Archive

Posts Tagged ‘espresso’

The Flat Whites of Shoreditch, Bethnal Green, Brick Lane, Leather Lane, The Square Mile etc

December 7, 2012 Leave a comment

Or: Where There Are Hipsters, There Will Be Third Wave Independent Specialty Coffee.

A few weeks ago, I was attempting to explain to someone why freshly ground specialty coffee was not just a hipster/posh thing but about being able, with some knowledge, to get more enjoyment from that raw product. She said she’d never heard of such a thing in her life. Another person said the same thing to me last week, but this was in relation to the sermon we had just heard on 1 Peter 5 at St. Helen’s Church, Bishopsgate:


She said she’d never in her church-going life heard that God had said that Christians were to suffer. Well, I said after we’d discussed this for a little while, this adds weight to the Bible not being something made up by man, because if you wanted to start a religion for personal profit and gain, you’d never say anything like this. The rest of the series on 1 Peter (“Don’t Be Surprised At The Fiery Trial“) is well worth a listen.

Coffee jaunts in London so far have been made to coincide with meet-ups with people or limited to times when the Associates’ study church (yes, they have the immense privilege of a whole church building set aside for their use) has been far too cold or dark to do any work in.

Many of the joints visited were within walking distance (up to an hour’s Londoner-pace walk, that is) of the Placement Church – in Shoreditch and Bethnal Green, Brick Lane, Leather Lane, within The Square Mile, and elsewhere.

Shoreditch/Bethnal Green

Leila’s Shop (facebook. 15-17 Calvert Avenue, Shoreditch, E2 7JP) couldn’t fit many people. So not a place to expect to sit and read undisturbed. Those who managed to score a seat chatted over cooked breakfasts/brunches and polish platters of cured meats, pickles, rye. The coffee was decent.

Leila's Shop, Calvert Avenue  Bethnal Green, Shoreditch Kitchen, Leila's Shop, Calvert Avenue  Bethnal Green, Shoreditch
Leila's Shop, Calvert Avenue  Bethnal Green, Shoreditch Leila's Shop, Calvert Avenue  Bethnal Green, Shoreditch
Leila's Shop, Calvert Avenue  Bethnal Green, Shoreditch Leila's Shop, Calvert Avenue  Bethnal Green, Shoreditch

Flat White, Leila's Shop, Calvert Avenue  Bethnal Green, Shoreditch Coffee, Leila's Shop, Calvert Avenue  Bethnal Green, Shoreditch
Leila's Shop, Calvert Avenue  Bethnal Green, Shoreditch Brownie, Leila's Shop, Calvert Avenue  Bethnal Green, Shoreditch

Fix 126 Coffee (126 Curtain Road, EC2A 3PJ). Climpson and Sons Fix 126 Blend (50% Malawi Msese District, 33% Guatemala Co-op, 17% Brazil Fazenda Paraiso Pulped Natural) on a La Marzocco. Fairly decent but with a very slight bitter (burnt?) aftertaste. Very chilled out cafe with strategically placed lights and power sockets:

Fix 126 Coffee Blackboard menu Fix 126 Coffee
Benches and seating. Fix 126 Coffee Fix 126 Coffee
Beans. Fix 126 Coffee Flat White, Fix 126 Coffee

Shoreditch Grind (facebook. 213 Old Street, Old Street Roundabout, Islington, EC1V 9NR). Communal tables with barstools along the circular edge. I remember this being a good flat white (probably, amongst other things, the espresso to milk volume thing?) but was otherwise occupied so could not chat more with the baristas about provenance etc.

Untitled Shoreditch Grind, Old Street Roundabout, Islington
Alfresco seating, Shoreditch Grind, Old Street Roundabout, Islington Flat White, Shoreditch Grind, Old Street Roundabout, Islington

Brick Lane

Brick Lane Coffee (157 Brick Lane, E1 6SB):

Brick Lane Coffee. Brick Lane Sunday Market

Kahaila Cafe (135 Brick Lane). The cakes were lovely and the coffee sacks and wooden crates seating arrangements nicely quaint. But the flat white was rather weak and watery. To be fair, they seem to be aiming to be more of a third place (“a church” they say), rather than a coffee joint per se.

Kahaila, Brick Lane Flat White, Kahaila, Brick Lane
Kahaila, Brick Lane Cake display, Kahaila, Brick Lane
Seating, Kahaila, Brick Lane Seating, Kahaila, Brick Lane

full stop cafe (facebook. 202 Brick Lane). Eclectic choice of furniture to chill out on. Square Mile beans were well-taken care of, producing a delicious cup. La Marzocco:

full stop cafe. Brick Lane full stop cafe. Brick Lane
full stop cafe. Brick Lane full stop cafe. Brick Lane
full stop cafe. Brick Lane full stop cafe. Brick Lane

Leather Lane
Department of Coffee and Social Affairs (facebook. 4-16 Leather Lane, EC1N 7SU). Art exhibitions, meeting rooms, “social hub”. A rotating roster of roasters but it was Climpson & Sons on the hopper when i visited. I wonder if Climpson roasts slightly darker than Square Mile, but still a very decent cup:

Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, Leather Lane Food, Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, Leather Lane
Wall mural, Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, Leather Lane Seating, Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, Leather Lane
Seating, Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, Leather Lane Water point, Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, Leather Lane
Buttered banana bread, Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, Leather Lane Flat White, Department of Coffee and Social Affairs, Leather Lane

Just across the way, Prufrock Coffee (facebook. 23 – 25 Leather Lane, EC1N 7TE). Standout coffee. Square Mile Coffee Roaster beans, Kees Van Der Westen. Appreciated the opportunity to geek chat about brewing parameters – had been trying to troubleshoot for some time. Also bit the bullet and indulged in a Hario kettle:

Prufrock Coffee, Leather Lane Prufrock Coffee, Leather Lane
Hopper and machine, Prufrock Coffee, Leather Lane Takeaway Cups, Prufrock Coffee, Leather Lane
Prufrock Coffee, Leather Lane Flat White, Prufrock Coffee

The Square Mile

Came upon Curators’ Coffee Studio on Cullum Street in The Square Mile, on the way back from the bank. The presence of a turquoise powder-coated three-group La Marzocco Strada and three hoppers of beans aroused enough interest for me to part with some change for a most interesting flat white from Square Mile Coffee Roaster’s Jirmiwachu Natural – like a strawberry coffeeshake.

