I must now confess to my guilty habit. I have a dark secret, a daily addiction that can’t be ignored, on pain of me turning into a hideous monster. Yes, I am among the millions hopelessly hooked on caffeine. My morning is nothing short of painful without a nice, strong cup of coffee. I’m not one of those extreme coffee junkies, mind you, who do the hard stuff like espresso or double non-fat macchiato’s. No, just a nice cup of organic, fair trade, dark roast, and my day is going to good places.
Our first morning in Sydney found us exploring the avenue our hostel was on; a nice, tree lined side-street with cafés, bistros, and half of the hostels in the Sydney area. Theresa ducked into a trendy café with our handy travel mugs to get us some liquid sunshine while the kids and I admired the throngs of backpackers going about their daily business/play. A few minutes later, Theresa came back with our mugs and a disconcerted look on her face.
“I’m not sure what it is, but the guy looked at me really strangely when I came in with the travel mugs. He said ‘You want coffee in those?’ I told him just a normal cup of coffee, which seemed to fill the bottom inch of the mug. I asked him where the coffee was and he said it was in the cup. I think that might have been a specialty coffee shop or something.”
Or something. Much to my horror, Australians think coffee is dark mud which might pass for an espresso on the streets of Mexico, and for 3 dollars a cup, you can have it as a short black (straight up), a long black (with a shot of hot water in it), or as the standard cappuccino, latte, or ‘flat white’ (I still don’t know what that last one is, but I do know that coffee should be anything but white.) I once tried to convince a barista to add a ‘lot’ of hot water, aka an Americano, but that ended up being about 2 ounces of water to 2 ounces of coffee. I suddenly understood why you don’t see Australiano on the menu at any coffee shops.
Luckily, we had brought our own portable coffee equipment with us, and quickly resorted to making our own java in the morning. Of course, the only beans we could find were espresso grind, but that didn’t slow me down one bit, as the length of these chapters should attest!
After the coffee fiasco, we found a nice little bistro that advertised great breakfasts. We grabbed a little sidewalk table, pored over the menu, and were delighted to find many items that were familiar to us. Pancakes, waffles, eggs Benedict, no hint of anything too foreign. I was hoping that for $12 an order, the eggs benny would be out of this world, which they were, but the lack of any side dish like, say, potatoes, fruit, or anything else besides a sprig of parsley was a little disappointing.
The ‘stack of pancakes’ seemed the perfect choice for the kids. Knowing how voracious the appetites of the manly men from down under might be, I was picturing a Herculean mound of flapjacks twelve inches across, butter and eucalyptus syrup flowing down the sides like an erupted volcano… for $8 a plate, I was sure it would be more than a match for the appetites of two small children.
If you take your hand, and join you thumb and forefinger together in a ring, you’ll get an idea of roughly how big these pancakes were. Both of them. Needless to say, our next adventure was a trip to the grocery store, to ensure that we were no longer at the mercy of these ruthless restaurateurs in the hostel district…