I’m veering a bit off the wine blog route tonight to share my Boston experience with you.
How did Veni Vini Vici arrive in Boston, might one ask? In short, I was looking for a wine-related trip, and I only had one week off, so I didn’t want to travel so far that transit would take up half my vacation. As it turned out, Boston Wine Expo was happening January 22-23 and was purported to be America’s largest wine festival – so I put two and two together and figured a voyage to the land of America’s founding fathers was in order!
From the lovely people to the delicious wine and food, Boston was everything I was looking for in a cosmopolitan winter vacation: Warm hospitality, a fantastic dining scene, wonderful new wine experiences, local and international culture by the truckload, and of course, the requisite piles and piles of New England seafood.
I’m so glad I visited and can’t wait until my next Baahston adventchah!
Here are some of my favourite highlights from my trip in pictures.
Imagine waking up every day across the street from this fabulous view! This is Boston's Old South Church on Boylston Street. I stayed at the very posh and comfortable Lenox Hotel. (I splurged for a nice place, but you know what? It was totally worth it.)
A most amazing grilled banana and honey sandwich on pain de mie with cinnamon butter. How I, the die-hard savoury tooth, came to order this for breakfast is a long and hilarious story, but suffice it to say, Mike and Patty's, the place where I ate this, was where I ate the best food and met the best people all week. If I could FedEx myself a breakfast from them, I would. (www.mikeandpattys.com)
WARNING: Sensory overload!! Yes, you are looking at a glass of Domaine Joseph Drouhin Clos des Mouches Blanc Premier Cru 2006. Heady, honeyed, citrusy, nutty and truffly all at once, this was a fantastic wine. This was wine no. 4 in a flight of eight delicious 2006 Burgundies which I admit, took me lots of effort to savour the morning after spending 12 hours in transit!.
The wines of the Drouhin seminar (hosted by Laurent Drouhin):
- Dom. Joseph Drouhin Chablis “Les Clos” Grand Cru 2006
- Dom. Joseph Drouhin Puligny-Montrachet Folatières Premier Cru 2006
- Dom. Joseph Drouhin Chassagne-Montrachet Morgeot Marquis de Laguiche Premier Cru 2006
- Dom. Joseph Drouhin Beaune Clos des Mouches Premier Cru 2006
- Dom. Joseph Drouhin Chambolle-Musigny 2006
- Dom. Joseph Drouhin Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru 2006
- Dom. Joseph Drouhin Chambolle-Musigny “Les Amoureuses” Premier Cru 2006
- Dom. Joseph Drouhin Musigny Grand Cru 2006
I love Loire Valley, part one. A creamy, long, intense and indulgent Vouvray.
I love Loire Valley, part two. This was my first time trying red Sancerre (read: Pinot Noir). So characterful with lots of savoury herbal notes, earth and mineral. Whoever Lucien Crochet is swept me off my feet.
Hedonistic Reason #1 Why I Love Boston: The flat-out obnoxious amounts of fresh seafood you can get away with eating almost year-round. Case in point: This chunky lobster roll that I devoured at the Barking Crab restaurant in Fort Point. (Note: For perspective, this sandwich - looking down from above - is about the size of my face.)
I was really impressed by the amount of amazing Italian wineries showcasing their goods at Boston Wine Expo. Here are some of the producers I majorly geeked out on:
Ghiomo, Piemonte (http://www.ghiomo.it/en/)
Bosco Societa Cooperative Agricola, Puglia (Primitivo di Manduria DOC, Salento IGT)
This was my first time trying a Conero Rosso, after having read about the Marches in Lawrence Osborne's "The Accidental Connoiseur" and it was everything I thought it would be! Foresty, piney, stony, yet redolent of berries and peppery fruit... Yum.
Bricco Maiolica's Vigna Vigia is a vineyard named after the winemaker's great-grandmother Luigia. It is planted to Barbera and is made into a tasty, tasty single vineyard Barbera d'Alba.
Don't be fooled by the standard catering wine glasses, this is premium bubbly! This is the flight I tasted at the seminar by Champagne Ruinart, one of the oldest Champagne houses in France. (FYI - their house style is based on expressions of Chardonnay aka Blanc de Blancs.)
The wines in my Champagne Ruinart seminar:
- Domaine Ruinart Blanc de Blancs NV
- Domaine Ruinart 1998 Blanc de Blancs
- Domaine Ruinart 1993 Blanc de Blancs
- Domaine Ruinart Brut Rosé NV
- Domaine Ruinart 1996 Brut Rosé
- Domaine Ruinart 1988 Brut Rosé
I'm a spoiled brat, because the first Ribera del Duero wine I'd ever tried was Vega Sicilia Alión 2004. (Ed.: Thanks Shea for the correction!) But I attended this Ribera del Duero seminar to learn more about the region, and it was great. I discovered great Tempranillos (locally called Tinto del Paìs) that were delicious in their youth as well as some moderately aged wines that showed lots of arid Ribera character. Here's two out of the 15 or so that I tried.
