Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Otherside (Introducing: Paper Cup, Stanmore)...

I'll never forget the first time I heard it. You'll have to narrate this in a Wonders Years voice to get the full effect. It was June 1999, life was young and pure and unfastened, with all of the spinning colours of vital, vivid youth. I remember waiting for months before it came out, praying it would be good and wondering what type of sound they would have. Frusciante was back with the peppers and in the reunion of these painfully separated parts, riding high on the winding lyre-bird vocals of a kiedis in full possession of a new voice (and a cropped platinum do) - Californication found me. It seized onto everything I was at 19 and everything I knew I would ever become. The first time I heard the otherside it was like hearing someone else telling you the story of your life. My ears were smiling, my mind was suffused with johnliness and with flea and chad and anthony, stripped down and exposed to the bones and to the pith, and still to this day whenever I hear that song I feel a freedom and a happiness that makes the ground fall away.
All the way across the ramshackled muck of Newtown and Glebe, in a quiet corner of a still Stanmore spot, all the way across and over to the otherside is Paper Cup. Sparse, bare and brutally broken down, it is a concentrated quintessential of the urban cafe experience. 
A place to come and to sit and to take it all in. I heard your voice through a photograph, I thought it up it brought up the past. Once you know you can never go back i've got to take it on the otherside... Centuries are what it meant to me, a cemetary where I marry the sea, stranger things will never change my mind i've got to take it on the otherside... Pour my life into a paper cup, the ashtray's full and i'm spillin' my guts...
Pour my life into a paper cup. Pour it smooth and black and spiraled and splashed with steaming SugarCream. Beneath red-wire draped lights and within the stripped bare walls of the uber-sleek industrially inspired four corners that make up the edible architecture of cafe wunderkind Adriano Matteoni's latest Sydney venture, something is happening. Like a master at the top of his game, Adriano is stripping it all bare. Don't get your hopes up. I don't mean literally, ladies. I mean figuratively. Paper Cup is a little like Clipper + Clover, but all grown up...
Adri has mastered the art of the perfect cafe. He knows that the most astounding experiences (space and food and coffeewise) are usually the most simple. He has pared it all back to a tiny select precious menu, a few choice beverages and a space that rips you open and apart - deep into its very own viscera. With so much thought and brilliance put into the look, we have to linger just a moment to appreciate the wonder that paper cup sprinkles over everyone who walks in.
Anachronistic and simple. Plain wooden benches, cushioned crates, white letters against a black board and muted streaks of faded green, spun with a ceiling sliver of FireEngineRed. Step inside, fall prey to the design and let a simple mid morning coffee take you away from daily life and into a world where rather than just being you, you actually feel as though you are observing yourself. Paper Cup is a stark and stunning example of cafe theater, but then again, what is style without the substance?
Breakfast and batshit seem to have a lot in common these days: they're both really boring. On the right side of bed is Paper Cup's baharat beans w maple syrup spiked labna. This musically Middle-Eastern inspired answer to the most important meal of the day involves beans, different-not-your-average-bean beans spangled with the warm-sweet-pungent tones of minted rosebud with cinnamon dappled black pepper. The exotic little bean moosh dervish dances from the cute glass jar it comes in and all the way into your startled mouth.
A crowning dollop of creamy, thick labna (Lebanese style yoghurt) swooning with a glaze of maddening maple is a tart-sweet-smooth-luscious tongue trick. The warmth and texture of the beans and the coolness and smoothness of the labna is even more balanced that Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man doing downward dog on a ladder. From savoury sweet, to sweet-sweet we eat...
Forget what they tell you about men. A good bircher, a truly, really, really great bircher - is a damn hard thing to find. Adri has always had the bircher touch. Eh. Scottish. If he wasn't going to get his oats right, who was? Paper Cup's bircher is bitchin: arabian bircher w honeycomb + poached fruit. A glistening ruby-red tangle of frenzied berries and dreamy-like-sleepwalking meredith dairy cream writhing against soaked oats, iranian dried fig, hazelnut and pistachio. Add a decadent, lazy-woozy glob of incandescent honeycomb to what is already strawberry laden splendour, and you just might have to put your fork down, take a moment, brace yourself...and scream.
A great bircher. Now, now. Let's not rush along. Bircher is a difficult food to do well. Most places tend to overdo it. You only need very few ingredients and you need to balance them in the right amount. Anyone who understands bircher knows two things: if you must put raisins and dried fruit in don't overdo it (birchers are usually sickly sweet) and never, ever, ever serve too much. Nothing is less appetising than a chilled massive heap of heavy oats sloshed on a plate before you - and I do say this knowing that Shane Warne exists. Bircher is delicate and delectable, a well made cup-size is more than enough. It is a dalliance, a barely there thing. The more of it is in the less. If you can find a better bircher than Adri's, then you know something I don't.
Sweet, sticky, sinful smalls... all you need is something hot and frothy to savour them with...
Hello, Joe. Phenomenal, epic, agonisingly rich and deep coffee is alive and truly well at Paper Cup. It's the right balance between rich and sweet. And it's nutty too. And never burnt. And warm. And embracing. And delicate. And reviving. And strong without being too strong. And with a thick, dense perfectly levitating froth - and a dancing dusting of sprinkled chocolate.
Whether you latte or long black or short black or mac, it's time for you to be a little bit more of a drip...Cold drip coffee has found its chilled, honeyed way from Japan, all the way across the Pacific and to our own local shores. This Garabito single (+ fabulous) origin coffee from Costa Rica is purer than a churchgoer's first born son - and significantly more sweet.
This beautifully 19th Century looking contraption drips out 42 drops of pure water through a coarser grind of sterling bean. It takes about an hour for a decent amount of shimmering liquid ebony to filter out into the funnel of the jug beneath. 
The slow-drip process removes all of the acidity from the coffee. Without the acidity the full, inherent and natural sweetness of the bean simply burns through like a falling star in a black night sky. This is OhMyGod as coffee.
Served short and on ice it's rich, dark, handsome and honeyed. It is so delicate and nuanced and beautiful. You don't need any sugar, you don't need anything at all. Just a few quiet moments to really mull over it and appreciate its flavour.
It's frozen, forbidden kiss as beverage. Watch the dark black staining the surfaces of the ice and savour it sip after slow, languid sip. So glorious and exotic and refreshing: don't let it pass you by.
Teatotallers are totally taken care of with select black teas and a wonderfully authentic genmaicha. This brown-rice roasted green is sublime. The warmth and nutiness of the rice cancels out most of the grassy acidity which turns people who aren't used to green tea off the flavour. It is so nice to see authentic Japanese tea somewhere other than at a sushi place. Tea lovers have to thank the influence of Adri's lovely wife, kana for the very welcome and unusual addition. But beyond tea, coffee and a seriously splendid menu, there is one other very special reason to pop into paper cup...
Natsu is the painfully gorgeous progeny of Adri and Kana. More surprising than the cold drip, more beautiful than the maple syrup labna, and twice as sweet as the bircher. She has funky pink leggings, a sloppy toddler kiss and some of the most intensely peaceful eyes that will ever take you in. She breaks my heart every time I see her and especially when she smiles. She can usually be found on a perch out front, looking more styled than most of the people who stagger in. Natsu is stealing all the attention from Adri these days, and it's about bloody time.
Paper Cup, kids - it's alive and kicking at 151 Cambridge St, Stanmore. Join the facebook page here, go to their website here - and get your butt in as soon as you can. It's a Mon-Sat setup and gets going at 6am and closes up shop at 4. 
Poor Nissa might have to get used to a 4.30am Bay Run if we're going to be the first in for brekkie. Thanks to Adri + Kana for being so lovely and for keeping the genmaicha flowing, and for having Natsu. To Natsu for being the perfect breakfast date, for wearing pink leggings and for giving me the best open mouth kiss (on the cheeks) that I ever had. To EB and JoJo, thanks for letting me be part of the first day of the last year!
Paper Cup might be all the way across from where you're used to getting your cafe fix, but believe me (and Kiedis) when we tell you: I don't, I don't believe it's baaaaad, slit my throat it's all I ever...

