Our celebratory walk turned into a cool discovery, which turned into a spontaneous gourmet meal, and here’s how it happened.
It’s all about work and play for Ronna and me. Since launching BA50 four years ago, having fun at work is a job requirement. But it had been a while since we’ve had some real fun and it was time.
Ronna had finished her last chemo treatment the week before and was finally feeling better. The treatments have been grueling, as you may have read in her honest, clever and sometimes painful pieces about life as a breast cancer patient these past few months. She has been an amazing trooper – keeping her sense of humor, meeting work deadlines and trying to live in the world of “normal.”
Since her diagnosis last May – life has changed. It’s been a long haul and both of us have missed our endlessly creative work sessions — casually hanging and being silly, sassy and inventive. But God bless her – once that last Chemo treatment was finished – she was ready to play.
Ronna was waiting for me at her back door and greeted me with a big smile because not only was I on time but, she was excited for our adventure. We set out from her Chestnut Hill home, with the goal of hitting the Newbury Street galleries in Boston’s Back Bay. We figured on a 7or 8 mile trek with a plan to Uber back and lunch on demand.
We talked and walked and found our stride – laughing, catching up, sharing, problem solving and as usual – discovering. Ronna knows all the local neighborhoods so it was a surprise to see a new shop on the route. Excitedly she pointed out the sparkly food packed windows of a gorgeous new storefront called Pantry. It looked something like Soho meets Stowe meets Coolidge Corner. There was no discussion about whether or not to diverge from our destination.
Once inside a delicious aroma enveloped us and we saw some kind of cooking project underway in the back of the store. We headed straight for it. Admittedly we had worked up an appetite having logged about 3 plus miles — but this store could put anyone in the mood to eat. We passed displays organized by meal options for 2 or 4 people, cooking times per recipe, ingredients and mouth-watering photos of the finished meals.
It turned out it was one of the owners who was experimenting with food ideas and we got into a great conversation about the store’s concept. As we greedily sampled his creations we were quickly getting hooked on the place. He explained that each meal is designed to take 20-45 minutes to prepare and it’s all clearly detailed on the recipe cards. The offerings are seasonal and sourced locally. Everything we saw looked like it came from a farmer’s market –extremely fresh.
We hatched a plan to cook one of these curated dinners with our husbands the next week and tell all our readers about it. Ronna called in our order and picked up our meal an hour before we planned to cook it: Salmon with spinach and barley with red veined sorrel and dill and of course brownies a la mode. She even grabbed a bottle of wine and a few craft beers that they had paired with the meal.
Our boys met us at Ronna’s and we unpacked our “groceries” which felt more like opening a present. The ingredients were packaged and clearly labeled and we couldn’t believe how beautifully wrapped everything was.
We unwrapped four pink fresh salmon filets, fresh dill and spinach and peeled garlic cloves and plucked a little sorrel plant from its plastic container that it had been sprouted from.
We assigned the boys the brownie project and Ronna and I focused on the main course. It was a blast to examine each ingredient and figure out how to put it all together. We unwrapped each item and read the directions a few times (because we are over 50) and assembled and cooked and chopped like we were putting a puzzle together. It took about 25 minutes. We applauded ourselves at the finish as each plate looked almost as perfect as the photos on the menu card.
The boys were in their own world. The counter was covered in cocoa powder and as they greased the muffin pan between slugs of scotch, and we chose to walk away from the chaos. But without a glitch, their outrageously rich individual brownie presentation with a dab of vanilla ice cream was perfection.
We raised our glasses at the meal’s end toasting each other and especially Ronna re-entry. Her appetite, energy, humor and health were in full force—thank God.
My only criticism (and not everyone agreed), was no sign of a calorie count on any of the recipe cards. Our salmon recipe called for 2 Tablespoons of butter and 2 Tablespoons of crème fraiche for the barley which seemed like non-essential caloric add-ons. But then again, maybe that’s why it all tasted so yummy, and we could have (but didn’t) leave out a bit. And none of us would ever have wanted to know the calorie count of the brownies as we would have missed out on them.
And a few final notes…we loved that you don’t have to commit to a certain number of meals per month, you can choose what you are in the mood for when you go in, and the price was more than fair for the dinner:
The Salmon and Creamy Barley with red veined sorrel and dill for 4 is $48, and the Brownies à la Mode for 4 is $22.
We all agreed to make this a regular activity and can’t wait to go back to the Pantry for our next adventure.
Heres some photos from our creation.
Come into the store and mention “BA50,” and you will get 10% off one (1) recipe kit. Not to be combined with other discounts…(1 per customer). Promotion ends April 22, 2016.
This is a BA50 sponsored post.