Category Archives: Boston
Life is madness.
I didn’t even get a chance to post this in the morning. That is how madness it is.
If you read my writing blog, then you probably have some idea how I feel about the 4th of July. Maybe if I went off and had a barbeque and got to watch fireworks without thousands of people pushing in from all sides, I might enjoy it more. However, I didn’t get to do that. Mostly, it was crowded and stressful. As a day off from work it didn’t help me much. I had to work all weekend to get to the point I was aiming for this week. I REALLY don’t want to fall behind my goals at work right now. Catching up is way too difficult.
It’s been very hot lately. Now, I know that there are plenty of areas of the world where it has been in the hundreds, even up to 130 or so, and we’ve only had a high of 95 or so in Boston. ONLY 95, GUYS!!! It’s too much for me. Especially because it’s always so humid. It always feels at least 5 degrees hotter than it is, if not more, and even if you never go outside, and don’t really do anything that active for most of the day, you feel kind of clammy all day long. I’ve been trying to continuously drink water to avoid dehydration, and I think I’m doing well, but I still have a headache right now.
Between frequently staying somewhat late at work, ridiculous heat, attempting to organize the unfortunate piles of stuff in my room, trying without much luck to have a social life, and trying to sort out various other things, I’ve gotten to a point where I feel almost like I don’t have time to breathe. This is, of course, metaphorical, as breathing is an automated process that happens without effort as you’re doing other things. I know, it’s amazing. But what I mean is time to relax, recharge… reduce, reuse, recycle. You know. All those things they tell you to do that begin with “re.”
Damn. I need a massage.
Wait long enough, someone else will take your idea… (not “steal,” but “have the same one and actually follow through with it”)
I have been thinking for quite a while of doing a “Coffee Guide to Boston,” which would entail me talking about favorite cafes in different neighborhoods. I guess I would go about mine a little differently, but it’s still basically the same idea. 😦 No fair. But I haven’t been to most of these. I’d like to try out Voltage — it’s on the Scoutmob app right now.
When I find places where I can get a cappuccino or latte that tastes as good as any café crème I had in Paris, I want to tell the world! And if it looks as good as the ones I used to have at Cafeotheque that’s an even better reason to share it.
While this list is only just beginning, I figured I would share where you can find a great cup of coffee in and around Boston. This list is still a work-in-progress!
A couple of blocks away from MIT, this cafe has been written up time and time again for its excellence in coffee. And from the many times I’ve been there, it does not disappoint. And although the people working there could have been snooty about their coffee and looked down on someone like me who was asking questions, they were the exact opposite: incredibly…
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As I commented to a friend earlier today, I have been stubbornly refusing to go grocery shopping for about two weeks now. That is not to say I haven’t been to the grocery store, but I’ve only picked up a few things while I was there. I haven’t done a full shop for quite a while. I’m going to try to force myself to do it tonight. If not, it will have to be tomorrow, because there are too many things I need.
In the meantime, I’ve been buying a lot of food out. Breakfasts, because I haven’t wanted to wake up in time for breakfast. Dinner once or twice. Otherwise, I’ve been scraping together meals from whatever’s around in my kitchen, but not too much worth posting about. I’ll update you soon on one or two of the things I’ve adventurously cooked.
Until then, I wanted to run down some of the foods I’ve been purchasing… or having purchased for me (I visited my parents last weekend, so of course they bought me food), with short reviews of the places. We’ll start with when I was in Worcester.
1. Surya – Indian restaurant – I have loved this place for a very very long time. They’ve changed a bit since we first started going there. New owners or new chef or both. Some of my favorite items there have been the Rose Milkshake, Mango Lassi, Shahi Paneer, Chicken Tikka Masala, and Nan. And my ultimate Surya dish, tandoori chicken. At other Indian restaurants, tandoori chicken is not really my top choice. But here, they do this amazing thing with the marinating or the cooking method that just makes it so incredibly flavorful and juicy. This time, I decided I wanted to try it hot. Let’s just say that was a mistake. I usually get it medium, and I can hardly feel any burn at all. Fully spicy, it was still good, but actually made my throat sore, which I have never had happen when eating spicy food before. So I won’t be doing that again. If the burn had stayed in my mouth, and out of my throat, I would have been fine with it. Not a fan of food that makes my throat hurt. It actually still hurt the next day. But PLEASE don’t take this as a negative opinion of the restaurant. They are my favorite Indian restaurant I’ve ever been to and I recommend that everyone go there.
