Friday, January 25, 2008

A little piece of Europe





I’ve begun a new habit: Stopping at Ollie’s Bakery on my way to work for a soy Au Lait and French Roll. Ollie’s is as close to a European bakery as they come on this side of the pond. Truly. Their selections are small, but the breads are crafted in the European tradition, and each morning, there’s a new rotation of specialties: croissants, scones, popovers, long baguettes, round floured b√Ętards. I adore bakeries—not pastry bakeries, but true bread bakeries. Ollie’s gets it.
I’ve had a flair for baking for the past four years. I began tentatively experimenting with plain, yeasted loaves, and gradually moved on to sourdoughs, foccacias encased with garlic, and French doughs that need days of maturation before they can be baked. I secretly desire a brick oven in my back yard, just for bread baking.
“Give us this day our daily bread” is my mantra. I would happily survive on just bread—but I mean good, quality, European-style breads. I love baking them, eating them, and inhaling the aromas.
Which is why I love Ollie’s. Conveniently, Ollie’s is on my way to work, and I’ve gotten to the point where they know exactly what I want, as soon as I come in. I hand them my mug, and they make me the perfect Au Lait. I buy my little French Roll, for $.85 cents, and my day takes on a better feel.
For some reason, that simple act—stopping in for good coffee and bread, starts my day off just right.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Winston-SalArctica

Okay. I’m sick of the cold. I am craving sunshine, leaves on the trees, humidity. I cannot believe I ever complained about it being “too hot.” Ha. It is currently the same temperature here, in Winston-Salem, NORTH CAROLINA as it is in Moscow, RUSSIA. What the hell?
I can take a few days of cold, the single snow day. It’s kind of fun. Novel. But we’re going on week 3 of temps in the teens-30 degrees. We’ve had snow. Today it’s freezing rain. Enough already.
I know that in places such as the Northeast, or Midwest, our current temps could be considered balmy. I specifically did not move to those regions because of their definition of “balmy.” I moved to temperate NC.
I’ve commenced running again, which is fantastic, and my foot feels far better than it did pre-surgery. However, running in the cold isn’t my favorite pastime.
So, Mr. Sunshine, come back and visit us. I miss you.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

There's too much candy in this place

At work, I sit right near the giant Jelly Belly jar. The jar is never empty—it is constantly refilled, courtesy of office management. Below the Jelly Belly jar is a drawer full of mini chocolate bars—also refilled consistently, courtesy of the management.
At times, I’m quite grateful for the endless supply of sugar around the office. Sometimes, chocolate helps me through my day like nothing else can. Other times, I’m not a fan of the endless sweets. For one, it’s entirely too tempting to pass the jelly beans without grabbing a few. Secondly, I’m sure my teeth (and my bum) would appreciate it if I’d lay off the suga’.
I have horrible self-control (as in, barely none), when it comes to sweets. I like quality sweets, though: decadent ice cream, dark chocolate, and—not so quality, perhaps: cookie dough. But around here, I satisfy my craving with itty-bitty, odd flavored jelly beans.
Sometimes, I like to convince myself that they’re catabolic. I think I heard somewhere that Jelly Bellys only have, like, 6 calories per bean. Surely it takes 6 calories to digest one bean?
Somebody—take them away…

In totally unrelated news, check out Sara Tavares. She's a singer/songwriter from Portugal, but her music is infused with African/island rythyms. Her voice is soulful and smooth, and the beats behind her voice definitely ring of island influences.
She's lovely. Much better than jelly beans.