I really do love Boston.
Have you ever noticed that when you've lived in a place for a while, you start to forget about all the charms that it has to offer? Maybe you don't necessarily forget, but maybe you start to take for granted things that visitors travel thousands of miles everyday to see. I think that was happening to me. Four years I've been living in this wonderful city, and maybe for the first time in a while, I took the time to really get to know it. And while I know how to get anywhere from anywhere and back, knowing your way around doesn't always equate to knowing the city that you belong to. (Or that kind of belongs to you. I guess it depends on who you're asking.)
Recently, a friend from many moves ago, one I never thought I would ever see again, moved to Boston. Because I've moved around so much, and left places that I can't really see myself visiting again unless it's for a very specific occasion, I always jump at the opportunity to meet up with people that I once knew, on new turf. Big cities are always common ground, aren't they? They see so many people come and go all the time, that they just remain neutral. It's not really like being in a small town where everyone knows everyone, and can detect visitors. In Boston everyone belongs. But anyway, back to the story. While he's been here for a few months, he's been pretty busy getting settled into a new living space, and a new job. As you can imagine, that hasn't really left much time for exploration apart from immediate surroundings. And as soon as I heard that he hadn't had a proper introduction to the city, I immediately volunteered. (It should be noted that as soon as he agreed, I started making a list in my head of all my favorite parts of the city, all the quirky things I've never seen myself, and, of course, what snacks to make and bring along the way! Really, who would I be if I didn't mention food at least once?)
I settled on these:
Dark chocolate and oatmeal cookies with sea salt sprinkled on top. They were a hit Saturday, and they're a hit in my house still, today. (I've had three already. I must be stopped.)
ALSO, hi, we're going to take a short detour from the story to talk about my new best friend, Silpat. I have read enough food blogs, and cookbooks, to know all there is to know about these MAGICAL (only word that fits, guys. I'm not even being dramatic. Well, yeah, I am. But it's totally warranted.) baking mats. Gone are the days that I spray baking Pam on my cookie sheets, gone are the days of struggling to tear just enough parchment paper and completely failing, thus having to tear off some of it to make it fit, but then tearing off too much because I can't win, and gone are the days of awkward cookie sheet cleanup where in the process of rinsing the sheet off with the faucet hose, I end up drenching the entire counter behind it. Silpats are flexible, easy to use, and I have never seen more evenly cooked cookies in all my year(s) (I only got good a year ago, but HAVE been attempting to become a baker for years) of baking. Seriously, they were beautiful, and all I had to do was rinse off the mat when I was finished. They're expensive, but TRUST ME, Silpats are 100% well-worth the money.
P.S. Recipe coming soon for these bad boys. If you love extra oats, and LOTS of dark chocolate, you will love these cookies as much as I do.
ANYWAY, BACK TO BOSTON EXPLORATION.
If you are going to travel to Boston, there are at least two books that you need on hand to give yourself the proper, self-guided tour. Number one, of course, is a Michelin:
These books are traditional, and they're important. Michelin is a name you can trust for just about any tour book you purchase. You get recommendations for anything from restaurant recommendations, to the best hotels, to shopping centers, etc. etc. You always get a very through and detailed explanation of major monuments and landmarks in the city. Very important to have on have.
But then, if you're like me, you want a book that isn't like all the other boring tour books. You want something different and unique. You want:
This book is seriously perfect. It's hilarious, it's informative, and most importantly, the authors aren't afraid to reveal some of the not-so-proper parts of Boston. I love it. When I saw it on the shelf, I knew I had to get it.
So I spent my Saturday with excellent company, going down side streets, visiting monuments I've been to dozens of times, but have only stopped to notice maybe once or twice, dodging the on again/off again rain, and reading from my guidebooks that have been throughly bookmarked and dog-eared. I also spent it eating one of the best sandwiches ever, and a cannoli from The North End. You never really realize what a great place you live in, until you see it with someone wearing a fresh pair of eyes.
I managed to snap a few pictures along the way:
So this weekend, I encourage you to pack your favorite snacks, pack your camera, pack your maps and guide books, grab a friend or significant other, wear comfortable shoes, and really take the time to see what makes your city so great. You won't regret it, I promise. Go ahead, be a tourist for the day.