Friday, May 4, 2012

Norman Rockwell and maximum caffeination!

Was sitting around in my skivvies, reading weird manga and turning on the tea-kettle after forgetting it again, and realized that I ought to be doing something more productive or at least physical. It wouldn't do to squander the bounty of free time I've been given so it seemed like the best time to start on my quest for a "third place". A concept I learned about from sweet bean. The library would be alright, but the trouble is they don't have good coffee there. My other mission being, to find the best espresso in the city. It seemed a good idea to combine the two. So off we go on a mad caffeine adventure! With bouts of art galleries and second hand stores in between! 
The city of Winnipeg is very large and spread out which required picking an area to focus my coffee hunt on. This first quest took me to the beautiful exchange district, full of gorgeous architecture, art galleries, cafes and hipster fodder.

Bike lust. I'm so desperate for wheels that I'm photographing other people's bicycles

 I was able to see finally the result of the massive fire that consumed an empty chinese restaurant, music store and neat hippy clothing place. Nothing left but bricks.

 I remembered seeing a movie staring Renee Zellweger that had a scene filmed in this restaurant. All the dust was sort of creepy.

Java Quest Stop #1
I began the quest for good java at the well reviewed Parlour Coffee shop on Main Street. It was near mom's office so I invited her along. 

The place was very nicely decorated, in a sort of minimalist style that wasn't cold and stark like the old modern style. Lots of wood and metal. White walls. It was a hipster wet dream. And boy were there a lot of ugly moustaches, bangs, ray-bans and people "writing". Though 'a lot' is not technically accurate because there wasn't really anywhere to sit besides a few completely occupied stools lining the front and sides. Granted it was a small space. Mum and I had to settle for the benches out front which wasn't too bad.

 Mum tried a cappuccino 

I went with my old faithful go-to: double shot Americano. Double shot because there are times when it's too diluted and you might as well just have coffee. In this case, it was pretty much just two espresso shots and maybe a tablespoon of water. But ugh, bitter. I like a strong espresso, but this seemed almost burnt. Bitter in an icky way that didn't leave your mouth for a while. This place had one redeeming feature, the very nice special coffee brewing equipment for sale. Pricey but some of it I hadn't seen in other places.

A very wonderful discovery: Only the most amazing toy store I have ever been to. Miles of amazing toys, some that I didn't know they still made. Dolls and dolls and the best selection of children's books!

The best part? the extensive dollhouse building supplies. I was in miniature heaven. Tiny representations of living environments have always tickled my fancy. I remember my head nearly exploding in the Thorne miniature rooms section of the Art Institute of Chicago

 Squeee!!! Tiny dishes!!!

 Immediately thought of Sweetbean and his love of trains.

Java Quest Stop #2
Changing the original plan of hitting up Mondragon Cafe on Albert St. I went next door to Urban Forest Coffee house and Lounge. The atmosphere seemed just right. Comfortable, not pretentious or commercial. Enough people to make it happening but not crammed to the ceiling with laptop dwellers. I made the delicious mistake of ordering what they called Shot in the Dark. Basically a shot of espresso in a  cup of coffee. It was really good but, halfway down, I really started to feel the caffeine in my veins. by this point I am at three espressos and a cup of coffee and it's not even three yet. Overall I really liked the place and it seemed friendly. Found my new third place/espresso hang out? Maybe. But it's too early to tell.

 Took a detour to the fantastic store the Haberdashery. This place carries some really gorgeous hats and accessories of fantastic quality. Beautiful ladies hats. None of which fit. The guy inside was sympathetic, and kept directing me to men's hats. In particular, fedoras. Fedora's not being my groove, I left in defeat but with the potential hope of finding a decent replacement to Sweetbean's disintegrating Greek fisherman's cap

 Java Quest Stop #3
After meeting up with mum, we decided to catch some dinner at Stella's Cafe for a bite before checking out the Norman Rockwell exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. I decided to go for an espresso. My fourth of the day. Smart.
It was pretty good. Will be returning for my next fix.

 I tried out the grass-fed beef chili, which was fantastic.
Mum had the chicken curry. It came with a banana! How cool is that?

For a couple of hours we examined an exhibit of Rockwell originals on loan from the Norman Rockwell Museum. This is the first time that an exhibition of his work has come to Canada. And Winnipeg is its only venue. Definitely not an opportunity to miss. When I was younger, I never really liked his pictures, they seemed sort of tacky on first glance. But taking a closer look and seeing the stories of everyday life and evolution of a countries people, and learning about his complex and time consuming process, I was really able to appreciate his work and see the beauty of it. So much detail in every one. my favourite had to be The Problem that We all Live With, painted in 1964. Hearing the commentary on it, I felt myself becoming emotional. So much anger and hatred that was directed towards children during the racial desegregation of public schools.

It was nice to talk to Sweetbean at the end of the day. Though I seem to get really over-emotional whenever I talk to him. Talking seems to remind one all the clearer, how far away we are from each other. And as much as you enjoy hearing the other person's voice, that reminder really bums you out. It adds to the uprooted feeling I have sometimes. I'm loving my time here, but now it feels more like I am simply a visitor. Though my mother's house will always be my home as she assures me, it feels like I am just visiting. It's strange that that never happened when I went away to Katimavik. It could be because I never had time to set down roots in our host communities and the places we lived were not those that I could call my very own space. My little sunny dorm room in Lindsay was that. It was the first place I could truly call my own and somewhere I made into home. Sweetbean became an everyday part of my life and those home feelings are wound around him with all sorts of other feelings. So phone calls and skype are hard to keep level about. I miss too, all the other friends I've left behind in Ontario. Thankfully being out of school has allowed me to talk more with Shannon which always leaves me in a good mood
Just a bucket full of hormones and caffeine I seem to be. 

Eww...The cat is flatulent and now my room smells like Kentucky fried chicken...

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