Tuesday, 20 May 2008

The heart of the Valley

I enjoy visiting Silicon Valley. I don't get over here that often, once or twice a year typically, but it's always a pleasure. Well, mostly a pleasure. Everything is perfect. Everything is "Valley cool". Except for the tea. The tea is awful.

Why is it that no-one seemes to be able to make a "nice cup of tea" except us Brits (as we like to call ourselves when in America)? I am sitting in the legendary Palo Alto Creamery, 556 Emerson Street, Downtown Palo Alto in the heart of the Valley. I have just ordered the Early Bird breakfast (a farmyards worth of scrambled eggs, a mountain of pancakes and maple syrup poured directly over my head). The nice lady, who is very keen that I have a nice day, tried to force coffee on me but I demanded "Tea, dear lady, tea" in my best Prince Charles accent.

After momentary confusion as she look around to see where the voice had come from (they don't get a lot of black british people in these parts) she offered me a choice of something called "black tea" or a range of herbal concoctions. "Builders" didn't seem to be on the menu so to be on the safe side I chose black. However it turned out to be "Orange pekoe and pekoe" (presumably to ensure that I didn't feel deprived of pekoe).

But fear not. You underestimate me. I know how to deal with such an emergency. Yes, I had brought along a supply of English Breakfast tea bags of course. When she turned her back I discarded the so called Orange Pekoe with extra pekoe and got myself all hooked up (you see, I'm getting the lingo) with good, solid English Breakfast. I slipped in in to the luke warm water (would it kill them to boil the water?), added my cream (milk would have been nice) and made the best of a very, very grim situation.

The Palo Alto Creamery is the heart of the Valley. It's an authentic 1950's style diner complete with crome, jukebox and red leather seats. On a monday morning with the Californian sun streaming through the windows it's a beautiful place to be. Dotted around the restaurant I can see an assortment of casul yet intense Valley VCs being pitched at by hungry looking entrepreneurs, a few early rising locals reading their papers (Obama vs Clinton?), a family behind me celebrating their son's birthday and an odd looking Engishman grumbling and muttering in to his tea.

If you are a tech entrepreneur then at some point get yourself a meeting on a sunlit morning at the Palo Alto Creamery, Downtown Palo Alto, the heart of the Valley. Then you can retire happy.

Okay, here comes my contact. Right. Think, Tom. Get in the zone. Power breakfast, power breakfast.....

1 comment:

Hazel said...

You sound just like my daughter. She had a stopover in Denver (don't ask) and was appalled at the tea offered in the diner of the motel until a strong Liverpudlian accent bellowed out of the kitchen and told the waitress to make a proper cup of tea! "How many more times do I have to tell you that the water needs to be boiling?"
They spent the rest of the evening catching up on mutual acquaintances from Liverpool over several cups of proper tea.