This week’s Three Things is brought to you courtesy of my recent road trip to the Oregon Coast. Some people are road trip people. I am not that person. But anytime you pack yourselves into a Prius and travel for five hours in any direction, things happen. Here’s what happened to me.
SOMETHING I’M LISTENING TO: SUPERFOOD
This little gem of a Brit-alt-pop band is so newly ripe and ready for the picking that I couldn’t even find much information about them on the internet or anywhere else. (Is there anywhere else?) All the more reason to jump on this fresh bandwagon of talent and treat your ears to every single track on their latest release, Bambino. Signed earlier this year to West London’s Dirty Hit Records, Superfood was first and last heard from in 2014 with their catchy single “You Can Believe”. If their first full-length release, Bambino, is any indication, this quirky foursome has spent the last three years busy stoking their creative fire. I listened to the entire record on my recent road trip to the coast and seriously loved every single track. How often does that happen? (Like, never.) Immensely listenable from beginning to end, each song more wonderfully unique from the last. If I had to pick favorites, the opening track, “Where’s The Bass Amp?”, complete with its ear worm chorus of “boom chicka boom” sits on the top of my list. “Double Dutch” is a sentimental favorite, seeing as it was my introduction to the band just a few months ago and immediately found a happy home on one of my yoga mixes. Bambino effortlessly steers its way through funky, toe-tapping tunes to light and airy grooves and right into heavier jams like “Shadow” with a deftness that defies their youth. As of right now, there is no US tour announced, but I will be the first in line for tickets when it is.
Superfood is your new best friend and Bambino is your soundtrack for autumn 2017.
SOMETHING I’M COOKING: SCONES
What is it with me and scones and Oregon? The last time I went on a scone bender, it was after sampling the most marvelous cranberry-orange scone at a tiny, hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Newport, Oregon nearly six years ago. We had ordered breakfast and were served a plate of these scones to nosh on while waiting. You see, scones are not something I typically eat or even give so much of a thought about. When I think of scones, I think of biscuits and when I think of biscuits, I imagine heavy, gluey, lumps of baked dough that get stuck on the roof of my mouth. Ick. I’ll take in my gluten elsewhere. But after my Newport scone experience, I raced home and researched recipes in an effort to replicate what I had tasted. The results were decidedly “meh”–okay, but nothing mind-blowing and I quickly moved on from my scone obsession.
Enter Cannon Beach.
The Sleeping Monk coffee shop is a staple in Cannon Beach, offering the best damn coffee on the northern coastline. I had stumbled into the cafe looking for my early morning caffeine fix while the rest of my family slept. The shop had just opened and the perfume of freshly brewed coffee danced alongside the scent of just-baked scones, bagels and donuts. My stomach growled. As I got up to the counter, I saw they offered two varieties of scones–orange chocolate chip and blue cheese and bacon. I ordered one of each to go, along with my very reasonably priced and deliciously executed latte’.
I’m pretty sure my eyes rolled back in my head as I took a bite of the blue cheese and bacon scone. Ohmygod. The most delicate, crisp crust gave way to the warm, creamy, savory insides of the pastry. Holy cow, I thought. Not gluey, not dry, but full-on Scone Heaven. I made my way back to the hotel and shared the orange chocolate chip scone with my daughter. We both agreed it was something to write home about.
The following day, I showed up again as The Sleeping Monk opened their doors. Same order, same Scone Heaven. As I paid at the counter, I quietly asked if they ever shared their scone recipe. “No,” the woman laughed, “but I’ll tell you one thing.” I leaned in expectantly and she whispered, “Buttermilk.”
Every scone recipe I had made up to this point used heavy cream, not buttermilk. I figured this was the answer to all my scone prayers. Once back home, I hit the internet again and found a recipe that held promise and used buttermilk.
About buttermilk: did you know that true buttermilk is not the low-fat stuff in cartons located in most dairy cases? The buttermilk of your dreams is actually a thick, full-fat, somewhat gloppy mess in a bottle found at your more discerning grocery stores. Buy that for all your buttermilk baking projects.
A cloudy, blustery Sunday morning is a terrific day for scone baking. I zested my oranges and pulsed my flour and butter and whisked together my gloppy buttermilk, egg yolk and vanilla, added some good chocolate chips, patted the whole thing into a flat, round disk and cut out eight triangles of pastry. I said a hasty prayer to the Scone Gods and slid it into the oven. Twenty minutes later, Scone Heaven emerged, this time in my very own kitchen.
The orange chocolate chip scones were beautiful and lightly browned, their crust just thin enough to hold the magic within. Both my daughter and I sampled one and agreed they were dangerously close to The Sleeping Monk’s rendition. Lightly sweet, delicate and tender inside–likely thanks to the buttermilk–and no floury heaviness in sight.
Next week, it’s the blue cheese and bacon scones. I’m imagining those split in half and filled with scrambled eggs, a slice of bacon, a handful of arugula and a smear of aioli.
You show up with a pitcher of mimosas and we’ll have brunch together.
SOMETHING I’M DOING: YOGA ON THE BEACH
A decade or more ago, when I was in the early blush of my love affair with yoga, Instagram didn’t exist. There wasn’t a yoga studio on every corner and hundred dollar yoga pants hadn’t yet hit the market. Since then, yoga has become A Thing. A lifestyle. Something to buy and market. There are hundreds of yoga Instagram accounts filled with carefully edited photographs of beautiful people executing feats of yoga prowess. And as it often happens with me, when something becomes A Thing that everyone is doing, I exit stage left.
Except here’s the problem: yoga is pretty fantastic.
So, I see-saw between my righteous indignation of seeing everyone doing yoga everywhere and my own personal practice, which tends to be simple, consistent, undocumented and absolutely life-changing. I cannot imagine my life without yoga. It’s just that good.
It was Thursday afternoon in Cannon Beach when I decided to find a piece of driftwood to perch my butt on and contemplate life. The blue-bird sky, the repetitive white-noise crash of the waves, the warm sun and me. Medicine. About thirty minutes in, though, my ass was aching and my body needed to move. I thought about doing yoga and immediately felt silly and self-conscious. I don’t want to be that person, I thought. That person who does yoga for show, who needs someone to take a picture of them doing down dog in the sand. Ugh. I scanned the beach and noticed a retired couple sitting on their deck just behind me. A few couples and families strolled down by the tide. I fought the urge until I realized how silly it all was.
Get outta your own way.
I got up and dug my hands and feet into the sand in Downward Facing Dog. I stepped into Warrior Two, then Reverse Warrior and stretched into Triangle Pose. I turned my face into the sun and saw nothing but the blue expanse of sky and stripes of cotton candy clouds. I shifted my weight into Half Moon and felt my balance wibble-wobble with the uneven sand and then grow steady with my breath. Finally, diving into a deep straddle forward fold, everything flipped upside down.
Brushing the sand off my hands I sat down again and laughed. How often we get in our own way and deny ourselves what is so good for us because of our silly biases and limiting thoughts. I glanced over at the rumpled mess of sand where I had done yoga and nobody cared. There would be no photo on Instagram, no proof that it actually happened.
And it felt so, so good and so, so necessary.
Medicine. The very best kind.
“I just don’t get the whole yoga thing,” she said to me dismissively few years back. I had just finished teaching a class and my reaction was immediate and defensive. I felt personally slighted.
Today I think of that conversation and laugh. Too bad. Your loss. What exactly are you hiding from?
Yoga. Nobody cares, there will be no pictures, no accolades involved. Just do it.
That’s namaste for now, my friends. Send me all your scone secrets and I’ll check in next week with three more things.