Boston and Cambridge: Friday and Saturday

I’m doing what I planned to do here: hang out with friends, chill, catch up on non-science reading, and see one of my favorites cities (by that I mean greater Boston). Yesterday I took a long walk with my oldest friends Tim and Betsy (10,800 steps; Betsy had a pedometer on her iPhone)—from Lechmere to the North End. On the way I took this photo of the light playing on the waters of Boston Harbor.


Purple irises (my favorite flower) were blooming along the roadside:


If you live in Boston, you’ll know that there’s a Saturday produce market at the Haymarket downtown. When I was a poor grad student, I used to come here at the end of the day, when the produce mongers would try to unload their remaining fruit and veg at rock-bottom prices:


Peppers that remind me, like they did Edward Weston, of nude bodies.


It’s cherry season already:


On Friday I took my pals to an upscale Oaxacan place, the Olé Mexican Grill. I’d never been there, and it was terrific. For the first course we had margaritas, cider, and a huge stone crock of freshly made guacamole with warm tortilla chips (the latter continually replenished). I ate so much guac that I couldn’t finish my main course. And I was so busy nomming it that I didn’t think of taking the obligatory picture till the stuff was almost gone:


My friend Betsy’s course: four fish tacos with different salsas:


Tim’s course: duck en mole:


My course: chile rellenos filled with sauteed spinach, cheese, raisins, and pine nuts, served with a generous portion of fried plantains and a pyramid of rice. It was terrific (I took one pepper home with me). I recommend this restaurant highly if you’re in Cambridge/Somerville. It isn’t really cheap, but it’s well worth it. And don’t forget to get the guacamole.


The Olé has the advantage of being only one block from Christina’s Homemade Ice Cream, where we repaired for dessert. Betsy had Chocolate Mocha Explosion, Tim the chocolate/banana (it tasted like a banana split), and I had my perennial favorite, burnt sugar (foreground). I won’t rest until every reader who goes to Boston visits Christina’s and tries this flavor—the world’s best.


Today is Betsy’s birthday, so last night a group of us, including her and Tim’s two daughters and their boyfriends, went to a Spanish tapas place in Brookline, Taberna de Hiro. Great food, good wine at reasonable prices, and a good Spanish cider (I’m currently on a cider kick). Here’s one of the dishes I eshewed: anchovies and olives. I cannot abide the malodorous anchovy (and yes, I know that Spanish anchovies are different).


Postprandial table talk; left to right: Betsy, Tim, Vinicius, Rebecca, and Jeanie.



  1. Damien McLeod
    Posted June 5, 2016 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Purple irises are so beautiful, and the food looks great too. Spending time with old friends is time well spent.

  2. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted June 5, 2016 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Novel – but effective – way of using Chinese-style spoons for the sauces. [Files idea for future use.]
    To misquote someone – probably an olive salesman – “Man cannot live by olives alone, but he can give it a damned good try.”

  3. David Duncan
    Posted June 5, 2016 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Oh man! Those noms look good enough to make me willing to brave the TSA!

  4. Posted June 5, 2016 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad you’re having a wonderful time with old friends and I’m sooo envious of your Oaxacan food experience. It all looks and sounds great (especially the guac.) Quite a few years back when my husband and I were in Oaxaca,I enjoyed a cooking class on moles (the sauce, not the animal!) with beans and rice, and flan. I can’t remember the rest. Traditional Mexican food can be an exceptional

    • merilee
      Posted June 5, 2016 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

      Damn – I just started a cutting down on excessive noms program and now you have to tempt me with these!!! Nothing beats good guac. (except maybe good buttery naan).

    • merilee
      Posted June 5, 2016 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

      I wonder if anyone has ever made mole mole??

      • HaggisForBrains
        Posted June 6, 2016 at 6:27 am | Permalink

        My WordWeb dictionary has six distinct definitions for the word “mole”. What a fascinating language we have.

        • Posted June 6, 2016 at 7:15 am | Permalink

          Let’s see, without cheating:

          A wharf or breakwater
          A skin growth
          A furry insectivore
          A Mexican sauce
          There’s another having to do with literature (I think but I can’t bring it to mind).

          And now I’m stumped.

          • Merilee
            Posted June 6, 2016 at 8:21 am | Permalink

            A spy!

          • Posted June 6, 2016 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

            The SI unit of “amount”, too. (Like the dozen, but with more!)

            • Posted June 6, 2016 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

              Yes! I should have remembered that from chemistry …

  5. Posted June 5, 2016 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Great photos as always, but the first one (light on the water) is magical.

  6. merilee
    Posted June 5, 2016 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Damn – I just started a cutting down on excessive noms program and now you have to tempt me with these!!! Nothing beats good guac. (except maybe good buttery naan).

  7. Filippo
    Posted June 5, 2016 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Did you venture to Durgin-Park during your time at Harvard?

    As a callow teenager, I went to a Greek restaurant, Olympia, where I waxed rhapsodically over my first taste of lentil soup.

    A few nights later, we went to an Italian restaurant along The Freedom Trail, Abuzzi’s. The twenty-something waitress remarked to one of our party regarding his chosen entree, “You eet that sheet?”

    • Filippo
      Posted June 5, 2016 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      Abruzzi, not Abuzzi. (This is why I strive to attach and use the old-fashioned keyboard, not the laptop keyboard. Sometimes I wonder if I need to hit a key with a sledgehammer for a letter to register on the screen.)

  8. Diana MacPherson
    Posted June 5, 2016 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    OMG those noms look delicious! Now I’m craving olives.

    I too love Boston. I was there for a week on a course once and after class, I’d go out and explore the city. The public transportation is very good, clean, safe and cheap! I just love it there!

    • Merilee
      Posted June 5, 2016 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

      It’s great how easily you can take the T into town from Logan!

  9. Ken Kukec
    Posted June 5, 2016 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    In honor of your photo taken down by the harbor — and in honor of “frustrated women who have to be in by 12 o’clock” — let’s play the Standells’ ode to their home town, “Dirty Water.”

  10. HaggisForBrains
    Posted June 6, 2016 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    I’ve recently discovered marinated anchovies or “boquerones”, which are far tastier than the little brown slivers of rubberised salt more commonly available. In the UK, you can get the marinated ones from Lidl, in the section for cold meats and speciality cheeses. Do try!

  11. Posted June 6, 2016 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    Fun photos, thanks! (And I LOVE anchovies! 🙂 .)

  12. bric
    Posted June 6, 2016 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Irises are my favourite flowers too, this is Iris ‘Sindpers’ in the Princess of Wales Conservatory at Kew
    Iris 'Sindpers'

    • Posted June 6, 2016 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

      Wow, what colors! The terracotta is a nice color reference.

    • Posted June 6, 2016 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

      This is an outstanding specimen. I believe PCC’s is Siberian iris (Iris sibirica).

      • merilee
        Posted June 6, 2016 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

        wow! Gorgeous color.

      • bric
        Posted June 7, 2016 at 2:41 am | Permalink

        This is Iris sibirica (I take an awful lot of irises)
        Iris sibirica s. erirrhiza

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