the alfmeister

a figment of reality's imagination

Crazy for C8H10N4O2 – poor me, pour you.

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Since my last post a lot of water has passed under the bridge, and a lot of coffee has passed my lips, and while doing time on the machine I still don’t think I am anywhere near getting the perfect pour, just like in the last week I have not appeared to become some sort of sexual god, though in both cases, not through lack of want or trying.

Just up the road at the local school a local and national coffee icon donates time and equipment in a totally unselfish means to assist in fundraising; C4 Coffee, owned by Guy and Paula have plumbed in a commercial coffee machine so that tired and weary parents can grab a fix after dumping their kids, and teachers can get a kick before having to deal with said abandoned kids.

It also turns out that C4 will be hosting the CHCH chapter of the Rocket Home Barista Champs and after attending a ‘masterclass’ at head office in Tuam St it became crystal clear that I may in fact be the only one of the 20 entrants that does not have a coffee machine, and anytime spent on one has been a rare and futile attempt. So what does one do, three weeks out from the comp? One sucks up to aforementioned coffee connoisseurs and in true perfectionist-come-OCD-come-analytical mindset picks their collective brains, begs for time on the frontline, and learns, learns some more, and then when one cannot take on any more info, learns some more again.

The week has flown by as Paula, first, introduced me to the world of coffee-making. And like a $2 whore on a naval base, I took to it as if my life depended on it. Terms such as ‘tamping’, ‘grinding’, ‘group’ and ‘crema’ were surprisingly nothing to do with sexual deviancy (much to my disappointment) but explained methods, tools, and the ‘should’ of a good pour (crema).

Guy, and C4’s chief coffee trainer, Tare took it even further and all the coffee I had struggled, butchered, and a few times were proud about were but a distant memory as these two bared my soul and swore me into a secret society where a bare touch of the grinder was the difference between a good coffee and posh; where the pressure applied when tamping (pressing coffee grinds into a handle) could make a change of seconds before a pour started; where the depth of the steam wand either deafened you due to the horrific ‘squeal’ of the milk or sounded like a distant jet taking off (which is good); and even the act of luring milk into a cup which in itself required pin point accuracy, speed, and ‘finish’ to ensure a satisfied customer, or in my case, a judge.

The next few posts will focus on some of these, and more, mentioned above, and while anything I scribe here may be of interest, there is no better way to learn than to do the miles…or the cups.

And now my journey has now begun.

Crazy for C8H10N4O2 – Black as Night, Sweet as Sin.

Yours Truly supping on the sweetest nectar in New Caledonia...oh the memories.

Yours Truly supping on the sweetest nectar in New Caledonia…oh the memories.

A few months ago while cruising the South Pacific with friends and family a day stop in Noumea demanded the opportunity to sample and determine if in fact the French knew coffee as they have themselves believe. So in coming across a chic little place I took the punt on the king of all pours, the Espresso, and if I were to be so daft as to believe in any kind of deity then the lovely bird across the counter with the heavily lilted French accent was as close I have come to believing in any higher being.

Just like I know the difference between a good fuck and a dud root, my knowledge of coffee comes from similar experiences, but in no way does it make me an expert, just like dry humping the bed sheets doesn’t make me an aficionado of Kama Sutra. But, for those who follow my rants on Social Media I will happily name and shame those who try to palm off a cup they’ve obviously crapped in for a cup of hot Joe, and you’ll need to troll through my old Tweets and Updates to find those places worthy of avoiding as I won’t name them again though I will hint at them surreptitiously; Coffee Culture and Muffin Break Hornby, Coffee Club Manukau, Esquires Northwood.

logoHowever I am nothing if not willing to back up any such claims without placing myself into the firing line and over the next few weeks I will search to relive that moment in the islands as I attempt to extract the perfect Jitter Juice. Further to this I will readily lay my soul and reputation on the line as I enter the Rocket Home Barista Champs here in CHCH next month.

So, if you please, follow me as I give myself a crash course in grinding, tamping, stretching and pouring my way to the top, and if not the top, to a standard where I can subjectively rate  decent cup of Caffeine Infusion rather than my generic spat-out knee-jerk expletive as I have done in the past…

…and if I manage to impart some knowledge onto you, my three loyal followers of my blog, then my work is doubly rewarding.

The Destruction of The Twin Towers (gastronomically speaking)…

Official Report, 7 February, 2014 1928hrs;

Suspect entered the premises through front door in company with unidentified accomplice. Both were dressed casually, and at first inspection it would be deemed that there was nothing particularly threatening about them, however the well-built of the two was strikingly handsome which was the first indication there might be some problems – no one in their right mind can be that good-looking.

