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The Australians at the Omni Parker

9 Oct

The funny thing about plans, as cliche as it sounds, is that they never go the way they’re supposed to. Yet, what I love most about making plans often times is breaking from them and deviating to a path that I may have never otherwise taken.

Last night, I had  originally planned a time out on the town with one of my girlfriends who is visiting from Europe.  I decided that once I left Baltimare at 5, I would meet her at” the place”, Max and Dylan’s for dinner, and once we were full (and probably a bit tipsy) we would stake out together on one of the many ghost tours that skulk around Boston this time of year. It was a good plan. A solid plan. And I had always wanted to go on a ghost tour. So, I booked the non-refundable tickets, eager for the night to arrive.

I didn’t expect Baltimare to be so overloaded and hold me up until 5:30, or the trains to lock one side of the station due to a holiday that I didn’t have off so I would have to take an extra 20 minutes to get to the platform–but most of all I didn’t expect my girlfriend to find herself deliriously ill and cancel on me last minute either. There I was, staring miserably at her mess of missed text messages that I hadn’t seen until hours after she had sent them, feeling my night was ruined. Without her–there would be no dinner, no drinks, and most disappointing of all: no ghost tour. I was beside myself–until I decided to embrace this alternate path.

My fingers flew across the tiny keys of my phone as I dialed up another friend in hopes that he could make plans with me last minute. Somehow–he was free. I felt myself lifted from my disheartened state as if I were tied to a Zeppelin. So the adventure was back in business.

Our tour group met at the mouth of the Central Cometary across from the Colonial theater and my friend met me at Boyleston Street Station. I felt giddy that I had managed to get a hold of someone on such short notice. Our guide was a stocky man of a regular build, and glasses dressed all in black with a battery lit lantern to guide us to him. A message bag was slung over his shoulder like so many other Bostonians, giving him an oddly immature appearance. He spoke in a light Boston accent and to our great relief was interactive, expressive and captivating. As our guide led us around the commons, to the site of the “Great Oak” where people were hung for crimes, to the library that houses a book bound in human skin–he constantly kept us as well as the rest of the group enthralled in his stories. I was fascinated by the stories he came up with–mainly in that I had never heard them before. As best put by my friend during the tour, “Even if it’s all B.S. they’re interesting stories.”

Our tour concluded at the most haunted hotel in Boston, The Omni Parker House Hotel. Built in 1855 and located at 60 school Street, just down the street from Park Street Station, this hotel (though old) still speaks volumes of its rich and luxurious past. I have walked by this hotel more times than I can count over the years but I had never taken the time to go inside. Crown molding like I had never seen up close before lines the vestibule all the way to the concierge desk in the back. Heavy, dark wood paneling covered the walls and floral somewhat antique-looking furniture was placed against the walls and around small tables in a welcoming fashion as you pushed your way from the cold into the lobby. A smell of liquor greeted our noses as we entered, as we walked past the hotel bar and restaurant, “The Last Hurrah”. This hotel seemed to give off a slightly masculine scent of sweet cigars smoked over many years (but not in an unpleasantly overpowering way) mixed with brandy aged to perfection. I found myself more fascinated by the hotel itself than our previously enchanting guide. Here, we were told of the many haunts the hotel boasted, as well as being the inventor of the Boston Cream Pie.

Evan and I eagerly wandered into The Last Hurrah after tipping our guide, and after some finagling, managed to get ourselves a table. Here, the molding seemed more modern, but the feel was still of a gentleman’s lounge. I could imagine men in three-piece-suites, brown in color, smoking cigars in the high-backed armchairs having once sat here among friends, and possibly women, for some reason in my imaginings to be in flapper dresses and pearls. This was a place of masculine beauty and great comfort; and I immediately liked it.

We found ourselves seated beside a couple, possibly in their 50’s, with twanging Australian accents and smiling eyes. They were married, on vacation from home to visit their daughter who was going to medical school at Harvard. The man wore a bright yellow sweater and had striking blue eyes that seemed to be constantly twinkling with mirth beneath the surface. His hands were large and rough, wrapped around his half-empty glass as he jokingly complained about a woman who had “a big fat head” at the bar who was blocking his view of the baseball game.  His wife was a fair-haired, petite woman with laugh lines around her mouth and eyes that made me hope I would look that pleasant and warm as I get older. I liked the woman at once, and wish that I wasn’t so horrible at remembering names that I could recall theirs. She had once been a nurse, I learned, and was now happily retired with her husband. She and I struck up a conversation and somehow it turned to literature and books that we loved, the love of physical books, and our dislike of the modern “Kindles” and “Nooks” available. When I told her of my hopes to one day be known as a great young adult novelist–she wanted my name at once and I gave her my card with an autograph at her request.

