After a couple of days camping in the White Mountains, off to Boston we went! Freedom trail, quincy market, the harbour and aquarium… We also got seafood stuffed and swapped Miller Lite for Sam Adams Summer Brew.
I absolutely loved the time I had camping in the White Mountains, however the comfort of a king sized bed once we (my boyfriend and I) got to Boston was a welcomed change for sure!
But before we got to our hotel, the Revere (which had an inspired american revolution decor), we headed off to Harvard – because how could we not #nerdalert!
Harvard University & Cambridge
Walking through those gates and under the words: “Enter to grow in wisdom” honestly made me want to go to Harvard. The grounds are stunning, as well as the buildings and surroundings… “hell yes” was my thought if ever I was offered a full ride to do my PhD there, even if I’m not planning to do a PhD at all.
While there we walked around the campus, heard that Harvard’s Library is the one of the largest libraries in the United States, containing 7 stories underground (!!!), and rubbed the foot of it’s founder’s statue. We would have liked to see the Law School building and I would have like to sneak into anywhere science happens, but our exploration was cut short by my wanting a Harvard Sweater, the fact that we needed to get back to our hotel to drop our stuff off before going to see a Red Sox game and the fact that the clouds grew ever more menacing – our phones kept on going off alerting us to the potential of flash floods!
Unfortunately that rain caused the game to be rained out, and us stuck with tickets that we needed to try and resell. Upside?! We bar hopped around Fenway Park and I had some bangers and mash (sausages and mashed potatoes covered in gravy) at a nearby pub that reminded me of our trip to London last year.
Flour Bakery & Cafe
In my Homemade Pop-Tarts post, I gushed about how the story of Flour Bakery & Cafe‘s Joanne Chang inspired me and made me realize that the path we are on can surely change into something you never thought of. She is an Applied Mathematics & Economics Harvard grad turned James Beard Outstanding Baker Award recipient and owner of bakeries all around Boston. Maybe I will be a Biochemistry & Pharmacology Concordia & UdeM grad turned full time food blogger?! Ya never know!
Of course the next day (our only full day in Boston) we started it off eating breakfast at Flour and I had to take one of their famous sticky buns to go as a snack for later on in the day. All round deliciousness started of my day, and if I were to live in Boston my wallet would be opened every morning for a coffee and breakfast something at Flour.
Boston Common, Freedom Trail & Quincy Market
After breakfast we started on our walking tour of the city, starting point: Boston Common.
The park is beautiful to walk through, day camps were there soaking in the sun and kids were running around. The park’s public garden was great to walk through and I think it would make a great little walk in the evening on a date.
After taking a break in the shade because of the heat and humidity (it was really really bad!), we decided that we would start the Freedom Trail there at the State House and followed it seeing:
Granary Burying Ground: It was amazing to see tombs and learn about the people buried at this site, many of which played a large and important roles in the American Revolution. There was a man standing outside the gates of the cemetery handing out homemade duo-tangs filled with a grave map of the grounds and little biographies and history about the people buried there. He does this for free, and really helped us, two canadians, appreciate the importance of this stop on the Trail. Of course we were more than happy to slip a donation into the little pocket in the book, it was much appreciated and let us roam the tombs without a tour guide and at our own pace.
Additionally, it was here that I realized that I don’t know much about the American Revolution beyond the fact that the French helped the Americans. As a Canadian living in Quebec my high school history covered predominantly Quebecois history – maybe it’s not the best way, but I now want to find a tv series to watch to learn a little more (even if it will be fictionalized).
As a side note, we also switched drinking Miller Lite (the beer of choice while camping) for some Samuel Adams Summer Brew!
After the burying grounds, we saw the first public school, the site of the Boston Massacre, the Old City Hall, a statue of Benjamin Franklin, whose parents are buried at Granary, and the Old State House.
By this time we were dying of heat, and decided that once we were at Faneuil Hall we’d go inside for some air conditioned humidity relief.
There we talked with a very nice women who explained the rest of the Trail and suggested taking a boat tour to some of the islands or go whale watching. After finding out more information, we decided that these boat trips may take a little too much of our time seeing that we were leaving the next day and wanted to see more of the city – we are serial walkers and love to explore cities on foot!
Next up was Quincy Market! We walked through thinking that we may grab a bite to eat there, however we were both still a little stuffed from breakfast and decided to get a water and lemonade from a street vendor while we took a break in the shade.
After Quincy, we left the Trail and headed to the harbor – again playing with the idea of a boat tour, but we ended up going to the New England Aquarium, which had an exhibition on sharks… because we had just been watching Shark Week on Discovery before our trip and I guess we wanted more!
New England Aquarium
Penguins, sharks, seals OH MY!
I was like a kid at the aquarium, loosing my boyfriend often because I was staring at a tank or was too eager to look at the next one. I definitely have decided that Penguins are my spirit animal, they are just too funny to watch waddle around and kind of remind me of my clumsiness!
Also, the expression on that seal was just priceless!
