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Posts Tagged ‘boston’

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.
Percy
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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Dinner and a show

Rather than make excuses about why this is my first post in months, I am just going to say hello and dive back in to tell you about the awesome night I had yesterday.

My friend, M, snagged us tickets to seeLe Vent du Nord, a Quebecois folk group, at the Somerville Theater. We decided to have dinner before the show at Posto. At a friend’s birthday dinner the week before, we’d been talking about the space Posto occupies and how businesses seem to come and go there, so maybe that’s why I was inclined to check it out, beyond the fact that I’ve heard good things about the food.

The space is still industrial and modern, but it manages to be somewhat cozy, too. The brick, concrete, glass, and high ceilings make the dining area a little loud, but not so much that you have to shout a conversation. A wall of wine shelves, the wood oven, and sleek, light wood chairs help offset the harder elements. But you should visit Posto for the food, not the decor.

With a nice number of starters, pastas, entrees, and pizzas on the menu, it took us a little while to decide what to order. For a large party, you can even order a whole pig! While M and I aren’t wine aficionados, by any stretch, we were both struck by the several types of wine we’d never heard of in their by the glass selection. M got a Sangiovese that didn’t impress, but I loved the Terre Primitivo I got; it was fruity and extremely smooth.

We shared the baby arugula salad to start. It was simple and tasty, just a nice mix of greens, endive, and creamy gorgonzola, perfectly dressed. Then we each ordered an appetizer sized pasta, carbonara for me and goat agnolotti for M. Both were excellent. The carbonara was made with pork belly and brussel sprouts, and was creamy and al dente. Even the appetizer portion was generous enough that I took some home. The agnolotti were filled with polenta, surprising but delicious, and topped with rustic, flavorful goat ragut. Overall, it looks like Posto does excellent Italian food with slight twists. I’ll happily return to try the wood-fired pizza.

The evening continued to be delightful. I was not terribly familiar with Le Vent du Nord, but M’s taste in music seems nearly identical to mine, and I liked the few songs I had heard. Without much in the way of expectations, these guys blew me away. There are four men in the band, and they are clearly all excellent musicians, and also a little quirky. The instruments involved in the show included a hurdy gurdy, fiddle, guitar, three different accordions, piano, jaw harp, and bouzouki. The fiddler provides percussion by stomping and tapping his feet (on an amplified surface, I believe), and in one song the bassist bowed his bass like a cello. And they have lovely voices, especially Nicolas and Simon, that they put to use in rich harmonies.

I adore it when musicians really get into their performances, and these guys are one of those groups that make you wonder how they keep that engagement and enthusiasm night after night, song after song. They clearly love what they do, and they are not only fantastic to listen to, but fun to watch. I was grinning through pretty much the whole show. It didn’t even matter that I couldn’t understand the lyrics – since they are from Quebec and play traditional Quebecois music, everything is in French, and my high school French only helped me pick out a word here and there. It was a fantastic concert, and now I just have to figure out what to download on iTunes.

It was such a lovely night, and now I think that leftover carbonara is calling me.

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Paddling away

Last weekend, a friend of mine invited me to go canoeing on a nearby river.  I have only gone canoeing a couple times, and not in years and years, but I associate canoeing with frustration.  I think it is a combination of not being very good at paddling a canoe and the communication and coordination required with another person to propel and steer a canoe.  I am generally cooperative and personable, but something about canoeing just hasn’t worked for me.  Perhaps I should have been a big girl and given it another try, but I decided to go with kayaking instead.  I love kayaking, so that seemed like a much more pleasant way to explore the river.

kicking back on  the kayak

My friends, A, J, and M, piled into a canoe, and we headed off down the river.

canoers

I should note that the canoers didn’t seem to have any trouble or conflict the whole trip, so if you may have been inclined to try out canoeing, don’t let my aversion sway you!

We were in the Concord area and started on the Sudbury River, which flows into the Concord River. The Concord River is spanned by the Old North Bridge, site of one of the first battles of the Revolutionary War.

Old North Bridge

Unfortunately, I may also now remember it as the site where I accidentally dunked myself in the river. We had stopped briefly at the historic park that surrounds the bridge, and when we returned to our boats, I lost my footing while trying to get back in the kayak. Oops! Luckily, it was a warm day, so I wasn’t too uncomfortable while we made our way back to the boathouse.

Despite the dunking, our afternoon on the river was lovely. The banks were lush and green, with patches of brilliantly red salvia.

woods

layers of color

We saw a grey heron, a deep yellow, fuzzy caterpillar that wanted to join our picnic lunch, and so many turtles.

basking turtles

It was a lovely, relaxing way to spend a Saturday with friends. And we topped it off by going out for ice cream after.

