As it relates to food, I am bad at everything except eating it.
When I cook, my husband worries less that I’ll set the food on fire, and more that I’ll set myself on fire. Grocery shopping reminds me of my college calculus class, given all the studying required and the poor results achieved, regardless of effort.
And so, on the 12th day, God decided that I would live and work within a short drive of Clayton’s Cafe & Bakery.
Clayton’s is at 447 U.S. Route 1 in Yarmouth, in a white clapboard building that looks like a house. The genius of that design is that when you do take-out from Clayton’s, you can always tell your audience that the meal is entirely homemade. You’re welcome.
The space is divided by two long counters, which bisect dining areas cozily populated by wooden tables and chairs. The walls always feature bright artwork by local painters, and there’s an outdoor patio for open-air eating. Every other inch of available space is laden with foodstuffs you’d like to think you’d make at home, but know, deep down, you never will.
On any given (every single) weekday, I roll into Clayton’s to kick-start the morning. The staff doesn’t shout “Abby!” when I walk in, but I pretend like they do and I’m very sweet about it. There are usually several groups of people enjoying their breakfasts and chatting. I suspect the conversations largely center around breakfast being delicious.
I bee-line it for the coffee station, which always offers five varieties of self-service java. Sometimes I mix it up and order an espresso drink. I always engage in a long, internal debate over whether it’s appropriate to buy a dozen scones to eat during the walk back to the car. I usually conclude it is not. Instead, I buy Clayton’s “Breakfast Bar,” a concoction of good-for-you things that allows me to brag that I follow the Paleo diet. (I just never tell people I only follow it for breakfast.)
By the time lunch rolls around, my stomach is grumbling for the veggie hummus wrap. I’ve had this same sandwich every time I’ve lunched at Clayton’s – a habit that cropped up more than a decade ago. I guess you could say I’m a creature of habit.
That’s not to say I’m never tempted by their multiple offerings of soups, which change on a daily basis and always include vegetarian and gluten-free options. I have been known to complement my sandwich of vegetables with a bowl of vegetables that the Food Network calls “a salad.” I have it on good authority that Clayton’s is also a purveyor of meat, in items like its famous chicken salad sandwich and a ham-and-brie panini. (The authority is the very large menu that hangs from Clayton’s ceiling.)
I try to restrict myself to the vegetables, though, because I’m a stickler for priorities. My No.1 priority is dessert, and no one does dessert like Clayton’s. They make cookies the size of your head. They make cupcakes I would like to move into. One time, a fruit tart got me misty-eyed. It was just so beautiful.
Then there’s the candy. Oh, the candy. In the back, on a long rectangular table, there are sweets in every color of the rainbow, from dark chocolate-covered almonds to jelly beans, to the healthy stuff, like gummy peaches. I grab my plastic bag and my silver scoop. I approach a glass jar, remove the lid, and scoop. This is what I just spent four hours in the office for. This is why I go to the gym with so little to show for it.
Inevitably, dinner rolls around and, inevitably, my family thinks we should recognize the event by eating something. I confront these expectations by looking into my crystal ball, which is neither crystal nor a ball: it’s the glass display case that greets me when I walk into Clayton’s. At any time of day, I can point at a poached salmon, or a broccoli salad, or macaroni and cheese, and voila – I can see the future, and it looks like dinner.
All this writing has made me hungry. See you soon, Clayton’s.