Thursday, March 01, 2007

Lunch in Bostons North End

La Piccola Venezia - only once in a life time

This is the enomous heap of fried calamares with marinara sauce served at la Piccola Venezia. May loook impressive, but uninteresting and mediochre, is a better word for the food.

Lunch in Bostons North End

La Piccola Venezia - only once in a life time

As I visited Boston for 5 hours, February 28th, I decided to eat in the North End. This is the oldest and most charming part of the city. Here you find most of the monuments of the Freedom trail, the walking tour along the most important momunents that played a part of the Boston Tea Party.

Most of North End is dominated by the Italians. Here you can have the greatest food in small family run restaurants. I decided to try one of them, and by walking up and down one of the main streets, Hanover street, I chose Piccola Venezia. Well, that was definitely a once in a lifetime experience. I will not return. Not that the food tasted good, or that the service was bad, but due to it was mediocre and uninteresting.

Location: BBB

Piccola Venezia is situated at one of the main streets of the North End, Hanover street and is easy to locate of you that do want to visit it. But it has no wow-factor. If you want to find a more romantic place to eat, you are adviced to look for a restaurants in one of the smaller sidestreets.

Atmosphere: BBB

The restaurant has a charming interior of red brick walls, dark wooden tables and chairs, and a lot of different Italian nicknacks on the walls. There are paper table covers, and a simple table setting. The interior is probably its best feature, overall.

Service: BBBB

I do not know whether I should give a rating of three or four B's. I chose 4, in spite of the fact that I hate to get the bill before I ask for it. That is maybe the worst side of the service in the US. Still the waiter insisted that I should take it easy, in spite of the fact that he placed the bill on the table, and was very helpful throughout the meal.

Food: BB

Fried Calamares with a dipping Marinara sauce with a sidedish of taglioni with Marinara sauce. Bread and butter. Amount - very much. Taste - as calamares is supposed to taste, nothing more. The marinara sauce was not very interesting, nor was the side dish. The parmeggiano was not the one freshly grated, but the dried sawdust type. It did not taste bad, but it was hairraisingly uniteresting. The only really good thing was a draught pint of Peroni Nastro Azzurro, dripping cold and refreshing.

Price: BB

$20 may not be a fortune, but a little overpriced. Well one good thing was that you stomach was filled up.

The overall Piccola Venezia experience: BBB- (2,8 points)

Only once in a life time - for me! Hasta la Vista!!

Adress: 263 Hanover St Boston, MA 02113-2322
Phone: 1-617-523-3888

Scituate in the film "The witches of Eastwick"

The film "The witches of Eastwick" was recorded in the neighbouring city of Cohasset. Still, Scituate has a place in it as well. Do you remember the little shop where Alexandra Medford (Cher), displayed her Booby-statues, and where she found out that Daryl van Horne (Jack Nicholson), had bought them all? Yes that scene was shot here, in the Quarterdeck, situated in Scituate harbour. This charming little shop of nick-nacks incorporates all what I love with the New England Coastline.

Changing face of Scituate

Due to the good times, this small town and its centre changes its face. Many of the buildings are torn down and replaced by flats or condominiums, as they call it here. Sadly, this change may mean that the town loose some of its character. This building, on Front Street, with its beautiful architectural details, may be the next to be torn down. I really hope not.

Sights of Scituate MA

The founders stone

This stone marks the first landing of this town, going as far as 1633. It is situated close to the beginning of the Frons street running through Scituate town centre. Its place in history is also told by a plaque on the stone that says:

"1633 Site of the first town landing used by the early settlers of Scituate."

Satuit - the cold brook: Memorial plaque

The small memorial plaque by the little stream.

Satuit - The cold brook

This is the small brook or stream that run into the Scituate harbour. In native indian, Satuit means cold brook, and from it, Scituate got its name. This significance to the towns history is told on a memorial plaque by its side.

Feng Shui, Cohasset MA

To indulge in a Chinese buffet

Here you see my first plate. In front: Crab rangoon (crispy wanton skins with crab meat and cream cheese), to the left, crispy baked pork, fried prawns, back: Fried pork with sweet sauce, to the left back, eggplant tempura, and a pan fried dumpling.

Feng Shui, Cohasset, MA

To indulge in a Chinese Buffet

In Cohasset, south of Boston, you find Feng Shui, serving a range of different chinese meals, and a good Chinese lunch buffet. We went there, and left very content, at a price of only $20.

