I can make a pretty good breakfast–that is, good for me. I will not claim to be skilled at any sort of fancy breakfast creations. I can make plenty of things that are tasty, or, at least edible, and at this point I’m very close to completely mastering the egg sandwich (often eaten for lunch or dinner as well, because I CANNOT get enough of them, it seems). I am incapable of making pretty pancakes or omelets. I’m trying to remember a time when I made breakfast for someone else that would be worth mentioning. As far as I can tell, there aren’t any.
This is why many of my best breakfasts happen when I go out. I don’t often go out for breakfast with a buddy. It’s too hard to gather people in the morning, especially a weekday morning, when the only people who could go with me aren’t even awake. (Or are in a different zip code.)
So I go out to breakfast. Or grab something on the way to work.
More often than not, this breakfast comes from Cafenation. They are one of my very favorite independent cafes in Boston (and everywhere else, but I’ll admit there are many I haven’t tried in other cities. In fact, most cafes in other cities I haven’t tried. Totally beside the point), because everything they offer is delicious. Their coffee is really good. Their chai is delicious. All their espresso drinks are amazing (I’m sure there’s the off drink once in a while), generally speaking. They have a pretty wide selection of teas, which I’m sure are also good. I’ve only tried the iced ones.
And the food? Well, duh. Delicious. Always. This morning I had the spiced apple and brie crepes, which were generously stuffed and dusted with powdered sugar. I had them before, probably three years ago, and it seemed about time. They have the standard cafe breakfast fare of bagels with various options for fillings/toppings (depending on if you eat it open-faced or not), tasty muffins and scones, and the full espresso bar you’re most likely hoping for. Then they have their omelets and crepes, good portions, fair price. I’ve tried one of the omelets with salsa and black beans, a bit like huevos rancheros, I guess. They also have a weekly special cream cheese flavor, in addition to the permanent selection, and jalapeno bagels. Who else has jalapeno bagels? Ok, probably a lot of places, but still.
Then there’s the lunch options. They have a small sampling of salads and soup, the latter of which changes by the week or day (I don’t know, I don’t get soup very much), and a nice list of sandwiches on your choice of bread. A few of the sandwiches are vegetarian options. Many of the breakfast items are vegetarian, and you can order them for lunch as well. The sandwiches are served with a good portion of mixed greens–more than just a token side salad, but not so much that it takes your attention from the sandwich. They also give you their housemade balsamic dressing, which is sweet and different and even if you think you don’t like balsamic dressing, I’d recommend you try it.
Bonus: They have one of the best day-old bread selections I’ve ever seen. Very rarely is the stuff more than just a little bit stale, but most likely it will keep for several days. They portion it well, too. I can get a half-dozen bagels, two muffins, and a scone for $3. There are times when I don’t buy bread at the grocery store for two or three weeks because I can get better stuff for less money at Cafenation. However, it’s often gone by midway through the day, so if you really want a good selection, you should go in the morning. It varies from day to day, too, as you might imagine. Sometimes they have a nice big pile, others, just a few bags. It’s a bit of a hit-or-miss sometimes, but definitely worth it.
In addition, the staff are generally very friendly, and if it’s not busy will even have conversations with you about things like tea. Sometimes they even remember my name. I go there a lot. You should go there, and tell them I sent you. It won’t get you anything special, and most of them probably won’t know what you’re talking about, but tell them anyway.
Cafenation, 380 Washington St., Brighton, MA
Let’s not think about how much I could have done over the weekend and didn’t. How far behind I am on everything I want to have done already. How much my apartment needs a good cleaning… Let’s talk instead about my favorite independent cafe.
My favorite food to order at Cafenation, for as many years as I’ve known about its existence (about three), has been the blackcurrant scone. Its buttery flavor and dense, rich texture made it, in my mind, the perfect scone. I would get one sometimes when I wasn’t even hungry, because they were so good and I knew I’d be hungry at some point.
