Archive for April, 2012

I was watching the news while getting ready this morning, and the story on yesterday’s 100th anniversary celebration at Fenway Park got me all misty-eyed.

Celebrating 100 years of Fenway Park
It started with Varitek and Wakefield wheeling Pesky and Doerr onto the field, but what really got me was Terry Francona (lovable, loyal, unflappable Tito) touching his heart and waving to the cheering crowds. If it hadn’t been for the amusing image of Pedro Martinez and Kevin Millar (two of the biggest hams I have ever seen in my life) leading the toast from atop the dugout, the tears might have actually spilled over. The history and nostalgia of Fenway is so wonderful, and it’s another reason I love living in Boston.

Then, in keeping with the sentimental start to the day, I heard a song from the musical Elegies, called “14 Dwight Ave, Natick, Massachusetts”. (I often listen to the Emerson College radio station, WERS, on the weekends for their programs Standing Room Only – all musicals – and All A Cappella.) The song first caught my attention because I drive through Natick every day on my commute and wondered how the town ended up in a musical. But the song is a beautiful piece about a life well-lived and the friendships many women share. (The video below is the best one I could find on YouTube, but it actually features two songs from Elegies, so don’t be put off by the 10 minute length.)

My last sentimental moment of the day requires a little more in the way of explanation. I once had a hedgehog for a pet, an African Pygmy Hedgehog to be precise. I find them ridiculously cute, so I am a little obsessed.
Anyway, because of my fascination with hedgehogs, another song on WERS (this time on All A Cappella) snagged my attention with the lyrics “He’s a hedge pig.” I honestly never thought I would come across a rock/pop song with something about a hedgehog in the lyrics, and it turns out the hedgehog is a central feature of the song. It took some internet sleuthing when I got home, but I finally discovered that the song is “Benjamin” by Midnight Youth, and beyond the hedgehog bit, it’s a really fun song.

Of course, as with anything hedgehog related, the song reminded me of my hedgie, Percy, who sadly died in 2005.
But the song still makes me smile. Especially the “prickly little porker” line which has a really nice rhythm to it.  I have to admit, though, that I have no clue what the song means.  My best guess is that it’s about a dream or a drug trip or something.


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Now with better burgers

I love my neighborhood.  I live in Jamaica Plain, more commonly referred to by locals as JP, a neighborhood in Boston that has a bit of a small town feel, which really appeals to me, since I am not really a city girl.  It has a main street with shops and restaurants, quiet streets with historic homes, and lovely green spaces.  When I first moved here in 2006, the restaurant options were fine, but not much to write home about.  There were some respectable ethnic eateries, a few pizza joints, and some Irish pubs.  The notable exception was Ten Tables, which I discovered after its vegetarian tasting menu was featured in Boston Magazine as a best value. My older brother, who is a vegetarian, and I decided to check it out and I fell in love with the restaurant. I still remember the main course from that first vegetarian tasting meal, which was a supremely comforting and flavorful dish of polenta with mushroom gravy and a poached egg.

Since that meal, Ten Tables has been my favorite Boston restaurant. I could go on and on, but this post isn’t really about Ten Tables. In recent years, Ten Tables’ proprietor, Krista Kranyak, has opened outposts in Cambridge and Provincetown, along with a bar expansion of the original JP location. Her latest venture, though, is not another Ten Tables branch.

Blue Devil and truffle parm fries

Recently in JP, Kranyak opened Grass Fed, a counter service burger place. I love a good burger, so I was eager to try it out, but the first week or so they were open the place was chock full, and I like to be able to sit and relish my burgers. Finally the crowds thinned a bit, so on a sunny Saturday, I headed in. Grass Fed is only three doors down from Ten Tables, and they have some things in common: small size, brick walls, blackboard menus around the top of the walls. The menu has a number of beef burgers, of course, but also a chickpea burger and a chicken burger.

I ordered the Blue Devil, which is a beef burger topped with stilton, bacon, fried onion strings, and aioli (but I skipped the aioli, since it seemed decadent enough without.) Continuing the decadent trend, I also ordered truffle-parm fries and a glass of red wine. Then I grabbed a stool at one of the counters that line the walls and are stocked with condiments (housemade ketchup, mustard, and A10 sauce, which is Kranyak’s version of steak sauce.) It wasn’t long before my food arrived. You can see it in the photo above. Man, it was delicious. They seem to cook the burgers to medium to medium-well, and I was worried that would be too done, but the burger was still juicy and flavorful. The bun was buttered and grilled and the bacon, onions, and stilton added saltiness, crispiness, and more flavor. I think my only quibble was that the bleu cheese flavor didn’t come out as much as I would have liked.

