Yesterday, disaster struck at the Flaky Tart in Winthrop—at noon there were no triple-decker bacon, egg, lettuce, and tomato half-sandwiches with tarragon mayonnaise. The reason? The Tart’s supplier, who was supposed to come early in the morning, hadn’t show up. This was a legitimate enough reason, but still, as the saying goes, I was cast down. All morning long, I had been looking forward to that sandwich with its homemade bread, crispy bacon, and sliced hard-cooked eggs. The tarragon mayonnaise, applied with a light touch, brings it all together.
After the disappointing news, I was faced with the question, what to eat? The chicken tarragon salad on a croissant tempted me, but I knew it would be too fattening for a noncheat day. (I promise there will be more about cheat days in an upcoming post.) Ditto for the quiche. So that left the minestrone soup, and I ordered a big, steaming cup chock full of vegetables and just the right amount of pasta and grated cheese.
I won’t lie. The soup wasn’t as good as those bacon triple-deckers of which I’ve become so fond that I daydream about them in odd moments, but the soup held its own. With its flavorful, tomato-based broth, it was both spicy and soothing.
As I ate, I sat at one of the tall tables by the window. Patrice Putman, who belongs to my book group, came for lunch, and we chatted a bit about our current book—The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Patrice left, and outside, a man in an electric wheel chair rolled by the window. Across the street, two workers wearing hard hats paused from their labor. A woman with a big, pink plastic case hurried across the street to Potato, a store that features Maine-Made crafts, and I wondered if she was bringing something for the shop to sell.
In between eating and watching the street, I read a piece by Calvin Trillin in the current issue of the New Yorker, which just happens to be the food issue. As always, with his witty, ironic humor Trillin made me laugh out loud as he recounted his rather limited cooking repertoire. “Estimates have ranged from three to eight [dishes],” Trillin writes, and he only cooks them when he is at his summer home in Nova Scotia. One of the dishes from Trillin’s rather limited range includes the wonderful scallops found off the coast of Nova Scotia. I am guessing they are similar to the scallops served in Prince Edward Island, not so very far away. It’s been over 20 years since I’ve tasted them, but, quite simply, they are unforgettable. In size they are somewhere between a bay scallop and a sea scallop. In taste, they are incomparably sweet and tender. Maine might have its lobsters, but our scallops don’t come anywhere near to those Maritime scallops.
By the time I was ready to leave the Flaky Tart, the soup and Calvin Trillin had improved my mood, which for various reasons that had nothing to with the bacon triple decker, had been as gray as the November sky. I was ready for a bike ride and to face the rest of the day.