2. Ronnie’s – Sea food and ice cream – This place was close to my childhood home, so I’ve been there many, many times. I never get to go there anymore, though. I miss it. It’s a seasonal place that is open from April to October, I believe, and they have really good, quality seafood. They also have standard burgers, chicken, etc. for people who don’t like sea food, but then why would you go to Ronnie’s? I had the expensive jumbo lobster roll, which is just the perfect item if you like lobster. The clam fritters are delicious but probably not very healthy. And if you go for ice cream, I’d suggest the chocolate-dipped soft serve.
Now back to Boston:
3. Monte Cristo Mexican grill – Ok… so, I’ve ordered from this place before, and it always takes them a while to deliver, but it took them a really long time on Cinco de Mayo. I should have expected that. But I was ordering from Eat24 with one of their weekend coupons and they’re the only mexican restaurant on there that delivers to me… at least, the only one that didn’t also serve chinese food. So I got a carnitas burrito, which was tasty, but not life-changing or anything. (I have yet to come across a life-changing burrito. If you find one, let me know, because I WANT.) The service is friendly here but a little slow. The food is good, but not great, and sometimes just ok. I did get pork enchiladas from them one time and they tasted amazing, so maybe just go with the enchiladas, or a burrito if you’re not feeling too picky. But their fajitas aren’t served with tortillas. I was really confused…
4. Caffe Aromi – I’ve only been in this place one time before, just to get a latte or a chai or something. I stopped there for breakfast one morning last week because I was in a rush (unfortunately, it didn’t help me get to work any faster, but nevermind). I got a breakfast sandwich and a latte, and I wished I’d gotten a savory croissant and regular coffee instead. What I got was good, but my sense when I’m there is that I’m overpaying. I just don’t feel like you quite get your money’s worth. Also, the decor strangely makes the room look kind of empty, which is rather unpleasant to me. The food to me seems comparable to most other independent cafes, so maybe it’s just the weird tables and chairs I don’t like.
5. Grass Fed – I went there because I had been craving a burger. After debating going for quite some time, I finally determined that I didn’t feel like cooking so I headed out. I just got a standard cheeseburger, and I was what I expected. The draw of Grass Fed is being pretty much “gourmet” fast food. They claim to use local products as much as they can, which is a nice incentive, as it’s good to support local. The best way to describe their burgers; they taste like fast food, but good. It’s not a real, big barbeque burger, but it’s not a gross McDonald’s patty either. Worth heading out there once in a while.
6. Mr. Crepe – This place in Davis Square is a nice little treat once in a while. I used to go get coffee there on occasion when I went through Davis on my way to work. Their coffee is pretty good. Unfortunately they lost my order at first, meaning I had to wait for at least 15 extra minutes for my food to be ready. Of course. It was good. I got savory crepes with spinach, basil, and tomatoes, and I was fairly satisfied. As for the crepes themselves, I’m more a fan of the ones at Cafenation. These I think would be better with the sweet fillings. But that’s just me.
That’s all for now. I’m proud to say that I managed to stop myself from ordering a pizza, but I don’t know how much longer that will last. Pizza is wonderful and when you get the craving, how long do you really expect to hold out against the amazing power of pizza?
Coffee is winning the war of spilling vs. not spilling. By this I mean that I’ve been spilling a lot lately. My coffee this morning kept leaping out of the little hole in the lid, as it so often does. With all the advancements in science and materials and engineering, they still can’t make a coffee cup that actually keeps the coffee inside of it. I find this confusing.
Yesterday was SoWa Open Market Opening Weekend, and I brought my mom. We were slightly pressed for time and I was hungry and tired, so we ended up resolving that we would come back later in the summer. I still say it was too cold to be that crowded, because the wind made it feel much colder than it was. The point being that it was crowded: hence, Sunday Madness.
First, I had it in my head to try to grab some lunch from the food trucks, but the whole food truck area was so crowded and confusing, it was almost impossible to tell where the lines actually started, and I gave up without getting any food from them. It was very upsetting. We ended up buying a scone each at one of the food booths, and they were very tasty. Mine was lemon basil. I have never had basil in a scone.
It was a little better once we got to what I consider the main area, which is all the art/merchandise vendors. We strolled and browsed. I contemplated buying some awesome vintage/steampunk inspired jewelry from Emry’s Finery, where over a year ago I got the locket I wear almost every day, and I found one artist who made many pieces I desperately wanted for my walls. His name is Nathan William Murrell. He said he would be back at SoWa later in the summer, so hopefully I’ll have some bucks to spare by then and I can satisfy my need for paintings of anatomically correct hearts.
As we wound our way through the tents and the people walking very very slowly, I saw a booth with a sign that said “black magic coffee co.,” and I really felt the need for some coffee. The line wasn’t too long, so we stood and waited for the coffee artist to deliver caffeine to our mouths. We both got cappuccinos, and I was satisfied. Unfortunately they do not have a brick and mortar store, but I was informed that they will be at the Market on Sundays at least most weekends. I recommend checking them out, as long as you have the patience to wait in line a while.
