It has taken me a ridiculously long time to write this post up – I guess it’s because I’ve been having far too much fun running around. But Boston was wonderful, and even better than the city was my fantastic host, the amazing Brian, who not only gave me a comfortable bed to sleep in but also pulled out all the stops for food (he made me lobster on my first night!), and kept me entertained with his list of Boston must-dos. I also met up with Jen for a quick coffee and a bite, which, though brief, was equally fabulous. Come to my side of the world soon, Jen!
As with everywhere else, it was a short trip, but it was full of fun, food and friends, and that’s the most important part, right? Oh, and we also did a little video, because we’re awesome like that. Thanks Brian – you are such a superstar!
What a host, eh? I’d barely arrived and Brian was already pulling out the big guns. He made a delicious lobster pasta dish for dinner that night, had apparently been up at the crack of dawn that morning to make the pasta (yes, fresh pasta – how lucky am I?!) and it was awesome. One of my goals for this year is to make more fresh pasta, so I should really take a leaf or two (or perhaps an egg…?) from Brian’s book!
We also shared a sausage roll and veggie curry pie from Ko Catering & Pies, an Australian pie shop in Boston. Having experienced the phenomenon of the meat pie whilst in Australia I can vouch for its authenticity! The pastry was flaky and delicious, the fillings moist and sumptuous.
Ko Catering & Pies
87 A St
S Boston MA
I visited Flour twice, once with Jen across the river in Cambridge, and once by myself at their Farnsworth St. location, but both times they had run out of their famed sticky buns which Brian had insisted I try. I guess it’s the kind of baked good you have to make the trek across town for early in the morning, or else you miss out. No matter. I had some spinach quiche and a delicious slice of banana bread instead, both of which were fantastic. The staff are incredibly friendly, too. Definitely recommended. Even better that I got to have a chat with Jen, who is both charming and hilarious – a fantastic combination. She had to run off back to work, but we had a good giggle over our fare for an hour or so, snapped a few photos and then headed out. Strangely, just as I was leaving and heading back to the subway a huge car crash happened right in front of me: clearly Jen and I meeting in real life makes the world implode.
Photo credit: Jen Che.
12 Farnsworth St.
190 Massachusetts Ave.
One Day To Rule Them All
Because I’m an idiot, I really only had one day to wander around Boston, so the night before Brian and I planned a little route so that I could see as much of Boston as possible. I was going to be exploring by myself as he had to work, but it actually wasn’t my first time in town, as I’d been through Boston (for one day only, too) a few years ago on a school ski trip to Vermont when I was fourteen. Having said that, it was so long ago I could barely remember it, so off I wandered on a chilly morning through Boston to get the most out of it that I could! Funny story: it was warmer in Boston than Chicago, but actually still so cold that about ten minutes after I left the house, the end of my still-wet-hair had turned into an icicle!
After stopping in to Flour for a hot cuppa to help defrost my hair, off I wandered to the ICA, the contemporary art museum down by the waterfront. The Mark Bradford exhibit was absolutely fantastic – I really enjoyed it. The gallery isn’t huge, but it packs a lot of punch – worth a visit, for sure!
The Institute of Contemporary Art
100 Northern Ave
Of course, no visit to Boston is complete without a trip down to Quincy Market in Faneuil Hall. It is terribly touristy, but eh, whatevs. I bought myself a small cup of clam chowder from the Boston Chowda Co. and had it in the warmth before I headed back out to wander some more. A decent tasting chowder, but I’m not exactly an expert. Maybe ask a local where they think the best chowder is from, but for starters this isn’t bad.
Boston Chowda Co., Faneuil Hall
As I meandered up to Boston’s North End I accidentally happened upon Haymarket, a Friday and Saturdays only open-air market. The air was filled with the sound of yelling voices, all in that wonderful Bostonian accent, the smell of spices, fresh fruit and vegetables, meat and fish. It was vibrant and wonderful – I wandered pretty happily for a good half hour.
