Wednesday, April 28, 2010

City Finds

We're in the city this week, doing a bit of house-sitting and pouring on the house-hunt.  I'm visiting parts of Boston I've never seen before, and finding incredible new things to love around every corner.  When I lived in Boston before, I mainly stuck to a well-worn path between the South End and Somerville, and while I have old favorites there I can't wait to revisit, I am loving discovering the far reaches of town and the gems that exist there.  Some of my favorite new Boston finds:
Sofra Bakery and Cafe, Cambridge
This bakery is the side project of the chefs/owners of the shwanky Boston restaurant Oleana, and it is amazing.  The food is "inspired by the cuisine of Turkey, Lebanon and Greece".  Friends have raved about this place, particularly their breakfast, which looked gorgeous.  I was heart-broken that we only had time for a quick coffee stop there on the way to see an apartment, but the mocha I got was life changing.  Thick, rich, tangy and chocolate-y, and with enough caffeine to wake the dead (just how I like it).  The display of pastries was tantalizing, with really unique things like orange blossom morning buns and lebanese croissant with za’atar.  The breakfasts that were coming out, served in hammered copper bowls, looked ridiculously good.  Plus, they have an elaborate hummus/mezze bar with all kinds of interesting salads and olives and nibbles.  When we finally settle in down here, I can't wait to buy up a mess of mezze and host a killer tapas party.  We'll be back for breakfast ASAP as well.

City Feed and Supply, Jamaica Plain
painting by Kristine Cortese
On Jamaica Plain's hipster main drag, Centre Street, City Feed is a fantastic natural food store/deli/cafe.  They have all kinds of local and artisanal food products, a great coffee bar, a cozy section of tables where you can enjoy your grub, and a delish sandwich menu.  We've been stopping here for to-go sandwiches to fuel us through afternoons of apartment showings.  My favorite is the Eight Fold Path (to my stomach): locally made firm tofu, hoisin sauce, fresh cilantro, fresh mint, match stick carrots, cucumber, and crushed peanuts on an Iggy’s baguette.  Yum.  You probably wouldn't want to do a whole grocery shop here ($$$$), but it is the perfect place to pick up a few special ingredients for dinner or a great cheese or wine to bring to a friend's house.  There is also a whole bath and body section in which I could do some serious, serious damage.  Danger.  Step away from the organic body wash, SMJ.

Roslindale is an up and coming little 'hood adjacent to Jamaica Plain, and Fornax is its Crown Jewel.   They bake a wide variety of delicious breads, and have a simple and gorgeous lunch menu featuring grilled sandwiches and beautiful salads.  We brought some of their homemade Hostess cupcakes to friends and they were thoroughly demolished.  I plan to return ASAP for their breakfast sandwich: banana, almonds and Nutella on boule with apple slices.  Ridiculous.
The Arboretum is the oldest in North America, and part of the "Emerald Necklace", a 7-mile long network of parks around on Boston.  I never visited this park when we lived here before... I actually didn't even know it was there!  But it is such a gem, and I am so happy to know of it this time around, especially since we have the baby and the dog now.  There are tons of trails to walk and gardens to explore within the Arboretum, and they're famous for their lilac gardens.  I can't wait to spend Sunday mornings strolling through here with our pup!
Jamaica Pond is another place I never knew existed in my previous life in Boston (I could tell you all about the bars downtown, though... ha!  How times have changed).  Jamaica Pond Park is another stretch of green space that makes you forget you are pretty much in the heart of one of America's major cities.  We'll definitely be grabbing City Feed sandwiches and picnicking here regularly, and they also rent rowboats and sailboats and give sailing lessons from the boathouse; when Baby J is a tad more seaworthy, I think that sounds like a perfect way to spend a Saturday.

I told you we were searching far and wide!  Finding these hidden treasures in the city is a good reward for all the miles we're covering.  Please excuse my sporadic posting as I wrestle the real estate demon.  I know what you're thinking... it is a major city, how hard is it to find a 2-bedroom apartment, SMJ?  Well, peeps, all the amazing history here means many buildings are old, old, old which means they have lead paint, which means not-so-much with a babe.  And the ones that have been deleaded are often gut renovations, not so keen on renting to people with a dog (as charming and handsome as he may be).  So, the hunt continues.  I know our home is out there waiting for us and we are going to cross paths with it soon.  I'll let you know when that happens!  In the meantime, my adventures around town will surely yield more fun finds, so stay tuned!

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