CoffeeBeer >> Double Shot Buzz >> Whaletown


Having finished my latest crop of California cafes, I can finally get back to my latest discoveries in Sheffield. Last July I was disappointed to see that Urban Pantry in Crookes was closing. Although I didn’t go there too often, it was an essential source for me of bulk kalamata olives when I wanted to make my special manicotti. And at the end of every year, in preparation for the holidays, I’d treat myself to a small selection of their fine cheeses.

In December I was excited to see a new coffee house had opened in the deli's spot. Whaletown Coffee Company focuses on both filter coffee and espresso, both using single-origin beans. The fact that Whaletown is directly across the street from another coffee house makes it seem as if Sheffield is becoming even more like Seattle -- only without all the surrounding water.

Mike offered me a sip of his Americano which turned out to be as hot as slightly cooled lava, so I was forced to immediately spit my mouthful out onto the floor to avoid my mouth turning into the remains of a nuclear test. Embarrassed for my disgusting faux pas, I immediately ran and asked for a napkin to clean it up. I’m assuming my friend Mike has a tongue made of asbestos, as he didn’t think it was particularly hot. Perhaps I'm just turning into a temperature wimp.

The pastries look very nice, especially the croissants and the dark chocolate flapjacks. They’re all from Sheffield's own 4Eyes Patisserie, which opened its own deli last June.

I’ll admit I was a bit confused by the name Whaletown, as there aren’t exactly any whales around landlocked Sheffield, unless perhaps the annual global grey whale migration has added a detour down the River Don. When I contacted the café later I was told that it was inspired by a self-sufficient settlement in British Columbia, Canada. Located on the western shore of Cortes Island in the Discovery Islands archipelago on British Columbia's coast, Whaletown is linked by ferry to Heriot Bay on Quadra Island. The entire island of Cortes has a population of just over a thousand, and in 2013 the settlement of Whaletown featured in the Man Booker long-list work of fiction by author Ruth Ozeki, A Tale for the Time Being.

I was also told by the cafe owner that he liked the idea of a big name for a little shop and community. I suppose the extra space in the café not taken up by seating could be an advantage if a small whale ever popped in for a cappuccino…

Speaking of otherworldly events like whales drinking cappuccinos reminds me of an old email exchange with a former workmate:

I thought I'd introduce you to the Benson's 4D House of Pancakes Theory. Only four dimensions?? Surely that can't be right! Where would the Marmite go?

I've always found this advert to be delightful, though I expect the recording medium added a good deal. Thanks for the IHOP link! To accentuate the sound quality I listened to it underwater. I can vouch for that dishwater cup of coffee which appears at the end, as I actually went to an International House of Pancakes in my mother's Long Beach neighbourhood on the first day of my 2012 trip to California. As we were all Space-Age suburban Californians we had all had our fill of pancakes over the years, so we went for more traditional breakfasts. In fact, here's an extract of my review from my journal of the trip:

"...my mother, my brother, and I go out for breakfast at the nearby International House of Pancakes. It's crowded with iron-pumping Latinos and screaming children. I'm obviously in suburban Long Beach again.

"I have orange juice, a fried egg with Tabasco to clear my jet lagged head, hash browns, and toast. The hash browns are better than what I get in the UK. I'm concerned about the egg being cooked more than I wanted, and as a result I've ended up with that gut burning that I call an egg stomach. My mom suddenly needs to leave to use her own toilet, so we rush out and get home."

Ah yes, a memorable breakfast...

As to your question about where the Marmite goes, it slips through a wormhole and ends up in a parallel universe where crumpets are the dominant species.