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Back Buzz - October 1, 2006

pumping heart Nonna's Restaurant Caffe Bar and Cucina, 539 Ecclesall Road, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

Ever since I moved to Sheffield I've been told that Nonna's has good coffee. But as it's basically an Italian restaurant with prices a bit too posh for my normal lunchtime budget, I've passed it by in favour of espresso cafes and coffee shops.

But opportunity arose this year. On a Saturday in July, after visiting the Sharrow Festival, we made a quick stop at Nonna's Cucina, the takeaway deli adjacent to the restaurant and bar, to pick up some yummy treats to take home. After a vigorous half hour spent purchasing jars of pesto, paté, and antipasto as well as a loaf of freshly baked bread and a small container of gelato, we felt badly in need of a jolt of caffeine. So we ventured inside the restaurant.

The dining room was crowded and a bit too bright for our mood, so like anti-moths we followed the lower light levels into the bar. We sat at a window table with a view of the front patio and the traffic and passersby on Ecclesall Road. The Italian bartender made and served our double macchiatos; and in a very Italian manner, after the female of our duo paid for the drinks, he gave the change to the male. How, um, quaint...

Our macchiatos were very nice with a well rounded flavour which would appeal to both smooth and OOMPH! fans. They were perfectly made as well, using nonpretentious Arabica beans for flavour and robusto beans for the bitter edge, and topped with a perfect amount of foamed milk. They managed to stay very pretty in their cups all the way to the last drop.

This was definitely a perfect capper for such a cloudy balmy festival day, coincidentally just before the World Cup final between Italy and France. And as we left the cool trendy bar and walked to our car, the day became even cooler and trendier when a gorgeous pale green classic-styled Nissan Figaro convertible passed by.

But would we have seen the Figaro had we not been under the influence of a double macchiato? A recent e-mail exchange with my Bay Area friend comes to mind:

This is interesting but I don't think it really proves anything. Researchers in Seattle had volunteers drink a single vodka and tonic and then watch a video of two teams passing basketballs. The volunteers were supposed to count the number of times one team passed the ball. During the screening a woman in a gorilla suit walked among the players, beat her chest, and walked away. Only 18% of the volunteers noticed her. I had actually heard about the experiment with the gorilla on the basketball court, but what does it prove? Just that when our attention is focused, ordinary distractions don't matter. Perhaps there are gorillas in our midst, like extraterrestrials, peaceably minding their business, but almost all of us have all learned to tune them out, because they're not important. At the President's last press conference (when he declared that Israel passed the ball more often than Hizbullah and was, therefore, the victor) I'm sure there was a gorilla on the screen. But nobody else brought it up.