Untitled Untitled
Untitled Untitled
Untitled Untitled
Untitled
Untitled Untitled

The Liberty of Norton Folgate (facebook. Norton Folgate, Bishopsgate) – 50% Brazil Pulped Natural Finca Paraiso, 50% Ethiopia Sidamo Oromia Co-op:

The Liberty of Norton Folgate The Liberty of Norton Folgate
The Liberty of Norton Folgate

Beany Green Gourmet Coffee (cart at the base of The Gherkin):

Gourmet Coffee at the base of The Gherkin Gourmet Coffee at the base of The Gherkin

Elsewhere
The Black Lab (18 Clapham Common Southside, Clapham). Climpson & Sons beans – when I visited, they were still serving the Summer Espresso 2012 (20% Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Oromia Co-operative, 20% Sumatra Wahana Estate Natural, 20% Columbia Racafe Medellin Region, 20% Columbia Somondoco Boyaca Deparment, 20% Dominican Republic Cibao Altura Crilo Estate). Served at 62 degrees celcius:

The Black Lab Coffee, Clapham Common South Side The Black Lab Coffee, Clapham Common South Side
Flat White, The Black Lab Coffee, Clapham Common South Side Lamington, The Black Lab Coffee, Clapham Common South Side

Everbean (facebook. 30 Avery Row, Mayfair) – Climpson & Sons, La Marzocco:

Everbean, Avery Row Everbean, Avery Row
Everbean, Avery Row Everbean, Avery Row
Everbean, Avery Row Everbean, Avery Row
Everbean, Avery Row Everbean, Avery Row

Flat Cap (by Notes Coffee. Borough Market) – Square Mile’s Red Brick Espresso (in this expression, 30% El Cascajal (Guatemala), 30% El Majahual (El Salvador), 30% Sertao (Brazil), 10% Kagumoini  (Kenya)). Delicious with well-frothed milk:

Flat Cap, Borough Market Flat Cap, Borough Market

Notes, Music and Coffee (31 Saint Martin’s Lane, WC2N 4ER) – nipped in here during the intermission at the London Coliseum next door. Requested Square Mile’s Sweetshop Espresso in my flat white. The barista was kind enough to calibrate this for a fantastic cup just bursting with fruit (in this incarnation, 50% Kiawamururu (Kenya), 50% Suke Quto (Ethiopia). Really made me smile:

Notes, Music and Coffee, St. Martin's Lane Notes, Music and Coffee, St. Martin's Lane
Notes, Music and Coffee, St. Martin's Lane Notes, Music and Coffee, St. Martin's Lane
Notes, Music and Coffee, St. Martin's Lane

Grind Coffee Bar (5C The Great Eastern Market, Westfield Shopping Centre, Stratford City, E20 1EH) – London Coffee Roasters (the baristas couldn’t remember what was in the blend). La Marzocco Strada MP with 3M Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration. Good coffee in a megamall:

Grind Coffee Bar. Westfield Shopping Centre Grind Coffee Bar. Westfield Shopping Centre
Grind Coffee Bar. Westfield Shopping Centre Grind Coffee Bar. Westfield Shopping Centre
Grind Coffee Bar. Westfield Shopping Centre
Grind Coffee Bar. Westfield Shopping Centre Grind Coffee Bar. Westfield Shopping Centre

Advertisements

A Death. Nylon Coffee Roasters.

May 3, 2012 3 comments

A strange surreality to the day.

Fell asleep mid-sentence early last night after a few long days of dealing with Indo-China. Was awoken in the early hours by the insistent buzzing of SMSes and whatsapp messages coming in about the demise of Singapore theatre actress (or “actor” as they would insist) Emma Yong, and also from theatre friends suddenly arranging meet-ups. It was like this when a mutual friend committed suicide last year – the seeming need to share stories, to grieve together, to be badly comforted in face of the stark reality that death comes for us all…

Ang Ku Kueh box from Ji Xiang Confectionery Ang Ku Kueh from Ji Xiang Confectionery

And then, life went on. Got some ang ku kueh from Ji Xiang Confectionery (1 Everton Park, #01-33) for the girls at the office who are very fond of the sticky oily stuff.

5oz double shot, Nylon Coffee Roasters, Everton Park 3oz White, Nylon Coffee Roasters, Everton Park
Nylon Coffee Roasters, Everton Park

And since i was in the vicinity, dropped by Nylon Coffee Roasters (4 Everton Park #01-40, tumblr, facebook, current hours: 8.30am to 5.30pm) where Dennis Tang and Lee Jia Min, formerly of Papa Palheta/Loysel’s Toy, set up a micro-roasting shop after a few months of travelling, providing coffee consultancy services, and working mobile coffee stations at weddings and other events. “Nylon” because New York and London figured majorly in their interest in coffee, and the moustache logo because the designer they hired didn’t figure on Jiamin being on the scene?!

Exterior, Nylon Coffee Roasters, Everton Park Nylon Coffee Roasters, Everton Park
The Maillard Project, Nylon Coffee Roasters, Everton Park Probat Roaster, Nylon Coffee Roasters, Everton Park

A Probat roaster at the back which is put into use every other day. (Go maillard reactions!)

Nylon Coffee Roasters, Everton ParkWell-wishes.

Nylon Coffee Roasters, Everton ParkThey’ve done away with the concept of cappuccinos, flat whites, etc and classify their drinks as either milk-based or non-milk-based.

Grinder, Nylon Coffee Roasters, Everton Park Latte art, Nylon Coffee Roasters, Everton Park

The El Primero (first) blend was a mix of Brazilian and Peruvian – perky and bright in a way that makes one (or just me and my deluded mind) think of South America.

Interior, Nylon Coffee Roasters, Everton ParkIt’s not a cafe with food or other drinks, but the four chairs inside or the use of your two pegs provide loads of opportunity to chat about what’s central to the whole set-up, so somewhat like how it was with The Steeping Room. Good stuff.

Tim Wendleboe pinup, Nylon Coffee Roasters, Everton Park(To affirm their coffee geekery, there was also a pin-up calendar with the barista of month being Tim Wendelboe of Norway (World Barista Champion 2004).)

View out the front window of an MRT train travelling to Sengkang View out of the front window of an MRT train travelling underground

Now, the day is ending with more buzzing from friends overseas, wanting to confirm the news, to grieve. But to what end all these platitudes of any deceased being “in God’s hands” and “with the angels”? If there was life after death, i would want to be sure that the people i love are really in a better place and are really right with God. i would want to be absolutely sure of seeing them again in happier circumstances. Well-meaning but ultimately superficial Hallmark card condolences are faint comfort to any one…

..nor the songs that we once made up and sang and taught others to sing. Despite all earnest sincerity, no friend can accompany us through death’s door (other than the Friend who has himself gone through it before us):

Dedication
We have shared our morning days,
and gone through all rainy nights,
even in the darkest of nights,
stars still light up our way.

