For a change, here are a couple of opinions I agree with.
Australian food writer Michael Symons puts his credentials behind two claims I'm happy to make but can't really back up: the flat white is one of best ways to drink coffee; and its art has been perfected in Wellington:
As an Australian food historian, I declare that it started in
Australia, where it often remains weak, murky, fluffy and
under-appreciated. It was then perfected in New Zealand, more
particularly, in Wellington. It's impossible to find a better morning
coffee anywhere. I know, because I've tried.
I have some time for the view that you shouldn't put anything at all in espresso coffee and that its best form is its purest: what we call the 'short black'. But there's something about a cup full of strong coffee mixed with creamy milk -- most importantly, it lasts longer, and better accompanies a conversation.
I can't claim to have coffee-researched as widely as Symons, but whenever I'm away from Wellington for a while, it's what I miss most. In Brisbane I was frustrated in my search for acceptable coffee, even in Italian-owned places. Melbourne was better. From memory, London and Paris were as mediocre as Symons reports. In coffee-exporting Latin American countries you can generally get a fresh-tasting short black if you find somewhere with an espresso machine, but they have little idea how to make coffee with milk. Italy of course is the home of espresso: from memories of my last trip there years ago the coffee was excellent, but the tendency to serve it with lukewarm milk meant that the overall experience differed from this antipodean's preferences.
This should not be cause for complacency: in New Zealand, the average standard is that not that high, It's still common to find watery, bitter, single-shot coffee, with milk served in excessive quantities and sometimes burnt. In most centres you have to seek out somewhere with a good local reputation. Even in Wellington, some of the speciality outlets have expanded too quickly at the expense of quality control.
Symons provides some admirable trans-Tasman history, and traces the stories of Supreme, Havana and L'Affare, among others. However, for me the best coffee in Wellington (and therefore possibly the world) is from the little hole in the wall cafe on The Terrace next to the Reserve Bank, which trades as the Gibbston Coffee Company (I know this only because it appears on my Eftpos transactions; the business has no apparent title and the stenciled lettering on the window says only 'coffee'). This has sacks of unroasted coffee beans stashed on the floor, a roasting machine that looks like something out of Leonardo da Vinci drawing, and a single espresso machine, leaving barely enough space of the constant flow of customers.
Meanwhile, with careers drawing to a close, Ian Chappell considers the legacy of the the era's three great batsmen: Ricky Ponting, Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara. I agree with his ultimate preference for Lara. You can't go past Tendulkar for sheer weight of runs and longevity. Ponting has played some incredible innings, such as the rearguard 156 at Old Trafford and the dominant 140 not out against India in the 2003 World Cup final. But Lara's combination of technique, elegance and mental concentration just surpasses the other two. Playing in what was a relatively weak West Indies team (Ponting never had to face McGrath or Warne), he often seemed to stand single-handedly between oppositin teams and victory. If you had to choose someone to bat for your life, it would be Lara.