Monthly Archives

July 2014

Boston, I Love You

July 28, 2014

Dear Reader,

I spent the whole weekend apartment hunting with a friend, so I have gotten to know my little corner of Boston even better than previously. And I must say Brighton is just full of tiny little cafes, parks, and boutiques that are just bursting with charm.  I couldn’t be happier that I live here. If you are looking for a place to live in Boston that gives you access to every other part of Boston and won’t break your budget into a million pieces, Brighton is the horse you should be betting on.

In unrelated/related news, one of my friends just gave me the awesomest present ever for my birthday: A Boston themed moleskin notebook. It is pocket sized and included maps, notes, and places to record all the information and adventures in this city I could have ever hoped for. I keep it in my bag wherever I go now and I want to fill it with all the inside secrets about Boston that I can. And if I end up moving to another city, I will pick up another notebook and start again.AAAAAkhSiIoAAAAAAEeXtg

So in honor of these two things I want to give you a few of my favorite Boston things:

Favorite place to see an indie film: Coolidge Corner Theatre

This place is a restored art deco theatre that shows all those weird and awesome movies that you can never really find elsewhere, plus some classics you normally wouldn’t get to see on the big screen. I saw The Blues Brothers there in a packed theatre with everyone dressed up and singing along. They also serve booze, so get on that.The-Blues-Brothers-Movie-Poster

Favorite old man bar: Corrib Pub

Also in Coolidge Corner, this Irish pub is out of the way and inconspicuous and is pretty much only populated by older gentlemen. They also have great pub food and the best Guinness pour I’ve ever had. It is quiet and the service is great. It is an alternative to the usual Boston sports or club bar that tends to show up everywhere.promo-alt

Favorite ice cream parlor: White Mountain

This is up right across from Boston College, so right in my neck of the woods. I get the coffee oreo in a cup with chocolate chip cookie dough on top. The ice cream is rich and hella yummy. And you can eat it sitting on a bench looking out at the reservoir, if you haven’t gobbled it all up by the time you get there, that is.food-fruit-ice-cream-sugar-sweet-Favim.com-139033

Favorite place to eat truffle fries and drink red wine: Devlin’s

This bar is very classy, has live jazz music now and again, and has insanely great food. But there are a ton of great places to eat in this area. The reason I choose this place is that they serve my favorite cheap wine: Smoking Loon, and they have parmesan topped fries cooked in truffle oil with garlic aioli mayo. Combine those two, with some good friends and some jazz in the background…. and prepare to be in classy heaven. And all for under $20.Parmesan fries

Now that should be enough to get you salivating and heading straight out the door if you are living in this area. If not, well next time you visit my neck of the woods you will know where to start 🙂

Hope you all are having a great week!

Summering with Mary Stewart

July 21, 2014

Dear Reader,

I have been away for a week sunning myself in the clear air of Colorado but now I am back to my Boston reality with plenty to talk about. I read a ton on the plane, caught up on Pretty Little Liars at night with thunder booming outside (not terrifying or anything), and ate myself into a food coma as often as possible. I also went back to school shopping, but it is a bit early to be bringing that up so that will have to wait for a later post. Today I want to talk about an author who might only be recognizable to me and the women in my extended family, which is a shame because she is fantastic and can spin a mystery romance like no other. This Rough MagicHer name is Mary Stewart and she wrote suspenseful, romantic, very British novels starting in 1954. Now, Wikipedia would have you believe her novels are “Gothic Romances” but that is a misleading category to thrust her novels into. Her novels are more on the Northanger Abbey end of gothic than the Mysteries of Udolpho end. Or, in more up to date terms, her novels are less Vampire Diaries and more Supernatural. Although that’s not even a great example, since only a very few contain any trace of the supernatural. Most of them are just plain old-fashioned mysteries with a beautiful girl caught up unwittingly in a grisly murder, a smuggling ring, or a kidnapping.