“For when you make it big one day–I can say I met you on Holiday.” She told me warmly. They were beautiful people. Warm and vibrant. And over an irish coffee and a piece of the Omni’s wonderful Boston Cream Pie, I felt myself feel suddenly very alive and connected to the world again. Though I stumbled home a tad later than I had planned–I couldn’t help but think how wonderful the unplanned moments in life can sometimes be for the littlest reasons. I smiled, knowing that if my plans hadn’t gone so wrong that the evening wouldn’t have felt so perfect.

The Omni Parker House

Ghost Tour

 

 

 

 

 

Memories of the Marshfield Fair and a T.K.O’Malley’s Review

26 Aug

My earliest memory of the Marshfield Fair– which has been a tradition in the county since the 1800’s– is a memory that I attach to my great grandmother, Noni. I can’t exactly remember how old I must have been when she first began to take me, but I could guess roughly eight or nine–as I specifically remember not being tall enough to peek into the Clydesdale horse stalls to see them, without help or without pulling myself up by the bars of their stalls. I also remember the Bee keeper stalls, which even now as I am in my twenties continues to fascinate me for reasons that I can’t quite pinpoint. Noni had always been fascinated too. Together we would tromp the Fairgrounds, riding on the rides I was tall enough to squeak on and waving to Noni as I gleefully swung round, and round on them. I even remember that she would pay for me to play at least one game at the Fair to try to win a prize–but I never remember ever winning.

Noni passed roughly three years ago, and she and I hadn’t been to the Fair together for many years before that. For the first time in roughly twelve years last night; I went to the Marshfield Fair. It’s funny how memories come back so quickly and with such force when certain sights, smells and sounds overtake you. It was as if I were small again, and she was leading me around pointing at the prize winning animals, and giving me bites of cotton candy and various tasty fair foods. Her ghost seemed to linger with me for the whole night as I chatted with my friend and his family. I felt a small almost child-like joy as the lights of the Fairgrounds came to life, voices spiraling, laughing and screaming as we passed rides, vendors calling out to people as they passed by to tempt them into winning prizes full of sawdust. One prize I did stop to try my hand at winning–was a live Goldfish. I knew it was a rip-off and that I could buy a goldfish of my own at a pet store if I wanted, probably for less than what it was costing me to try to win one, ($5 for a bucket of ping-pong balls) but it was the excitement of the idea. The sense of old-time charm that drew me to it. And I happily won. Proudly, I displayed my prize–a fat orange Goldfish in a bag, swimming excitedly in a circle–to my friend who snapped a trophy photo of sorts for proof. I knew Noni would have smiled.

My Prize!

Posing with my Goldfish Prize at Marshfield Fair

In entirety, this weekend gave me back a sense of myself that I felt had been missing lately. I woke up this morning to a gorgeous day, and another friend waiting in the wings for an adventure to Scituate. Off we went, stopping only for an ATM, Gas and a quick car wash, we drove into the center of town where the charm of a seaside town has a heavy hold, and people milled about looking pleasant in their Sunday best. It was a sleepy sort of day, and the town moved at a pace that suited this. We wandered past the harbor at first, soaking in the smell of the ocean that I had missed all summer, before heading for lunch at a place called T.K O’Malleys.

T.K O’Malley’s had a typical sort of Irish Pub feel, but with the bonus of having the option of being able sit on the outside patio overlooking the bright, breezy harbor. Entering the restaurant was at first slightly confusing, as there are doorways to the left and right of you when you first walk in–luckily to the left we spotted a cluster of Hostesses sporting blue TKO’Malley’s t-shirts, hovering over the hostess stand and made our way that way. I held my hand up with two fingers, which in any restaurant would generally indicate table for two, but here only got me slightly blank stares, a chomp on what I hoped was gum in one girl’s mouth, and a mumbled, “Inside or out” from one of the hostesses that had her back to us. I looked to my friend for confirmation, and luckily he confirmed we wanted to be outside as I had barely managed to hear what had been asked. The hostesses then handed us a small slip of white paper that read, “Patio Voucher” and told us to head out to the patio. This was somewhat irritating to me. I had worked as a Hostess at Fenway park for a short while,  so I know that  it is the job of a good Hostess to greet customers, direct them to the appropriate table, ask if they need anything else, and alert the waitstaff that they have a new customer. These girls (who were only busy chatting at the hostess stand) did not guide us to the patio door–they only laughed and told us, “Any door out.” and waved us aside. It felt lazy and unwelcoming. Not a good start.

