CoffeeCrew Blog

Eat, Drink and Love
Like there's no tomorrow.
Because, hey, time you cannot borrow.

Transitioning the chapters of life - Chapter one - hey, what's with the bow tie? · 16.03.19 by colin newell

I was sitting with my lovely wife Andrea at the Fernwood Coffee House today at noon. Between bites of a breakfast egg bagel and sips of black coffee (and her sampling her London Fog…) we reflected on the passage of time – and how we grow and change.

Cutting to the chase: “What’s with the bow tie?” She asked.

Right. Bow ties, in the 21st Century trigger a lot of different responses – and it all depends on where you are. I work at a University (in IT) and in my wandering between classroom buildings, my lab and the cafe, my attire is usually business casual; in the Springtime, shirt and slacks – in the summer, an Aloha shirt and blue jeans. I never, ever wear shorts. What I wear is dependant on the day of the week and the time of year. Many places, schools, Universities and colleges have a casual Friday. We have flipped that on its ear and do a formal Friday. Some of the staff wear ties, scarves, fancier head gear and yes, even bow ties. It is simply a timeless look that works anywhere at anytime. At least that is what I tell myself. Today, while popping into a bookstore for some items, I was asked by the staffer at the counter if I was “going to a birthday party…” “Uhm… no I hesitated then I realized that I was dressed as a magician that would be going to a birthday party! Impression, then response!

Truth be told, Victoria B.C. is not an urban centre with a high awareness of fashion. Go to an opera in Victoria and the listener next to you is just as likely to be dressed for a hike or a dig of the root vegetables in the back garden. And not that this offends me much – actually it offends me a bit. I truly believe that clothing is not about elitism (at least entirely…) and more about the expression of “I care about my appearance!”

And yes, I am an extrovert and I am a bit of an attention suck. For what other reason would I pay attention to fashion trends and make an effort to stand out… well, at least a bit. “But where does this begin?” she asked.

“Well!” I exclaimed as I took a lung full of air.

In 1979 while attending a series of courses at one of the local colleges, I noticed a 21 year old classmate who stood out from the rest. He was wearing a Harris Tweed sport coat. I’d seen elbow padded professors wearing these beat up old classics but I thought it was their exclusive reservation. It’s wasn’t and on this blue jean clad student, it worked. It got me thinking about how we make impressions based on the image that we present. My career choices would always put me in contact with the general public so I had to craft some kind of “package” – over time, this “look” would evolve into a fashion forward sense that changed with the times. My 1st suit for my first date near the Christmas of 1980 would be a cotton corduroy thing from a mall Mens store. It was a modest beginning. Interestingly, I did not buy a tie for this outfit and my date at the time reminded me of the necessity of achieving “balance”. There could be no balance with a three piece suit and no tie.

It was a beginning. The 1980’s offered a wealth of quirky choices for men while remaining somewhat centred in the fashion mainstream – and as it would turn out, the “stream” of fashion in Victoria, at the time, was little more than a rivulet. That would change, little by little, over time.

Flashing forward, I have been working at a University since the late 1980’s (now around 6 years away from retirement!) and that is a few items of clothing under the bridge. The biggest transition is yet to come. It’s thought that graduation, marriage, death, divorce and retirement are among the most stressful of transitions. One takes stock and wonders what it will be that they will be next. Reinvention. It’s a thing. It’s healthy, too a point I guess.

So. The bow tie. For me, it is an expression of, “Hey, it’s still me and I’m still here and I still care…”

When I stop caring… well, let’s not go there.


Colin Newell is an about town writer, food and coffee guy, member of the Canadian Media Guild… and always on the hunt for a great cup of joe and a sharp looking tie.

Comment

West Coast living in the dairy free World - Wonderful waffles · 15.03.19 by colin newell

dairy free waffle-pancake recipe

Perhaps more than life itself, I love breakfast. If I fail to start my day with lots of carbs and a bit of protein, I might as well stay in bed.

Welcome to a re-boot of my level best most popular blog post ever! The Waffle Special!

What do I eat for breakfast? The most important meal of the day!
A typical morning for me includes granola, fruit, yoghurt, multi-grain toast and water.

I know what you are thinking: No coffee and no juice. Nope. Never. If anything, I drink water for breakfast. Your body does not need a sugar slam first thing – so don’t drink juice!

But you’re the coffee guy Colin!
Coffee is a ritual that comes later – Almost always around 10AM.

Lately, I have been doing way more baking. Muffins. Cookies. Waffles. Why? To save money and enjoy life more!

I sous-chef for 100% of our home cooking, but I tend to nibble more at work.
So, in addition to making all of my own coffee and the coffee for the lads in the lab, I make all my own baked goods for my weekdays.

But back to breakfast: I love breakfast and we all know that breakfast tends to include dairy in some form or another. It is hard to find a work-around. But you can. Here is my dairy free waffle recipe. This is not purely vegan, but I suppose with a bit of work it could be.

Ingredients and instructions.

1 3/4 cup of all-purpose unbleached white flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
Pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
2 Egg yolks
1 3/4 cups premium quality Soy, Coconut or Almond milk
1/2 cup cooking oil, ideally canola oil
2 Egg whites

In a large mixing bowl (which will ultimately hold several days worth of waffle mix) stir together flour, baking powder and salt.
In a smaller mixing bowl beat egg yolks. Add Soy, almond or coconut milk, cinnamon and oil.

