A Day Trip to Portland, Maine

This weekend Teddy and I took a day trip up to Portland, Maine! The weather was perfect, and we spent a lovely day together exploring good food and beautiful scenery.
The last time we went to Portland was in February, and we ended up getting stuck in a huge snow storm on the way home. It was so bad that we ended up finding a hotel right off the highway and crashing there for the evening. This time was much less dramatic – and we made it home on the same day!
Portland is about a 2 hour drive from Cambridge, and this time of year the scenery is absolutely beautiful so the drive really flew by.
Our first stop of the day was at Stonewall Kitchen, a wonderful specialty food store. The headquarters is just off the highway, and there are tons of samples! We had a blast tasting all sorts of lovely jams, spreads, mustards, salsas, and chocolate treats. I couldn’t believe how many there were to try!
Stonewall Kitchen
We walked away with a few treats and full bellies to fuel our way to Portland.
Our next stop, and perhaps the most scenic, was Portland Head Light. This is one of the most distinctive image of Maine – it’s on postcards all over the state.
Portland Head Light House

 

We took a lovely walk around Fort Williams Park where the lighthouse is located, and learned a lot about the history of the area. George Washington actually commissioned the lighthouse when he was president! For a time the area was an active millitary base, and played a significant role in protecting the harbor. It used to be a small community, but today it is a public park. The weather was stunning, so we spent a lot of time wandering the area and appreciating the incredible ocean view. Nice to smell some salt air!
Our next stop was Maine Mead Works, which is located right in downtown Portland. We did a tasting which included some really interesting meads. We have a strong interest in sampling as many meads as possible right now – we’re making our own, so we’d like to compare. These reminded us much more of wine – they were quite dry, and had interesting fruity notes. It was fun to chat with other folks at the sampling counter, and the fact that we are making our own right now was quite the conversation-starter. We ended up getting a few bottles to enjoy later. It was a great stop!
We headed back down to the harbor, picked up a light lunch at a small cafe, and jumped onto a boat for our next activity – the Mailboat Run in Portland Harbor.  This boat route is the oldest operating one of its kind, and we headed to quite a few islands around the harbor to drop off mail. Obviously we weren’t very involved in the mail dropping, but it’s such a wonderful way to see the islands, and learn a bit more about the history of the area. I’d highly reccommend this tour, particuarlly when the weather is nice!
After the boat ride we were both quite hungry, so we settled into a nice meal on the boardwalk. I enjoyed some broccoli chedder soup since we were chilly from the boat ride. The evening was beautiful, and it was a very relaxing meal.
Finally, our last stop of the day was up in Freeport – L.L. Bean! The flagship store is located about 20 minutes north of Portland, so we headed up to do a bit of shopping. Unbeknowest to us there was a massive pumpkin-fest going on! We saw hundreds of illuminated pumpkins, and it was very cool. What a pleasant surprise!
L.L. Bean flagship store
Both Teddy and I got some outdoor gear – a new day pack, some first aid supplies, and the like – before getting back on the road.
All in all, we had a wonderful day, and are looking forward to our next trip to Portland! It’s great how easy it is to get up to Maine, and when we don’t get stuck in massive storms, it’s very doable for a day trip. I think next time we’ll stay the night – there is always so much more to see!

Paint Nite

Teddy and I had the pleasure of attending Paint Night at a local bar in Cambridge! We made this lovely picture, and I think mine turned out quite nicely 🙂

Paint Nite

The set-up for the event was wonderful – there were small easels waiting for us when we arrived, along with brushes, paint trays, and aprons. The final picture was set up for us to take a look at, and we were ready to go!

Our instructor, Suriah, was really great – she showed us one step at a time, and we had plenty of time to complete it on our own. She encouraged us to take creative liberties, and also really discouraged any sort of critical thoughts about our work. I really appreciated that! This was intended to be fun, not a competition. She also was really great about explaining the reasoning behind decisions that were made. For example – why the mountains should be shaped in a certain way, or why we blend colors in different orders. It was nice to learn about the techniques we were using.

I’ve never been much of a painter, but I found this entire experience really relaxing, and so much fun. It was great to come home with something – I even hung it on the wall when I got home. Teddy and I had a blast exploring our creative sides – both of us would absolutely do it again. Thanks, Paint Nite, for a great evening!

