Wednesday April 28th, 2010
Two weeks ago Mr. B and I found ourselves in Boston for a long weekend. He was there on business and I tagged along to play tourist for a few days. It was my first time visiting this historic city and we were lucky to catch it in full Spring splendor. An unusual bout of warm weather sent everything into bloom and the streets were lined with pink and white blossoms.
After getting up at 3am to catch our flight (yeah that was painful) our first order of business was to find coffee and food. Anita, of the lovely blog Married With Dinner, had recommended Neptune Oyster, a seafood bar located in the North End. We arrived famished and were lucky enough to snag seats at a booth near the back of the restaurant. The restaurant is tiny and crowded but has a beautiful pub-like charm from dark wood, shinning tile, and mirrors reflecting the fresh oyster options for the day.
I may have mentioned a time or two (or ten) that I feel a bit seafood deprived living in the Midwest. When six varieties of fresh oysters arrived before us I could hardly contain my excitement. We tasted, we slurped, we sighed- it was marvelous. I wanted to do it all over again when they were gone, yet the meal was just beginning. Only minutes later the server placed in front of me a beautiful plate of seared scallops sitting atop a bed of duck confit with watercress, hazelnuts, and a touch of blue cheese tucked underneath. I was in heaven. Mr. B ordered an equally impressive grilled whole bronzini with basil pesto and fingerling potatoes sitting in a tomato-olive broth. Slightly loopy from the lack of sleep and giddy from the previously mentioned oysters, we dug in with glee. The scallops were cooked to perfection and are among the best I’ve ever eaten. Mr. B’s bronzini was moist and subtly flavored, allowing the fish to really shine. Both dishes disappeared promptly. It was a great way to start the trip.
We enjoyed the meal at Neptune Oyster so much that later we returned just before our flight left Boston for another round of oysters, mussels, calamari and a famous Maine lobster roll. (Can you tell it was our only meal of the day?) If you enjoy mussels, as we do, these are not to be missed. Bathed in a red curry broth and spiked by garlic, lime, and crunchy cashew nuts, they were fantastic. The lobster roll was quite delicious, but the scallops from the first day still haunt my thoughts. If you find yourself in Boston, I highly recommend a stop at Neptune Oyster for a seafood fix. (Be ready for a wait if it is during peak hours, for as I mentioned, it is a tiny space.)
With our hunger fully satisfied we walked up the street to grab an espresso at Boston Common Coffee, before joining up with a North End Market Tour to explore the shops and foods of this historic Italian district. Also recommended by Anita, this three hour tour (no joke!) was filled with fun stories, shops, and tastes throughout the North End. We started off at Maria’s Pastry shop, a hole-in-the-wall bakery filled with local residents sipping espressos amid aromas of anise and warm flour.
Exiting Maria’s the tour continued through Salumeria Italiana (home to a few handsome butchers), Monica’s Mercato (a source of luscious fresh burrata), V. Cirace & Son Italian wine shop (makers of marvelous limoncello since 1906), and many other stops. Each location included tastings and we nibbled our way through samples of balsamic vinegar, homemade limoncello, imported prosciutto, and several other Italian delights.
After a long day of traveling, eating, and walking we returned to our hotel. Mr. B had a business dinner planned and I promptly turned into a pumpkin, resting up for a day filled with walking and sightseeing on Saturday. Up next: the Freedom Trail, Bunker Hill, and more shenanigans on the streets of Boston!