The Farmer’s Daughter Restaurant

cranberry apple skillet cake at The Farmer's Daughter

The Cranberry + Apple Skillet Cake at The Farmer’s Daughter in Easton is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.

On a scale of one to five stars, I give it six! The description sounds amazing: “cornmeal baked pancake. roasted cranberry. apple. pear. cider farm syrup + cinnamon honey butter” and it’s better than it sounds. It might sound like it could be too filling or too sweet. But it’s not. It’s the perfect amount of sweet and bits of sour with the cranberry. The amounts of fruit and pancake are perfectly balanced, so it’s not so dense that you couldn’t eat much.

It tastes amazing without the butter, but when you spread the butter on it and taste it, the experience elevates even higher. Like to a spiritual level.

The downside of The Farmer’s Daughter is that everyone wants to eat there. So there is a wait. And it was very cold this morning. Luckily, there is a decent amount of street parking and more parking behind the restaurant. Once you give your name, you can wait in your car and are called when a table is ready.

I was meeting a friend, who lives in the area, so she arrived first and started waiting for us. Once we were seated, we both ordered the Pumpkin Chai Latte.

pumpkin chai latte at The Farmer's Daughter

There is an extensive drink menu for brunch and the most beautiful concoctions kept parading by us as we watched in amazement.

Our lattes were very good, but we both thought they tasted like turmeric. Sort of looked like it too. Not sure what that was about.

Anyway, back to the skillet cake. It was so warm and made me appreciate the cold weather. When you’re warmed from the inside, that cozy feeling you get. Like you want to just snuggle in a blanket, watch a movie and enjoy being inside. That’s the feeling. I prefer the summer, but autumn and winter have a coziness that can’t be beat.

The menu is so creative, playful and inviting. The offerings are unique and make you feel appreciated as a customer. Like even though the owner doesn’t know us, she adores us anyway. What a wonderful experience. Just wow. And the service is wonderful too. Top notch. I’m looking forward to many more meals there.

American Tipping Culture

tipping culture

Some of the most interesting videos that I’ve seen on YouTube are the ones talking about American culture. The reactions from people who aren’t American, when they learn about our tipping culture in restaurants is quite interesting.

Often it’s hard to see what is American culture, until we step out of it through travel or have it reflected back to us by someone who is not part of the culture. Many cultural practices we don’t think of as such, because they are so obvious and mundane. Like American breakfast culture.

I never thought of it as a thing until someone mentioned to me that Americans are the only ones who have specific breakfast foods. People in other countries will often eat any type of food for breakfast. For instance, I would never think of eating soup for breakfast. Or a salad. Weekend brunch is a different thing, because anything goes there.

But on a random Wednesday morning, I wouldn’t be eating chicken and rice with vegetables. To me that is clearly lunch or dinner food. Breakfast is hot or cold cereal, fruit, coffee, toast, eggs, pancakes, etc. But now I see that’s American breakfast. The more I think about culture, it seems that it’s those things you do, clothes you wear, music you listen to, words you use, and foods you cook, just because. That unspoken “just because” is culture.

There are reasons for it, but it takes some historical and sociological digging to figure out how that custom or practice developed over time. Like how Italian American food was created and is something very different from Italian food in Italy.

There is a long history of how tipping culture developed in the United States, which I won’t go into. But tipping is a very American thing and people from other countries tend to be shocked by it. Most Americans do expect to tip at a restaurant. But more recently Americans are becoming shocked that tipping keeps expanding to include everything.

One thing that surprises me is the amounts that people think are okay for tipping. I was brought up to believe that 20% is the minimum tip at a restaurant. If it’s bad in some way, then it’s okay to give less. But if it’s very good, then give more. As much as you can.

When my father was in college, he worked as a waiter, I think at a place on Beacon Hill, to pay for his expenses and to help his family. So tipping was very important to him personally. From when I was a kid, when we went out to eat, he always made a point of thanking everyone who waited on us and giving the tip personally. Shook their hand, looked them in the eye. He never just left it on the table.

I always thought that most everyone believed the same things, until I started reading comments where people thought that a 15% tip was okay, good even. That was and is still so shocking to me!

It took me until recently to realize that my family had a particular tipping culture. When going out in a group, often we don’t know what other people leave for a tip. Even if we do, we tend to not know their personal experience growing up with tipping and I don’t think that most people talk about it. Or do they? What do you think?

Eating Out Alone: Pity Party Or Joyful Escape?

Woman alone sitting in restaurant looking at a menu.

When you see this woman sitting at a restaurant alone, looking at a menu, what do you think of her?

