It is a humid summer afternoon and despite the heat, a 10 year old boy stands only 2 feet from the oven. He ignores the heat as his nostrils fill with the smells of dough raising and chocolate melting. It is only minutes away from that moment that will fill him with pleasure & provide the energy for the 5 pm little league game. Chocolate chip cookies must be eaten warm. The heat of the stove & the sweat on his face can and must be endured. The hard part is when his mother takes the tray out and says “You have to let them cool for 2-3 minutes!” His mind knows the dough needs to firm up, so he can hold the cookies in his hand and the chocolate chips need to harden so they don’t melt all over his fingers. Yet, those 3 minutes seem like half his short lifetime. Finally they warm his hand & bust with flavor in his mouth, a smile broadens across his face & a lifelong memory is imbedded in his mind forever. For decades the warm CC cookie event has been repeated over & over again in my life. Recently, three such events awaken the spirit of that 10 year old boy. Warm cookies at a Doubletree hotel & a modern version of my mother’s oven at the Kitchen 24 in Hollywood, CA. Why does a person join a hotel rewards program? I joined the Hilton Honors program because 1).the hotels are great. 2).They have good free upgrades & express check in and excellent service. But most of all, their Doubletree brand has free warm chocolate chip cookies! Two great moments in my travels: Pittsburgh 2013: The convention center next to my Doubletree hotel hosted a loud hard rock concert till 5 am.
No one on our side of the hotel gone any sleep. While Doubletree had no control over the convention center, they tried to make up for it by getting their “Sleepless in Pittsburgh” guest extra rewards points(okay fine),BUT the real healing came when they said, “Would you like a dozen warm cookies for you trip home?” Chicken soap may be good for the soul but chocolate chip cookies makes it all better. Grand Junction, CO: I arrived in the west side of the Rockies for a fun weekend with grandchildren and family. Unfortunately, arrive in this budding wine country with a head cold, slight fever & an inability to taste anything, let alone wine. After a “flight from hell” that turned a 55 minute hop into a 3 hour torture (airline to remain nameless but they did not win my allegiants), I arrived at my Doubletree Hotel. I received an early express check in with an upgraded room and of course warm chocolate chip cookies. Within minutes, I was in a soft couch in my jr. suite with a cup of fresh brewed coffee and my warm chocolate chip cookies and all was better! While I was sick all weekend and dreaded the flight home (the plane was an hour late) my wife surprised me in the airport with a Doubletree chocolate chip cookie for the trip. Suddenly, it was all better! Hollywood, CA— Kitchen 24 Kitchen 24 is a small 24 hour restaurant in LA that has an elite menu with a wonderful twist on old comfort food. While we enjoyed everything, my memory is clouded by the dessert that pulled me back 60 years to a place of anticipation followed by warmth & fulfilment. THEY HAVE A CHOCLATE CHIP COOKIE THAT IS BAKED TO ORDER!!! Picture this, a preheated 6 inch iron skillet ready to bake, the entire skillet is filed with fresh cc cookie dough and it is place in the oven. At the right moment, the skillet is pulled from the oven, cooled briefly and just before it is bought to my table, a scoop of real vanilla ice cream is placed on top. At ten, I always wanted that glass of milk to be ice cream. “Be careful, it’s hot”, cautions the waiter as he places in front of me. Behold perfection! The enormous cookie is still hot, yet the ice cream has not melted. For the next 7 minutes, my world stands still. Pieces of warm cookie with a crisp bottom and soft interior blend with the ice cream as they fil my mouth with the warmth, memories and again, “all is better”! As a purist, the caramel sauce is unnecessary, but it did not spoil the moment. In fairest to the wonderful menu, I must return to Kitchen 24,many times appreciate all options.. There are few things that survive one’s lifetime, warm chocolate chip cookies is one of them. I will continue to search for my perfect chocolate chip cookie moments. While I might eat those 3 for a dollar Mc Donald cookies I sneak into the movie or the sugar free, gluten free ones to make me feel healthy, it is only the freshly baked warm ones that make it all better.
Join Patrick Barney as he explores his love of travel & food around the world & in his home town of Las Vegas.