Most home espresso machine owners tell me never to get a home machine for two reasons:
- The less than $1,000 machines can’t compare to the well-maintained $10,000 cafÃ© machines you’re used to drinking coffee from.
- You don’t want access to that much espresso where you live and like to sleep. You’ll wreck your nerves and stop sleeping.
I have heard excellent things about big-food mega-power Nestle’s Nespresso machine. They are very low-maintenance, well-priced and produce very good coffee. The only problem is that you can only get your fix in special coffee-filled capsules from them. You are tied to Nestle for your daily coffee.
Coffee is one of those politically sensitive substances like sugar, cocoa or even bananas. Nestle has published a paper (PDF) on Fair Trade, but they are not participating on moral grounds — they don’t believe it is a solution to poverty.
No matter what you believe, you are making a commitment by supporting razor and blades business model product.
Now back to the useful stuff… If you are interested in the home game edition, you will appreciate that Consumer Reports has published some ratings on home espresso machines, and contrary to regular protocol have provided access to the ratings section for free.
Consumer Reports Buyer’s Guide: Espresso makers
Having lived near Chinatown for the better part of a decade (Wow. Pause for reflection. That just means over 5 years right?) I have eaten at most of the places therein. Luckily they’re all easily brought up with a simple search for restaurants near Baldwin St. and Spadina on Google Maps.
- Link: Restaurants in Chinatown
Here’s my dubious designations for best Chinatown Spots:
Best Dim Sum, Rol San
- The lineups don’t lie. Rol San has found the magical balance of freshness, quality and price. Eat in the back room for the incandescent lighting advantage. On weekends be prepared to wait unless you’re there by 11AM. Rule of thumb is 3N + 1 (order three dishes per person, plus one).
Best Salt and Pepper Squid, Xam Yu Seafood
- Just north of the LCBO, this seafood-focused spot features standard dishes done solidly well.
Best Vietnamese, Pho Hung
- On slow days you’ll find the staff unboxing fresh herbs shipping in from Vietnam. I am amazed at the quality of the beef in their noodle soup. The owner will not disclose his source or methods.
Best Dinner, E-Pan
- New spot with that seems to be trying hard to impress. Well done dishes. Very friendly and clean.
Best Late Night, Rainbow Restaurant
- On the north side of Dundas just west of Spadina, this largish Hong Kong style restaurant does dishes well late into the night. I recall ordering cold tea once with my best wink, but it never arrived.
Sushi, Simon Sushi
- Lately we’ve had a few misses but it’s usually just above par with what’s available in Sushitown on Bloor.
Best Name (see photo)
Best Name Special Mention. M.Y Chafing Dish
- Now called M.Y Hot Pot, M.Y Chafing Dish is a basement joint where I’ve never eaten but was nevertheless inspired to craft this pseudo haiku.
There is a dish
which is chafing
and it’s yours.
Thanks to Sunnyvale startup ZeeMaps, Julia and I ate at a neighbourhood joint we’ve been eyeing for ages. Named Torito, meaning little bull, this Kensington Market tapas joint has been generating lots of buzz, and little bull, for ages.
Why did ZeeMaps buy dinner? Well, my feedback on their interface ballooned into more involved consulting. I love their product and I was happy to provide some suggestions for free. They were happy to implement many of the suggestions and offered to pick up dinner which was amazing! This was one of those storybook win-win situations that would not have been possible without the Internet. ZeeMaps, more designs are coming!
What tapas did we have? Smoked trout and avocado mayonnaise potato salad. Julia’s first ceviche. Grilled king fish. Crab croquettes. Flatiron steak. And tongue and cheek; literally braised tongue and cheek. Amazing. Including some drinks and delicious desserts it was a really nice night. Thanks ZeeMaps!!!