Have you seen the miniseries Top of the Lake? It’s a fantastic murder mystery set in New Zealand, starring the talented Elizabeth Moss (Peggy on Mad Men) and the even-more-talented Holly Hunter. Anyway, Elizabeth Moss’ character orders a lot of “flat whites” at the local coffee shop. I had never heard of this drink before, and naturally I was curious. It turns out that the flat white is a cross between a latte and a cappuccino, and it’s damn good. To avoid alienating any baristas, I’ll try to explain it a bit better: a flat white is actually neither a latte nor a cappuccino; it is made with a specific layer of foam that lies between the heated milk on the bottom of the milk pitcher and the airy foam on top. It’s a denser, milkier foam. There’s some disagreement about the origins of this tasty invention, but apparently it was born in the 1980’s in either New Zealand or Australia- or perhaps they telepathically thought of it at the same time.
In the last couple of years, the flat white has invaded U.S. coffee shops- even Starbucks started serving it in January! One of my favorite places in New York to get a true flat white, made by actual Aussies, is Bluestone Lane cafe in the West Village. This relatively new mini-chain has a winning combination: stylish interiors that remind you of the beach, flavorful coffee drinks, and a short but sweet menu of sandwiches, salads and pastries. Try the Brekkie Board, which as we learn in this Bon Appetit article, is a hearty yet healthful Australian breakfast.