This one’s long…. be forewarned. But there are lots of pics!
Frank’s been gone for the past two weekends, so without my favorite buddy, I’ve had to entertain myself. The first weekend my mom came up to visit me in Boston. It was much more eventful this time, since last time she visited it was too cold to enjoy the city. A little about our weekend together:
We started off with an al fresco lunch at a french bistro near Frank’s house, where I’m staying to babysit lady while he’s gone. Yeah, I’m allowed to live at his house when he’s not home, but I’m not allowed when he is : ) Annnnyway, I had all the meals planned out, and it was a Ken Oringer-style weekend. For those of you who don’t know who Ken Oringer is, which is probably all of you since only weirdo foodie freaks follow chefs like Frank and I do, he’s a James Beard award winning chef who’s got six restaurants in Boston. He’s also competed on, and won, iron chef. His restaurants are amazing; some of the best I’ve ever had the pleasure of dining in. So Friday night we went to Coppa, a small restaurant in the South End where theres’s always a wait but it’s well worth it. Mom got the pesto, which she drooled over, and I got halibut. Those descriptions are wayyy too simple, and don’t even to begin to describe the heavenly goodness, but you’ll just have to come to Boston and check it out for yourself…
Saturday morning we took Lady for a walk through the park, where we saw a handfull of drag queens, too many rainbow flags to count, and a Union soldier statue dressed in a pink boa and wig….. It was Pride week in Boston, and today was the much anticipated parade. On our way home, after passing two men in drag, mom said “there’s nothing like a gay, fat, asian cross dresser..” Truer words have never been spoken…
Later we drove to Newburyport to have lunch with mom’s friend. Newburyport is a nice little town about an hour from Boston, but it took us 3 hours due to the traffic from the parade… So we had lunch with Steve at a seafood joint on the water in Newburyport, and enjoyed a nice stroll and a short, scenic drive to Plum Island before heading back to Boston. We had to make our 7:30 reservations at Uni, Oringer’s tiny sashimi restaurant in the Eliot hotel, which happens to be my favorite place on earth. They know Frank and I by name, which is embarrassing considering the price of a meal…. They must think we’re some hot shot celebrity couple, or like, one of the heirs to the Long John Silvers fortune or something.. Nonetheless, it’s the most amazing, delicate, perfect food you’ll ever put in your mouth. It was risky taking mom there, since she decided she didn’t like certain foods when she was 5 years old and refuses to change her mind about them.. I chose dishes carefully, and as I expected, she enjoyed most of the selection, which included shishito peppers, coconut curry tuna seviche, unagi, which was “too fishy” (but I’m proud of her for trying) and my new fav: hot stone sirloin, where they bring out a scalding hot rock, thin slices of sirloin and salts, so you can prepare your own meat.. mmm mmmm good.
Sunday, we headed to the Arnold Arboretum, just outside the city, for some hiking in the “great outdoors.” It’s the oldest public arboretum in N. America. Isn’t New England cool? We had such a nice afternoon. And it’s comforting to know that just a few subway stops away from home, there are 260+ acres of plant biodiversity.
This weekend I planned to go visit my dear friend Ashley, who just moved to DC, but work was piling up for school and I knew if I went to see her I wouldn’t get anything done (unless you consider drinking lots of wine “getting things done”). Class was canceled on Thursday so after work I decided to pick a random spot and spend Thursday and Friday night on my own little solo romantic getaway. I picked Rockport ME, or I thought I picked Rockport ME. It wasn’t until I was settled in my B&B, had walked around the city, had taken a little hike along the coast and was browsing dinner menus online that I realized I was in Rockport MA! ha. Whatever. Oh, and I have to give credit to a wonderfully generous stranger who stopped his game of tennis when he noticed me struggling to get Frank’s wedged in tahoe out of the small parking spot. After about a dozen ins and outs with no progress, I thought I was just gonna have to give up on the trip… but then came this nice man to the rescue. He directed me, little by little, until I was free! I thanked him profusely and went on my way.
Let me start off by saying that I have absolutely no problem doing things by myself: going to see movies, dining, taking trips… And I’ve gotten a lot of attention for this. Numerous people have commended me on “being comfortable enough to go on vacation alone,” which I really appreciate, but it got me thinkin… If you can’t be your own best friend, and thoroughly enjoy your own company, there may be a problem. You know the saying “You can’t truly love others unless you love yourself”? It’s like that, but with friendship. Anyway, enough about that. My B&B, The Tuck Inn (get it?) only had one room available: the family suite…. When I told the man it was only me, he chuckled and said he’d give me a discount.
I settled in and set off on a nice little stroll through the town and then up and around Old Garden Beach path, a 3 mile route along the coast.
I sat by the water and read Rumi’s Love’s Ripening, which is a recent pleasure of mine. I wasn’t hungry around 6:30 when I got back to Tuck, so I sat out on my little patio and read and listened to the birds until about 7:45. Little did I know, most restaurants in this town close at 8:00. I should explain that Rockport Mass is a “moist” town, only serving booze at restaurants, and you have to order food in order to drink… there are no liquor stores and no bars, which means nothing stays open late. I thought, “shit! what am I gonna eat?” When I finally made it to the end of Bearskin Neck, I found a fine dining place that would serve me. And man, lemme tell ya, this place was romantic! I was so glad to have my self with me to enjoy this wonderfully romantic restaurant with a secluded candle-lit lower deck right on the rocks of the cove. The views were spectacular. Did I mention the sun was setting….
