Review: Allegro Coffee, Whole Foods, Roosevelt Square

Allegro Cafe.

The cafe in Whole Foods is actually called “Allegro Coffee,” but no one calls it that. People call it, “The cafe in Whole Foods” or “The part in the front where they sell coffee.”

They serve bulletproof coffee in Allegro Coffee. Not just grounds but the actual prepared beverage, complete with MCT (medium chain triglyceride) oil. I like this coffee, but I do think Dave Asprey, the founder, is a bit of a weirdo. He’s obsessed with “mycotoxins” and the “evil” they reek upon the world, especially peanuts. He’s also huge on beef from grass-fed cows. I was listening to a podcast with him the other day and he said, “I know exactly where my beef comes from. I know exactly what they eat, because it’s the grass surrounding my house on Vancouver Island.” Cool, Dave. Must be nice to live on Vancouver Island and have your own farm and your own grass-fed cows. I live in a two-bedroom apartment in Seattle my roommate and I call “Rancho Relaxo” because when we’re there the only thing we do is sit on the couch and eat food and watch HBO. I wish I had my own cows. I wish I had a farm on Vancouver Island. Also, Dave, do you slaughter the cows? Something tells me don’t. You might, but something tells me you don’t. Something tells me you stare at your kids all day grimacing and wondering if one day they’ll discover the glories of peanut butter. Or something processed. God forbid.

Imagine being Dave Asprey’s kid:

“What’d you have for breakfast today, Tommy?”



“A pop tart?”

(Dave calmly points toward the cellar.)

“OK, Tommy, you know what to do.”

“But there are rats down there!”

“Tommy, do I have to chain you to the pole? You have two options: You can either mainline MCT oil or we can chain you to the pole.”

“But I always miss my veins.”

“Well, the pole it is, then.”

That said, I do like fresh coffee with a bit of coconut oil. Makes you feel invincible, or, some might say, bulletproof.

But I don’t come here for the coffee. I come here for the mate. Whole Foods is one of the few places in Seattle that serves freshly-prepared mate. Now GRANTED, this is not loose leaf mate. It’s mate cocido, aka mate from bags. But it’s still delicious. And energizing. After a 12 ouncer I’m ready to walk the Ravenna trail, think important thoughts, and seize the day.

Speaking of seizing the day my mate is gone now. I tried to walk the Ravenna trail to the Amazon bookstore but realized I don’t have my gift card so buying Tools of Titans by Tim Ferrrrrrrisssssss is going to have to wait. Time to go back to Rancho Relaxo and mainline MCT oil. Or eat a pop tart.

5 Books to Read this Summer

1) Carry on, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse

If you want to learn how to write dialogue, read Wodehouse.

2) Stoner by John Williams

Sad and smooth, like a glass of almond milk.

3) Merriam-Webster’s Spanish-English Medical Dictionary (Spanish Edition)

Do you know how to say “small-incision cataract surgery” in Spanish?

4) El Tercer Reich by Roberto Bolaño

A book all about lying on the beach and looking for your (possibly) dead friend.

5) Min Camp 6 by Karl Ove Knausgaard

It still hasn’t come out in its English translation and won’t until 2018. Which means you can buy it in Norwegian, Swedish, or Danish and put it in Google Translate. Or learn one of those languages. Or move to Sweden.

Goenaga: A Tribute to Spain’s Finest Yogurt

God, I love yogurt.

Originally written 14 December 2015 while living in San Sebastian, Spain. 

Spain generally has shitty yogurt.  Spain also generally has shitty grocery stores.  This morning I went to the grocery store Lidl near my house and after five minutes of frantically dodging old people and unsuccessfully trying to find any yogurt that didn’t look terrible, I finally gave up and left and went to Eroski.

Eroski is substantially better than Lidl but still by no means what I’d call “great.”  Like I said before, great supermarkets do not exist in Spain.  Actually that’s not completely true.  The Corte Ingles supermarkets are the only supermarkets in Spain I’ve ever witnessed that might be termed “good.”  You can get Fage yogurt there (though sometimes only the nonfat variety which is awful), the aisles are fairly ample, and the selection is noteworthy..

