Despite the shocking improvements in cuisine on the streets of London over the past decade or so, apparently they still haven’t figured out the espresso: Just one more espresso | Recipes | Wine | Telegraph. The author, a food and wine writer for the Daily Telegraph, calls Venice the “capital of café society”. (Cough, cough…Torino anyone? Can you actually have a sidewalk café in a city without sidewalks?) Worse, she claims Venice is home to the perfect cup of coffee. (Why is it that the most naïve coffee accolades come from food and wine experts?)
And just where in Venice can we find said perfect cup of coffee? Caffè Florian on the Piazza San Marco, of course. This is akin to a food writer recommending Fisherman’s Wharf for some of the best Mexican food for which San Francisco is famous. For the uninitiated, Caffè Florian is an overpriced tourist trap, smack dab in the middle of Venice’s beautiful but tourist-infested (and that’s saying nothing of the pigeons) main drag — home to many a snooty waiter and dueling bands of buskers.
Going back to my records, I had my last espresso there in May 2004. Unfortunately, I did not write up a detailed review — largely because I did not think it was worthy of one. But did I note in my travel journal, “Caffè Florian: I got a very lame café (€5) served with water.” Even the Caffé del Doge near the touristy Rialto Bridge would have been acceptable (or even just the beans at Torrefazione India Caffé). But Caffè Florian? It is the sort of place where American and German tourists pay top dollar to fall in love with the illusion that they are enjoying the best espresso available in Italy.
The article isn’t a complete disaster, however. Even if you don’t survive its tourist brochure-inspired suspension of disbelief, it does mention a few relevant tips for how best to enjoy and make an espresso. But my tip for the author?: You really need to get out more. Lose the tour bus crowd and find out where the locals are drinking their espresso. Because Carlos ain’t buying his enchiladas down on Pier 39.
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