Once we got out to the patio, the confusion continued. More hostesses in blue shirts at another hostess stand clustered, staring blankly at us as we handed them the slip of paper the previous hostesses had handed us inside. The girls asked us how many again, to which we answered two, one scurried around the patio looking at the few vacant tables before coming back looking confused. Then one of them asked us to wait as they went inside, conceivably to interrogate the other hostesses about us. There were just way too many hostesses, and not enough communication. Finally a hostess returned and asked if five or ten minutes would be okay–to which we agreed. By this time we were slightly frustrated. Why had the indoor hostesses not been informed of a wait time for the outside? There appeared to be more than enough of them to run messages, and inside it seemed to be slow.Luckily, it was   only roughly two minutes for a wait and we were promptly seated at a table with an umbrella and menus.

Our waiter was the best service we had received since we entered the restaurant. He arrived straightaway with his clipboard to take our drink orders, (card us for said drinks as I constantly look underage) and scurry off to the bar to bring them back. The beer selection was fair, and my companion and immensely enjoyed sipping them with the cool breeze off of the water and the warm sunlight on our skin as we browsed our menus. The food was mainly a selection of pub foods–and not much to write home about. Though they did appear to have a varied selection of “University” themed burgers. Should I ever return there–I will probably investigate these. The main draw of TKO’ Malley’s has to be it’s prime waterside spot.  As we were waterside, I craved fish and took part in their Cape “COD” Ruben sandwich, which was a cod filet on rye with thousand island dressing, coleslaw and a slice of cheese. The portions were HUGE and I only managed to finish half of the sandwich but it wasn’t bad. The dressing and slaw were tasty, though the fish seemed a little mushy and was probably less fresh than I would have hoped. What the fish lacked–the slightly toasted bread made up for in crunch and flavor. My friend and I also shared a basket of sweet potato fries which were served with Maple syrup–but I wouldn’t recommend having these with the Syrup. The fries are delicious on their own–and unless you’re a big  Maple Syrup person–the Syrup overpowers the fries taste.

Prices were fair when the bill came, and we tipped our friendly and helpful waiter well. We were pointedly ignored by all of the hostesses on our way out. I couldn’t help but think of how easy it would have been to dine and dash had I been that sort of person. They wouldn’t have even noticed us.

All and all, the day was wonderful and easy-paced. Full of winding seaside roads, looming gorgeous houses, and even a stop at a historical lighthouse. I returned home sleepy but full of a bubbling happiness that only a day near the shore can bring.

 

 TKO ‘Malley’s website link in case you would like to check it out for yourself.

More information on the Marshfield Fair.

The Amazing Spiderman and the not so amazing restaurant The Back Deck

6 Jul

As today I decided that I was too beat to actually work on my novel draft, I decided instead to fill in my lovely readers on my fourth of July adventures and misadventures.

Living in Boston makes the fourth of July a holiday of madness–but the good kind. Fireworks,food, tourists and all sorts of fun seems to burst forth from our fair city. But when rain threatens a good time here in Boston, a need for alternate plans arise.

For my boyfriend and I, out alternate plan became a trip to the movies: The Amazing Spiderman.

Now, many people seem to think that this movie is trying to be a continuation of the previous Spiderman movies involving Tobey Mcguire and the storyline with the Maryjane (Kerstin Dunst)  love interest. But this is a reboot people. Not only is the storyline different, the leading lady is too. This is Spiderman done better–and thank god for that because the world does not need another Tobey Mcguire style Spiderman.

In this version of our favorite web-slinging hero, Peter Parker is introduced at first to the audience as a child in his parents house. His loving, affectionate parents are playing hide-and-seek with the young Peter, when they discover their house has been broken into. Peter’s father, in a panic, begins unearthing hidden documents in the house, stuffing them in a bag and the whole family up and leaves in the middle of a rainstorm. They arrive, rather wet for the wear, at Aunt May and Uncle Ben’s house, where Peter’s parents say their goodbyes to him and tell him to be good. They never explain to Peter where or why they are going, but the way in which the film is shot, it seems his parents explain some unknown plight to his Aunt and Uncle before they leave him there. It is a tearful goodbye. We later discover they have died in a planecrash. (Familiar? Yes, but more personal this time.)

Flash forward to Peter in high school. He is bullied, but not the primary focus of the bullies until he sticks up for another kid getting his face stuffed in pizza. A beautiful blonde, Gwen Staci steps in when Peter is getting his head kicked in, this starts Peter’s crush on her. When Peter returns home later, it seems his Aunt and Uncle’s basement has flooded, and while helping his Uncle save things from the water downstairs, Peter discovers his father’s breifcase, which is fill of strange science research and a newspaper clipping.