Bova’s Bakery, up in the North End, is one of Boston’s family-run bakeries that have been around for, what seems to be, forever. Their pastries and cakes are to-die-for, or so I’d been told, and I’d also been instructed to try a cannoli.
Whilst it was tasty, I have decided that I am not a huge cannoli fan. I think I find the ricotta filling too gritty, when I really just want it to be smooth and creamy. Sorry cannoli fans! But, though it wasn’t my thing, it may be one for you cannoli lovers to try. The hard pastry shell was lovely.
134 Salem St
Next stop was along Beacon Street, where I gazed at The Massachusetts State House‘s blinding golden roof (and the General Hooker entrance: fantastic name). Across the street was the Public Garden, so I headed in to walk around a little more, watch the ice-skaters on the Frog Pond and snap a few photos.
Finally, back to Brian’s work and off for drinks and dinner!
Island Creek Oyster Bar
Third photo credit: Brian Samuels.
There are very few things I don’t eat, but oysters happen to be one of them; I just really don’t like the taste, and I’ve tried them a multitude of different ways. Poor Brian didn’t know until I showed up in Boston, and by then he’d already planned to take me to two places where oysters were a speciality of theirs, including Island Creek Oyster Bar. No matter because they did other awesome food, but Brian got to have some “delicious” oysters anyway and we still had a great time.
Photo credits: Brian Samuels.
If you thought I could eat you should really meet Brian, because Brian can eat. I actually have a remarkably small stomach, all things considered, but Brian can not only put it all away and then some, he also manages to keep that svelte figure of his whilst doing so: I have no idea where it all goes. In addition to Brian’s four oysters, we shared the fluke tartare which was served with root chips (the chips were delicious, the tartare was a bit lacklustre though) and also the crab cake (delicious, highly recommended).
Immediately after we’d finished here we headed next door for dinner. Suffice to say that I ate a ridiculous amount of food in a fairly short amount of time, and then nearly fell into a food coma right there and then at the table.
Island Creek Oyster Bar
500 Commonwealth Ave
Boston’s Eastern Standard has a lot of hype. This is apparently the restaurant that some of the city’s best chefs go to eat at, the place where the food is lauded near and far. What a great experience, then, to try a place that is truly “Boston”.
We had to wait a while for our table, but were early so I didn’t mind so much. Instead, we grabbed a couple of drinks and loitered in the bar area, chatting idly (but loudly) over the noise of the surrounding punters. Some of the bar staff were a little on the rude side, but considering how many people there were in the bar I can forgive them (a little) for that, and our server was as sweet as cherry pie, so it definitely made up for it.
But the food – was it worth the hype? We’d decided to order a wide selection of starters to share, as there were four of us and we couldn’t really decide what we each wanted. I have to say, whilst it wasn’t amazing it was extremely good, with everything cooked to perfection. Though not cheap, we weren’t breaking the bank either, and by the end of our meal I had eaten so much food I felt like I was going to burst out of my skin, much like an overcooked sausage. The three hungry men around me, however, probably could’ve put away another dish. I had to admit defeat, however – I am only a wee thing! Of course the company made it a million times better, but it was definitely a fun evening with lots of laughter and tasty food.
528 Commonwealth Ave
When we got home Brian made us his infamous Hot Buttered Rum, we watched a few silly YouTube videos and before you knew it we had decided that the only thing to do was for him to interview me about my time in Boston, as the next morning I was off again, this time to New Jersey and New York and my last leg of the trip. So away we went with the video camera for my most candid interview ever…
And so there you have it – Boston! A place I’d definitely revisit, if only to see Brian and spend some more time together! But I can always return and hopefully he’ll be on my side of the pond before I’m on his again! A huge thanks to everybody who made my Boston trip so enjoyable, from mid-afternoon drinks to late-night chats, silly videos and a mountain of food (seriously Brian, how do you keep so trim?!); it was the best of times (and not at all the worst of times).
Until next time, peace and love.