Stipple’s been grumbling lately, with just a hint of aggression. Quite frankly it had me worrying. So, taking a cue from our nation’s capital, I’ve offered him a more cooperative relationship. Herewith, my sacrifice in the search to stifle stipple:
Well, it is with no mere hint of trepidation that I make the transition from a humble reader to a contributing one on this fine ol’ bloggy. In fact, it is without any trepidation at all. And that’s not simply because of an excess of self-confidence, no. It’s because Mr. Tulk has got me all fired up. And it’s not the coffee, nor is it those cheeky toasted sandwiches, it may be the muffins, to all three of which we will soon come. But what it most certainly does have me fired up over is a little, deeply grating practice. It’s the old ‘whats ya name mate?’ trick. It began, I’m quite certain, with the vile temptress known as Bo*st Juice. It’s a ploy, a con and a sham. The business and customer engage in the most phony of phony performances. Both sides know it’s a crock and yet we all go in for it. How many dare to give the name “Maffington Basset-Stoke III?” Much though I’d love to, I’m never quite able. No, even I, in all my blinding awareness of late capitalism’s ability to reify the very search for authentic human relations beyond the sign of exchange value, fall prey to this horrid horrid lie.
And yet, and yet…
Tulk does demand your name. They demand it with all the faux-cheeriness of Tim Shaw. But I go back. And back. And back. So, the crux of this missive is not so much review as it is resolution to this problem. The name-game doesn’t seem to send me nor the rest of my horde of faultlessly trendy, oh-so-knowing, inner-urban elites back to our tastefully-but-minimally-decorated hovels to dig holes in the floor with the long nails we’ve grown because thats what Juan our flamenco-guitar teacher says we’ll need if “jou ever chwant to play coma a tocaores.” But why?
There are three reasons I can thus far detect, each compelling. And a smattering of incidentals, collateral benefits if you will.
1. We must to begin with the coffee: I’m no tilt-shifter, the best I can do is steal inter-web pictures. Take a goosey-gander at these here eye-stuffers.
What I can’t show you lot is their espresso. Oh, hang about, I just found…
They aint quick, but they is good. Really good though. The espresso is quite wonderful when its average. When the temperature is just perfect and the best of their baristas are on deck, its so chocolatey and thick and, I hate to talk this way, but there is one hell of a berry note. They milk a coffee to a t*. I have always been of the opinion that milk is really a kind of coffee travesty. They convinced me otherwise. Of course, seven seeds’ll bang you out a top lattee, and the blogger who usually sits where I’m sitting is herself a dab hand. But at Tulk, you get some sort of one-ness of coffee and milk. Its terrific. But mainly its about those espressi. And it isn’t the hands alone, of course. They have one very very handsome La Marzocco machine. Those Bambi brothers knew what they were up in Florence all those years ago.
The colour of Tulk’s is nicer. I’m quite sure its the FB/70. I’m not the kind of cafe investigator to ask, or to pop around and stick my head under the hood. Though I’d like to. Its a very pretty thing. So the coffee is right. It is, in fact, shit hot. Which segues nicely into
2. The women and men on their feet making it happen: The boots on the ground. The grunt. I have it on reliable authority that the boys and girls of RMIT have a league-table of attractiveness for the staff here. But there aint a bad looker in the joint. Its not relevant, it doesn’t make the coffee better, but I thought you might all like to know. There are some pictures if one searches one’s local interweb looking-motor, though I won’t put them up because that’d be kind of creepy. But it does relate to the problem of the name game. And the do seem to overcome it, somehow. They remember people. I’ve seen the 8am-9am rush, I’d estimate 50-60% of coffees are guessed by the staff. That’s impressive recall and that many regulars coming that regularly can only be good. I don’t know if the staff all come from other establishments, but they look pretty assured carrying four lattes and the best of ’em seem able to balance a breakfast on their heads all the while. I don’t care much for these sorts of details, but its impressive when you see it.
3. The thing these pretty-young-things carry, other than great coffee, is food: Tulk have a range of baguettes, which have nice things inside. Tuna is particularly good. There are cheaper places to buy a sandwich, but I think this is as affordable as you’ll find with such nice bits in. Look.
Then, there are the toasties. Now, I’m a sucker for a toasty. Always have been. A man I know toasties bananas and ice-cream. Thats too far, but he owned the house I grew up in so the information gives some context to the depth of my toasty love. Tulk have two that now hold special places in my heart: a standard but well-executed salami fella and a big hunk of a toasty known as the meatball & sugo. Its this
They make other nice foods too. People who know about such things swear this is a very good soup. And they’re right. (The blog I stole the picture from claim the soup is overly filling. That position is wrong. I will admit to knowing not much about things beyond coffee but since when are lentils intended to anything other than fill one’s belly?)
So the foods good, the staff (more than) inoffensive and above all the coffee is too good. Oh, I have neglected a detail. A very important one. Its the muffins. Boy, do they bake a good muffin. Some days there is banana in them so don’t bother, but more or less every other variety they offer is flawless. The tops are crunchy as all-get-out and the innards are moist, sweet and berry-tastic. And as the fatb community know only too well, berries are central.
So, I still resent being asked for my name but there’s nice folk working hard, tasty food to eat and (if I’ve not be sufficiently clear) EFFIN’ TOPS COFFEE. I’ll hand over the portion of my soul that is twinned to my first name for that. I am both willing and able to fly the flag for Mr. Tulk. I like it.
Until next time I’m given the good opportunity to participate in such a substantial manner, I bid you adieu. See you in the comments field.
*There are, I have noted, a plenum of grammatic pedants roaming the pastures of fatb. To you, all of you, I say this clause functions. Milk may be neither quite a proper gerund nor is it, I realise, a supine or non-finite verbal formation, but I knows what I likes. And likes ‘milk a coffee.’ Ha!