Saturday, May 3, 2014

Desperately Seeking Sunshine
Shame on me, a lifelong New England girl complaining about a long winter. I know the routine and remaining in New England means you must accept the severity of the season. But this winter was truly bleak, the longest, coldest, darkest of them all, and the relief of Spring has been slow to emerge. Temperatures remain indifferent, a chrysalis of chilliness, taking forever to crack open and release much needed warmth. How does a conscious cook resolve the seemingly endless search for soul warming sunshine? Grab her favorite guy and go for a sunny Sunday drive by the sea.

 BK and I set off, on what appeared to be a spectacular spring morning, full of promise. A brilliant blue sky and enormous, white, puffy clouds heralded a perfect beginning. But this is New England, and a mere 30 miles in, those gigantic cotton balls became tinged with gray and the sapphire blue sky turned melancholy and murky. Determined not to let nature’s moodiness spoil our adventure, we pressed on.

 Those barren days of darkness had given me plenty of opportunity to experiment with new recipes over the endless winter. One of my new pleasures is making coffee. Now, I am a recent convert to coffee worshipping. I had a brief flirtation with late night lattes in my early college days, but never quite succumbed to the daily caffeine commitment.

 BK and I had discovered a lovely respite in Rhode Island called The Weekapaug Inn on an earlier journey, and here I discovered that coffee could be deliciously uplifting and really quite gourmet. I chose to imbibe mine unsullied by cream or sugar, and that inky black liquid was a hot, exotic adventure in a cup. Strong and supple, with not a touch of bitterness or watery weakness, this coffee was slightly smoky, smooth, but with an edge of excitement. I almost felt as though I might be on safari, seated in an enormous tent, pondering the untamed beauty of the majestic landscape. Oh my yes, that was one Stimulating cup of coffee.

 I had to have it for my very own, and after inquiring with the inn, discovered that they had a certain blend specially prepared for their guests by Dave’s Coffee of Charlestown, Rhode Island. I promptly contacted Dave’s and ordered all the beans necessary for home brewing. And as the winter days wore on and my supply of delight became depleted, I knew an in person trip to Dave’s would be necessary.

 So as the day struggled to regain solidarity with the sun, we drove on. We pulled into Dave’s,  finding it housed in a building painted a perky shade of pink, and surrounded by Asian influenced garden sculpture. Inside, the delectable smell of coffee filled the room with a delightfully comforting aroma. You wait in line at Dave’s, calmly and happily, there is no essence of stress here. It’s relaxed, funky, fun atmosphere is reminiscent of a Greenwich Village apartment, circa 1960’s or maybe San Francisco, with tons of seating, cushy couches and lots of stools to perch on, while drinking a steaming cup of joe, er.. rather Dave’s.

 First order of business was to acquire the beans, have them ground, safely stash them away, and then enjoy an enormous strawberry peach scone with a cup of coffee for me, a cappuccino for BK. Belying its rather rough exterior, that croquet ball sized scone was plenty tender, with sweet peach chunks melding perfectly with shards of strawberry.

 Lo and behold, as we wandered back outside, the sun chose to shine for a bit. We jumped in the car and traveled on to Watch Hill, Rhode Island, to view the majestic mansions that make up most of the homes in town, all of them strategically placed for premium views of the mighty Atlantic ocean. As we pulled up alongside the grand Ocean House hotel, we briefly considered going in for brunch, but the remnants of peaches and strawberries still clinging to our lips persuaded us to forgo that pleasure.

 Choosing a back road route to return to Connecticut, we stopped in Stonington, one of the most charming seaside towns in New England. So fond am I of this fine hamlet, I often dream of buying my own little house here, spending my days smelling the salt air and tending a tiny garden. A nice long walk around town was cut short, as the weather had now turned downright raw, and a slight drizzle was curling my tendrils.

 We ducked into Noah’s, a Stonington institution that has cemented itself on my “top favorite places for brunch list”. Noah’s is an absolute treasure, as are all the hardworking, happy folks who serve up the consistently superb food. Yul, the ever creative chef, came out to greet us with an enormous smile. When we told him we weren’t sure what to order, as we had just barely finished that gargantuan scone, he suggested his creation of the day, a fresh crab and avocado salad. Pondering that, we refreshed our appetites with a round of bracing brunch cocktails, and ordered.

 Yul has allowed me to push the limits of his culinary patience in the past and thus emboldened, and suddenly ravenous, I requested he prepare a Benedict with the crab and avocado salad. BK ordered his favorite, Classic Eggs Benedict. When our plates arrived, we were suddenly feeling very sunny. An artful drizzle of balsamic glaze prettied up my plate, while 2 perfectly poached eggs blanketed with Yul’s exceptional hollandaise perched atop the salad. The entire concoction was anchored by thick slabs of fresh tomato. What a masterful combination, the velvety avocado and sweet crab mingling with the supple egg and creamy hollandaise. BK grinned at my moaning, as I continued to exclaim over and over, that it was such a fantastic combination of flavors. I am hoping it will find a permanent place on the menu! Maybe it could be called “Yul are the Sunshine of My Life”.

A great cup of coffee, a beautifully cooked meal or quality time spent together, where there is love, there’s your sunshine.

 Dave’s Coffee
 5193 Old Post Road
 Charlestown, Rhode Island

 Noah’s Restaurant
 113 Water Street
 Stonington, CT

 Robin Glowa , "The Conscious Cook” is passionate about preparing a delicious life. A graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Columbia University Teacher’s College, she teaches healthy cooking classes to students of all ages, writes a healthy eating and living column called “The Conscious Cook” and blogs about more decadent adventures with BK. For more information go to

1 comment:

  1. Well done you succeeded in making me hungry and its but nearly lunch can't wait for breakfast.