For those unfamiliar with San Francisco and its many oddities, summer doesn’t really start in June — nor does it really start in July. As not-Mark-Twain so sagely put it, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” A year ago, I remember arriving as a total newcomer to the paradox of San Francisco weather and bundling up in tights and jackets in mornings that were characterized by the soul-sucking mist known as San Francisco fog, shedding the layers once the temperature peaked in the mid-60s by the middle of the day, only to throw them back on by the evening (aka a mist-filled hell). In SF, “summer” (at least summer in the traditional sense) doesn’t actually begin until mid-August, which is a total bummer for those (hello, self!) who are used to unadulteratedly sunny, breezy weather. And for somebody who adheres to the textbook definition of summer, the prospect of having to wait yet another two months for decent weather was a grim one.
Fortunately, I didn’t actually have to wait very long, as I was in Boston and Providence for the first week of June: the former to visit my parents (who happened to be on the East Coast), and the latter for work, where I was manning the booth at Google’s Get Your Business Online. Despite the fact that I hadn’t been to either of the two cities in a while — other than random visits to my Harvard friends, my time in Boston is largely defined by the summer after my junior year in high school when I had interned there, and I had last been to Providence seven years ago, when I had briefly considered applying to Brown for college (oh, the days of college visits — how young I was then!) — I mostly skipped out on the standard touristy fare and instead worked at the Google Cambridge office and … ate a lot. As terribly fascinating as working and eating sounds, I’ll spare you the details and convince all of you that I lead an exciting life by providing you with visuals of the contents of my stomach, before they ended up in my stomach. Cool? Cool!
On my second day in Boston, Annie and I went to Mistral, a French bistro in the Back Bay, where I ordered a roasted duck with wild mushroom risotto and Annie ordered the grilled salmon.
Later that week, George and I went to Mr. Bartley’s Burger Cottage, an establishment near Harvard that serves some mighty delicious burgers (surprise) with creative names. Case in point: my burger, which included Boursin cheese and bacon and a side of sweet potato fries, was aptly named the “Mark Zuckerberg”, due to its super-richness.
The above two photos, however, do not qualify under “Things That Inevitably Ended up in Cindy’s Stomach”, but we could all use a nice, cliched beachfront photo or two, right? Anyway, this here is Winthrop Beach, a stone’s throw away from the place my parents were staying and a nice place to walk about.
Nearby is a local ice cream place called Twist & Shake, which I highly recommend after a long day at the beach.
My coffee Oreo ice cream and my mom’s butter pecan ice cream
During the weekend, my parents and I went to Boston proper, where I insisted on taking them to Mike & Patty’s, which is everything a neighborhood sandwich shop should be. The place barely seats six people, but you can instantly tell that it’s one of those really good places based on the number of people sitting outside the steps, waiting for their breakfast sandwich. Yes, it’s a bit secluded in the Bay Village, you have to get there before it closes at 3pm, you will probably end up eating on the steps of a random building, you might have to wait at least fifteen minutes, but I promise you, those minor inconveniences don’t even begin to counter the deliciousness of the sandwich. Plus, this place, from the food to the owners to the phone number (617-423-EGGS), is just downright charming.
My dad got the avocado toast: sea salt, olive oil, arugula/radicchio/lettuce, tomato, avocado, and onion sandwiched beneath two slices of multigrain.
My mom’s turkey avocado sandwich with cheddar, red onion, and mayo.
This beauty above is my order, the North South classic: egg, collard greens, peameal bacon, and cheese on an English muffin. At $5, the price was way too good to be true. Sandwiches that good don’t come that cheap in New York, that’s for sure.
Our bellies still full from the eggy sandwichy goodness, we hopped across the Charles River to Cambridge for our final destination: Toscanini’s. Toscanini’s happens to be a bit of a rockstar in the ice cream world; it’s a mainstay on the Best Ice Cream lists of publications and food blogs, up there with Humphry Slocombe (which I highly recommend), Big Gay Ice Cream Truck, Bi-Rite, etc.
And for good reason! The ice cream packs a punch — the burnt caramel (which I didn’t take a photo of, lest you wanted to see a melted puddle of brown in a cup) has a sharp aftertaste that offsets the smoothness you’d expect from regular caramel. For those who aren’t so fond of bitter ice cream flavors, I highly recommend the ginger snap molasses (below), which has crumbs of ginger snap cookies that melt in your mouth and a rich, velvety texture thanks to the molasses.
Later that afternoon, we drove over to Providence, where I was staying for work:
For those who use Google Maps, that pin may look mighty familiar. And no, it’s not shopped. 😉 The convention itself was fun, and I did a lot of talking, which is to be expected when you’re helping people set up websites and such!
Later that night, we headed to Local 121, a restaurant in downtown Providence that specializes in dishes made from locally harvested food — as if the name wasn’t a dead giveaway!
To start, we split an appetizer: a fresh English pea crostini!
My entree was a dish of pan-roasted, vanille-scented Bomster scallops that I will forever dream about, because I basically just love scallops.
The next morning, I went to Pastiche, a dessert cafe recommended by Annie, and decided to treat myself with a brownie for the flight back to San Francisco.
Unfortunately, the food in the airport was not as memorable, but eh, at least I got to catch a bit of the Euro Cup, so I’ll take what I can get.
*It’s actually hilarious, because despite the fact that I definitely have the credentials to become a California resident, I am legally and technically still a New York resident. To get me to forfeit my NY license and retake a written test (WHY, CALIFORNIA, WHY) requires some well-executed coercion, because let’s face it, keeping that driver’s license is my valiant last-ditch attempt to cling to my four years as a New Yorker.