I am a major fan of black coffee. That being said, I spend a significant amount of time in coffee shops, and often turn into the sad little Paleo lurker when everyone around me is downing delicious-looking frothy concoctions. No matter how great your coffee is straight-up, there are times when you want something a little less acidic, and just more fun.
One of those very moods was descending last night, and so M googled around until he found a great recipe for coconut milk “creamer.” We adapted this recipe and used:
3 dates (halved, with the pits removed)*
1 tablespoon of hot water
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
a ton of ground cinnamon
1 can of coconut milk
We put everything except the coconut milk in the food processor first, so we could make sure the dates were finely chopped up, and then dumped the can of coconut milk in. Then some pulsing happened. It just…wasn’t very hard. And this made so much creamer…we’ve had four cups of coffee since then and it’s still around.
This stuff is incredible. The jury’s still on whether it’s good or evil, though, since coconut milk is not exactly low in calories, and I could see myself becoming majorly addicted to it. Still, if you’re trying to minimize the amount of dairy you’re eating (and let’s be real, you’re not giving up cheese, right?) then this is a pretty fab addition to your life options.
*Dates are sort of a random thing to have on hand…until you buy them once, and then you can never go back. They are AMAZING. Seriously. Stuff them with goat cheese and drizzle them with thickened balsamic, and then swan around your apartment with a feather boa because you are so fancy. Or wrap them in proscuitto. Or wait until you have a sugar craving and there is no chocolate in the house and then praise the everloving lord that you bought dates, because they are the sweetest thing to exist in nature. Do as you please, just buy them. At Trader Joe’s. For like four dollars.
This is the good part about writing this paper.
The bad part is the paper. 56 more pages. 3 weeks. Three other finals and one other paper.
Pray for me.
And please pray not that I get through the next few weeks unscathed (because I will, somehow, and totally undeservedly), but instead that I begin to be an adult and stop shoving myself into these cycles of chill-panic-PANIC-never learn. All the coffee in all the world doesn’t make these binges fun, and they’re just so fundamentally unnecessary.
Well, anyway! How is your day going?
One of my favorite parts of returning home is reveling in the LBC, my adopted hometown. I’ve been a devotee of sun worshipping on 2nd street for years now. I mean, Taco Surf.
But now the city is running a full-court press of awesomeness. Please observe:
One of my new favorite people lives here (well, two new favorites, if you count her stellar boyfriend, as I most certainly do). I kind of can’t believe my luck at meeting someone this cool at a summer law firm gig…I was just hoping the “cool people” vibe would translate into partners who were more mellow than most. Turns out you can find someone to carpool and groan through Cardio Barre with too! Sometimes you just win at life.
Aside from her general coolness, Ms. D is a font of wisdom on all things Long Beach, and she found this fantastic NY Times article highlighting the city as an up-and-coming fun place to vacation. So, of course we spent the second half of spring break prowling around neighborhoods we’d never even thought to visit until a newspaper across the country recommended them. Apparently Fourth Street is where it’s at. In an extremely major way.
Among the standouts:
Kafe Neo: A total win of a breakfast place with the temerity to serve adorably tiny cookies with their free espresso drinks. There’s so much excellence going on in that sentence, I don’t even know where to start. Our beloved Baller realized you can “check in” on Yelp and get treats in various places, and this was the delicious result:
Baller’s omelette had Greek marinara sauce, our waitress wore retro cat’s eye glasses, and the yoga hippies at the next table had a snuggly little puppy. Now you understand.
Berlin: I forgot to take any pictures, but this cool little coffee shop is attached to both a second-hand bookstore and a music shop that still sells vinyl. It was also the site of my purchase of Three Cups of Tea, so now I have to love it forever. Not the heaviest burden.
Portfolio: Great coffee and hipster heaven. And therefore my heaven, because people-watching is my favorite sport. We were taking Baller to the airport, so we couldn’t lounge around in all the plush couches and chairs for too long, but the chill vibe was immediately apparent. I was all busy planning how it would be my new study lounge when we came back, until M reminded me that when we next touch down in California, studying will be…over. I was trying to wrap my mind around the cosmic truth of no.more.school. that will soon be mine, but then I realized that firm work will indubitably provide plenty of law-related paperwork for me to take wherever I please. I’m choosing to believe that this is a victory, as it means my days of being pseudo-studious in coffee shops are alive and well.
Apparently there are all sorts of vintage clothing and furniture consignment shops along Fourth as well, so we’ll have to check those out when we come back after finals. Totally loving that this whole alternative world existed five minutes away from our well-trodden path…you just never know!
Sometimes a day that you think is going to be kind of a drag turns out to be the best thing since sliced bread. (Sliced tomatoes? I don’t know. Something grain-free). Exhibit A: Today. We had to get fingerprinted by the police because the California Bar exam nonsense was due, which meant trekking out to a part of Cambridge we never visit. In the rain. Lame, right?
But then it all just got crazy awesome. The guy doing the prints was incredibly nice, even when he had to re-roll every single print literally six or seven times because…I don’t know, I’m secretly a Man In Black? According to James the Harvard Police Detective, I have “the worst fingerprints ever,” and “Your husband just raced right through this. Best fingerprints I’ve ever seen. Rolled them all himself! You should call him Ace!” I was dying. This man alone would’ve made my day.