Of course more penguins, a beautiful sea horse photographed by my boyfriend… I’m starting to realize that my camera has it’s limitations, and NEMO! ALSO, I got to touch a stingray!
What was great about the Aquarium was its effort to teach, we watched the tank demonstration learning about coral and the environment, and watched divers do maintenance in the tank reminding me of my younger self who wanted to become a Marine Biologist.
The Barking Crab
After the aquarium we walked the harbour looking for food and we came across The Barking Crab. It had been suggested to us by our concierge and a friend of a friend – we are so pleased we went. The atmosphere was so cool and even though we were outside in the heat a cold beer was just the thing we needed.
Even if you’re not a big seafood eater, I fall into this camp, The Barking Crab is still a must do in Boston in my opinion. It’s not a chain, and the food was really good. My boyfriend and I shared Oysters and then I had the Fish Tacos and he the Crab Roll.
Obviously you can get lobster and crab by the pound, but a pound seemed to much for my boyfriend to each alone since I would probably only eat a bite or two. I’ve never really had fresh crab and I thought that a pound would be too much for a first try!
After stuffing our faces and attempting to leave a little room – it was two in the afternoon by the time we ate, I had a sticky bun to eat back at the hotel and we wanted an earlier dinner since we needed to drive back home the next day.
Obviously we didn’t leave room, and once we got back to the hotel we decided we had done enough walking for the day and decided to rest a bit before dinner. Luckily our hotel had a pool and rooftop terrace, so we decided to go for a dip and soak up the late afternoon sun before dinner.
Union Oyster House & Neptune Oyster
Again on the suggestion of a friend of a friend, we wanted to go to Neptune Oyster for dinner. And after an interesting very talkative Uber ride over to Neptune, we found out that we had made a big mistake: we didn’t listen to the friend’s advice to go to Neptune after lunch to put our names down for dinner and thus we had a one to two hour wait on our hands before potentially getting seated.
So, we put our names down and started to walk around. If our hunger got to us before a phone call, we would just eat elsewhere. During this walk we found Union Oyster House, the oldest restaurant in America.
To put into context how we decided to stop in for an appetizer at Union specifically:
When leaving the hotel we decided to ask one concierge where else to go for oysters and dinner in the North End in the possibility of not be able to get in at Neptune Oyster, one suggested Union Oyster House. However, another concierge (might I add that he was ultra stylish and hip) said that if we wanted Neptune quality food and a more authentic meal that wasn’t chain restaurant like we should try to get in at the Daily Catch. In his opinion Union has become a tourist trap and the food quality was akin to mid-end chains.
With this advice in mind we said we would just get oysters at Union (once we had spotted it) as we waited for our table at Neptune, getting both the tourist/historic side and a good quality foodie meal.
The concierge was right, I liked the ambiance at Union for it’s historic value. I had a good moscow mule, however the oysters we shared left little pieces of shell in my mouth and the soups we ordered seem to be more of a mass produced diner quality than homemade authentic goodness.
Nonetheless we enjoyed our little appetizer there and headed back to Neptune an hour and a half later without receiving a phone call.
Maybe the hostess at Neptune Oyster has having an off night, but behind her fake nice tone I found she to be considerably rude to patrons trying to get into the restaurant. I understand it’s a popular place for locals and foodie tourists, but ignoring and pushing people out the door who want an update on how much longer their wait will be is inappropriate and honestly made me want to leave despite all the good amazing reviews I read about their food.
We stuck it out, and although the servers didn’t deserve a great tip the back of house definitely did. My boyfriend and I decided to get a variety of different oysters to taste, ranging from location, salt content, flavour, etc. I also made him try littlenecks (raw clams) and he had a raw crab claw.
OH MY WAS IT GOOD.
We discovered that we like high salt content oysters, one of our favourites was the Wellfleet from Wellfleet, MA. And we also were in awe of Kusshi oysters from Deep Bay, BC that had a cucumber finish.
In addition to our raw bar choices we also has their special of the day crudo: Sea Bass with Sour Cherries and Candied Pecans – ALL THE YUM!
In all, despite being off put by the hostess/server, the meal was delicious and I would recommend eating there to anyone visiting Boston. Of course, I would suggest putting your name down WAY earlier than we had in order to avoid eating at close (9:30pm) or a rude hostess.
After Neptune, we headed to Cheers, the iconic bar of the show Cheers (although it is before my time). Unfortunately the bar scene area was closed, but we stayed for a beer and enjoyed the goings on around us – although we had already ate, the nachos were definitely catching my eye.
After Cheers we walked through Boston Common (again) to get back to our hotel, said a big thank you to the hip concierge for telling us Neptune was a good choice and asked him one last favour: the location of the nearest pizza by the slice joint.
After pizza we got to bed, and left the next morning for home – stopping again in New Hampshire for wine. I bought a bottle of wine called Fish House to put beside my bottle of Mountain Merlot, to remind us of our five day White Mountain Camping and Boston trip.
I promise, back to recipe posts next week!