Friday, February 18, 2011

Boston Valentine

I want to take a quick break from book posts to say something about Boston. I've lived in Boston for just over 8 years and in that time I've complained about it.  A lot.  The T is awful, people drive like maniacs, the sports fans are crazy intense and have no discernible sense of humor when it comes to their teams,  it's expensive, and on and on.  But I didn't live here for 8 years because I was trapped here and now that I'm leaving I wanted to take the opportunity to list out the places in particular that I will miss in this city.

Coolidge Corner.  I lived in an apartment in Coolidge for 2 years, which is by far the longest I stayed in one place during my time in Boston (and Boston areas).  I would have stayed here longer if I could have.  I went from a 1000sq ft, brand new apartment with all the latest amenities into a 500sq ft, old apartment with nothing and I couldn't have been happier because it was in Coolidge. It has shops, restaurants, an old theater, a great bookstore, strange characters and wonderful events.  I never grew tired of it.  If the option comes up to move back to Boston, I want to be back here or not come back at all.

While I'm on the subject of Coolidge Corner I want to mention my favorite bookstore, The Brookline Booksmith. My pie in the sky, literary dream is to own a bookstore and this is the place I would want to run.  The place is certainly not large but they have a nice selection of new books (although they never carried any Fforde...) and the basement was all used ones.  They also held events, book signings, book clubs and the staff had great recommendations.  A little corner of the store was devoted to a random collection of things from the book related (journals, reading lights) to the random (Moses action figures).  It was my go-to gift buying store.  And they would do promotions with the theater across the street if their basement couldn't hold everyone.

The Coolidge Corner Theater is an old art deco style independent movie theater.  Because they were independent they didn't get the new movies right when they came out but they made up for this by showing lots of classic movies and hold events.  I mentioned in an earlier post that the theater showed Night of the Living Dead and then had a Zombie expert come to speak.  I missed that (sad) but I was there for: a screening of Indian Jones and the Ark of the Covenant: The Adaptation which was a shot for shot remake made by some kids between the ages of 12 - 18 (it took them awhile to film...) right after the movie came out, a midnight showing of Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog complete with people acting out both the movie and the musical commentary and the 1967 production of The Taming of the Shrew with members of the Reduced Shakespeare Company acting out parts of the Complete Works (abridged) before the show.  I also so normal movies there as well: Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, Adventureland, (500) Days of Summer

The Coolidge Corner Theater is my favorite theater in Boston but there are a couple more I want to point out: the Somerville Theater in Davis Sq serves beer and wine as well as playing fun movies (I saw Bruno there) and hosting concerts (I saw City and Colour and Lissie there).  The AMC in Harvard Sq is a normal movie theater for the most part but ever Saturday and all Halloween weekend they do midnight showings of Rocky Horror, complete with the Full Body Cast doing a pre-show and acting out the movie. 

I mentioned the Somerville Theater is a good place to see live acts but there are some other venues I went to over and over again.  Formally Avalon, House of Blues is my most often visited venue, because it's where a lot of the acts go.  I've seen Jimmy Eat World and the Dropkick Murphys a few times here as well as some other acts like Streetlight Manifesto and Ben FoldsParadise is walking distance from my apartment in Coolidge (another reason I loved it there) and was a much smaller venue which means it didn't matter where you stood, you had a good view.  I've seen Jakob Dylan, Rx Bandits, the Bouncing Souls and others there. The Orpheum has seats, which usually makes me sad (I like to be able to jump around during concerts) but the place is pretty small so you have a great view and such fun acts go here. I saw Jimmy Eat World (I see them a lot) and Eddie Izzard here.

Then there is all of the food in Boston I'm going to miss.  I love food so this section might be a little long.  All-Star Sandwich Bar is probably my favorite restaurant, or at least my go-to place.  Amazing sandwiches on a rotating specials menu.  They have a regular menu that I've never bothered to order off of because I was too busy having Texas Reubens.  Also they give you free Oreos and high-fives!  It's next door to Christina's Homemade Ice Cream, which has my favorite ice cream anywhere. They have unusual flavors that are very straightforward.  My favorite is Burnt Sugar which tastes just like the top of a creme brulee.  The first time I was there my friend was telling me to get it.  I was reluctant because I wasn't sure what it would taste like.  Sure they said burnt sugar, but what does it really taste like.  I got a sample and what do you know, it tasted exactly like what they said it would.  I never questioned the flavors after that and was never disappointed.

Toro in Boston's South End (not to be confused with Southie) is another favorite restaurant.  It's a tapas place and they don't take reservations, which is nice because your meal is expected to take hours to get through.  It usually does for me anyway.  My favorite dishes there are the "Maz asado con aliolio y queso cotjia" (grilled corn with aliolio, lime, espelette pepper and aged cheese; house speciality) and "Asado de huesos" (roasted bone marrow with radish citrus salad and oxtail marmalade).  My mouth is watering thinking about them.

If I wanted a fancier night out, I'd go to Atlantic Fish Co. It's a nice upscale place that never feels stuffy.  If anyone ever asks me for a nice place to go for a special occasion I recommend this place.  I also recommend it if anyone ever suggests going to Legal Seafood.  Legal is OK but Atlantic is superior.  I usually go for the house recommended dish and the key lime pie is fantastic.

A major Boston area dish is the lobster roll.  I've tried to sample them all over the city and I have 2 favorite places to get them: Neptune Oyster in the North End and Raw Bar on the Cape.  Neptune is a tiny tiny place and usually has a long wait but the Irish bar Goody Glover is across the street so it's easy to grab a drink while waiting for a table.  Besides both their lobster rolls, hot and cold, are worth the wait.  Raw Bar has a simple yet huge lobster roll this is perfect after spending a day at the beach.

While on the subject of seafood, I want to say I love sushi and I have a couple favorite sushi places.  Symphony Sushi is near Northeastern campus, where I went to college, and became our defacto weekend lunch place.  I think for about a year a group of us went there weekly and it's still my favorite sushi place.  If I wanted something a little less casual than Symphony I would go to Gari, which was right around the corner from my Coolidge apartment (see how great that place was).  Their Torched King Salmon Roll is my favorite roll I've ever had anywhere.

I could go on and on (and on and on) about restaurants in Boston that I've loved so I'll stop now because I need to stop somewhere. I'm happy to be starting a new chapter but for all its faults I will miss Boston.  And who knows, I may end up back here again.

For now I look forward to a new part of my life. I'll be living in Long Island (with many, many trips into the city because the suburbs make me sad) and even working from home for awhile. I think I'll miss interacting with people face-to-face but on the other hand, I get to wear pajamas all day. Give and take. And after that the plan is to go back to school, because I thought being debt-free wasn't enough of a challenge and have decided to rectify that.

I'll miss you Boston.