Date nights around Boston

Although school things have made me feel quite a bit busier, I’ve still managed to find some time to go out and about. And – of course – I can always make time when the situation really calls for it, such as this 3-weekends only performance of Rent by Fiddlehead Theatre, honoring the show’s 20-year anniversary.

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This was my 19th time seeing Rent…but now I’m wishing I’d gone twice since it would have been 20 shows for the 20th year. Oh well.

We also went downtown to the Rowes Wharf Sea Grille for afternoon tea.

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First we took a few laps around the (small and family-oriented) ice rink outside – pictured in the left background of the photo above…

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…and then we went into the Sea Grille for afternoon tea. Yeah, we felt fancy! We selected our tea varieties and then it came out with a neat timer to let us know when it had steeped:

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The tea also came with a variety of pastries, finger sandwiches, and biscuits (I forgot to take a picture because we were eating…). All in all, fun but a little pricey. It was an enjoyable afternoon out, but I doubt we’ll go again.

Last but not least, we finally went to Made by Me – a paint your own pottery place that’s right by our apartment and I’ve walked by a zillion times. Basically every time we pass by I say that I want to go there because I like painting things and I remember Noah’s and my visit to Paint Your Plate in Minneapolis very fondly. Noah planned our visit to Made by Me a few weeks ago, and I was very excited when he revealed what the evening activity would be. When we arrived, we spent a while checking out all the pottery options and the paint selection:

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As soon as I saw they had seder plates, I knew I wanted to paint one because Pesach was coming up shortly afterwards, and I thought it would be fun to have something I had created on the table! Noah chose an owl mug and then started researching feather patterns. 😉

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Ready to be fired:

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One week later the pieces were ready for pick up – they get so shiny after the firing!

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And I got to put the seder plate to good use shortly after!

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Formaggio Kitchen Cheese/Cider Tasting

A few weeks ago, Noah and I went to a Formaggio Kitchen class. Formaggio Kitchen is a luxury food store (specialty in cheese) in the area, and they offer cheese tasting classes that often include wine pairings/tastings or other special ad-ons. The classes fill up fast, and Noah and I had to reserve our class months in advance! We signed up for a cheese tasting class done in partnership with Bantam Cider – a local ciderhouse that focuses on making fresh, all-natural ciders.

After looking forward to the class for weeks, Noah and I were excited to make our way to Formaggio’s class location (separate location from their store). When we sat down, we looked over the tasting menu for the evening and preemptively nibbled on some bread:

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The first cheese was a clothbound cheddar (from Cabot in Vermont!), and it came paired with Bantam’s classic cider – Wunderkind.

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After round one, we received a plate with the next four types of cheese: a grand cru, comte, chabichou, and charmoix (pictured below, clockwise from the top).

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Each of the cheeses came from a particular fromager that the buyers from Formaggio Kitchen have a relationship with. It was fun to hear the stories about the buyers building relationships with different farms, producers, and fromagers.

Each cheese was paired with a different cider, and the various tastes were supposed to complement and enhance one another. In order, the ciders were Rojo (aged with sour cherries and black peppercorns), Hopped Scrumpy (added hops towards the end of the fermentation period), Blackberry Sour (tart blackberries give it a sour/fruity taste), and Wild One (a funky cider that is open-fermented with wild yeasts, also a bit sour).

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Michelle da Silva, one of the founders of Bantam, was also at the class, and she provided lots of information about the cider-making process as well as the specifics of each cider. The evening was fun and informative, although I think I am not a sophisticated enough cheese eater or cider drinker to have fully appreciated the benefit of the pairings. I’m definitely glad we went and it was a fun date (the sort of thing that would be an ideal gift for a cheese/cider/wine fan), but it was a bit pricey and I don’t anticipate going to another class. We were, however, inspired to make a trip to the Formaggio Kitchen store recently where we bought some fresh mozzarella for Noah to try on his pizza masterpieces.

To close, I’ll share a pro-tip I learned about cheese eating…for the serious cheese eaters who want to take in the full flavor profile of their cheese, it is best to eat cheese on its own – not with bread or crackers. Since the bread has yeast, it can absorb/distort some of the cheese tastes, so the purists prefer eating cheese solo. BUT, for all of you who want to keep your crackers and bread, no judgement here. I like the bread too. 🙂

A Weekend of Birthday Fun

I had the greatest weekend. I got to celebrate Noah’s BIRTHDAY!! We had a full weekend of activities. First, we had a couple friends over for Shabbat dinner and games on Friday.

Homemade challah and a pear/blueberry tart:

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Saturday was Noah’s actual birthday, so we had birthday cake!!:

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I got an ice-cream cake from J.P. Licks (Noah’s and my favorite ice cream place!) and hid it in the freezer before Noah’s birthday. This card served as the perfect intro…

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…and then Noah knew just where to look because we’ve talked about wanting a J.P. Licks ice cream cake for a long time. 🙂

That night, we went out to dinner at Picco – a pizza and homemade ice cream place in the South End. They don’t take reservations for parties of less than 5 people, and when we got there it was a two hour wait for a table! Luckily, we were able to get spots at the bar after waiting only a few minutes.

