Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Torre Caffe and Temple Bar Tuesday

All romantics meet the same fate someday. Cynical and drunk and boring someone in some dark cafe.
Joni Mitchell, song-The Last Time I Saw Richard


I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.
T.S. Eliot

If you ever come to Bellingham, these are two necessary stops in my “officious” tour guide service—Torre Caffe and The Temple Bar. Torre Caffe is best visited in the bustling morning or at lunch, while the Temple is best late at night.

Torre Caffe is a tiny, bustling lunch spot owned by Pasquale and Louisa, natives of the Ligurian coast of Italy. The dining floor of the café is as packed with tiny tables as possible, and during the lunch rush you’ll often have to take your not-a-thing-comes-out-of-a-can soup to go. One of my favorite things to do while waiting in line is to enjoy an inward giggle at Pasquale’s handwritten non-sequiturs on the signs “Scramblade eggs, sausquage, on english muff” is delicious, though last week’s “roasted paper and tomato soup” was also a show-stopper. Step to the front of the line, where Pasquale is typically waiting for your order amid the chaos of Louisa running the espresso machine and alternately assembling the cannolli at a refrigerated counter at the back: ‘ciao, ciao, come va?! Cappucino?’ This is the kind of place, fellow coffee buffs, where it’s safe to order an Americano or even a Machiatto shot. No need for sugar and milk to cover any off flavor or bitter shots.
Worthy of note is the pesto Lasagna special, the delicious Panini sandwiches, chocolate and cream filled croissants, and especially the dolce menu…made-from-scratch cannolli, chocolate tartufo, and limoncete.

The Temple Bar is through the back door of my office, past the new Pickford Dreamspace Studios and Independent Theater and across the under-construction pedestrian plaza which will be the center of the new downtown Arts district. Named after the “original” Temple Bar in Ireland (there are about 17 bars claiming to be the original Temple, according to my friend Alyssa who went to Dublin in March), the Temple Bar is a bar in the European sense, which is quite different from the American sense. While traveling in Italy this past spring, my friends and I grew to love the sight of the glowing three letters B-A-R on the corner of a busy street or down a small alley. It meant coffee, warmth, a chance to sit with the local community, and (possibly) a latte served in a goblet for breakfast. A bar is a combination of café and bar, and typically serves espresso, pastries and possibly lunch items, along with wine and beer, plus some common liquours like grappa and limoncello.
The Temple Bar is similar, serving a large wine menu, some beer choices, and truly amazing espresso drinks, along with a small selection of appetizers, Panini, and desserts. The best way to hit the Temple is to order a Temple Café—espresso, milk, and a dash of strong hazelnut wine with whipped cream—and sit with friends at the rickety wooden kitchen table in the window with a church pew on one end and a few mismatched kitchen chairs around the other sides. Settle in for a good long chat or card game. The good stuff takes time, just like in Italy.

2 comments:

Teddi said...

This is Teddi from silhouette words. :-) I believe I may start following your blog..

And btw, I LOVE that Joni Mitchell song.

jana.kaye said...

Hi Teddi! happy to have you around. I'm just getting started, so hopefully will get less boring eventually ;-). I promise it will be more than just coffee shop reviews!