When we have time for TV we like to pile on the couch with garlic popcorn and the dog and watch the cooking competitions.
It’s not how you start, our favorite chef is fond of saying, and we finish right along with him, “It’s how you finish!”
But really of course, it’s how you start *and* finish.
The week definitely got off to an interesting start, touched with a little French magic. Before deliveries I go to meet Svetlana for coffee and a catch up and to review her second pass at the tattoo she is designing for me.
My drive to the cafe is an obstacle course of waiting Uber drivers, disembarking Lyft passengers, a zillion meal delivery services with their smugly flashing hazard lights and what seems like a billion cyclists pedaling nonchalantly through the hilly traffic, way way too trusting (if you ask me) that their fellow motorists are paying adequate attention to their small, vulnerable bodies whizzing through space just inches from tons of fast moving metal.
I am running a little late because my GPS has decided to be mysteriously silent and my knowledge of the neighborhood is sketchy at best, and I am roundly cursing Siri when I turn a corner and I see a parking spot that I almost pass up, it is that too good to be true.
As I gather my purse etc. I notice the motorcycle in the spot in front of me. It is a sexy black and orange street machine and as I get out of the car I ask the nearby owner if I can take a picture.
“But of course!” he says, with a gallant little bow. I do a countdown so he can be in the pic if he wants to, and to my surprise he wants to, and even with his helmet on you can see/feel his big smile.
“Here,” I give him a four pack of mini-canelés – the Dark Chocolate Chunk which are like little French kisses from someone maybe you oughtn’t be kissing – and he says
“What are zese?” I tell him canelés de Bordeaux and he throws his arms out wide. “But I am French!” he says, then clasps his hands at his breast he says “Mademoiselle I love you!”
I reflect this is a good start to the week, when a man on a motorcycle declares his love just on the strength of how my pastries look in the box.
Do three Frenchmen who love your French pastry= a trend? I am going to say yes. Chef M is another Gallic fan of Dark Chocolate Chunk canelés – the full size for him, no fussy mini can-cans.
“Bring me some so we can take a picture for our smartphone app,” he texts me. “Then I will EAT IT!”
I was hoping they’d advertise the canelés just that way on the app screen, – maybe with huge stark words Eat It! superimposed on the shining, fluted sides of a canelé – but no such luck, it just says Chocolate Canelé. Still it looks yummy and there is no validation in this business like a Frenchman’s (or Frenchwoman’s).
In other validating news, famous French restaurant person Pascal Rigo will be adding flavored canelés at his new, rustic relaunch of La Boulangerie de San Francisco. “You’re doing a good job here,” he told us when we brought him a tasting and trembled for the verdit. We’re betting he starts with pecan and bacon.
Across the pond, the sexy canulier team at Babelle are plying London with gorgeously flavored, richly decorated canelés, flirting with me on Twitter with that fizzy effervescent Frenchness that they have. Her canelés look like bouquets of flowers (and sound like them too, with names such as Athena and Clea to denote flavors like lavendar and violet.) We predict 2016 will be the year of the canelé. Stay tuned.
Svetlana needs another week or two on the design which is fine, if there is one thing you don’t want to rush, it’s anything about the tattoo process. She introduces me to the baristas and I wish I had a video of the time she ate four bacon canelés one-two-three-four at a party where she made and served us all borscht and we all sat on her bed to eat it. Somehow I left with a pair of her boots, and we’ve been friends ever since.
We are at the market rain or shine, and Saturday is rainy while Sunday is, if not shiny, at least not wet. Dave the salmon guy is back from knee surgery and the day is a a steady stream of customers asking him how he is recovering.
A woman I recognize as the Chocolate One (she always gets dark chocolate chunk and dark chocolate pecan) runs up to the table and dramatically announces that she ONLY comes to the market for our canelés and has been panicked! absolutely panicked! that I was no longer coming to the market. I tell her we just celebrated one year in business and anyway she can just order online and she actually claps.
Give me TWO boxes, she says, and adds THE BIG ONES, and she positively cackles and for a split second she reminds me, in her casual just-woke-up gray sweats and tousled hair, of Scrooge leaning out the window and shouting at the boy to got down and get the prize turkey in the window, “the one as big as I am!”.
All in all it is a slow day at the market what with the slanty rainy weather and the holidays just behind us. The till is down a few hundred from my usual take and on the way home I try to be philosophical about it. After all I did get the chance to check on Dave after his knee, and talk acupuncture for back pain with Greg the sausage guy. The scone guy now has not one but *two* bacon flavors and is thinking of ditching the HR thing and going full time on the scone thing.
How’d it go, my husband asks as my bedraggled self comes in. Was it worth going?
I pause. Our sales are down about 30% from average, but are already climbing, with the steady return of our regular customers. There is Gail, who reports her husband is now pre-diabetic and we discuss the possibility of trying to make a canelé with Stevia. Hmmmm. There is Ellen who is at the Saturday market instead of her usual Sunday appearance, appearing out of the umbrella crowd with a big grin and with a satisfying large order of classic vanilla.
There is the gluten free family – a very slender, nice mom and two daughters – one gets a mini chocolate, the older one with the mini-mom face gets a classic vanilla gluten free. I always give the young one a sticker which she puts on her hand. Thanks for advertising me! I tell her and she shyly looks away, then back at me, then bites the chocolate top off her pastry.
It was fine, I tell my husband, a little low. But good! As I speak my phone buzzes in my pocket. It is a notification from our online store, from the Chocolate One.
“Good to see you today!” it reads, where the space for “Messages” is on the order form. “p.s. I”m going to send these to ALL of my friends!”
My phone buzzes with each new notification of a new sale – boxes going to Pennsylvania and Texas, Ohio and Arizona and Missouri…..all of a sudden the weekend deposits are no longer anemic but positively robust.
And voila, just like that, the week has a magical finish equal to its romantic French start.
Try to start your week with a little French love, that’s my recommendation. See where it takes you from there.