As they chatted to the teller it was apparent that the two were intoxicated, beer being the obvious substance due to vapors prominent in the closed confines of the restaurant. On scouting the area it was noted there was a bar of ill-repute right across the street and subsequent investigation indicated the suspects had been on site for some hours, quite possibly planning this attack.

After initially speaking to the young girl the manager was called out front to deal with whatever request had been made, and after considerable confusion come utter chaos as all staff members present were frantically dealing with their demands. While it was still not clear to me what their intentions were, the cash register did show a total of $75.40 demanded and authorities were alerted.

When the ‘booty’ was handed over there was an audible gasp from other patrons as it was now clear that something inhumane was taking place and there could be fallout. The two suspects made their way to a table far enough removed from everyone else and the attack began. The good-looking fellow seemed oblivious to the world around him as he remained focus on his planned attack, however his side kick may well have been having second thoughts as he could not concentrate on the task at hand, and was actually witnessed to have pulled out of what proved to be a futile exercise. The leader, however, was focussed and completed the annihilation in a time unofficially noted as being less than 20mins. With little fanfare of regard for their del;low human beings, they both left, the victor savoring a litre of Coke and Raspberry through a straw. On closer inspection of the damage their was no visible trace that anything had actually taken place; forensic evidence taken from the scene indicated this was a thorough and highly professional job and nothing of note could be lifted.

Case Unsolved; target at large.

Official Report, 14 February, 2014, 2132hrs.

In what proved to be a cunning attempt at flaunting their crime in front of authorities, both suspects re-entered the premises a week later than above, the irony of the date not lost on all present; The Valentine’s Day Massacre was a thing of folk-lore, however authorities alerted to the unfolding scenario were clear on one thing, this would be worse, with collateral damage.

Some staff immediately recognised the attractive man, and maybe in an effort to appease him spoke openly and with outward happiness which seemed to soothe the savage beast. Unlike the previous instance where confusion was dominant, the staff were obviously well-equipped this time round and quickly and efficiently had the task completed. Quite possibly as a result of the debacle the week before, the second person had somewhat distanced himself from the goal and had settled into a minor role on the act playing out before all and sundry.

The handsome male (did we mention how good-looking he was?) seemed intent on having his sick fantasy recorded for prosperity as the manager, now a guest in his presence videoed the entire spectacle from her smart device while the accomplice timed the affair on his.

In a blur, akin to a pack of sharks feeding on a carcass, the target was destroyed, obliterated from the annals of history to be nothing more than a mere memory, another yet forgotten victim of circumstance. It was both ugly and beautiful to behold, this slight frame of a person, possessing movie-star looks defied all laws of physics, biology, and human dignity to eliminate the target in less than nine minutes. He was coolly observed to have noted to all within earshot that he was attempting a sub-five minute attempt, however within the first few stages of the act manage to take some serious body shots; tongue, lip, and inner cheek showing battle scars which obviously slowed his progress.

And then they were no more, leaving in the same openly loud and obnoxious manner in which they had announced themselves. Those witness to it will recall the story for years to come, medical authorities will no doubt dissect this unnatural phenomenon, and insurance agents will rip up all paperwork.

Case Open; target still at large, considered highly dangerous in food circles yet so handsome.

Post Script; the record for consumption is held by a Canadian operative in the unbelievable time of 1min 19secs. In NZ it sits at a yet unconfirmed 6mins.

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Aloha! from Hawaii…sort of…

Somewhere in this picture is a burger…nope, can't for the life of me see it...

Somewhere in this picture is a burger…nope, can’t for the life of me see it…

Another Auckland trip, so that can only mean one thing, sitting in shitty traffic always wary of a crowbar being pushed into your face by one of the nicer inhabitants of the city.

But it also means carb-loading, chaffing down sizeable portions of gristle, fat, oil, and synthetic flavors…of super-sized fizzy, and uncomfortable chairs seated behind tables too small to take a napkin.

Yep, I’m back home…

No sooner than I got off the plane I was at Carl’s Jnr’s new residence at the airport, and again I failed to order ala carté (if it can be called that) and ended up with yet another ‘limited edition’ offering; The Teriyaki Hawaiian Thick Combo. At nearly $14 it isn’t a cheap lunch, especially as a medium combo, compared to a more sedate (and sane) coffee and ham sandwich, but I have always maintained I don’t mind paying good money for good food, so would it hit the palate like it hit the wallet?

Again I was caught out by Carl’s point of difference in serving you at your table (if eating in obviously) and had to follow my ‘waitress’ around the restaurant for a couple of laps before we both clicked to the fact that me and that dinner tray she was carrying were destined for each other. Seated behind obese Customs officials might be an off-putting experience in a fast-food joint, but surprisingly it seems so normal that it’s the skinny people who stand out, and while I’m anything but, I can at least smile in the knowledge that my impact on the health service is pretty minimal compared to those I witnessed in both Carl’s and the newly opened KFC next door.

