in Williamsburg, and it was Saturday morning (at 5 am, cursed jet lag!) before I knew it. Time to catch up on mail, unpack from being away, and repack for a weekend with family in Long Island before the next galavant, but before that, I needed a fix of kava s mlijekom to get my head right.
And with that, let me kick off The Quest For The Cup, a new series of blog posts in which I will try and find my perfect cup of coffee in New York City. I’ve never been a coffee person (outside of coffee ice cream), but while living in Slovenia I got really accustomed to a nice “kava s mlijekom”, or “coffee with milk”, every now and then, especially in the morning, or after a big lunch. Upon coming back to America, I’ve found my Slovenian coffee experience a bit hard to replicate, so I’ve decided to make a point of actually trying instead of just complaining about it. To begin with, I’ve found out that “kava s mlijekom” is called “caffe latte” in America. This whole coffee culture is very confusing to me, especially as my Italian correspondant Valentina tells me that you can’t just order a “latte”, because in Italian “latte” means milk, and it would be silly to order a milk.
OK, so let’s definite some logistics here: this series will follow me on a search across various NYC coffee shops for the perfect caffe latte. As for judgement criteria, taste is obviously the most important – I’m no coffee connoisseur, but I’d like to think that taste is subjective to the particular coffee drinker, and that I can comfortably say that I enjoy coffee from Cafetino more than coffee from Tivoli Pub (although both are better than the experiences I’ve had in New York so far). Other judgement criteria will include friendliness of waitstaff, cost of coffee (around 1,60 EUR was a common price in Slovenia), wait time/crowdedness, ambiance of the coffeeshop, coffee served in mug vs. paper cup (we want the mug!), ability to get a glass of water with your coffee (standard in Slovenia, usually without asking), and whether the coffee comes with any sort of cookie/treat (also typical in Slovenia).
With our judgement criteria defined, let’s jump back to Saturday morning and onto our first Quest For The Cup candidate, Ciao For Now. I’ve been eyeing up this coffee spot for months now with a fantasy that it might become my personal neighborhood haunt, the kind of place where everyone knows your name and your personal order, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves… The barista was super friendly, had a great attitude, and did her best to accomodate the queue of approximately five at any given time while I was there, but she was unfortunately the only one working, which meant a 15 minute or so standing-in-line wait for coffee. All of the edibles looked excellent, and I ended up ordering a small “monster cookie” with my caffe latte, which combined cost me $6 (I also got a yogurt parfait thing to take home for Brooke for $5, which she absolutely loved). The ambiance was good, even if the poppy music wasn’t my first choice, and the small space comfortably suited the small crowd of a few individuals, an overly publicly affectionate couple, and a father-mother-daughter combo. The coffee was above average, but served in a paper cup, and there was a sign saying something to the effect of them no longer offering glasses of water, but being happy to fill up a water bottle, which of course I didn’t have on me. I decided not to ask. My overall impression is that this isn’t exactly the neighborhood coffee shop I imagined in my head, although it showed promise. The quest certainly isn’t over, but I definitely wouldn’t mind stopping in here again.
Ballet (Photo credit: wwward0)
3. The Year of the Rabbit:
Coffee drank, repacked for Super Bowl weekend in Long Island with family, but one more stop before Penn Station – my amazing coworkers in Slovenia chipped in and bought me two passes to see The New York City Ballet’s interpretation of Sufjan Stevens’ Year of the Rabbit for my birthday! We headed uptown to Lincoln Center and settled into our seats where we enjoyed three excellent performances of interesting juxtaposition. The first performance, Glass Pieces, was minimalistic and powerful with simple but effective costumes. Year of the Rabbit was a bit more playful and adventurous, experimental and exploratory with very Sufjanesque costumes complete with Michigan blue. These two pieces were in stark contrast to the third piece, Vienna Waltzes, which was much more traditional yet equally impressive, complete with classic Balanchine choreography. The orchestration was excellent throughout, and I still can’t figure out how the dancers move like that – such athleticism, strength, and grace. Thanks again ZMen, excellent gift!
4. Today in Music:
I needed to take a bit of time this morning to clear my head, clear my inbox, clear my head (blog a bit), and of course read my (mostly) music news, so without further ado, let me share the last bit of my morning before heading into the office:
That’s all for now – seize the day people!