Tomorrow is a beautiful dream,
a dream that could be fulfilled.
Cross the bridge of rainbow,
in search of the gold.

For here we stand,
our dearest friends.
Sincerely from our hearts we wish:
may streams of sunlight shine like rays of hope,
hand in hand we’ll work and strive,
for the best things in life.

Friends
Sometimes I wonder, if I’ve made a wrong step somewhere
and times don’t seem as good as they have been before.
It’s not so hard then, to want to lay down and cry,
but then I hear a chorus of voices calling from the other shore,
“Look up! Look up!”

These are my friends, my friends
just some people walking the same road
with hands joined as one together.
Cross the bridge, see the rainbow
feel the breeze, watch the flowers grow
touch the sky, don’t you know
we can go higher, higher, higher!

And through the years, as generations come and go,
yet still this flame inside burns strong despite the rain.
It’s not so hard then, to stumble and fall.
It’s then I hear a chorus of voices calling from the other shore,
“Look up, look up”

You are my friends, my friends,
just some people walking the same road
with hands joined as one together.
Cross the bridge, see the rainbow,
feel the breeze, watch the flowers grow,
touch the sky, don’t you know,
we can go higher, higher, higher…

My friends…

As One
We were once all strangers
Roaming near and far.
Lost in a world of fantasy
Don’t know who we are. [sic]
Then one day destined we were
To stand together here as one. (lalala)
We’ll be together, together as one.

Day by day our spirits grew
Bonding us with love.
Striving, working, never rest [sic]
Striving for the best.
‘Tis our story, ’tis our song
Filled with joy, spirit strong as one. (lalala)
We’ll be together, together as one.

As the years pass us by
In many ways we fly.
But the spirit still remains
It can never die.
‘Tis our story, ’tis our song
Filled with joy, spirit strong as one. (lalala)
We’ll be together, together as one.

Life, Liberty, Coffee

February 27, 2012 2 comments

On the way to a wedding at Foochow Methodist Church in Little India last week, I wanted to check out a terrace house* on Starlight Road I’d visited many years ago, to see the gentrification of the area.

But we were delayed by an intriguing sign:
Liberty Coffee, Rangoon RoadNaturally, an investigation was in order.

Liberty Coffee, Rangoon Road Liberty Coffee, Rangoon Road
Water point, Liberty Coffee, Rangoon Road Liberty Coffee, Rangoon Road
Liberty Coffee, Rangoon Road Hario, Liberty Coffee, Rangoon Road

Liberty Coffee (facebook), at 131 Rangoon Road, diagonally across from L’Etoile Cafe on Owen Road, was set up by Terence Tay (ex-pilot cf Smitten Coffee and Tea Bar’s ex-naval officer). His description of the roastery as a speakeasy surely refers to its lack of regular opening hours or a barista to call its own, rather than any fly-by-night connotations or opium in the coffee.

Liberty Coffee, Rangoon RoadWith the Singapore “artisanal”, specialty, third wave coffee field already filling fast with players, Terence was right to start on a friendly note. For last week’s open house, he borrowed three baristas to helm the La Marzocco: Marcus Leong from Papa Palheta/Loysel’s Toy, Darren Chang (aforementioned ex-navy guy) from Smitten Coffee, and Pavan Khialani from Sarnies, Telok Ayer Street, and some chaps from Jewel Coffee dropped by for a chat.

Liberty Coffee, Rangoon Road Liberty Coffee, Rangoon Road

They mainly retail “globally-sourced specialty beans, artisan-roasted to the highest standard in Singapore” on the big black Giesen coffee roaster (also seen in black at Smitten Coffee and blue at Jimmy Monkey) in the rear of the shophouse. A Mirage Veloce Coffee Machine and a smaller Giesen(?) sat on ledge in the back as well.

Speakeasy Espresso Blend, Liberty Coffee, Rangoon Road Flat White, Liberty Coffee, Rangoon Road

The house Speakeasy Espresso blend was lovely in a flat white made by Pav: tobacco at first then transiting to nutty goodness with slight spice. Brazil Fazenda Lagoa Mondo Novo, Guatemala Finca Santa Ana La Huerta, Ethiopia Sidamo. Terence said they had been cupping every day and the beans were best after a 2-3 week rest from their roast date.

Scale, Liberty Coffee, Rangoon Road Pour-over, Liberty Coffee, Rangoon Road
They did single origin pour-overs too (11g a cup).

Also very decent:

Banana Walnut Bread, Liberty Coffee, Rangoon Road Banana Walnut Bread, Liberty Coffee, Rangoon Road
banana walnut bread;

Pecan chocolate cookie, Liberty Coffee, Rangoon Road
pecan date cookies; but we were too late for the Valrhona chocolate layer cake.

On the topic of liberty, we’ve had hilarious little discussions over the past week about the lawyers who help people fight for their freedom – not the society-approved human rights sort who claim to fight for the allegedly oppressed, poor and downtrodden; but the types who represent alleged murderers, rapists, rich corrupt politicians (whom, people forget, are also entitled to the same sort of “human rights” as the first category).

Liberty Coffee, Rangoon RoadYou really need the right advocate for the job, and a large part of this has to do with understanding the culture within which you will be judged: part of this has to do with the different laws in each jurisdiction (since each society may have differing definitions of what it considers to be just, and some laws are in place to deal with the unique issues in each place), another part of this is because different legal systems work in different ways, and yet another part of this is because the judge is human and therefore, not matter how hard he tries to be objective and how many safeguards are in place, exercises his discretion within a certain culture.

If you were in India, you would need an Indian lawyer who would be able to draft court papers in the most confident and self-righteous language possible (otherwise, you may not be taken seriously) but have the patience to wait a whole day to have your case heard; if you were in Indonesia, your lawyer would have to be able to navigate the queues to have your case heard some time this century (without bribery) etc. In these two instances, an American lawyer (for example), throwing his weight around and demanding his right to be heard and going to the media whining, might merely jeopardise your case, even if he knew the local laws like the back of his hand.

And if, like Dominique Strauss-Kahn, you were facing charges “abetting aggravated pimping by an organised gang” and “misuse of company funds”, and you’d actually attended an orgy party organised by the head of the local French police, perhaps you need to pay top Euro to a French lawyer like Henri Leclerc who will argue (not before an official judge but the judge that is the collective public) that you may not have known you were with prostitutes as “in these parties, you’re not necessarily dressed. I defy you to tell the difference between a nude prostitute and a nude woman of quality.”

While some of us may never have charges brought against us in a court of law in this world, we will all stand before God to be judged on the Last Day. And if the biblical accounts of human encounters with God is anything to go by, we will be trembling with fear and attempting to hide under mountains to avoid his wrath.