With a little research, and some help from Uncle Ben, Peter discovers the man in the clipping is a former co-worker of his father, Dr Connors. Of course, Peter wants to know more about his father’s work, so off he heads to steal interns name-tags at Oscorp and effectively meets the Doctor. This is where Peter also is introduced to mutated spiders that Oscorp uses to spin super-strong thread–one of which bites Peter and gives him the crazy abilities of a Spider!

I won’t spoil too much more for you, but I will let you know that there is so much more going for this Spiderman than in previous movies. Rather than being the pushover, picked on kid from the previous films, Peter is a snarky, clever and witty character as seen in more recent comics. The film not only captures great humor and whimsey, but also has a certain depth of humanity that seemed skimmed over previously. The deaths within the film are touching, and sometimes unexpected. The villain is complex and hard to hate entirely. And the suit–is damn cool.

I went into The Amazing Spiderman thinking it would be disappointing–but this storyline brings a strange animal hybrid mad scientist tidbit into the story that makes it work far better. Rarely was there a moment in this film that made me ask, “Really? Yeah Right.”

After the film and in high spirits, my boyfriend and I set out to find a good meal. As it was the fourth of July we expected crowds and probably busy eateries in full swing–so when we stumbled across a new place nearby Max and Dylan’s and Fajitas and Ritas at  2 West Street, Boston, MA, 02111 we were intrigued. On we stumbled, putting in our names with the host stand. AS you walk into The Back Deck, a replica of a back yard patio comes to mind. Chairs and tables tend to be on the lawn-chair side, fake hanging plants and painted images of men in grilling-mode adorn the walls. A bar that looks as if it belongs poolside somewhere is the primary focus as you walk in to the left. It looked wonderful. But as we stood in the doorway, watching people who had walked in after us be seated first–we began to suspect something was amiss. After fifteen minutes of waiting for a table, we were seated. My boyfriend and I had only just sat down when we realized we would not like these seats. The wooden seats and table felt unstained and rough, and I worried that before the night was out that I would have splinters in my legs. The set up of the menu was somewhat of a concern as well. At first, my boyfriend and I thought we had only been handed the drinks list–but with some fiddling found that the menu was set up in a clipboard like fashion and had to be turned upwards. It was somewhat confusing. Our waiter stumbled over to the table, looking sweaty and sarcastic.

“Sorry folks. I’ll be right with you. Have you ever waited tables before?”

The question took me off guard but I admitted I had previously worked as a hostess and bussed tables at Fenway. The boy smiled and laughed and admitted that it was a hard job and that he would be with us shortly. Well, shortly ended up being much longer than I anticipated. I should have never given him the feeling of sympathy with my answer. I did not feel sorry for him. I felt annoyed. By the time he came over to take our order we already knew what we wanted for food, and drink as of twenty minutes beforehand. He was brisk with us, and hurried off after our orders were taken.

Once the food arrived, I wasn’t any happier. I had ordered the waldorf salad (which generally shouldn’t be hard right?), but wasn’t exactly pleased with the state of the lettuce. Much of it was brown and wilty. Luckily, the apples were fresh and the dressing was tasty. But even the Walnuts had a stale sort of taste to them. Our drinks were the worst of all. Mine ended up tasting disgusting, but as our waiter was mainly absent, I couldn’t order a new one. Instead, I watched in irritation as he chit-chatted with tables that hadn’t been there nearly as long as we had, and growled under my breath when he ignored me calling him twice.

I believe that the waitstaff is the heart and soul of a restaurant. If they aren’t pleasant–the whole place falls apart for me. This waiter was a shining example of who not to hire in a restaurant.  When he finally came to check on us, we just wanted the check and wanted to get out of there. It took him fifteen minutes to bring it to us, then as he put it on the table he said,

“Yeah sorry, don’t do this Fucking job.” and left. He never told us his name either.

I was aghast at his professionalism. My boyfriend happily left a shoddy tip. We will never go back there again.

So to all you waiters and waitresses out there–I know your job is difficult. I have done it. But please, dear god, be polite and courteous as possible. Or accept the fact that your tips will be cruddy.

A Night to Remember at The Top of the Hub

15 May

If there will be nothing else I can recall, years later when I try to unearth old, pleasant memories–I pray that even if my mind is gone I’ll remember last night.

