Today’s celebration came with a hearty dose of kindness, love and partnership with a final twist of deliciousness. It’s not the Blueberry Cheesecake that did all that. It was actually Lola, but it was all in the name of Blueberry Cheesecake.
My schedule has been a bit off this week adjusting to the new gig and office hours. I knew that was all coming, so I was ready for it, but I’m still in that adjustment phase. My posts from this week were delayed and at unusual times (for me). In fact I ended up posting my tale of escargot in the early evening of the day after the actual holiday (I usually try to post the morning after). So my timing is off. I appreciate your patience. I’ll figure it all out eventually, it’s just that transition time. As I was heading into Friday, I saw that it was National Blueberry Cheesecake Day which meant that I would have to make a cheesecake. Normally that wouldn’t bother me, I just happened to have a pretty busy schedule for Friday. I was working the office job in the day and then heading right to the Vineyard afterwards. I probably wouldn’t be home until 9 pm. Cheesecake needs at least an hour to cook (possibly two) and then more time to rest. My options were to either cook the cheesecake on Thursday night or at the end of a long day on Friday. Cooking on Friday was kind of an impossibility because not only would I not have the energy, I wouldn’t be finished until early Saturday morning which meant I’d miss the whole holiday. Thursday night cooking it would be.
When I found my recipe, it was about 8 pm. It was still light out and I had some energy left in the tank, so baking at this hour was a still possibility, but then I realized I didn’t have some important ingredients like cream cheese and blueberries (which are important ingredients for blueberry cheesecake). I could still make the trip to Clement’s to grab everything or I could even try Cumberland Farms or the Dollar General up the street (they may have frozen blueberries), but the logistics of this plan started to hit home. I reread the recipe and it said that the cake cooks for an hour and then you turn off the oven and let it sit in there for another hour. Then it has to cool overnight. The more I thought about it, the probability of me making this cheesecake at this hour started to dwindle. I may have had the energy at eight pm, but that wasn’t going to last too long. This is when Lola popped in my office and she probably noticed an expression on my face that showed I was in a dilemma. I told her what was on my mind and so very thoughtfully she asked, “Want me to make it?”
This was that dose of love was talking about. What made it a generous offer was that I knew Lola had a pretty busy day planned for herself. She has been working hard lately and because I was not going to be home all day on Friday, I knew she was planning on hunkering down and writing all day. She was probably looking forward to a day without interruption so she could get down to it. Yet, when she saw I was in need, she immediately offered her services. She had never baked a cheesecake either. Nope, she would have to tackle the whole thing from scratch. It was really a generous offer. I felt loved and supported. There’s no real reason for this crazy quest other than a personal challenge, but Lola has been behind me on it the whole way. She has believed in me from day one and has done whatever it takes to help me along the way (excepting eating some snails). The offer to cook the cheesecake just filled me up with gratitude for all Lola does for me.
We started looking at the recipe together. It wasn’t incredibly difficult but it wasn’t particularly easy either. It had three different steps to it: making a blueberry filling, making a pie crust and making the cheesecake. It was intimidating to me and I have been pretty involved with making recipes all year. I could only imagine how daunting it looked to Lola. Yet she still offered to make it. I tried to explain that I still needed to get the ingredients and that making it would eat away half her day on Friday, but still Lola wanted to help. She wanted me to know she had my back (as she always does). With hesitation, I tentatively agreed to this plan, although I didn’t feel great about stealing her day from her. One of the things you need to learn about love is that sometimes people want to help you. They make you offers and gestures out of love to help you and make your life easier. Accepting that offer is accepting their love. They are reaching and you are accepting. It’s a balance.
After Lola went to bed, because I was still uneasy with taking up Lola’s time, I happened to do a quick search for the best blueberry cheesecake in Rhode Island. The most popular response was from a restaurant called Gregg’s which is a bit of a RI original. It’s a small chain of restaurants with good food, big portions and a pretty amazing bakery where they make fresh cakes and goodies. It’s one of my brother’s family’s favorites and I have gone there with them before. Their Death by Chocolate cake, which is six layers of decadence, is legendary and my niece Kate’s favorite. When President Obama came to Rhode Island, he stopped at Gregg’s and brought some desserts back to Air Force One for the jaunt home (don’t tell Michelle). It’s a pretty famous place and when I peeked at their dessert menu where I saw they had a Blueberry Cheesecake. I was excited because I knew the quality of their baked goods. Then I looked at their location list and saw that there was a spot in Warwick less than 5 miles from my new office. I could easily stop there on my way home, grab a cheesecake to go and be on my way. This plan could work.
