'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. Where were they all? At the Central Market, silly. What was MMC thinking? Perhaps that a carpark would miraculously open up on Gouger street, and that the older gentlemen who vacated it would stop to pass on a still-valid parking ticket. God bless ye, merry gentleman! One of the coveted Lucia's tables gleams vacancy. Joy to the world!
Lucia's, the cafe equivalent of your extended family. Warm and familiar, it's been around for generations. The Shopspace: a splash of tomato red, it's crowded, sprawling, loud and bright. Inside, chairs, customers, crostoli and Lucia's own product range cheerily elbow one another. Orders bounce in and out the door with flaming Italian hospitality. Outside, settling into black furniture on the uneven market floor, you feel like you could easily be forgotten. But even on this the merriest of days, our orders arrive without confusion and within eight minutes.
Serving Italian cuisine to Australians since 1957, the family of Lucia Rosella have built a stronghold of spaghetti and home-made sauces. Hark! Even the New York Times sings, calling Lucia's "one of the most beloved stop-off points in the market". Hearing only tales of pizzas made orgasmic with unofficial bolognaise sauce topping (ask nicely), MMC believed Lucia's coffee to be a sideshow only. Their snappy website explains, however, that 'Home–style Italian cooking at its best and fantastic coffee is the base of Lucia’s.'
Über-patient in a disorderly queue, MMC has time to survey the scene. Held hostage between coffee machine and counter, our older female barista defies cafe stereotype. Wielding a spoon, and constructing cappuccinos with skyscrapers of dry foam, she also defies cafe trend. Not in the mood for mountain-climbing, MMC orders a latte. Alas! The Pour: Mrs Barista pitches wide with a froth-laden latte. Surely this is not the true Italian way. In rare Carrie Bradshaw form, MMC 'can't help but wonder': is 3D foam a valid stylistic choice, or a reason for a teasin'?
The Lesson: at Lucia's, not only the cooking is home-style. The coffee - hmmm, it's strong on substance, short on style. With a bump of the table, the foam wobbles like Saint Nick's belly, but underneath is a fine cup of Lucia's own blend. It has to be coffea robusta beans - it's the full-bodied, Italian way. Like red wine has 'legs', this coffee has the lingering mouthfeel. Friend of MMC is a big fan, and MMC has to admit that like its vendor, this coffee got character.
Link: Adelaide according to the NY Times