Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My Birthday in Boston

Running behind, as usual. Work is uber insane these days, and the semester is wrapping up, both of which make me feel overwhelmed and super-stressed. My escape from the craziness? A trip to Boston to celebrate my birthday, of course!
My 24th birthday was a couple weekends ago, so Danielle and I headed down to Beantown to celebrate. I had never been before, despite the fact that my grandparents have lived in Massachusetts for forever and I’ve been in Vermont for over a year now. I was really excited about the trip, and it totally paid off. We got into the city on Saturday evening and headed to the Faneuil Hall Marketplace. All the building and shops were done up for the holiday, glittering with twinkle lights and fresh garlands. Street performers were playing Christmas carols, and overall the effect was enchanting. We had been planning this trip for a couple of weeks, and I’d put a lot of thought into the dining selections (I mean, come on, this is me we’re talking about). I decided on the Union Oyster House for my birthday dinner and had made reservations in advance (which turned out to be very smart on my part). I have to tell you, this dinner made my top ten list of best meals ever. The restaurant is housed in an old, historic building, which was also decorated for the holidays. They claim to be the oldest restaurant in the country, but this presents a bit of a conundrum. A couple summers ago, my dad and I were in Philadelphia, and we ate at the City Tavern (another top ten dining experience). The thing is, they also claim to be the nation’s oldest restaurant. Who knows which is true? Regardless, both meals were excellent.
As the name implies, the Union Oyster House specializes in seafood. Being the oldest restaurant in Boston, at the very least, they also have a traditional New England spin on most of their dishes – items like cornbread and Indian pudding were on the menu. As I scanned the extensive menu, I was really having trouble deciding what to order. I am a huge seafood lover, and everything sounded good – I’ll take on of those, and one of those, a couple of those…Suddenly, the “shore dinner” caught my eye. Clam chowder, steamers, a lobster, new potatoes, corn on the cob, and dessert – literally a sampling of everything I wanted! Of course, it also happened to be the most expensive thing on the menu, but you know what? It was my birthday! I ordered it, and it was worth every penny. I got to wear one of those lobster bibs, and my dinner came to me on a huge plate, complete with a bowl of melted butter for dipping – heavenly. I do not know if I have ever been so satisfied with a single meal in my life. Danielle ordered mussels, which were fabulous, and a lobster stuffed with lobster topped with lobster – paradise. To make the whole experience even better, the waitress comp’ed Danielle’s dessert and my Irish coffee!
The next day, we took some time and explored the city. I wanted to see some of the historical sites, so we walked some of the Freedom Trail and went to see the Old North Church – which just so happened to take us right through Little Italy! Again, I want to emphasize how beautiful everything was with all the Christmas decorations and garlands and red bows. I think it really made the trip extra special. On our way back through Little Italy, we stopped in at Mike’s Pastry. Oh. My. God. I am not sure if a more dangerous place exists – rows and rows of gorgeous baked goods. I walked away with some coconut macaroons and the biggest cream puff I have ever seen. They packaged it all in a pretty box and tied it with a bow. I felt kind of like Audrey Hepburn – the whole experience had that kind of vibe to it.
The rest of the day was spent shopping and eating and driving, and it was fabulous. We stopped at the Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge, which is a specialty food shop. I walked away with the most random assortment of goods –cream of tarter (which I have had a heck of a time finding in my local shop), a bottle of peach nectar, and chocolate bar studded with sea salt, a panettone bread (which makes the best French toast ever), and a pint of really good raspberries – overall, a great haul. It was a great weekend and the most fun I’ve had on my birthday in a long time.

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