Lingering over Leisurely Meals

Teachers, as a rule, don’t get much time to eat. Breakfast is often toast grabbed on the way out the door or instant oatmeal eaten during first period. Lunch isn’t much better, squeezed as it is between class prep and a necessary trip to the copy machine.

So school break is like a reset button, with time enough to slow down and savor. We were treated to some real gems this past week…

Brett Champlain at the Three Penny Taproom did it again, this time with “leeky duck,” succulent dark meat served over braised leeks and steamed blue potatoes. The savory pan sauce that swam on the plate was good enough to drink like cereal milk; I was poised to do so, but was then convinced to sop it up with toasty Red Hen bread. And because the alarm wasn’t going to go off too early…we took our time.

To emphasize the point that I was enjoying breakfast, and not taking attendance, Crystal Maderia at Kismet made her special barbeque bacon omelette. Yes, you read that right. The sweet barbeque taste was tempered with creamy goat cheese, the crispy bacon with fresh sprouts. No one does roasted roots like Crystal: bright flecks of Maine sea salt cling to golden potatoes and sweet carrots.

As though to prove that fabulous, flavorful food can be created anywhere someone cares enough to do so, Robert and Annie invited us over for a divine chicken marbella. Pungent olives and capers swim with sweet prunes in a sauce of white wine and brown sugar and make the chicken fork-tender. This deceptively simple dish packs some complex flavors, especially with the addition of generous amounts of fresh cilantro. Did I mention the rosemary-lemon bread, the oven-browned crust flecked with sea salt? Robert makes it all by hand, three times a week, in an oven he fires with wood. There are some seriously great bakers in our hills, friends.

Back to school this week…with a revived dedication to lunching at lunch: saving tiny tasks for another time, and savoring the flavors of the food that nourishes and renews.

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