I met my friend Ruth for lunch last Friday at the the Seedling Cafe. It was scrumptious, as always. If you like your food organic and delicious, it's the place to go in Nashua. As a bonus, the atmosphere is warm and friendly: great food served by happy people --- people who are clearly doing what they want to do. It makes for a true cafe atmosphere.
The Seedling Cafe is at 9 Water Street, next to Dr. Chris Panagoulias' office and across the street from the small park on the Nashua River, with the statue of the French Canadian girl The first time I went to the Seedling (a while ago), they had not fully expanded into the space, so it was much smaller, so I just got my food to go. Now they've expanded, and there's a nice amount of seating. The only disadvantage to the Seedling is the parking --- sometimes it's hard to find a metered space on Water Street, but Nashua is a truly walkable city. If worse comes to worse, you can always find a spot in the lot on Main Street across from Tee Shirt Bodega and walk across the street to the Seedling.
The food is really good. Their menu is big: 18 sandwiches and 9 salads, as well as the soup of the day and desserts. If one of the 27 standard offerings does not please you, you can always build your own wrap or salad. I had the 'Wendy' on Friday, which is rare roast beef, smoked bacon, carmelized onions, roasted red peppers, muenster cheese, horseradish honey dijon mustard, and organic baby spinach layered onto a tomato and basil wrap and grilled. The 'Wendy' is served with their trademark spicy organic potato chips and a nice juicy pickle.
The sandwich was fabulous. Each bite was a lovely symphony of flavor: the roast beef and the carmelized onions were a lovely contrast to the crunchy bacon. The smoke of the bacon went beautifully with the roasted red pepper and the muenster. It was a sandwich so good that you wanted to be alone with it.
Yesterday I was in a bad mood (writer's clog --- I refused to say the 'b' word) so I went to the Seedling for a late lunch. This time I had a 'Jeff' --- organic chicken salad with apple cider glazed chicken, organic apples, toasted walnuts, apple infused cranberries, candied pecans, cranberry apple aioli, cheddar cheese on a wheat wrap and grilled. It, too, was fabulous, and although that was plenty of food, I was so self-indulgent that I also ordered a cranberry chocolate chip cookie, which was tasty as well.
There are a couple of small things that I really like about the Seedling that I want to add: they have a water dispenser filled with water and lemons that you can serve yourself delicious, room temperature water from. I'm a big water drinker, so I take advantage of this and find it refreshing not to have to pay for my beverage of choice.
The other is that the Seedling serves its food to you on terracotta plant pot saucers, and when you order, you are given a laminated seed packet, which the servers use to find you. I like that all of these details coincide so nicely with the cafe's theme. And I've found that when any business pays such attention to the details, they really care about the quality of their customers' experiences.
I feel nourished when I eat at the Seedling Cafe --- in the best way possible.
If you want to check out the menu and the hours, you can find it at www.theseedlingcafe.com.
1 World Trading Company
I actually went shopping in downtown Nashua yesterday. I hardly ever get a chance to shop these days (and usually when I am downtown I am either working or doing errands of the Post Office or footware variety), but I had some extra time and my birthday money was burning a hole in my picket.
It was a gorgeous day; a perfect day for a walk on the cobblestone sidewalk. As I walked it (unfortunately a far too brief experience, as I found a parking space right away), I was appreciating just how pretty downtown Nashua is. All the merchants seem to have baskets of flowers outside their businesses and all of them were blooming. People were cheerful because the weather was nice and a couple of great looking guys were enjoying a beer outside the Nashua Garden.
Even though I had some extra time, I didn’t have hours, so I had planned to go to the new store, 1 World Trading Company, at 111 Main Street. I was eager to check it out.
I’m so glad I went. 1 World is a gem of a store. Light and bright, it’s filled to the gills with fair trade crafts from Africa and Asia, as well as New Hampshire made products. I loved what I saw, from handmade baskets of all sizes and colors, jewelry, clothing, bio-benign cleaning products, and other gifts. I saw a little girl’s purple batik dress that will be coming home later in the season for Miss Lucy and recycled aluminum foil that I have to get for my sister Pat. I fell absolutely in love, though, with the animals sculpted out of telephone wire. I had to smile when I saw them, so I was forced to buy two: one for me, and one for Lucy. I got Lucy the giraffe, as she is into all things giraffe these days.
1 World I also features New Hampshire made crafts, so I will be saving my money for a funky rock lamp.
1 World describes itself as “Purveyors of goods that benefit the planet and the people who live on it, including many NH-made products.” They specialize in locally-made - fair-trade and green goods.
Check it out. You’ll be glad you did.
