Thursday, February 17, 2011

You can't go home again, or can you?

It has been a year since I was planning to leave Napa for Portland and open up Artistry Cafe when everything fell apart.  I know my loss doesn't compare to losing a friend, a person, but in a sense it had a very real life, it was a part of me. Something I was creating, giving birth to, so to this day, I still feel a deep sadness when I think about what coulda/shoulda been.

I wrote the landlord the other day, just looking through old emails, and came across our last correspondence. "Hey Terry, Kim from Napa again" - "Just checking to see how things are going, did you ever lease out the coffee house?"  I heard back from him that same afternoon.  "Good to hear from you Kim.  Yes, we leased out the shop but it seems they might be having a hard time."  Well of course they are, I thought.  The last time I went to Portland we drove by, it was closed, but we peeked in the windows to see that it looked basically the same as last year.  And the only changes were not positive.  The hours posted on the door were very limited and ridiculous.  I think they opened at 9:00 am.  A little late to just be staggering in. Where I had planned to combine coffee, great food, art and ambiance, the new owner was trying to combine coffee and baby clothes.  Really, there was a rack of baby clothes straight ahead in the entrance. Well, that doesn't look like a winning model to me.  But hey, who am I to judge?  She got the coffee house, I didn't.
I wrote Terry back, "Well, I wish them luck and hope they are successful", even though I knew I was lying.  I was hoping they would go under and Terry would call me, begging me to open my coffee house in the space, to bring it to life, and offer me a deal I couldn't refuse.  I have always had a tugging at my heart for the place,  like it was the one that got away.

Lately the art world has been boring me.  It is like the little black dress that I desperately need to accessorize.  I've been spending my time between two galleries, working art events, but all the while my mind has been on coffee, baking, writing and creating new recipes.  I just made the most incredible scone like cookies.  They are simple little mounds of pure goodness.  I found the recipe in Real Simple and then jazzed it up a bit with poppy seeds, almond extract and slivered almonds.  But the basic cookie is great, the texture, the easy preparation and the way they accompany a cup of tea or coffee perfectly.  I am going to share the recipe with you in case you missed it.

Makes 36 cookies| Hands-On Time: 30m | Total Time: 1hr 00m



  1. Heat oven to 375° F.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter, granulated sugar, vanilla, and eggs until blended. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and mix until just combined (do not over mix).
  3. With floured hands, roll level tablespoonfuls of the dough into balls and place on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. Bake until puffed and the bottoms are pale golden, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
  4. Make the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, 2 tablespoons water, and the vanilla until the mixture forms a thick but pourable glaze (add more water if necessary).
  5. Dip the top of each cookie into the glaze and let set, rounded side up, on a rack set over a piece of parchment paper. Sprinkle with non-pareils, if using. Allow the glaze to set, about 20 minutes. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Festive, but my advice, for a more sophisticated cookie top with slivered almonds or crushed walnuts

So here I sit, planning another trip to Portland early next month.  I currently have three coffee houses to check out, but deep down, still hoping to get that surprise call from Terry any day now. It's a dream I just can't give up.  If I can't have my fantasy life of being a writer, living like a hermit in my traditional gray shingled beach cottage, waking to the smell of salty sea air every morning, then I might as well work my donkey off in a coffee house and be greeted by the aroma of fresh brewed coffee and baked goods instead.  One just requires a lot more energy than the other, but perhaps with enough caffeine, I'll find it.

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