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Back Buzz - November 20, 1998

McGraw Street Bakery, 615 West McGraw Street, Upper Queen Anne

A heavenly smell greeted me when I walked into the McGraw Street Bakery; the scent of freshly baked pastries, cakes, cookies, and pies was intoxicating. But, alas, I'd just had lunch, so I only felt like a cappuccino. Like drinking a cappuccino, that is; I don't think I actually felt like one, or looked like one, either, for that matter. Perhaps when I'm old and gray I'll resemble a skinny tall cappuccino -- but for now I think I'm a bit too brunette.

But enough about me -- let's talk about the coffee! But first, I do wish the McGraw Street Bakery had proper cups for their drinks. When I noticed the barista was about to make my double short cappuccino in a glass I quickly asked for a cup, but all she had to offer was a large coffee mug which she filled to the top with milk foam. So my cappuccino was potentially good but a bit feeble, undoubtedly due to the overabundance of milk foam. Do they really not have espresso cups? No macchiato cups? I didn't see anything other than mugs. Perhaps I'll stop in for a macchiato next time, just to see what they serve it in.

It was an enjoyable cappuccino, however, even if it was lactically weakened. The flavor of the Lighthouse Roasters coffee still managed to whisper its way through.

The bakery offers a pleasant side room with a variety of seating: yellow 1950s diner tables and chairs, filigree patio furniture, and cinema chairs in the back corner. I couldn't resist the cinema seating, probably because it reminded me of the Penny University, a fine Belltown coffeehouse which sadly closed its doors a couple years ago. (The Cry Baby Coffee Shop has since opened in its place.) My fellow McGraw Street Bakery patrons on this brisk afternoon were a 50-ish gentleman reading a Tom Clancy novel, an older woman in black coat and beret, a younger women accompanied by her little girl, and a house painter on break. The decor is sophisticated for the most part: glass tables, elegant retro tulip lamps and a lily-inspired chandelier, an angel's large face in one corner, and classical art on the walls, including a screen of pheasants and birds at a fountain with an odd little smiling monkey in the foreground. In stark contrast the floor is a dark green linoleum mess, scratched and paint-splattered to oblivion.

The bakery sits just west of Sixth Avenue West, conveniently located across the street from Malena's Taco Shop, a great little Mexican cafe Max and I have recently discovered. Surprisingly enough -- for the benefit of those of you in California and the Southwest -- there's quite a large Mexican population in Seattle and quite a few satisfying Mexican restaurants as well, Malena's being one of the more traditional choices. My personal faves besides Malena's are Gordito's in Greenwood, La Cocina in Capitol Hill, the amazingly wonderful Peso's Taco Lounge in my own Lower Queen Anne, and, of course, the burrito and fish taco perfection which can only come from Taco Del Mar, a take-out chain with locations all over Seattle and elsewhere. But I digress; sorry, I must be hungry again...

Also across the street is Salon Joseph, where I get my hair cut by Joseph himself, a truly great hair stylist. (And no, he didn't pay me to say that!) Aside from occasional hair appointments and a sporadic need for a quesadilla or chile relleno, I never make it out to this northwestern part of Queen Anne. It's vastly different from Lower Queen Anne, and much more sedate than the part of Upper Queen Anne along Queen Anne Avenue which I frequent. This is a much more laid-back, leisurely neighborhood, a neighborhood I could sleep well in -- sleep a little too well, I suspect. But then I'm not really cut out for this quiet, refined lifestyle; I flourish in the cacophony and intensity which emanates from the heart of a bubbling, thriving city, and I feel most at home among a more heterogeneous mixture of cultures. But there I go again, talking about me!

So, then, let's talk about you for awhile! Where do you live? What type of neighborhoods do you enjoy? Oops! I guess the Web isn't quite that interactivew yet...

Speaking of advanced Web technology, I'm reminded of an e-mail conversation with my Bay Area friend on a hot, thirsty day last summer:

A friend and I are going to the Triple Rock Brewery after work today. It will probably be a cool night, and you're welcome to join us. If you get here late, just stop by at my place. The windows will be open. (Watch your hind paws if you crawl up the ramp to the bathroom window, though. My cat Ariel got a minor cut coming in that way the other day, and I quickly realized that the little red blotches all over the white kitchen floor were not splattered marinara sauce.)

Speaking of beer, how long has the word "brewski" been in use to denote beers (or people named Bruce, for that matter)? Does it necessarily connote those cold, watery brews in cans? I've never heard anyone refer to a pint of real ale as a "brewski."

A beer at Triple Rock sounds great, brewski or not. Perhaps a crisp IPA or a smooth ESB. But climbing into a hot car to get to the airport doesn't sound very appealing right now. Perhaps I can astral-project myself down the coast on a flying beer mat. If it gets any hotter, I'm sure I'll succeed just by virtue of heat insanity...yes, mmmm, I can taste that IPA now...

Aren't you a dancing html master? Could you figure out a way to convert yourself into some sort of multisensory object with a hyperlink from your Pint Pleasures page? Then if I clicked the right spot on your photo, just as the hearts encircled your neck, you would be displayed in person in front of my CRT.

I'd have to be sure to use Netscape, though, because MS Explorer would probably leave out some of your vital parts.

I don't know...even with Netscape, since it would be a cross-platform transfer from my Mac to your PC, I might still end up missing something. Of course, from my experience Internet Explorer fails to display entire graphics or pages at random, so I'd probably end up with no head or mouth or hands which, for the purpose of having a beer with you, could be a big problem. Whereas with Netscape, if I uploaded myself from my Mac and then you downloaded me from your PC, I'd probably just have a few things truncated -- perhaps shorter arms and legs, maybe even a shorter tongue. But I'd still have some form of tongue, at least, so it would be worth trying.