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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Breakfast Crawl

While on an unrelated work assignment, I found myself touring bakeries and cafés in the Metrowest and Norfolk county areas of Greater Boston.  My objective quickly transformed from a simple, yet repetitive task to a ravenous, impromptu food critic. Expecting to see mountains of scones, muffins and bagels, it came as a surprise to me that each bakery also sported some savory shade of a luncheon café. Had this trail taken me through these quaint, side-road shops several hours later, surely I would have sampled their great array of sandwiches, but alas, it was barely past the sunrise so I happily dined on delectable pastries. I broke from my typical pattern of eating in which I purchase the same item in order to choose which was best at the end of the day and instead opted to embrace the variety of breakfast fare.
At the beginning of the bakery crawl, I chose to obtain a sampling of a hole-in-the-wall’s delightful muffins, keeping to tradition I had the chocolate chip—slightly warmed. I knew at the first velvety bite that it was a stroke of luck I had a partner helping me that day; otherwise my stomach would soon be none-too-happy with me. We devoured the muffin from its sugary top down, ensuring each bite held a morsel of chocolate. Nearly a mile further down that road was a bagel shop, their everything-style bagel, slathered with lox-cream cheese and a side of iced coffee (hazelnut, of course) paired perfectly for a hearty second breakfast.
We meticulously looped through the town and located a larger, well marketed establishment that had just recently changed hands. The stream of customers boosted my belief in the eatery’s quality. Soon enough, their generous sampling of sweet breads placed precariously atop their counter was vultured clean in seconds. I was merely able to snag a piece of apple danish and cinnamon bread before the platter was retracted.  Nonetheless, the meager snack satisfied my trust in the bakery’s claim of having the best bread in the county. But despite my taste buds begging for another bite of the danish, I had developed a whisper in my head instructing me to trek northward to the mythical home of what I had heard was the best croissant outside of Paris.
Another unplanned stop held me back from the buttery goodness awaiting ten miles away as we parked for a shared frozen mango smoothie. This was the precise boost of fruit needed to urge us further towards the final stop of the day and hopefully the famed croissant. As the mound of whipped cream melted into our mango drink just as the miles faded behind the wheels of the car, we emerged into the bustling town center of red brick buildings flanking a thriving park. Sitting on the common, this bakery was the most vibrant of all the others we had visited that morning. And there it was. Parked next to several incarnations of the luscious dough was the chocolate croissant. Light and airy, it practically floated onto our plate. Drizzled with chocolate and filled with the same smooth substance, the croissant pulled apart in flakey layers. Like unwrapping a long awaited Christmas present, I cherished each piece of the croissant before inhaling the thick, luscious center.
As the final bite disappeared, I regretted sharing this scrumptious pastry, devilishly eyeing its counterpart as it too was devoured. Feeling heavier already, we relaxed at the table long enough to recall how nearly each bakery we visited also boasted cupcakes; dainty cakes in all sizes: mini, cup or jumbo. Classic versions, specialty flavors and two for three deals. It was settled: as soon as we recovered from the marathon eating event, we would venture out again to discover if these bakeries could support an equally delicious cupcake crawl as well.

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