Archive for the ‘boston’ category

“I’m ba-ack!”

August 20, 2011

Wow, I’ve been MIA the last few weeks. Not that many people noticed, but I feel weird not having blogged for so long. So here I am, bright and early on a Saturday, ready to share my experiences from the last few weeks.

A few weekends ago I met up with some college roommates in Ocean City, Maryland, and we had a blast relaxing at the beach, going out for dinner and drinks and catching up. Here’s a picture of us at Liquid Assets, a bistro and package store with an awesome menu.

We started off the evening with martinis, shared a decadent cheese plate and enjoyed our delicious main courses. I got garlic chicken with roasted tomatoes, onions, fingerling potatoes, Benton’s bacon, spinach and herbs. One of my friends ordered the open faced slow braised Carolina pork BBQ with chipotle coleslaw and thick cut fries, and the other two got seared scallops risotto with roasted garlic and shallots, peas, mushrooms, fresh herbs and grana padano.

My garlic roasted chicken

The pork BBQ

The seared scallops risotto

The weekend following our Ocean City Extravaganza was a busy one as well. Jim and I hosted some friends, went to a Red Sox game and attended a two-day marriage prep class. The Red Sox game was a blast — thanks to our friend, Candace, we managed to get second-row seats!

Our view of the park

Unfortunately, the Red Sox did not win this game (and what’s worse is they lost to the Yankees), but we still had a great time. We enjoyed watching Dustin Pedroia do his little hop move before fielding the ball, making fun of Candace for her “crush” on Josh Reddick (I put crush in quotes because the rest of us sort of invented it) and going out after the game.

The marriage prep class was quite an experience. Due to a friend’s recommendation, we attended the one at the Espousal Retreat House in Waltham (completing a “Pre-Cana” marriage course is a requirement for a Catholic wedding, which we’re having). We showed up on Saturday to discover that 75 other couples in the greater Boston area were doing the same thing. Apparently, this was a record number. We spent the next couple of days together, listening to married couples share their marriage experiences and insights, receiving advice from a priest who’s worked with hundreds of married couples and discussing different aspects of marriage with out significant other.

The Espousal Retreat House in Waltham

In fact, they had each us one us complete forms devoted to specific topics, and then discuss our answers privately with our fiance (or fiancee). Topics ranged from finances to goals to religion. It was helpful to discuss those taboo topics you always try to avoid but really should confront. My fiance and I learned a few things about one another, but were pretty happy must of the subjects we’d already addressed (and were familiar with the other person’s perspective on).

The big theme of the weekend was: COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR SPOUSE. Even if you have an issue with another person (say, a friend of the family), you should always be willing to discuss your concerns with your husband or wife. Because you are a team and that person is there to help you out. They will feel validated knowing you trust them with your thoughts, and you’ll end up with a constant source of support and encouragement.

Last weekend my fiance and I headed to Syracuse, NY to take care of more wedding planning. We met with our priest for the first time, picked out the church readings and decided on the layout of the reception space. Also, my fiance designed wedding programs using his fine-tuned Excel skills. I was so proud of him. I had spent hours trying to figure out how to format Microsoft Word properly for a program. And then he goes ahead and whips up an awesome, perfectly formatted program on Excel in no time! I really think he should market his wedding program making skills!

Not only have I been so busy the last few weekends, but it seems like nearly every weeknight I’ve had some event to celebrate. For example, it was my sister’s 29th birthday on Wednesday (we had an awesome tapas meal at Solea in Waltham), my friend Bridget’s going away dinner on Tuesday, and my 3-year anniversary on August 10.

I love this card my fiance gave me for our anniversary

Finally, I feel like I can relax. I was so tired from all the recent happenings last night, that I went to bed at 8:30 (yup, on a Friday night). But now it’s 7 a.m. on a Saturday, I’ve already had my coffee and Stella D’oro almond toasts, and I’m feeling good! I’m really looking forward to this weekend — my only plan is to attend the Futures at Fenway doubleheader. Actually, I have one other plan as well: to celebrate my fiance’s acceptance into his graduate school program of choice! He’ll be attending Northeastern for political science starting in three weeks– yeah!!!

