Of Fate and Flour

Originally published 02/24/2014

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The first time I heard about Flour Bakery + Café was when I watched its owner, Joanne Chang, beat Bobby Flay in a sticky bun Throwdown.  I was a high schooler living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but I was determined to get my hands on one of those glorious, celebrity-chef beating sticky buns.  As luck would have it, I spent the following summer taking classes in Cambridge, and Joanne Chang opened her third location of Flour within walking distance of my dorm right after I arrived.  Her sticky buns, homemade Oreos, and sandwiches all lived up to and surpassed my expectations.  Flour was my new favorite bakery and go-to hangout for the weekends.  I raved about it to everyone I met and brought them along with me.  Friends introduce friends to good pastry.

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As the summer came to a close, I wondered how I would live without Flour in my life for the foreseeable future.  Less than a year later, luck struck again, and I was able to choose a college to attend in Cambridge, MA.  Another four years of Flour!  Yay!  Perhaps the city’s Latin motto should be changed from “Literis Antiquis Novis Institutis Decora” (Distinguished for Classical Learning and New Institutions) to “Graphicis Crustulis Locis Cafeis Decora” (Distinguished for Exquisite Pastries and Neighborhood Cafés).

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A few years of sticky buns, twice-baked brioche, homemade Oreos, cupcakes, and chicken-avocado-jicama sandwiches later (several of my favorite items at Flour), the bakery worked its magic again.  One cloudy Friday afternoon, I set out to walk to Whole Foods in an effort to grocery shop for the week ahead.  As soon as I exited my dorm, it started to rain, and then it started to rain harder.  I didn’t want to get my groceries wet on the walk back, but I also didn’t want to go back inside.  I was in the mood for some good food, but for some reason my brain urged me to walk to Flour instead of somewhere closer despite the unfavorable weather.  So instead of turning right to go to Whole Foods, I turned left and set off toward Flour.  It was rainy, and windy, and cold, and I had forgotten my gloves, but I trudged onward toward the beacon of fresh bread and buttercream that was only a mile or so ahead.

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As I neared the bakery, I noticed a big sign advertising a local television station that I didn’t know existed, let alone that it was located so near to my dorm and favorite bakery. After applying to several entertainment industry internships this semester and having no luck in terms of scheduling (and in some cases even getting responses), I decided that I would apply to this station as soon as I got back.

Flour power had struck again! (The rule of three?) The lure of good food and pastry had led me straight to a potential internship just in the nick of time! Before this experience, I was quick to scoff at sitcoms and films rife with scenes of protagonists “just happening” to find themselves in the perfect situation to propel the plot forward, as if they were guided by some omniscient invisible hand. Apparently these things really do happen. Life is full of unbelievable coincidences.

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Later that weekend, I called the station and was interviewed. I took this as an opportunity to visit Flour again (I have definitely been there at least 30 times.) This time, I strayed from my usual order and got a variety of things to bring back. I tried the quinoa and tofu salad, which also included spinach, portobello mushrooms, roasted carrots and cauliflower, edamame, pickled celery, and ginger scallion dressing. For dessert, I got their chunky Lola cookie (coconut, pecans, and chocolate chunks), TCHO chocolate chip cookie, ginger molasses cookie, raspberry crumb bar, and chocolate chip meringue cloud. As always, every item was fresh, delicious, and everything I had hoped it would be. Flour’s consistency is one of its greatest strengths, along with its inviting interior design, unwavering quality, and apparent ability to catalyze the intervention of fate.

I wonder what life decision Flour will guide next…
Perhaps I should start going there every day!

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An embarrassment of riches: raspberry crumb bar, TCHO chocolate chip, chunky Lola, ginger molasses, and meringue cloud

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Eat your veggies! Quinoa and tofu salad close-up

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Chunky Lola cookie

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TCHO chocolate chip cookie

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Ginger molasses cookie

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Chocolate chip meringue cloud

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Raspberry crumb bar

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Leaning tower of cookies!

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Flour throwback: An egg sandwich on a ciabatta bun with arugula, tomato, and Dijonaise

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Flour throwback part II: Homemade raspberry seltzer photobombed by a chicken, avocado, and jicama sandwich

Flour Bakery + Café: http://flourbakery.com

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