Wednesday, December 19, 2007

December 16, 2007 - Boston, Massachusetts

When our friend Jerry heard that we were coming home, he organized a dinner for us and a few friends in Boston's South End. Reservations were made and babysitters organized. Early on Saturday, Sten and I headed up from Rhody to my sister's place in Charlestown. We arrived around lunchtime, picked Alena up and headed over to the North End, Boston's Italian neighborhood. If any further evidence was needed that we live a charmed existence, it arrived in the form of an empty parking space. In the North End. On a Saturday. However, into this charmed existence, a few drops of rain must occasionally fall - in this case, in the form of pink peppercorns.

We were at Polcari's Coffee, stocking up on our favorite peppercorn blend, when I lost my grip on the container of pink peppercorns that I was holding. The lid spun one direction, and little pink balls scattered all over the other spice containers and the floor. Completely embarrassed, I turned as pink as the peppercorns bouncing around my toes. The shopkeepers were so kind about it, but I'm still kind of glad that we won't be back there for a while.

From Salem Street, we headed over to Regina's for pizza. A year of anticipation was just too much for us - we didn't wait nearly long enough to bite into the steaming slices that we were each holding. I came away from the encounter with skin hanging off of the roof of my mouth. Alena just shook her head in bemused pity.

There was never any question about where we were going for dessert. We elbowed our way into Mike's Pastry and lined up at the counter. While we waited our turn, we watched the tourists hem and haw over what they wanted to order, then worry about whether they had enough cash to cover their purchases in this shop that still doesn't accept credit. We laughed as the guy next to us had to fleece his teenage daughter to cover the cost of a carton of cannoli. We grabbed a lobster tail, a couple of cannoli and headed back to Charlestown.

A few hours before our dinner reservation, Alena dropped us off on Newbury Street. While we slowly wandered over to the South End, we kept running into familiar faces - the distributor of our favorite pinot noir doing a wine tasting on Newbury, a former colleague at Restoration Hardware and a friend in the shoe department at Lord & Taylor. After a year of mostly seeing unfamiliar faces, it was such a treat to keep bumping into friends.

Dinner turned into a fiasco. We ended up seated 75 minutes past our 8pm reservation time. The two pregnant ladies in our party were slipping into hypoglycemic shock by the time we sat down. To the restaurant's credit, they did comp some appetizers at the bar and a round of champagne for our crowd. The mismanagement at the front of the house was really too bad - it distracted from the food that the kitchen was producing, which really was very good. Around midnight, a few folks had to leave. We got up to hug them goodbye, and the servers swooped in to clear our barely touched dessert and cheese plates. Talk about getting the bum rush. Irregardless, we had a great time, and many thanks are due to Bjorn, Jerry and Darren for treating us to some excellent food and wine.

Lest we got too homesick while visiting New England, and start entertaining fantasies of selling the boat to move back home to hang out with our friends full time, a nor'easter swooped into town to remind us why we ran away from home in the first place. Alena was parked on a street that is designated a "Snow Emergency Route." If Mayor Mumbles declares a snow emergency, all the cars get towed to make way for the plows. For most of the night, I lay awake listening for the sounds of tow trucks. Thankfully they never materialized. However, digging out the cars the next morning was enough to make us appreciate living in the tropics all over again.

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