Sometimes-Sunday Coffee Club
Sunday, 7 June 2015
Passages Cafe (Rr Lidhja e Prizrenit and Rr Janos Hunyadi – map)
Passage Lounge, Tirana
Tucked away on the kind of alley you only find when you are running late and trying to make up time, Passage lounge is on an island of buildings squeezed between one-way streets and only big enough for a cafe, a butcher and a corner market.
I’ve passed this spot several times, usually in the early morning on my way to work when there is no traffic on this sidewalk-less back street. I’ve always been drawn to the planters – re-purposed tires painted yellow and dripping with red pansies, and on a whim today, decided to pay it a short visit.
I catch the owner’s eye from the street and point at my dog, Bonnie, and then at the outdoor deck. “Haide, haide,” he says and gives me the me the thumbs up. So I find a place at one of the little round wooden tables among the flowers and the smokers on the little wooden deck.
“…life is often at once mad and consistent, in the manner of dreams.” – Black Lamb and Grey Falcon by Rebecca West
I’m still in between books and so I’m still reading bits of “Black Lamb and Grey Falcon” by Rebecca West. I am enjoying reading her experiences in the places that I’ve had the fortune to visit this year. It is still early in the book and she is in Split, Croatia. I loved Split. I loved Split more than Dubrovnik and almost as much as Kotor. It wasn’t as Zen as Zadar, but it was a lot more fun to explore. What happens when you keep using the ruins of older buildings as the start for your newer ones? something utterly unique: Split.
The waitress, a tiny woman in her mid 20’s with luscious black hair pulled into a braid, comes to my table. I order a “Long Coffee” (my favorite espresso style black coffee), and a “Tost” which is usually kind of like a grilled-cheese sandwich, although one never really knows what one will get.
“…black, the mountains behind us, silver the sea that lay before us, and grey the islands that streaked it; and at our feet storm-battered flowers looked like scraps of magenta paper.” – Black Lamb and Grey Falcon by Rebecca West
Sometimes I think that if I ever have the opportunity to return to this region, I might retrace the travels of Rebecca West – but that implies that someday I might actually finish reading this interminable book. Perhaps I’ll retrace the footsteps of Edith Durham instead and confine myself to the infinitely more readable Albanian regions.
My tost and coffee arrives. Passage Lounge serves Caffe Trucillo coffee. I’ve never tried it before so as I sip I try to keep track of every flavor, every thought: full, smooth, but not rich…and a tiny tinge of a tinny after-taste. The coffee had a full but delicate flavor that was easily overwhelmed by the teaspoon of sugar I added. I take a bite of the tost which turns out to be a gooey, melted ham and cheese served on pannini bread.
This is the first cafe I’ve found besides Sofie and Mon Cheri that actually serves food (even if it is snack food) as well as coffee. They even have a proper breakfast menu advertising tost and orange juice for 100 Lek, or briosh and milk for 130.
The occasional car interrupts the low hubbub of general conversation on the little flower lined deck and I decide that I’d prefer to be inside during rush hour when this little alley turns into a long traffic jam. Mid-morning on a Sunday, though? It feels just right.