As you would expect of an aspiring dietitian, I have a thing for farmer’s markets. When people ask me about my hobbies, I usually tell them I like to go to markets and grocery stores for fun. Probably not as common among dietetic students is my adoration of European bakeries. A bit of self reflection tells me I keep searching out local Jacksonville bakeries because I am pining for my friends Agi and Aaron Groff and their charming little 4 Seasons Bakery near St. Louis, Missouri. Or it could be that I really love yummy pastries. But at any rate, today I took a break from all the studying and paper writing for my classes, working at my jobs, and wedding planning (just 50 days, y’all!) and visited the bustling Riverside Arts Market to get a little fresh air. I bought the usual suspects: a big bunch of kale and some tomatoes from Black Hog Farms and some really sweet and creamy white radishes from Down to Earth Farm. As I strolled toward the river in search of a snack, I spotted a sign that said “European Bakery” and immediately thought of my Midwestern friends. The tent belonged to Mina’s Bakery,(with a brick and mortar location at 9965 San Jose Blvd. in Jacksonville) and there were lots of great-looking confections available. I chose a slice of medovik because it looked like heaven: 10 layers of a light colored cake with some creamy looking icing between each layer. Almost as an afterthought, I remembered to ask, “What is it?” The kind gentleman informed me it was a Russian honey cake and that it would be quite lovely with some coffee. And Oh! Was he ever right! Heavenly layers of honeyed cake with a delicious cream cheese icing in between. Just a couple of bites and I was so satisfied!
Mina’s Mister and their pretty pastries
So, content with my yummy treat and the fresh air, I headed back home. Because Spring Break is still a week away and I have a bazillion things due before then. Which can be overwhelming until I remember that this is a journey, and an incredibly fun and fulfilling one at that. And as long as I remember there is always time for a little cake in my life, I’ll be just fine.
Even though I’m on winter break from school, it’s not all Lifetime Movie Marathons and Christmas cookie baking around here. No sireee. The last semester (my first in University of North Florida’s Nutrition Program) moved at a blinding speed and left me with a mile long “to do list” once finals were finished. Combine that with the fact that this is the busiest time of year for the restaurant I work in, and the whole eating-bon-bons-in-my-pajamas-all-day fantasy is shot. Yesterday, for example, I spent a couple of hours at the DMV with a less than jolly receptionist and then had to do some haggling at the financial aid department of the university. Then my phone broke and I had to take a trip to the Apple Store. All that followed with a shift at work made for a long day.
The highlight of my day was my lunch. I stumbled across a little place called Village Bread Cafe near the tag agency on San Jose Boulevard. It turns out they have 4 locations total, including Phillips Highway and the Jacksonville Landing. It’s somewhat similar to Panera, but this place was just a little more homey. Their menu is mostly soups, salads, and sandwiches, as well as some gorgeous looking pastries. I was pleasantly surprised the cashier brought me some chunks of rustic bread with olive oil and herbs for dipping while I waited on my lunch. The customer service there was just really topnotch. Lots of smiling and “have a nice days”. The manager even came and checked on me while I enjoyed my meal. I had a lovely Tuscan Salad with grilled salmon, and some comforting macaroni and cheese as a side. Between the salmon, the olive oil, and the shaved almonds on my salad, I met my quota for heart healthy omega three fatty acids, and the greens provides some great health benefits as well, including blood clotting aid vitamin K, and vitamins A, C, and other great phytochemicals. For me, eating well helps me keep my spirits and my energy levels up during times of stress, such as the holidays. And creamy bread crumb topped mac-n-cheese was just plain ole yummy. The side portion is the perfect size for people who want to enjoy the foods they crave in moderation. So, if you are looking for a great place to have lunch this week, check Village Bread Cafe out. They bake all of their goods at a bakery here in Jacksonville and also offer catering and bulk baked goods at wholesale.
My yummy Tuscan Salad salad (minus the salmon)