This is the second leg of my EPIC NYS-BOS Trip
Missed the first leg?
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Monday, April 23, 2012 - Sometimes You Wanna Go...
The morning of my departure had finally arrived. Chip and Lara caught an early flight back to SFO and I was left alone in the hotel room. I debated if I should go to Les Halles, which was just 2 blocks away, but my laziness and melancholy state (and the extremely comfy bed) prevented me from doing so. I waited until the very last minute to get up. I was terrified. Terrified of going to Boston by myself. Terrified of the trip. Terrified of getting lost. Terrified of everything...but I had to do it. My plane trip back to SFO was from Logan Airport, so I had to get there somehow.
I failed tri-fold when it came to breakfast. Like I said earlier, I debated about going to Les Halles, but by the time I got up, there was no time. First fail. I just got ready, packed, and headed for Penn Station. I failed again when I forgot to go to Donut Plant. I completely forgot about it. Boo. Fail #3 was my breakfast. It was an Auntie Anne's pretzel and a bottle of Coke. Yeah, I know. Here's a semi-fail. I couldn't get a window seat and I fell asleep on the Amtrak, so I didn't take pictures of the beautiful scenery of Connecticut and Rhode Island. I went back to sleep because I was...you guessed it...terrified. From my aisle seat, I did see the shore and the woodlands. It was gorgeous. Maybe it's meant for only me to remember. I was going into uncharted territory (in my book), and I needed to relax. Seriously.
I got to Boston and arrived at South Station. In retrospect, I should have gotten off at Back Bay because the place I was staying at was in the South End. Me, the idiot who didn't research the subway enough, hauled ass from South Station to the Downtown Crossing station. Yeah yeah, NOW I know there is a connecting train from South Station to Downtown Crossing. I was given a crash course on the T as soon as I got there. Fortunately, the subway system is incredibly tourist friendly. I loved how the station on the Orange Line by the apartment is only 2 blocks away. Score! Massachusetts Avenue is beautiful with all its brick homes. My hosts Thiago and Niles and their lab Ginger were amazing. I loved my cute room!
Brasserie Jo - Back Bay - Colonnade Hotel - 120 Huntington Avenue - After spending a little time getting familiar with my new room, I headed over to Brasserie Jo where I met with my Twitter friend Rob Marais! We had exchanged messages over the last few weeks and it was good to meet up with someone I *knew.* Talk about vanity when I say this: I wanted to come here because it's MY restaurant! Brasserie Jo in Boston? C'mon! It's meant. Rob, on the other hand, has been coming here for years and it was refreshing to dine with someone who loves their city so much! I had a lovely beef tartare and we shared a bottle of a red called Chanson to accompany our also shared cote d beouf which came with frites and aioli. It was on the well side, but that was probably because we took our time eating and talking over our first course. It did have nice flavor however. Next time, less talking! You might notice that we did not have dessert and here is why:
Bar at Clio - Back Bay - 370 Commonwealth Avenue - Rob took me to the Clio Restaurant where his friend and mixologist extraordinaire Todd Maul was creating drinks only a mad scientist would. While Todd can pass for a hipster with his tattoo-clad arms and swagged out spectacles, something told me that he is more than just a mere hipster bartender. Something was going on in his brain. I don't know about you, but the air in Boston makes you believe everyone has a high IQ. Blame Harvard, MIT, and Boston U, but Todd is a genius.
You may also notice that I do not have any pictures and here is why:
I put the blogger in me aside and just enjoyed the moment for what it was. Sometimes we miss things when we try to take a picture looking through a lens. I just let the moments happen. Todd was making drinks by painting the sides of the glass with various reductions he concocted. He pulled out decorated ice cubes infused with different flavors by using a pipette. The last time I heard the word "pipette" was in my college chemistry course!
The drink we enjoyed that night was what Todd tweeted as his "Random Drink Monday" called the Capetown - Swedish punch, lemon, sherry, orange bitters and white port paint.
That was one dangerous drink. I could drink 5 of those in one sitting.
"Give me your finger..." he told me as he took out a small bottle and dropper from his chiller. He proceeded to put a drop of a clear liquid on it and I instinctively placed it in my mouth as soon as I can. Crazy, I know. It could have been Visine for all I know...I just met the guy.
Then the sensations started to happen.
While I relished in the flavors, he explained what was occurring on my palate. He had somehow made an elixir that mimics how chocolate and mint molecules react when they reach the tongue. He made this all with liquor. Pure chocolate and mint flavors.
