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Back Buzz - June 27, 2004

pumping heart Buon Deli Delicatessen and Caffé Bar, 477 Glossop Road, Broomhill, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

When I lived in Seattle I was spoiled by the fact that one could find a decent espresso in all sorts of establishments besides cafes, coffeehouses, and restaurants. If, for example, your day's agenda involved dropping the car off at a garage, visiting the dentist, getting a haircut, popping into the bank, and browsing a book, you were bound to run into an espresso counter or cart at any of these stops. Although the trend is slowly catching on in English cities it still has a long way to go before espresso lovers are as catered to as newspaper readers and sandwich eaters.

Of course it makes sense that an Italian deli which sells coffee beans might start serving espresso drinks. This is what Buon Deli in Broomhill has done. Stocked with all sorts of deli treats such as cheeses, salamis, olives, and other picnic nibbles, Buon Deli now serves not only cappuccinos and lattes but also gourmet lunchtime meals.

Having bought their Italian roast beans in the past I stopped in recently to try their espresso. Although they have a small room at the back with tables I perched myself at the window counter to take in the view of the Broomhill Tavern, Alldays, and passing students and locals. As I sipped my double macchiato I read about the upcoming Broomhill Festival and perused the lunch menu, salivating over the descriptions of handmade pasta dishes, bruschette, and sandwiches to die for with ingredients like mozzarella, sun-blushed tomatoes, basil pesto, goats cheese, balsamic syrup, houmus, olives, red onions, and smoked salmon, served on a choice of 3 kinds of ciabatta. Or wait -- there's also aubergine, fontina, porcini mushrooms, truffle pesto, and spuntini, described as deli tastings, which include vine leaves, chilli peppers filled with feta, meat terrine, salamis and cheeses, pates, olives, and seafood. And to finish off your meal they have Italian ice cream.

My double macchiato was served in a pretty cappuccino cup decorated with little Magrittesque figures and the words "art collection MONCAFÉ". The coffee seemed a bit overheated, as if the water was too hot. But that was my only criticism; otherwise it was quite satisfying, aesthetically pleasing, and a welcome caffeine jolt for my brain which was exhausted from my busy schedule of delivering pizza fliers seven mornings a week, working five afternoons updating an outdoor sporting events website, and filling the rest of my time with freelance web design, writing, a bit of socialising and, of course, those necessary coffeehouse and pub visits.

Buon Deli is open Monday to Saturday 10:00-5:30 and offers outside catering as well. No smoking is allowed but, after all, it is basically a shop so that's reasonable.

Speaking of smoking reminds me of an e-mail exchange with my Bay Area friend from a couple of years ago:

When I awoke after daybreak I think I awoke into an altered universe. I turned on NPR to hear a report about Frank Sinatra's inventive alteration of lyrics, which ended with the bombastic finale of "New York! New York!" I heard a report about snow on Mt. Tamalpais and Twin Peaks and turned on my computer to read the attached notice about a snow day in Petaluma.

Then I got to work and looked into the office of our young, long-haired, bearded MIS manager, who usually wears jeans, a t-shirt and a baseball cap with some hi-tech company logo -- and saw, sitting at his desk, a young, clean-shaven, short-haired preppie wearing a white knit sweater, and bearing just enough of a resemblance to the guy I knew so that I wasn't completely surprised when his loud voice emerged from this strange face, just as I fell to the floor in shock.

I shouldn't be surprised if the trailer cats start addressing me in English when they look at me expectantly for food first thing in the morning.

Strangely enough at least twice in the past few months I've dreamed about talking cats. And when they start talking to me (in American English, usually) I always feel so stupid because I didn't realise they could talk. If I'd know that years ago, it would have made things so much easier.

Monday I took advantage of the holiday by staying home, waiting for the gathering clouds to drop more rain. I pulled out my acoustic guitar and some songbooks and played for hours with all three of my cats napping around me. At one point I heard a sound from the bathroom: the familiar thunk! THUNK! of a cat coming in through the bathroom window and dropping onto the toilet lid and the linoleum floor. But my cats were asleep. Who was this?

I put down my guitar and walked softly toward the bathroom just in time to see an orange cat named Cue catch sight of me and make a swift retreat. (He is one of the two orange cats that live in an apartment on the opposite side of the garden, both of which have pronounced snouts that inspired a friend of mine to dub them lemur cats after seeing a photo.) After finding a few things around the apartment disturbed on one or two earlier occasions I had suspected that one of these guys had found its way in. This sighting confirmed it.

In recent weeks my neighbour has been finding discarded cigarette butts on the walk in front of her apartment, usually two or three at a time. The only known smoker in the complex, who used to live opposite her place, moved out at the end of January. Probably a stranger, but what kind of person would climb five steep flights of stairs to smoke a few cigarettes? We were worried that someone might be hanging around and casing the joint.

When I got home from work today I ran into another neighbour and asked if there was anyone working on or looking at the vacant apartment who might be dropping cigarette butts. She said no. She did mention one other odd occurrence, though. Somebody has been giving toys to her cat, including some toy mice still wrapped in plastic. Coincidentally, in recent days Ive noticed the rapid disappearance of a several of my cats real-fur rattle-mice. I couldn't find them under any of the usual hiding places, so I pulled one out of a new pack and left the remaining package on my desk. I quickly deduced that I wouldn't be finding the pack where I left it. A genuine cat burglar! I had a few laughs, then began to think, what's to stop him at going after cat toys? These weren't catnip mice, so he's likely to be attracted to many other handily packaged items: floppy disks, CDs, spare change, some original objets d'art. I hope he couldn't carry off one of my guitars.

Is it possible that this also solves the mystery of the cigarette butts? Picture that lemur cat out there first thing in the morning, pacing back and forth in the garden, lighting one cigarette after another and watching my door, just waiting for me to head off to work and make his move.