by Corin Hirsch
When choosing a coffee shop or café to work in, a few things need to be taken into account: coffee selection, noise levels, ambience, clientele (will you run into friends while on deadline?), the availability of Wi-fi, and whether there are baked things on hand that will unnecessarily tempt you.
I live in the Upper Valley and love to work at Tuckerbox in White River Junction, but risk getting embroiled in conversation instead of actually doing work. In Hanover, N.H., tables can be hard to come by because of camped-out Dartmouth students. Then there's the pale yellow house along Route 4 in Quechee, Trap Door Bakehouse & Café, which has serene ambience, Wi-fi and a killer view from the back patio (over a river gorge) — but threatens to turn me into a rounder version of myself because it's impossible to not eat the pastries.
Perfect, flaky croissants. Blueberry muffins topped with a rich crumble. Glazed koulourakia, a light, subtly sweet Greek pastry. Instead of just sipping tea this morning, as intended, I caved to a twist on Twix bars called Betwixt: buttery sugar cookies topped with caramel, a drizzle of melted chocolate and crumbled pecans. Add to that some carrot-cake petits fours topped with blossoms of gingery buttercream and showered with grated coconut. They were incredibly luscious, and gluten free to boot.
Trap Door owner and baker Theodora Damaskos took part in our Sweet Start Smackdown earlier this year and received a hearty shout-out from judge Ben Cohen for her Bon Bon et Tarte — bites of gluten-free almond cake, pomegranate-molasses buttercream and banana compôte served on edible merengue plates. Cohen said he needed to travel down to Quechee to check out more of Damaskos' creations.
I hope he did, but I also feel for his waistline. I'm probably two pounds heavier than when I began writing this post. But during stick season, that's probably OK.