Sunday, February 18, 2007

Back from Boston

I really didn't think the "Valentine's Day Blizzard" was that bad. I mean, I was out in it. It wasn't anything compared to the storm in my heart. Or to the blizzards of my childhood in Upstate New York.


But apparently it was enough to cripple the Northeast, including the area aiports - especially the ill-fated JetBlue, who foolishly tried to continue service during the ice storm. But I thought surely it would be cleared up by Friday when I was flying to Boston. Boy, was I wrong.


I had a hard time even just getting to the airport. No yellow cabs were available, and those that were put their "Off Duty" lights on when they saw my airport-bound bag. All car services had no cars. And the E train stopped running at 53rd/Lex.


I made my way up to 59th St to try to take the R train when I finally found a cab driver who would take me to JFK, and it turns out he had actually saved my butt once before, in another snowstorm no less. Years ago. That never happens in New York. And best of all, we actually remembered each other.


I got to the airport early to jump on an earlier flight just to be safe, but everything was running like two hours late and there were hoards of people sprawled out all over the floor, families who'd been waiting for their flights to the Bahamas. I was one of the lucky ones. I actually got to Boston.


My first night there, Jon and I went to Barbara Lynch's restaurant The Butcher Shop in Boston's South End and pigged out over some ripe cheese, the charcuterie platter, and the Hot Dog a la Maison which is more like a knockwurst. They've got some nice wines there too (including daily specials), and after my travels I was happy for a couple of glasses of a Guwertztraminer.


The best part about visiting Jon is that we don't have to doanything. And, in fact, he lives about an hour outside of Boston so we're not pressured to go sightseeing or shopping or anything. We can hang out. And eat. And drink.


Saturday we took a good wintery drive north towards Concord, stopping by Not Your Average Joe's for lunch in Acton and the Nashoba winery in Bolton for a quick tasting and to grab some bottles of wine. My JetBlue flight back to NYC had been cancelled already (a day in advance) and I had to book my return trip on Amtrak, so I figured I might as well take advantage of being able to take whatever I wanted onto the train (unlike airport security).


Saturday night we made it back into the city for some classic cocktails at Boston's own lovelybar, Eastern Standard, which definitely feels influenced by places like Milk & Honey and the like in New York. At $10 or less for very strong cocktails that are absolutely delicious, and enough room to actually seat a lot of people, it's actually somewhat of an improvement on some of the similar NYC establishments.


After a big French-Cambodian dinner, it's surprising that we were hungry at all for breakfast the next morning, but we stopped into Penny's Place for some good ol' New England dropped eggs (that's poached to you New Yorkers). I resisted the jonny cakes and the chorico (=chorizo) - some more local favorites - but I did get a pancake with locally-grown cranberries which was fan-tastic.


I was actually really happy to be taking the train back. I get so claustrophobic on flights, and hungry and cranky, and I actually quite like Amtrak's cafe car food (like the microwave pepperoni pizza, I know, I'm crazy). Besides, it's a beautiful ride through Connecticut and, with the snow-kissed landscape and frozen-over rivers and ponds, it was quite a scenic ride. And you know what? It departed and arrived on time.


Here are some views out the dirty window: