I used to write a lot about different teas and about different places to enjoy tea, or not enjoy tea. But not so much any more.
There are complex reasons. Firstly, since starting this blog, Lady Devotea and I have become vendors. For the last four years, every time I have thought about reviewing a tea, it’s either one of ours or a competitor, and neither of those situations makes for good or fair reviewing.
Likewise, a tea shop or café may stock our tea, or not, and that causes the same dilemma.
Of course, if travelling away from home, especially in markets we are not in, then I tend to go a little ballistic and get right back into both.
At the moment, we are in Adelaide, my home town for almost all of the last 32 years. In Adelaide, exactly 31 years ago yesterday, I met someone. Exactly 29 years ago today, we married.
31 years after that first meeting, which included me being bossy and egotistical, followed for no apparent reason by a cappuccino and a discussion of a mutual love of Dr Who, we arrived at yesterday, and we had breakfast.
We had breakfast at Café Latino.
Last year, when we had all sorts of ructions, we had quite a few places serving our tea. But with us having to withdraw from one, several changing hands or going broke, that number has dwindled. But one place that has never lost enthusiasm for us and our teas is Café Latino, in Woodville Park.
We had an order mid-week and so decided to deliver it in person yesterday, and avail ourselves of breakfast.
I had the delicious big breakfast, although as I was not feeling so well, I skipped the usual chorizo, which is often the best part. Lady Devotea has a superb Canadian Pancake with caramelised banana and maple syrup, which was the special. Both were flawless.
There were a couple of other people in there as we got there, and a few arrived after we did. The Café is a bit of a hub for the South American community – as you’d expect from the name – but is also quite well loved of locals in the immediate vicinity.
Two guys came in and it was obvious that they had Canadian accents. We struck up a conversation immediately after Lady Devotea recommended the Canadian pancakes to them. and it turns out they are from Calgary where our son lives. When I say “from Calgary”, one has lived in Adelaide for 35 years after marrying an Adelaide lass, and the other, his brother, moved over 10 years ago.
“I did to my parents what your son is doing to you, in reverse”, he explained, and seeing this guy, who was probably about 60, so happy with his decision all those years ago certainly made me think.
I had 1001 nights with my breakfast, and Lady Devotea had some chai. Both well made, of course.
So, that’s it, is it? No, not by a long way. Regular readers will be wondering how I managed to stay on course for so long. Never fear. Diversion imminent.
I could have listed the teas available here: there’s a somewhat random collection of about 15 of ours available (and I recommend them all*). Or, I could have described the menu. But neither would round out my tale.
When you have a wonderful experience when dining out, for the first time, or the hundredth at a particular spot, it’s rarely about the food. Or even the tea, even if it happens to be the finest one can wish for, as it was in this case*.
The lady behind Café Latino is Marguerite, and it is Marguerite that makes this place special. She is always at the counter when you walk in, working at an often frenetic pace to dispense beverages and food. Like many small places, it is at the whim of the customer, so it can be empty one minute, packed the next.
She is obviously beloved by many on the local community, everyone that calls in chats to her, and she chats back, usually whilst her hands are working at a blur. We’ve been there, we know how hard that is. When you are behind a counter, you are at work and almost everyone you meet isn’t!
As well as admiring the way Marguerite runs the place and looks after everybody, the key thing I like is that she gets this beast called “The Devotea”. She understands that it is a partnership; a partnership forged through 31 years of being together, and of drinking tea together over that time. She gets that Lady D and I have both put our stamp on this entity, that like our children in Calgary and Adelaide, it is a mix of each of us.
As a result of a question that came with the order, we created a new blend two days ago. For a while, we’ll just trial it in Café Latino. So far, the results are promising: Lady D, Marguerite, her sister and I all like it. That’s a good start.
I’ve written many times of the bonds of friendship that tea can forge, and this is just one of many. It is special to us, as are all our tea friends.
In writing this post (and its rather dubious prequel) I’ve drunk about a pint each of Lord Petersham, Finbarr’s Revenge and Fleurs de Provence
What this has reminded me of, apart from bladder capacity, is that everything I drink has a story and now Café Latino is woven into our story, The Devotea story, the Anne and Robert story, that all started over a beverage** all those decades ago.
I’m hoping we have many more anniversaries, and many more friends, and many more good breakfasts. And further, I wish it upon all of those who read this and are part of our story. For tea is a preservative; it keeps us all together in mysterious ways.
Delicious, mysterious ways that give us much to be thankful for.
I certainly am.
* you see the problem in reviewing your own teas? Actually, I don’t.
** Okay, the wrong beverage, but I was young and foolish.