Originally before I had a blog site, I had thought that if I had a blog site I would use it only to chronicle eating my way through the dessert counter at Simply Biscotti on Preston St. in Ottawa. I thought it would be a cool project in this, my life beyond full-time, flat-out work and it would be completed within a relatively short time frame-say six months or so. I was wrong-headed about it all. Giving myself a deadline, even an artificial one, makes the whole thing into another job-I have had plenty of work that came with deadlines in my lifetime and why would you want to put a time limit on such an enjoyable experience.
Simply Biscotti is doing a great business by the looks of it. Rosa has added more seating by developing the second floor over her shop. Good thing too for there’s quite a bit of new development planned for Little Italy and that bodes well for Rosa and Simply Biscotti.
This past week my friend and I combined a brisk early morning walk with breakfast at Rosa’s. We each enjoyed a latte and a nicely spiced pumpkin muffin. The muffin would be good with cream cheese icing but that’s not really breakfast food, is it?
We finally made it to the Caravaggio Exhibition at the National Gallery in Ottawa this afternoon. We were not alone. Many others were heeding the information the exhibition is only with us for another week. I am no art aficionado and so won’t even try to make a comment. The linked article gives the history and the significance of Caravaggio’s art and tells you a bit about the man as well.
You can work up an appetite walking 400 meters in an art gallery. A trip to Simply Biscotti for my spouse and me was the ticket. Simply Biscotti was busy too. All those people stopping in after their visit to the National Gallery.
It was a hot and humid afternoon and an iced coffee with a splash of hazelnut flavoring and a touch of cream makes for a great drink on a hot day. A chocolate mousse in a cake cup looked like a great match for the drink.
The mousse had an almost mocha like taste. It was topped with real whipped cream and shaved chocolate. It was a nice size-not too big and not too small. The mousse was encapsulated in a fancy looking, possibly prefabricated cup of sponge cake. In my experience the fancy things like this look better than they really taste. I’d rather have a from-scratch exterior. To quote a friend “I’m just saying.” That said, I left nothing on the plate.
I am way off my planned weekly visit to Simply Biscotti (SB). It has been about a month since the last visit. Perhaps fall and winter will be better for the regular enjoyment of coffee and treats…just the seasons when the level of exercise can drop off too (must make a mental note to buy pants with elasticized waist). My friend and I enjoyed a lovely weekday morning cycle this week and we stopped at SB for a refreshment and treat. And just as I have introduced other people to Rosa’s establishment, my friend said ” I didn’t know this was here. I’ll be back!”.
We enjoyed a chai tea latte, a coffee latte, a v-shaped sweet pastry and a cayenne pepper biscotti. My friend had the biscotti and said it was very nice. Ah…the good life. The picture isn’t the best. If you want to have a real appreciation for the place and its fair, you’ll need to journey to Little Italy in Ottawa.
I do hope to maintain, for a long time, the sense of winning a lottery when it comes to having more time to do whatever comes next. With three plus months now between me and full-time work, I remain surprised by the world that goes on beyond the day to day office atmosphere. Who are all these other people? There are so many of them out and about during the day. Don’t they have jobs? And why are they on the golf course so early in the morning…they should hold off on their tee time until my playing partners and I are well down the course.
The best laid plans of mice and men….Simply Biscotti Project off track
I had visions of eating my way through the dessert counter at Simply Biscotti, a local bistro in Ottawa, by visiting weekly and knocking off a new dessert every week. Not so. It seems that with one thing and another-gardening, golfing, a little contract work, cycling, lovely social gatherings, visits with friends and such-weekly visits have not been the order of the day..or order of the week in this case. Well, really, what does it matter that the initial project plan is off a bit. It would appear I am over committed-or whatever that term is in project management. It means that the Simply Biscotti project will last longer. More time to savour and to enjoy. Recently a friend and I met and I tried a new addition to the treats, a Red Velvet cupcake.
They seem to be all the rage, these things. I am ok with them overall-the icing makes the whole thing in my mind. With this one, the cupcake was light and the cream cheese icing delicious. The icing made the creation top heavy and after a few bites, the whole thing toppled over and onto the table! The three second rule was called and the dessert eaten.
July afternoon transportation
In attempt to manage the equation of calories taken in and calories burned, a bike ride to and from eating a cupcake makes some sense. On a July afternoon then you can take along a book and stop along the way to read “WordPress for Dummies” with the hopes that you will learn some new thing about blogging. How great does this look….serene, I’d say.