What a relief then that we have a supremely competent lawyer, an advocate, who will act for us and defend us in God’s court of law (1 John 2:1). And his plea will be that he himself has been the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2), so that whoever believed in him (before it was too late to do so) would not perish, but would have eternal life (John 3:16).

*
Starlight Road
3 Starlight Road

12 Starlight Road
12 Starlight Road

Christmas Road-trip: Perth – Margaret River

December 28, 2011 Leave a comment

After duties to the relos had been concluded, it was difficult to decide what to indulge in, in Perth and its surrounds. Western Australia seemed to contain everything I love:

Sunsets through pines trees, Perthfresh crisp air of pine and eucalyptus that you just had to gulp with abandon; fresh organic fruit and vegetables whose delicious ripeness wafted out of fruit stands in the summer heat;

Fremantle Fremantle
Fremantle Beach Fremantle Beach
South Beach, Fremantle South Beach, Fremantle
Swan River, Perth Swan River, Perth
Swan River, Perth Swan River, Perth
Redgate Beach, Margaret River, Western Australia Madurah, Western Australia
From inside Simmo's Ice-Cream, Madurah, Western Australia Smiths Beach, Margaret River, Western Australia
Smiths Beach, Margaret River, Western Australia PC239813
Yallingup Beach, Margaret River
Gnarabup Beach, Margaret River, Western Australia Gnarabup Beach, Margaret River, Western Australia
Gracetown, Margaret River, Western Australia Gracetown, Margaret River, Western Australia
Cottesloe Beach Christmas at Cottesloe Beach
Christmas at Cottesloe Beach Christmas at Cottesloe Beach

(Fremantle Beach; South Beach, Fremantle; Swan River in Perth City; Redgate Beach, Margaret River; Mandurah; Smiths Beach, Margaret River; Yallingup Beach, Margaret River; Gnarabup Beach, Margaret River; Gracetown, Margaret River; Cottesloe Beach)

clear blue-sky days out at sea or in rivers sailing (unfortunately, just missed the Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships) and catamaran-ing and kayaking and canoeing and fishing and surfing and kite-surfing and snorkling and diving (clear waters, reefs, the scuttled HMAS Swan wreck, no flies!);

Drive through Margaret River Drive from Margaret River to Perth City

the freedom of wide open spaces and road trips down south and off-roading without detailed maps or sat nav; real sports, “survival” and “adventure” shops staffed by people who knew exactly what i was describing and so pointing me to exactly the sort of things i would fill the remaining 17kg of check-in baggage with (packed light); loads of like-minded outdoorsy types (including a rough and tough fellow passenger on train. Said he to his colleagues: I reckon I maight get maiself a wax to-naight, you know, before baiking tomorrow. Male colleague: yeah, that’s raight);

good coffee from several little holes in walls – eg.:

The Pony Espress O, 21 Mayfair Street, West Perth The Pony Espress O, 21 Mayfair Street
The Pony Espress O, 21 Mayfair Street The Pony Espress O, 21 Mayfair Street
The Pony Espress O, 21 Mayfair Street The Pony Espress O, 21 Mayfair Street
The Pony Espress O, 21 Mayfair Street The Pony Espress O, 21 Mayfair Street

The Pony Espress O (21 Mayfair Street, West Perth. Housed in old stables. Slayer),

Cabin Fever, Bon Marche Arcade, 80 Barrack Street, Perth Cabin Fever, Bon Marche Arcade, 80 Barrack Street, Perth
Cabin Fever, Bon Marche Arcade, 80 Barrack Street, Perth Cabin Fever, Bon Marche Arcade, 80 Barrack Street, Perth
Cabin Fever, Bon Marche Arcade, 80 Barrack Street, Perth Cabin Fever, Bon Marche Arcade, 80 Barrack Street, Perth
Cabin Fever, Bon Marche Arcade, 80 Barrack Street, Perth Cabin Fever, Bon Marche Arcade, 80 Barrack Street, Perth
Cabin Fever, Bon Marche Arcade, 80 Barrack Street, Perth Cabin Fever, Bon Marche Arcade, 80 Barrack Street, Perth
Cabin Fever, Bon Marche Arcade, 80 Barrack Street, Perth Cabin Fever, Bon Marche Arcade, 80 Barrack Street, Perth
Cabin Fever, Bon Marche Arcade, 80 Barrack Street, Perth

Cabin Fever (facebook. Shop 12 Bon Marche Arcade, 80 Barrack Street, Perth. Beans from Ristretto Coffee. Retro decor.),

Bench Espresso, 471 Hay St Shop 191, East Perth Bench Espresso, 471 Hay St Shop 191, East Perth
Bench Espresso, 471 Hay St Shop 191, East Perth Bench Espresso, 471 Hay St Shop 191, East Perth

Bench Espresso (471 Hay St Shop 191, East Perth. Five Senses beans, Bannister Downs milk.),

Yallingup Coffee Roasting Company Yallingup Coffee Roasting Company
Yallingup Coffee Roasting Company Yallingup Coffee Roasting Company

Yallingup Coffee Roastery (Shop 7b 233 Naturaliste Terrace Dunsborough 6281. The dredges tasted quite alright – lost the rest to the floor of the car when i had to jam the brakes at 110km/h);

loads of wineries in Swan Valley and Margaret River wine regions to stop off and taste wines at or just sit and nibble and sip and look at the verdant vineyards and their trellised vines. They were totally cool with me alternating surfing with wine-tasting, tracking fine white sand all over their cellar doors, and bobbing around with sea salt on my surf hat:

Vasse Felix, Margaret River Cheese board, Vasse Felix, Margaret River
Vasse Felix, Margaret River Vasse Felix, Margaret River
Vasse Felix,

Voyager Estate, Margaret River Voyager Estate, Margaret River
Voyager Estate, Margaret River Voyager Estate, Margaret River
Voyager Estate,

Cullen Wines, Caves Road Cullen Wines, Caves Road
Cullen Wines, Caves Road Cullen Wines, Caves Road
Cullen Wines, Caves Road
Cullen Wines,

Lamont's, Margaret River Lamont's, Margaret River
Lamont's, Margaret River Lamont's, Margaret River
Lamont’s,

Laurence Wines, Margaret River Laurence Wines, Margaret River
Laurence Wines, Margaret River Laurence Wines, Margaret River
Laurence Wines,

Knee Deep Wines, Margaret River Knee Deep Wines, Margaret River
Knee Deep Wines;

good food made from locally-sourced fresh ingredients:

