As I sit in my hotel room pondering on a 3 am wake up call, I now realise why Boston is amongst my favourite cities not just in the US but in the world. It has much ( if not all ) of the civility of London, but much better hotel porn.
Arriving from London via Toronto where I was advised to wear a mask not because of SARS sir, just because you are so bleeding ugly I got to my hotel, the pleasingly anonymous Swishotel at 5 pm on Saturday and after a quick scrub of the bits that dare not speak their name headed out for something to eat.
After reading on the boards that many places in Bostons Chinatown were half empty, it seemed like a good opportunity to go the short ho from my hotel and try out what was on offer. Not having any of the recs from the board to hand. I stumbled into Imperial Seafood. The menu looked a little grim but they had a tank of lobsters and I pointed to a plump looking one and said kill it and cook it with ginger, garlic and spring onions which they did without any undue problems. A decent supper later and $40 lighter, I headed off to the new Loewes cinema on Tremont to see A Mighty Wind. Apposite, given the effects of the lobster on my lower intestine.
Sunday morning saw such beautiful weather that I decided to commune with the part of my soul that was not blackened by the stench of failure and go to communion at Kings Chapel and listen to a great little choir praise God in accents with those oddly harsh vowels. Quite lovely. Then after a couple of hours pootering about and avoiding idealistic young things in Walk for Hunger T Shirts, I met up with Bostons own Joan Collins in the form of Yum Yum. Not only had this delightful creature agreed to arrange a little supper for me, she agreed to give me a walking tour of some of the city. I have been coming here for 20 years, but had never really taken the time to walk around. I am glad I did.
We started with a mooch around North End. Some great food stores and restaurants. I was assured that one place ( Reginas?) was the best in Boston for Pizza. Given that pizza has empirically been shown to be disgusting, this is like saying it is the best place for horse manure, but I understand that some people like crappy bread with crappy tomato sauce on it. It takes all sorts.
Then a stroll around Beacon Hill and a park ( cant remember the name, but it is where the Hat shell thingy is ) where we happened upon Nine lives a splendid fellow who joined me in wishing nothing but ill to people who roller blade.
Coming to early evening, we upped and went to the Oak Room where I had been promised a Martini that would wipe the horrors of those at the otherwise memorable East Coast Grill from my memory. It did, but only because it was even worse. Quite the worst martini in living memory. If Dennys made Martinis this would be it.
Fortunately, the pain was lessened by the appearance of Galleygirl, Bostons own Joan Rivers and the delightful Ruby. They softened the blow of the grim drink by taking me to Grill23 and proffering a slightly ( but not much ) better drink, showing me the huge slabs of dead meat on offer and the laughingly telling me that I couldnt have that as we were going to Chinatown.
GG has posted about the Noodle Alcove and it was her buzzard like eyes that spotted the chap throwing noodles in the window and who suggested that we step inside for starters. The dishes we tried were a wonderful five spiced cold tilapia, quite excellent. An interesting intestine dish with excellent meat but peppers that overpowered and a slightly nasty tofu dish
Moving next door ( by this time I was having to carry the ladies who were all three sheets to the wind not an eddyfying sight for an innocent young Londoner ) we went to Peach Farm Seafood where we ordered Salt and Pepper shrimp and squid ( quite the best I have had in the US ) Oysters ( which I had to pass on as I have an allergy ) very ordinary duck noodles and a really very horrid bok choy with salted ducks eggs. Best of all was yet another place of lobster, heavy with ginger. Very good indeed.
Monday, saw a trip out to Framingham and the good people at TJ Maxx and a meeting/Lunch at a slightly odd place called Luckys on Congress near A street. Before heading back to met with with GG and YY in Brookline at a thai place called Khao Sarn
I shall never forgive the two harridans for making me use public transport to get out there. It was foul. The sort of experience that replicated exactly spending one whole minute in Hades. I SHALL NEVER USE PUBLIC TRANSPORT AGAIN!! And after finding my way to the restaurant with the help of a very kind Haitian taxi driver, I was in need of a stiff drink. The barman at KS was called Yoshi and made an excellent Martini. Certainly the best in Boston that I have tried, using Junipero gin and suitably cold. He claimed not to have put any vermouth in it, but I swear he did. It was very good indeed as were the free drinks he proffered before we left.
Off to Trader Joes to buy cheap wine ( a Riscal 99 for $13.99 do you people know how cheap that is? And a Firesteed Washington State Pinot for $9.99 ) were headed on the seemingly interminable drive to Blue Ribbon BBQ. Well well, what superb BBQ it was. Excellent brisket ( suitable fatty ) burnt ends, good pickles. If I had one criticism it was that the ribs, which I had heard a lot about, were really not so good, but otherwise some of the best BBQ I have had outside of Texas. Oh, and a really good North Carolina sauce too.
So, all in all, a fun weekend in Boston and in the company primarily of GG and YY ( with an affectionate nod to Ruby ) women who would inspire any sane man to crawl over broken glass to spend a single minute in their company. Their choices were inspired and I have to say that the Chinese food and the BBQ were in huge measure the superior to anything I have eaten on my trips to similar places in NY. Is that a generally held opinion?
Roll on July and my next trip to the home of traitors to her sovereign majesty and people who still think the way to make a good cup of tea is to throw a small amount of it into a vast expanse of water.