Friday, May 30, 2008

Babycino, Per Favore!

Any toddler able to digest full cream milk and the occassional marshmallow is now a regular participant in the thriving cafe culture infesting a trendy suburb near you. It's almost a given that when Mum orders her tall double shot latte the next words to proudly cross her lips are "and a babycino for the little one" (and it's not just me, I saw it happen twice today in a cafe, um, when Charlotte and I were having our afternoon pick-me-ups). This is despite the fact that only half the froth gets eaten before they discover they can suck on sugar sticks, blow the remainder of the froth over the table like bubbles, and use the milk at the bottom as a deep-conditioning treatment on their hair. My daughter has perfected the art of piping up whenever she hears me order coffee "mommo (being her word for it) too Mummy! Thankyou lady!" (even when it's a man, no matter) and when she finishes drinking/playing with it she yells "Lady, take it away!". Which is slightly rude but it's funny, and as she's 2 and has the cutest little voice she gets away with it. But babycino's differ from cafe to cafe, and considring it's a near-daily event for us, here's a rundown on the good, the bad, and the frothy (local readers take note):

A good babycino is one that Goldilocks would choose: not too hot, not too cold, just right. It has lots of froth with a teeny bit of chocoloate or sprinkles, and the bottom is a nice healthy dose of calcium-rich milk. Preferably comes with an optional marshmallow and shot of chocolate (Mums perfer to know this in advance to yay or nay, lest they be left with a hyperactive tot for the rest of the afternoon). They come in an easy-to-handle cup and a teaspoon, accessorised with plenty of napkins (forget this part at your own peril, Starbucks).

Coffee chains like Gloria Jeans and Hudsons always have babycinos for free when you order a coffee, and you can usually add your choice of sprinkle. BUT they are too cheap to give you a marshamllow. For that, you need a trendy cafe currently decked out in neutrals and browns (a decade ago it was Meditteranean, and before that non-existent). Try and go when the business people are there at lunch, talking loudly on their phones and generally expecting everyone to kiss their laptops. This is a great time to let your toddler sing and talk loudly and generally run amuck, as their cute babble is far more appealing than listening to the balding man with too much aftershave talk to the whole cafe about "the overseas deal". A nice big marshamllow or two will keep everyone entertained for hours. Add a chocolate shot for extra impact. But be warned, these cafes usually charge $2 or so and may try to hurry you along. Order another round and invite all your friends with big three wheel mountain prams along if this happens.

Locally, Charlotte gives the award for best (free) babycino in a pleasant atmosphere to Fresh, a vegeterian cafe with awesome coffee, daggy-cool furniture and friendly staff. In Tassie a cafe like this is a rare find, so make the most of it! Melbourne drips with these so you guys are lucky. Cafe Cortile in the Block Arcade gets top marks for the whole country.

And lastly, here is the best tee ever for babycino-lovers (yes, yes, FrockYou sells them. A lot of them):

tee, $34.95, by Smirk

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