Fidel's Cafe, Essex Street, Fremantle Fidel's Cafe, Essex Street, Fremantle
Fidel's Cafe, Essex Street, Fremantle Fidel's Cafe, Essex Street, Fremantle
Fidel's Cafe, Essex Street, Fremantle Breakfast, Fidel's Cafe, Essex Street, Fremantle
breakfast at Fidel’s Cafe (21 Essex Street, Fremantle),

White Elephant Beach Cafe, Gnarabup Beach White Elephant Beach Cafe, Gnarabup Beach
White Elephant Beach Cafe, Gnarabup Beach
White Elephant Beach Cafe, Gnarabup Beach White Elephant Beach Cafe, Gnarabup Beach
White Elephant Beach Cafe (facebook. Gnarabup Road – By The Boat Ramp, Margaret River);

Clancy's Fish Pub, City Beach
Clancy’s Fish Pub (City Beach. Beach towels as part of chandelier.);

Must Restaurant, Margaret River
Must Restaurant, Margaret River Angel Hair Blue Manna Crab Pasta, Must Restaurant, Margaret River
dinner at Must Restaurant (107 Bussell Highway, Margaret River)

Little Creatures, Fremantle Little Creatures, Fremantle
Little Creatures, Fremantle Little Creatures, Fremantle
Kangaroo skewers, Little Creatures, Fremantle Rocket and Pear Salad, Little Creatures, Fremantle
Sticky Date Pudding, Little Creatures, Fremantle

brewery tastings and chill-out nosh (Little Creatures, Fremantle);

immensely kind and courteous people – taxi drivers, bus drivers, wait-staff; the constellations so clearly visible in the pitch darkness.

But the way the relos tell it, Oz looks like this:
Dangerous: Map of Australia.with every after-dinner story ending with “and he/she was Taken“, and a few murders and rapes thrown in for good measure. And did I mention the flies? They got in your car, your drinks, your food, and just about every available orifice.

Sunset, Prevelly, Margaret River
Sunset, Sugarloaf Rock, Margaret RiverBut did i mention the sunsets over the Indian Ocean? Spectacular any where along the west coast, the popular choices being to toast the end of the day with some BYO at Sea Gardens (Mitchell Drive, Prevelly) or at the lookout point at Sugarloaf Rock. The heavily tattooed and multiple-y-pierced dead-ringer for Spud next to me clapped and whistled and cheered every time the colours in the sky changed. Very nicely done, God.

Every tourist spot hosts some errant tourist who came for a short holiday and liked it so much they just never left. Western Australia would have been my Hotel California, except that I understood, reluctantly, that nothing is perfect and much as I might claim to love nature and the great outdoors, ultimately it is scary because we can’t control it and even things we are trying to protect might harm/kill us anyway (in memoriam, Steve Irwin), a sad consequence of the Fall.

Result of Margaret River bushfire

Result of Margaret River bushfireResults of controlled burning that went out of control to cause the devastating fire of Margaret River in late 2011.

St. Matthew's Shenton Park Christmas at St. Matthew's Shenton Park at Rosedale School

The sermons at St. Matthew’s Shenton Park by Rory Shiner on Christmas Eve and Kanishka Raffel on Christmas Day were good reminders that though we celebrate that a baby was born some 2000 years ago, we do not coo sentimentally over his cradle – rather, we remember that this baby was the Creator of the universe himself who chose to humble himself by being conceived in the womb of a virgin, who came to die (which might be why one of the wise men gave him incense) to redeem all humans so that we can be what God first made us to be – reflections of God’s image to the rest of creation, to rule over it and take care of it, under God’s command.

Transportation
Rental Car, Margaret River
Cow Crossing Sign, Margaret River Ducks Crossing Sign, Margaret River
The only way to really see WA is with your own set of wheels. But beware wildlife crossings, especially the kangaroos at dawn and dusk. Apparently they take to headlights like moths to a flame. All advice upon encountering a rogue ‘roo says to brake if possible but never to swerve. Also, if you see a ‘roo, it’s likely his lemming-like friends aren’t far behind. But where do they hide in daytime, i’d asked, where do Kanga’s more sensible friends counsel him in calm slow voices that lights are not his friends and not to do the suicide hop? No answers until I passed a field of sheep and slowed to get a better look at some strange creatures – naked sheep sitting up on their hind legs, bending over to nibble on pasture with them rest of them…oh yeah…

The roads are just completely dark at night so make sure your headlights and batteries are go. Narrowly avoided running into a fox, but further squished a large black (?) snake that had already been hit and was lying across the road. Counted three ‘roos by the side. 😦

Next time, the rental car needs to have a roof rack for rental surf boards. Definitely.

Maps
Augusta Margaret River Tourism Black and White Map – didn’t have GPS. Relied on this and put an eye out for road signs instead.

Accommodation
Perth – YHA
Fremantle – Port Mill
Margaret River – Gilgara Resort

Wines
These are the wines i tried and rather liked:
Vasse Felix Cellar Door Vasse Felix Wine Tasting Menu and Prices
Vasse Felix - 2008 Heytesbury
Vasse Felix – Heytesbury 2008 (“A barrel selection of the very finest sections, of the best vineyards of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Cabernet Sauvignon is dominant and its restrained power is lifted by the distinctly perfumed and structured Petit Verdot and Malbec. It is matured in new and one year old French Oak barriques for 18 months”). Very good service by the friendly blonde-ish lady (with her hair tied back) at the cellar door who could remember my preferences a few days after the tasting.

PC239667 PC239658
PC239650 PC239657
Hamelin Bay Wines - 2008 Five Ashes Vineyard Carbernet Sauvignon
Hamelin Bay Wines - 2007 Five Ashes Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Hamelin Bay Wines - 2009 Merlot
Hamelin Bay Cellar Door Tasting WIne List and Prices Hamelin Bay Cellar Door Tasting WIne List and Prices

Most of the Hamelin Bay Wines offerings including the 2011 Semillon Sauvignon Blanc (“Lovely fresh citrus, stone fruit and nutty flavours completed with a dry, mineral finish”), 2007 Five Ashes Reserve Chardonnay (“Beautiful quince and honey glazed poached pears”), 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon (“Classic characters of plums and chocolaty cedar and hint of mint fill the nose. Sweet and fleshy in the mouth finishing with dry firm tannins”), 2007 Five Ashes Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (“A beguiling mix of primary fruit and complex earthy notes complimented by cedary oak nuances. Black cherry, cassis and mulberry aromatics are mixed with earthy, seaweed, cigar-box and cedar aromatics to deliver a classic Bordeaux like aromatic profile.”), and possibly the 2009 Merlot (“Beautiful aromas of chocolate, plum skin, red berry fruit and liquorice.”) though can’t quite remember this last one. The lady at the cellar door was also wonderfully enthusiastic about the loveliness of the wines.