Dolled up (a rarity for me) in a little black number that tied around my neck and slim gladiator-like wedges, beside an equally well-dressed Mickey in a blue blazer, button up shirt and a black tie–we enjoyed a view of Cambridge that I can only compare to being in an airplane. High above the city, hidden (but not really) on the 52nd floor of the Prudential Building in Boston, the world below was a mass of glittering lights, and back-lit, misty, skyscrapers that seemed to curve around the edge of the Earth.

Around us, we could feel the eyes of the waitstaff as well as other diners. Younger than most of the other patrons of the Top of the Hub restaurant, we were acutely aware of the judgement that was happening around us. The worry in the staff members eyes that we were perhaps going to skip out on our bill, or under tip for our meal. Of course, they needn’t have worried. (Though on the way there, Mickey and I had a moment where we shared the fear of not having quite enough for such a lavish experience.) As for the other diners; I could only assume they disliked our youth and the  occasional boisterousness in which we enjoyed life, our meals and each other.

The Top of the Hub, is known for its high class dining experience, and we came prepared to pay easily over one hundred dollars on our evening. We had never been to a fine dining eatery prior to this; and there has always been a certain image or two in my mind as to what sort of an experience it would be.  High prices with small portions. Snooty waitstaff and hostesses. A certain, unbreakable law of how to use your silverware appropriately. Luckily, I found most of these situations to be untrue to The Top of the Hub.

After slipping past the security in the lobby, we took the elevators up to the 52nd floor. (Large silver lettering points the way as you head to the lifts.) As you step off the elevator, beware of a large floral display as you move toward the tall glass doors. (I nearly ran into it with all my grace and poise.)  Overwhelmed by the whole situation, I hardly got a look at the entrance way. From what I saw, the walls were lined with a well-polished mixture of dark and light woods. The hostess stand is immediately to your left as you enter, and a well-dressed, high-haired young woman greeted us cheerily asking if we would like to dine casually, or formally.  (As I hadn’t thought to bring a coat, I wore a hooded sweatshirt over my nice dress to keep warm in the drizzling weather. Mickey told me later that the hostess eyed me, almost unpleasantly when asking where we would prefer to dine.) She explained that the menu was the only real difference in the two options, and as we had planned for the real experience, we opted for formal.

A second hostess was instructed to take us to a table, and we quickly weaved toward the back of the establishment; passing walls of fine wines, partitions where groups chatted and celebrated someone’s birthday, round yellow almost old-fashioned looking lamps hung at even intervals across the floor shining dim romantic lighting across the tables. Our table was close to one of the multiple large glass windows overlooking the city below. I heard myself take a breath in sharply, amazed, and felt Mickey smiling with pride somewhere to my left. The hostess pulled my seat out for me, and upon sitting, daintily folded my napkin in my lap for me as well. Unused to such treatment, I felt slightly embarrassed but appreciated the gesture all the same. Mickey quickly pulled his napkin into his own lap to avoid such treatment. Our menus were presented to us and she left us to own own devices.

The tables were all carefully arranged with white table cloths (real linen), wine glasses (short and tall), napkins, utensils and one tiny plant for color. Our waiter was swift to approach and greet us, removing extra place settings from the table, as he explained the night’s specials. Knowledgeable, skilled and pleasant–I admired our servers work. Unlike other establishments, I noticed that our waiter at the Top of the Hub was attentive to all details and patient. After putting down our appetizers, a salad and the clam chowder, he realized before I did that after I had asked for the dressing on the side the kitchen had put dressing on the salad. He apologized and took it back to the kitchen without me even asking, returning moments later with a dressing-free salad. Once the food was on the table, he made a point to stand and wait at the table before we thanked and dismissed him–being sure that we needed nothing more at the moment.

Though the appetizers weren’t much to write home about–the entree will forever haunt my taste buds. Never again will I be able to enjoy Lamb anywhere else. They have made it impossible for me to ever hope to find a better prepared, more delicious meal. Portions are sizable, giving you what you ought to get for the prices. (which range from $25 to $70 a plate depending.) My lamb arrived as what seemed to be a whole leg, slowly cooked until the tender, dark meat fell from the bone without help from a knife. Spices and a tomato-based stock made the meat tender and moist–not dry. Paired with a fruit compote, whipped potatoes and asparagus–it was heavenly. Mickey’s eyes lit up as he took a bite of his Haddock, served with surprise steamers, mashed potatoes, and lightly dusted with cheese–he has rarely ever looked so contented during a meal.

If nothing else, I would go back just for the view. As we left, I stared longingly at the skyline once more and staff members that hadn’t even helped us bid us a good night, thanking us for coming as if we were royalty.