One of these things is not like the other…while ugly, like Janis Joplin, it still is bloody good...

One of these things is not like the other…while ugly, like Janis Joplin, it still is bloody good…

As the photo shows, the Hawaiian didn’t look remotely like its passport photo and while this riles me up something chronic it seems to dissipate once I start making my way through handfuls of fries and mouthfuls of processed meat…and this burger quickly made me forget all my ills.

In the next 2mins (or thereabouts) I chomped, swallowed, chewed, and burped my way through one of the most enjoyable delicacies I can remember in a burger joint, and that is no mean feat. Yes, it did seem odd that I was eating a ‘Hawaiian’ devoid of any ham or bacon, but the meat patty and sizable pineapple ring were as juicy as if they were picked, shot, and boned that morning. The buns were soft and fresh, the lettuce and accompanying veggies and sauce a subtle sideshow, as they should be. Pair that with the best damned fries on the market right now, washed down with an aromatic, full-bodied Coke and Raspberry, and Carl’s Jnr has nailed it, lock stock and two smoking barrels; there is a new king in town…now if only the TV people would pull their collective heads out of their arises and allow decent family viewing of hot chicks getting it on over a BBQ. It must be said however that no one in this joint closely resembled the chicks in the ad. Carl’s, either make the burgers look like the ads, or make the girls. Not too much to ask, is it?

While looking better than it's opposition's feeble attempt, it must be noted that I don't really have huge hands...

While looking better than it’s opposition’s feeble attempt, it must be noted that I don’t really have huge hands…

Later that week, at departures I was greeted with another Hawaiian; McDonald’s Hot Hawaiian, a play on one of the undisputed kings of the heart-attack in a box, the Quarter Pounder. Add in another pineapple ring, some hot spicy sauce coupled with its iconic slab of fatty meat, this could well be a true pretender to the feast enjoyed 48hrs earlier. OK, the intent was to sample something off the board at Carl’s, but a business meeting that (of course) turned to the subject of burgers went well over the allotted time and in a rush to get the rental car back and checked in meant that this had to be waylaid in preference to something closer at hand. While my ability to eat something in quick time (picture a spy in WWII swallowing a secret code crossed with the Cookie Monster in full flight) is not in question, the restaurant’s timing in getting it into my paws in good time was the risk not worth taking.

McD’s is pricey, especially for what you get, but buying this burger in a large combo came in nearly $3 cheaper than Carl’s, so could this prove to be the best bang for your buck…relatively speaking?

Yes, and no. McDonald’s have a real good burger in this however the hot sauce might not be to everyone’s tastes – and as a bloke who likes a sweaty ring piece as the result of herbs and spices this was definitely their hottest offering to date (read previous reviews) – history might show it to be a silent achieved destined to be swiped aside for some other crazy concoction designed as a futile attempt at making them look like a progressive provider. Yes, the burger is nice, fresh, juicy, and most importantly, tasty, though one always has a craving to fill a little more of a gap after eating there, no burger quite getting to a size where this bloke can feel sated…sort of like previous girlfriends have felt after the best four minutes of my life. Their fries, as more often than not were good, as they were fresh, something obvious to those of us who have been served old dry fires many a time before, but they are streets behind of Carl’s potatoes.

McD's are not known for their sexy ads...

McD’s are not known for their sexy ads…

Two chains, one well established, the other moving in on hallowed South Auckland ground. Two burgers, both good, very good in fact…and there can be only one winner. McDonald’s, you better seriously look at what you are giving us as Carl’s are going to king-hit you where it hurts you most. When I told people I had eaten at Carl’s, pretty much everyone gasped and said “Oh no, I wouldn’t eat there!”, yet in the same breath mentioned they had never actually eaten there…well, fellow diners, I suggest you make a break from your Big Macs, your Zinger burgers, and your sub-standard fries and visit what could well be a changing of the guard in the race to provide paid obesity…




Couldn't have said it better myself...

Couldn’t have said it better myself…

Friday Funny…Airport Security Chopper-style…

Well its been a while because quite frankly I cannot be fucked sometimes…normally due to sporting a hangover or clutching my heart as fears of another day without smokes grips me, but the prodigal cynic has returned…

For those of you living under a rock, Aussie’s superstar criminal, Mark ‘Chopper’ Read passed away recently, but in comic Chopper Reid’s guise the legend lives on. Post 9/11, and right in the face of the self-centred Yanks, here’s his take on how to beat those anally-retentive folks who failed Police exams.

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