Do you pity her and think she has no friends? Do you want to rescue her from solitude? Do you assume she’s waiting for someone‘s arrival? Does she look sad or content?

Do you envy her and think she was able to slip away for a slice of freedom from an otherwise very busy and full life?

Is she an introvert reveling in the pleasure of her own company? There’s a whole Reddit thread on introverts eating alone. And of course, it’s mostly positive. A downside mentioned is trying to spare others feelings when wanting to eat alone.

The one thing I hated about college was that many people would feel bad for me when I would eat alone in the dining hall. Sometimes, you just need some time to be alone with your thoughts. I silently cursed when somebody would say ‘Come sit with us. You don’t have to eat alone.’ Obviously, I appreciate the gesture, but it was always so uncomfortable for me.

Whether an introvert or not, maybe you might consider that à la writer Julie Cameron, she has taken herself out for a weekly Artist Date — where she is wooing her own consciousness to cultivate and sustain her creativity.

Maybe you assume nothing. But many Americans may feel sorry for her.

* * *

When I started The Chowdah Project on this blog, I couldn’t find a free stock photo of chowder and didn’t have a picture of my own. I was on a self-imposed deadline and wanted to get started right away. I decided to go to a nearby restaurant, enjoy some chowder and take some photos.

Since I was going by myself, I brought a book. I was seated at a table next to a man about my age or a bit older, with two young women who appeared to be teenagers or maybe in their early 20s.

The chowder was good and I got the photos that I wanted. As the people at the table next to me were leaving, the man said to me that he hadn’t realized that I was there alone. If he had, he said that he would have asked me to join them. I was at a loss for words (which often happens to me when I’m caught off-guard), so I smiled, said that was okay, but thank you.

It was very kind of him, but like the Reddit thread, it made me wonder what he was thinking. Maybe he had assumed I was meeting someone.

A few weeks ago, a story went viral about three young men at a restaurant inviting an older women eating alone to sit with them. The takeaway from the story was always be kind to people, because you never know what they are going through. She was an elderly widow missing her husband on a day close to what would have been their 60th anniversary. It’s definitely a feel good story and with all the current news, something that we can all appreciate.

This story also reminded me of my solo chowder eating experience and made me want to explore the topic further.

* * *

The circumstances of eating alone may play a part on how society generally sees it.

One article that I read about eating alone was written by a man named Justin who was eating with his girlfriend at a restaurant and saw a man dining on his own. Justin was intrigued and decided to try it himself. His reflections on the experience are quite interesting. One thing he noted was that people are curious and spoke about him.

There was actually one statement I overheard that really caught my attention however. ‘You know, I’d love to do that one day.’ A voice articulated from a few tables behind me. It was the very sentence I had uttered to my girlfriend the time I had seen the suave, champagne-drinking gentleman.

It seems to me that maybe there is a different perception of men eating alone than women. Also, maybe the age of the person matters. Society may view older people as lonely, especially women. Sometimes that may be true, but it seems to be just as likely that it’s not.

* * *

An Eater article says that solo dining in New York City increased 80% between 2014 and 2018. So maybe more people are discovering the thrill of solo dining. It seems to be a taboo that people are shunning.

Writer Elizabeth Gilbert, of Eat Pray Love fame, is all for eating breakfast alone once a week.

One of the simplest acts of happiness you can experience in life is this: Once a week, take yourself out to breakfast, all alone, at a local diner or cafe. Bring a good book. Sit by a sunny window. Read. Marvel at how this changes everything.

Sounds perfect to me. What about you?

Another Boston Romance

Alfresco_dining_Boston

My love for Boston has returned. Not that I ever stopped loving it. But the winter makes it hard to remember that loving feeling. That special love for Boston feeling.

Like when I’ve been away on a trip. I’m on a plane and we start circling Logan and descend back into the city. No matter where I’m coming from or how much I enjoyed my trip, I am thrilled to be home. I see Boston with fresh eyes and get that loving feeling.

Each year when the warm weather returns, the city wakes up and blooms. When I was walking outside yesterday, I looked down an alley that would be very easy to miss. I saw this outdoor seating area. Empty, but waiting for people to arrive.

Imagine all the future people in this space over the next few months. Mixing and mingling. Talking. Eating. Laughing. Remembering. Maybe even falling in love.

It made me think about all the restaurants and cafes around the Boston area that have set up their outdoor seating for the season.

Then this morning, I found a listing on Eater Boston with 120+ patios officially open for 2016. They made the list, so I don’t  have to. It’s a great resource for the season. Whether you’re an area local or a tourist visiting. I’m looking forward to going to a few of these places. Hopefully you will too!