Restaurant Review: Oleana

Teddy and I had the pleasure of dining at Oleana, an Eastern Mediterranean restaurant in the Inman square area of Cambridge. The incredibly inventive food and the warm, romantic atmosphere combined to make one of the most enjoyable dining experiences I’ve had in recent memory.

Oleana Restaurant

We opted to enjoy 5 meze dishes, which were smaller but allowed us to try quite a variety. We enjoyed olives, whipped feta and peppers, spinach falafel, fried mussels, and kohlrabi pancakes, all served with excellent olive oil and bread. The meal was incredible – each dish was flavorful, unique and surprising. The flavors were bold but warm and comforting. Each new dish that arrived was exciting and unlike any other Mediterranean food that I’ve enjoyed in the past.

The atmosphere in the restaurant really contributed to our enjoyment of the evening. Live music, beautiful Turkish decor and warm lighting made this the perfect place for a special night out.

Oleana

If you have the opportunity for a special, creative and absolutely delicious meal, I can’t reccomend Oleana enough. We will certainly be back!

A quiet weekend

This weekend wasn’t very glamorous, but sometimes that just needs to happen!

On Friday evening my parents drove into the city and we headed to Harvard for the annual Harvard-McGill Hockey game!

McGill vs. Harvard Hockey on October 23, 2009

McGill and Harvard used to be in the same (Ivy) league, but since then McGill has had to stick to the Canada-only leagues. I earned my undergraduate degree at McGill, so was pleased to attend my very first alumni event!

The game was a shut-out, and McGill really wasn’t playing super well. Harvard certainly earned their 3-0 victory. Even though I didn’t get to brag about McGill, it was still a blast! I met several other alumni in the area, and had fun relaxing at the rink with my parents. I headed back to my hometown with them after, and had an early night.

The rest of my weekend was rather quiet – my parents are doing quite a bit of work on the house, so I spent a lot of time moving furniture, sifting through childhood things, and helping them get the chaos under control. I know they really appreciated the help, so it was time well spent.

I also had the pleasure of accompanying two choirs at their church on Sunday morning. It was a wonderful opportunity to play both flute and recorder again, and the community is such a receptive audience! It made me miss playing all the more. I must find a good musical outlet in Cambridge! Let me know if you have any suggestions – the more baroque, the better!

Did you do anything fun this weekend?

Handel and Haydn Society: Brilliance

As I mentioned earlier this week, last Friday I had the opportunity to see a fantastic performance by the Handel and Haydn Society Baroque Fireworks. My parents and I headed to Symphony Hall, around 7pm to get settled. We generally go for seats on the floor since there really isn’t a bad seat in the house.

Each time I walk into Symphony Hall I’m reminded of how beautiful it is – never fails to impress. This time was no different, and there was a buzz in the air for the special event of the evening. (Side note – the last time I was in a concert hall this beautiful was in Vienna! Can you tell I’m a classical music junkie?)
Source: https://i0.wp.com/webbtrans.com/wp-content/uploads/boston-symphony-hall.jpg
Symphony Hall
The Handel and Haydn Society is the oldest continuously performing arts organization in the United States. The orchestra and chorus focuses on historically informed performance (HIP) – something very close to my heart! They primarily focus on music from the Baroque and early Classical eras. This season marks their 200th, and to commemorate that incredible achievement, they kicked off a wonderful program. It included not one, but two coronation anthems (both by Handel), a Bach choral piece, Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks, Vivaldi’s Summer from the Four Seasons, and ended with experts from Handel’s Messiah. PHEW. Even just reading that I’m exhausted!

I can’t imagine a more fitting title for this program. Piece after piece was stunning and bombastic, in the best way possible. The solo violinist for the Vivaldi piece received a standing ovation for an absolutely awe-inspiring performance, and the choral works were just overwhelmingly beautiful. The ensembles played seamlessly together, and lines flowed like just one instrument was playing. This is how Baroque music is intended to be experienced. I can’t imagine a better way to kick off the 200th season!
Plus, the commemorative cupcakes at intermission didn’t hurt.
If you ever get the chance, I’d highly recommend a performance by the Handel and Haydn society. They are an integral part of the Boston music scene, and are consistently putting together innovative, interesting programs. Well-worth a visit!

