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Saturday, November 21, 2009

ESCAPE TO BEACON HILL

I got back this week from a wonderful week in Boston

I fell in love with Boston last year.

(remember my blog on the "Zombie parade" in Salem?)

As usual I knew no one where I was going...

I had just always known that I would love the place.

It was MY kind of place, and was certainly "love at first site" before we ever laid eyes on
each other...

Some things you just KNOW, maybe by movies you've seen, possibly by books read....

Not the least of which, those gorgeous photographs you've always seen...


The beautiful Golden Dome on top of the State House...(my hotel this time was right next to

it...what a gorgeous sight!)



The Cobblestone Streets of Beacon Hill...Gas lamps lining the streets...( lingering in the
precious antique, wine, specialty food, gift, clothing, jewelry shops...both up and down Charles Street...This is where I stayed this time...Nirvana...)


Architecture that has except for upkeep, simply has NOT been changed since the 1700s!!!


Beautiful Back Bay with the bells ringing from the Trinity church, the oldest Episcopalian church in America...Both inside and out, it is almost overwhelming...There are no words to describe this kind of beauty...


Let us not forget those that are more the "Rodeo Drive" type of shoppers......
Newbury Street in Back Bay is your paradise...



Statues of Paul Revere, Henry Adams, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, President Kennedy, and many others surround you....


The Boston Common (oldest park in America)...The public garden...Swans gracefully set upon the water in the summer, and in the winter covered in ice for an outdoor skating rink...This is wonderful to watch, because in Boston, as in New York, people actually know how to skate and skate well....


SO MUCH HISTORY SURROUNDS YOU...


The kind of history that one doesn't probably appreciate as a kid...One of the joys of getting older...that love of history...and to see it right in front of you...To hell with history classes, this
is the way to learn and love history (I know, unrealistic, but too bad)


Sipping tea where Louisa May Alcott used to sip her tea, as she wrote "Little Women"...


I could go on and on...(and probably will...)


Beautiful and exciting Cambridge...(where the very best restaurants are..more later)

Cambridge is literally one of the best places in which to observe people...Very interesting

types of people...Intellectual, attractive people...Love it...



Speaking of people, I have now spent two week of my life in Boston and never met a rude

person...I have ONLY encountered either polite or downright friendly people...Sorry to

bust yet another "myth" about people up north...east....



The Boston Symphony Orchestra...(my second time, where once again, I landed a seat on the 6th row, close enough to actually view the genius virtuoso that inevitably performs during the concert. This time it was a 21 year old "child"....She was obviously gifted beyond reasonable comprehension...Mozart as a child came to mind, as I watched her fingers produce literal "magic" on the piano keys....I had to try to keep my mouth from falling open...As previously stated, drooling in public is simply not an option for me....)


The Isabella Gardner Museum...

I am so passionate about this "museum" (it was actually her huge mansion), that I will try to
hold myself back from 3 paragraphs of explanation...


Let's just get to the major points...


Point number one...If at all possible, you must do what you need to do to see this stunning
museum before you die....


That said....


Point number two...There is a massive "Garden Courtyard" in the house that literally has to be seen to be believed...She loved her courtyard and poured herself and her love of art (not to mention a lot of money) into this garden and every space of this mansion....It is 3 or 4 stories, and probably contains about 30 or more rooms that contain precious art from all over the world....This is place where the horrific art burglars around 1990 got away with some Picasso, Matisse, and many other priceless paintings...They have NEVER found the paintings or the criminals...Their frames lay vacated on the walls...Mrs. Gardner left a will specifying that NOTHING ever be changed in the museum and it has not...Even when a painting is stolen, the frame remains just as it was...Wow...


Point number three... There is a precious little tea room/lunch room inside the museum if one gets "the vapors" or any other malady while trying to take it all in...


Point number four...For those that adore Museum Gift Shops, THIS is your place...I would say that next to the gift shop at the MOMO in NY, this is my favorite museum gift shop...Last year I bought the CD that was playing while I was in the shop, a collection of charming French tunes sung by well known contemporary French artist...(not well known by us, of course)
It is still one of my favorites...
I put it on when I am particularly irritated, and it seems to help.....

I digress...

Point number five...On first Thursday evening of the month, and on Sundays at 1:30, they have small and interesting "concerts" by musicians from all over the world...I attended one this time while in Boston, and while it wasn't exactly my kind of musical preference, I really enjoyed the whole "private" affair held in one of Mrs. Gardner's "concert rooms"....(It was an "experiment" in Classical and Synthesizer music, that had its exciting moments, I must admit)


So that you don't think that I am just waxing on about nothing...do check out their website if you are more interested...I feel that it is my duty to share this incredible place with the world...

www.gardnermuseum.org/


There are many wonderful things in and about Boston...Much more than this, and I might as well write a guide book (hmm...think this has been done already...but not by me! Note to self...think
about this later...)

