EATS GOES EAST 2

WEDNESDAY July 20 at Hotel Boston

I’m up at 7:45 and walk outside to catch the morning. Cool and fresh.

Our hotel is undergoing a name change. When I reserved our room it was Best Western University Hotel, Boston. Now, the sign says Hotel Boston. I’m surprised that name wasn’t already taken. In any case, it seems like a Best Western, two stories with surface parking and a Hotel Bkfst. I love that. I don’t want to DINE at breakfast, just give me coffee, some juice and something to get me started.

Another neat thing. Our hotel has a Front Porch. Nice place to sit on this perfect July morning and read USA Today. Our front porch has benches, tables and chairs — the only place to sit, since our room has only one chair. Why do they do that? We asked for another chair, but there is no such thing.

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relaxing on our front porch while I call UBER for a meet-up with our lunch date

eats_1_Dope-n-Huey

Dewey and Hope and Carol and Marcus… outside Seasons 52 we experienced glaring sun and some brisk breeze

Today is our trip’s *reason d’etre*. Giants visit Fenway Park to play my beloved Red Sox. The Giants fall into the category of:

 “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.”

My job took me to San Francisco, and the Red Sox chose not to go with me. They’re still the team I grew up with, and still beloved, though three time zones away and hard to keep in touch with. [Same deal for the Patriots.]

We’re meeting Hope and Dewey for lunch — speaking of the team we grew up with — Hope and Carol founded The Preschool Experience and were partners for 20 years. When the time came, they sold the business and Carol followed me to SF… lucky for me.

We met Hope n Dewey at Seasons 52 in Chestnut hill for lunch. It’s a restaurant created for upscale shopping centers; menu, food, decor and ambiance all reflect that and I must say that my scallops were superb.

eats_1-scallops

Some very fine sea scallops, and in the background, C’s grilled shrimp and salad. the portions are large compared to SF

UBERed to the hotel to hang out on the porch with Eric. We discussed plans for getting to Fenway Park and dinner.

How do you get to Fenway Park? On the T… always. Since our hotel is on Commonwealth Ave, and a piece of the Green Line runs right down the middle of Comm Ave, that’s a no brainer. As we walked on Comm Ave to the T stop, we picked up Clipper Cards at a corner store. $2.50 each, round trip.

Nice ride. This part of Comm Ave is lined with low rise  apartment buildings and “Corner Stores” and people are sprawled across the occasional front stoop watching the trains go by  as we watch them.

We could have ridden into Kenmore Square, but chose to get off at BU East. We had scouted a place to eat on the street leading from there to Fenway; Mai Mai, nice little Asian Fusion joint, flooded with light and inviting smells.

eats_1-mei-mei

I’m looking at the sign from our table inside.

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HUMANELY RAISED… nice to know that, also a really nice chalk drawing

The signs give a sense of the place. We were looking for an early bite before the game… something nicer than the street fare outside Fenway — although that Fenway street fare is better than any ballpark food I’ve encountered.

eats_1-potstickers

My potsticker nestled in a bed of hummus.

The stuffing of the potstickers was not unlike the formed uncased sausage of my dinner at Fairstead Kitchen, but this sausage was formed by the potsticker itself. YUM

All we need to do now is walk a couple of blocks to Fenway around a corner and up Mountfort Street, a small street that I had parked on many times. We found ourselves in a conundrum.  We stood on the corner of Mountfort at Beacon Street as it rises to the bridge going over the Mass Pike. Beacon is four lanes wide with a center median and no crosswalk. We had crossed at this corner before… 25 years ago. Carol balked — not so much at crossing 4 lanes of traffic, as going down the steep slope where Mountfort continues. Gimpy knee after all the SF hills. Alternatively, we could walk down to Kenmore Square and back up Brookline Ave to Fenway, at least six times farther.

eats_1-fenway map

While we were contemplating the traffic, Eric told a story about how his friend’s daughters abused their UBER privileges in a Boston suburb. The last couple blocks of their walk to high school was up a steep hill. There were times when they would summon UBER for that last bit of their journey.

I whipped out my iPhone and before I had completed my location, an UBER car came charging out of the very parking lot across Beacon. In a New York minute we were standing on the Lansdowne Street in the midst of the food scene outside Fenway.

We presented our precious tickets, found an elevator and were soon admiring Fenway Farms.