It was absolutely amazing! Just as I was getting off my bar seat, I told Todd, "Can I call you every night before I go to bed so you can dictate your entire bar menu to me?" He smiled.
I was dead serious.
Then I turned to Rob and said, "I am going to sleep happy tonight."
And I sure did.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - ...Where Everybody Knows Your Name
I was really here.
I woke up and again, a nervousness came over me. Thank God the public transportation here is newbie-friendly. Once I got on, it was very easy to navigate.
I took the Orange Line from Mass Ave. to State and headed toward Fanueil Hall and Quincy Market. I love how Keaton sent me there because it's all food related. It's a nice spot to grab a bite to eat definitely. It's also a nice place to get your Boston souvenirs and if you want to high-5 Carla at Cheers.
Boston Fried Dough - I saw Duff eat fried dough on television, so when I saw this little stand by Quincy Market, I stopped in for a little taste. Besides, I hadn't eaten breakfast yet. So they're kinda like a donut but kinda not. The dough itself is not particularly sweet, but the powdered sugar. My sister would have loved these.
PS: Why do the men here remind me of Kurt's father from Glee?
I had a little time before I had to meet up with my Boston Foodie Tour group. Our tour focused on the restaurants and eateries along the Rose Kennedy Greenway, so I went to the Long Wharf and took in the views. It was slowly sinking in here that I was where I was. Boston plays a huge part in United States history and I was happy to be there.
Our group met at the Boston Marriott Long Wharf and I was surprised to see there were only 3 of us and our tour leader Audrey. You will see that having a small group is not a bad thing at all.
Roxy's Gourmet Grilled Cheese Truck - Our first stop was this awesome truck which participated in Food Network's "The Great Food Truck Race." What was dope about the food tour was that Audrey took us around Boston and if she saw something good, it automatically became part of the tour. Because there were only three of us on the tour, it was easier to be flexible with the schedule. Roxy's IS usually on the tour itinerary but since they were leaving early that day, she switched the places around and we came here first instead of second or third.
The boys on the truck are beyond charming...and cute. Talk about gasms on all levels. The first sandwich that they hooked us up with was the "Mushroom Melt." Baby Swiss, mushroom duxelles, and scallions were melted in between two pieces of bread spread with mayo on the OUTSIDE. This ensures a crispier bite. The second sandwich was the "Mighty Rib" with fontina cheese, braised short ribs, and caramelized onions. Both were incredibly delicious and rich!
Our next treat was over the top! Sausage poutine. Yes. Dear Lord. Fries topped with cheese curds and sausage gravy. I bet Keat is looking at this and shaking his head thinking, "You don't even like sausage, Jo!" let's just say that this dish made me like sausage. I couldn't bear parting with it, but I had too because we had to move on to the next spot. This was just MY portion. After indulging in those two sandwiches, actually I ate a forth of each sammie, I had no business eating this poutine. But damn, it was good.
Blue Inc. - Financial District - 131 Broad Street - Our next place was Blue Inc. which was located just across the street. There we met Chef Brad who made two yummy milkshakes for us. I looked at the menu and saw that there was a butterscotch and truffle shake, but I was told they weren't serving it for the time being because they went back to trying to perfect the recipe. Phooey. Still, the root beer/marshmallow and blue raspberry shakes he created for us, complete with liquid nitrogen, were delicious and so unique. The blue raspberry once totally reminded me of all those ICEEs that Tatay and Inang would get for me as a child.
PS: I told him to just give me a "taste" of each milkshake. God knows I didn't need a full serving.
As Chef Brad was preparing to make us his shakes, I checked in Foursquare real fast and saw that someone has suggested the "Anorexic Model." That totally intrigued me. So I asked the really cool bartender what it was. He proceeded to tell me lychee, cognac, St. Germain, among other things then he just said, "I'll make you one."
This is what I got.
Supposedly the chef of the restaurant has a fixation with Twiggy, who is a [really thin] supermodel from England. You might have seen her on America's Next Top Model.
The bartender just gave me a sampler of the drink, but it was the perfect size. I didn't need a whole drink. Remember how I said that the tour can change at a moment's notice? Well, this drink was definitely not on the tour. Free alky. I totally lucked out on this one.
James Hook & Co. Lobsters - Waterfront - 440 Atlantic Avenue - I swear, I would have been happy if the tour had ended right then and there. Audrey and my tour companions headed over to James Hook & Co. There we had an essential Boston dish: lobster roll!