Summering With Mary Stewart

I read This Rough Magic on the plane on the way back from Denver, so I will go ahead and review that one for your reading pleasure. This Rough Magic is set in Corfu, an island off the Greek mainland. Many of Stewart’s novels are set in foreign locales like this one, with a British miss navigating smartly through the exotic terrain. In this one, a famous and now retired Shakespearean actor, Sir Julian Gale, has hidden himself away on the island believed to be the real-life setting for Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Miss Lucy Waring, visiting her sister on the island, encounters him, his dashing musician of a son, and an Albanian smuggling ring. All in a normal vacation for a Mary Stewart heroine. Now all this sounds a bit silly, and it all is a bit, in the best way. But what sets Stewart apart is that she is an excellent and enjoyable writer. Her plots are not overly complex and mostly everything is going to turn out fine in the end, a la a Shakespearean comedy, but her writing lifts them far above the realm of mere light suspenseful romance. She’s smart; her heroines are smart. There are no bimbos in Mary Stewart, something I admire and long for from other authors. There’s also no smut. There are plenty of romantic scenes that make your heart go pitter patter but there is no smut, which is sort of nice after all the heavy breathing in most romantic novels.

Summering With Mary Stewart

I am not generally a fan of romance novels, to be honest. Nor do I often turn to literature for suspense. I am much more interested in the social complexities of Jane Eyre, the theme of dominance in Daniel Deronda, or the idea of suffering in Gone With the Wind. My reading is mostly of the pretentious sort and Mary Stewart novels don’t wholly escape that simultaneously complementary and derisive term. But they are also beach reads. They are not too long; they are cozy and perfect for curling up on a rainy day and shooting through in one sitting. Everything is going to turn out well and the beautiful and brave heroine will end up with the loving hero and all the bad guys will get exactly what is coming to them. Which is sort of restful and sweet sometimes. I turn to them for pure pleasure, just as I turn to a good Cary Grant movie. Maybe it’s that era I am looking to recapture the flavor of, with glamorous women in waist cinching dresses having grand adventures among the narcissus on Crete while their heroes love them desperately and faithfully. For whatever reason, I enjoy them immensely and I hope you check them out yourself.

Summering With Mary Stewart

You can find them on Amazon, but getting them from a used bookstore is much more rewarding, as you will get the nice old covers that I have been showing here. Unfortunately they are not up on kindle, for that would also be a great and cheap way to read them. But the easiest way is to borrow them from me, as I collect copies whenever I can find them. I have three copies of This Rough Magic alone. So believe me, if you are looking for a great summer read that takes you into the world of the 50’s, this is the perfect thing for you.

Way to Go Chanel

July 9, 2014

Dear Reader,

Karl Lagerfeld’s now often re-quoted quote about Chanel’s Fall 2014 Couture show was all over my news feed yesterday. He said, for those of you who missed being bombarded with it, that the new collection was like”Le Corbusier goes to Versailles.” Le Corbusier was an architect known for designing buildings such as this one:Le_Corbusier_Villa_large

A lot of concrete, a lot of crisp clean lines, a lot of minimalism and light and stark beauty. He is considered one of the fathers of modern architecture, and it is interesting that Chanel should turn to him for design inspiration. They often seem a lot more Versailles than Corbusier. Yet the results are beyond stunning. Karl Lagerfeld has taken the traditional Chanel tweed suit and given it new shape, new form, and new wearability. It no longer says Emily Gilmore so much as absolutely posh and pretty for any age or style. Chanel has been tweaking it for a while now but hasn’t gotten it so perfect as they have this time. chanel-couture-fall-2014-41_105909466904

Those shoes are also causing a lot of stir. Flip flops for couture? And with the ankle bow they are spruced up just enough to be dress down and dress up. I’m gushing, I know. But how could I not with looks like these?chanel-couture-fall-2014-13_105827924725

The Versailles element is hard to miss. There is a lot of gilding and a lot of sumptuousness. But the structure, especially of the collars and the shoulders, is pure modern architecture and the bright white echoes some of my favorite modern buildings.chanel-couture-fall-2014-14_105829816577
The show also included my new favorite coat, although I am not sure I would be wearing this one with flip flops in the dead of a Boston winter. chanel-couture-fall-2014-70_105948576388

Everything in this collection fits the definition of a “palate cleanser” as Hamish Bowles has labeled it. Karl Lagerfeld is known for some wacky and fun things (Chanel Ready-to-Wear Supermarket comes to mind). But this was pure elegance and was entirely about the beauty of the clothes.chanel-couture-fall-2014-18_105835803086

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It makes me want it to be Fall. Well done Mr. Lagerfeld. If I had all the money I would certainly be placing an order for one of everything.chanel-couture-fall-2014-71_105949876188

And yes that is a pregnant model. Way to go Chanel.

