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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Bread and Bread Alone...

Will set you free...
Well, perhaps not and that's too cliche.
It can be truly the finest point of any great dining establishment, however. Perhaps that is a rather bold statement, but it is in my opinion the bread at a restaurant and especially at a cafe marks an attendance to the simple yet overlooked points of a meal. Yes, not every meal need be preceded by a basket of bread but every sandwich should be stuffed between only the finest such stuff. Bread is not only a thing seldom and difficultly mastered, it is also a very straight-forward way of playing to the simplest of human sustenance. Bread is the basis for all other culinary creation, in my opinion and should be honored as such.

So in a cafe where great bread and good prices come together, a town called Northampton Massachusetts emerges.

Woodstar Cafe in NoHo is a place of balance. Their sandwiches are masterful and fresh, with a crunch coming not just from perfectly baked bread but from fresh ingredients within. The Sandwich titled "Emily's Favorite" is an ode to the potential stored within tofu and a fine multigrain loaf. It's big and satisfying.
Smoked Tofu at its very finest. Pass it for meat? One could but why bother?
The sandwich my dining companion enjoyed during my recent visit, The Berkshire, was a delight. With perfectly balanced pesto, roasted tomatoes, and chicken - yes chicken is growing on me, I'm sad to say - it was a fine approach to a seemingly simple sandwich. The rustic sourdough loaf was chewy and, well, sour as it should be.

Later in the day, stepping in for a brief snack before leaving, the cupcakes: one chocolate with buttercream raspberry frosting and all vegan - the other crumbly but deeply flavored lavender and pistachio with a light cream cheese frosting, were purely delighting.
Cupcakes: Little bundles of joy! Yes, even a blessing...

The tea selection was long and very well priced. Yellow tea. Yellow tea? I hardly ever see the newly-popularizing tea here.
I'm going back. I may just gain weight but I don't mind.
Really.

Woodstar Cafe on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 3, 2012

Summer's Ends...

Tied up in a week of hustle, bustle, excitement, and anxieties. Yes, college has again become us. Moving into a new school and things have been rough to say the least, but not so much here as in my life more broadly. All things considered, food has however again become an enjoyable thing. I'd rather not delve into the nature of that beast but let me just say it lost its taste for some time there...

Ending my summer vacation with a wonderful few days in Cape Cod, sampling seafood and generally delicious fare, I relaxed for the first time in what has felt a very long time. Now moving into the dorm-life again and that relaxed state has all but evaporated but nonetheless, food has been good. To taste again
To live again?

Before moving in I enjoyed a wonderful meal at the Sierra Grill in Northampton. It's a small upscale tavern modeled after the old-time Speakeasy of Prohibition. From the start, I enjoyed terrific service from attentive and friendly waiters. A wide array of local and imported alcohols prime the palate and an assortment of mussels, Tapas tasting plates, and appetizers warm the jowls.
I enjoyed two Empadillas - small puff pastry pockets filled with an herbed risotto it seemed. They were tasty but not the vegetable lined pockets I was hoping for. Followed by a delicious plate of my own creation, however, and the dinner resulted a tremendous success.

Earth in its many states...

The menu follows a make-your-own format, with an assortment of proteins to choose from; with choices like Tempeh, Mako Shark, Salmon, Duck, Steak... i chose the first and my company the grilled chicken. Next, choosing a sauce and two appetizers per plate; I found the Red-wine reduction a perfect compliment to the nutty Tempeh and hearty grilled vegetables with Roasted Asparagus. My fellow diner enjoyed her Peach Salsa (more of a chutney) but had wished it was a sauce as opposed to an accouterment as it was, relishing nevertheless the Cheddar mashed potatoes and grilled vegetables with which she was served.

Sit to brew, never to stew...

The space is dark but warm, welcoming, and reasonably priced considering the service, location, and quality of the ingredients. I shall return!

Sierra Grille on Urbanspoon

Enjoying a breakfast after that last supper at the Wheatberry Cafe in Amherst center, I can safely say Farm-To-Table is a successfully growing movement. The breakfasts we enjoyed were small and somewhat expensive but fresh and delicious. Sadly, don't expect much from the tea...
Tasty but on it's way to striking a successful balance, I am sad to say. Nonetheless, try the tartine if you happen to find your breakfast bells tolling.

Wheatberry Bakery & Cafe on Urbanspoon

Finally, with a relaxing afternoon on the land, friends and i visited the Montague Book Mill and the Lady Killigrew Cafe. With a used books store, used music shop, and a beautiful gallery, the setting is ripe for a good time. I'd love to try the Night Kitchen for supper some time, but what's the rush? with a lovely afternoon to enjoy like I had there, life shouldn't be rushed...
I'm kidding, really. I can't wait to go back.

A Menu to Sip, a thought at a time...

The sandwiches are delectable, the Thai noodle bowl of some serious heft in flavor and mass, and the bread boards inspiring. I enjoyed a taste of a wonderful No.1 - Brie and Apples between sourdough as well as a sweet and savory Peanut noodle bowl. The bread board my companions shared with me was served with a spread of light and flavorful curried chicken "pate," Granny Smith apple, and nutty Cheddar slices.

 Noodles, to wind their way through the hours...

Delicious Sandwiches, A good selection of teas, terrific bread boards to share, and a view to digest slowly, as the lazy afternoon sinks. It's a place to inspire new imaginations, not just their workings. Books to read, the rushing water to hear, art to appreciate, and music to set the mind at ease. It's a place to find love, not just to love in itself.

 Sweet and savory, like the passage of good time...


You can't be disappointed.

Lady Killigrew on Urbanspoon