Lenton Brae
Lenton Brae Lenton Brae
Lenton Brae

Lenton Brae – the Wilyabrup Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (“26-year-old Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc vines on the estate vineyard in Wilyabrup. The 2010 vintage was warm and dry providing perfect conditions for these early-ripening white varieties. The grapes were hand picked, chilled, gently pressed and blended (60% Semillon, 40% Sauvignon Blanc) before fermentation in new French oak barrels. Post fermentation, the barrels were topped and stirred monthly. After 10 months maturation, the wine was stabilised and bottled without filtration. Aromatically, the wine displays restrained lemon and citrus notes with a subtle, savoury oak influence. On the palate, the wine’s entry is soft and creamy and finishes with bright acidity and persistence. Approachable now, the wine will soften and continue to integrate in the short to medium term, though it has the fruit concentration to suggest long-term cellaring is possible”) and Wilyabrup Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (“Cabernet Sauvignon with 7% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc. Cabernet Sauvignon gives the wine structure, with the Merlot contributing mid-palate richness and has a ‘softening’ effect on the tannin and astringency of Cabernet. This wine displays lifted aromatics of dark fruits, blue berries, black cherries and dark chocolate. The rich, full-bodied palate echoes these flavours displaying fantastic concentration and fruit definition while being gently supported with supple acidity and tannin.”). Jeanette, the wife of the architect who designed the place and lived on site, was most helpful and patient with advice on shipping and taxes. I regretted not having any more space to buy bottles from her.

Laurence Wines
Laurence Wines Laurence Wines

Laurence Wines – Laurance of Margaret River 2009 Icon Cabernet (“Dark, distinct, with complex mulberries, blackberry and cassis notes interwoven with macerated cherry, a touch of anise and graphite.The firm and velvety tannins are filling, have nice impact and grip, yet dissolve nicely revealing a long focussed finish, kept lively by succulent acidity.”). The staff here were markedly begrudging even though this was a paid tasting.

Knee Deep Wines Salty Popcorn Palate Cleanser, Knee Deep Wines
Knee Deep Wines Knee Deep Wines
Knee Deep Wines
Knee Deep Wines Cellar Door Tasting Wine List and Prices Knee Deep Wines Cellar Door Wine List and Prices

Knee Deep Wines was my last stop as i beat a retreat back to Perth City. So many of the whites (2011 Chenin Blanc, 2011 Sauvignon Blanc Semillon which really tasted like honeydew, 2011 Sauvignon Blanc that was completely shot-through with passionfruit) would have been perfect for a summer picnic and the reds (2008 Kelsea’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon) were not shabby either. Young enthusiastic staff, even on Christmas eve. Salty popcorn offered as palate cleanser.

Chock Full of Beans

December 10, 2011 3 comments

While recce-ing Changi Village for youth camp, I came upon Chock Full of Beans (facebook).

Chock Full of Beans, Changi Village Chock Full of Beans, Changi Village
Chock Full of Beans, Changi Village
Flat White, Chock Full of Beans, Changi Village Chocolate cake, Chock Full of Beans, Changi Village

Not so much a specialty coffee joint as a cafe with very decent coffee (beans from Highlander Coffee i think) and it was quiet enough for a read. The chocolate cake wasn’t chocolatey enough, but apparently the cheesecake is their star. (It seems their breads and cakes are from Red Mill’s in Valley Point.)

Good to know that people renting holiday seaside chalets in the vicinity have the option of something better than instant for their morning cuppa.

A Sabbath Sunday

December 6, 2011 Leave a comment

Overall, a happily fruitful Sunday:

$$

Malachi 2:17-3:18 for Sunday sermon – clarified some thinking about tithing which i hadn’t quite articulated to myself – the 10% tithing and co-relation between tithing and blessing was particular to the Old Testament when God still dealt with that people while they were living in a land he had brought them to – it was a direct commandment and a form of taxes for the upkeep of the nation’s temple and the Levites (priests). But all this was a foreshadowing of the reality that God’s people were more than just the nation of Israel and that God’s land was the heavenly kingdom not an earthly one. Therefore, the commendation at the present time is to give of one’s own accord, as much as one wishes. This should not be governed by any specific church regulations, though what one spends on is an indication of where one’s heart is, so there is the commendation of the church in Macedonia in 2 Corinthians 8 that they gave generously from their poverty because of the abundance of joy that came from knowing God and the eagerness to see God’s people taken care of) – that is to say, the motivation for giving was commended, rather than the generosity of the giving per se. What one’s credit card statement looks like would also show if one thinks like the fool of Luke 12:16-21 who, having ample goods, told his soul to relax, eat, drink and be merry, not realising that God would ask for the return of his soul. But a specific obligation of the church is to feed the people who take care of the church (1 Corinthians 9:7-11), though this is likened to feeding an ox treading the grain rather than stuffing the coffers of a dictator (furthermore, many of the apostles declined to make use of this right),

just not enough time to talk to all the people i wanted to catch up with between services, having a baby fall asleep on me after 30 seconds (i know i’m really boring but that’s really a new low, i said on facebook, and 30 people liked it),

The Merry Men Kitchen + Bar, Robertson Blue Heart-stopping Hashies. The Merry Men Kitchen + Bar

a heart-threatening run along the Singapore River with the flu bug in the system, a grocery run at Meidiya supermarket in Liang Court, then an artery-clogging fry-up (advertised on the menu as “Heart-stopping Hashies: Two hash browns topped with wilted spinach, scrambled eggs, sautéed mushrooms, crispy bacon bits and creamy hollandaise sauce”) and a Bloody Mary for brunch at The Merry Men Kitchen + Bar (86 Robertson Quay, #01-02 Robertson Blue),

Toby's Estate, 8 Rodyk Street, Robertson Quay
Toby's Estate, 8 Rodyk Street, Robertson Quay Brew Bar. Toby's Estate, 8 Rodyk Street, Robertson Quay
Resident coffee plant getting some sun. Toby's Estate, 8 Rodyk Street, Robertson Quay A pot of Toby's Estate Earl Grey and some work. Toby's Estate, 8 Rodyk Street, Robertson Quay

knuckling down and getting work done at Toby’s Estate (8 Rodyk Street, Robertson Quay) on the first study for the upcoming camp (Mark 1:1-15: (i) the prophets of old (Isaiah and Malachi) testify concerning John the Baptist and Jesus as messenger and the Lord respectively; (ii) God himself testifies concerning Jesus saying that he is his son with whom he is well-pleased; (iii) Jesus’ own actions testify that he is all the nation of Israel, also called God’s son, could not be),

Christopher Ash's "Remaking A Broken World"taking delivery of a Jill Sander x UNIQLO +J pin-striped jacket, my old second generation ipod and a copy of Christopher Ash’s Remaking a Broken World,