And there you have it
And so that’s one July afternoon-from the other side of the desk. Oh, wait. There is no desk!
I met a friend at Simply Biscotti recently. We “shared”. Shared the experience of ordering the same Simply Biscotti cookie; shared some experiences of life beyond full-time work. We have both recently moved on and are enjoying what comes next.
We hemmed and hawed and looked at various things in the dessert counter before both settling on a nutella and peanut butter cookie. Interesting how we choose these things. We must have asked about the ingredients in at least 5 delectables but it was when we asked “and what’s in that cookie” that we were sold on the choice. It may have been how woman who was serving us lit up as she said “that’s my favourite!”. And maybe somewhere deep inside we thought it sounded like a healthy choice.
The cookie was tasty-it had some tiny crunchy bits-not too sure what they were-perhaps bits of peanuts. If Rosa, the owner, looks at this blog she may just comment and let us know. The cookie was enjoyable although it took second place to the conversation. Well, maybe it was just a seamless part of the conversation and we consumed the snack while enjoying hearing what we’ve each been up to in our lives beyond full-time work.
Fair to say, it’s still full-time. Life is always full-time. The time now is filled with a new mix of experiences. Active living that can be given more time each day-hikes to be had, bikes to ride, gardening joys and woes, time spent with friends and family. And then there’s some volunteer and paid work utilizing a career’s worth of experience and understanding. Trying things that have been on one’s personal list and guess what-there is now the latitude and luxury to give it a go. Wonderful things like a nutella and peanut butter cookie at Simply Biscotti mid-afternoon on a weekday.
There is an old saying and it goes like this-a picture is worth a thousand words. So here’s a picture of last Friday, mid- morning, when one is beyond full-time work. This is a glimpse of the ‘next chapter’
An almond shortbread cookie from Simply Biscotti. It is two cookies sandwiched with almond paste and topped with icing sugar. It’s dense and rich and large enough to eat half now and half later. It may not be true morning fair but there’s a reason I went for an early-in-the-day delectable. I was signed up for the 10 km walk the next day and my walking partner said we had to load up on carbs. Cookies have carbs, right? The friend I was walking with has also trained for the West Coast Trail and I think she was very kind to do a little walk with me compared to the arduous trekking of which she is capable.
I have hardly made a dent in the dessert counter at Simply Biscotti. And I have yet to have a biscotti…so many good things yet to eat.
On being part of a race
And we did walk in the Ottawa Race Weekend 10 km race the next day. We were in the group at the back of the pack. There is lots of excitement in the air. Downtown is crowded with people. I arrived early and decided to have a large coffee to kill some time. We found our place along with thousands of participants and off we went. This year the course included running or walking through Chinatown and Little Italy. Did I say I drank a large coffee before leaving? I was watching for porta-potties. None to be found. Somewhere in small print it might have said something about washrooms or about not drinking a large coffee just before you walk. As we walked through Little Italy and up to Simply Biscotti, I made my second stop of the week. This stop could have been called more of a pit stop. We got some cute comments from spectators as we entered and left the building. We did finish the race-came in 499th-not sure but I think it might be out of 5oo.
Our community garden plot is STILL too wet to till but we are hoping this week will change all that. Our yard at home on the other hand is much different and with our warm weather the past few days it was time to plant, dig up and move and re-plant today. I went out early to beat the heat. When I came back into the house my spouse commented on my fashion sense when gardening. I hadn’t really thought about it…it’s one of those things that just comes together (or not) : orange top, navy shorts, Lee Valley Gardening apron with various tools inserted into pockets, powder blue gardening gloves that go up to the elbow, runners with socks and a red and black International Harvester hat. Since said spouse was being picked up by a friend later in the morning, I asked if should make myself scarce rather than expose him to the fashion debacle. “Not necessary” came the reply “I’ll text him and tell him to wear two eye patches”.
I made a run to Simply Biscotti today. I met a friend and we both enjoyed an afternoon visit and treat. We had a little chat with Rosa, the owner.
I won’t get high marks for my photography this time. I was too busy chatting and not paying attention to details. It seems that’s pretty much the comments I got from my teacher on my Grade One report card too-too much chatting and not enough time paying attention to details. Some things never change.
My friend enjoyed a fruit tart-similar to the one I had a while back. This one was topped with fresh blueberries. I chose a meringue cookie. It had almonds inside and was dipped in dark and white chocolate. The picture doesn’t do it justice. It was a very light afternoon snack.
Recommendation: if you choose a meringue, be prepared for crumbs and flying bits. Eat with people you know well-not with a business prospect or on a first date.
