Currently viewing the tag: "restaurants"

Is Thursday too late to talk about last weekend?  I think not.  All deadlines are extended in the summer.

Last weekend was a festival of festivals in the area, and Paul and I, with an out-of-town friend in tow, managed to hit three of them.

Our first festival on Saturday, Outside the Box, was downtown — spread across the downtown area for nine days, in fact.  We started with a walk through the Boston Common to see the events there, and then worked our way to Boston City Hall Plaza to hear a set by Darlingside, a local band we like.

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We meandered back to Park Street station, and then decided to Red Line it over to Davis Square for a walk through Artbeat, an annual Somerville music/craft/food/art extravaganza.  It was crazy hot, though, and I wasn’t able to do Artbeat justice.  Next year….  For our final round of hot weather festivaling, we got an early start on Sunday to Revere Beach for the annual Sand Sculpting Contest.

Sand Sculpture

Food options at these outdoor festivals are better every year, with more and more interesting food trucks participating!  We also took time to face toward the water and relax, with contest hoopla behind our backs.

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Outside the Box was new this year, but I hear it will be back.  The other two festivals are annual events.  Put a note in your calendar in case you’re in the area next summer.

The last activity of our busy weekend was a professional sports event only about a half-mile from Fletcher.  The newest incarnation of the women’s professional soccer Boston Breakers plays at a small stadium just down the street from the campus.  I love going to these games, with their implicit girl-power message and the crowd full of soccer-jersey wearing teens.  My daughter, Kayla, played soccer in high school, and I admit that I miss seeing her play.  Watching the Breakers together is a nice substitute.  This particular game started off in hot sun and then traveled through a spectrum of weather — cloudy but dry, clouds and rain, sun and rain — before releasing the crowd from the stadium for cool air, bright sun, and a beautiful rainbow.

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The season for the Breakers starts in April.  Walk over and catch a game at the end of the spring 2014 semester!

Finally, and perhaps most useful for people moving to the area, I have two restaurant suggestions for you.  On Saturday, in search of an air conditioned food spot near the Davis Square Theater (where we saw The Way Way Back — cute, and filmed not far from here in Marshfield, MA), we popped into Saloon.  With no sign, Saloon isn’t easy to stumble into by accident, but its reputation is growing.  I was amused by our server, who told me that the 10-color pen collection she had in her apron pocket was for students who want to split their bill 10 ways.  😉

And because I forgot to mention it in a past weekend report, I’ll also point hungry tummies toward Belle Isle Seafood, which has one of the best lobster rolls around.  We were there two weeks ago, but I would happily go back any summer weekend.  It’s in Winthrop, a few towns from campus, but easy enough to reach by car or T (subway).

That’s my belated weekend rundown, and also the tips for your future restaurant and sports-viewing pleasure.  This coming weekend’s events might include yet another festival.  Maybe I’ll be back with a report next week.

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Partly because it’s easy on a Monday morning, and partly because I do believe there’s benefit to giving real life examples of all the fun things our neighborhood offers, I often indulge myself in the summer by writing about my own weekends.  July seems like the right time to kick off the seasonal round-up.

The past two-plus days found us at a number of different in-town and slightly out-of-town locations.  On Friday, we kicked off the weekend with a few hours of middle-of-the-street dancing at the annual Cambridge dance party.  Easily reached from campus by T (subway), the party draws dance fans (thousands of them!) at every point in the age range — from the youngest children to the senior citizens for whom chairs have been set out by the senior center.  Will you be on campus on June 27, 2014?  Plan to join the dance.

strawberriesWith danceable tunes still in our heads, off we went on Saturday morning to pick strawberries at Verrill Farm.  The farm is only a half hour from Fletcher, though you’ll need to organize a few friends and a car to get there.  Verrill offers food and activities throughout the growing season.

The afternoon found us soaking up the air conditioning while watching “20 Feet from Stardom,” which I recommend to anyone with the vaguest interest in music.  We’re lucky around here to be able to choose from several movie theaters that present less than typical options.  Not that there’s any shortage of vampires and superheros on local screens.

Dinner was at a super quirky place in Watertown — accessible by bus from campus.  I had always wondered what Grappa would be like, sitting as it does across from a large shopping plaza, and it turns out to offer quite nice Italian food — well worth the exploratory visit.

After dinner, I relaxed and Paul (my on-the-go husband) went to a local club for a gig.

Sunday started at our favorite summer morning destination:  Revere Beach.  With coffee and guava-filled pastries from our good friends at Lupita Bakery, we enjoyed watching seagulls feasting on clams.  Revere is also easily reached by T from campus, and with a Cambodian restaurant that made the list of top Asian food restaurants in the greater Boston area, you don’t need to worry about what to have for lunch while you’re there.  Don’t want to stop at a restaurant?  Two nearby groceries carry ready-made banh mi sandwiches.  Need I say more?

Simple barbeque for dinner and, to use up some of the 15 pounds of strawberries we picked on Saturday, a strawberry shortcake.

The point of all this, aside from giving me an easy blog topic?  Tufts is in a great location, with transportation links into and around town.  From farm to beach, and everything in between, there’s always something to do around here.

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Well, I didn’t get it together this week to report on my weekend.  But, with service to my readership in mind, I’ll just mention the restaurant we went to.  You may be looking for an interesting meal this weekend, and I wouldn’t want you to go hungry (or uninspired).

Much as I love going to the beach, the visit is undeniably enhanced by a good dinner.  So last Sunday, when it was quite hot, we went to Revere for a little sea/sun/sand, and some Cambodian food.  First, we checked out this year’s sand sculptures (always creative and odd at the same time).

