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Back Buzz - March 23, 2005

pumping heart Kitsch'n, 32 Acorn Street, Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne & Wear

On a recent trip to Newcastle we stayed for several nights in Jesmond, the trendy suburb famous for Jesmond Dean, a wooded Victorian park featuring exotic plants and a waterfall. We stayed in one of the many small hotels lining Osborne Street. Due to a misunderstanding on the part of the bespectacled man who checked us in, on our first morning we came down too late for breakfast. Desperate for coffee and sustenance after an evening of overindulgence we headed out into the morning air in search of a cafe.

Not far away, just around the corner in Acorn Street, we stumbled upon Kitsch'n. Actually "we were drawn into Kitsch'n" is probably a more accurate statement, as any establishment featuring red and black decor always attracts me rather like a ripe banana attracts fruit flies, or perhaps more accurately like a neodymium-iron-boron magnet attracts iron filings. Once inside we found a pleasantly clean, modern atmosphere amid the red tables and black seats, with a brick wall on one side to lend a bit of classic warmth. The staff seemed very friendly and our English breakfasts were just what we were looking for to satisfy our hunger and ease our badly Drambuied heads. And those colours helped as well: the noncommittally basic black soothed my sensibilities while the stimulating red helped the blood rush back to my brain.

Because many British baristas seem to interpret the concept of cappuccino as "a soup bowl with a shot of espresso buried in a Matterhorn of milk foam", Andrew and I usually order macchiatos instead. On this occasion, however, we decided to go the traditional Italian breakfast route and have some milk with our coffee. Our double cappuccinos were large but tastefully done so that the espresso could still stand on its own feet. In fact our cappuccinos were so welcome we each had another.

But I can't really figure out why the owners chose the name Kitsch'n, as I didn't detect even a hint of kitsch. There are tiny touches of playfulness, but nothing trashy -- and the word kitsch actually originates from a word for "pretentiousness", and there is nothing the least bit pretentious about Kitsch'n or its decor. Perhaps I'm misinterpreting the name; perhaps Kitsch'n is simply emulating a kitchen without the 'e' -- like an auto repair shop called G'rage or a beauty shop called Sal'n. And there's something almost folksy and homespun about that 'n: "Let's mosey on over 'n' do some eatin' 'n' drinkin' at Kitsch'n!"

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

I've thought of a great invention which would solve a lot of this year's Xmas shopping dilemmas: a power driven pizza cutter! Have you ever seen one? I mean, why not? It would be easy to make and ever so useful. And after the novelty wears off and the power driven pizza cutter is relegated to the basement with all those fondue sets and Dustbusters, imagine the horror film possibilities: The California Pizza Cutter Massacre!

If I'm so brilliant, why don't I have any money?

I think you may be onto something. Wealth could be just around the corner. The Power Pizza Cutter (Power PC) may be a hot seller, especially if you market it through those catalogs like Sharper Image and Cooks Tools. Macho men will buy it if it's actually something they can sit on and drive. (Interestingly, a web search for "pizza cutter" turned up many hits on one single product called just "Pizza Cutter", as if this one manufacturer has a trademark on the term. And my wild-idea search for "Rambo pizza cutter" turned up, where the 6/5/2002 entry said, "Tune in tomorrow when we mow our lawn with a pizza cutter!")

...and in a year or two, when everybody's tired of their Power Pizza Cutters, how about a little fun with pizzas: the Remote Control Powered Pizza Striper, which works like those road-striping machines. You can fill it with green pesto, red marinara sauce, or white bechamel sauce -- or perhaps separate compartments for all three -- and then let it roll over your unbaked pizza, painting dotted lines and zigzag lines and arrows and stripes and dots and even words like PED XING and SLOW and RIGHT TURN ONLY as you control the action from the comfort of your chair. This would put the fun back into cutting pizza slices! When the pizza comes out of the oven, hot and sizzling and marked for action, everybody would run down into the basement to get out their old Power PC, rev it up, and drive it on down the ol' pizza highway!