Sunday, May 6, 2007

Very Caffeinated & Feliz Cinco de Mayo

Yesterday was Cinco de Mayo. Our next door neighbors Fred and Annie had a big Cinco de Mayo Fiesta, including a huge buffet spread! We had been looking forward to it for over a month, ever since we got the invitation. Now, to know Fred is to know his coffee. He's a huge coffee nut (or is it bean??) and has parlayed his love of coffee into a second career of sorts. He roasts his own beans from raw coffee beans. His bean grinder is carefully chosen and calibrated for the perfectly sized grind. He vacuum-seals his roasted beans and gives us bags of them. They are so delicious. Ever since I've had Fred's coffee, I've been ruined. I no longer enjoy Starbucks or any other "corporate" coffee. I don't even enjoy the locally owned mom & pop coffee houses anymore. Fred's is fresh. Fred's is quality. Fred has professional coffee/espresso equipment. Fred goes to professional coffee conventions. He gives us his coffee for free, but they're so good that he sells them to his co-workers and ships them to people far & wide. Fred has BUILT a coffee bar and turned their living room into a bona-fide CAFE. Seriously, walking into Fred & Annie's living room, you'd think you accidentally stumbled upon the friendly neighborhood coffee house.

I was totally amazed. Fred put out like 10 different kinds of coffee, plus his friend Andy manned the expresso machine. Andy is a computer programmer by trade, but he's the best barista in San Diego. We chatted with him about coffee, and he said besides his own coffee, he only finds ONE place in all of San Diego worthy: Yvonne the coffee cart lady in front of Kaiser Permanente building on Clairemont Mesa street off of I-805. Seriously!

The fiesta was bigger than I'd ever imagined. Senora Annie said she started making the decorations in March! She made gorgeous paper flowers as table decorations. She made signs explaining the origin of Cinco de Mayo. She made decorative signs for every delicious dish she made. This party took some doing!

And the food! I could not believe how many dishes she put out. There was the fresh tortillas, the quiche, the tater casserole, the eggs & corned beef hash, the salsas, carnitas, chili con carne, FRESH homemade churros, fresh homemade chips, nacho cheese sauce, jicama salad, lumpia, etc.! On top of that, the dessert table was HUGE! That was a meal in and of itself! Poor Annie actually had to re-cook some of her food when their refrigerator broke a couple of days before the party!

After three cups of Senor Fred's coffee, I was deliriously caffeinated and very chatty. We chatted with our next-door neighbors on the other side, Felix and Cris. We chatted with Fred & Annie's other next-door neighbor Margaret. Turns out Margaret was a San Diego police reserve officer for a long time! She promised us she'd email us all the petty crime happenings in the neighborhood. I love that we're friends with both of next-door neighbors! And guess what? They're both original owners of the houses. Twenty years ago they camped out overnight so that they could be in line to purchase the brand-new houses. They knew Bob and Georgia, who were the original owners of our house, who also showed up at the party! Fred & Annie have been such great neighbors. During the months when my mom was ill and we had to go visit her for a few days every week, they would get our mail and packages for us. Annie always pulls our empty garbage containers from the street back to the side of our house before we get home from work on Garbage Mondays. We couldn't ask for better neighbors. She calls us "The Kids Next Door", because we're the youngest couple in our block of surrounding houses. Everyone else are empty-nesters. We really love it here and are blessed! I promised Annie that I'd make her a scrapbook with all the pics that I took from their very caffeinated Cinco de Mayo Fiesta. :-)


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