Location: BB

The location, in a small mall, outside Cohasset, may make it difficult to find for others than the locals. For those of you, that want to eat in a more beautiful setting, you are adviced to seek out a restaurant in the charming towns of Cohasset, Hingham, or Scituate.

Atmosphere: BBB

You do not visit the Feng Shui to expect to enjoy your food in an authentic Chinese atmosphere. In style, it is clean and simple, with just a few chinese decorative pieces around. No fancy table settings, different plates, forks and knives. This might be charming, but here it was not.

Service: BBB

The service is was in general good, but I and my cousin had some problems to understand what the waiter said. When arriving, at 12.15 PM, the buffet was not ready, so we had to wait for the food to arrive. We were, in a period, left in some confusion, by the staff, when we would be allowed to start to eat.

Food: BBBBB

I love these buffets, as you are allowed to pick from so many different Chinese and Japanese dishes. There are dumplings, deep fried meats with batter, noodle dishes, woked vegetables and also sushi and sashimi. And it all tastes great!!It is a pity, really, that you do not have more room. When you come to Feng Shui, you come here for the food!! And do as I do, order a cold Chinese beer - Tsingtao, with it.

Price: BBBBB

$20 a piece - very inexpensive for such a good meal!!

Feng Shui - overall score: BBBB- (3,6)

Adress: 380 Chief Justice Cushin
Cohasset, MA
+1-781-383-3328

Home cooking in Scituate, MA

Wednesday, February 28th - Eggplant Parmeggian

This is a dish I've had on several occations, but Wednesday evening, we decided to make it ourselves, at 54 Kenneth Road. I am not really sure whether this is a genuine Italian dish, many Italian dishes in the US are not, but it is realy a cross between a lasagna (sliced eggplant, substituting the lasagna sheets and without the bechamel sauce), and a Greek Moussaka.

Here are the ingredients to make it:

1-2 large eggplants or aubergines, sliced
As many eggs that is required, we used 4
As much breadcrums as you need
Olive oil
2 glasses of any kind of tomato sauce
2-3 pieces of mozarella cheese, sliced

Dip the aubergine slices in beaten eggs, then in breadcrumbs. Cover the bottom of a large oven tray with the slices, then add tomatosauce and sliced mozarella. Cover with a new layer of eggplants, sauce and cheese. Make as many layers as you want, before the last topping of sauce and cheese.

Bake in hot oven 225C/450F until the cheese is melting and brown. Serve with fresh bread and a salad.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Honouring Rebecca and Abigael Bates

The small memorial plaque honouring the two brave women.

The home of Rebecca and Abigael Bates, Scituate MA

Close to the centre of Scituate, you find this old yellow colonial style house. It used to be the home of the socalled American (sometimes Lighthouse) Army of Two, Rebecca and Abigail Bates, daughters of Scituate lighthouse keeper Simeon Bates. These sisters did, in september 1814, by playing their fife and drum, alarm an advancing boat of british officer enough, to avoid an attack on Scituate.

They lived in this house, and died both at an old age.

Barker Tavern, anno 1634: Memorial plaque

Here you see the memorial plaque, outlining the long history of this building.

Scituate: The Barker Tavern, anno 1634

Close to Scituate harbour you find Barker Tavern. Parts of this house goes back until 1634, making it into the probably the oldest buildings left in the US built by the early immigrants to the new world.

Today, this building house a great restaurant, bar and function rooms. Here you can get a great meal, but it is more expensive than most of the restaurants in the area. But the food is terrific. But try to take a snack in the bar. Here you can get as good food, but at a nicer price.

Boneless long roast chicken with tabbouleh and cheddar cheese



I love to long roast chicken - you must haver discovered! And it gets even better when you can filet a chicken in bone piece and remove the bones. Then you can make a roulade filled with different ingedients.

To filet a chicken, you need a very sharp boning knife and a pair of strong kitchen scissors. You start with incisitions along the breast bones, and let the knife follow the ribs, around the bird. Try not to punctuate the skin, as it s nice for the roulade to be whole, in order to let the filling remain in the middle. To remove the thighs, break the to parts of the leg and press out the bones. It is the easiest with the lower chicken leg, and more difficult with the upper ones. Make an incision to get under the bones and cut along the leg in order to get it out. The joints themselves may be difficult to get out.

Then the rest of the recipe.

