Saturday, October 30, 2010

London Coffee: Part 2

Day 2 in London I was joined by two good friends that I met in Istanbul, Chris and Jana, both of who now work in the UK.

First stop: Tapped and Packed. Although they repeatedly came up in my research about London coffee shops, I didn't initially plan to check them out. However, they came highly recommended from Kaffeine and the fact that the serve coffee from 3 different UK roasters was enticing.

After finding their shop in the ultra-trendy Fitzrovia neighborhood (the shop's sign only has it's address on it, which is kind of tricky). I ordered a pour-over of the seasonal single origin selection, a Costa Rica Finca de Licho from Has Bean, and a shot of the house espresso, which is roasted by Climpson & Sons. The Costa Rica was honey sweet with notes of strawberries and raspberries - honestly the most exciting coffee I've had in a while. The espresso was great too, but was definitely overshadowed by how much I enjoyed the pour-over. Chris ordered a giant piece of cake with his coffee and Jana had a flat white (which I also ended up drinking a good deal of).

[Jana poses with her Flat White.]
[Chris enjoyed his cake.]
Next up was Flat White, a cafe in SoHo that helped pioneer the new wave in the mid 2000s. I ordered a shot of their espresso, which is a custom blend from Square Mile. It was good, but I think it probably was better suited for milk. Next time I'll be sure to order their namesake.

Friday, October 29, 2010

London Coffee: Part 1

London is easily a contender for the greatest city on earth. It was the first city to reach a million people since before the fall of Rome, has many of the most iconic landmarks and priceless artifacts on earth, and is the location of the beloved film from my childhood, The Great Mouse Detective.

And yet the single thing I was most excited about in the city was the coffee.

Yes. Even though Brits are traditionally a tea-drinking people, London has emerged as one of the leading urban centers in regards to roasting and brewing specialty coffee- so much so that after looking at the list of coffee shops I wanted to visit I quickly realized I didn't have the caffeine tolerance to check out even half the list during my short stay in Jolly Ole'.

First up was a shop that captured my imagination some time ago when I first learned of it's existence.
The Espresso Room is aptly name; there's barely enough room for all the coffee equipment there and none for a table. They have a modest selection of soups and sandwiches but the lion's share of this glorified closet host a serious arsenal of coffee equipment brewing up Square Mile and Has Bean coffee. I had a shot of Square Mile's Autumn Espresso blend and a flat white, both expertly made by Daniel, an Aussie who was nice enough to explain the Australian etymology of "flat white" as well as explain a bit of the history of the coffee scene in London. I'm not the only customer who's been impressed recently- Time Out London voted The Espresso Room "Best New Coffee".
Next up was Kaffeine, another Antipodean owned cafe serving Square Mile. Exposed brick and a gorgeous Synesso provided a hip atmosphere and my latte was top-notch; however, what impressed me the most was how amicable and helpful the baristas were. In fact they even asked me questions about my coffee experience in America! I must say, if British third-wave is beating its colonial cousin in any category it's here: customer service/interaction. At some of best shops I've been to in America the approach seems to be "treat everyone like an idiot until they prove otherwise". In the UK, my coffee experience was that most baristas are courteous, respectful, and friendly. In fact the only disappointment of the day was that James Hoffman was suppose to be there to help them install their new 3 group head Synesso but instead he was in America. Ironic.

Next time in part two: Tapped and Packed and Flat White

Thursday, October 28, 2010

London Calling

I've been in London for the past two days visiting good friends, drinking fantastic coffee, seeing priceless artifacts/works of art, and seeing incredible places. (ordered in list of importance).

There's more words and pictures to be shared about the awesome time I had here but any in depth reflection will have to wait till I'm back in Istanbul.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Cherokee Park

"As I walk through the hills of Kentucky,
the trees begin to turn red, and I think of you,
the prettiest tree on the mountain."
-Ben Sollee


The new location surpasses all my expectations. Great job guys.

