Cortado por favor!
It was just a normal day in Toronto, and after having had a wonderful sunny evening the day before we were back to the grey and cloudy usual it seemed. Kind of a Vancouver feeling minus the wetness all around (or so I’ve been told). I had started the day with the normal ballet class, followed by a bit of cardio on the treadmill. It had only been four days since I last attempted to do ballet and but the body knows it. I could feel the same stiffness that you get after stopping for 3 months!
As I adventured along Dupont street, I knew I had a few choices. Creeds, Ezras Pound, which was probably packed as usual, and everyone’s favourite L.C.B.O., so I figured I should keep on walking. Turns out, I didn’t have to walk that far, just a bit before Davenport I found a little ray of sunshine with bright yellow benches on the outside that invited me to step inside. It’s called Haute Coffee and, as the name says, it feels very Haute indeed. Unlike other coffee shops I’ve been to, this one had a bright and fancier look. Again, as they all should, the wide window facing the sidewalk was perfect to people-watch. However, the real catch here were the adorable tables with tiny attachable trays, each of them with an even more adorable yellow tulip in a jar. It features a very Scandinavian design displaying wooden floors and white walls and the color yellow pops at every opportunity. The metal stools, little organizer buckets, knifes handles and, above all, tulips everywhere made this place an amazing example of good consistency on branding. Even if they have only been around for 7 months, this cafe has all the right ingredients for anyone wishing to enjoy either a nice working afternoon or a coffee date. Probably the best feature is that soon, they will be getting their liquor license for all of us wine aficionados.
I was feeling it, and as I wondered if today was going to be the day where I give espresso a try, they offered me a cortado. You see, my way of reasoning is not very complicated at all. Since it was a Spanish word I just figure it was going to be good and, only after saying “okay”, did I ask what the drink was. Luckily enough, I had the owner there explaining how this was a purely espresso based drink, with a good amount of warm milk to mask the bitterness of the double shot. With origins in Spain and/or Portugal, (I’m starting to see a pattern here on how nobody seems to agree where the different coffee drinks were first made) it is also a big favourite in various countries in Latin America and especially Cuba, hence the familiarity of the word to me. Just like the flat white from last week’s post, the cortado is usually served in a small glass. It has a similar espresso-to-milk radio and with the difference being whether or not the milk is textured. The Italians would usually make a foamy/velvety milk, whereas the Spaniards wouldn’t. Traditionally, cortados would be served in a glass that has a metallic base and handle, but most North American cafes nowadays just serve it in a Gibraltar glass.
According to some research, Cuba is the one country, apart from Spain, that most often enjoys this drink. It is best know as “cortadito” which is the diminutive of cortado in Spanish and literally means “cut” in english. They have a couple of variations of the drink such as “espresso condensado” (made with condensed milk) and “leche y leche” (made with condensed milk and cream on top. From what I can recall, my cuban friends used to tell me: “ You should always have your coffee dark, hot and strong”. Some say that another drink originated from this saying. “Carajillo”, made with coffee, whisky, anisette and or rum, was first created by the Spanish occupation in Cuba. Personally, this is one of my favorite alcoholic beverages but let’s not get into those yet.
Maybe next week I will be brave enough to actually have an espresso. In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed this light reading and, if you did, please share! Have a nice weekend!