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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

eats goes east

T U E S D A Y

I’m not a big fan of the red-eye — and when I was working I wouldn’t take them — not worth a damn the next day. But… happily retired, I have grown fond of the jetBlue non-stop Reno JFK. Staggering through the next day is not so bad, when all you’re seeking is pleasure. Both RNO-JFK and JFK-BOS flights FULL but on time. There’s a little over an hour wait at JFK… I call it “safe time.”

Eric and Alison drove down from their Portland manse to pick us up at Boston Logan Airport. “Text us when you arrive JFK. We leave then, get to Logan by the time you walk out the door from baggage.” (We beat ‘em by about 10 minutes.)

They took us to our hotel, out on Commonwealth Ave where we checked in and left the bags and the car. There’s no need for a car in Boston.

I bravely pulled out my iPhone and clicked on the app UBER, my first time. It swept around, showed my location on a map, and asked that I verify where I am, by address. Where do I want to go?   (Faneuil Hall Marketplace) Then it says, “3 minutes” and displays a driver’s name (Ahmed) , car (Toyota Camray), and the first 4 digits of license plate. On my iPhone screen I can see UBER cars in the vicinity and one is headed for me.

Car drives up. We get in and are driven to FHM. When we get out, we say “Thank You” and he (or she) says “Thank you,” and drives away. No cash. No tips. A short time later, I get an email receipt showing cost of the trip and asking me to rate the driver, one to five stars.

We found ourselves at the end of North Market Street and started walking.

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We’re looking around and remembering… I was Project Architect for FHM from about 1970 until North Market Building (the final of three phases) opened in August 1977. My last visit here was in 2012. Things have changed, but not much. Good Bones.

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Surveying the scene. Not much has changed in 40 years. Good Bones

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We stopped at Anthem Kitchen & Bar at the Faneuil Hall end of South Market Building to cool our heels a bit and get our bearings.

There are plenty of places to eat at the Marketplace, but I felt like this was my day in my place and suggested Regina Pizzaria in the North End. They have a  branch in the Quincy Market Building, but the original store in the North End is the real deal. My FHM team and I walked there for lunch from time to time during construction of the Markets.

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We took the long way through Waterfront Park, where seasonal flowers led the way. Alison was looking at her phone for directions, Carol had a tourist map and I was going by instinct. My instinct told me it seemed farther than it was 40 years ago.

But the pizza and the place haven’t changed much. There’s still the line outside — at 3pm on Tuesday — and there’s no waiting list, just get in line. When the guy has an opening, he comes out and says, “first four, come on in.”

The place is just as crowded and smells just as good, and the pizza — it tastes as good as it looks. YUM.

We UBERed back to the hotel to move in and get settled. Eric and Alison took their car and stuff to Alison’s cousin in Belmont where they’re staying.

Fairstead Kitchen sits in a lively block of Brookline’s version of Beacon Street. Their acknowledgement of our Open Table Reservation stated;

“We are a small neighborhood restaurant with only 9 tables. Please ensure a valid phone number is left where we may reach you… To be fair to all diners, if we are unable to reach you, the reservation may be cancelled.”

Not a problem. On this fine evening, the outdoor dining easily doubled the size of the restaurant for our 7 O’Clock reservation.

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Fairstead has a short, but very interesting menu. It is definitely a food place, and yet the beer, wine and cocktails lists take up 3 pages of the 4-page menu. And the beers are listed by style, which guides the patron and saves the staff a lot of explaining.

I can describe my food: sausage, grilled with casing removed, served with vegetables, greens and a lovely sauce. And another small plate of roasted cauliflower. I guess if you asked me my favorite foods, I would say, “any kind of sausage; any preparation of cauliflower. And a nice cold draft Lager.

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This was our first real meal of the trip and I didn’t make notes of everybody’s food, suffice to say we were each very pleased with our food and amazed by the poise and knowledge of the young woman serving us — this place and the meal fit the evening and the evening  was in a fit with the whole outside, it seemed.

WEDNESDAY — Lunch with friends in Newton, Fenway Park and Red Sox v Giants

Chapter 1

NEW
Following the Giants’ East Coast Swing

There is a bunch of new stuff here at eatsforone.

  • New Server
  • New Look
  • New Format
  • and finally, a New Story.

Son Eric, who got me started on *eats* in December 2005, has always handled the background, server part, while I did the fun writing part. He informed me recently that it would be beneficial to change servers. That change necessitated a format change, but allowed the very cool “Category Cloud” and Archives list on the front page. This will make it easier for those of you with curiosity to explore our 10 year history at will. Some curious and entertaining stuff has been written over the years.

My first post for the new version of eatsforone, while maintaining an “eats” focus, will follow us on the SF baseball Giants’ *East Coast Swing* w through Boston and New York City. It all started when the Giants offered such a trip package, and became real when Son Eric offered his complete tour-guide services — the Giants package left us on-our-own for all except the games and intercity travel — for nightlife, meals and getting around. We settled for the advantages and personal service of Eric instead of the Giants; and at some cost savings. [Son Brian’s job took him to Europe for six months.]

So this will be a story of that trip, focusing on the food, of course.

Since it was a ten day trip, it will take some time to write and illustrate, so it will be offered in installments. You can’t enjoy it as much as we did, but here’s a sense of it.

M O N D A Y
A neighbor dropped us at Reno Tahoe International Airport and the place was nearly deserted at 9:30pm, so check-in was quick and EZ. RNO is not particularly big — big enough to offer non-stop service to and from JFK in New York — but it is L O N G.