Monday, October 18, 2010

In Memory

Henry Francis Lyte wrote the hymn "Abide With Me" as he was dying of tuberculosis. He passed away within 3 weeks of finishing it.

My mother passed away early in the morning on Oct. 12. Over these last three difficult months this song has been an immense comfort to me, and I couldn't think of a better way to honor her memory than to play it at her funeral.

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, abide with me.

Thou on my head, in early youth didst smile;
And, though rebellious, and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee,
On to the close Lord, abide with me.

I need Thy presence, every passing hour.
What but Thy grace, can foil the tempter's power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless
Ills have no weight, tears lose their bitterness
Where is thy sting death? Where grave thy victory?
I triumph still, abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross, before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies.
Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, Lord, abide with me.

Debra Butterworth. 1959-2010.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Wright on the Prodigal Son

"Years of scholarship have produced many commentaries on Luke, and many books on the parables. But none that I have been able to consult has noted the feature which seems to me most striking and obvious. Consider: here is a son who goes off in disgrace into a far country and then comes back, only to find the welcome challenge by another son who has stayed put. The overtones are so strong that we surely cannot ignore them. This is the story of Israel, in particular of exile and restoration. It corresponds more or less exactly to the narrative grammar which underlies the exilic prophets, and the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, and a good deal of subsequent Jewish literature, and which must therefore be seen as formative for second-Temple Judaism. The exodus itself is the ultimate backdrop: Israel goes off into a pagan country, becomes a slave, and then is brought back to her own land. But exile and restoration is the main theme. This is what the parable is about."

"Exile and restoration: this is the central drama that Israel believed herself to be acting out. And the story of the prodigal says, quite simply: this hope is now being fulfilled - but it does not look like what was expected. Israel went into exile because of her own folly and disobedience, and is now returning simply because of the fantastically generous, indeed prodigal, love of her god. But this is a highly subversive retelling. The real return from exile, including the real resurrection from the dead, is taking place, in an extremely paradoxical fashion, in Jesus' own ministry... Israel's history is turning it's long-awaited corner; this is happening within the ministry of Jesus himself; and those who oppose it are the enemies of the true people of god."

N.T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God, 126, 127.

Monday, October 04, 2010

No One Holy Like the Lord

Dr. Peter Gentry's recent faculty address "No One Holy, Like the Lord" at SBTS is a remarkable piece of biblical scholarship with enormous implications for how we read and teach the Bible. I've had to listen to it two times just to wrap my mind around it. If nothing else, listen to it out of respect for his fantastic beard.

Saturday, October 02, 2010


I am now 23 years old.

To commemorate the occasion I visited the Pera Museum, to see their impressive collection of Orientalist art (particularly The Tortoise Trainer by Ottoman intellectual Osman Hamdi Bey) and was surprised to discover a very impressive Japanese digital art installation. I say surprised not because I didn't know about it, but because I didn't expect to be impressed (most American digital installation art I've seen I found boring and inaccessible). It was awesome. Well worth the 3 Lira.

But since the (almost) decade of weekday-birthdays I'm in the middle of is not conducive to actually celebrating my date of birth on the 30th, I waited until today to do what I really wanted to do: ride bikes around beautiful islands in the Marmara Sea where there are quaint houses, old churches, gorgeous panoramas, and no cars. I know what you're thinking, can such a wonderful place exist only 1 hour outside of the sprawling megalopolis that is Istanbul? Are there unicorns there too?

Well, in answer to your questions, yes, it does exists, and maybe, but I didn't see any.

Heybeliada was my favorite, and is actually a contender for my favorite place on earth. I would love to have a cabin here and either write poetry or run a small cafe and coffee roastery.

Büyükada was also great, and definitely had nicer bike paths, quainter cottages, and more restaurants and shops, but somehow I didn't like it as much. I guess minimalism wins again (slash the reckless cyclist in me that likes to be able to bomb hills without having to dodge horse-drawn carriages and "gez"ing tourists- Heybeliada is much emptier.)

Here are some of my favorite pictures.