I think the best wines I tried all week were Italian wines. This is La Spinetta Ca' Di Pian Barbera d'Alba 2006, a powerful yet elegant and modern example of Barbera. So intensely perfumed with great integration of fruit and oak, this was a delight to drink and I only wish I could have more. (I purchased a half bottle at Papa Razzi, a mid-range trattoria on Newbury Street that even let me take my unfinished bottle home plugged up in a sealed plastic bag.) Vancouver totally needs more inexpensive-with-great-wine-list, unpretentious, no-fuss establishments like these. I walked in from the blistery cold looking like a homeless woolly mammoth, hungry and tired, and still received top-notch service from a girl named Alexa. Paired perfectly with my roasted eggplant, tomato, cheese and basil pasta.
Both the bronze frog at Boston Common and I are wondering, "Why are we outdoors when even an OUTDOOR skating rink has to close due to the cold?" (Temperatures reached at least -22ºC that day)
Some guy at the New England Aquarium remarked to his date that this was "the Bob Marley of jellyfish". It was all I could do not to burst out into laughter. The guy was totally right!
Yes, I completely realize how ironic and hypocritical it is to eat seafood on the same day that one visits an aquarium. But these bivalves were so tasty! Meaty cherrystone clams (about the size of a baby's palm, for perspective) and local New England oysters on the halfshell at Union Oyster House, the oldest restaurant in the US of A.
Best $12 I spent in Boston all week. Fenway Park gives hourly tours, and I had the privilege of being guided by Steve, a 79-year old who lived and breathed for baseball, Red Sox baseball to be exact.
Me at Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox
Boston's North End neighbourhood is an Italian-American borough home to narrow alleys lined with brownstones, brick roads, and authentic Italian eateries. Mike's Pastry was just one of these places, and holy cannoli, were the pastries ever good! This Ricotta-filled, chocolate dipped cannoli was one of about 30 different kinds of cannoli available. Had I been feeling more gluttonous I would have eaten more... So much more.
Neptune Oyster was one of the first places I had found when researching for my Boston trip. It only seats about 50 people and is packed nearly every night, I'm told. I was lucky enough to get a seat at the bar when I entered, and no sooner had I sat down, there was already a lineup of waiting patrons out the door. This is a haven for local East Coast seafood, and while perpetually busy, it's well orchestrated and my server never forgot about me. I tried several New England oysters, including Island Creek, Mashpee and more Cherrystone clams, all of which I now pine for. Until my next visit...
I felt very American watching Obama's State of the Union address from my hotel room in Boston! Although I did inject a European sensibility with my half-bottle of Macon-Villages and tiny disc of creamy Vermont triple cream Champlain cheese.
Mike and Patty's, 12 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116. Do not miss this place if you visit! Terrific staff (Mike. the owner, is Canadian!) and incredible food. If I had the time and budget, I would totally visit Boston again just to try the rest of the menu.
I spent a whole day at the Bostom Museum of Fine Arts, but the art is so amazing that I have to recommend you visit there yourself. My pictures don’t do the art justice at all.
America loves its Dunkin' Donuts! It's what Tim Horton's is to Canada. Here's a crazy midday lineup inside the subway stop at Harvard.
Standing in the middle of Harvard Yard ('Hahvaad Yaaad,' so the cliché goes). I feel smarter already. (Or is it 'smaataa'?)
Just one specimen of the innumerable minerals on display at the Harvard Museum of Natural History. If I weren't so busy geeking out on wines in my everyday life, I'd definitely be geeking out on rocks. I was the girl in elementary school who dreamt of being a geologist when everyone else wanted to be a horse wrangler or a marine biologist.
Fortuitously, I chanced upon Julianne Moore's photo op at Harvard, as she received her Hasty Pudding "Woman of the Year" award from the university's acting troupe! (Fargo reference: She's a real super lady.)
It seemed ludicrous to end a trip to Boston without having steamed lobster. I'm so glad I found Jasper White's Summer Shack in Boston's Back Bay neighbourhood, about 2 blocks away from Berkelee College of Music! My epic "Last Supper" in Boston consisted of Summerside and Blue Point oysters on the halfshell, fried Ipswich clams, and a modest 1 lb. steamed lobster with melted butter dip and corn on the cob. If that's not satisfaction, I don't know what is.
I even had a little taste of Boston (well, technically California, but I digress) to bring home! Since I stayed a week at Lenox Hotel, they gave me a bottle of wine. (Did I mention their excellent service?) While this wasn't New England wine, this organic bottle still fit in with Lenox Hotel's eco-friendly principles, and for that I appreciate my stay there even more. (They even had garbage cans in each room with dividers for glass, plastic, paper and waste!)
Cheers, Boston – I’ll definitely be back for more!