In the spring of 2015, Fenway Farms was planted, a rooftop garden on the third base side of the ballpark, above Yawkey Way. Produce and herbs grown in “Fenway Farms,” presented by Stop & Shop, Dole, Sage Fruit, and Fenway Park concessionaire Aramark, will be used in food products prepared at the ballpark this season, including the restaurant in the EMC Club.

Fenway Farms is sited on a 5,000 square foot roof above the Red Sox Front Offices. Previously an underutilized black rubber membrane roof, the space will now be used much more productively with an estimated 4,000 lbs of produce harvested annually.

Fenway Park is such a story. I was a witness to some of it. From 1970 to 1992 my kids and I — sometimes Carol — would grab the Riverside Line of the T and could be in Fenway in 20 minutes. Those were the days when you could walk up and buy tickets at the box office.

The park is located along Lansdowne Street and Yawkey Way in the Kenmore Square area of Boston. The area includes many buildings of similar height and architecture and thus it blends in with its surroundings. When pitcher Roger Clemens arrived in Boston for the first time in 1984, he took a taxi from Logan Airport and was sure the driver had misunderstood his directions when he announced their arrival at the park. Clemens recalled telling the driver “No, Fenway Park, it’s a baseball stadium … this is a warehouse.” Only when the driver told Clemens to look up and he saw the light towers did he realize he was in the right place.[46]

Fenway Park is one of the two remaining classic parks still in use in major league baseball (the other being Wrigley Field), and both have a significant number of obstructed view seats, due to pillars supporting the upper deck. These are sold as such, and are a reminder of the architectural limitations of older ballparks. [wikipedia]

We moved to San Francisco in 1991 and lost track of Fenway for a while until 1999 when:

Red Sox announced plans for a new Fenway Park to be built near the existing structure. It was to have seated 44,130 and would have been a modernized replica of the current Fenway Park, with the same field dimensions except for a shorter right field and reduced foul territory. Some sections of the existing ballpark were to be preserved (mainly the original Green Monster and the third base side of the park) as part of the overall new layout…. The proposal was highly controversial, and several groups (such as “Save Fenway Park”) formed in an attempt to block the move.[35] Discussion took place for several years regarding the new stadium proposal. One plan involved building a “Sports Megaplex” in South Boston, where a new Fenway would be located next to a new stadium for the New England Patriots. The Patriots ultimately built Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, their home throughout most of their history, which ended the Megaplex proposal. The Red Sox and the city of Boston failed to reach an agreement on building the new stadium, and in 2005, the Red Sox ownership group announced that the team would stay at Fenway Park indefinitely. The stadium has since been renovated, and will remain usable until as late as 2061.[wikipedia]

Here we are, way up top in an area only recently built as one of the final steps in the “completion” of Fenway Park. We’re in the “Giants Section” and looking down on the 37 feet high Green Monster, and when we look to our right and the press box, most of the seats we see up top didn’t exist back in the day.

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Looking down on the Monster, an odd perspective.

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Almost none of these seats existed, back in the day

Straight ahead of us, we have the beautiful “Moon over Bud.”

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And here is our own private concession area with it’s own view of the landmark CITGO sign.

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Avoid the crowds, sit in the sky… pop down the steps to your very own beer stand.

But what about the game??? The game was good — especially for Sox fans — as there was lots of action and scoring. Red Sox prevailed 11-7

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Fenway is still incredible — even moreso with the very cool and imaginative additions.

The game was fun and exciting and the crowd stayed to the end. The Fenway crowd is fervent, but sophisticated and polite. Us guys in our Giants gear were greeted with respect and often with the quip, “See you in October.” We stood and sang *Sweet Caroline” in the 8th inning stretch.

We were concerned about the crush getting out, but no worries… just follow the guy in front of you and don’t try to hurry, everybody moving at the same pace. The elevator left us in close sight of doors to the street and we shuffled down to Kenmore Square. We crossed Kenmore Square to the other side where it was less crowded and traffic moved west toward our hotel. An EZ UBER home.

Tomorrow – Kicking around Boston and Harvard Square

 

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Getting to the Pig

NEW ENGLAND, 14 DAYS IN OCTOBER, 2013

At age 30, we moved from Virginia to Massachusetts. Our sons were five and three. At age 54 we moved to San Francisco. All but one year of that time, we lived at 48 Harrison Street, Newton Highlands MA 02138. 617-969-3359 It was the time when we embraced adulthood, raised our children and forged lasting friendships. A time like no other in our lives. This is about revisiting New England, not for reflection and nostalgia, but for activity and exploration.