Hiking Mount Layfayette

Teddy and I had a bonus extra day off from work this Monday – Happy Columbus Day! Also, Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian friends out there!
We decided to use this bonus day to head up to the White Mountains to do a bit of hiking! The drive from Boston is about 2.5 hours. We left a bit later than initially anticipating – I had to say goodbye to Salka! So sad.
When we reached the trailhead we took a quick look at the map, and started heading up! The foliage was absolutely at it’s peak – every vantage point was incredible! We were continually awe-struck by the amazing views. It looked like all of the trees were on fire – such amazing colors.
  2014-10-13 11.44.01
Though we started out thinking we would do a ridge traverse after we made it to the summit, the fog rolling in above the tree line, along with the wanning sunlight, convinced us otherwise. We spent a while at the top of Mount Layfayette before deciding to head back the way we came. Not the easiest decision, but by the end of the hike we were very glad that we had made it! Once we were below the fog the hike was much more pleasant and the views were just stunning. We had to stop just to take in the massive expanse!
 2014-10-13 15.33.34
By the time we reached the bottom of the trail we had covered nearly 10 miles, and my fitbit said we logged more than 330 flights of stairs. Not too shabby! This was an excellent hike, and both Teddy and I agreed that we would return to Franconia’s Notch in the future for more excellent hiking. Especially in the fall – the views are just stunning!
Done any good hiking lately?

An Oktoberfest-themed weekend

This weekend has been just excellent! Let’s back up to Friday…

Friday

My good friend Salka was in town for Honk!, a music festival in Sommerville. She lives in Burlington, VT, so we don’t get to see each other too much these days. On Friday evening her bus arrived, and I picked her up at South Station! She was busy for most of the weekend with festival activities, but we had a chance to quickly catch up over a fast meal. Then I was off to an awesome concert with my parents while she headed to the Institute of Contemporary Art. That’s been on my list for a while to check out, so I’m glad she had such a great experience there.

We met back up in Harvard Square a bit later, and stayed up entirely too late drinking tea and catching up. It was just so so great to see her!

Saturday

On Saturday morning Salka and I headed to my local favorite breakfast place, Darwin’s Ltd. I’m always a fan of their fantastic breakfast sandwiches, and this time was no exception. I always love the atmosphere – I should go back in the evening to get some work done sometime!

I said goodbye to Salka for a bit, and headed home. Teddy and I had a cooking extravaganza! We made lovely apple crisp, some chickpea dahl for dinner, and the coup de grace – chocolate covered orange peals!

The peals were an adventure, and they took quite a bit of time, but ended up being well worth it. YUM! We roughly followed this recipe, but put our own spin on it. For one thing, it’s so much darn work, so we made a massive batch! We also ended up essentially dumping the chocolate on top of the peels, rather than dipping them. Since we didn’t candy the peals a lot, they were quite soft. We were concerned that they would break down during the dipping process. Instead we ended up with a chocolate bar with orange peals. It tastes awesome, but isn’t quite as beautiful as the way the professionals do it!

We ended our day by heading over to a co-woker’s Oktoberfest! party. It was a great time – they made some home brew which we got a chance to sample, and they really committed to the theme! It was fun to meet some new people and spend some time with work friends in a more relaxing environment.

Sunday

I continued my Sunday morning of going for a run and doing a few errands before meeting up with Teddy in Harvard Square. We went to another Oktoberfest party – this time in Harvard Square! This was a massive event – a huge number of craft vendors, food samples, live music, and of course, beer. The Honk! parade ended right in the middle of the square, so we spent some time wandering around before watching the parade. We ended up finding a great place to stand, and saw the entire parade, including Salka! Always fun to watch her play. Both Teddy and I were so impressed with the creativity and passion put into the event. It was so fun!

After the parade we stopped by one of the vendors to get some Indian food. By this point we were both feeling a bit overwhelmed by the crowds (I’ve never seen Harvard Square so busy!) so we headed back to my house to eat it. We had a relaxing afternoon full of watching a new show, knitting, and more cooking.

Later in the evening we met up with Salka and made a lovely dinner while watching Friends – a Salka and Mary tradition. Glad we don’t let other weekend activities get in the way of it 🙂 We all went to bed very tired and very happy.

Did you do anything exciting this weekend? Any Oktoberfest themed events?