After bidding adieu to James, I called M to see where he was. He had found a hide-out in this fantastic little coffee shop right across the street. It was exactly like a place we went frequently during the random 4 weeks we lived in Santa Monica (in a haunted house…don’t ask), complete with individual coffee press and free Intellectual Magazines so that Monsieur could enjoy his beverage in the finest possible environment.
We were super hungry at that point (finger-rolling is exhausting) but the rain had broken into a completely open, gorgeous sky, and so we walked to this fantastic Portuguese place in Inman Square called “Casa Portugal.” Spontaneous lunch dates with your husband are pretty fun, especially when he totally engages with you in a debate about the benefits of French v. American parenting styles despite the fact that bebes are totally hypothetical creatures at this point. (I really want to read this book!) The absolute best thing about this place is their dessert, “natas du ceo” (quite truthfully translated as “cream from Heaven”). With these tiny espressos, you could pretty much be in Europe, and I am in everlasting, committed, tend-you-when-you’re-ill type love with any place that gives you that feeling.
And then. On the way back to the square to mail the Bar Bizness, we happened to pass a used bookstore (aka the kind of place that should be all over Harvard Square, but it only has the Gap because the rent is too high and all the independent businesses get shunted to Central). I ran in just wanting to look for a second, but then it was the BEST used bookstore ever, because everything was in amazing condition and five dollars. And instead of housing tons of Pliny the Elder and other books you should want to read but just don’t, it was full of everything I had been stalking on the Kindle. M caught my bug, and we walked out of there with quite a haul.
There’s something about being around books that seriously quickens my pulse. I love everything about them: the way they smell, the cover illustrations, the weight of a stack in my arms. On the walk back to the Square, we talked about all the books we’d loved when we were little (The Giver! The Phantom Tollbooth!)…..or rather, I rambled on and on about them until he laughed and said, “Our kids are going to be pretty well-read, aren’t they?”
Yeah, they probably won’t have much of a choice about that one. But as much as I want tiny bookworms with whom I can read in the park, I really want kids just like M: always open and ready for the kind of random fun the world has to offer.
The other day, for the first few disoriented moments of consciousness, I thought I was in Belmont Shore. The first thing I saw was gray, balmy sky, and my mind immediately leapt to the walk down Santa Ana street to the ocean. The gray sky was real, of course, but the bright purple hibiscus flowers lining that path were three thousand miles away.
I wouldn’t have called myself a “California girl” before spending three years immersed in a culture that is anything but. Growing up, my fantasy life involved urban city centers navigated by public transportation, places with bright marquee lights and scarves and cafes where you could spend all afternoon with Austen or Faulkner without a strange look from teenagers in string bikinis.
I’m sitting in one of those cafes right now. Admittedly, I spend more time with my Google reader than with Austen, but that dream has been realized all the same. A train takes me to school each day, I own enough scarves to outfit a small boutique, and I can tell you where to get the best chocolate-chip cookie in Manhattan.*
Being the child of parents who are still happily married, I feel like this is the closest I’ve ever come to being torn between two poles. I love Boston. Twenty minutes and some flat boots can get you anywhere in the whole city, and the place you’re going probably is some speak-easy restaurant with dollar oysters.** But, as my early-morning subconscious can attest, I am longing for the sunny, salty air of the open expanse where I grew up.
M always teases me that I’m a split personality when it comes to cities. When we land in Boston each August, I’m all hopped up on the Q, rhapsodizing about culture! And ethnic food! And intellectual communities! And as soon as the first 20 degree day hits, I’m angry at the weather and making kindergarten paper chains to count down the days to when we fly “home to California, how could anyone even consider living somewhere else!”
So, it’s safe to say that I have trouble making up my mind. Except that when I look ahead to our return home after the bar exam, to living among our core loved ones again (instead of the dreaded exercise of “splitting time” among people I would rather lavish time upon)…I feel nothing but unadulterated excitement.
Perhaps that’s my answer after all.
*It’s Levain Bakery. If someone says otherwise, they’re telling a falsehood and they don’t want you to be happy. Get the chocolate chip walnut and then write a poem about it. We’ll compare our sonnets*** while eating the double-chocolate chip.
**Hi, Marliave. Let’s talk about your gin cocktails and how they’re just…I like them. A lot.
***You were going to do a sonnet, right? Haikus look like you’re not even trying.
Once upon a time, a dear friend of mine wandered around Boston’s North End and found the most perfect coffee shop in all the world. Their java warms your soul during the city’s horrible winter, and their giant cookies (especially when you ask the super chill staff to heat them up) are a lot like getting a hug. On the mouth? I never said the cookies weren’t awkward, I just said they were delicious.
Boston Common Coffee Company, you are straight up one of the things I will miss most about Boston when we leave. Is that weird, to miss a coffee shop? Especially pre-emptively?
I can’t help it. I am addicted to everything in this photo,* including the Economist that M is reading. Dude, learning is the GREATEST! Did you know how bat-shit crazy Kim Jong Il was? He once kidnapped a South Korean dictator so he could fulfill his dream of making a movie. That is delusion on a very seriously impressive scale. And this magazine is just full of stuff like that, week after week. I think I just never realized before how much “knowing what’s going on in the world” is essentially “watching a giant soap opera.” I mean, let’s be real…my understanding of any economic issues is still pretty impressionistic (“subprime is bad? We are in a lot of debt?”) but everything else is just there for the taking.
*Except maybe the pen.