Our visit was centered around the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) annual Nose to Tail Pig Processing Workshop during Columbus Day weekend. Before, we made our way to the Belfast Maine environs, and after, we drove across the whole of New England to Cooperstown, New York, and from there to Newton Highlands.
The story has a beginning, middle and end. This is the beginning, “Getting to the Pig.”

 

“We left home more than 12 hours ago, and we’re still in Reno,” I said to Carol.

We were waiting to board the 5am shuttle bus from Grand Sierra Resort to the Reno Tahoe airport. Brian and Natasza had picked us up Tuesday evening for dinner and we stayed over due to our 6:05am flight to Denver and Boston.

For locals, the Room is $58 and they paid the first $25 at Briscola, Charlie Palmer’s take on Italian. And they provide a free shuttle to airport. Not bad.

Grand Sierra Resort, 5 am

DAY 2 WEDNESDAY 10.09

Our Southwest flight was EZ. About an hour out of Denver, I had my second Bloody Mary. It is good. In Denver we had just enough time to grab some eats at Lefty’s Grill. It’s an airport place, so I didn’t expect much, but how could I pass up the Sausage Gravy Biscuits for brunch? The biscuits were thin and soft… nice, and all the gravy needed was salt, pepper and Tabasco. Not photogenic, but… Yum.

Lefty’s Grille sausage gravy over biscuits, Denver Airport

The continuing flight to Boston was without incident and I recounted the cool things I had learned about Southwest Airlines on two previous flights.

  • The no-assigned seats. Who knew? It’s so simple, get on, pick a seat, sit down. OK… pay a $12.50 fee to be in the first 60 to board, guaranteeing an aisle seat. What else do you need?
  • Flight attendants take your order for drinks and bring them to you NO AISLE CARTS and as many assorted snacks as you can eat; peanuts, pretzels wheat crackers, etc. They come back for empty wrappers, glasses, etc and say, “Would you like another Bloody Mary? Yes, thank you.”
  • Two bags per person fly free. I noticed some airlines are now charging $75 per bag.
  • And when we got to the baggage claim at Logan Airport, our bags were there.

Logan airport has a new feature since we were last there: Go to the blue curb for a shuttle bus to rental cars… all rental cars are in one building. Check in on one floor, take the escalator to one of the two floors above. Get in your car. Go. From touch-down to the Ted Williams tunnel, under an hour.

Eric and Alison had arranged to meet us in Portland for dinner, since we couldn’t get their house until almost 10pm if everything went perfectly. And we would be tired. He got that right.

We followed Eric’s directions to the Franklin Street exit off I-295 and as he said, went up the hill and down the hill through several traffic signals until we reached Commercial Street and the Hilton Garden Inn. Meet them in the bar at the Fore Street Restaurant, just behind the hotel. That was EZ.

Fore Street is a New England kinda place of wood and brick. The centerpiece is a wood fired brick oven built by the same guy that built Eric and Alison’s oven/chimney. The building, food, service were all of a piece — everything in harmony to produce sensory satisfaction.

Fore Street: my baked halibut

Fore Street: grilled squid appetizer

Fore Street: Eric’s baked blue fish

our shirts are in harmony, as well

Long day, good day. I woke with the sun at 7am.

Portland ME: our Hilton Garden Inn harbor view

DAY 3 THURSDAY 10.10
Brian and Natasza’s Kyiv Wedding Anniversary: 10.10.10 Continue reading

Joyce Chen

The wok and the pot.

Back in the day, the late 1960’s/early 70’s, living in Newton, Massachusetts, an urban suburb of Boston, we discovered the Joyce Chen Restaurant in Cambridge. We came in 1968 from Roanoke VA, where nearly everything new and good was “over the mountain” from us. Cambridge was a revelation! Everything was new and different and good, from Design Research to good Chinese food.

three woks

three woks

THE WOK
We went to Joyce Chen on celebratory occasions, often with a like minded group, as the restaurant had big round tables with a lazy susan in the middle. Joyce Chen had a cooking show in WGBH, the Boston PBS station where Julia Child honed her TV chops.

Joyce Chen’s restaurant was on the second floor of a three story wooden building in Cambridge near Central Square, a neighborhood less toney than Harvard Square; a place where new restaurants got their start. Legal Seafood started there at about the same time; another venue celebrating good food that has grown and flourished.

Joyce Chen was content with her single location, but soon enough, she opened a store on the street floor where she introduced a line of Chinese cooking utensils. I’m pretty sure I bought my first wok there, a big, steel 14 1/2-inch wok that over the years has become well seasoned. I still use it.

well seasoned wok

well seasoned wok

Eventually, her name and influence in the restaurant and design world faded. Joyce Chen died in 1994 and her restaurant closed in 1998.