I have left full-time work behind and find (as much as you can know in the first 30 days) that you bring much of what you did in the workplace into the other parts of your life. It only makes sense I suppose. One area is that of projects. There are projects in work life and projects beyond full-time work. One of my (many) projects is tasting , well completely eating, my way through the dessert counter at Simply Biscotti on Preston St. in Little Italy, Ottawa. It’s not that I hadn’t indulged a bit before I left work but really if this is going to be a clean project and it follows some semblance of project management principles then I should really start all over again…from scratch-just like the baking at Simply Biscotti.
And as in any well run project, there should be a project charter, the resources need to be assigned, dependencies assigned and documented and a Gantt chart populated (forget it-I’m not going there) and timeframes assigned. At the end of the project (it’s highly likely this may be an ongoing project with no clearly defined endpoint) there will be a celebration to mark the great efforts by the entire team and we will absolutely conduct a Lessons Learned with all those who have been part of the project. Truth be known it’s a pretty straight forward project. Find the time, call a friend, head over to Simply Biscotti, enjoy a treat, blog about it. If there are no family or friends available, I am committed to going it alone. To keep the calorie intake and expenditure a zero sum game, there is the good intention to walk or cycle to and from the bistro. I am sure I can figure out some visual tracking-a graph or something-that estimates calorie intake again expenditure-perhaps that’s not a good idea.
My second Simply Biscotti project visit occurred this week and there were two coincidences at the same time. I heard about the patron just in front of me who, after tasting one of the treats, said she would like to eat one of everything in the counter. While chatting with Rosa, the owner, I mentioned the YouTube video of her bistro that I had come upon. She said the woman sitting at the table next to me was one of the creators. All I can say is with this sort of following I may have to quit talking about the place if I hope to find a table at any point in time! Good thing there’s a patio set up now for the warmer times ahead.
This week’s delectable: ricotta cheesecake. Ingredients included ricotta cheese, custard, candied orange, orange water inside a shortbread crust. The candied orange added a surprise to each mouthful. It’s a great treat for those who want delicious but not too sweet. Mmmmm good. Recommendation: if I was going to do this again I would have had them cut it in two and taken half of it home to savour later. Maybe it’s just me, but once I start on something so good, it’s tough to stop half way. I’m thinking I may start to take a little container with me for just such occasions-eliminate a take out container and string out the enjoyment-what’s wrong with that?
If you decide to go to Simply Biscotti. Tell them Barb sent you and you saw it on the blog. Rosa said she’d like to know.
Beyond full-time work: There’s something about knowing your time is much more your own that is just the most fertile ground for growing possibilities and opportunities!
You think, I could do this or that or maybe this and that and something else too!
Class 1A driver’s license….why not? During an appointment last week I was asked about my plans for the next chapter and I said perhaps driving big trucks. Well, I learned there’s all sorts of openings in Nova Scotia-doing short hauls across the border. That might work since short drives, rather than the ones where I get sleepy and have to pull over for a nap, sound like a better fit.
Re-decorating-all those things we could do-painting, repairing, refurbishing. It’s never-ending.
Then there’s said garden plot-just rented for the season.
And accordion lessons. Ah the much maligned accordion. It’s the only instrument I learned to play. Well, that might be an overstatement. It’s the only time I took music lessons. I would like to try my hand at it again. A loved one recently smiled and said “Do you know the difference between an accordion and an onion? No one cries when they cut up an accordion”.
And Simply Biscotti runs….well this skims the surface of possibilities! Speaking of Simply Biscotti the inaugural ‘beyond work Simply Biscotti eat your way through the dessert counter’ visit happened last week. It was a beautiful day and I was joined by a friend. The little coffee shop was full-we lingered over the dessert counter asking about this treat and that treat. What type of filling, how sweet is it and so on. And so the first choice was:
Fruit Tart-a cookie crust-the edges dipped in dark chocolate. There was a custard filling topped with fresh berries and finished with a nicely flavoured glaze. It’s not a really sweet dessert-very nice on a warm afternoon. As far as calories, the total count is known but the subtitle is ” well I didn’t bike or walk a great deal today so let’s find dessert with fresh fruit in it”. I’d order it again-but not till I’ve tried everything else.
There’s a noticeable connection between my ideas and my spouse’s eyes. I am sure upon his next eye exam the optometrist will ask if he’s suffering eye strain-perhaps he’s been straining to look up too often. No, my spouse will say, it’s from looking to the heavens and rolling my eyes so very often when my wife come up with another IDEA!