1 boneless chicken 1 - 1,5 kg / 2-3 lbs
3-4 tbsp Chicken seasoning
100 - 150 grs / 3,5 - 5 oz of ready tabbouleh (if you have to make it see recipe here)
100 grs / 3,5 oz of cheddar cheese
1 medium sized onion, roughly cut
1-2 tbsp Tabasco sweet and spicy sauce

Roll out boneless chicken, skinside down. In parts where there are most skin and less meat, fill inn taboulleh and cheddar cheese. Roll chicken into a roulade. Fasten string around the roulade for it to keep its shape. Rub inn seasoning. Place in pan with onions, and allow to roast in oven 100C / 210F for 4 hours. Pour over liquid every hour. Last hour every quarter of an hour.

After 4 hours. Pour over Tabasco sauce. Increase heat to 200c / 400-425F, and bake until crisp. Serve with rice and steamed haricot verts.


An 80th anniversary at PJs country house

My God - there is a lady in the mens room

I was highly amused by this lady, peeking curiously by the urinal in the mens room in PJs country house. Humor is a great thing!!

An 80th anniversary at PJs country house

Everything is bigger in America - look at this prime rib!

My cousin and her husband were served a seriously large slice of prime rib. Pink in the middle, and mouthwatering and tender. Still I am filled with awe when I see a piece of meat, this size, and I would, personally have had great difficulty eating the whole thing. If not, however, you do the obvious thing. You ask the staff to wrap it in for you, to bring home. And we did, and it was recycled into a great stock the day after.

An 80th anniversary at PJs country house, Scituate MA

A fish to die for!!

I ordered fish as a main course. This white fish had been coated with breadcrumbs, and fried until light brown and crispy. It was served with potatoes and broccoli, and with a small cup of herb butter. Perfect late night dining, and presented with a small orchid!

An 80th anniversary at PJs country house, Scituate MA

A great clam chowder

This creamed clam and fish soup is a local speciality, brought over by the the first immigrants. I have enjoyed clam chowder many times, the last 20 years, but this cup of chowder served at PJs is probably the best I have ever had. Rich and aromatic!!

An 80th anniversary at PJs country house, Scituate MA

Great food and good company.

I had the privilege to attend the 80th anniversary of John York Brady, at PJs country house, sunday February 25th. He, his wife, five children and 16 grandchildren were present and we were served an excellent dinner in a great atmosphere.

I had never ben to PJs before and I loved its classic New England style. Beautifully set tables, dark wooden chairs, in a 18th century style. As we arrived we were served fingerfood to our drinks, angels on horsebacks, large tiger prawns with a tomato sauce, and crabcakes.

We had a truly great four course dinner. First a great classic New England chowder - a rich creamed fish soup made with bacon, onions, clams, good fish stock and cream, and served with crackers. I have had cream chowder several times, but I think this is the best chowder I have ever eaten.

Then we were served a salad with caesar salad dressing, salad leaves, carrots, tomatoes - delicious! As the main course I had the most delicious breaded fish with potatoes and herb butter. My cousins were served a seriously large and tender slice of prime rib. And it was presented with a little orchid on the side.

As dessert they served the birthday cakes, a cream cake and a very rich chocolate gateau. This was great food, and having good company turned this evening into a memorable event.

My compliments to Elaine and John Y. Brady!!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Scituate: The old lighthouse

In front of the lighthouse you find this plaque it says the following on its 200 year history.

Scituate: To the lighthouse

On a small peninsula, by the passage to Scituate this lighthouse. It is a historic landmark dating back to to the early 19th century.

The beautiful white stone building overlooks the Scituate harbour area. It is a great walk from the center of the town out to the lighthouse. From there there are nothing but the wide Atlantic in front of you!

Scituate MA - a community on the Irish riviera.

The town of Scituate, a 40 minute drive south of Boston, is situated on the Irish riviera, as the community and its surroundings have a strong Irish influence. It is a very old town, dating back to 1636, and here you find the oldest building still standing in the US, Barker Tavern, dating back to 1634. The town centre is situated along a main street, and here you have small charming shops, restaurants and bars in a charming mix of new and old buildings.

The town and the surrounding area is changing rapidly. Many people buy their summer homes here, and due to the proximity to Boston, many city dwellers leave their lives in downtown Boston behind and buy their home in this charming town. From 2008, it will be even more attractive for commuters, as the Boston subway extend the red line from Braintree to Scituate.

Scituate is a weather hotspot. Here you really can feel the effect of the high tides and wind from the strong storms that hit the coast. In the areas most vulnerable to the tides it is required to build the houses on pillars allowing the damaging tidal waters to escape, without damaging the buildings. On the picture, you see another barrier. Strong flood walls built to protect the coastline and buildings against the damaging effects of the sea.

