For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved to eat. Early memories at both sets of grandparents center around food. Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, dinner rolls (can you imagine?) with real butter on TV trays at my maternal grandparent’s house. Or trips to the local Friendly’s with that same grandmother. She’d order a hot dog (frankfurter!) and I’d get a clam boat. Both came with fries. Those were the days. And perhaps it was those sweet times that helped forge my love of eating. Likely it’s no surprise then that one of my main objectives when I visit a new place is to find a local bakery…or 2 or 3 that I can call my own for the duration of my visit. Let me end the suspense right now and say that I have found mine here in Heidelberg, finally.
It’s been a week since we got here and while there is a cafe up the road, very close to where we’re staying, it’s not a bakery. The apfeltasche (apple turnover) is surprisingly good and that discovery alone yesterday almost made me re-think my opinion of the place. Almost. But then two days, Elisabeth and I walked past a place that we had seen last Thursday en route to a toy store. Now, it was open. The window alone made me hungry. Heaps of flaky croissants both large and small, round wheels of light pastry dotted with golden raisins (my favorite and, in my opinion, sadly under-used in US bakeries), stacks of chocolate croissants, and rows of other pastry that I didn’t recognize. Elisabeth and I went in.
The woman behind the counter was smiling as soon as we entered. I looked around at the tiny bakery which not only promised excellent pastry but also….wait for it….coffee to go! At long last. Coffee to go has been a big missing piece since we arrived. I even asked my husband about cafes which have a bar for people who want a quick espresso on the run, as there are all over Italy and in some neighborhoods in Paris. Apparently, there just aren’t any here in Germany. Today however, I was out of hands for takeout coffee but I promised myself that I would get one another time. In the meantime, a cornucopia of pastry greeted me. We asked for a small croissant (Elisabeth), a small raisin pastry and a large raisin pastry. I couldn’t tell if the raisin pastries were the same, just differently sized, so I got both.
Both raisin pastries were devoured in seconds on the way back to our apartment. Actually I would have eaten Elisabeth’s croissant too but she was holding onto it so tightly that prying it away from her would have required stopping & putting down the toy shop bag. I hadn’t the energy for either. The pastries tasted like heaven would if it had a taste- light, sweet but not cloying, and just crispy buttery enough. I could have eaten a dozen. Suddenly, there was a swing in my step and all the world looked bright again. This is what eating well does to me. My mood, a little on edge from an overwrought few hours with a teething, sniffling one year old, lifted and the sun came out.
My tomorrow morning and the next and the next and the next are suddenly booked. Elisabeth and I have a date with a certain bakery we found. A place where there are gingham cushions on the bench and the smell of butter and chocolate in the air.