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Back Buzz - September 17, 2011

pumping heartThe Grind Cafe, Cornwall Works, 3 Green Lane, Kelham Island, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

Recently a reader recommended a new cafe in Green Lane, saying the "flat black" was exceptional. Always eager to have a reason to explore Sheffield's industrially historic Kelham Island area, I set off one morning before work in search of this cafe. The sudden exit from the busy triangle made by the merging of Infirmary Road and Penistone Road down into the opening of Green Lane makes me feel as if I've stepped down a ramp out of 2011 into the 19th century. As I strolled down the historic lane, passing old brick works, I could almost hear the workers' stories of owners past and of the destruction caused by the Great Sheffield Flood of 1864, and I imagined the modern cars fading into horse-drawn drays and carts. And I nearly expected to see flat-capped cutlers, little mesters, and buffers emerging from the works yards.

Green Lane isn't that long, and as I reached the end I began to worry that perhaps I'd been sent on a wild goose -- or perhaps a wild cutler -- chase. Then I spotted the outdoor tables and chairs and the modern glass frontage on the corner just past Cornwall Works where Green Lane ends and Alma Street and Russell Street begin. As I entered the Grind Cafe I found myself back in the 21st century. It's a bright, inviting, contemporary-styled cafe with clean wooden tables and chairs and windows as walls -- a sparkling gemstone surrounded by brick canyons. Old jazz singers crooned from the speakers, and the aroma of fresh ground coffee made a beeline for my nose.

Although it was a pleasantly sunny and cool day I decided to stay inside and perched at a high window seat -- although because the walls are made of glass one could technically say that every seat in the place is a window seat. My double macchiato was served in a white tulip-shaped cup with demitasse spoon and capped with a lovely leaf rosette, and it was perfectly made. The coffee beans are from a Yorkshire roaster called Limini, and today's blend consisted of beans from Brazil, El Savador, and India, creating a smooth fruity brew. Although I'd normally like a darker, more robust roast for my espresso, I would be interested to try other blends they might be offering on future visits. Basically this macchiato was lovely, and the rosette remained at the bottom of the cup, waiting to be consumed with the last sip.

The cafe serves some very attractive meals and sandwiches. Today's chalkboard offered lasagne; a smoked salmon and chive tartlet; goats cheese, asparagus, roasted red pepper, and olives; Portobello mushroom and haloumi; and Parma hand. They also serve salads, breakfasts, croissants, and cakes, and they're open 7 days a week, which is unusual in such an industrial area. As I gathered my belongings to continue my industrial archaeological journey to work, I decided I'll have to splurge on something to eat next time I come here. If I can find my way back, that is. I'll remember to click my ruby heels together three times and chant, "There's no place like the 19th century, there's no place like the 19th century, there's no place like the 19th century..."

Speaking of chants reminds me of a recent and very short e-mail exchange with my Bay Area friend:

I got an early morning rabbit-rabbit call from our friend Leslie, who said that her son is now in college, and the first call she got from him was to catch her at rabbit-rabbit. Damn, I keep forgetting to say "rabbit-rabbit" every month! Rabbit-rabbit! Rabbit-rabbit! Rabbit-rabbit! Rabbit-rabbit! Rabbit-rabbit! Rabbit-rabbit! Rabbit-rabbit! Rabbit-rabbit! Rabbit-rabbit! Rabbit-rabbit! Rabbit-rabbit! There, that should cover the last year...(oops, too late...)

The Brits say "white rabbit" on the first of the month. Perhaps when we all lived in California the rabbits there were too smog-coloured to retain the whiteness.

...and since that was so short, here's another one from a year ago with another reference to rabbits:

I Googled "kit fox" to get some specifics on the habitat of the namesake of one of my rescued kittens. The text excerpted from Wikipedia contained an odd statement that is not in the actual Wikipedia entry. However, I did find it in Google's cached Wikipedia entry. I haven't run into anything like this since you introduced me to Wikipedia with an article that said socks were invented to keep people from peeing on their feet.

"The Kit fox (Vulpes macrotis) is a fox species living at Wendy's, Burger King, and McDonalds. Its range extends from the southwestern New York City into northern New York City. Some fast food experts classify it as conspecific with the Swift Fox V. velox, but molecular systematics imply that the two species love to eat at McDonalds. It has a generally gray coat, with rusty tones, and a black tip to its tail. Unlike the Gray Fox it has no stripe along the length of its tail and no Burger King tattoo.

"Hunting and eating habits: The Kit fox is mostly a nocturnal animal but sometimes ventures out of its den during the day. The Kit fox usually goes out to hunt shortly after sunset, mostly eating small portions of fast food such as chili, burgers, sandwiches, fried chicken, pizza, ice cream, and dung..." I'd forgotten about the Wikipedia article on socks. As you can probably see, I often link from my columns to Wikipedia articles, especially if I'm looking for brief information about a small town in California or Norfolk that nobody except a local resident would really know about. But I certainly never use Wikipedia as gospel, like when I want to link to an article about the meaning of life or anything.

Does the Kit fox prefer the McChicken, or would it actually like Big Macs? As there has been a recent spate of foxes killing pet rabbits in our neighbourhood, perhaps Mickey D's should create a McBunny especially for their furry clientele. I recall an e-mail conversation we once had about raccoons liking coffee, so I'm wondering if the Kit fox prefers McLattes or McMacchiatos with their meal.