Paul

I have to say Paul offers the best hot chocolate in all the cafes I’ve been to in Marylebone. Firstly it is usually hot and that makes a difference. You don’t want it warm. If it’s just warm you drink it too quickly and then you’ve got nothing to drink as you read your paper. No, it has to be hot and 90% of the time Paul gets this right. So often in cafes, when I order a latte or a hot chocolate I now have to request it to be extra hot. When you say that, you get a hot drink, as it should be. If you don’t ask for extra hot you get a warm latte or hot chocolate. So I’ve learnt, on my cafe travels to ask for extra hot every time. That way I shouldn’t be disappointed.
Anyway, getting back to Paul’s hot chocolate;  it just seems to have the best flavour. It tastes really rich and and full of chocolate whereas in other cafes they can taste a little bland, though I have wondered about the fact that they always serve it, at least in the station cafe where I usually go, as a take away carton, with a lid. Now it could be that not seeing the chocolate makes a difference to the taste. You know, your taste buds become more sensitive because you a solely relying on your sense of taste and your visual sense does not influence the taste sense, as it can do. Think about the many foods you hate because you simply can’t stand what they look like but perhaps if you were sitting blindfolded and given a forkful of the food in question you may actually like it. Or it’s like knowing what something is and that’s why you like it. Like a particular brand. I remember my brother saying he didn’t like Bell’s whisky and I was surprised, not being a whisky drinker, that he could tell the difference between any whiskies. They all taste the same to me. Anyway I challenged him to a test and offered him three different whiskies – Bell’s, Teachers and The Famous Grouse. He was unable to identify any of them and liked them all!
In fact I think having the lid on definitely does make a difference. In Baker Street there is another, fairly new Paul. It’s beautiful. I remember it being built. They knock these places up so quickly. I used to pass it every morning – ‘Opening soon – Paul’ and before you know it it’s up and running. A brand new, gleaming, beautifully presented coffee shop. Anyway I went in there for my first Baker Street Paul hot chocolate. However, my first surprise was that they served it in  a normal cup and not a carton with a lid. I could see the hot chocolate. Immediately I sort of knew it wasn’t going to be the same. And it wasn’t. It was ok. It was a reasonably nice hot chocolate but definitely I didn’t quite sense that Paul taste. Was it different in the new building? Or was it different because it didn’t have a lid? I would have to visit again to find out. Which I did the day after. And this time, although I wasn’t taking it away I requested it in a carton with a lid. Guess what. Delicious.
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What’s the most depressing way you can say OK?

What is the most depressing way you can say ok? Go on, try it.
OK (not bad, try again)
OK (that’s a little better)
Ok (Well done. That’s really depressing)
Why am I asking this? Well I hear the most depressing way you can say ok when I enter my early morning cafe in Marylebone at approx 7.15 on a Monday morning. The cafe is usually pretty empty apart from a few tradesmen/builders who sit in their usual corner seats eating their bacon and egg breakfasts.  All I usually have is two toasts and a cup of tea.
I walk in, approach the counter and make my request:
Two slices of toast and a cup of tea please.
OK  (in the most depressing way you can think of)
Bloody hell, sorry I asked. Let’s all commit suicide together. Isn’t he pleased to have some custom?
I go off into my little bench seat on the other corner table and settle down to read the paper, quietly anticipating my tea and toast.
It arrives. Nothing is said. It is plonked on the table. I say thank you very much in the most jovial and grateful way I can for a Monday morning but no response. He’s gone. Back to the kitchen to drink his arsenic.
Twenty minutes later I’m off.
Two pounds please.
Thank you (I say merrily)
OK (Aagh…)Image

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