Mini-adventure Mondays: Sometimes you win, sometimes…not.

Early this morning I decide to try the new hipster roasteria (espresso bar, for the rest of us) for today’s educational adventure.

The plan: Order the first drink I know absolutely nothing about, drink it, and thereby learn something new.

Given my (for a glasslander) abysmal ignorance about matters caffeinated, I figure this won’t be hard. I speak just two words of Coffee: “Mocha” and “vanilla latte.” I’m not even sure what a latte is, except that a vanilla one doesn’t really taste like eggnog.

So I head on down to the roasteria, open the door, and take note of the very Portland ambience…

Rantish segue
How can you tell you are in a hipster dining establishment in Portland?
A: It looks just like the weather outside: Cold, grey, and a bit damp. Portland restaurateurs apparently never heard of the words “cozy” and “warm,” filling their restaurants with 30-foot ceilings, concrete, glass, stainless steel, and about as much light as it takes to illuminate a four year old’s birthday cake. You can’t hear yourself think, and the average temperature inside is about 67F.

Here’s a clue, guys: If your entire establishment can go through a carwash (or autoclave) with only minimal damage to the electronics, you’re building a mens’ room, not a restaurant.

…and glance at the menu on the wall. The very first drink listed on the wall I’ve never heard of, so I decide to order it.

Espresso con panna, please,” I say to the smiling face behind the (chilly grey) granite counter.

“How many shots?” she asks.

“” (let’s not go overboard with the caffeine)

Counter girl gives me a dubious look. “Just one? Do you want that in the little cup or the regular mug?”

“Oh,” I say breezily,” a mug will be fine.”

…which is how I learn that con panna is evidently Italian for “giant schooner of thick, very sweet whipped cream packed as tightly as possible into the chosen vessel.” And that one shot means “drizzle a measly little cup of hot, thick espresso syrup over a whipped cream mountain, where it will create small, insignificant channels but otherwise not make much of an impression.”

As a dessert I’m sure it’s delightful. As a morning drink, it’s a little chewy.