 

 

An Indoor 4th of July

July 7, 2014

Dear Reader,

After gathering humidity in the air for days, Boston weather finally broke on Friday, which was highly inconvenient as it was the 4th of July and everyone just wanted to be outdoors enjoying sunshine and popsicles. But instead we had a downpour for 24 hours and had to move all our activity inside. My friends and I had planned a pot-luck picnic in the park, but decided to head indoors and make the most of it by eating more food than is humanly possible, playing Cards Against Humanity, drinking summery beer, and enjoying being in the company of friends.

I slogged my way through the puddles in broken rainboots (which I have since disposed of because what is the point of broken rainboots?) and got ingredients to make my semi-famous chocolate chip cookies and peanut butter blossom cookies.An Indoor 4th of July

I probably ate about ten of them in uncooked form before they finally got popped into the oven. But that was simply inevitable. I love baking on a rainy day, for some reason. It is comforting and domestic and useful and a really delicious way to spend an indoor kind of day. I also got to wear an apron while I baked, which is always a plus for me. No one else was in the apartment or people probably would have thought I was going a little overboard with my domesticity.An Indoor 4th of July

I headed over to my friend Laura’s and joined my food with the mountains of other food people had brought. There was pasta salad, potato salad, burgers, watermelon, chips, gin and tonic cake, s’mores, gazpacho, cookies, beer, wine, and Cards Against Humanity. I have now determined those are the ingredients for a happy and delicious night.An Indoor 4th of July

We played a very long and intense game of Cards Against Humanity, laughed and talked a lot, debated, talked more about books than is probably healthy, and ended the night full and satisfied. Even though it was not your typical summer cookout, we made it work.An Indoor 4th of July

My only problem was my plate was too small. 🙂 I hope your fourth of July was as sweet and full of friends as mine was.

Roxy’s Cheesy Goodness

July 4, 2014

Dear Reader,

Happy Independence Day my friends! Now I am planning on celebrating in a truly American way and eating a lot of delicious and fattening food. I hope that you are too, and in honor of that, I want to tell you about a place where you can get the yummiest, cheesiest, most delicious grilled cheese in the world.

Roxy's Cheesy GoodnessRoxy’s Grilled Cheese  began as a food truck, and they still operate a food truck that can be found all around Boston. However, they also recently opened a brick and mortar restaurant in Allston. It is actually right near Lone Star Taco Bar, if you caught my review of their yumminess. My friends and I headed over there and were immediately impressed by the atmosphere.

Roxy's Cheesy GoodnessEverything is really light and bright and clean-looking. They make your food right in front of you and everything is fresh and creative. They have a limited menu that they occasionally change for special occasions or just when they come up with something new and cool. For instance, they change their drinks a lot and this night they had thyme lemonade on the menu. It tastes exactly as it sounds, with the thyme subtly blending with the lemon sweetness and making everything better. I seriously would like to drink all my lemonade with thyme in it.

Roxy's Cheesy Goodness

I really like that they have such a limited menu because all of these looked so good I wanted to try every one anyway. Any more choices and I think I would have gone crazy with food lust. Luckily one of my friends got The Allston, another friend got The Mighty Rib and I got The Green Muenster, so we could each take large bites out of each other’s delicious meal. Roxy's Cheesy GoodnessThe Green Muenster has applewood smoked bacon, muenster cheese, and guacamole. And it was as amazing as I could have ever dreamed. But my favorite thing about the menu is the little details. They serve truffle fries for a side. And if you know me, you know truffle fries are absolutely the way to my heart.

Roxy's Cheesy GoodnessAnd in honor of Canada Day the day before they had poutine, which I am just learning is really amazing.

Roxy's Cheesy GoodnessEverything was just amazing. You should check out their menu and check out their schedule so you can catch their food truck. I highly highly highly recommend this place. It is also not very expensive at all. I would have expected the food would be twice as expensive as it was for how amazing and fresh it was. Check it out my friends. As a little footnote, you should also check out FoMu, which is two stores down. It is an alternative ice cream parlor, meaning non-dairy. I was a bit unsure but I had coconut milk ice cream, choosing the flavor “sweet lavender” and I was in absolute heaven.

Roxy's Cheesy GoodnessAll in all, a very exotic and perfect food night for me. I highly recommend both places. Get outside your comfort zone and you will find some amazing things. Anyway. Have an amazing fourth friends!