I made it a goal to have a lobster roll on this trip and I was going to get it! So stoked! This was the most perfect lobster ever. The chunks of meat were huge and so sweet. Nothing says "Welcome to Boston!" more than a good, fresh, lobster roll.
Trade - Waterfront - 540 Atlantic Avenue - As though we weren't stuffed already, we went to Chef Jody Adams' Trade. The food here is reminiscent of the cuisine in California. Fresh seasonal ingredients are used to compose flavorful dishes, one being their mushroom and fig flatbread which also has gorgonzola cheese, sage pesto, and walnuts.
They made it to order and it took absolutely no time bake in their oven. I'm not a fig person. I'm not a stinky cheese person...But the combination works so well. The sweetness from the figs cuts the funkiness of the gorgonzola. Win.
Another bonus: the dessert given to us is usually not on the tour, but they gave it to us anyway. Win again! This was a rhubarb fool. I can't even tell you what was in it. All I know was that it was really yummy.
Clover - Downtown - Right when I thought we were done with the tour, Audrey rounded us up again and we headed toward South Station. Hey, this place looks familiar. Yup this was where I hauled ass the day before when I got lost. Then the terrain all made sense to me. I adored how walkable Boston is.
Clover is a vegetarian food truck that posts right in front of South Station. Other times I passed by, I saw Bon Mee and other food trucks there as well. We were each able to order something, but since we were so full, we shared an order of the parsnip fritters. 6 come in an order, but I could only eat one because I was stuffed. They were sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. After I got over the initial heat, I realized that I did not notice the vegetable. If someone told me parsnip was in there, I woulda called foul because it ate like a dessert!
Crumbs Bake Shop - Financial District - 176 Federal Street - ANOTHER surprise came as a visit to Crumbs Bakery across the street from where the food trucks posted. The flavors they have in this cupcakery are ridiculous. I was debating between the milkshake, Earl Grey, and cookie dough THEN I saw the Boston Cream. How can you come to Boston without having Boston Cream Pie? The chocolate ganache that graces the top of these perfect little cakes looks uber rich, but for me as a girl who isn't too much into chocolate as most, it was delicious. The cake was what won me over. It was moist and tender. How all cupcakes should be. While I wish they were a bit more generous on the custard filling, this cupcake made me very happy.
Doc Popcorn - South Station - Another surprise came when Audrey led me to South Station. Ahhhh, familiar ground. I was so panicky when I got off Amtrak on Monday that I did not even care to see the great eateries inside the station. Here we visited Doc Popcorn. I sampled the jalapeño and the kettle corn, but I came out with the sweet butter popcorn. It's the perfect hybrid of buttered popcorn and kettle corn.
We finally made it to our last stop on our tour...not like we wanted it to end. We had spent a full 3+ hours with each other and it was bittersweet to say goodbye to my companions.
Miel - Waterfront - 510 Atlantic Avenue - Miel is a French restaurant that is housed within the InterContinental Hotel. It is just steps from the site of the historical Boston Tea Party! Here, we sat down at a window table where we took the chance to unwind and chat before the end of the tour.
Again, we were given the opportunity to order any dessert from the menu, but one of my companions and I shared the honey pear tart because we were still so full and after all, "Miel" is "honey" in French. They harvest their honey from bee hives located on the roof of the hotel. Talk about using local ingredients! Miel is such a gorgeous place and perfect for special occasion meals. Yes, our tour was surely a special occasion.
And after this fantastic dessert, we said our goodbyes. If you are in Boston, please check out Audrey's tours at Boston Foodie Tours. You will not find yourself hungry at the end of the tour. Thank you Audrey for the awesome day!
Of course, my day did not stop there! More touring lovely Boston!
Off to the North End I went!
Neptune Oyster - North End - 63 Salem Street - After consulting my very helpful mobile map app, I made my way toward the very Italian section of Boston. The North End's narrow streets gives it an old school feeling. I walked past so many restaurants and specialty shops, but I was there for a particular eatery: Neptune Seafood
I copped a spot at the bar and watched one of the ladies behind the counter shuck oysters and crack stone crab claws. Like I said before, you cannot come to Boston without having some sort of seafood. I treated myself handsomely here.
My quartet of oysters included Wellfleet, Island Creek, Katama Bay and Thatch Island which are all Massachusetts oysters. I did want to stay in the New England oyster realm even though my sweet kumomoto oysters from Washington State were on the menu. When in Boston, do as a Bostonion would do! NE oysters are way saltier than our NW oysters. I was not complaining though because I didn't break out too much!