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The walk thru the Terminal.was not so bad because everybody is so nice — the TSA folks included — and I knew a nice cold Sam Adams Seasonal would be waiting for me in the bar at the very end.

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T T T

Tasty
Tried
True

In these days of the internet and skaty-eight-b’zillion recipe blogs and sites, what’s a home cook and sometime blogger to do?

I like and trust the “old” recipes and believe that anything from the internet is untrustworthy unless it comes from a site with an editor (Epicurious, NYT, etc). Blog and magazine recipes tend to involve twists and turns and sauces and rubs, etc (*chicken wings 21 ways*) I respect and revere real cookbook authors/writers — James Beard, Madher Jaffrey, Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, Martha Stewart, and so on — many of my favorite recipes come from them. That said, there are new, innovative writers and recipes; but that’s another story.

And so… (drumroll)
These are the first of a number of recipes that I have cooked lately and have decided are good-to-go, as is. They are worthy of bearing the appellation T T T [Tasty Tried and True]. They may or may not have appeared on *eats…* but they have been hanging around my recipe files for some time.

That doesn’t mean I won’t alter a recipe somewhat as I cook depending on what I have on hand or my mood or the weather or whatever, but if I want — and I usually do in this day and age — I can cook them straight, flat, as written.

In most cases, they came from somewhere — a book, magazine, the TV, newspaper or my head — and have been cooked and adjusted and re-written until Carol and I love ‘em.

and another T: Toss

I’ve recently posted a couple:
K-Paul’s Cajun Meatloaf TTT
The Perfect Steak TTT

More are to come:
Grilled Chicken Thighs
Bourbon Baked Beans
Fish Chowder
Bi-Rite beans n chard
cuban black beans
Basic Cooked Rice
my bean vegetable soup
Cajun Catfish
Beer Butt Chicken
and more…

Sassy Brassica

I know, it’s a stupid title, but it accurately evokes the spirit and delivery of this “instant classic” way to treat cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and their cousins. It originates with David Chang and Momofuku as an asian-y take on serving cauliflower which is NOT a traditional or widely grown vegetable in Asian cooking. This, from the Momofuku Cookbook, is the Creation Story:

This is one of the best Ssäm Bar dishes — a staple there since the late-night days and and fine way to dispatch either cauliflower or Brussels sprouts in season.

There’s not much of a story to it: we had a deep fryer, we had vegetables in season that we needed to cook, we had Tien‘s fish sauce vinaigrette on hand, and we were looking for a way to use boondi, a fried chickpeas snack used in Indian cooking that Tien brought with him from his days working for Gray Kunz. They all found each other, and the results were awesome. Sometimes it’s just that easy.

Later we swapped out boondi for puffed rice — which is what Rice Krispies are — seasoned with shichimi togarashi.

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Tons Of Tomatoes? Ferment'm!

Tons Of Tomatoes

It is early September in Maine. Our garden has peaked and is now overflowing like a bucket set beneath a drip which can’t fill fast enough early on, then suddenly becomes overwhelming. Above is the third mass tomato harvest from our garden, most of which are about to be canned in quart jars which will bring our total this summer to over 50 jars of tomatoes…so far!

We eat tomatoes with every meal these days, mostly sliced fresh with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and olive oil. It is an embarrassment of riches in many ways, and I hesitate before I describe this menu feature as “monotonous” because I know that in a few weeks I will pine for the flavor of homegrown sun-ripened heirloom tomatoes…so I won’t.

Still, WHAT TO DO with the steady spill of this wonderful but terribly temporal torrent??? The answer should have been obvious to me, someone who makes their living fermenting food, but it wasn’t until Alison came home from seeing Mr. Fermentation himself — Sandor Katz — speak at our local food Co-op and mentioned that Katz had described a new idea that had just been brought to him: fermenting fresh tomatoes to make an a tasty and shelf-stable conserva paste that from them in an ancient and time-tested manner.

All I needed was that one word — conserva — plus The Google to find out how I could do this.
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Every Grain Of Rice

My new favorite cookbook is Every Grain of Rice by Fuchsia Dunlop. After she has meticulously and faithfully researched and documented two historically significant cuisines in China (Sichuanese, and Hunanese) in previous books, and then researched deep into many other Chinese regional cuisines, Dunlop now brings together some of the best recipes from all of her work while at the same time modifying them (sometimes slightly, sometimes radically) to make them easier for Western cooks to approach and prepare, as well as to bend them further towards a vegetarian ideal while keeping them as delicious (if not more so!) as their origins.

This is really important because for our own health, as well as for the health of our planet, we cannot continue to get a majority of our protein from whole slabs of meat. Not only are we better off eating less meat per dish, but if we no longer demand quantity of meat from our meat growers, they will be able to focus on quality of both the meat’s life as well as it’s flavor. Because of the scarcity of meat across most of Chinese history, most Chinese cuisines use meat only for flavor — protein is provided for in many other ways, primarily through the soy bean.

As a meat grower, and a meat eater, I would never suggest that we stop eating meat altogether, because I believe that our biological make up benefits from digesting a wide spectrum of foods, animal flesh (and eggs and milk) included. But *wide spectrum* means that livestock products normally ought to contribute only a portion of our daily protein intake (the USDA recommends 46 grams for women, 56 for men — that’s about two ounces A DAY). Meat for flavor, or as one of many components of a dish, easily accomplishes this goal, and Fuchsia gives us tasty and easy ways to prepare dishes in which we can do follow this thoughtful path.
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