Add your wet to the flour mix all at once. Stir or fold til mixed but still slightly lumpy.

In yet-another-bowl whip egg white to form a stiff peak.

Gently fold egg whites into soya-flour-oil mixture leaving a few whisps of egg white visible.

Heat waffle iron letting waffle mix work for about 7 minutes.
Pour batter onto preheated iron. Do not open while the waffles are cooking! Timing will vary depending on your iron.

Serve with butter, maple syrup, fresh blueberries and hot, hot coffee!

Enjoy! This recipe updated March 2019


Colin is a Victoria resident and food lover that is constantly searching for the perfect cup of coffee. His blog has been on the air since 1995… but who’s counting?

Comment

The Ten Best Cities for Coffee in the United States of America · 10.01.19 by colin newell

Living on the West Coast of North America in an area dominated by coffee culture, I cannot imagine not having the best of cafe culture within an easy walking distance. And in my 25 years of writing about the bean scene in Canada, I have traveled from the West Coast to the East Coast, with many stops along the way, looking for the best of the best in the brewed cup of joe.

read more of the article

Comment

Spectres of Shortwave Sneak Preview · 7.11.16 by colin newell

This is a very short interview with a gal from Eastern Canada who is producing a film about the Radio Canada International transmitter site in Sackville, New Brunswick.

Spectres of Shortwave – An experimental documentary film about the RCI shortwave radio towers. Images captured on 35mm film accompanied by personal stories told by people who lived near the towers.

Listen to the Podcast |



Click here to play the audio in your browser -or click the link below to download this short interview…

Amanda-Christie-Sneak-Preview.mp3

Comment

Book review - A Strange Little Place - the haunting and unexplained events of one small town · 2.09.16 by colin newell

A stranger place - the hauntings and unexplained events of one small town.

Revelstoke: Where the worlds of the living, dead, and extraordinary collide.

Brennan Storr, of Revelstoke, British Columbia, a rustic, rugged and alpine town in Western Canada, considers his hometown something of a magical place. But that was not always the case.

Brennan was not a believer in much of anything in the spirit world apart from what he could see in front of him and hold in his hand. Slowly but surely he would be converted to a new reality.

On the rare occasions when Brennan Storr’s family, on his mother’s side, would get together, they would tell ghost stories about the house where they all grew up.

He did have a few personal stories of the unexplained. Nothing dramatic, really, apart from a small collection of inexplicable things that had happened throughout his life. Brennan offered “Understand, I didn’t believe in ghosts or the paranormal, but I got a lot of mileage out of those stories – both my family’s and my own – at parties.”

But in his debut book, A Strange Little Place – the haunting and unexplained events of one small town – Brennan reveals, in 33 succinct chapters, the unusual fabric of time and space that permeates Revelstoke.

“I’ll be straight with you – If you believe that UFO’s, Sasquatch and the like are all nonsense of the highest order, I have no intention of trying to convince you otherwise. Before starting this book in April 2012 I was in the exact same boat.”

Revelstoke, an internationally recognized destination for winter sports and becoming increasingly popular in the spring and summer for its cultural and outdoor activities, harbours something of a dark secret. If the examples within this 240 page paperback hold any greater meaning, it could be that this little town lies in the focal point or nexus of some mysterious force.

The history and progress of Revelstoke plays a very important role in this tale and Brennan thoroughly documents this relationship while unveiling 70 years of the town’s paranormal fabric. In A Strange Little Place Brennan offers several explanations for these odd events. There are a lot of unusual phenomenon here. There may be some inexplicable connection that links these events together. Clearly, Revelstoke has a quantity of spiritual baggage because of its very colourful and, initially, optimistic future.

Tales of missing time, shadow people, spectral light and sound, UFOs and ghosts spill from the pages in a jaunty kind of way that will leave you questioning your own reality and looking over your shoulder a little more often.

“Assuming he had fallen asleep without turning off the kitchen light, Nelles sleepily rose from bed and returned to the kitchen where, sitting at the table in front of him, was none other than the recently deceased Louis Bafaro.”

Brennan’s style is at once charming, folksy then gritty with a 1940’s gum shoe sensibility.

Perhaps coming from a similar upbringing to the author, I found his stories of the unexplained resonated with me. I was left reanalyzing some of my own experiences. I was opening chapters of my own life that I had often dismissed as “false memory”. I liked Brennan’s book because it made me think about the world around me – and had me squinting more objectively at things I might have not given a second look.

The author - Brennan Storr

A Strange Little Place is a frisky and fast paced read on a subject that I have always been fascinated with. These stories left me wanting more and asking more questions.

Brennan Storr, now a Victoria area resident, is an active story teller, researcher and journalist who has written on many subjects including pop culture, pro wrestling, his own itinerant life and his fascination with dark places. He works in a haunted office building in one of the most haunted cities in North America. His book is readily available on Amazon online (in Canada) and a growing number of small book stores in Western Canada.

You can meet Brennan in person and buy an autographed copy or two of his book at Chapter’s book store, 1212 Douglas St – downtown Victoria on Friday, September 30 from 2 to 4 pm.


Colin Newell is a Victoria area resident and long time writer of non-scary stories about coffee and pop culture.

Comment

Previous