“I shouldn’t have done that,” Mickey said as we made our way home. “It was like blood to a shark. You’re spoiled now.” I smiled, knowing he was probably right.

It’s Always Warm Enough for Ice Cream

3 May

Only in New England, would you find a couple making a trip to the ocean to get an ice cream in 40 degree weather.

As my boyfriend’s mother’s  junk-heap jeep wound around the rotaries and misty streets toward Revere Beach,  I eagerly peered out the window taking in the vacant shoreline.  The weather had been fairly miserable all weekend, leaving a feint fog hovering over the streets, as if the grey clouds overhead were escaping into the roads. Mickey looked pleased with himself as he carefully edged into the next rotary; excited to share his favorite childhood ice cream shop with me.

I had been to Revere Beach before, in the summer last year. At the time, the beach was packed with sunbathers, and sandcastle artists and massive sand-sculptures for the eager passerby’s to eye.  Vendors lined the sidewalks from anything from art to hot dogs to shaved ice, shouting to the generally half-naked crowd to tempt them closer. The skies had seemed tall and open then–shimmering blue overhead, making the ocean glitter blindingly. Now, it felt like the clouds would crush us at any moment.

Yet, despite this, I was very much enjoying myself. Heck, I was even enjoying watching the storm overhead gather, whipping sand across the street in snaky tendrils. I was getting ice cream–and that was enough for me. I called out places I recognized as we drove, and he pointed out places I might know but never have seen from the road. We chatted, and as we made our way toward Kelly’s Kreme, he shared with me that when he was younger, his parents would take him there for ice cream and that he hadn’t been in years.

Kelly’s Creme sits right next to the Famed Kelly’s Roast Beef with a view of the Revere Beach. (Be it on purpose or ironic they are both Kelly’s, I am not sure.) A giant, stereotypical neon ice cream cone sits atop the little shack, which is really no bigger than your local Dairy Queen. So, what is it that made this place so special?  Two words: Portion size.

The ice cream sundaes at Kelly’s Creme are not for the weak of stomach. I gaped in horror at the hot fudge sundae I ordered as it arrived. The sundae comes in what appears to be a cup the size of a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, is a soft-served flavor of your choice, drowning in two ladle-fulls of their hot fudge, a hefty squeeze of whipped cream and topped with a half of fresh strawberry.( I of course, wasted no time in devouring my strawberry.) Prices are fair for what they give you in portions, though a bit more expensive than other ice cream shops.  We shivered in front of the window, before finally deciding to eat our frozen treats in the safety of the Jeep. As we ate, I expressed my astonishment at the size of my ice cream, and Mickey confessed that he would eat until he felt he would be sick when he was smaller. I couldn’t bring myself to finish my sundae, but managed to eat most of the hot gooey fudge they gave me. Something my parents would have frowned on when I was small.

Next time we go, I will be sure to stick with a cone, so I can get every delicious bit into my belly.

 

Burger and Beer Day: The Mayflower Brewery and KKatie’s Burger Bar Review

15 Apr

There are many food matches in heaven: Spaghetti and meatballs, bacon and eggs and my personal favorite burgers and beer.

I had a Plymouth adventure this weekend with my good friend, Donnie and his lovely sister Lindsay.  Saturday was a gorgeous day for getting up a little on the earlier side and popping down to the commuter rail heading toward Kingston. I was astonished to find that from my stop, it was only $6 for a round trip to Kingston and a half an hour or so later I had arrived with Donnie eagerly greeting me. Off we went to his sister’s house to pick her up and then to the Mayflower Brewery. When I mentioned to Donnie that I wanted to tour this place, he had no idea what I was talking about.  Apparently, he had driven by this micro-brewery millions of times without realizing what it was.

Located at 12 Resnik road in Plymouth, the brewery is nestled in a little strip mall–that could easily be overlooked. Upon entering, we were not at first sure we were in the right place. It seemed to small! As you enter, you find yourself in a small, stand-up bar area. To the right is a small fridge where they sold bottled beers beside a small sales counter and to the left the well-polished wood bar top greeted us. Aside from two other patrons quietly sipping beer at the bar and two staff members–the place was empty. We were immediately greeted by the male staff member asking if we were here for a tour or free samples, to which we of course replied that both would be required. The female bartender was quick to provide us each with a small glass from the tap, explaining each brew as it was poured and tasted. The male staff member soon identified himself as a volunteer–who just simply liked talking about beer. The staff was informative and personable, making us feel right at home very quickly as we chatted from topics ranging from the beers themselves to places nearby that would be nice to visit on such a gorgeous day.

