Espressin' O

Upon the request of one of my new bosses, I was asked to go to this place and try some coffee and write about the experience.

This is how it came out.

I have inspiration in the form of a caffeinated command, I have a new(ish) iPod addition and I have wheels. Rubber wheels made in Japan by the fine manufacturers of my motor vehincle: Honda. My Honda that has taken me from California to Boston to Toronto back to Boston and all the way South to Texas. Austin.

With my right hand on steering and my left on air-tambourine, these four wheels I got took me in my milk-box rolling down the hills, that are Loop 360, to Hill Country's finest kept secret. The secret my legs, wiggling excitedly from my hip sockets, are about to take me to as they make their way towards the door to 'Tuscany.' Yes, Tuscany. You see, I am about to take my mouth on a little vacation, or so I am told by the mouth's of Annika and Andrew.

I walk through the doors and register the rows of cascading shelves- glowing in every color of the rainbow. The name Tuscany, at this point, is really only a peep into that keyhole that unlocks the grand mystery of this tiny slice of foreign-like heaven, and what it supposedly has in store for me.

I peruse what seems to be layers upon layers of standard convenient-store fare: candy, hot dogs, chips. I see the now-typical mega glass-enclosed boxes beaming with fifty varieties of energy drinks made from bile and bull's testicle juice. There is a woman fondling two cylindric cans, reading what I imagine is a bunch of indecipherable nonsense about metamightkillyoulicious syrup. Pfff, I think, making my way away through the store. That stuff is for amateurs; sadistic folk or fans of Paris Hilton and eating disorders, perhaps. Not me. I want liquid gusto the color of rich mahogany. I want the real deal Holyfield here...if Holyfield were Italian.

I want a superb cup of delicousness, not wild berry-flavored chemicals. I want: coffee. Better yet, espresso. One of life's great little joys. The fuel behind some the great's wells of ink. The "black blood of the coffee gods." What was being sipped when the words "carpe diem" were first exhaled. I want the rich aroma of this fine Italian beverage that usually whisks me from the arm's of slumber, and most certainly gives me that extra push to, in fact, seize the heck out of the day. I want what I came here for. Makes sense, right.

So I am here. So are you. In this box, not at Tuscany; although, that would have made it so much better.

I make my way to the back bistro. I approach the counter intoxicated by the smell of the freshly-baked cinnamon rolls and pumpkin bread....and espresso. Yes. I see gleaming stainless steel. I see a tower of shiny beans begging to be ground to a fine powder that will in turn be packed and steeped into a ceramic belly. The sound of steam mixes with the clanking of cups and the pouring of richness and the process of thick foam being spooned onto a bowl-sized mug of goodness. Mmm, now we are talking.

I can feel myself perking up already. My mouth salivating. I order and watch the ritual unfold. Moments later I take my (what looks like) perfect double Americano, and make my way to the "bistro patio."

I am instantly transported. There is lovely black rod-iron furniture bedecking the calming escape pad. Steam is pluming from the cup, making the already sweet air, sweeter. As my lips leave the cup, I look at the seemingly endless hills rolling out before my now wide-wide-open eyes. The scene is captivating. I take another sip and look to see if I can see the Arno River. The rail-thin Italian cyclists making there way down the mountains. I definitely see layers of terra cotta roofs and green and brown. I take in more of the perfect bitterness and inhale again. What are those smells swirling under my nose? Olive trees? Fresh cork? Grapes of: Chianti? Brunello di Montalcino? Montepulciano? Petrol? They say some of the finest Rieslings mirror the smell and sultry taste of petrol. Umm, yea. My senses are officially heightened. My insides are screaming "questo caffè è delizioso!" I am dialing my bank and checking my recent activity. No Alitalia transactions. My passport I am pretty sure is still tucked in my underwear drawer. There is certainly no excessive purchases at Cafe Buona Sera deep in the heart of Tuscany. Damn. Really? Proof that I am in fact still in Austin, Texas. I wipe my eyes just to make sure - you know, one last time. I am...wowed.

I am at a gas station for petes sake. The petrol smell is not that of rieslings, it is in fact, petrol. Petrol being pumped into a volvo station wagon or some crap outside in the crammed strip of pumps alongside the highway. Crap. I think I need to swallow my vacation and head back home. Maybe in just a few minutes. Maybe with a two-go cup. I must keep my buzz on and the above song blasting as I take my little piece of Italy, and the scenic way, home.