In 1992 my wife and I moved to San Francisco. I moved three months before her, and in barely equipping a temporary bare bones kitchen, bought a small black aluminum calphalon wok shaped pan, only 8 inches in diameter. When Carol arrived with our furnishings and cookware, it got buried the cupboard. Continue reading

Eats goes to Boston

…on the way to Thanksgiving in Maine

Since son Brian moved to Southern France six years ago, we’ve met in Europe for our family get-togethers – except for son Eric’s 40th birthday in 2004, celebrated in New Hampshire and Maine. This year, it was great to get reacquainted with Boston friends and spend Thanksgiving with friends and family in Maine.

Millennium Bostonian Hotel

Millennium Bostonian Hotel

We touched down in Boston about six o’clock Friday and checked into the Millennium Bostonian Hotel, tired and hungry. If you’ve lived in Boston, you don’t return to Boston without dinner at Legal Seafood. We didn’t even take the time to unpack before walking through Faneuil Hall Marketplace to State Street and across the “Big Dig” park. It was plenty cold for us Californians – about 25 degrees – but we were comfortable in our saved Boston overcoats… until we turned the corner onto State Street and the wicked wind cut through our woolens like a serving spoon through soufflé. The lights of Legal warmed our soul and a few steps later; the blast of warmth from the vestibule took care of our bodies – quickly followed by a Macallan and Manhattan, which provide their own kind of heat.

Legal Seafood

Legal Seafood

some fine steamed clams

some fine steamed clams

Sooner than expected, we were escorted from the bar, through the busy and cheerful dining room to our table. We ordered the quintessential Legal Seafood antipasto: cup o’ chowdahbucket o’ steamers and , to be dipped in broth and/or melted butter before dropping the morsel in to one’s mouth, open like a baby bird’s, to receive it. Yum. That’s livin’.

Carol's Crab Cake

Crab Cake for Carol

As entrees I had the Scrod and Carol a big ol’ Crab Cake. What a lovely welcome to New England.
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The Best Meatloaf of All Time

K-Paul Meatloaf

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My hardcover copy of Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen is dogeared, foodstained and some of the pages are coming out of the binding. It is inscribed, “From Robert and Katy, 1984,” and it is still a “top shelf” cookbook in my kitchen library.

I prize it because the recipes have a zing to them and it contains the best meatloaf recipe of all time. Paul Prudhomme calls it Cajun Meat Loaf and it’s on page 112 after Cajun Prime Rib and followed by Fresh Veal Liver with Mashed Potatoes, Smothered Onions and Bacon. I call it K-Paul Meatloaf.

I am a lover of good meatloaf, and its first cousin, meatballs. I have tried countless such recipes over the years, 13 remain in my database, and probably an equal number in my Cookbook collection; most are good. K-Paul Meatloaf is the best.

What is meatloaf anyway, but ground meat, bread, egg, milk and seasoning. It can be hard and dull or rich, moist and full of flavor, depending on the “other stuff” that goes into the mixing bowl.

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BBQ Hot Dog Dish Revisited

bbq_dogs.jpgOne of the very first entries in this blog—noted “entered 21 December 2005 by Marcus”—was actually entered by Eric, the guy who gave me this WordPress template for Christmas, four days later. He had already posted five entries—taken from my eats4one book—to demonstrate what it would look like (looks good!).

I didn’t work up the confidence or technique to make my own post until January 14th when I put together Broccoli di Cicco.
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Gravy

“Gravy isTomato sauce, usually the kind made with meat like pork, veal, etc, and typically eaten with macaroni, rigatoni or ziti. As opposed to marinara sauce, a meatless tomato sauce usually eaten with spaghetti.”
Peter Paul “Paulie Walnuts” Gualtieri quoted in The Sopranos Family Cookbook [Warner Books 2002]

I’m posting this Pork Braciola and Tomato Gravy recipe just because its so good and reminded both Carol and me of the “spaghetti sauce” she used to make back in the day when there were hungry kids around. I’m pretty sure she picked it up from one of the neighbor ladies in South Roanoke Apartment Village. In any case, it followed us to Newton, and is one of the few recipes I took to Jerusalem.

After our move to San Francisco, there were no longer hungry kids around and we got caught up in trying new recipes from new cookbooks, and then there was the no carb phase and Carol’s tried and true spaghetti sauce fell by the wayside.
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