Wednesday, April 30, 2008

We're moving to Boston

Well, not really. But after this experience, I might have to seriously consider it.

There are a few things that I love about my job. Traveling is at the top of the list. I spent the past few days in Boston for several meetings that lasted from 4PM-10PM each day. What is a girl to do with the rest of the time? Explore, of course!

My just-as-adventurous coworker, Jackie, and I flew into Boston Sunday afternoon to spend some time in a city teeming with history, cosmopolitan shopping, and great eats. We hit a seafood joint for lunch right away. Lucky for us, Sunday JAZZ brunch was taking place at SkipJack's. Great music with stellar catches of the sea. The lobster bisque is pointedly exceptional. Large lumps of lobster meat have a lightly grilled and buttery flavor. They're left at the bottom of a clean white porcelain bowl, with a carafe of lobster bisque beside it. When it's brought to your table, you get to ogle the delicious morsels before your server pours all that creamy, smooth goodness on top of everything. The creamy bisque is incredible - touch of sherry, not overwhelmed with the cream, smooth as satin. Delicious! I can't say the rest of the dishes we had were as phenomenal, but at the gastronomic pace we would ultimately display, one dish that was decidedly pure love at one place was quite enough.

We walked around the public garden, Newbury St., shopped at select stores that provided infinite home beautifying ideas, and soaked in the amazing architecture. There was already so much to take in, that had we not been distracted by the sheer stimulation, we would have realized that it was Sunday - a real estate open house day! I don't know about you, but sometimes I am just plain nosy about other people's homes. I like to see how the person decorated their certain space. I like to see what kind of style that person displays. I like to think about what that person's personality is. I like seeing other people's homes.

By mid-afternoon, we were feeling a bit weary from all the walking and giddiness we felt about being in a big city. I mean, it's been a while since I've been to a large city where people watching is a show in and of itself, where the streets are filled with people loitering about on a Sunday afternoon, where all the activity of the city culminates into a unified personality that seems to come to life.

Wanting to feel at least a bit peckish after our rather late lunch, we sat in our hotel bar by the window, which afforded us a view of the public garden, sipped at our wine, debated politics, and mused philosophy. Okay, okay, we drank wine and chatted. We were enjoying conversation, yes, but mainly, we were waiting for dinner to roll around. The concierge recommended Lucca, an Italian restaurant in the North End, the Italian neighborhood. We asked her what time they closed, and would they still be open if we decided to have a later dinner, like at 8:30PM, perhaps even 9PM? She looked at us with a bit of amusement. "They're open until midnight. Every night," she said. Jackie and I looked at each other incredulously. "On a Sunday night?" we asked. "Yes, I think you should be fine," she said. Country bumpkins, we are...

We got to Lucca's just past 9PM. The place was positively jumping. People all around, the bar was filled with folks jovially chatting. We managed to get a table without a reservation because for them, this was down time. Now this place requires me to describe every dish we had. You know why? Because to leave one of them out is to rob you of the total Lucca experience. And it's a majestic experience. This place is so clearly Italian, and yet, all the dishes scream of innovation and creativity. We started with a whole wheat crepe, filled with sauteed wild mushrooms and shaved parmesan cheese. It was topped with a black truffle oil sauce. How do I describe the eat on this? Sheer ecstasy. If licking the plate wouldn't have made me look like a deprived lunatic, I would have. Absolutely.

I got the night's special. Seared scallops on a bed of red beet risotto, garnished with grilled asparagus. The scallops were masterfully seared - just the right texture. They almost melted in my mouth. The flaming red beet risotto was equally masterful. It was the perfect consistency--creamy and al dente. If you like beets as much as I do, then you would love this.

Jackie got the Orecchiette al Formaggio--Orecchiette pasta baked with fontina cheese, sweet Italian sausage, broccoli rabe, and roasted grape tomatoes, finished with truffle oil. If that description off their menu sounds good, it doesn't even begin to describe the experience of eating this. It's a creamy explosion of art that changes depending on the combination of ingredients that your fork just happened to pick up at that moment. Jackie, fortunately, doesn't eat much, so I got to help her out. If it weren't so rude to so brazenly switch plates with your dining partner at a fairly nice restaurant, I would do it anyway. So I did.

Rounding out these incredible flavors was the Eroica Riesling. I'm told that the wine master behind this is Dr. Loosen himself. What Dr. L makes, I'll drink. And this Riesling did not disappoint. The subtle sweetness with a balanced acidity is just enough to cut through the cream of Jackie's dish, and complement the delicateness of mine.

All this, my friends, in the first evening of our trip. We're moving to Boston, Part II coming soon...

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