Brunch menu, Toby's Estate, 8 Rodyk Street, Robertson Quay Drinks menu, Toby's Estate, 8 Rodyk Street, Robertson Quay
Pastries, Toby's Estate, 8 Rodyk Street, Robertson Quay Pastries, Toby's Estate, 8 Rodyk Street, Robertson Quay
Piccolo Latte, Toby's Estate, 8 Rodyk Street, Robertson Quay Sticky cinnamon bun, Toby's Estate, 8 Rodyk Street, Robertson Quay

having someone join me after choir practice so we could enjoy the short but fascinating Book of Ruth together – not the cheesy love story so many make it out to be, rather a narrative of how God sovereignly worked through the disobedience of Elimelech, Mahlon and Chilion (who were all Israelites who ought to have known God’s laws), and the obedience of Boaz (unlike his ancestor Judah – Tamar incident (Genesis 38)) and Ruth the Moabite (born into a nation that was an enemy of God’s people). The book repeatedly commends their insistence on doing right before God despite what seems to be detriment to self – Boaz impairing his own estate by marrying Ruth and giving the first boy to Naomi for her old age, and Ruth not just risking it as a foreigner in the violent Judges-era land of Judah  but also seemingly giving up her own happiness by not going after unrelated or younger men who were not Naomi’s redeemers. From this unlikely union would come Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of great king David, the father…many generations later of the greatest king, Jesus,

Christmas Tree, Verre Wine Bar, 8 Rodyk Street Cellared Wines, Verre Wine Bar, 8 Rodyk Street
Nicoise Salad, Verre Wine Bar, 8 Rodyk Street Beef bourguignon, Verre Wine Bar, 8 Rodyk Street
Domaine Joseph Roty Bourgogne Grand Ordinaire 2007,Verre Wine Bar, 8 Rodyk Street Warm Salt Chocolate Cake, Verre Wine Bar, 8 Rodyk Street

a shared dinner at Verre Wine Bar (facebook. 8 Rodyk Street. Dinner set at S$35 with a choice of starter and main or main and dessert, and a glass of wine), and a chat, then going home in the rain, inspired to cook beef bourguignon for tomorrow’s dinner. (Earworm: Frédéric Chopin’s Nocturne in E-flat Op. 9 No. 2. Played by Vladimir Ashkenazy, rather than, say, Arthur Rubinstein)

Coffee Joints for Mugger-toadery + Sunny Holidays for Pie and Good Old Isaiah

November 12, 2011 Leave a comment

40 Hands Coffee, Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru Estate Brothers & Sisters Toilet Sign, 40 Hands Coffee, Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru Estate
40 Hands Coffee, Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru Estate Menu, 40 Hands Coffee, Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru Estate
40 Hands Coffee, Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru Estate 40 Hands Blend, 40 Hands Coffee, Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru Estate
Cake display, 40 Hands Coffee, Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru Estate Chocolate Toffee Cake, 40 Hands Coffee, Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru Estate
Carrot Cake, 40 Hands Coffee, Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru Estate Orange Chocolate Swirl Cake, 40 Hands Coffee, Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru Estate
Latte Etching,40 Hands Coffee, Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru Estate Latte Etching, 40 Hands Coffee, Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru Estate
40 Hands Coffee, Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru Estate Coffee Taster's Flavour Wheel, 40 Hands Coffee, Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru Estate

We were at different coffee places over the last few days, mugging hard. The seasonal blend (Columbia, Papua New Guinea, Guatemala, Costa Rica) at 40 Hands Coffee (facebook) was not half bad though the foam was slightly strange. Pity the cakes were obviously rather tired at the end of a Saturday.

Smitten Coffee & Tea Bar, The Quayside, Robertson Quay Flat White, Smitten Coffee & Tea Bar, The Quayside, Robertson Quay
Macarons, Smitten Coffee & Tea Bar, The Quayside, Robertson Quay Yuzu macaron,Smitten Coffee & Tea Bar, The Quayside, Robertson Quay

The Thumper blend in a flat white at Smitten Coffee & Tea Bar (facebook) was much better than previously experienced. The barista this time was Darren Chang – roast was still dark but well-extracted in the milk. And the ET Artisan macarons were delicious as usual.

L'etoile Cafe, Owen Road, Little India L'etoile Cafe, Owen Road, Little India
L'etoile Cafe, Owen Road, Little India L'etoile Cafe, Owen Road, Little India
L'etoile Cafe, Owen Road, Little India Bookshelf, L'etoile Cafe, Owen Road, Little India
Mural, L'etoile Cafe, Owen Road, Little India Sewing machine as table, L'etoile Cafe, Owen Road, Little India
Children's play area, L'etoile Cafe, Owen Road, Little India Fishbowl, L'etoile Cafe, Owen Road, Little India
Old typewriter, L'etoile Cafe, Owen Road, Little India Flat White, L'etoile Cafe, Owen Road, Little India
Self-service water dispensing area, L'etoile Cafe, Owen Road, Little India
Scone, L'etoile Cafe, Owen Road, Little India Roast duck sandwich,L'etoile Cafe, Owen Road, Little India
Flower on table, L'etoile Cafe, Owen Road, Little India Chicken and mushroom pie, L'etoile Cafe, Owen Road, Little India

L’etoile Cafe (facebook) in a corner shophouse along Owen Road was the bomb: natural light during the day, space galore, power sockets in the wall, wifi, pleasant music, nice people who actually offered repeatedly to top up the hot water in the teapot, well-made coffee from Highlander Coffee blends.

Lallang Field on a Sunny DayWhen the sun came out and the skies were blue and the wind beckoning, it was too nice outside to be studying and i was extremely glad for a bit of croquet, frisbee and excellent Windowsill Pies (facebook. pecan and toffee, Christmas, morello cherry from the Farmers’ Market at Loewen Gardens, Dempsey), and also to have David Jackman give an Introduction to Isaiah.

Croquet at Botanic GardensIsaiah prophesised during reigns of 4 kings of Judah – Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah (Isaiah 1:1, about 732-686BC). During this time, the northern kingdom of Samaria (Israel) was besieged by Assyria and eventually overthrown at its people, God’s people, scattered. Isaiah was called on the year Azariah (father of Jotham) died (Azariah had fancied himself to be priest as well as king and tried to offer incense in the temple. He was struck with leprosy and co-reigned with Jotham his son before expiring (2 Kings 15)). At that time, Assyria was the top nation (2 Kings 15-17). But Babylon would get rid of them eventually. It was a time of  great political upheaval.

