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Posts Tagged ‘lunch’

Since starting my new job at the end of February, I’ve been exploring my new Cambridge neighborhood, wandering through the bustling streets lined with shops and cafes (and taking refuge in the latter on frigid days).

I was already familiar with Crema and its delicious tomato soup, but I have a new favorite sandwich shop: Darwin’s, tucked away on Mt. Auburn Street right across from the yard with all the crocuses.

darwins cambridge ma

Darwin’s has two sides: one is a coffee-shop-cum-cafe, where you can get a hot drink and a pastry and take them to go, or settle down at one of the small square tables. The other, with a punched-tin ceiling painted red, is a sandwich-shop-cum-mini-market, where you can buy fruit, veggies, beer or even day-old breads while waiting for your order.

Behind the counter, a line of cheery, flannel-clad hipsters dance around each other, chopping and slicing ingredients and assembling sandwiches, most of which are named after nearby streets or Harvard campus buildings. As you move up the line, you have a clear view of a pastry case filled with tempting cookies and other treats.

darwins interior cambridge ma

My favorite sandwich so far is the Longfellow, which involves ham and cheese, sliced green apple, lettuce, tomato and spicy Dijon mustard. It’s delicious, even if the ingredients tend to escape from the bread after a few bites. But mostly I love the funky local vibe, the friendly staff, and the cafe walls painted the colors of a Texas sunset.

darwins cafe interior cambridge ma

When I forget to bring my lunch (or we’re out of leftovers), you can often find me here, alternately reading my book and people-watching as I savor my sandwich and a cookie.

darwins sandwich journal

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Most of the time, I don’t mind the office life. (Though we all know I’d rather be writing in a cafe in some exotic location.) My office has enough space for me, and I’ve brought in a few colorful items to make it feel homey. However, after a few hours of working within the same four walls, I need to get out.

I usually bring my lunch from home – leftovers or soup in a Tupperware box, stacked neatly in the fridge with everyone else’s leftovers. There’s also a food court downstairs, making it even less necessary to leave the building. But I always need to stretch my legs, and I frequently have errands to run or someplace I want to visit. And I want to get out into the city, get to know my new downtown neighborhood, try to learn the rhythm of this new dance I’m a part of every day. So even if it’s freezing (and it frequently is), I pull on my coat and hat, sling my purse over my shoulder, and I’m off.

Often I head out the door and turn east, to visit the post office or the bank or spend a little while browsing at the Brattle. I’ve treated myself to a lunch or two at Thinking Cup, on the days when we run out of leftovers or I need a little something special.

Sometimes I head west, either to ramble around the Public Garden, pop into Paper Source to ogle the pretty stationery, or stroll down to Copley Square to browse the closing sale at Borders. (The big, glass-fronted Borders in Downtown Crossing is staying open, but the one near Copley will be gone soon.) Sometimes I head north up Charles Street, to browse the clothing racks at Second Time Around, and peek in the pretty windows of boutiques whose wares I can’t afford.

When it’s warmer I plan to take my lunch and a book out to the Common, to read and eat and watch the people and let the breezes play with my hair. It’s still too cold to do that, but for now, at least I can get a little exercise, take care of a life detail or two, or simply stop in somewhere for a chai latte, a good book or a bouquet of fresh flowers. (This habit is not, I admit, always great for my wallet. But it’s good for my body and my soul.)

How do you spend your lunch breaks?

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girlie lunches

Over the past few years, Julie and I have perfected the art of the girlie lunch. We meet up once every two or three weeks, sort of alternating between Rosa’s and Hickory Street Cafe and Tuscany’s. If it’s the first, I always get chips and queso and Julie usually gets sopapillas, to share. If it’s the second, one or both of us will order zucchini bread, and usually raspberry tea. And if it’s the latter, as it was today, at least one of us will order the grilled cheese on seasoned sourdough, and a cup of soup (their spicy potato, creamy with a kick, is my favorite).

At all three places, there’s lots of laughter, and talk about books and clothes and scarves (we are girls), and teaching and grad school and future plans. We share stories and joys and daily travails, and we laugh, and we always part with a hug and a promise to do it again soon.

(I can’t believe we weren’t really friends in undergrad, though we knew each other slightly. However, we are definitely making up for lost time now.)

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lunch on the porch

It’s just the sort of perfect day we don’t get that often in Abilene – sunny, cool and breezy, a day that accommodates both cardigans and bare legs. I’d have happily wandered outside for hours this afternoon, the sun warm on my shoulders but the air crisp and cool in my lungs. Days like this brim with possibility.

I’ve started a new lunchtime ritual of eating on the porch whenever I can. Today it was tomato soup from my green IKEA mug, a couple hunks of French bread, green grapes, and two vanilla-chocolate wafers, which I made on Monday night. They’re a little dry and crumbly and slightly scorched on the bottom, but the combination of smooth vanilla and dark cocoa powder is delightful.

“Nothing like the aesthetics of Sayles Boulevard at noon,” my neighbour teased me a few weeks ago. It’s true that dozens of cars still rush by, with the occasional honk or siren. But I am sheltered from it all by the front shrubs and the rusted, lacy ivory porch railing. I can hear my neighbours’ children running around and playing with bubbles, but I’m also in my own little bubble of stillness. It’s a true escape from the windowless and sometimes-hectic atmosphere of my office. (Don’t get me wrong; I love my job. But sometimes a girl just needs an hour outside.)

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Ingredients:

1 rainy Oxford day
1 BLT sandwich from On the Hoof (for Jacque)
1 Brie-and-salsa sandwich from On the Hoof (for Katie)
1 cup hot cocoa (for Katie)
1 current issue of The Economist (for Jacque)
1 fun book about ethical fashion (for Katie)

Mix together and serve in a warm, cozy sitting room, with the window slightly open.

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