In my memory (which has been wrong at times, but we’ll just go with it), the first time I got it was a morning when I was interviewing someone for a short biographical article. I got up early, walked down to the cafe, ordered a coffee and one of these scones, and brought them back home. I ate it as I set up my things for the phone interview, and it was probably the most satisfying breakfast I’d had for some time. The interview and article writing both went fairly well, but that’s not really relevant to this story.
Over the past three years–or, the parts of those years that have taken me near the cafe–I have bought one of these scones more often than any other food at this cafe. Suddenly, a few weeks ago, I stopped seeing it. Since I had only been a few times, always later in the afternoon, I assumed they had sold out… but then, they usually had a few left at that time. So I asked while I was ordering a coffee, whether they were just out of them momentarily, and I was informed that they had to switch to another bakery.
Ok, that’s out of my system now. I ordered a blueberry scone to try the new ones, and it was good. But not as good as my favorite, my love, the blackcurrant scone. I was disappointed. This is long ago enough now that I have moved on, but there will be times when I think of that one scone that I crave and I will regret that I can’t get it anymore. But hell, it’s just a scone, right? There are other things I would be much more devastated to lose.
Earlier this year, Cafenation had decided to close their kitchen at 3pm every day. I assumed they just weren’t selling enough kitchen-prepared orders in the later hours to keep the kitchen open, and since I rarely ordered from the kitchen anyway, it didn’t actually affect me very much. Still, I like having the option, so it always felt slightly disappointing. Now, they’re keeping the kitchen open later, but the cafe closes at 6 now, instead of 7 or 8, when they used to be open. Once again, this doesn’t really change anything for me, except that I don’t like going to restaurants or cafes in the last half hour before they close, which will have to happen from time to time, as I frequently leave work at 5:30.
I am the very first to admit that these are not real problems. The point is that people do not react well to change. I’m trying to get to a point where I can more quickly shake off that first disorientation of finding something to which I’m accustomed suddenly changing and move more quickly to filing away the new information and adjusting accordingly. Particularly when the change will have very little (if any) impact on my life.
Doesn’t that seem enlightened?
Hey, guess what! June favorites happened! On the blog, they are here: June 2013 favorites.
My vlogged favorites are HERE. It’s a bit of a longer video than I was intending but I wanted to do a little introduction about my favorites-listing methods first. It’s still just over 10 minutes, so it won’t take you that long.
Guys! I talk about different favorites on my youtube channel and the favorites section of this blog! Why? Well, because I can, for one. Also, it’s more interesting that way.
…So, I began this post in the morning just before I went to work. I didn’t have time to write any more at the time. I had a lot of thoughts that I could have related but now I can’t remember a single one of them.
I went to Cafenation at least three times this week.
All of my commutes have been failing lately. I need to eliminate this commute.
I’m ready for a very un-motivated Friday night. If I get something done, that’s great. If not, who cares. But I do have some vegetables that need to get used, so I think I’m going to make a frittata.
Or, something that approximates a frittata. I doubt it will be authentic.
This is the breakfast I got to have to reward myself for getting out to vote early enough to actually have time for breakfast afterward.
At Cafenation in Brighton. I ordered the Spanish Sunrise omelet, stuffed full of beans and cheese and a delicious salsa fresca. There was cilantro in my eggs! Perfect! It came with nicely ripe melon and a stack of buttered Iggy’s toast. I was so happy about the toast–so often when your breakfast comes with toast, they fail both to avoid burning it and to put the butter on before it’s cooled off too much to melt it. Cafenation, doing toast right! I almost never get to have this type of breakfast on a weekday.
And of course, an iced coffee because it’s a hot day! I considered chai, but coffee mornings are most wonderful. But if you don’t like coffee, Cafenation has really good iced tea, including one of their summer drinks, Thai iced tea (which I just have to get a few times every summer, it’s delicious but very sweet).
They also had tons of day old bread available, so I got one bag of baked goods (the scone will be either a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack) and one of ciabatta rolls. They aren’t hard at all! I love when the day old bread is still fresh and soft.
That’s my breakfast spiel. Did you vote? Did you have a nice breakfast? Are you thinking about iced coffee and/or tea? I need to know!
**By the way, that out-of-place clothing tag on the table is actually my bookmark.