And then we headed off to Thmor Da, our favorite Revere dinner venue.  Not just us — the Boston Globe likes it, too!  (Personally, I could eat the papaya salad every day.)  If you’re making a plan with friends tonight, consider taking a ride on the Blue Line to Thmor Da.  Or, if you’re not in town, file this away in your mental restaurant directory, and make the trip when you’re at Fletcher.

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The final entry in the blog’s tourist-guide week goes to Peter, who takes you north and south with his suggestions.

It’s no secret that this region is somewhat obsessed with rivalries — from baseball (Go Sox!) and basketball, to chowder and cannolis, in Boston it’s all about loyalty to your team (or chowder purveyor).  While Massachusetts isn’t a huge state, it does have more than its share of coastline, which has helped create a rivalry of the geographic variety — the North Shore vs. South Shore. The North Shore includes coastal communities up through Cape Ann, while the South Shore extends down in the direction of Cape Cod — with Boston proper serving as the dividing line between the two.  The debate centers on important topics such as food, beaches, schools, traffic, and weather; and, it seems, everyone has an opinion.

Living in the Somerville/Cambridge area (north of the city, but just across the river from Boston), I’ve held out on choosing a geographic favorite for almost eight years, equally enjoying my time with friends down in Scituate and relaxing on Singing Beach up the coast in Manchester-by-the-Sea (yes, that is the town’s actual name).  It is hard to remain neutral forever, and eventually one thing tipped the scales:  the classic New England clam shack.  A few years back, I began to explore the various rustic seafood establishments scattered about the coastal communities of Cape Ann, and it has quickly become a favorite summer pastime.  I’ve enjoyed “No Nonsense, No Celery” lobster rolls at the Lobster Pool, overlooking picturesque Folly Cove, and delicious fried clams at JT Farnham’s, while sitting at a picnic table beside a salt marsh.  Even those with Southern (Massachusetts) leanings will (reluctantly) admit that the North Shore wins the debate in the clam shack department — in fact, there’s even a clam shack that is shaped like a clam box (the aptly named “Clam Box”).  While I still can’t say which establishment is the best — a classic New England debate in and of itself — I’m looking forward to conducting more delicious research this summer.

Note: Fletcher is on the Medford/Somerville line, which is just north of Boston and a short drive away from fried clam heaven!

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Continuing this week’s travel guide theme, I first want to suggest you check out the places Fletcher students have been visiting, in the second annual “Where is Fletcher” video.  On dry land, or underwater, those students get around!

But more locally, let’s hear from Kristen and Liz, who provide suggestions of activities that are easily accessible from campus.

Kristen recommends:
One of my favorite Boston activities is getting out and walking.  For an American city, Boston is very walkable, and taking the city on foot is one of the best ways to get to know each neighborhood.  Among my favorite pleasant-weather walks is to start on the Charles River near MIT and the “Salt-and-Pepper-Shaker Bridge,” and then wander down Mass Ave (no one here calls it Massachusetts Avenue — those extra syllables are too pesky).  Mass Ave has a great collection of watering holes (I particularly like the Miracle of Science), scandal-ridden ice cream shops, and Indian markets.  You can feel the personality of the street change from the quiet area filled with architectural behemoths around MIT, to the salty collection of characters at Central Square, to pure Cambridge academia at Harvard Square.

Liz says:
I don’t often get out into the city, as I live a little north of Medford, so I should really be taking suggestions from my peers on things to do.  However, there is one activity I’ve done a few times that I found to be fun and a bit different:  Afternoon tea at the Taj Boston (formerly the Ritz Carlton).  I know, it sounds stuffy and boring, but I’ve had a really great time, especially with a good group of friends.  The room is lovely and it has this sort of aura from another era about it.  I do enjoy tea, and they have a nice assortment to choose from.  (No Lipton tea bags here!)  Then there is the food.  I’m not much of a sweets kinda gal, but they have many different pastries, scones, and desserts to choose from.  Best, and what I really enjoy, are all the different types of finger sandwiches!  It’s a unique way to spend an afternoon in Boston with friends.  If you do get the chance, I certainly recommend trying it at least once.

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We have Norway maples around our house that provide wonderful shade in the summer, and hours of leaf raking in the fall.  Bagging leaves was, therefore, high on the agenda for the weekend, along with cheering on Kayla’s soccer team during the final game of the season, and doling out candy to trick-or-treaters for Halloween.

But between those activities, we still managed to squeeze in a few unplanned extras.  On Saturday, Paul and I decided to check out a new restaurant in Davis Square on our way to the movies.  We had barely walked through the door when we saw friends of ours.  Once we sat down, we spied one of this year’s MacArthur grant winners, whom we recognize because he works with our former next-door-neighbor.  On our way out, we passed Tufts president Larry Bacow.  Later, as we left the movie, we bumped into friends near the theater and, having walked them to their car, waved to yet another friend as she drove by during our trek home.

These are the days when, contrary to Somerville’s municipal status, it feels like a small town — the kind of place where you run into people you know wherever you go.  I like that!  But it’s also great to take advantage of all that Boston, our larger city neighbor, has to offer.

So off we went on Sunday.  Hopped on the T and soon arrived in Chinatown for dim sum.  When we walked out of the restaurant, I had a hankering for a cannoli.  (Doesn’t everyone follow-up dim sum with Italian pastries?)  A quick walk down the Greenway and we were in the North End, Boston’s traditional Italian neighborhood.  Warmed ourselves with coffees and yummy cannoli at a busy but mellow spot.

Back on the T in time for Paul to carve a pumpkin before the youngest trick-or-treaters started ringing the bell.  And we could hardly have forgotten about Halloween, as we passed witches, zombies, skeletons, one large elf, and a wookie on a Segway, as we meandered through this area where — depending on how you crunch the numbers — as many as 20 percent of residents are students.

All in all, a perfect small-town big-city fall weekend.

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