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Back Buzz - August 17, 2013

pumping heartCaffe Trieste, 4045 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, California

During my visit to America in May of this year, I spent a few days in Northern California with my friend Mistah Rick. After taking a 3-day brewpub tour in the East Bay, Sonoma County, and the Sacramento area, we spent my last day in Rick's immediate neighbourhood.

Naturally we had to start the day with a decent coffee. After browsing through some interesting book and toy shops on Piedmont Avenue we ended up at the oh-so-familiar Caffe Trieste.

I wasn't familiar with this particular Caffe Trieste, but I've known about the original cafe in San Francisco's North Beach since I was a little girl. That cafe -- the first espresso coffeehouse on the West Coast -- was started in 1956 by Giovanni Giotta, known as Papa Gianni, who hailed from Trieste in Italy. My first visit to that famous Caffe Trieste was when I was in my twenties and I was passing through San Francisco on the way to visit a friend in Oregon. I popped in for a quick caffeine hit and found myself surrounded by what appeared to be real beatniks, all much older than myself. As I was a bit of a punk at the time I kept by myself in a corner, observing the patrons with awe and wondering if Lawrence Ferlinghetti or Allan Ginsberg might pop in at any moment. After all, Ferlinghetti's City Lights Book Store was just down the road.

Since then the family have opened another Caffe Trieste in Berkeley and this one in Oakland. The cafe was very busy on this particular Saturday morning, even though it's situated ridiculously close to a Starbucks, a Peet's, and several other coffeehouses. We stood at the counter and had a very long wait for our coffees, as other customers helped themselves to fresh orange juice and a barista prepared a couple of mimosas (or Buck's fizzes for my UK readers). Besides the typical pastries there is a full breakfast menu.

We sat at a window table in the corner surrounded by photos of the original Giotta family in Trieste and in San Francisco, including one of them posing with former San Francisco mayor Joseph Alioto. Our croissants were massive and our cappuccinos were very attractive and extremely foamy -- so foamy, in fact, that we had to use the fracking technique to get through all the foam down to the coffee. We did find it eventually. The coffee had that good traditional Italian taste to it. It's a good old fashioned cappuccino that Mamma might have made.

Speaking of searching for coffee beneath a sea of foam reminds me of a series of Facebook postings from earlier this year with my Bay Area friend:

a sometime wordsmith
who occasionally likes
to employ a few well selected modifying phrases
to craft a sentence
that suspends its subject and defers its predicate
until the last possible moment,
found this line
from the San Francisco Chronicle
about a plane crash in the mountains of Southern California
a bit awkward:

"Three people
on the plane
that landed
on a fairway
while stunned golfers
looked on
had minor injuries."

The headline was a bit odd too, like the final score of some all-too-serious baseball game:

"Planes collide near LA; 1 crashes, 1 lands, 1 dead"
So if a plane crashes near LA and a plane lands and somebody dies, where do they bury the survivors?
If the wind is blowing 17 knots from the WNW and the pilot's name is Roger, they bury the survivors on the Canadian side of the border, because they have better health care.
What if the wind is blowing from the ESE at the same moment a butterfly farts in Thailand?
Then you have to turn on the vacuum cleaner to transport them somewhere over the rainbow.
Is it legal to bury survivors in Oz?
Good question. I suspect they never bury anyone in Oz. Crushed witches are left to hang until eagles pick their bones (or perhaps flying monkeys). And Munchkins never die.