Thursday, April 25, 2013

Rise of the Baby Coffee Geek

If you've been hanging out here with me for awhile, you'll have picked up the fact that I'm not a morning person and I need my Pink Fluffy Dressing Gown and a decent cup of coffee to get me moving. Any break in that routine...and well...there have been massacres which have ended better. I need my decent coffee.

This was my starting definition of 'decent coffee'. At the end of a rather hideous relationship I was given a coffee machine and it made brilliant filter coffee, until it broke. Since then, I've been through 6 coffee machines, different makes, prices. They all broke. Ladies and gentlemen, all I wanted was a good cup of no-fuss coffee in the morning. Was that too much to ask? Apparently so.

Then I spent a weekend at the 2011 Voewood Festival with Dave* . When we spotted the mobile coffee vendor and he assured me it would be good, and it was, I was putty in his hands. What can I say? He then introduced me to the two places in Norwich I can't live without: The Window and Strangers Coffee House

I have gone from drinking cappuccinos with 2 sugars to straight-up espressos. My palette has changed. I used to only enjoy full-flavoured, in-your-face coffee, now I quite enjoy the lighter, more flowery coffees. 

My morning brew is now made from a stove-top. It's as no-fuss as a person can get.

I am now totally fussy about the coffee I drink. I won't voluntarily go into Starbucks, a gun in my back might do the trick. I will visit Costa, if I absolutely must and Cafe Nero remains my chain preference.

Hanging out with proper baristas and drinking proper coffee and then going to the UKBC heats in Bury St Edmunds and then to Chester, I have been having an absolute blast! Tomorrow, I am off to the London Coffee Festival with Dave, we will use the opportunity to gad around, drink loads of coffee and I will network like crazy. On Saturday, Alex from Strangers will be competing in the UKBC Semi-finals. I will be crew again. He's got some really stiff competition. He is up against some of the best baristas in the country. The fact that out of all of the many hundreds of baristas in this country, he's in the semi-finals - it shows he is really, really good!

Once I'm done crewing with Alex, I get to put on my "official" volunteer t-shirt for the rest of the day. I'll help out with whatever needs doing. 

The finals will be held on Sunday. Only the 6 best baristas will go through. I will be volunteering all day! Yay!

I am ridiculously excited. It's going to be so much fun. Hard work. But so much fun.

Oh yeah....and this is a video from the Sanremo guys (they make lush professional coffee machines). By the way, the guy who asks for the coffee, he looks after the baristas in the prep room - he's got my tamper**.

*AKA Lawrence. As I'm talking about his official, stated title as Sensory Coffee Judge for the UK Barista Championships, he gets his proper name used. Just to confuse you all.

**It's MY tamper, not Reg Barber's.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Reality Blog Award

OMG! I've been nominated by Jane Risdon for this lovely blog award. Thanks very much darling. And she's also asked me a few questions.

1. If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be?

I would love significant lottery win. Okay, seriously I don't think I would change anything. Although Life has a tendency to be a touch 'interesting' occasionally, I'm actually very content with the way it continues to unfold.

2. If you could repeat any age which would it be?

I quite fancy being 30 again. It was so much fun.

3. What really scares you?

Dementia. The thought of losing grip of reality in my old age.

4. If you could be someone else for a day, who would you be?

Eh? I have a hard enough time being myself. I'd make a total mess trying to be someone else for a day!

* * *

You know I can't help but spread the love. I therefore nominate the following lovely people for the award. Grab the pic, answer the questions and nominate your victims fellow authors/bloggers who've touched you recently.

Savannah Marsh Mama

Herr LX



Many thanks to Jane for nominating me for this award!

Hope you lovelies will enjoy playing! 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Cooking Up a Storm - Review

"When newly single Sarah Peterson rents a cottage on Kit Roseberry’s country estate and swops cooking supper for rent, she isn’t expecting TV producer, Magda Holmes, to fall for Kit and his culinary skills, or offer him a slot on her TV show.

Kit can’t boil water, but he’s got the look and needs the money. Magda is keen to go for a traditional feel, happy families, picnics on the beach and birthday teas, so Sarah - along with her two boys - finds herself as undercover cook, and an instant wife and family for Kit’s TV debut.

But what will that do to Sarah's fresh start, her new man, ex-husband and the rest of her life? Is it a recipe for disaster or does it have all the ingredients of a great romance?"

This is chick-lit at its best.  Cooking Up a Storm follows the unravelling of Sarah's marriage to the self-centred Colin and the beginning of her new life at the beautiful estate in Newnham Magna. Her eccentric landlord Kit, gets in over his head with a TV producer and what follows is a gentle and humorous farce which delivers that delicious falling-in-love excitement, without adhering to a romantic formula.

This is a novel for those who appreciate good food. There are recipes at the end of every chapter and they are mouth-watering. For heaven's sake eat before you start reading, you'll find yourself very peckish before you get too far.

If you are looking for a happily-ever-after experience that's well written, not formulaic and witty look no further. Sue Welfare has written well over 20 novels and knows how to tell a good tale that keeps a reader guessing as to where the happy ending will happen. Her heroines aren't written to type and neither are her relationships. For those of us who aren't 20-something, and know the perils that accompany being swept off our feet by Prince Charming, she ably describes the wonder of falling in love and the difficulties of having meaningful relationships in mid-life, without reverting to cheese or cynicism.

I am slightly biased, it must be said. When I first began my journey into writing, I did a 10-credit Introduction to Popular Fiction at UEA (when they still did Continuing Education). I'd never read chick-lit before, and on the advice of my tutor I took myself off to WH Smith and surveyed the crammed shelves. I picked up Guilty Creatures and loved it and I now have an excellent stash of her books on my shelves and in my kindle.

Cooking Up a Storm is currently only available in e-reader format, but a little birdie says that is due to change with the paperback version due to be released soon.

I can't recommend this novel enough. Enjoy!