It’s been a great week of going to inspired local events and places. Only the first one here is food related, but the food it provides is the good old staff of life: bread. In the same neighborhood as Sebastian Joe’s Ice Cream shop, two boutique toy stores, and Clancey’s meat and fish shop, is Great Harvest Bread Co., one of the most welcoming bakeries I’ve ever been in. What could be more inviting than free chunks of buttered bread and a giant teddy bear?
Their bread is not at all fancy or French, but dense, wheaty, moist, and earthy. It tastes like the bread I used to make in high school, when I started using my mom’s softcover copy of the hippie cookbook Laurel’s Kitchen to learn how to bake bread. Thick slabs of this bread make amazing French toast, the only (pseudo) Frenchification it will take.
Jack loves the Great Harvest Bread Co., too, because it has a cameo appearance in the children’s novels we’re reading now—the Julia Gillian series, by Alison McGhee, in which the main character, a fifth-grader, lives in Minneapolis.
This weekend, we made our way to downtown St. Paul for the first time, and found Mears Park, where there was a free outdoor music festival featuring local acts playing everything from Radiohead-inspired rock to alt-country and reggae on Saturday, and chamber music on Sunday. My iPhone pictures don’t capture the scene well, but here’s the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, which played pieces by Bach, Handel, and Bartók.
Also on Sunday, Peter took Jack to his first literary event—I mean the first one that Jack chose to attend rather than being dragged along. Children’s author and illustrator Peter Brown was reading and signing books at The Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul. Jack got two books signed: You Will Be My Friend and Children Make Terrible Pets, both about the efforts of an extroverted and bossy bear named Lucy to find companionship with other, seemingly uncompanionable creatures. We also love his beautiful book, The Curious Garden, an optimistic green-minded story of a post-Wall-E-ish-world utopia achieved by the unstoppable curiosity and hope of a child and his plants.
Bread, books, and music: three of life’s necessities.