Summer Bucket List

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Putting pen to paper to create my seasonal bucket list is how I like to greet each new season. I’ll admit I was 50/50 on last year’s list so hoping the below is a little more attainable. I’ll keep you posted!

1. Fly away in a hot air balloon.

2. Indulge my inner-child with the Harry Potter book series.

3. Fish

4. Explore the Boston Harbor Islands.

5. Master a ceviche recipe.

6. Rent a Hubway and explore all the wonderful new green spaces in my city, including The Green Way, Lawn on D, and The Arnold Arboretum.

7. Brave the Cape traffic and head to the iconic Wellfleet Drive-in for a night at the movies.

8. Explore the Catskills.

9. Work on my tennis game.

10. I am 33/50 in my dining experiences at the Top 50 Restaurants {according to Boston magazine}. I’d like to make it to 40. Thinking I will try No. 9 Park for lunch, Spoke Wine Bar one night after work, Bergamont for date night, Puritan & Company for brunch, Bistro du Midi for an early bite, Bronwyn for a long overdue dinner with my brother Travis and L’Espalier for afternoon tea. Anyone want to join me?

Places

row34
One thing about island life is that I no longer have my finger on the pulse of the dining scene in Boston. And so I took full advantage when my dear friend Abby was in town for Wine Festival. I told her I was escaping the madness of Figawi weekend and heading to my old/new city for the long weekend. When I said, where should I eat, without hesitation, she said “Row 34“.

So of course I raced home and took to my trusty computer for a little research. I was thrilled to see that Row 34, which opened last November in Fort Point (one of the coolest neighborhoods in the city, in my humble opinion), is the latest collaboration from the Island Creek Oyster Bar team: Skip Bennett and Shore Gregory, restaurateur Garrett Harker, and chef Jeremy Sewall. For my frequent readers, you know Island Creek is one of my all-stars. Their vision was to make Row 34 a working man’s oyster bar. And the name, a kind of oyster raised at the Island Creek Farm. I like it already.

I wasn’t the only one looking for a reservation for Saturday night… the only openings were 9:00 pm and 10:15 pm. Boston is the new New York! When we arrived at 9 pm, the restaurant was abuzz. The bar packed and the open kitchen and oyster bar instantly caught my eye. While Row 34 is known for their beer program, I opted for a glass of rose… the Gobelsburger Cistercien to be exact. Delicious.

Now onto the important stuff… what did we eat. We started with a sampling of oysters (the Chatham’s were my favorite) and then moved onto bluefish pate with toast, white wine mussels in scallion butter, striped bass ceviche and the highlight of the meal… the lettuce cups with a crispy oyster and pickled vegetables. Our waitress was a doll and was attentive but not overly so. And she made our meal by sending over the butterscotch pudding, which I must admit I was a bit hesitant to try as I’m not a butterscotch fan but it was simply divine.

Row 34 has certainly joined my all-star list. Thanks, Abby for the wonderful recommendation!

#BostonStrong

Boston
Boston. What a place. This city is like no other. The architecture. The people. The landscape. Home.

My heart aches that I can’t be there today to watch my city come together for the running of the Boston Marathon. So many incredible stories have come out over the last year. Stories of tragedy and triumph. New beginnings. Bravery. Community. One such story is from my sweet church Old South located at the corner of Boylston and Dartmouth. The finish line.

In February, members of the Old South Knitters Club came up with a beautiful idea: the Marathon Scarf Project. A simple idea really. To wrap runners in marathon blue and yellow scarves knit by hand. The group thought they could complete a few hundred at best. But like all good things, news of this project went viral and as of this weekend more than 7,000 scarves were handed out to runners. What an act of love. Now that’s what I call Boston Strong!

Boston Marathon

Places

Alden & Harlow
As we know, I love food and nothing brings me more pleasure that reading a recent issue of Food & Wine and planning my next getaway around where I’m dining. I’m one for the details and thus love to find a place that has it all – great food, great décor, great vibe. I love sitting down at a table and instantly noticing how much attention went into every detail of the place setting… the weight of the water-glass, the curve of the knife, the napkin itself. And let’s not even get started on menu design. My all-star list of places that just nail it include: Island Creek Oyster Bar, ABC Kitchen, Gjelina and Founding Farmers. I can now add Alden & Harlow in Cambridge to this list, and you should too. I went on a Saturday night a few weeks back and had a 9:30 reservations. Coming from island life, dining after 8 pm made me feel very hip! The space is subterranean (in the former Casablanca space on Brattle Street) with beautiful exposed brick, great lighting, an open kitchen, a killer wrap-around bar, vintage signs adorning the walls and shelves filled with things you would have in your home kitchen.

This is the first solo project for chef Michael Scelfo, who wanted Alden & Harlow to be representative of the food he would serve at home. And what food it is. Since opening earlier this year, this Harvard Square gem has become what many refer to as a “food-industry darling.” My friend and I started with the ubiquitous kale salad, featuring thin slices of fennel and an ever-so-delicious creamy pistachio dressing. The menu is meant to be shared so we decided on four plates: the golden corn pancakes drizzled with maple syrup and pop corn (interesting indeed); the rye pasta with confit chicken thigh and fig-liver butter and topped with crispy skin; the crispy Berkshire pork belly with grits, roasted kumquat and bergamot cure; and the highlight of the evening… the beef neck that was slow roasted and served with a parsnip puree, radishes and vinegar. For a selectarian (I try to stick to a mostly vegetarian diet), I must say it was to die for and worth every bite. Did we keep it to the basics, most certainly not but wow, what a meal.

The cocktail list was impressive and a bit overwhelming so we both decided on a great craft beer. Unfortunately dessert was not an option (my friend gave up sweets for Lent… who does this?) but I can tell you, the next time I’m in Boston, I’m heading back to Alden & Harlow for cocktails and dessert. Let me know if you want to join.

Home

Boston
One year ago today I made the decision to leave Boston, a city I had lived in for over a decade. It’s funny. Boston was never a place I wanted to live. I moved there for a boy. (Friendly advice: never move for a boy). I struggled for years to find my place. Fortunately, in 2006, I found it. 263 Clarendon Street in the heart of the Back Bay. I absolutely loved this spot. I was able to walk to work only a few blocks away at the Prudential Tower. I was minutes away from my favorite shops on Newbury Street (Fresh, Calypso, Nanette Lepore). I was around the corner from the Public Garden… one of the most romantic places I have ever been. It was perfection. Leaving was a hard choice but the right choice.

With the events that occurred last week, I felt a loss for my old neighborhood and realized a very important thing about home. Even if you leave it, it remains with you. I love Boston. I love the people of Boston. And while I am not there to be part of this difficult time of recovery, I know in my heart that all will be right again.