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We ordered a pizza (with sauteed onions, garlic, mushrooms, and gruyere) and a calzone (with peppers, mushrooms, and spinach) to share:

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And since it was a celebration…a brownie sundae with homemade peanut butter chip and caramel swirl ice cream was in order:

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Wow wow wow – so good!

Sunday was the main birthday activity (yes, Noah’s birthday lasted all weekend). Noah and I have really enjoyed having succulents in our apartments in Jerusalem and Cambridge, and I discovered an activity called Plant Nite. It’s like the paint and wine nights that are becoming popular…except instead of making a picture, you make a terrarium with succulents! I seriously couldn’t believe this activity was a real thing, but I was really excited when I saw it because I thought we would have a lot of fun.

The event was held at a bar/restaurant in Boston. When we walked in, all the tables in the Plant Nite area were equipped with terrarium bowls and green tablecloths:

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We found a two-person table and snagged it right away because we only like talking to each other (joking…sort of). Excited to start:

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We made “winter wonderland” terrariums – which are like regular terrariums except with more sand art. Hard at work:

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Once the sand art was done, we could layer some soil in the pots (succulents have very shallow roots so you don’t need much soil):

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The final touch was accessorizing with rocks, moss, and figurines:

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Mine included an ironic rock:

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Plant Nite was a lot of fun, although I will say that the dudes in Boston really need to step it up because Noah was one of the only guys at this event!

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The final activity as part of the birthday celebration that I’ll mention is a game of X-wing that incorporated one of Noah’s birthday presents:

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Noah has really been enjoying X-wing lately. X-wing is a game that involves flying Star Wars ships, dodging meteors and trying to blow up the other person’s ships. As you can tell, the sophistication of my understanding of the game is still a little surface level – but I enjoy playing with Noah! I got him the play mat pictured above for his birthday since without it he needs to measure the appropriate amount of space to play on out every time. Let the games begin…

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Boston Eats

I’ve been living in Boston for a solid few months now, and I’ve managed to make some good food finds. My busy class schedule and decreased budget has led to me eating out far less than I was last year in Jerusalem, but Noah and I have still had the occasional meal out!

One of the most exciting food finds in the city is the newly-opened Boston Public Market. Opening just this past summer, the Boston Public Market is an indoor food hall featuring local vendors. There are produce, meat, and cheese vendors as well as specialty food shops and a variety of prepared food stalls. The inside of the Market is busy and colorful with seating areas smattered throughout the floor plan:

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It was hard to choose what to get for lunch, but eventually Noah and I settled on some top-notch items. Noah got a mac and cheese from the Cellars at Jasper Hills (from Vermont!) stall:

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I ordered a smoked bluefish roll from the Boston Smoked Fish Company:

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The sandwich was messy – but delicious! Noah and I also shared a brown-butter hazelnut crunch Union Square Donut.

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Union Square Donuts is based in…you guessed it!…Union Square in Somerville, and it is an extremely popular, local donut shop with lots of funky flavors. The donut was certainly good, although I don’t think donuts are my favorite sweet treat.

Noah and I also discovered a great diner in Watertown – the Deluxe Town Diner. We went to Deluxe Town Diner in a little bit of a pinch. Friends were in town visiting and we had ignorantly assumed that it wouldn’t be too difficult to find a brunch spot in Cambridge without a two-hour wait. Turns out reservations are a must, and we had to drive out to Watertown to find good food with friendly wait-times. By the time we were seated, our brunch had turned into lunch time, so everyone was hungry! We ordered coffees and milkshakes to start:

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Followed by an assortment of eggs, potatoes, toasts, and pancakes:

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So so so good. I would love to go back here from another brunch!

Speaking of brunch, after the failed attempts to go to a Cambridge brunch (as described above), Noah and I were eager to try one of the places we had originally intended to go to. On top of my brunch-planning game now, I made a reservation at Cafe Luna for a couple weeks ahead. When we eventually had a meal there, it was clear why it’s so hard to get in! The food is great, but the space is also pretty small so there’s not a ton of table turnover. Noah and I both ordered egg dishes and shared a half order of stuffed french toast (with lots of fresh berries!).

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Definitely another winner!

I’ve also had some great dinners in the area. Two of my favorites places so far are just around the corner from mine and Noah’s apartment. The first is Cambridge Common. It’s a very casual bar/restaurant with really high quality, homey dishes. Noah and I ordered a salmon and rice dish, cheese ravioli in a pesto sauce, and sweet potato fries to share:

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The other nearby gem is Giulia. Giulia is an Italian restaurant that is a bit more fancy but still reasonably priced. I would also generally suggest a reservation to eat there (we were lucky to get a seat at the bar!). 

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We shared pasta and fish (which was amazing!):

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And since we were celebrating (first week of the semester!), we splurged for dessert with a chocolate torte and affogato (ice cream and espresso):

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Giulia was an instant favorite for me – definitely a great date night locale.