I know that most of my followers are foodies...so I would be remiss if I didn't tell you that this
is one of the best places for foodies in the country...Seriously, it's right up there with San Francisco, you just have to know where to go....


I do think that there are some wonderful places in Boston itself, "Hamersley's Bistro" being one of them, but most of the really special and deliciously different ones, I have found, reside in Cambridge....

I was there for a week, and I must say that it was difficult for me not to revisit my favorites, which I did, but I managed to try two new ones....(I did go to my very favorite twice though...)

I will provide you with a list of not to be missed places for foodies...(but I must say that I do it out of love for my fellow foodies, because it is VERY difficult at times to share one's researched and favorite "gems"....)

Okay...here goes....(oh, and of course, nothing is cheap, because organic, quality, fresh and farm grown sent immediately to restaurant, type of food, never is...Foodies simply cannot be bothered with that silly detail anyway...)


In Boston...

South End:
Hamersley's Bistro http://www.hamersleysbistro.com/

B & G oysters http://www.bandgoysters.com/


North End:
This is their "Little Italy"...many good Italian ones here...I am not particularly as huge a fan as others of Italian, though I understand that "Mama Maria" set in a century old farmhouse and right across from Paul Revere's home is suppose to be quite special


The North End is where one could find some authentic and cheaper food...I understand that
"Mike's Pastry" is also wonderful for the best pastries....(note Mama Maria NOT cheap)

I did do a foodie tour here last year, but never made it back to dine here...One of those, need to
do my next visit deals....


Many of these restaurants that line Hanover Street are Mom and Pop and may only take cash, so be prepared...


Special mention for "Neptune's Oyster" in North End...People rave about their "Lobster Rolls"


Cambridge:

"Oleana" (my favorite restaurant ANYWHERE)

(Vegetarians take note...I have been there three times now, and have never tasted meat, because the Vegetarian dining option is so incredible, it is what I always get...It is different every
night...)


"Craigie on the Square"

This chef won the James Beard Award...

I did the after 9Pm on Sunday night "Chef's Whim"

You have to be adventurous, because you do either meat or veg, and then it's up to his

"whim" at the moment as to what your 4 or 6 course dinner is plus dessert....

This is the first time I have ever eaten "sweetbreads", a Hannibal Lector favorite, and I must
say, I probably will not seek them out again, but I got through it and it was quite delicious...I don't know...think I have seen "Hannibal" too many times to appreciate this....

The rest of the course were too complex to even describe, but all very special and delicious...

I sat next to a woman who was also by herself, doing the "whim" and even she got different
things than I did...(interesting woman, on business in Cambridge...A physician recruter for an infamous hospital in Memphis, who meets with soon to be graduate Medical students from Harvard and Scientist from MIT....Great job...."I get excited talking about Science"...She was also a serious foodie...)

It was fun, a great experience, and I will do it again...

They also had a "cocktail whim"...4 Mini cocktails of their choosing, from light to dark, in the cutest little miniature cocktail glasses that you have ever seen. If Ken and Barbie had "cocktail hour", this is what they would drink out of....
Okay, Okay...maybe not that small....


"Hungry Mother"...

Excellent Chef living in Cambridge, who saw a need for "gourmet" Southern fare...I have eaten it in Charleston, some of the best ever, and his take, although quite different, was no less delicious and I highly recommend it....
He had me at the "pimento cheese" starter and it just got better and better...
Anyone who can make "greens" taste that delicious, has my vote....(and no bacon it seemed)


All three of these are "foodie heaven"....


All of these places must be reserved, and Craigie probably a bit ahead of time...
I'd do it at least a week in advance, maybe longer..

All are very, very popular....

Those folks in Cambridge love the good stuff....and I'm right there with them...

Oh and don't let me forget to mention the really cool bookstores and poetry slams that they
have in Cambridge...

Great jazz as well....

I could do at least 3 or 4 days in Cambridge alone...


My hotel is different every time, but never anything less than remarkable...This time it even came with a chauffeur...I used him about 3/4 of the time, and he had to be booked, as it was a small hotel and everyone wanted service....(Boston is a great walking city though....)

XV Beacon was my hotel....

Other great hotels...The new "Liberty hotel" in Beacon Hill, The Fairmont Copely in Back Bay,

the Charlesmark ( very reasonable), Beacon Hill Hotel and Bistro ( somewhat reasonable), the

Charles Street Inn (bed and breakfast with incredible rooms named after famous Bostonians, expensive but seasonal like most of them)....The Elliot Hotel in Back Bay...These would be my particular picks....


So, I had another adventure in Boston, and plan on many more...

Some choose to "Escape to Witch Mountain"...that's so ordinary....

I'd much rather "Escape to Beacon Hill"

okay, alright, I'll stop now....