As a parting gift, I will share a blurry photo that I actually like!

doubled

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Web gems

If, like me, you are chilling at home on a rainy Sunday, you might enjoy some of these links that caught my eye recently:

These Steampunk Softies are just about the cutest, geekiest craft project I have ever seen.

I’ve got a Project Runway post in the works (those who know me in real life know that I have long been a huge fan.) This season, I am also following Project Project Runway, also from Craftzine, where folks play along with the PR challenges by making outfits for dolls. Maybe next season I will join in, though it would be a big time commitment.

I am also a huge Boston Red Sox fan (Jason Varitek and Dustin Pedroia being my particular favorites.)  A friend recently sent me the link to Bill Simmons’ entertaining take on this season’s Sox.

WanderMonster is a blog where a dad chronicles the creative collaboration between himself and his son. Dad gives the kid a paper with a drawing prompt with his lunch and posts the prompts and the subsequent drawings. I love this blog so much, and I especially loved the recent post about an imagined argument.

I adore these stunning National Park posters by Charley Harper. And some are available for a steal at the U. S. Government Bookstore.

I only recently discovered the style blog, Closet Confections, but she definitely had me with her Sassy sundress that is evocative of a Dr. Seuss book. Sounds silly, but it’s actually fabulous.

Let me know if you’ve stumbled upon any fabulous links lately.

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I had an idyllic day today. From start to finish, it was fun and relaxing, full of moments that made me smile.

As I often do on a weekend morning, I started the day with coffee and a pastry at my favorite local bakery. Then I took a walk and grabbed some bargains at a couple yard sales.

Next I headed to the Esplanade to meet my friend, S, who had agreed to take me sailing. It was a hot, sunny day, so it was comfortable and beautiful out on the water. We chatted as we sailed over the sparkling water and past landmarks. Such a nice way to spend a summer afternoon.

our sail

great day for sailing

skyline from the water

rudders in a row

sail storage

After our sail, I headed over to Beacon Hill and did some browsing, and a little actual shopping. I stopped for a late lunch at The Paramount, then wandered in the Public Garden a bit. Check out the swan and its eggs in the nest!

swan nest with eggs!

At that point, I had a hankering for ice cream, and I lucked out. A Mr. Frosty soft-serve truck was parked right by the bus stop, so I grabbed a cone before heading home. Since then, I’ve been puttering online, doing laundry, and watching the baseball game.  Hooray for summer!

 

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Art in Bloom

As I said in my last post, I returned to the MFA for their annual Art in Bloom event.  For this event, garden clubs are invited to create floral arrangements to be paired with one of the works of art in the museum.  All the floral designers clearly used the art as inspiration for their arrangements, but it was interesting to see the different ways in which they used aspects of the art, from color to shape and texture.

This arrangement clearly used color and form to mimic the composition of the painting.

This designer used a similar approach, but I like this one better.  I like the way the flowers are grouped, with each color being a separate type, to match the sections of the painting.  It’s almost the opposite technique of the painting, where small strokes of varied colors come together to make an impression.  In the floral arrangement the colors are pulled from the painting in solid, homogeneous sections.  Nifty!

This was one of my favorite displays.  I assume the floral designers got to pick which piece of art to interpret, and I think choosing a sculpture like this is more of a challenge.  You can’t use color to dictate the flowers and composition, and I really like how this designer met that challenge.  The palm fronds clearly echo the wings, and the mossy, dangling plants at the bottom of the arrangement are a nod to the texture of the flames at the base of the statue.  I also like that the arrangement avoided being too structurally literal by using three white blossoms, where it would have been more obvious to use two to match the two figures.

I am sad that I got a blurry photo here, because this was another arrangement I really liked.  This designer used colors that exactly matched the painting, but then took a playful approach with the shapes and composition, using open, metal (I think) cubes tumbling around the organic shapes of the flowers.  It both matches and contrasts with the ordered, geometric lines of the painting.

This photo doesn’t come close to showing how well the floral designer matched colors to the painting.  Here the approach seemed to be using certain elements of the painting, specifically color and curves, to inspire the arrangement rather than shaping the arrangement itself to match the painting’s composition.

This last one might not be my favorite, but the interpretation of the art is really interesting.  Who would look at that ancient relief piece and think, “I could base a floral arrangement on that”?

Art in Bloom was a fun way to spend an evening and make myself feel a little more cultured to boot.  Even if you aren’t a fan of floral arrangements, I think the juxtaposition of the flowers and art makes you see the art in a new way.  Though the event is over for 2011, it is an annual event, so you could check it out next year.  Art in Bloom always includes a Community Open House evening when admission to the museum is free, so you don’t even need to open your wallet to enjoy.

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