It always seems to me that spring calls for fresh starts much more than January 1, that hangover holiday with its sideways sleet and jean cuffs ringed with crusts of snow-melting salt. Somehow making a resolution to do or be better comes easily when lush, green newness is sprouting up everywhere. There are about a million shades of the color right outside our window, including the shoots and buds and leaves taking over the garden/cluster of potted plants squatting on the fire escape. There’s new animal life in early progress too, thanks to the parcel of pigeons rutting away on said fire escape who leisurely snip off chunks of our pea vines for refreshment in between their bouts of lovemaking. Iced coffee is back, and welcome. (To be fair, this is a Dunkin Donuts town and for most, iced coffee never left. But it’s seasonal for me).
Not as inspiring but definitely a sign of spring, the South End ice cream truck has begun its rounds. In a modern day Inferno you might find this thing driving loops around one of the milder circles of hell, plaguing the lecherous politicians or convenience store thieves in that circle bonkers with its classic ice cream truck songs blaring on repeat, “punctuated by car horns and a crazy woman’s voice yelling “HELLO!?!” as one Chowhound commenter aptly wrote.
So where are we with spring resolutions? Besides the usual sprucing and cleaning and trimming down, this season we’re aiming for more homemade projects including but not limited to: sprouts from seed, the most ideal and pleasant chicken partnership you’ve ever heard of, stocks and sauces from scratch, a canning extravaganza, denim cutoffs, family oral histories, and a romantic date attending a welding workshop. We’re looking to incorporate more and varied vegetables into the ol’ weeknight meals. We’re going to travel to a few new places, hike more often, watch the new season of Sherlock, and, come hell or high water, buy a new bedspread.
With all the food and coffee gems in the South End, we rarely make the trip across the Charles to Cambridge, Somerville, Watertown, etc. There just usually isn’t a contest between walking 5 minutes to Toro or Myers & Chang, or stoking the embers a slow, simmering rage sitting on Mass Ave at red light after red light in the car or bus. But as of late, we’ve been forcing ourselves to explore the environs across the river because when you think about it, three miles isn’t a far distance to travel to reach an area jam-packed with amazing destinations. Thus began the advent of “Crossing That Dirty Water” Saturdays. Last Saturday saw visits to:
HiRise: Probably new to no one in Boston but if you just moved here, please boost it to the top of your list. The prices are high but reflect the quality of the sandwiches, coffees, baked goods, and jams. If you’re put off by straight-to-dour-faced staff, this probably isn’t the place for you, but I don’t mind if my coffee and sandwich aren’t served with a smile when they are this good.
Fresh Pond loop: Took a walk but soon found the 8-foot tall chain link fence that blocked the spectacular view extremely depressing. The golf course may require a second visit though – $23 for 9 holes on a short, walking course.
Porter Square shops: Ever wonder where you get industrial-sized squirt bottles, deep-fryer baskets, 173 gallon stock pots, teeny tart and madeleine pans? China Fair. They’ve also got lots of random kitchen tools and pieces, china (that’s a given), party wares, and a basement section full of 1980s era leftovers (i.e. a teeny, flimsy warmer with a small plastic bin for heating up frozen foods, like boxes of peas and corn). This place is appealing to anyone with an inclination for cooking, but go with a friend so you have someone to yell across the store to come look at this!
Today we made it to HiRise again and dodged big, fat raindrops to visit Christina’s Spice & Specialty Foods and Ice Cream place next door. It was verging on the impossible, but we managed to walk out with only a handful of things: Ceylon cinnamon sticks, Goldrush Old fashioned San Francisco Style Sourdough Style (has anyone tried this? I’ve always wanted to get some starter from a handkerchiefed friend with a 50-year old mother batch, but alas, no such friends have come forth), whole green cardamom pods, concentrated pomegranate juice, and beluga lentils.
At the ice cream shop, the Mr. opted for black raspberry with a topping of chocolate chunks and walnuts which he promptly inhaled. I got a scoop of butter almond (awesome) and a scoop of fresh mint (minty as promised but with a, dare I say, underlying flavor almost reminiscent of another fragrant green plant some people might be familiar with). The trip back to the South End was full of hydroplaning adventures, but we made it intact with a bunch of perishable dairy goods from the grocery store which are just the thing to buy in the wake of a hurricane that may kill the power. If that’s the case, please come over and join our milk, eggs, and cheese party.