There was much to see and much to buy, and I didn’t actually buy anything this time, but I intend to go again as soon as it’s feasible, and if I’m lucky I’ll have some money to spend.
Now it’s back to work of course, but before I go back to toiling over manuscripts I have to acknowledge my awesome Saturday night. I went to see my favorite band play at Ralph’s Diner in Worcester. They are The Blackboard Nails and I just love them more every time I hear them. If you’re in Boston, New York, or certain parts of Canada, there’s a good chance they’ll be playing in your area at some point, so check them out.
I should have waited to do my Monday Madness post. About an hour ago now, two explosions went off in Copley Square, right at the marathon finish line. Numerous injuries are confirmed, although I have not heard of any deaths yet. Supposedly, there are undetonated devices that have been found. What we do know so far suggests that this was done intentionally.
There are a number of online sources and live blogs, but not a lot of information is known so far. If you are in Boston, keep clear of Copley and the surrounding area until it’s been confirmed that it’s safe.
If you are wondering, my office and home are both a pretty good distance away from Copley, and my commute won’t take me through there, so I am lucky. Others are less lucky. Keep them in your thoughts.
Like “Good evening.” but with food.
Dinner tonight was a delicious bowl of leftover chili, made yesterday. I’ll do a full post about making it–that was a true no-recipe experiment! And it worked so well. Most delicious outcome possible. Probably. Anyway. I really wanted some good bread to go with it, so I stopped at Whole Foods on the way home, as it’s the most convenient store on my evening commute that actually carries good bread. They were having a sale on split chicken breasts, so I decided to buy them while they were cheap. They’ve found a nice home in my freezer with the mixed berries, chicken lime burgers, and shrimp. (And ice.) I decided on the durum rolls. I find them delicious. And one of them can make a great breakfast sandwich tomorrow, assuming I can wake myself up early enough to make one. I’m feeling pretty good about my chances, for once…
This past weekend I had a nice little North End experience with my mom. We went full Italian. (She’s half Italian… I’m 1/4.) I had a groupon for Piccola Venezia, where we had been once before. Of course we wanted to go to Little Venice! We were in Venice once about five years ago, and we both felt all nostalgic about it. Piccola Venezia has a great ambience, quite an authentic Italian family feeling. But also like a restaurant. You know what I mean… I had chicken and eggplant parmesan. SO GOOD.
Afterward we stopped at Mike’s for cannoli, although we had them boxed up to take home, as we were extremely full. Then, for the last stop, we stepped into a little cafe called Thinking Cup. It was a little dark but with cool decor, and they were playing a silent movie in the background. Pretty lattes there. I am thinking I will go back there sometime when I can squeeze it in (and have the spending money) and do a more in-depth experience for you. For now I can definitely say that I recommend it, although I don’t know what the crowds are like in general. Might be more crowded during the day.
I would like to close by saying that I’ve been getting SO sleepy by the end of the day lately… even during the afternoon sometimes. My desk chair at work is uncomfortable and it’s hard to feel awake when I can barely manage to sit up straight. What do you think–do I just need a protein-rich snack?
Recently, I decided to check one of many endeavors off of my “like-to-do” list (not a bucket list, as for me that would be comprised of things that would be a little harder to accomplish), and I hopped on a train to downtown Boston to explore the Brattle Book Shop.
Brattle Book Shop is a used bookstore just a stone’s throw from Boston Common. It’s been around since 1825. Seriously. You can get more info at the link above.
The first thing you’ll notice about Brattle is the outdoor section of the bookstore. In the alley next to the building, shelves line the walls to the right and left. Luckily it was a sunny, somewhat mild day when I decided to venture there, so I was able to browse these books for a little while. The books on the left side shelves are all $3; the other side, $5.
I didn’t take the time to scour every title. I rarely have the patience for that. I just scanned a good number of shelves until I had found a few books I wanted to buy. There was quite a range of books, from totally obscure titles that could only interest a niche audience to very popular books, like volumes of Harry Potter and James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.
Toward the back of the outdoor area, they also had this stack of cool painted doors, all book-themed designs. I’m not entirely certain what they use them for, but I’m guessing they use them to close up the shelves when the store is closed, and maybe during the winter. I snapped a picture for reference. I’m sure there are many better pictures out there, but here you go…
Here are the books I picked up:
The first one I spotted was the Marguerite Yourcenar book. Granted, I had no idea who Mishima was, even though he was[is] very well-known (as Wikipedia told me), but I read Memoirs of Hadrian in college, and as a result have dubbed Yourcenar one of my favorite writers. I just had to get it. Tove Jansson was a name I remembered seeing quite a bit when I was working at the Harvard Coop. The Summer Book seemed like it would be the perfect thing to read in the coming months, so I snatched that one up. The last title is an illustrated edition of The Three Musketeers from the ’50s. It’s not valuable or anything, or it would have been in the rare book room instead of the $3 wall. As you might have guessed, it’s an abridged version. it just seemed like a fun thing to own, and I thought the illustrations were pretty cool.
