This is the first week of school for St. Paul Public Schools. This year, as school begins, we will celebrate our daughters first days of senior high. It’s amazing how fast you go from reminding them to keep track of their hat and mittens at pre-school to reminding them to turn in their math homework each week. My daughter Ellie is a product of her mother. She likes to eat out and always appreciates the dessert and baked good featured on any restaurant menu. When she was little and we would pass by a bakery, we would slow down to gaze in the bakery window and admire the beautiful cookies, cakes and torts.
Ellie’s dad drives her to school each day. Since Ellie was little he has bribed her with donuts as a way to get her out the door quickly. If they made it out the door by 7:30, they would have time to stop for a donut. If she took too long to get ready, the donut window passed. The place they visit most often was PJ Murphy’s Bakery at 1279 Randolph Avenue, St Paul www.pjmurphybakery.com . When the gals at the counter saw Ellie coming they would already know what her order was, a chocolate cake donut for her dad which they would start bagging up and then they would ask, “What are you having today?” Usually he answer was a chocolate brownie but sometimes it would be a sprinkled cake donut or a raised glazed donut with clear icing dripping off the sides. As Ellie grew up her donut tastes became more sophisticated. She discovered croissants and loved the buttery flakes of puff pastry. When she figured out that sometimes these buttery morsels are filled with dark chocolate too – she could not have been happier. Her dad saw this as an opportunity to get her out the door earlier and at least one day a week the agreement changed. The new agreement was if they got out the door at 7:20 they would have the chance to visit Bread and Chocolate.
Bread and Chocolate is owned by Linda and Peter Quinn at the corner of Grand and Victoria at 867 Grand Ave, St Paul www.cafelatte.com . They are the successful owners of Café Latte that has been on the opposite corner of the street for years turning out chocolaty turtle cakes, moist raspberry white chocolate scones and sandwiches and soups. At Bread and Chocolate, they have mastered the croissant. For the sweet lovers, there is chocolate, cream cheese, cream cheese raspberry and usually a seasonal fruit croissant. Not to be missed is the very buttery wonderful plain croissant with its crispy, flakey, buttery layers. Calling it plain does it an injustice. The croissant is simply wonderful on its own with some cold unsalted butter spread on its layers. My favorite is the almond croissant that has almond paste filling and is topped with slivered almonds to give it the right amount of crunch. Bread and Chocolate has savory croissants too like Ham and Cheese and Florentine filled with spinach and cheese which are great for a quick grab and go lunch.
On Saturday we were shopping on Grand Avenue. As we got to the corner where Bread and Chocolate is, my husband said, “Only one more week of getting Ellie up for donuts. It is really pleasant to have that time with her in the morning. We sit in the car or on the corner outside and eat our donuts or croissants. Sometimes she is chatty and wants to talk. Other times we just sit and eat. I will miss that time when she goes to college.”
The time with your kids goes by really fast. Enjoy the small rituals each day.