I work part-time at DesignWares, and a week from today, on August 8, 2008 (8-8-8) there's going to be a block party. Help the downtown merchants celebrate summer by coming to shop the block.
DesignWares, Myoptic, and Junz will be open late --- until 7 --- and lots of items will be on sale. Michael Timothy's will be open for lunch at one end of the block and Villa Banca will be open at the other end. I'll be reading tarot cards from 11 -2. There'll be music and face painting having sale and I will be reading tarot cards (in public)!
Hope we'll see you there!
I'm working this morning at DesignWares, so I made sure that I left myself enough time to pick up a breakfast sandwich at Crosby's before I go in to work.
The Crosby's breakfast sandwich. A nicely-browned sausage patty, perfectly melted cheese, and a yoke-broken egg that actually tastes like an egg, not like a piece of yellow sponge that you get at the fast-food emporiums. All of this assembled on a lightly grilled English muffin. Yum. It's my once-a-week treat. After I get the store all ready to open, but before I unlock the door, I sit down and eat the sandwich slowly. I savor every bite.
I like breakfast sandwiches, but I like them to actually taste like food, not chemicals, which is why I get them at Crosby's. And I like Crosby's in general --- it's what my friend Kathy calls "a real bakery" --- a place where they don't look at you as if you have two heads if you ask if they have any turnovers.
What I like about Crosby's is that I can buy bread and cake there. I can also buy my parents the filled cookies that they love. (Crosby's has date, raspberry, and raisin-filled cookies. Date is my mother's favorite; raspberry is my dad's. I go either way.) They sell old-fashioned, delicious eclairs, with custard filling. My friend Stacy loves their chocolate loaf; my friend, Meg, baker extraordinaire, has to get their cider doughnuts when they're in.
I buy my mother their salmon pie, which she adores. When I have a yen for chocolate than cannot be otherwise assauged, I occasionally go in and buy myself a brownie. It is the brownie of my childhood --- a dark, chewy chocolate cake brownie with rich, dark icing.
Lucy's birthday cakes come from Crosby's. It's tradition. The year that we brought her home from China, she had two cakes. One was a round chocolate cake decorated with a running horse for the Year of the Horse that we shared with all the people we traveled to China with at one birthday party and the other was a vanilla cake with a more traditional theme for the family birthday party. Both were delicious.
This year Crosby's saved me when I forgot to order Lucy's birthday cake ahead of time. She had her party at Time to Clay and since Time to Clay was booked on her actual birth date, we held the party later, which kept tripping me up on details like cake. It never occurred to me that having Lucy's party the day before Easter would influence cake availability --- I never thought of Easter as a holiday that people purchase cakes for.
I was wrong. I walked in and requested the usual round cake with an airbrushed picture of the Four Princesses (Cinderella, Aurora, Belle, and who's the fourth? Like the Four Tenors, I never can remember...). Their airbrusher was fully booked. No more orders.
I was in a panic, until the lovely woman at Crosby's suggested a sheet cake decorated with flowers and a tiara. I was a bit nervous (knowing how stubborn little girls have their minds set on things), but Lucy was absolutely thrilled. The cake was a big surprise, and she told me later that she had wished for a new tiara at her 'other' party.
It's nice to have a mistake turn into magic. And it's nice to have a local bakery where you can buy your mom gorton.
I live in Nashua, New Hampshire, also known as "the Gate City". I don't know why --- what is Nashua the gate to? New Hampshire? Merrimack? High property taxes? Then again, Manchester is known as "the Queen City", which is even funnier, because I see no evidence of queenliness in Manchester (except, of course, for the food at my sister's restaurant, which is fit for royalty.) According to Wikipedia, Manchester is also occasionally known as 'ManchVegas' . Cute.
But Nashua is my gate city. It was the gate I passed through to become an adult. I moved here in 1981, with my first husband, who loved the idea of not having to pay taxes. When we first moved to Nashua, we were commuting down to Cambridge, Massachusetts. We rented an apartment at Oak Hill, on Spit Brook Road, but three months after we moved in, the complex became a condominium. Our unit was one of the first ones sold, which did not surprise me, because it had a really nice view facing the woods.
So we moved to an apartment complex on the DW Highway, which I did not like as much. Then we bought a house in Litchfield, where I lived for two years. Then we got divorced. I got an apartment in Hudson (the first apartment I ever rented by myself), where I lived for a couple of years until I bought my --- MY --- own house in Merrimack.
I've lived in Nashua for ten years now. But I've been in New Hampshire for 27 years, which means I've lived in New Hampshire longer than I ever lived in Massachusetts. I know that I am not a native (and I never will be), but I did grow up here.