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Back Buzz - October 2, 2001

[pumping heart]Caffé Capri, 30 High Street, Hythe, Kent

Last year I reviewed the Capri Restaurant in Hythe. At that time I simply reviewed the espressos we had for dessert after our dinner, and I didn't even notice the little cafe situated next door to the restaurant. In a High Street full of tea shops and take-aways with automatic dispensing machines spewing out ersatz "cappuccinos", this is obviously Hythe's only authentic coffeehouse, so it was worth a visit.

Caffé Capri feels more like an ice cream parlour than a coffeehouse. The deli case displays pastries, baguette sandwiches, quiches, and some nice-looking gelati in traditional flavours: pistachio, dark chocolate, lemon sorbet. The decor is bright and almost arcadelike, with pleasingly bright chairs at bright tables. Naturally I had to sit on a bright red and black chair, my alternate choices being, in order, bright green and black, bright yellow and black, and bright blue and black. (They're not exactly iMac colours but they do impart a similar appeal.)

I sense, however, that Caffé Capri doesn't have that many espresso-serious customers. When I ordered two macchiatos the young woman stared at me, confused, and said "We don't do macchiatos." "Do you do cappuccinos?" "Yes." "Well, then, you do macchiatos." At this point she walked out of the room, confused, and came back with another young woman who smiled knowingly and expertly prepared our "macchiati." They were okay but they tasted a bit oily and quite burnt. It was a real shame. And the cups were way too big for macchiati, but since they don't list "macchiato" on the menu I'll allow for that mistake. At any rate we were happy to find any form of espresso, badly needed on this Monday morning after a pub-filled weekend in Battle and Romney Marsh, the previous night spent on the windy coast with a placid view of holiday caravans. And after our drive back this morning along the coast, curving around from the shingle beaches of the turquoise Channel, the white cliffs of Dover visible at the far end, we were feeling pretty placid ourselves. If we hadn't been almost home I would have been tempted by at least a scone for breakfast. If I'd have known what would happen the next day, the 11th of September, and how the world would change, I definitely would have had that scone.

Speaking of breakfast, the following e-mail exchange between me in Seattle and my friend in the Bay Area is from a couple years ago:

I was running through the coupon insert of the Queen Anne News, a free weekly newspaper we've attempted to cancel about 4 times now but which keeps arriving. (Young boys deliver it and request $1.00 a month tip; this isn't much, but since we don't read the goddam newspaper and it sits out on the walkway getting soaked every week, we don't feel we should be paying $12 a year for absolutely nothing. But apparently these young boys can't read the letters I keep sending them.)

Anyway, I noticed a new food item from Pillsbury -- more correctly, from the Doughboy Store -- called Toaster Scrambles. Have you ever seen these? They're like Pop-Tarts, only they're filled with scrambled eggs! The flavors are Cheese & Egg; Cheese, Egg, & Bacon; Cheese, Egg, & Sausage; and Cheese, Egg, & Ham. (So where's the Cheese, Egg, Spam, Spam, and Spam?) What pervert came up with this idea? Can you imagine eggs which have been beaten, scrambled, stuffed in a pastry case and frozen, and then thawed out in the toaster? Mmm-mmm, makes you really feel like getting out of bed...

I want Spam, eggs, beans, potatoes, Spam and Spam!

Even if the frozen Velveeta, Egg Beaters and Bacon Bits sounds like the worst possible idea, this could spark something truly good. Maybe Trader Joe's has some decent toaster pasties. Or how about spicy Indian stuffings? Steaming Vindaloo Tarts -- a great way to wake up the day! Savory ginger and garlic tarts?

Hmmm, how about ground grasshopper toaster tarts?


Mmmm, what about Tuscan tarantula 'n' tomcod toaster tarts?

Why do I always end up on all these asinine and agonizing alliterative endings, anyway?

...and while we're on the subject of eggs and breakfast pastries -- and in praise of (and memory of) majestic skyscrapers -- here's another one from the same week:

The significantly warmer (but not yet overwhelming) weather was ideal for a drive into San Francisco with Don, my visitor from Omaha. I chose to drive so that he could view the city as we approached -- which is much easier from the bridge than from BART, unless you have x-ray vision. We meandered past City Hall, the Opera, some projects, Golden Gate Park, Ocean Beach, the cliffs, Pacific Heights, the Presidio, down winding Lombard Street, and actually found a place to park near Chinatown. Unfortunately, I don't know of any Chinese restaurants in the city that are worth eating at, so we chose something at random. Don settled on a Szechwan combo for two -- with spicy glazed pork, pork fried rice and mu shu pork. (The Szechwan Spam, Spam and Spam platter, I guess.) One redeeming feature of the second-story restaurant was that we had a commanding view of Zippy the Pinhead's residence, the Aigon Tower. (I presume he still lives there -- I hope the new Dutch parent company of Transamerica wouldn't evict him.)

Perhaps, in deference to Zippy, we should refer to it as the Eggon Tower. In fact, why not erect an egg-shaped sculpture balanced on the topmost point?

Or perhaps they could splatter yellow and white paint all over the exterior surface of the building, texturing it with little bits of eggshell.

Or both.

(After all, if Zippy had had his way, there would have been a column of giant donuts stacked on the top point.)

I really like the new "splattered egg" look for the landmark building. And of course we should usher in the new name with a donut atop the point. I'll propose the idea to any distant relatives I might find at the company.

Maybe they could use an already-existing donut sculpture. Do you remember when we were young there was a chain of donut drive-thrus in SoCal with the giant green donuts? Do any of them still exist?

I suppose, though, they'd be too small. How big would a donut have to be for people in the East Bay to be able to spot it atop the Eggon Building?

Perhaps some world-record-seeking bakery could bake an actual bagel that huge...