When I went up to bed, Lola was still awake and I told her that I found a spot to get Blueberry Cheesecake. Her first reaction was to make sure I knew that she had no problems with making the cheesecake, and I knew that. I knew she would tackle it like a champion. She would take out her special apron, get all the ingredients together and bake away. I would come home to a clean kitchen, a delicious cheesecake and a smiling Lola. Lola can actually do anything if she has the time and the proper instructions. She enjoys the challenge. So I knew that her cake would be wonderful, but after some chatting, we both knew that picking up a slice at Gregg’s was the most practical solution. It would be easy to grab. It wouldn’t implode Lola’s day. It would be delicious. Together, we agreed this should be the plan although Lola still said she would be on standby to bake if needed. Lola was also kind enough to call Gregg’s in the morning to see if they had enough in stock. Because I’m still the new guy in the office, I didn’t want to make that phone call from my office so that everyone could hear me asking some random person on the other end of the phone if they had blueberry cheesecake. I’ll ease into those kind of calls eventually, but I thought it might be an odd first-week impression to make today. Lola made the call for me and texted me the answer – plenty of cheesecake to go around at Gregg’s.
That was what I did. I headed there right after work and within minutes, I had two pieces of fresh blueberry cheesecake in hand and was on my way home for a quick uniform change. When I got home, I put the cake in the fridge for safekeeping and after some quick chat with Lola, I was back out the door and off to work, part deux. It was a quick night of work and everything seemed to go ok. I got home about 9:15. Lola was already in bed watching a movie so I unpacked the cheesecake, put it on a plate, and then joined her for a sweet snack alongside my love.
The bakers at Gregg’s sure know what they are doing. This was their standard New York style cheesecake topped with a generous portion of fresh blueberry topping. For some reason, they put the piece on it’s side when they put it in the box which I didn’t quite understand, but it didn’t make a difference. It was more of a visual concern for me. It was the perfect treat for the end of a long day. The cake was hardy and dense, like good cheesecake should be, with that creamy cheese taste coming through. The graham cracker crust added sweetness and some crunch to each bite. On top was a thin layer of cream, like an icing but more similar to whipped cream. It was sweet and added a little more flavor to the party. And finally, the blueberry topping brought it all together. That rich berry flavor seeping into every bite and giving you a pop of sweet goodness in every morsel. It was outstanding. I must say that I was impressed with Gregg’s quality.
Lola liked it too although she was on the sleepy side so not much into eating cheesecake at that hour. She did comment that her Aunt Kathy used to make a cheesecake and we both reflected on that info for a second because today was actually the one year anniversary of Kathy’s passing. We both thought of the odd coincidence of that, to be celebrating cheesecake of all things on this day. Perhaps it was a sign. In any case, we thought about her and hoped she was having a nice slice of cheesecake with us, perhaps with her sister Gigi by her side.
While Gregg’s cake was delicious, I bet you Lola’s would have been better. Today’s celebration wasn’t just about blueberry cheesecake (which actually became my favorite kind of cheesecake today – I love that blueberry addition). Today was about knowing your limits, knowing what your schedule can handle and accepting help when need it. It was about being loved and supported and knowing how to accept that as well. It was a celebration of our partnership. Dan and Lola. Lola and Dan. I know I’m the author of most of these posts, but Lola’s been there the whole time. She’s been my taster, my sidekick, my champion, my trumpeter and my strength. She always seems to be right there to pick me up when I’m down, and that’s what I celebrated tonight. A piece of delicious blueberry cheesecake in bed alongside the person who makes me feel I can do anything. That’s a pretty great way to end the day.
Next up: National Grape Popsicle Day