Friday, September 30, 2011

Vacation and Eating Our Way Through Boston - Part 1

We've been planning and looking forward to this trip since earlier this year, and then all of a sudden in the blink of an eye it's over. Last week we spent 5 days in Boston to celebrate our 30th anniversary... my hubby likes to joke that he adds 10 years for "wind chill", but yep - we've been married 30 years. I was hoping to talk him into going to Hawaii, but he's not a fan of long flights so he put the smackdown on that pretty quick. I loved Boston when I was there about 8 years ago, and he loves history, so it seemed like a pretty good compromise - and we had a great time. He's already talking about going back. Our actual anniversary is October 9, which would have been perfect for the fall foliage bus trip I booked for us, but he really wanted to plan the trip around a Red Sox game, so we looked at their schedule and planned accordingly. Half of the planning went into all of the different restaurants we wanted to try, so I guess you could say one of the best things about vacation is eating - so this will be about a few of the places we visited while we were there.

We wanted to get as much as possible out of the first day of our trip, so we boarded a plane in Omaha at 6:45 a.m. and arrived in Boston around 1:30 p.m. We had a very brief layover at Ronald Reagan National in D.C., but it was great because we were able to catch a glimpse of the Washington Monument and the dome of the Capitol, and then we flew right over the Pentagon. I've never been to D.C., so I was really in awe getting to see our national landmarks even if it was only for a few seconds. I was able to snap this photo out of the window of the plane:
That's not edible though, so on to the FOOD! We made a quick run through McDonald's at about 4:30 a.m., so the only other thing we had eaten were those airline cookies and pretzels, so by the time we got our luggage and caught a cab to our hotel, we were starving. We stayed at the Sheraton in Boston, which is connected to the Prudential Center - which is connected to the Prudential Center Mall, which means numerous restaurants and a big food court. We wanted something quick, so we ventured down to the food court. My husband found a burger place that looked good, but I was holding out for something I couldn't get back home, so I headed over to Boston Chowda. They got my attention with their giant photo of a lobster roll. I got the small one with a cup of clam chowder. Go back and look for my "Lobster Salad... Not!" post from earlier this year, and you'll see that this is exactly what I had in mind when I destroyed those $3.99 frozen little beasts.
Huge chunks of lobster on top of what looked like a mini loaf of bread. The roll was soft and warm, and the lettuce gave it just enough crunch. Yum! The chowder was good as well, with a nice amount of clams and not too many potatoes. The small lobster roll/chowder/drink combo cost me about $17.00, which seems a bit high for fast food, but normal fast food isn't lobster! After lunch we ended up napping for a few hours in our 29th floor hotel room. We had a corner room with amazing views of the city, and the beds felt like heaven!

That evening we headed back to the mall for dinner at Legal Seafood. I ordered the crab cakes, which came with a small salad of arugula on the plate. I completely forgot to take a picture of it, but I can tell you that while the crab cakes were very good, I prefer the ones at Bonefish Grill. I didn't care for the salad either. I'm not a fan of arugula, don't like the bitterness of it - and it had golden raisins in it, which just seemed wrong, so I picked them out. Hubby had Boston Cream Pie for dessert because 1) it's his favorite, I had just gotten him one for his birthday cake, and 2) we were in Boston so it seemed like the right thing to do. This was a pretty unique looking version of it though.
There was a very thin layer of cake on the bottom, and a thin layer of chocolate ganache on top, and the rest was cool, creamy custard. The whole thing rested on the edge of a pool of chocolate syrup. I had never seen it done where the custard filling was the star of the dish, but it looked beautiful. I had the chocolate layer cake which was good, but nothing special. We went back there for dinner later in the week and this time we both had the Boston Cream Pie. Delicious!

On the second visit I ordered the fried haddock because hubby had it the first time and I was jealous because it looked way better than my crab cakes. Instead of fries and coleslaw, I had mine with zucchini and a baked potato. This time I remembered to shoot a quick pic, but not before I had smeared sour cream all over my potato:
Our dinners ran us about $60 total, but that was cheap because we not only ordered dinners under $30, but we didn't order wine or lobster. The haddock was about $21 and my crab cakes were about $28. The desserts were all $6.95, and on the first night they were donating all the proceeds from the Boston Cream Pie to a charity. Even more reason to indulge!

The next day we ate breakfast at the hotel, which consisted of a buffet containing the usual breakfast items. We figured if we had a decent breakfast we wouldn't need much for lunch since we planned to spend the day on a trolley tour of the city. Unfortunately, it rained all day and we finally just gave up, but the deal was for a second day free so we were able to hop back on the next day when the weather was better.

It was so nice to have the mall there and have access to all the restaurants without having to go outside. We decided to try a place called Five Napkin Burger. The place was pretty cozy with low lights and a candle on each table. The menu had a pretty good variety of appetizers, and you could have your burger made from ground beef, turkey, veggies, lamb, or even Ahi tuna. I tried the "5 Napkin Burger", which was a 10 oz. beef patty topped with Gruyere cheese, caramelized onions, and rosemary aioli on a big old white bun.
The fries came in a cute little dish rather than piled on the plate. It makes me a little nervous when they asked how I wanted my burger cooked because I thought having a partially rare burger wasn't the safest thing these days, so I went with medium because I also don't like it overcooked. I still think this was a bit more rare than it should have been.
At any rate, it was a unique and delicious burger, and I ended up removing part of the bun because it was so huge. The table next to us had ordered a plate of hot wings, and the smell was getting to me - but in a good way because I've been craving hot wings ever since.

Our next big food outing was the next day in Fenway Park at a Red Sox game. I won't get into it much here because what can you say about a hot dog in the ball park other than there's nothing else like it. It's amazing how good a plain old hot dog tastes when you're sitting on the first base line, watching the lights change in the Citgo sign while someone hits a home run over the Green Monster...almost heaven!

That was just the first half of the week! I'll stop here and continue on with part 2 where we board the big tour bus and head out in search of some early fall color.

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