The prophesies of Isaiah were unsettling. They were warnings of judgment on the people of God in the north (Israel) and south (Judah, though also called Israel in Isaiah, metonymically, because “Israel” also refers to “God’s people” since they all came from Jacob who was renamed “Israel”)(Isaiah 1:2). What did God have against them?

The ox knows its owner,
and the donkey its master’s crib,
but Israel does not know,
my people do not understand.”
Ah, sinful nation,
a people laden with iniquity,
offspring of evildoers,
children who deal corruptly!
They have forsaken the LORD,
they have despised the Holy One of Israel,
they are utterly estranged. (Isaiah 1:3-4)

It’s the same issue that has been plaguing mankind since The Fall – creatures who don’t acknowledge their Creator, though God has already made himself known in many times and many ways to Israel. The faithful city has become the whore (Isaiah 1:21), the people who had entered into a covenant relationship with God had very quickly abandoned him. How will this sinful people become the holy righteous nation of Isaiah 66?

Windowsill Pies - Pecan, Morello Cherry, Pumpkin, Christmas AppleIsaiah tells us how. And again, it is the great promise of God willing to reach out to his own rebellious people instead of just destroying them as he could have as their Creator. Surely this is not what an almighty God does – humbly (or rather humiliatingly) sending prophet after prophet to call his people back to him? Isn’t that rather…needy? But this God isn’t a god thought up by humans and so is quite outside our expectations – he is all powerful and yet needlessly compassionate; he is all about both divine judgment and divine love, simultaneously:

Isaiah 1-12
Here, there are great promises of God reaching out to his people, but the severe threat from God of consequences for not turning back to him. Isaiah introduces the choices that people of God will have to make – accept that God is really God and obey him, or reject him and face judgment for rejecting him (Isaiah 1-5). But this is a reiteration of what so many of God’s servants and prophets from all the generations since Adam have been telling the people and nothing much has changed – the people just can’t snap out of their sinfulness. So Isaiah 6-12 contains that great hope that God is going to come himself to do something to change the situation. The focus is on a figure called the Immanuel (meaning “God with us”) who will come to do something for his people – God isn’t a distant deity but one who cares enough to be intimately involved in his creation. The Immanuel would be a shoot from stump of Jesse (that is, a human from the line of David. Jesse was the son of Boaz and Ruth and father of David), a great king who would be God’s witness, yet also God (Isaiah 9:6 – “Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace). (The people later called “Christians” didn’t make up the divinity of Jesus.)

But Jesus would come only 800 years in the future. Meanwhile, the message to God’s people was the same then as it is now – they had to choose whom they would trust – God, or themselves or other people. So God tells Ahaz is not to be afraid (Isaiah 7) that Syria and Israel (their own brother!) had devised evil against Judah:

if you are not firm in faith,
you will not be firm at all. (Isaiah 7:9b)

Are you going to believe in God’s promise that if you keep trusting him he will save you or will you rely on human promises to protect yourself? (Obviously, in all situations, it would be illogical to claim to “trust God” to provide things he never promised in the first place – like prosperity or health or a good marriage or a satisfying career.)

Pecan Pie, Windowsill PiesIsaiah 13-27
10 oracles are preached about various nations in 2 sets of 5. The nation of Babylon heads each set (Isaiah 13, 21). God will restore the Davidic monarchy who will rule Zion and also the world. Though in the short-term, Assyria threatens to destroy God’s people, it is but only a rod in God’s hands. People need to know that God isn’t just the national deity of Israel, and that all the nations are in the hands of God. No nation has any additional or independent power other than the power that God gives them. In the context of that era, if God can bring his promises to fruition by controlling even the great Babylon then nothing would be able stand in his way; God can do it in the face of human determination to resist him, fight against him and ignore that he is God. God has whole world in his hand; he is the lord of history of all nations, governs whole earth, and causes the rise and fall of nations. Why do the people of God rely on alliances or coalitions or human politics? They are useless because it is not other humans who are in control but God. And God had already given Judah pretty specific promises that he would not punish them with Babylon if only they trusted that same promise!

Isaiah 24-27 extends this idea to whole world in every period of history. God promises that he will eventually judge all human rebellion – everybody everywhere will come under judgment of God, not just creatures but all spiritual things in heaven as well (Isaiah 24:21). But there is never just the threat, but this is followed with the promise in Isaiah 25 that through judgment something better will come and eventually death itself (which came about only because of The Fall – Genesis 3) will be destroyed. The right reaction should then be great faith in what God will do (Isaiah 26-27).

Pecan Pie, Windowsill PiesIsaiah 28-39
In Hezekiah’s days, the threat is still from Assyria. Hezekiah faces same issues – does he stand firm in faith and believe God’s promises, or will he like Ahaz build alliances instead of relying on God? Would Hezekiah think that Egypt would work with him against Assyria? They would be a good ally since they were powerful and had the latest in military technology (horses and chariots – Isaiah 31). But why go to Egypt if you have God’s promises of protection if only you trust in his promises? Hezzy does the sensible thing when he receives a threatening letter from the Assyrians – he spreads it out before God, trusting in him to deliver (like he had promised) and there is indeed an amazing deliverance (because that’s what God had said he would do in this situation).

Unfortunately, this doesn’t end too well because Hezekiah, though generally faithful, isn’t perfect. And the next threat comes from Babylon and God tells Hezekiah that Babyloan will prevail and Judah will be destroyed (Isaiah 39)

Apple pie, Windowsill PiesIsaiah 40-55
But this isn’t the end of God’s people. Isaiah 40-55 centers around the second major character: the suffering servant, an individual who is again clearly divine as well as human. He will bring about a whole new community of redeemed people who will become citizens of a new Jerusalem. There are the great servant songs of suffering that we later realise (in the Gospels) is Jesus’ work of redemption on the cross. Because of his work, there will be a new international community – God’s people will come not just from the scattered children of Israel but from the whole world.

Isaiah 56-66
This we see in part in the church today, but complete fulfilment is only when Jesus (the Immanuel, the Suffering Servant and here also the Divine Conqueror) comes again. While we are waiting for this what should we be doing? Remember our human frailty and divine ability. We will never find the resources to live a godly life in ourselves; while we wait for him to return, we should know that we will always be sinful and weak and failing. But there is the promise of the divine conqueror/warrior who will eradicate all evil at the end of days. This extermination of evil includes the terrible destruction of those who do not ask for his mercy, with bloodstains on the garments of the anointed conqueror like the stains of those who tread the winepress. Only with this judgement will there be real justice and righteousness that we so crave.

In Isaiah 65-66, we are reminded again that God will do what he has promised as he has always done. We need only trust that he will save, to be saved from promised destruction and brought into the new heavens and new earth that God has said he will make.

%d bloggers like this: