dimanche 21 août 2005

Better than Rachael Ray.

Anyone who knows me knows how much I detest Rachael Ray. It's a hard toss-up as to whether she or Sandra Lee is more annoying. Ms. Ray might just win out over Ms. Lee's coke-fueled perkiness just due to the fact that she has like 5 gazillion shows; thus, she is more pervasive and therefore more odious. Her ever-so-obnoxious smoker's rasp of a voice, the fact that she actually says E.V.O.O., pronouncing each letter rather than forming it into a word, or even better, just saying olive oil, the wretched spread in FHM, her ugly new highlights - well, those are but three of the many reasons as to why for this Dine & Dish #4, I decided to actually participate instead of merely being a voyeur. The couple of times I've inadvertantly watched the $40/day show, I was struck not only by her annoyingness (again), but also by the thought of, oh yeah, I could do better than that. So the idea was to take her $40/day concept, and apply it to one's current city of residence.

It was a little difficult. After all, there are a gazillion places I love in Cambridge/Boston. But here goes.. I'll take you on one of my favourite personal walks around the city, punctuated by some of my favourite restaurants.


It's a beautiful day in the Boston area - let's say, 70 degrees fahrenheit with practically no humidity to speak of, clear sparkling blue skies with only the faintest wisps of clouds in the sky. Haha! You know that that's a fantasy! We'll start the day jetting from my apartment in Cambridge over to Charles Street. By car, of course. Public transportation is such a pain and germy (I am a pain), and we're going to pretend that we automatically have parking wherever we're going. Or a driver. Ooh, I like the idea of having a driver. I'd say we'd start with breakfast, but I have the very bad habit of not eating breakfast unless I'm hungover or unless I have guests. Rarely do I wake up hungry. It always takes me a couple of hours for my metabolism to start going. So, we'll take Storrow Drive from Cambridge over to Charles Street...

Yes, I realise that it's not winter right now and that long-time readers have already seen these pictures.
Unfortunately, these seem to be the only photos I can find of Beacon Hill in my files.
Just imagine how much prettier it is when there's no snow.

Charles Street, on lovely Beacon Hill, is one of my favourite parts of Boston. If ever I were to move back to Boston, it'd be a hard tossup as to whether I'd return to Cambridge or attempt to find something on Beacon Hill. The latter would require a fair amount of money, unfortunately. It might be worth it though, for everything you'd have at hand. It's a short street, perhaps all of five brick-paved paths, but it's quite lovely. There are a few darling boutiques there, as well as a high concentration of antique stores. And strangely enough, it's not tourist-ridden.

So after an hour or so peeking into stores and window shopping - well, by then surely, it's time for a snack. While there are a plethora of restaurants, a personal favourite of mine for a quick bite is the Upper Crust Pizzeria. Located near the base of the hill, it's really one of the better pizza places in all of Boston. The name also cracks me up. It has a thin crust which is just sturdy enough to hold up to the toppings which in my case is a slice of pepperoni - slightly spicy tomato sauce, just enough cheese to be satisfying but not overly gloopy, and a scattering of pepperoni slices - perfect, at $2.50. If you want to grab a soda, you may, but I always prefer water with salty food.

While you may eat in the restaurant - it received some sort of architectural honours for its ceiling, I believe, I think it's a far better idea to take your slice of pizza and walk across the street to the Boston Common and enjoy it there. Remember, it's a perfect weather day. Enjoy the fresh air!

Again, pretend that it's pretty and sunny instead of gross and all snowy.

Mmm, pizza. There are few foods I enjoy more. Okay, that's a lie. I love lots of food. Now, after that, I suppose you could walk down Newbury Street, but in my opinion it's a touch over-rated and ack! So many people who can't walk! They just stop randomly and you crash into them! Plus, the number of Guidos there! No, no, let's have the driver take us back to Cambridge. We're done with Boston now.

Hahvard Square is great to browse around in. I enjoy it a lot, and shall miss it terribly. Along the lines of food, while there, make sure to pop into Burdicks, which has great chocolate which I indulged in often (as my advisor said, "Every time I see you, you're always carrying something from Burdicks." But look at the chocolate mouse in the box of chocolate! So cute!) , as well as Cardullo's if you like delis that feature overpriced but oh-so-tempting foodstuffs (They have smarties there. SMARTIES. And KINDER EGGS. I love them). It's probably time for a snack now, and while it's terribly difficult for me to decide between one of the divine iced chocolates (seriously, melted chocolate in a cup, it's so good) at Burdicks, or a treat from Hi-Rise Bakery (I highly recommend their vanilla bean pound cake), I think I'll just settle for an iced coffee at Darwin's. My favourite part about getting coffee there is that rather than having to annoyingly pay extra money to get flavour shots added to your drink, they quite simply have all the syrups located with the milk and sugar, so that you may add, gratis, as much (or as little) of whatever combination of flavours you'd like. For me, it's always hazelnut. And at $2.25 for the large size, we're doing quite well money-wise, aren't we.

After all of that, let's have the driver bring us home for a nap. Yes, it's only a 15-minute walk, but we're (I'm) lazy. Plus, going home is important for the next food stop. For after napping, we'll eschew the driver for a few minutes to walk down the street to Alive and Kicking. While it is a seafood shop, they also make a lobster sandwich. It's not your traditional lobster roll, tucked into a hot dog bun with just barely enough lobster to satisfy you. No, I daresay it might be a good deal better than that. Between two slices of double-toasted and buttered portuguese bread, you get a veritable mound of lobster meat which has been dressed very lightly with mayonnaise. YUM. It comes with a bag of chips, and for $9.95, I dare you to find a better deal involving lobster. (If you ask nicely, Louie will let you hold the gigantic lobster in the lobster tank). We could eat here, there's a small table and cute lobsters painted all over the parking lot, but we're not done with accumulating dinner food.

Given that we're doing so well budget-wise, and that I generally like to have a large selection of food from which to pick (I am a grazer), we're going to walk for another couple of minutes to Coast Cafe, for some of the best goshdarn fried chicken in the area. You can smell it a block away. It's divine. And for $8.95, you get two pieces of non-greasy and scrumptious fried chicken (dark meat. Always choose the dark meat) with two sides - here, I have black eyed peas and macaroni and cheese, although I usually get collard greens instead of the peas (for the gratuitous veggie of the day. I didn't say we were eating balanced meals here).

Now, take your lovely lovely food and backtrack to the Charles River. I love sitting on the banks of the Charles and watching the boats (well, motorboats and crew teams by my end. Mmm. Crew. Guys who row crew. Nice arm muscles. Mmm. Just as delicious as dinner, but in a different way) go by. It's quite pleasant, and makes for an enjoyable picnic place. Ah, that footbridge pictured below. It holds so many amusing memories.

Make sure to share the food with the driver, who is most likely one of my friends I've conned into driving me about because sometimes, I just don't feel like dealing with Boston traffic. Like I could finish all that food, anyway. Share! Sharing is caring! We might need a little postprandial nap here, too. Hey, everyone needs a little disco nap before going out for the evening.

We'll stay local for the night. Let's have the driver take us up to Middlesex for a couple of drinks. And with the money we have remaining, we have just enough for two lovely drinks - a Pimm's Cup on the left, and a Meyer lemon martini on the right, ringing in at $16 for the both of them. And with the dancing - well, you just might burn off the calories you consumed during the day. Perfect!

And there you have it, and our total for the day comes to $39.65, leaving us with $0.35 with which you can... um, send a postcard to write your friends about the lovely food adventure on which you just went.