Well... As mentioned below, we did go into Boston on Friday. We snaffled some free breakfast at our motel (fruit salad, and biscuits with honey for me), then went in and did the very touristy Faneuil Hall, where the big find for all of us (even Cathy) was Newbury Comics. Otherwise, the place reminded me of the first time I went there, 20 years ago: why the hell was it that I wanted to come here, again?
On the other hand, our lunch at the Black Rose cleared up my memory. We'd been to the Black Rose several times when we were younger (Cathy quite a few more than that), and in my memory it had morphed into a 'plastic paddy' joint. I'm glad we went back, because it was enjoyable and sure as hell looked 'authentic' (whatever that means in an "Irish pub" in Boston) Friday at lunch. Lunch was good, too, and the Guinness was as fresh as ever I remember.
We did a bit more Faneuil Hall (well, they did, anyway: I sat and read the book I'd bought at Newbury, a relaxed moment in the midst of shopping frenzy), then headed over to Boston University for Thomas's 3 PM tour. It was a good tour, with an energetic and engaged young guide (a rising sophomore, studying advertising and psychology, a scary combination of majors), and the weather held, a darkening sky and a rising breeze that stayed rainless. The tour was over, though, and we were done with college tours. Time for a little fun.
We drove over to Cambridge, and parked the car. Nora and I hung out in a Starbuck's, reading, while Cathy and Thomas took the T to Harvard Yard and hung out with the Crimson crowd. Nora and I were biding our time till the Green Street Grill opened at 5:30, when we were going to meet my friend and fellow writer Lauren "DrinkBoston" Clark there. (Do yourself a favor: if you've never read DrinkBoston, go there now and read a bit. Bet you can't read just one page; Lauren's writing is smart and informative, personal, and fun without being smart-assed.)
While we waited for Lauren, I had the chance to have my first Pretty Things beer, Jack D'Or. It's very nice: sweet, but edgy, and quite approachable, a saison that's not trying too hard to be 'Belgian' and 'complex.' I'd have had another, but Lauren walked in, we had introductions (Lauren's that treasured adult who treats your teenagers just like they want to be treated: like people), and we got down to cocktail business. I got a rye Manhattan (Old Overholt, up, with a twist) that made me sigh, thinking about how fumble-fingered I am at making cocktails. Lauren wanted something with the Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy, and got a Diamondback. Interesting drink, have to have it again sometime.
We chatted, got caught up, and, perhaps inevitably, I had another drink (inevitable because the Manhattan had been so good!). What do you have with Irish whiskey besides a hot whiskey, I asked the cocktail queen. She apologized for geeking out, and grabbed her iPhone: she has a cocktail app! We decided on a Brainstorm: 2 oz. of Irish whiskey, and 2 dashes each of dry vermouth and Benedictine, which was then stirred (a long time), strained, and garnished with orange peel. The orange peel ruled the opener -- fresh, sweet, tingly -- but the drink itself was not dominated by anything: the whiskey (Powers) was mellow enough to stay in check, while the herbal dry/sweet of the two adds blended nicely (thanks to the prolonged stirring). A very civilized drink.
Time to go! Nora and I got the car, picked up the other two on Mass Ave, and whirled away to Cambridge Brewing Company for dinner. I'd been to CBC years ago, maybe 1993? But Will Meyers' beers kept getting such rave reviews (and our conversations in the course of a few phone interviews over the years have been so interesting) that I wanted to stop in, and it was Cathy's pick for dinner (Nora and I were talking about Redbones for barbecue). I got a Berliner Kendall (fun name, good sour, and a bit of funk; maybe some proper brett? I would have drunk more of it, but for the interest of variety) and Cathy got a pale ale (good, solid, clean).
Dinner: We split a Local Pick Plate: a wooden platter of locally-made/grown foods that was all so good we did everything but lick it clean. I had a grilled Italian sausage pizza that was excellent; the sausage was quite good, very stand-out in flavor, and the crust was crunchy-crisp. (Nora got the Warm Italian Sub, and I could have enjoyed that, too: what a rich, wet mess of a sandwich!) I had a Charles River Porter with the pizza: big, solid, a touch of chocolate.
We were done. We left, back to our motel room, and called it a week. Though we did have an interesting and delicious breakfast at the Boulevard Diner in Worcester Saturday morning (Italian breakfast: a big link of grilled Italian sausage, sitting on top of two fried eggs and crusty brown homefries, all smothered in a rich, long-simmered red sauce with plentiful toasted bread), and some pretty damned good barbecue (brisket and pulled pork, and some "Texas chili") at a new place in Sharon, CT for dinner/lunch. But that was just sustenance on the way home...