About My Fine and Flavorful Day
10:45 AM Yesterday. Lucky me. I left behind "real" work around midday, and drove to Paris, Kentucky, with a loved one, on the exquisite Paris Pike, surely a candidate for most beautiful roadway in the USA. Especially with flaming trees showing off every few feet. The recently rebuilt fences drape like necklaces across the farmland.
Oddly, I cannot find a good set of online pics of this stunning roadway, though quite a few entities claim some share of the credit for the happy outcome of a 30-year struggle to rebuild a the road for safety while protecting its beauty.
11:20 AM: We arrive in Paris at Mark Newberry's new coffee roastery, CaffeMarco, at 729 Main Street. Mark's fair trade, organic, shade grown coffee have become indispensable to many in Lexington. Mark knows more about coffee and about how taste and smell work in coffee and wine than anyone I have met. His way of sharing what he knows delights his customers. I had come to Paris intending to learn more about seasonality in coffee beans, a topic Mark introduced during one of our many happy conversations at the Lexington Farmers Market.
Instead, it worked out a different way. We met other CaffeMarco customers, learned about Bourbon and Nicholas county farms and farmers, talked about beer brewing and traded cheesemaking tidbits. We met other Main Street merchants, and caught some sparks from the renewed blaze of interest in this lovely Kentucky downtown. Later we visited photographer, framer, and Paris Partisan Bobby Shiflet in his beautifully renovated building, Frames on Main Gallery, at 628 Main Street.
Coffee was the main course, though, and as Mark roasted a mix of Kenya and Sumatra beans in his 12-pound roaster and waited on customers, he helped us remember why. Coffee is a magnetic attractor in a small town, and coffee sellers create places where people are happy to gather and connect. Just the smells of roasting and brewing coffee lift spirits.
Mark, in his gentle way, preaches a three step gospel for small-town revival: First a coffee roaster, then a bread baker (more wonderful smells), and finally a gelateria for every small town Main Street in the Bluegrass - and the town will thrive. The CBG Development Strategy. Coffee, Bread, Gelato.
As Mark says, these three stores could draw people from all parts of a county to spend a little time downtown two or three times a week. While the customers buy delicious things to eat and drink, they run into other customers, have conversations, and good things move forward. Other locally owned downtown stores, being handy, attract more customers, and prosper. With this CBG development strategy, our towns can cultivate their commonwealth through connection and investment in ways no bypass and strip mall can sustain.
A slow path to economic redevelopment? Perhaps. Slow in the same delicious way as sipping a coffee or latte from one of the large bowls Mark uses for his carefully chosen, carefully roasted, carefully prepared coffees. The handle-less bowls enlarge the "aroma area" for the coffee one drinks -- and Mark reminds us that much of coffee's deliciousness lies in its smell. Even more important, Mark notes that we need to use both hands to drink from one of CaffeMarco's signature Portuguese bowls. The bowls require attention and time; we honor the astonishing work involved in producing and preparing coffee when we hold the bowl with both hands, stop doing other things, breathe in the beautiful scents with their hints of flowers, spice, earth, chocolate, and more.
I like the notion that we can sip and savor our way toward a rich rebuild of our small towns' places in our state. Locally roasted coffee that ties us to the wide world. Locally baked bread, using locally grown grains, to nourish us from our own soil. Intense, luscious gelato, ice cream, and sherbets, some made from our own milk, fruits, and sweeteners.I am so ready, and only a few weeks after opening a coffee roastery on Main Street in Paris, Mark Newberry says many of us are ready. They find him and his great coffee every day.
1: 20 PM On our way back to Lexington, we applaud Paris for its wisdom in putting its Farmers Market and Chamber of Commerce together in the same location. The Market includes a year-round store selling local products. These are wonderful ways to grow the new Kentucky economy for the benefit of all. All the talk on the way back to Lexington is as delicious as Mark's coffee, shiny with possibilities.
5:51 PM In the middle of completing work for a client and talking with my handsome Wayne County bro, I glance at my calendar and realize I have nine minutes to pick up our household's CSA basket from Eden's Gate Farm. We signed on for the inaugural one-month subscription, our first experience as CSA subscribers. Fortunately, the pickup spot at Third Street Stuff is two minutes from my house, so I arrive in plenty of time, and have a good time visiting with friends who are also picking up the butternut squashes, tender greens, and other late fall bounty.
6:20 PM Dinner plans reshuffle themselves in my head. The heavy, lovely Eden's Gate butternut squash reminded me that Lisa Lillien, someone I'd never heard of, described as "the packaged food guru," recently recommended roasting squash slices. Yes, worth trying.
And maybe a salad?
6:30 PM A package arrives! My sweet, knowledgeable nutritionist/chef/caterer sister-in-law sent brown teff flour, whole amaranth, and organic buckwheat flour milled in her home state of New Hampshire, along with good descriptions of the grains, with even better recipes. Out with the plans for scrambled eggs, and in with the teff waffles with caramelized bananas!
Yum from start to finish.