Last week I found myself traipsing about in Boston and Philadelphia with my dear friend L and my dad. The purpose of the trip centered on visiting open houses, sitting in on classes, and meeting with program chairs for a few graduate schools that had the good sense to accept me. That's right, this gal is getting her masters on.*
*This September, I will be starting a 3-year dual degree program at Tufts University: an MA in Urban and Environmental Policy/Planning and an MS in Food Policy and Applied Nutrition!
I had been to Boston and Philly before in the capacity of tourist, but this visit had a bit more gravitas to it considering that I was evaluating these cities as potential places to live. Some Very Serious Decisions were in order, but so also was a heck of a lot of good eating.
I'll get excited about a new place if I can get excited about its food. A few years ago, for example, when I was living in Amsterdam, I felt rather ambivalent about visiting Paris (an overly obvious place to be a tourist, I had thought). That is, until I had my first taste of a perfect Parisian bistro omelet and a sampling of those dainty coins of French macarons. I was then sold. Gay Paree, mais oui sil vous plait!
And so, the official Things-We-Ate list!
In Boston (and surrounding areas)...
- Chaufa (aka Peruvian fried rice) from Alpamayo, an inviting little place in Lee
- Huge cornbread pancakes at Soundbites, a popular Somerville brunch spot
- Corn pudding (plus amazing BBQ and beer selection) at Redbones in Somerville
- Lobster roll and a Sam Adams (yeah New England!) from tourist trap in Gloucester
- Toscanini's ice cream, brown butter brownie and kulfi flavors
- Sfogliatelle, a clam shaped Italian pasty filled with ricotta and semolina, from Maria's Bakery in the North End
- Venezuelan empanadas from Orinoco in Brookline
- Cocktails, lamb belly, lemon-shrimp dumplings, brussel sprouts, charred udon noodles from Myers + Chang
- Deeply roasted cauliflower with cojita and smoky sauce, grilled romaine with oxtail ragout and a poached egg, salty mushrooms, butternut squash-based fish stew from Strip T's in Watertown (this was by far the best meal we had)
- A surprisingly good Indian lunch buffet (dry-fried okra, anyone?) in Wellesley
- Coffees from George Howell, Diesel Cafe
Somewhere along the road from Boston to Philly... (decidedly not a highlight)
- Sodium o'clock! Baked beans and a soft pretzel from a rest stop, with wan slices of iceberg lettuce and tomato surreptitiously stuffed into napkins from the Roy Rogers hamburger fixins' bar. This was very unfortunately my best dinner option.
In Philadelphia... (there wasn't less good food in Philadelphia, we were just there for less time)
- A wonderfully caramelized and custardy canelle from Metropolitan Bakery in Reading Market
- Gigante beans with greens, zucchini, and a poached egg; Greek wine; mussels in saffron broth from Opa
- Gelato from Capogiro: chai and unbelievably dark and rich chocolate
|Yours truly with sfogliatelle, my expression less about the amazingness of this pastry and more about the sun being in my eyes|
After too many years wistfully and woefully thinking about where my life is headed (as my twenty-something peers are wont to do), I'm obviously very excited to be starting on this new chapter. Leaving the city I've called home for the past six years will be difficult, certainly, but such a move affords me the invaluable feelings of promise and new beginnings. In the very least, in moments of upheaval, I have the joy of cooking and feeding myself to ground me. I'm ready, eager, and probably just a little bit hungry.