It’s been that kind of week. I stopped at a cafe I’ve always liked but rarely pass by, because it was a special week. Café-au-lait because I want something different, and a croissant because they look good. Get to work, laptop refreshes for dual monitors, and dive into some work and my tasty second breakfast.
But it’s not. Tasty, that is. The café is blah, the au-lait I could have poured myself from a carton, and the croissant isn’t. It’s tasty, but it’s no croissant. I may not be French, but I’ve learned more than enough from Julia Child to know that this is actually a very trickily disguised brioche, shaped to look like a croissant. Nice, but not what I had gone out of my way for. I was actually doing the fancy second breakfasts several days this week because it was my birthday – a way of treating myself.
See, Amy was actually away on a trip on my actual birthday. When I woke up with Roxanne, I talked about it being a special day, it was my birthday. With the perfect clarity and sense that only a 3 year old has, she said no, it wasn’t – it couldn’t be my birthday without mom home. We’d just have to hold that thought until later in the week when the whole family could be here.
Hence, I sort of stretched my definition of birthday for a while, and had quite a lot of second breakfasts. Peet’s is my favorite, both for coffee and bar drinks, plus the excellent service locally (Lexington). They get snobby bakery croissants, which aren’t bad, but I usually go for their scones which are just about right on the slightly dry/crumbly side.
Today I did Au Bon Pain since I was passing by there. I opted for a croissant, since I’ve long ago bored myself of their mass-made scones. What the heck happened to Au Bon Pain’s croissants? It wasn’t even brioche, it was just vaguely buttery cooked dough shaped in a wrapped horn! Geez, I’ve had more layers in a Pillsbury Crescent roll before! Was it just me, and nostalgia for days past, or did Boston area Au Bon Pains actually used to have decent croissant? Not actual French croissants – no American chain could pull that off – but still, I recall watching The Chessmaster noshing on a nicely flaky ABP croissant in years past.
This is turning into more of a nostalgia trip than a riff on disguised bakery products, but I do remember The Chessmaster, and was glad to see he’s still there one second breakfast earlier this week. The used book shelves at the Harvard Book Store are still there, although the science fiction section is disappointingly short from the pre-Amazon days. And so many of the stores in HSq have changed! The past 6 or so years has seen a huge gentrification of the area, which is a real shame. I mean, Cardullo’s Wursthaus may not have been the healthiest place around for your wurst-mit-kraut, but it sure had an infinity more style than the stupid sunglasses and trends store they’ve got in there now. There really isn’t that much benefit to the new HSq, and there’s a lot less class and culture there now. I suppose a fair number of places are a little cleaner, though.
Now I really want some decent coffee – and a brioche-shaped brioche. Hmmm. That’ll have to wait for morning, I suppose.