Spring Awakening

asparagus and pancetta quiche

The forecasted high for today is 81 degrees. 81. I’ve been opening the windows for a couple of weeks now. It started with a hesitant crack. Always cold, I’m typically wary of the weatherman’s coos of warm breezes. But today the windows will be open wide. I’m embracing the change of air. It’s remarkable how light it feels — how light I feel. Out with the dank, in with the light.

These words aren’t surprising. Who doesn’t feel a little better when the first signs of life creep through the cracks of the drab concrete? But spring is never my favorite season. There’s something calm about winter, and spring — especially in New England — seems like a mere blip on the radar, an atmospheric tick that marks the transition from dead to lush. It’s not a pleasant blip like fall with its changing leaves and clean air. It’s often damp and humid, windy and grey. It clogs noses and sends tears to eyes. This year just feels different.

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Power Lunching


Fort Point is now home to some lunchtime giants. I know first hand that a swooping line of hungry nine to fivers occupies Flour without end from 11-3. Their patience comes from visions of tender lamb sandwiched with spunky-sweet chutney, a palm-sized oreo cookie, and a seltzer to wash it all down. The queue at Channel Café is similarly long and proof that Fort Pointers just don’t pack lunches. Why would they? For those looking for a real power hour, though, Sportello is sit-down chic with its lunch counter style and all. It’s mod and clean, almost stark in its whiteness, but somehow the space also proves warm and charming with its friendly (and very “Boston”) servers, place mat menus and casual, up-close and personal open kitchen. Sure, there’s a “takeout” bakery in the same space, but if you have the time, the counter experience makes the meal.

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Eating in the Raw

milk chocolate-almond cookies

I think cookies – especially simple drop cookies, back-of-the-package classics – are the comestible that triggers the most memories for me. I'm sure it's the same for most, baker or non-baker. It's the universal pastry. Every culture, every holiday, every family has a cookie. I fondly remember the tender ma’amoul we would purchase at the local Armenian bakeries when I was a kid just as much as I do putting out my own creations on a Santa-shaped plate every Christmas Eve. The cookie was the first thing I learned to make, the first thing I could call my own. I bonded with my mother over the Toll House recipe; she nearly always had to stir in the chips as my little arm cramped from fatigue. I gave holiday gifts of oatmeal-cranberry-white chocolate; they were puffy and cakey but, at the time, they were my signature. Not a special occasion went by without some sort of celebratory biscuit.

What always seemed odd to me, though, was the prevalence of “cookie dough” in food culture. The pleasure of cookie dough for me was its ability to transform from molded clay into chewy saucers, and I would marvel at the magic in front of the oven door with flashlight in hand. Sure, I would take a taste of the tacky leftovers at the bottom of the mixing bowl to understand them, to see if they tasted just so; but more than a morsel never passed my lips. If anything, I would fight off the anticipation of the seemingly long 8-10 minutes by munching through the leftover chocolate chips. It wasn’t the fear of raw egg that spoiled that childhood (or really, any-age) joy for me; I just didn’t get it.

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