I admit. I have an allergy to shellfish. Yes, I know of the repercussions, but I'M IN BOSTON.
Another dish one must have here is of course, Boston Clam Chowder. Here is the difference between the stuff I usually get and the one I got here at Neptune. BTW, Neptune is known to have the best chowdah in Boston. Uh-huh. At first bite, all I got was cream and clam. That's all you need. Fresh cream flavor. Not gluey or gloppy. Clean, creamy, and smooth. And! You get humungous clams. Not diced up rubbery clams. Here you get the whole clam and they are tender as can be. Perfect. Finally, I asked for a stone crab claw. For kicks...because...I'm in Boston, b*tch!
Go big or go home!
Wednesday, April 25, 2012 - Already Feeling at Home
My last day in Boston was sad also. I did not think that I would be so attached to this place. Like I said before, I was terrified to come here alone. Everyone I met here on this trip I had met for the first time. I was a stranger at first, but after riding the subway like a pro and maneuvering my way through town, I got so comfortable. I did not want to come back to San Francisco. Some part of me even wanted to miss my plane on purpose.
But I had to get up. Sadly.
Flour Bakery + Cafe - South End - 1595 Washington Street - For breakfast, I headed to the South End and grabbed a sticky bun and Earl Grey tea at Flour Bakery. As you probably saw, Chef Joanne Chang, the owner of Flour beat Bobby Flay in a sticky bun Throwdown. Bonus: it was just 4 blocks away from the apartment I was staying at!
The sticky bun was all the carbs and sugar I needed to get me through the morning. Call me crazy, but I took ANOTHER tour at Noon. Yeah yeah yeah, my flight was at 4pm. Totally pushing it, huh? It was just a goodbye tour before heading back home. The bus tour took us back to North End, Paul Revere's House, along the Greenway, up to the USS Constitution, through Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Downtown, South Station, and back to the Aquarium and Waterfront.
Our driver was very knowledgeable about the area. Crash course in US History. He said he had been doing this for more than 20 years. I stayed on the bus longer until it made another round back to the North End.
Modern Pastry - North End - 257 Hanover Street - I HAD to get a cannoli to smuggle back to San Francisco. There is an on-going debate on whose cannoli is better - Modern Pastry or Mike's. Because I was pressed for time, I only visited Modern Pastry. Next time I will try Mike's! They did lose some of their integrity en route to the west coast, but I stuck them in the fridge as soon as I got home. When I pulled them out, I was so happy. The shell did get less crisp, but the filling was absolutely delicious. I promise to do a head-to-head when I get back and I promise to eat them there while they are fresh!
Before I knew it, I was rolling my overweight luggage to Logan International Airport. I swear, the subway is incredible. I got a Charlie Card pass when I first got to Boston, so all the public transportation I took was essentially covered under that pass. Unlimited ride for $15. Can't beat that.
Turns out that Virgin America only has one check-in counter at Logan as opposed to SFO having an entire terminal dedicated to Virgin. Also, it weirded me out that TSA screens happen right before boarding right next to the check-in counter. I am so used to walking miles from check-in to boarding, but everything is done within a close vicinity, that I had time to shop and catch a quick meal before entering the plane.
Legal C Bar - Logan International Aiport Terminal B - This is a spot from the same guys as Legal Sea Foods at the Waterfront. We passed Legal Sea Foods on our food tour, but we didn't get to eat there. When I saw the airport restaurant, I knew I had to take that chance. While I was tempted to get the clam chowdah, I opted for something lighter. Ann's Baked Boston Scrod was perfect. Scrod is just another name for cod. It was like eating a fried piece of fish, but not. The crispy crumbs on top of the fish gave the illusion that it has been fried. After roasted tomato, Jasmine rice, buttered broccolli, and a nice squeeze of lemon and I was set for my plane ride back to SFO. Oh yes, their rolls were surprisingly very good. Warm and crusty as I like them.
The plane ride was pretty painless. I fell asleep right after take off and I woke up as we passed Nebraska. Watched American Idol on Eastern time. Neener neener, Pacific Time. When I got to the airport, it was raining!
Who else can say they felt rain in three different cities within four days?
I can. It feels the same.
I admit, while the trip was epic, it was nice to be back home. I am so happy that I did it, especially the portions of the trip where I ventured out on my own. This travel bug has bitten me quite hard. I seriously cannot go back to the airport and fly somewhere else. Thank you to all my friends who made this trip possible. It has been life-changing for the greater.
PS: I believe that the Bruins lost that night because they lost me that night too...