In San Sebastian there is no Corte Ingles supermarket, so I’m forced to make due with my two favorites: Eroski and Super Amara.  Super Amara is wonderful (Spain wonderful); they have a variety of yogurts and not all of them make you want to wretch.  The best one they have, one that’s also carried by Eroski, is called “Goenaga.”

Goenaga comes in little blue tubs (the normal version) or green tubs (the low or nonfat version).  Unless you’re suffering from some kind of bizarre yogurt mental illness, you’ll buy the blue tubs.  You’ll take them home, you’ll perch over them like a vulture poised over fresh carrion, and  you’ll be delighted to find a little pro-biotic layer of creamy film on top that your spoon will slice through to get to the even creamier goodness beneath.  You will not eat one tub.  You will eat at least two.  And if you’re like me, you’ll eat all four tubs in one sitting, stopping rarely to breathe and ending with a dreamy smile on your face.

This little rant on yogurt leads to an even bigger rant on Spain in general.  There are some wonderful things about Spain.  There are some things that Spain, and Spaniards, do really well.  Yogurt, generally, is not one of them.  Supermarkets are definitely not one of them.  Ethnic food isn’t of them, either.  What do Spaniards do well?


Five Good Travel Books

It’s interesting: I don’t read travel books much (I usually prefer novels) and yet the following books are not only travel books but some of my favorite books of all time.

I’m not exactly sure what this means, but I think it means that a lot of travel books are annoying. It usually starts with the title.  Take No Touch Monkey! by Ayun Halliday, for example. I will never read that book, not because it’s a bad book (I have no idea if it’s good or bad) but simply because of the title.

A lot of travel books seem to suffer from the malady of trying to make experiences seem more dramatic or crazy than they are. I’ve suffered from this same pitfall. “Creative” non-fiction writers tend to think their experiences are unique.

But though they might not be unique, how you tell it is. Bill Bryson, for one, has proven a great travel writer can write something readable about a mundane experience. It’s not in how you lived it then but how you tell it, and the following authors and books tell it well.

Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe, Bill Bryson

This was the first real travel book I read. I belly-laughed at multiple parts in the book, and it sparked my love affair with Bill Bryson, still one of my favorite authors.

Quotable quote: “Romans park their cars the way I would if I had just spilled a beaker of hydrochloric acid on my lap.”

A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson’s best book, which has since been made into a movie. A narrative about walking a trail day after day seems like it would be boring, but Bryson’s talent for taking any experience, like shopping for hiking gear at the local co-op, and turning it into comedy, is apparent.

Quotable quote: “We spent a whole afternoon going through his stock. He would say things to me like: ‘Now this has a 70-denier high-density abrasion-resistant fly with a ripstop weave. On the other hand, and I’ll be frank with you here’-and he would lean to me and reduce his voice to a low, candid tone, as if disclosing that it had once been arrested in a public toilet with a sailor-‘the seams are lap felled rather than bias taped and the vestibule is a little cramped.'”

Passage to Juneau, Jonathan Raban

The description of navigating Deception Pass alone is reason to read this book. The meditative language fits the pace of sailing/motoring up the Inside Passage from Seattle to Alaska perfectly.

Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad

I only read this recently. I like it for the dark, dream-like qualities — it’s hard to tell if what is happening is really real or just some kind of malaria-induced hallucination.

There is also something to be said for heading into the unknown. Not just the unknown for you, but the unknown for most. Travel is a chance to do this.

Quotable quote: “We live as we dream–alone….”

Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a true story, Chuck Klosterman

Still my favorite Klosterman book of all time, I re-read KYTL every couple of years, or at least snippets of it. The reason this book is so good is because it’s not about what it’s supposed to be about. It’s supposed to be about Klosterman traveling through the US going to sites where famous rock stars have died, but it’s actually about his relationships with various women. And we humans love to read about relationships, especially when talked about by someone as funny as Chuck.

Quotable quote: “…Lenore will send me the nicest e-mail I’ve ever received from anyone, and reading it will make me want to hide in a cave for 10,000 years.”