Adriano Matteoni, I do believe it's time for you to take (another) bow. Well done champ!

9 comments:

lateraleating said...

Don't know if it's your camera skills but that's a seriously good looking coffee. I can almost feel the texture of the froth in my mouth just by looking at the photo. I wouldn't mind trying the Middle Eastern beans & labna breakfast, looks addictive.

amanda said...

hey lateral, that's adri's coffee not me. you really should try this place, ive taken friends and theyve all died! hope youre well x

kewpie said...

this place looks very inviting! thank you for the lovely post, pictures and also introducing the main characters of the cafe! she is v cute!

amanda said...

hey kewpie, isnt she too much!

Life love, clutter and other beautiful things. said...

Oh wow. this would be on my daily must visit list if I lived near it xox

amanda said...

it's pretty special, eh. glad you guys are enjoying it, adri's done a really wonderful job xx

hollydavis said...

Remember Amanda- You can do no wrong!
You will do what you do with the very best intentions, you will receive a result and then you will do what you do next.
Enjoy every moment of this remarkable journey, life!!

Lau@CorridorKitchen said...

I'm with you 100% on the RHCP - that album changed my life. I was 14 and angsty but it cloaked everything in a delicious poloraid-sepia film. Thank you so much for reminding me of that feeling.

Paper cup looks grand, I'll have to hop a train and give it a try...

amanda said...

lau, isn't it the best feeling in the world. such a lovely heartachey sound his voice had then. oh, god. don't get me started. favourite album? favourite track?

lovely holly! thanks for the good words, am about to email you now x