I decided three books was a good amount. I stepped inside to pay, first having a quick look around the inside of the store. I didn’t take too much time inside, but I can say that they had a very wide selection, on shelves reaching up to the ceiling. Fiction was on the first floor, along with a few other categories. Scholarly books were mostly on the second floor. The rare book room was also on the second floor. I didn’t check it out this time around, I think I was just to nervous at the prospect of being in a room with so many valuable books. I did have a glance over the huge posters they had stuck all over the wall leading up to the second floor showing some of the rare books they had sold and the prices they’d gone for. I think the least expensive one was $250. They even once had a first edition Cat in the Hat. Cool.
I would recommend this store to anyone who might be looking for rare books (to buy or not), and to anyone who enjoys weeding through shelves to find something unexpected, unfamiliar, a discovery for your home library. It’s definitely a worthwhile book-lover’s outing. In addition, it’s surrounded by many restaurants as well as being very close to the Boston Common. You could get a book, then grab a sandwich or something, head on over to the grass and settle in for a picnic with your new literary find. Hell, that sounds lovely. I think I’m going to do it sometime this summer.
Last weekend I had a great meal with friends at the little Longwood area pub, The Squealing Pig. It’s a place I had heard mentioned for a while, but never managed to go to myself despite living near it for over a year. I’m so glad I finally went! It’s a very nice atmosphere. Not quiet enough to be a good date spot, but good for a gathering of friends, or perhaps a casual date. They feature a wide selection of drinks and good, simple food.
Beer-wise, it seems they have some you’ve heard of and some you haven’t. I’d personally go for a Magner’s cider, which they have on tap. I find many brewed drinks taste better on tap. I’m not much of a beer person anyway, but there are many options for those who are.
The food is their spin on pub food, so they’ve got the usual appetizers (quesadilla, fries), soups, sandwiches, burgers, fish and chips, pizzas, etc. I had to go with the lobster toastie when I saw it on the menu. A toastie is like a panini. This one had bacon and cheddar cheese I ordered the soup of the day to go along with it, which was a smoked haddock chowder. I guess it was a seafood night.
I would give my meal a three out of five (this may or may not be my rating system for reviewing restaurants in the future). The flavors were all very good, but the soup was very hot and I, of course, couldn’t wait five minutes, so I burned my mouth a little bit. The toastie was a little bit dry. It was clearly not pressed with any sort of butter or oil on the outside of the bread, and none of the fixings inside had much moisture to release. I enjoyed both the soup and the sandwich, but it was not 100% satisfying. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures, because I was not thinking at the time about making a blog post. By the time it occurred to me, the food was gone.
My friends ordered the fish and chips and the asparagus pizza. I tried a little bit of each. I have to say, the cod was amazing. The batter was very light, and the fish was so moist and flaky. I almost wished I had ordered it. The fries were very good too, but they’re only fries, so I don’t have much to say about them. I remember thinking that the pizza had good flavors, but I only had a small bite, not enough to get a good sense of it. I want to try a pizza myself when I go back there. I’m thinking the shrimp and chorizo.
I can’t end without commenting that our table was right next to a lit woodstove, so my legs were very warm and comfy. However, there was also a large group of people having some sort of party, and I was extremely tired, as it was a Friday night. For me, if I had more energy or went on a quieter night, I think it would be a great place to come back to.
On the way home, my hands were freezing, and it felt like too much effort to get out my gloves. I stopped at the Green T Coffee Shop to get a nice warm beverage instead. It’s located right on the E train of the Green line (hence the name). Looking at their special drink menu, I noticed that they still advertised pumpkin spice lattes. IN MARCH. My answer to that was “yes, gimme.” I ordered a small–this was my first time in this coffee shop, and I was still pretty full anyway. The barista was very nice and friendly. There were no other customers to wait on, so we chatted a bit while he made my latte.
I found the “spice” part of the name to be a little lacking, but the flavor overall was very good. I suppose I could always get one, take it home, and sprinkle some pumpkin spice seasoning on it… unfortunately, my mouth was still angry with me for eating such hot soup, so the experience was not as pleasant as it should have been. I am intending to go back and try another of their beverages on a day when I have not done something stupid to my mouth or tongue.
*I realize that this is not a very professionally presented restaurant review. I’d rather it have the personal touch instead.