Eat at Casa Romero in the Back Bay…

July 27, 2011

…or else! It’s so freakin’ amazing. My fiance and I had dinner there the other night, and let me tell you I couldn’t get enough of my entree. But let me back up a bit. We started off with drinks and some complimentary salsa and chips.

My sangria

Chips and salsa

Those were good, though nothing particularly amazing. The guacamole was also fine.

But let me tell you, my entree really knocked my socks off. I had sauteed pork tenderloin tips with tomatillos, cilantro, potatoes and roasted poblana peppers. The pork was so tender and flavorful, the potatoes were so cute all chopped up into tiny pieces (and delicious), and the tartness of the tomatillos really complemented the savory pork.

I was so thankful to have leftovers today for lunch!

My fiance ordered enchiladas with pulled chicken, mole poblano sauce, cheese and Mexican creme fraiche. He said they were some of the best enchiladas he’s ever had. My initial thought upon trying a bite was “Wow, this is nice and chocolate-y!”

Both dishes were served with delicious rice and beans.

Appetizers range from $6.50 to $11.50, and entrees range from $16 to $28.25. If this in in your price range, and you’re craving Mexican, make sure you stop here. The waitstaff was so friendly (they even gave me extra rice and beans for my to-go container without me asking), and the decor is beautiful/colorful. Enjoy!

Keeping my eyes open

June 12, 2011

I like to keep my eyes open for cool art. Here are a couple recent examples:

This old Life Savers ad is in the women’s bathroom of The Old Salt Restaurant in Hampton, New Hampshire (it says Life Savers are “a good rule to follow after eating drinking or smoking”). I went there last Sunday in celebration of my fiance’s parents’ wedding anniversary. They enjoy going to this restaurant, and we actually went there once together last year. Their specialty is seafood (I had a salad with fresh succulent crabmeat)!

This photo of a dog in Fenway Park (in the red Ted Williams seat!) is on display at the South End Buttery. I wanted to try it out a few weeks ago, and since then have gotten yummy coffee there on several occasions. My fiance ordered a burrito there on Friday, and although he liked it the waiter handed it to him on a steaming hot plate. I didn’t think that was too nice!

A Harvard Square Saturday

May 15, 2011

Although the weather was pretty bleak, I spent a nice afternoon in Harvard Square on Saturday. I walked there from Porter Square, where I had just gone to the gym.

These photos were taken at the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Everett Street, where Harvard University is constructing a new law school building. The building is almost ready, it appears (construction has sure taken awhile!)

Part of the new building

Some of the project crew members

One of the building's arches

As I approached Harvard Square, I spotted a crowd encircling some martial art practitioners/dancers. Here’s a pic:

Listen to the music the martial arts people were moving to by checking out this video:

As I waited for my fiance to finish up an exam at Harvard, I read some of the history displays near Garden Street.

Part of one of the history displays

I learned a bunch of new things about Cambridge, including:

  • Cambridge was first called “Newtowne”
  • The name was changed to Cambridge when Harvard University was founded. Cambridge is a reference to the university city of Cambridge, England.
  • Harvard is named after John Harvard, the university’s first benefactor
  • The Puritans founded Cambridge in 1630. It was meant to be their permanent capital, as the location was safe from an attack by sea. It didn’t last as a political capital, though it became an educational one (with the establishment of Harvard).
  • The community criticized some of Harvard’s early buildings, saying they were “too gorgeous for a wilderness.”
  • In the 18th century wealthy royalists built elaborate mansions and gardens along Brattle Street (the stretch of mansions was called “Tory Row). They had grown  rich from service to the crown and the rum and slavery trade. When the revolution broke, they fled to Canada and England.

Fittingly, on Saturday my fiance and I had lunch at a relatively new restaurant in Harvard Square named Tory Row.

I had some fresh pineapple juice ($2.50) and a grilled marinated chicken breast sandwich with chipotle aioli, mixed greens, and roasted potatoes ($11).