The deck was crowded until about 8:30, then everyone left and I felt a little lonely…
But the waiter kept returning to chat with me about hotspots and places in other cities that stay open late. He was in college and couldn’t grasp the fact that I didn’t mind going home early….. and when he asked what I was reading and I said Rumi poetry, he responded, “I’m more of a Frost guy.” haha.
The food was delightful. I started with a caraffe of house red which wasn’t bad for a town that was, until recently, dry… I had an heirloom tomato and mozzarella salad, and then chose the “chef’s special seafood appetizer plate” for my entree. I was pleasantly surprised. The food and atmosphere were really spectacular.
Friday morning I went down to breakfast, and was joyfully received by the B&B owners, Liz and Scott, and a dining room full of senior citizens : ) Scott was baking and Liz was chatting it up with the other guests. We all introduced ourselves and I headed straight for the buffet. The Tuck Inn doesn’t offer “hot” breakfast selections due to some food licensing issues. Upon hearing this, I was concerned, but oooh nelly those baked goods made up for any disappointment about the absence of scrambled eggs. Breakfast was fresh and scrumptious. I mean, literally, Scott was bringing muffins and scones into the dining room fresh out of the oven! And there was fruit and pumpkin butter and rhubarb coffee cake. Needless to say I was stuffed by the time I left. They even gave me a doggy bag for later : ) During breakfast I chatted with a lovely couple who were very curious about why I was here, and more importantly, why I was here alone. They have been coming to Rockport from Connecticut for 38 years… They come three times a year and bring their whole family for a week-long reunion. They have a granddaughter in Savannah named Caroline. Such a sweet coulpe, and they departed by saying they looked forward to seeing me the next morning for breakfast, and hearing about what I’d done.
After breakfast I drove 8 miles up the coastline to Halibut Point State park for some much needed exercise to work off my carb-loaded breakfast. The intoxicating aroma of honeysuckle met me at the entrance of the trail. I walked to the quarry, then to the rocky beach laden with huuuge boulders, where I stopped to bask in the sunshine. The steady breeze made the heat tolerable.
I walked around the serene park for about two hours, barely seeing another soul, before heading back to Rockport for lunch. I had spotted the Top Dog on my exploratory walk the day before, and made myself a promise to return for a veggie dog with chili, mustard and slaw, and a side of fried clams. My veggie/chili dog with slaw standards are pretty high from numerous trips to Wilmington’s Trolly Stop in NC, so I kept my expectations reasonable. And it’s a good thing, because this didn’t begin to compare. But Trolly Stop doesn’t have fried clams, so that evened things out a bit.
After my super healthy lunch, I once again followed the path to Old Garden Beach, but this time, stopped to sunbathe. During the few hours I spent there, I finished one of my Rumi books of poetry and got lost in mini movies in my mind. The seagulls hopped around looking for tiny bits of food in the beached seaweed, triggering thoughts in me of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, never settling to be just a bird driven by food and hunger; always seeking more speed and height in his flight.
As I moseyed back to Tuck, I poked my head into some galleries, and bought a ticket for the Parker String Quartet at the Shalin Liu Performance Center. Luckily I was alone, because they only had one ticket available. After a nice outdoor yoga session (the neighbors gazing questionably up at my deck), and a little in-room solo dance party to my new Akon singles, I cleaned up and walked to dinner. Liz and Scott recommended the Fish Shack for the great seafood, but warned me about the lack of atmosphere. Well, they were right about one thing: the atmosphere was dull, but they were wrong about the other: the seafood was mediocre at best… I had my second plate of fried clams for the day, and a lobster salad… both just okay.
Shalin Liu Auditorium is so incredibly gorgeous. Behind the stage where the bands perform are floor to ceiling windows, so, as the quartet offered wonderful auditory stimulation, the sun-setting harbor view offered wonderful visual stimulation. The water in the background made it all the more picturesque.
The music was beautiful, but it’s the kind of music I’d rather listen to while cleaning my house or cooking, not sitting still…. And who the hell knew that you’re not supposed to clap between “pieces” during a classical concert? I learned the hard way. Luckily the kind woman, Cheryl, to my left stopped me before I could solo clap a third time. How did EVERYONE else in the auditorium know this rule? I just thought everyone was being shy and that I’d have to be the one to get it started. C’mon, it’s natural to clap when you’ve heard something you like. In fact, even after I knew the etiquette, I still had trouble resisting applause. I had to clasp my hand together…*sigh* Personally, I prefer the violin when it’s called a fiddle and played in a Bluegrass band, but nonetheless, this was a beautiful concert and hell, ya gotta go to your first classical concert sooner or later, right?
Here are a few more photos from Rockport:
This morning I sat with my friends Carol and Paul at Breakfast. They like to talk. Once again I’m stuffed with scones, muffins and bread. I won’t be hungry again until dinner. Liz, the delightful B&B owner, left me with these parting words: “Keep on smiling.” I think I’ll do just that : )
Back to Boston.