CoffeeBeer >> Double Shot Buzz >> Previous Coffee Columns >> Patisserie Valerie

Back Buzz - May 5, 2013

pumping heartPatisserie Valerie, 11 Barkers Pool, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

In the midst of a very hectic stressful week involving overwork, elderly mothers' accidents, and preparing for a trip to America, I somehow was blessed with a couple of hours to kill one Thursday morning. As I've always been curious about Patisserie Valerie I decided to finally stop in and see what their coffee is like.

The cafe is inviting enough, roomy and bright with dark red and dark wood tables and chairs and a nice almost art-deco look to the glass front. I found myself a small table over on the side where I could get a good view around the place. As I had been out for awhile I had a quick visit to the Ladies' Toilets, and it's nearly as posh as the Ladies' in a Business Class lounge I once visited. My mother would be over the moon in there.

My double macchiato was served in a rather large tulip-shaped cup. There was a nice simply-shaped rosetta resting on the surface that looked at first like an abstract tree but quickly spread out into a mushroom cloud. Or perhaps that was just a suggestive reconstruction of my overstressed mind. The coffee was quite pleasant, although it was a bit weak for a double. I couldn't tell if it was because it had been extracted with too much water or if it was a case of too much milk. But it tasted really nice so I didn't mind too much, and it was served with a demitasse spoon and a large bowl full of Illy sugar packets. One could mix themselves an extremely saccharine coffee pudding if they so wished.

Established in 1926, Patisserie Valerie is a cafe chain, with other cafes located all over England and Scotland. The first cafe was opened in Soho by a Belgian woman, Madam Valerie, who wanted to open a Continental patisserie in England. The Sheffield cafe serves nice-looking breakfasts and lunches and they specialize in cakes.

As I sat drinking my milky macchiato I tried to picture Madam Valerie. I couldn't help thinking of Amy Winehouse and the Zutons. But then music has been filling my head for quite some time, and perhaps "Valerie" will finally push out "New York, New York" which has been haunting me for the past couple of weeks. And no, I'm not going to New York -- I'm going to California. that "California, Here I Come" entering my head? I must head it off at the pass: "Why don't you come and see me, Valerie..."

I'm afraid I was a bit bowled over when I paid my bill of £2.80, which is nearly twice as much as what I usually pay for a double macchiato. For this reason I doubt that I'll be going back for a coffee. But I might just try a meal sometime.

Speaking of stress and insanity reminds me of a recent conversation with my Bay Area friend about cheese:

I love the designs of your Bizzarrea birthday badges. And I'm pleased with my full arsenal of Bizzarrea earrings. I'll have to keep some of them with me in the pouch of my fanny pack whenever I'm out at pubs. I never know when I might encounter a suitable recipient for a pair. Lately I've become aware as I sit at my computer that the cheese on the "paparazzi" pair has been watching me. Is that a form of tyrophobia? It's all right -- you can always trust an Emmental. It's the Leerdammer you need to be wary of. Cheshire is a very friendly cheese, although a bit flaky. Wensleydale cheeses are known for their dry wit. Fontina is very affectionate, although stay away from Gruyere if you aren't looking for an attachment. Rustic Camemberts can sometimes have a problem with body odour. Haloumi is the most tolerant cheese: you can grill it, fry it, bake it, barbecue it, flay it, or lay it out bare, and it will still strive to please.

If I were Tom Lehrer I would be inspired to write a song... Even before you mentioned Tom Lehrer I heard you singing these words. I think we need to pull our old novelty band back together to record it.