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Chowdah, Hahvahd and the Gahden on My B-day

December 1, 2010

I am devoting this post to Boston, which I love with all my heart. Even though I and many friends of mine live here, there are still people out there who might want to know a little more about Beantown. The reason I chose to write about Boston is because my family crossed the ocean to spend my 25th birthday with me and my friends during Thanksgiving weekend, and we got five cold but sunny days to explore “the city of firsts” once again.

My family and friends arrived on Thanksgiving eve and were immediately sucked in the crazy atmosphere of this fun holiday. They stayed at the extravagant Liberty Hotel on Charles Street, which is famous for its interesting interior design, featuring the untouched bars and brick walls of the former prison. The hotel is also a popular spot among modern Bostonians, as it hosts several trendy bars and restaurants. I highly recommend trying delicious caramelized onion and pear pizza and the exquisite mozzarella bar at the Italian restaurant Scampo, and then polish it off with fine martinis at the Alibi bar. Even on Thanksgiving night it was hard to find seats at the lobby bar, so reservations won’t hurt.

On Thanksgiving Boston was deserted. We went for a walk to the Public Garden, where hungry squirrels attacked us but refused to eat the apples we offered. Fortunately, the park is pretty even in late November, so my sister shot some really good pictures with her Nikon D300. One thing I’m still confused about is why all tourists rub the bronze ducks sculpture (Make Way for Ducklings) in the garden? Will it bring money, happiness, health? Somebody, please clarify that for me.

We also walked around Boylston and the freshly-decorated Newbury streets, and froze to our bones while enjoying the Boston skyline from the Mass Ave Bridge. When I first came here almost three years ago, I absolutely fell in love with Boston, as it reminded me of Europe a lot. And what’s not to love—its brownstones are soaked in history. There is Harvard that screams classiness and exclusiveness. There is Charles River, which is the main reason I started running outside because the view of the sunset that opens up from the bridges during my regular loop is absolutely breathtaking. There is the Freedom Trail with its historic landmarks that reveal to me something new every time I walk through them. There are crazy sports fans who will probably eat you if you say something bad about the Sox or Celtics. And there are many other little things that make me miss Beantown if I am away.

We had our Thanksgiving lunch at Joe’s American Bar & Grill on Newbury Street. As none of us really like turkey, we had a burger fest with a lot of Bloody Mary’s, which helped the adults overcome the jet lag. Also, if you are ever in the neighborhood, try their rotisserie chicken with savory creamy mashed potatoes. It is absolutely fantastic. For Thanksgiving dinner, I booked a reservation at Smith & Wollensky steakhouse, as it always offers juicy prime rib and flavorful rib eye—my dad’s favorite dishes. Sometimes I really doubt that he comes to Boston to visit me. When I see how excited he gets after he puts the first bite in his mouth, I am more and more certain that he flies 5,000 miles only to indulge in a good American steak.

On the morning of Black Friday, we “robbed” half of the Apple store, as most Apple products are twice as expensive in Russia. I think the girl who was helping us thought we had just escaped from the deserted island and saw the technology for the first time in our lives. As I was the only one who could speak both English and Russian, I had to run around the store for two hours, making sure there were no communication issues.

After that we went to see a hockey game at the Garden and then had an early dinner in Lucca. What excites me most about Little Italy is no matter which restaurant you choose, you’re always guaranteed to have a wonderful meal. There is one restaurant I particularly want to check out—it’s called Giacomo. It doesn’t take reservations or credit cards and always boasts a huge line of patient visitors no matter how cold it is outside. I wonder what its secret is. Does anyone know?

In the evening we saw the Boston Celtics destroy the Toronto Raptors (sorry Amanda!). I have to admit sports events in America are way more spectacular than anywhere in the world. Therefore, my family really enjoyed the experience.

On Saturday we explored the historic landmarks along the Freedom Trail. My favorite one was the oldest cemetery in Boston that features the graves of Samuel Adams, John Hancock and Benjamin Franklin’s parents. I love ancient graveyards, they make me forget about the city bustle and get absorbed in deeper thoughts. I like exploring graves of unknown individuals who also used to love, smile, mourn, suffer, sympathize and laugh many centuries ago, as I do now.

We walked around the Financial District, had our moments at the Holocaust monument in downtown Boston, and really enjoyed the New England Aquarium. Those who follow my blog know how crazy my dad and I are about scuba-diving, so we were pretty jealous to watch the staff swimming around sharks, turtles and manta-rays. However, if you ever need a moment to yourself, I highly recommend coming here and just stand in front of the giant tank for some time—I promise, it will calm you down and heal your nerves.

For lunch we went to the oldest existing restaurant in the whole United States—Union Oyster House—that features almost 300 years of history. The restaurant does look ancient, and I was a little nervous to hear a painful creak every time I took a step on the old ladder. However, the food there is absolutely delicious. Steamy lobsters baked with seafood stuffing and soaked in melted butter, creamy lobster ravioli and the best clam chowder I’ve ever tried were all just amazing. Everyone was very impressed.

For dinner we went to Capital Grille on Newbury, which is my favorite type of steakhouse—it’s dark and intimate. If you decide to check it out, definitely get the onion soup for starters and a medium-rare Delmonico steak for entrée—you will experience a burst of flavors!

Sunday was the most important day for all of us, as it was my 25th birthday. We devoted the entire morning to shopping in Copley Mall, which offered amazing discounts on everything. Then I wanted to show my family what a neighborhood bar means in America. I took them to The Corner Tavern on Marlborough Street that has the best sandwiches in Boston. If you doubt my words, then I challenge you to try their flavorful wings and Rosalita or Rueben with amazing pasta salad and roasted potatoes. When we got there, the place was decorated with bright balloons and flowers, because my boyfriend sneaked out earlier to make my birthday unforgettable. During the second half of the day, I showed my family Boston University and brought them to the other bank of Charles to show them the famous Harvard University.

For dinner, we went to Grill23—another excellent steakhouse in Boston. The restaurant’s specialty is definitely dry-aged New York sirloin that combines both tenderness and great flavor. In the end, my guests surprised me with a delicious Tiramisu cake from a North End bakery.

I was so happy my family and friends could fly to Boston from Russia—that made my birthday unforgettable. I had tons of presents, emotions and happy memories left after this trip. And now, I have to go back to real life, which at this moment means earning my Master’s and getting a job. Any offers?

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