boston: the travel bug, respectable alcoholics, and california sunshine.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

In the crazy first month of being home, in the midst of re-adjusting to life as an "American"again, and through the whole "I-really-just-want-to-travel-again" feeling, I had one light at the end of the tunnel, and that was this past week in Boston.


This city has a special place in my heart, not only because I originally thought I was going to spend my college years here, but now because it is now home to my brother, Jared, who came out here for school and decided to stay after. I know he's reading this right now, because 1) he always seems to comment on posts saying exactly the right things and more importantly, 2) because he's an awesome brother.

So where do I begin with this insanely great week? Well, for starters the real purpose in coming out here was to see his girlfriend, and my good friend Sally, graduate from Gordon College. Because that brought us out to Boston, it only seemed fitting to see Jared and tour some of the best restaurants for esquite dining and drinking. My Dad and I hopped on a plane out of Los Angeles in the late morning of the 15th, ready for some East Coast relaxation and a much needed break from California. Not to mention the travel bug had bit me again, and I found myself yearning for airports, hotel rooms, and the constant feel of an adventure.

First of all, I realized that day, sitting at our airport gate awaiting the boarding call for our JetBlue flight, that I love being a "travler." I love that persona, I love everything that comes with it. The clean and smooth looking carry on luggage. The headphones draped around my neck. Boarding passes and identification in hand. I think I was born to be a traveler. Jumping place to place, maybe not entirely sure of what to expect when I arrive, but knowing that whatever comes my way will still be an adventure. This past semester definitely solidified that for me, and it makes me happy knowing I can continue to live out that persona as my life goes on.

After a smooth flight over the continental US, munching on JetBlue snacks and watching directTV on the headrest in front of me, we touched down in Massachusetts. We got into Boston around 9 that night, met by Jared and Sally at the airport who drove us over to Jared's apartment where we were staying, and then decided that they needed to feed my Dad and I (which we graciously agreed to). This leads us to what I like to call "The Dine and Drink Tour of Beantown."

This requires a bit of backstory on my brother, for those of you who don't know him.

You see, Jared went to school at MIT, graduated with a double major in computer science and music, moved out to New York with a job in a major banking firm, and somehow found his way back in Boston working as a bartender. It's a story about doing what you love, loving what you do, and somehow still making enough money to support yourself. I'm so incredibly proud of my brother. Jared has worked his way up the hospitality ladder, gaining immense amounts of knowledge and finding a vocation he loves and is really good at.

Thus the trip included various restaurants, so much outstanding food, amazing drinks, and just a touch of personal greetings. Jared has somehow wiggled (or better yet, worked his way) into this tight knit family of bartenders and restaurant owners, so that every restaurant we walked into, there was a smiling face behind the bar or leading us to our table that greeted us with "Jared! It's so great to see you here!" Dinners included complimentary beverges every now and then, special tastings, and everywhere we went, an introduction of the family Jared brought along for this delicious adventure.

It was such an amazing experience to meet some of the top-notch bartenders, shake their hand and tast their (non-alcoholic) drinks. Abby from No. 9 Park, who graciously waited on our table while we enjoyed the seven course tasting menu, Nicole from The Hawthorne, who made me the best mocktail I have ever had (Fresh squeezed strawberries? Yes. This is perfect), Ezra from Drink, who had a hilarious sense of dry humor and served me some of the most delicious home made tonic water flavored with rose among other things, and even getting the opportunity to meet Tony, the head chef and owner of Cragie on Main, where Jared works as a full-time bartender.

Here's a short photo montage of some of the great eats (and drinks) of the trip.

Eastern Standard late-night

No. 9 Park: Chef's Tasting Menu

Jared's mocktail creation of choice at Cragie on Main

The famous Cragie Burger - quite possibly the best gourmet burger I have ever had!

Round two for drinks at Cragie

Special desert tasting! 

Cocktails (and specialty fries) at Drink

Fabulous citrus creation at The Hawthorne

And of course, a tasty burger to end the trip. Fabulous.

I like to call the people I met behind the bar "respectable alcoholics." In that they appreciate not just the fact that alcohol can get you drunk, as most people I know in college do, but have found deeper appreciation for the flavor, the mixablitity, the taste and the aroma of various liquors and wines. They mix drinks in high-end restaurants, they know their stuff, and frankly - they are some of the coolest people I've ever met.

Here are a few more photos from our lovely time on the East Coast (not relating to the great amount of food I consumed)

So now I'm back on the West Coast, which although my time in Boston will disagree, I still consider the best coast. I am soaking up the rather warm and humid California sunshine, and somehow beginning to organize my life before I head up the mountain top in 15 short days. I have a lot to take care of in between now and then, and those of you who know me will not be surprised that I have become accustomed to writing out to-do lists every morning while I east breakfast.

This is not to say summer has not been extremely relaxing and enjoyable - because it has. Something about not having to live out of a suitcase or jump from hotel to hotel to hostel to research center or eating unfamiliar and rather odd foods makes me feel at ease. I will have to say, I am missing the days where my entire wardrobe fit into an airline carry-on bag, my home was a little room with a patio view of the West Bank, and I was completely okay with chowing down on a falafel everyday for lunch.

But - Dinuba and I only have two short weeks together before I say farewell for the glorious mountain top of Oakhurst for the remainder of the summer, so I suppose I need to make the most of it.

Respectfully submitted,