Finally, City Girl Cafe in Inman Square was another instant favorite. The menu at City Girl is on the shorter side, but all of the dishes looked really good and it was hard to make an order decision. I went with a friend who recommended it, and we enjoyed sharing a few dishes: fried ravioli, a quinoa/vegetable bowl, and Nicoise salad:

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And…although it’s not really a restaurant, Noah and I had a fun date night at the Downeast Cider House cidery. We had a tour of the cidery (complete with samples!) and then enjoyed a couple glasses of classic and pumpkin Downeast Cider.

These are the fermentation barrels:

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And the bottling machinery:

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Enjoying cider! Can you spot the photo bomber??:

 

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Great times eating and drinking around Boston!

 

 

New Master Cook

Since my grad school schedule has been busy and I had class into the evening a few nights a week, Noah has been cooking more the past few months. And he is my new favorite cook! Noah has some classic dishes – such as tuna pasta – that he likes making all the time…

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But he’s also been trying his hand at some more challenging dishes – such as pizza! Noah makes the dough from scratch (yum!) and has been experimenting with different topping levels and baking methods. For Chanukah, he got a pizza stone (thanks Paul and Eve!) and the most recent pizza was oh so crispy! The role of the stone is to absorb heat in the oven prior to putting the pizza on top, so then the pizza crust cooks evenly and quickly from underneath – just like a brick pizza oven would do!

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Since we’ve been missing Israeli cuisine, it’s also been good to have Noah’s homemade shakshuka:

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Finally, this beet “reuben” was seriously one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had – roasted beets with melted swiss, sauerkraut, and russian dressing on a baguette:

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Thanks for all the great meals, Noah! I appreciate all the delicious food. 🙂

Holiday Spirit – Happy Chanukah!

Now that we’re in the midst of this year’s “holiday season,” the Chanukah lights have been sparkling at our house:

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Also, Noah gave me this great new sweatshirt as a Chanukah gift!:

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Even though the winter holidays are starting, my fall hiatus from blogging left a few fall holidays unaccounted for. The definite highlight of the fall holidays for me was Sukkot. Noah and I helped to build a sukkah at a friend’s house. We and few others spent the afternoon assembling/decorating the sukkah, and then we all enjoyed a wonderful meal outside together when the holiday started. I got some great photos of the sukkah-building process progressing throughout the afternoon. It started with the frame:

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Then we put up the walls and some lights:

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And finally we added the skach (the vegetation that covers the roof of the sukkah – skach must cover the majority of the roof but leave enough space left so you can see the sunshine and stars) and decorations!:

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Great holiday fun. 🙂

The last holiday to share a photo from is Halloween….Noah came back from a work trip just in time for Halloween, so we celebrated our reunion with some pumpkin carving:

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SpoOoOoOoOoOoOoky!!!

On that note, hag orim sameach (happy Festival or Lights), and hopefully I’ll check in again soon with some posts about our impromptu 3-day trip to Montreal (we’re leaving in the morning!!!).

Making A Home

This post is WAY overdue. So are a lot of posts…but the first term of grad school has really been a time suck. I’ve been missing my blogging outlets though, so hopefully I will have some time to catch up and get back into the blogging game soon! In my hiatus from blogging, Noah and I have moved to a wonderful apartment in Cambridge where we have what now feels a lot like a home! Crazy, huh?!?!

Moving itself was insane – we had a pretty full truck of things to move from storage in Vermont (thanks Paul and Eve!!) to our new apartment in Cambridge (the first picture below is Noah in the truck after we’d already unloaded a lot of stuff):

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Moving all the stuff out of the truck felt like a lot of work, but after everything was inside we realized the work had only begun! Where to put everything?!?!

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Slowly but surely, we started finding spots for everything, and Noah was a real star assembling and putting together all of our IKEA furniture:

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Unfortunately, our IKEA bed delivery couldn’t come until a few days until after we moved, so we had a few nights on an air mattress:

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We also discovered that moving takes approximately one gillion trips to Target:

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Probably the most eventful thing to occur during our move was the unfortunately-timed, mysterious activation of a deadlock in our front door to which there is no key. We had to wait for almost two hours to get in while the building manager sent someone who then eventually called a locksmith (pictured below) to let us in. At the time, it felt pretty frustrating because we were in the midst of moving things in from the van and trying to get to bed at a reasonable hour, but in hindsight it’s pretty silly and a good story!

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It was also a lot of fun to unpack and find all of our great stuff that had been in storage for a while when we were in Israel…such as our Dominion game collection!

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The last great moving success that I’ll mention was our fortuitous inheritance of this bike rack (please ignore the finger in the bottom of the picture frame…):

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When Noah and I visited the apartment as perspective buyers a couple months before moving in, we oohed and aahed at the bike rack in the former tenants foyer – it looked so cool and good at space saving! In between the time that we visited the apartment and moved in, we talked several times about how neat the rack was and how maybe we should try to buy one like it. Then, the night we moved in, after the locksmith extravaganza and an overall stressful day, we happened to notice some pieces of metal arranged in a weird way near the trashcan outside of the apartment building. On closer inspection….we realized that it was the disassembled bike rack! Miracle of miracles! Obviously, we excitedly gathered the pieces and reinstalled it in our foyer for our own purposes. YAY! All in all, a nice treat for a strenuous move-in day. 🙂