I sometimes forget how my dissertation writing takes over my life. I spent four days holed up in my dorm this week, only occasionally leaving to go to the kitchen and eat breakfast food. Not joking, my meals the other day were: cereal for breakfast, oatmeal for lunch, and eggs scrambled with cheddar and broccoli for dinner. I mean, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right? By that logic, wouldn’t you want all your meals to be important? Okay, weak logic, I just really love breakfast food (another reason why Leslie Knope and I are spiritual twins – seriously, go watch “Parks and Recreation”).
But in all honesty, this was pretty tame compared to when I wrote my undergraduate thesis last year. A friend who was visiting me came back to my room one night around 8pm to find me eating dinner, by which I mean scooping out the innards of half an avocado with stale tortilla chips. Medieval history can be rough. But on the bright side, chapter one is drafted and in the hands of my supervisor!
Back to the blog post: I did have to go into town prior to my hermit session and get groceries. One of the interesting things about Cambridge is that all roads seem to lead to the Market. The Market is like a farmer’s market, where numerous vendors set up shop and sell everything from produce to pies (savory, unfortunately) to accessories to knick knacks to hemp clothing. It’s overall pretty nice, but I don’t stay there too long because this is what I have to wheel over:
Wanting to save my chair from cobblestone-induced punishment, I just bought some fruit from one of the vendors in a less bumpy part of the Market. I then wandered over to the Grand Arcade, which is an indoor shopping center (smooth floors! Huzzah!). I wanted to try a new hot chocolate (to go/take away, of course, because I had work to do), so I wheeled over to Carluccio’s (1 Fisher Square, Grand Arcade, Cambridge CB2 3QF), an Italian restaurant with a storefront where you can buy biscotti, pastries, pastas, and prepared foods to go. It’s a chain, and I do feel a little silly reviewing a chain location, but hey, if the hot chocolate and pastries are good and worth returning to, then I don’t care where they come from.
I know it would probably be more aesthetically pleasing to include a picture of the whole door, but I just want to show the entrance for a wheelchair-using point of view. The carpet behind the door is deceptively difficult to wheel on. I would not try pushing myself over that while holding a hot cup of coffee. It will end badly. It’s slightly bumpy in front of the door, but not bad at all. The doors are heavy, but it was really nice outside, so one of the doors was kept open.
As I wheeled to the counter, I passed by a table full of pastries.
They were all right there at my eye level and definitely within my reach. This was painfully tempting. I’ve been to Carluccio’s before. During the holidays, they sell a honey, almond, chocolate truffle that my mom loves, so I have fairly high expectations for the pastries. So many options! I needed to stall my indecision. I would’ve stayed (there are lots of tables and an accessible bathroom), but I had work to do back in my room, and I had also foolishly purchased fruit at the Market, and I was worried that if I didn’t get home immediately and put them in the fridge, they’d spoil (produce spoils here weirdly quickly). I went to the counter and ordered a hot chocolate (2.25) to go.
A member of the staff kindly moved the plastic tops over to me, because they were way out of reach. She told me to stir the hot chocolate, because the chocolate settled on the bottom of the cup.
A note on hot chocolate: Hot chocolate generally takes on a milky or thick consistency. Milky hot chocolate is less intense, and can easily be paired with a slice of cake (e.g. Michaelhouse’s hot chocolate). Thick hot chocolate has the consistency of a melted-down chocolate bar combined with either milk or cream. It usually tastes very rich, very intense, and should not be paired with anything heavier than a cookie. Carluccio’s hot chocolate has a thick consistency, and is a bit on the sweet side. On a scale from 1 (what a light snack!) to 10 (this is my entire dessert for the day and after this I’m going to bed), I’d give this one a 6.
Right, back to the pastries. I need to find something to go with this hot chocolate. Chocolate tart? Oh my, no, that’d put me in a food coma. Fruit tart? That might also be too heavy. Oh my, what have we here?
Hello, fancy-looking jammy dodger!
That looks perfect. What could be better than a combination of hot chocolate, raspberry, and cookie? I bought one to go (95 p), along with a lemon tart (3.50) that I planned to eat with some of my floormates later that night (because food blog research always enjoys company). I also purchased some spinach ricotta tortelloni for dinner (not dessert, but hey, they have good fresh filled pastas here, might as well).
I got back to my dorm, put my groceries away, and drank more of the hot chocolate while I ate the fancy jammy dodger. The jammy dodger (fine, “raspberry jam biscuit”…but we know deep down it’s a jammy dodger) was delightful. The raspberry jam was the right amount of tartness, and the cookie surrounding the filling was soft and chewy. I immediately regretted only buying one. The hot chocolate was good, however I wish it had been in a smaller cup. Thick hot chocolates work best in a 4-6 oz. cup (or 8 oz. if you’re really hungry). The 12 oz. cup they had given me was way too much. I was starting to feel really sleepy.
Later that night, after my hot chocolate coma had passed, and after I had eaten dinner, I took the lemon tart out of the fridge, along with some of the raspberries I bought from the Market.
One of my floormates (a fellow medievalist) and I ate the tart, and it was deliciously zesty. The raspberries were a great addition, so I highly recommend serving it with some kind of fresh fruit (blueberries, strawberries, and generally most berries would work) if you bring it home with you. Carluccio’s is open until 11pm on weeknights, so if you have a sugar craving after dinner and just want to grab something to go, look no further. It’s also great by itself, so if you want to sit in Carluccio’s and have the tart by itself, I’d pair it with a black tea.
Entrance: Flat, doors are heavy, but are open when the weather’s nice.
Counter: Not at a great height when you get to the register, but the pastries are at a very visible height.
Coffee: Their own brand name, Hot Chocolate: Their own brand name (both available to purchase in the storefront), bit sweet and on the heavier side of the hot chocolate spectrum.
Pastries: Fancy jammy dodgers are amazing, lemon tart is deliciously zesty
Other: They sell excellent chocolate truffles at the front of the store. Technically part of the Grand Arcade, but you will have to exit the Grand Arcade briefly to get there. Check the Grand Arcade directory for more exact directions.
For more information on the Cambridge location: http://www.carluccios.com/restaurants/cambridge
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