Soon, it was time for the tour, and the bartender quickly became our tour guide as well.  To my pleasant surprise, we were allowed to travel with our beer tastes in hand, (and the barkeep did as well) as we were led around in an informative but not impersonal tour of the tiny brewery contained behind the bar. Questions were readily accepted (and I eagerly provided them–as I can’t contain my curiosity for long) and I was very impressed with the way in which the tour was given. It was explained in a way that made it clear all of the staff members were well informed and passionate about what they participated in. Once the tour was done, we returned to the bar top and finished our tasting session. It was here that Lindsay and one of the staff members began to talk about a Burger Bar nearby called, K Katie’s.

“Yes,” the male staffer said “They have a burger that uses two grilled cheeses as buns.”

I was sold.

So not long after purchasing a growler full of fresh beer (only$11! and everything else had been free) we were heading down the road to K Katie’s Burger Bar. We took our time wandering over the graveyard, checking out older graves in the beautiful sunshine and breathing deeply the air that smelled of a mix of seawater and local eateries. KKatie’s looks like any other typical hole-in0the-wall bar but has an exceptional menu that doesn’t seem to fit the atmosphere.

Situated on 38 Main Street in Plymouth, you enter K Katie’s and find dark wood paneled walls and lit neon signs advertising various beers on the walls. It is a seat yourself establishment, and was fairly empty due to how early in the day it was when we arrived. As we sat, the waitress was already swooping upon us with bright green laminated menus, and a smile.  She patiently tended to our picky beer needs as Lindsay ran through several beers they didn’t have on tap currently–but the bartender (who was easily within earshot from our table due to the small size of the establishment.) was eager to send over tastes of beer that might suit her pallet before she made her decision. At first glance, the menu is a-typical bar food–but with a twist. Their burgers are all gourmet and full of different varieties and uniqueness that I had never seen before. (None of them were waistline friendly–but I was okay with that for the day.) I ended up with what was called “The Juicy Lucy” which was a burger topped with pickles and onion and rather then having the cheese on top–has it melted in the middle. Taking my first bite, most of the cheese dribbled out the back end–but then became a fun dipping tool. Their sweet potato fries were the best that I have ever had, and they also offered “green fries” which were essentially crispy green beans with a ranch dipping sauce.  Not up for a burger? That was fine too as KKaties also offered other menu options. But for sure–this is my new favorite burger joint.

Donnie then insisted that we visit a place nearby called Cupcake Charlies which sold, you guessed it, cupcakes of all sorts. At this point, I was so full I felt ready to pop–but I managed to squeeze in a taste of their Funfetti cupcake. (To be honest, the cake was far superior to the frosting from what I tasted. )

All and all, a fun time had. Foodies rejoice!

Love is Delicious

15 Feb

“Valentine’s Day is so Cliche.” Twilight Sparkle claimed yesterday morning, along with multitudes of other negative Valentine’s Day things. “I think it should only be for little kids, that’s kind of cute. But it’s so cliche, all the lovey-mush on Valentine’s day.”

I sat quietly and listened to my inner monologue narrate how lonely her life is. Sure, Valentine’s Day is a giant Cheese-fest. I can agree with that much. I can also agree that it’s probably some huge scam by the chocolate companies, floral companies and card companies to suddenly generate some revenue in an otherwise Holiday-dead month. But, all I could think as she ranted all day long about how irritating the day was–was how cliche it is to hate Valentines Day. Yes, it’s cliche to love it too. So, I like to take the mainly middle road of passive indifference. (i.e. I can live with it–but I can also live without it.) Besides, how could you not smile a little bit at the idea of how that holiday even started up? I mean, some saint who is secretly marrying Christians when Christianity is forbidden gets beheaded and thousands of years later we’re all chasing our tails? (or some tail, depending.)

For the past few years, my idea of the ideal Valentine’s Day involved masses of delcious and savory foods, friends and zombie movies. (Eat your heart out) But once my boyfriend, Mickey, came into my life–things changed.

I have never been a romantic. In fact, I have a tendency to ruin moments that would otherwise be considered as such. I will admit, I almost sometimes go out of my way to ruin them because I get nervous. Not Mickey. Last year, he made every effort to create the ideal Valentines Day for us. It went horribly awry, and ended in tears–but I appreciated the effort all the same.

This year was different.

So, as I listened to Twilight Rant all day–truly just grinding her lonely, dateless existance into the very pores of our team–he was plotting. I practically sprinted out of the office yesterday, forgoing the elevator for stairs so I could burn off steam. As I pinged my card through to access he train and nervously barrelled down the stairs, Mickey was waiting for me.

