Eating dessert first
The many weeks of radiation have left my skin at heightened risk for sun damage (and worse), so I cover my face in SPF 45 and wear a hat everywhere. I guess that if I have to take on any kind of accessory by medical decree, there are worse things than starting a hat collection.
And best of all, my taste buds are (mostly) returned — though they're sensitive, so anything even remotely spicy is intensified, and I still don't have salivary glands, so dry foods (bread, crackers, nuts) can be a challenge. I don't know how long it will take for them to be back to full power, in part because I can't tell how far off they are now.
I'm certainly able to distinguish subtleties of flavor — strawberry notes in a glass of rosé; the grassy background of hummus made with fresh garbanzos; the play of sweet and salty (yes!) in a piece of buttered toast with honey — but I don't know whether there is more sensation yet to return, or whether this is as good as it gets. If so, it's still pretty good.
Yesterday I had plenty of opportunity to test out the taste buds, beginning with an afternoon snack (understatement of the year) with my cousin Andrea, whom I hadn't seen in 30 years (thirty! Years!). She was in town from Singapore visiting her friend Paula, so we introduced them to the dessert menu at Brasserie Jo.
First, there were bubbles. Pink bubbles, in the form of a Crémant de Bourgogne rosé.
And then sweeties. For Andrea, a summery lemon tart.
For Paula, crêpes Suzette (though they were not flambéed at the table, as we had hoped).
The Boy had an unfeasibly large crêpe that enshrouded what appeared to be an entire bunch of bananas with caramel and ice cream. I meant to take a picture but was distracted, understandably, by profiteroles.
Wait — it gets better.
Jug o' chocolate. They pour until you tell them to stop.
We had a great time; thirty years means there's a lot to catch up on. And then we hugged and promised not to leave it so long next time, and The Boy and I headed out to ... um ... dinner.
Okay, not immediately; first there was wandering in Copley and strolling through the library and sauntering into the South End. By the time we reached Estragon, we were just about ready for more.
Here's what you should know: Estragon has some lovely cocktails at the moment. The Boy had a Scarlet Ibis, which held bourbon, Aperol, lemon and orange-blossom water. I went for the Silent Order: green Chartreuse, lime and basil, fragrant and fresh with an edge of herbal depth. This was one of those times I was so glad I had taste buds again.
And then a few nibbles, starting with chickpea crack (of course).
Then boquerones with manchego and tomato. The tom was kinda flavorless (and I even took a perverse joy in recognizing that fact) but the anchovy was salty and the cheese was creamy and that's all that matters.
And then the special: lamb sweetbreads, deep and earthy and tender.
What's all the white stuff, you ask? That would be garlic. Garlicgarlicgarlic. Oh yeah baby.
Then thick morcilla on toast, topped with sweet roasted red peppers:
And finally some vegetables, because we like to be healthy. Sure, the Brussels sprouts were roasted and loaded with chorizo, but what do you expect?
None of these were enormous plates, but by the end we were decidedly full. And when the server asked if we wanted dessert, what could we say? That's where we started!