Meanwhile, I could smell the truffle oil on the fries, before I even picked one up. Yum! The fries had the crispy, golden exterior and light, smooth interior of perfectly cooked french fries. In addition to the truffle-parm fries, you can get regular fries, spicy, or beet fries, plus poutine with traditional or mushroom gravy, onion rings, or housemade potato chips. My first meal at Grass Fed was so yummy that I went back less than a week later.

Cheeseburger and beet fries

This time I decided to try the beet fries (aren’t they gorgeous?), and I got a burger with cheddar and grilled onions, which I topped with some of the A10 sauce. Even without the punch of bacon and bleu cheese, there was plenty of flavor. The beet fries were a nice change from plain old roasted or boiled beets, but don’t go there if you don’t like beets. I found they were quite good with a little mustard, and I bet honey mustard would be really nice. Or maybe if I get them again I will try them with the cilantro lime aioli on the menu.

Besides the burgers, the menu includes soup, salads, and a few other sandwiches. Plus, there are milkshakes, both traditional and “adult”. I am dying to try those! So you know I will be back.

I’d say Kranyak has opened another great place, and I am glad to have a burger joint in the neighborhood. Life in JP just seems to get better and better.

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Big fish, little fish

plaid tunic and leggings

I wore this outfit to have brunch with an awesome friend who has been going through some real crap lately. We noshed on pancakes and french toast while catching up on each other’s lives in a trendy restaurant, and I felt comfortable and cute.

This outfit might look simple and casual, nothing groundbreaking, but it shows how I have branched out when it comes to fashion recently. Starting from the bottom up, I used to dislike tall boots. I started to change my mind when the variety of styles increased, along with the availability of styles that actually fit my wide calves. I got these almost equestrian looking boots for a steal, and I love them. Another item I used to dislike? Leggings. I thought they looked cute on others but wouldn’t work on my short, curvy frame. Much like the boots, I have done a complete 180, and I wear leggings quite a bit now. Mostly I wear them with dresses, but I am starting to find the occasional long cardigan or tunic that works with leggings, too. It’s nice to step away from the advice of those style experts who say that tapered pants are unflattering to curvy ladies, and I have to say that I actually like the way I look in this silhouette.

Tunics. Another item I never thought I would wear. With straighter pants such a long shirt might make me look stumpy, but somehow that doesn’t happen with the slim leggings. This particular tunic is a button down, a style of top that has long been the bane of my existence. The classic oxford shirt looks so crisp, classic, and professional on other women, but they nearly always look boxy, boyish, or bunchy on me, plus I hate ironing. But this one is in a sturdy flannel that is soft and cozy and doesn’t wrinkle, and that formfitting nipped in waist fits and flatters. If I could have this shirt in several colors and patterns, I would live in it all fall and winter long. One of the downsides to thrifting is that you very rarely get to buy an item you love in multiples.  I can’t even find anything about the brand online (the tag says “Freeshirt” and “U gotta be kiddin me” below), so it seems like this top is not going to have any competition in my wardrobe.

Let’s see, what other surprising outfit elements are there? Well, if you look closely you might be able to tell that while my leggings are black, that tunic is turquoise and navy. I hear that all neutrals can be worn together, and I am getting more comfortable with mixing a lighter neutral with a darker one (like the black of the pants with the lighter taupe of the boots), but I still can’t really get behind black and navy together. I’ve seen others pair them in a way that looks fashionable and intentional, but I worry it makes it look like I got dressed in the dark, you know? Luckily, I think that the darker blue in the top just reads as black when paired with the black pants. Of course, I just revealed the truth to the internet.

Last, but not least, I’ve actually got a little bit of pattern mixing going on in this outfit. The scarf that I am wearing as a headband has a lovely swirly pattern of different shades of blue. Even in person it’s kind of subtle, but baby steps still count, right? Pattern mixing is another trend that can look haphazard, in my opinion, so I am starting small.

big fish, little fish

In case you have read this far and are still wondering abut this post’s title, the rather grainy photo above should help. It’s hard to see, but the shorter, smaller necklace is a fish, too. I’ve been accumulating pendant style necklaces to layer like this, and it amused me to pair these two, since it kind of looks like the big fish is going to eat the little one.

Outfit details:
silk scarf: gift from a friend
necklaces: little fish, Forever 21 (I think?); big fish, Van Heusen
plaid tunic: Freeshirt, thrifted
ponte leggings: Van Heusen
leather boots: Ros Hommerson via 6pm.com

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Hoo boy, at this rate I won’t finish my London posts until summer.  Eek!  Sorry for the slow pace, but life (and a sometimes slow internet connection, grr) gets in the way of blogging sometimes.  Day three of my London trip was jam packed, so this may get long, but this day had my favorite sights.

My first stop of the day was Portobello Road Market.

Portobello Road Market
storefront sewing machines
Portobello Road
sign shop

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