My meal

The roll was nice and soft, the aioli had the perfect kick to it, and the mixed greens and roasted potatoes provided a nice accompaniment to the sandwich.

After lunch, I saw Harvard Square’s newest Starbuck’s. It’s by Citizens Bank and the T.

A sign on the door states the cafe will be opening on May 20 (this Friday). According to comments at the end of this local news post, several business have failed at that location (including an Abercrombie & Fitch).

Harvard Square is such a fun place to walk through. You see guys like this painter, selling their wares.

One of the history displays had mentioned that the country’s first printing press arrived in Cambridge (from England) in the 1630s. I shared this tidbit with my fiance; he told me he knew where the printing press was housed. He took me to Dunster Street, where there’s this plaque.

A little ways down the street we saw this:

What a coincidence! I look forward to trying this place out!

Some pics of Boston’s South End

May 12, 2011

I took these pictures while I was walking through the South End on Monday:

Fountain on Union Park Street

Pink flower petals in the street

South End Buttery-- I will try this place soon!

Part of St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church

Cathedral of the Holy Cross

Scholars Bistro in Boston has good food and service

May 2, 2011

At least that was my experience on Saturday evening with a bunch of friends. Scholars American Bistro and Cocktail Lounge just recently opened at 25 School St. in Boston near the Park Street T stop. Their wine is a little pricey (you can’t get a glass for less than $7), but I suppose that’s often the case in downtown Boston.

They have some unusual items on their menu, which I appreciated. Those dishes include rabbit fritters, braised beef tongue sliders, lasagna cupcakes, apple cider pork belly, and prosciutto pizza. I didn’t have the biggest appetite, so I just went with the mussels appetizer.

My mussels

From my experience, it’s kinda hard to screw mussels up. But the smoked salt, tarragon, and roasted tomato sauce made the meal tastier than your average mussels plate. Plus, they provide plenty of bread to dip in the sauce. My fiance had Tuscan flatbread pizza, which included sun-dried tomato, pesto, goat cheese, and red sauce.

My fiance's Tuscan flatbread pizza

He was quite a fan. Another friend of ours, who adores hummus, ordered the Za’atar flatbread pizza. That one’s made up of pine nuts, goats cheese, hummus, and labneh (Middle Eastern yogurt cheese). For an appetizer, another friend ordered some raw oysters. She let me have one, which is always a ton of fun.

Me slurping down the oyster

While staff didn’t seem 100 percent sure of the menu (that’s understandable as the restaurant just opened), they were nonetheless attentive. At one point, there were three waitresses serving us drinks and asking how things were going. When we first arrived (around 6 p.m.), we were practically the only diners in the whole place. But around 8 p.m. or so, things started picking up.

I think this would be a neat place to go for an after-dinner drink or two. Upstairs there’s a billiards room, comfy chairs, and dim lighting. It’s the perfect environment for enjoying one of their many creative cocktails. Beer fans will be glad to know they have 15-plus brews on tap. I will surely return to this awesome restaurant/bistro/lounge!

This chopstick company could use a copy editor

May 1, 2011

While out at the new Scholars Bistro in Boston last night, we noticed this funny language:

I got to see two members of Pearl Jam perform!

March 28, 2011

Last night I attended the Tres Mts. concert at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston. The group is composed of Jeff Ament, the bassist for Pearl Jam; Doug Pinnick, the bass guitarist, songwriter, and co-lead vocalist for the hard rock/progressive metal band King’s X; and Richard Stuverud, a drummer who’s played for several bands in the Seattle area.

Mike McCready, the lead guitarist for Pearl Jam, joined the group for their tour. So I got to see him and Ament last night!

Gull, a one-man metal band, was the opening act. This strange dude sings, plays the guitar, and drums simultaneously. I shot this short video of him last night:

After a lengthy performance by Gull, Tres Mts. took the stage. According to Tres Mts.’s Facebook page, Ament first saw Pinnick perform in 1989. He asked him to open some shows for Pearl Jam, and they became friends.