Scituate is a great place to stay, during the season and off season. In spite of the fact that you are so close to Boston, the big city is still so far away. It is definitely a nice place to go to. You find a very good hotel here, the Inn at Scituate harbour where you can enjoy some quiet days by the seaside.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The first night in the new world - Blue Moon, Norwell MA

















In the affluent community of Norwell, on Bostons south shore, you find Blue Moon restaurant. As expected on a Saturday evening at 8 PM, people were out dining in numbers. So we ended up in the bar.

We did not eat much at the Blue Moon, so a full review is not in its place. However, judging from the two appetizers we ordered, I would say that the food served was very tasteful, inventive and interesting. I had two pints of Chiswick beer.

We ordered two appetizers, a crab and avocado mousse (image on top), served with fried wanton skins with pickled fruits and wasabi oil. Great nibble indeed, and beautifully presented.

Then we had steamers (right), i.e. mussels steamed in wine, garlic, tomatoes, and many other ingredients, with waffle potatoes. Social food, and the fried potatoes were delicious, partly crisp, and partly soaked in the delicious juices.

Enjoying wines - on flight Icelandair: La Barossa - Lehmann

La Barossa, by Lehmann. Very flat and far too dry, nearly sour. Choose beer instead. It is much better and refreshing, on a long journey.

Icelandair - the food

This schnitzel, filled with cheese and ham, was very tasty, indeed. One of the best airline meals, I have had. Served with rice and vegetables.

Icelandair - a great choice to the United States

Booking on ebookers.com, I managed to get the cheapest roundtrip to the US ever. Paying NOK 1850 (Eur 225), and additional tax got this ticket down to the fenomenal low price of 175 Euro. And this, on in my mind the best and most comfortable crossing from Europe to the US. On Icelandair from Oslo to Reykjavik, and then on to Boston. For those of you, struggling on long crossings over the Atlantic, you effectively cut the trip into two, allowing you to have a stretch on your legs at Keflavik airport. And the trip from Reykjavik takes around 5 hours and 30 minutes.

Punctuality: BBBBB

On time the whole way. Departure from Oslo at 11.55 AM (CET), arriving in Reykjavik at 4 PM (GMT), as we had picked up passengers in Stockholm. Departure from Reykjavik 5 PM (GMT) arriving in Boston 30 minutes before schedule at 5,20 PM (EST). A great smooth trip.

Personal space: BBBB

I had business class seats on the way from Oslo to Reykjavik,and travelling business class, you have no reason to complain. A wide leather seat with enough space to stretch out you legs and have a completely comfortable journey. Still, as I pay for economy I ended up further back in the plane. I was placed by the emergency exit at road 9A. Her, I was squeezed in by the door, and the crossing was not very comfortable. Well, in general, your personal space on Icelandair is bigger than on other major airlines. You do not feel crammed into a small and uncomfortable position. In my mind, economy on Northwest Airlines, was terrible compared with Icelandair. So a favourable score of 4 Bs

Service: BBBBB

Icelandair use smaller, and more comfortable Boeing 757 airplanes and it does not cut down the number of staff on board. Thus, service to the customers is very good, an you do not have to wait long to be served. On economy class most softdrinks are comlementary,but you have to pay for wine and hard liquor. That does not matter, however. They provide it on a nice price. Paying EUR 3,50 for a bottle of wine is not much. Should you decide to order a gin and tonic, however, you will have to pay EUR 5.

The Food and Wine: BBB

It is always great to be served warm food on a long trip. Icelandair brings you back to the good old days in that respect. Lunch from Oslo to Reykjavik was a warm schnitzel filled with ham and cheese, served with rice and vegetables. Served with rolls and butter and a chocolate for dessert. Good, as airline food goes (BBBB). The wine served, a Lehmann wine, produced in Australia, was not very good. Very flat and much to dry for my taste (BB).

On the atlantic crossing, we were served either fish, or lasagne. I chose the lasagne with vegetables, and it was accompanied by, rolls with butter, a crab salad and a slice of apple tart. The lasagna was steamed more than baked, with hardly no cheese at the top. It tasted a little flat in my mind. The crab salad (crabmeat mixed with mayonnaise) was very good. (BBB) And the same wine again. So in danger of being picky, only three Bs out of five. But in spite of this, it is still great to be well fed on a trip, and we did not leave hungry.

Overall airline experience BBBB

The best way to cross the pond, and you are well taken care of. Recommended!!!