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Back Buzz - August 20, 2011

pumping heartVita Deli, 14 Division Street, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

Recently during the Tramlines weekend I was walking with a friend down Division Street in the centre of Sheffield. On a corner I spotted a new cafe arrival: Vita. As my local coffeehouse in Seattle which I frequented every few days was Caffé Vita, I quickly poked my head in the door and instantly spotted the espresso machines. My god, I thought, is it possible? Since the originally Caffé Vita opened in my neighbourhood, 7 more Caffé Vitas have popped up in Seattle, Olympia, and Portland, Oregon. But could they have actually spread as far as across the pond?

Naturally I had to come back soon and check it out. It was on a recent Friday lunchtime, after a game of table tennis at the nearby Common Room, that I decided it was time to give it a visit. The cafe is very small, with the only seating being window stools. I sat at the side window with a view of the Spar Shop kitty-corner and Barkers Pool just beyond. The woman who served me was very warm and friendly. As I needed a bit of lunch but didn't want too much I asked about the bruschettas, and I ordered one with mozzarella, roasted red peppers, and cherry tomatoes. I was pleasantly surprised -- more like shocked -- when the food and my single macchiato both came to only £3.95, a bargain on trendy Division Street.

My macchiato was served in a pretty white espresso-sized china cup with demitasse spoon. The foam cap was perfectly done, and the cup was imprinted with the logo of Caffe Vinci, a coffee bean company operating out of Middlesbrough. Although the coffee was a bit on the weak side, it was only a single shot and it tasted very nice, so allowing for that it wasn't bad at all, and I would gladly come back and try a more robust double.

Vita Deli prides itself on being Italian, with the menu boards offering fresh salads, "hand filled" sandwiches (the best appendages with which to fill sandwiches, in my opinion), paninis, and cakes. My bruschetta was served in two pizza slices and was very tasty, and I'm sure the rest of the menu choices are very good as well. As I dined and sipped my pretty macchiato I watched the abundant Friday lunchtime foot traffic pass by. Everybody seemed to be out enjoying the sunshine and the nearby Sheffield-By-The-Seaside festival, which still makes me and my friends laugh, as Sheffield is 72 miles from the nearest coastline. But with global warming causing the rise of the oceans, perhaps Sheffield will be on the seaside in another hundred years -- and this Vita Deli may well become part of the Seattle coffee empire.

Speaking of completely wrong things reminds me of an extremely recent e-mail exchange with my Bay Area friend about pub names:

Attached are a couple of photos of the newly re-opened Shakespeares Pub in Sheffield. (Yes, it's actually plural.) The plural "Shakespeares" pub made me envision a place where several bearded men in Elizabethan dress wander about, distracted, muttering things in blank verse. Somehow it also brought to mind the Monty Python skit where the Pope interviews Michelangelo about his Last Supper painting with three Christs ("It works, mate! The fat one balances the two skinny ones!") There are also 28 disciples and a kangaroo. Somewhere, could there be a pub called "Three Christs and a Kangaroo"? There's bound to be a Three Christs And A Kangaroo somewhere - in fact I seem to recall having a really nice pint of Blessed Roo Ale there. There's definitely an Apostles Barg in London. What about the Three Merry Jesuses? No, I'm thinking of Sheffield's Three Merry Lads. There's definitely a Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem in Nottingham, reputedly the oldest surviving pub in the UK which I haven't yet had the honour of visiting.

On further pub-name investigation I discovered a pub in the West End of London called I am the Only Running Footman. There's a Fox Goes Free in Sussex and there's a Nowhere Inn Particular in Croyden. One website suggested there's a pub somewhere in the UK called the Man Of A Thousand Briefcases, but I couldn't find an address.