Here’s a video I shot of Tres Mts. last night. First, you see Pinnick. Then, you get a glimpse of Ament playing the guitar. McCready is the red-shirted guitarist in the background.

Here’s another excerpt from Tres Mts.’s performance:

And another:

Here’s some guitar action:

And one more clip:

All in all it was a great show. It was a nice blend of slow and fast songs; I loved Pinnick’s voice, the wonderful guitar playing, and the band’s high level of energy.

I love Scranton, Pennsylvania and nearby Moosic

March 22, 2011

I’ve long loved the city of Scranton, Pennsylvania. Even before “The Office” began depicting the lives of office employees in the “Electric City,” I’ve acknowledged the city’s charms. Awnings, alleyways between streets for behind-the-house parking, and a valley location are just a few of Scranton’s lovely characteristics.

I got to know Scranton by occasionally visiting my friend Katie and her family there (check out Katie’s blog here). And I would often drive through Scranton to get to and from Loyola University Maryland (where I went for undergrad), and to visit friends living in Philadelphia, New York City, and Maryland.

When you’re headed southbound on Interstate-81, you go by some Scranton exits; soon after the exit for “Moosic.” I’ve never really been there (once I filled my car with gas just off the exit), but I adore the name. It’s basically a fun way to say “music.” I’ve sort of wondered what goes on in Moosic, and my question was partially answered on Sunday.

While I was at a rest stop off the New Jersey Turnpike (on the way back from Charleston, South Carolina), I noticed this lock in a bathroom stall.

If you look closely you’ll see that the lock was made by Comtec Industries in Moosic, Pennsylvania. A cursory search of the Internet indicates that the company is now owned by Scranton-based Scranton Products. I was unable to find out how many people work for Comtec Industries/Scranton Products in Moosic. Maybe many of these jobs have disappeared over the years.

Small-town bars

March 5, 2011


When I was living in a country town in upstate New York, there were many of those bars where everyone knows your name. You walk into the establishment, and nearly everyone looks straight up and says “Hey Christine!” (or whatever your name may be).

You walk around, saying “hi” to everyone; hoping you’ll avoid that one guy who gives you a hard time each time you come in (you know, he tries to hug you when you don’t want a hug or asks why you don’t want to go hunting with him). You buy a drink for an incredibly cheap price (or someone buys it for you), and then shoot the breeze with the regulars.

In my upstate New York town, there were a couple of these establishments I’d frequent more than others. I remember going to the first one; being marked by the frequency with which country music was played. Single men in their 40s and 50s would be listening to a sad country tune about an unrequited love while practically crying into their Bud or Michelob lights.

I made the mistake of playing a techno song on the jukebox one evening. “What the H#@& is this?!?!?” several Carhartt-clad men shouted in unison. I looked up, realizing the error of my ways. This was NOT the place to get my techno music fix. We let the song play, however, as several regulars lined up to play their next sappy country ballad.

One night at this bar I had some especially great conversations. I don’t remember what was said exactly, but I do remember one boat salesman saying he had to play me a couple of his favorite songs. This first one will always remind me of my time in this insular yet charmingly simple country town.

I remember that whenever the chorus played, this guy would close his eyes, groove his head to the beat, and belt out the words. He’d passionately utter:

I wake up and tear drops
They fall down like rain
I put on that old song we danced to and then
I head off to my job
Guess not much has changed

Punch the clock
Head for home
Check the phone, just in case
Go to bed
Dream of you
That’s what I’m doing these days

The other song was a little gentler/more meaningful in my opinion. I’m unable to post the YouTube video to this page, so I’ll just link to it. I remember thinking it was nice that this rustic outdoorsman enjoyed such a sweet song (it’s about a love between a father and son).

At the other bar, you’d run into all sort of important people in town: police officers, lawyers, town board members, etc. Initially they knew you (well me and some of my friends at least) as the journalists who interviewed them from time to time. But then, after seeing them there a few times, you were more like a friend. Eventually you barely talked about what you did for a career. Instead, you’d join them in cheering for the Green Bay Packers, playing some darts, or discussing the upcoming dairy parade.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com/photos/dougtone/3841713630


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