Dressed in a long black coat, black slacks, dress shoes, a suit coat, a white button down shirt and the new black and silver bow-tie I had gotten him as a gift–he looked more ready for the Opera than just a casual night out. (When I told him this, he replied “I always do.” And he does.) Leaning against the wall nearest the stairs, he posed, extending a colorful bouquet of flowers toward me, and a cocky proud smile. (probably laughing at my surprise.) I could already feel my cheeks flushing as I took the flowers and pecked him on the lips. Even though we’ve been together for over two years, romance still makes me flustered. It’s something I don’t think I’ll ever be able to change completely. I was also presented with a card, hand=designed with photos of us from last year and a heartfelt message within. (This gift I showed off to my whole team at work today, to Twilight’s great displeasure.)

Together, we took the red line toward Kendall. Until this moment, I had not been told where we would be heading. (Though I had tried to weasel the answer out of him from the moment he mentioned wanted to plan something.) Eagerly, I fidgeted in my seat before he finally told me that we would be having sushi that night.

As I know you don’t know my boyfriend like I do, reader, let me make something clear about Mickey. He is a picky eater. On a usual night, he won’t even eat chicken, let alone sushi. My brows raised when he made this declaration.

“What made you decide on sushi?” I asked him earnestly as we walked into the cool wind through East Kendall.

“Remember the other night, when you told me I should be more adventurous with my food?” He asked me back. I furrowed my brows, vaguely recalling something like that happening when we were out. I nodded my consent. “Well, I decided you were right. And when I tried something new last time we were out, you were so proud of me. I wanted to give this a shot.”  He makes me smile.

Fuji at Kendall, is not a far walk from Kendall station off of the red line. Located at 300 third street in Cambridge, a little Googleing after our visit pulls up the website immediately. The place even from the outside looks modern and organized. (Just as most of the buildings in this area) We were promptly greeted by the hostess once through the door, who quickly showed us to a table. I was pleasantly surprised to find that other than a handful of people at the sushi bar, we were the only patrons. The sound system pumped gooey but classic music through the open and airy space, but was not overpowering or unpleasant in any way. (In fact, I quite like Frank Sinatra.) Tables for two clustered across the right side of the restaurant, in an evenly and carefully placed in a way that almost felt overly planned. (but was also visually pleasant) Each table was neatly set with a fresh colorful orchid set in vases of water, along with carefully folded napkins, small white plates, and plastic chopsticks neatly awaiting use. Despite feeling slightly exposed due to the very clear windows surrounding us, the space felt bright, clean and open. Across from us was the bartop, decorated with liquor and thoughtfully arranged wooded boats. My boyfriend smiled as he watched me take in the space, knowing I was more than pleased with his choice.

We did not drink anything other than ginger ale yesterday, so I can’t review their drinks, but their food was beautiful. What I like most about Japanese food, or any Asian cuisine, really is the attention to visual detail that is paid of each dish. Our appetizers, steamed vegetable dumplings, and salt and pepper shrimp–came first. The dumplings popped from the plate in bright green hues against the stark whiteness of the plates, and were flavorful even without the spicy dipping sauce provided with them. The shrimp were cooked to a perfect-looking golden brown and flecked with bright reds and deep blacks of pepper.

Our sushi was not as visually impressive, but was some of the best that I have had, taste-wise. The Unagi Maki was sweet and slightly warm–which I enjoyed. The Boston Maki was cool and tangy, slightly chewy and the spicy tuna maki–well that was perhaps the only let down on my part. The spicy mayo included in bright orange, warning hues on top is nothing to laugh at. The spice was almost overpowering rather than enjoyable.

By far though. the dessert was the most wonderful to look at. We decided to each try Fuji’s fried dessert options. I decided on the safer, Fried Icecream, while Mickey opted for the Fried Cheesecake. Both came out with beautifully decorated plates and were both delicious in their own way. The fried cheese cake is not for the texturally sensitive though.

All and all, I would definitely return to Fuji at Kendall. The only major problem I had with the service was that our waitress felt very pushy and I felt overly rushed to finish my meal. For now, I will pass it off as the fear of the Valentines rush.

Though I may not be the romantic type, I’m glad I’ve finally found someone who is. Cheesy and mushy as it may sound–he brightens up my life each day, not just on Valentines Day. I hope everyone out there remembers to show those you love that you care each day–and treat each day like it’s a holiday. Love should always be celebrated, even if it’s not the romantic kind. Even if it’s a working relationship in the office, a group of close friends or your family–a little love each day, expressed in some little way might make all the Twilight Sparkle complainers out there–feel a little more tolerable toward the hopeless romantics.