The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

That Time I Went to Boston 11 Months Ago

I visited Boston last May. And I'm writing about it...11 months later. Yup. Enjoy the holes in my memory.

If you're wondering what to cook a lobster in, I highly suggest against this:

Not dead yet
Lobster, you're really not going to like this.

I mean, a clear steamer works, but it's also a sadistic viewing chamber into your lobster's final dance—or lethargic flails, more like—with death. Understandably. I too would flail a bit if I were being cooked alive.

And then one and a half hours later, we feasted on lobster rolls! Steam Chamber of Death was just a forgotten blip of the past! Yay!

But...let's go back in time a bit.

looking...that way
Kåre's on a boat.

Last May I visited Boston with Kåre to visit Adelyn, one of our most favorite people in the world. I hadn't been to Boston in over a decade*, despite that it's close to New York City and seemingly every college student in the Tri-state area hops the Chinatown bus to Boston at some point to visit their army of friends who goes to college there. Of course, people also visit Boston if they don't know people there; it's a major city history...and do.

* The last time I went to Boston (from New Jersey) was in 9th grade. ...To see a Beck concert. And to meet an Internet friend. To say I was a bit obsessed with Beck and the internet friend is an understatement. I thought I'd be a raging Beck fan forever and be friends with that person forever, neither of which happened. GUYS, REMEMBER HOW WEIRD IT WAS TO BE A TEENAGER? REALLY WEIRD. I AM SUPER GLAD THAT IS OVER.

But the main reason I wanted to visit Boston was to see Adelyn. I didn't care much about what else we did; we could hang out in a fetid landfill, and as long as Adelyn was there, it'd still be fun. (We did not hang out in a fetid landfill.) I didn't do much in the ways of food research, or, um, anything-not-food research.

Groupon helped us plan our first activity though: a trip on the Boston Lobster Tour. Adelyn found a nice deal where we could take the one-hour-ish tour around Boston Harbor for $90, 50 percent off the normal $180 price tag. Throw in the prospect of fresh lobsters—you get to keep whatever the captain pulls up—and it sounded like a fine deal.


Luckily, we also hit fantastic weather. THANKS, NATURE. Youdabes.

Lovely day for BOAT TIME
Saying stuff!

Our captain was great—very knowledgeable and friendly. Not that I could tell you what he told us since this was almost a year ago and I forget stuff that happened last week. Or this morning. But if we could go back in time to last May, then, boy, the knowledge I could foist upon you...would probably still be about the same.

got a lob lobster cage lobster, we're gonna get youuuu sorry
Getting the lobsters.

He pulled two cages out of the water, catching three lobsters in all.

measuring the lobsters
If I were one of these lobsters, I'd be pretty confused.

He broke out a ruler to measure the lobsters; small lobsters get returned to the water. Luckily (well, for us, not them), all the lobsters were large enough for eatin'.


But pregnant lobsters also get a second chance at life, and one of our lobsters was mega-pregz. Alas, "From every 50,000 eggs only about 2 lobsters are expected to survive to legal size." Whenever life is gettin' you down, just think, "At least I'm not a lobster egg. That would suck for many reasons, at least two of which are, 1) I would probably die before I could live, and 2) if I lived, I'd be a lobster."

Ah well; we only needed two lobsters to feed the three of us for dinner, and two lobsters, we received!

Boston Lobster Tours
Boston Lobster Tours

If you go on a Boston Lobster Tour and head to the pier where the boat is supposed to be, thinking, "Is there really a boat over here?" the answer is yes. You probably didn't need me to tell you that, but for some reason we weren't sure if there was going to be a boat at the end of the pier. looked un-boat-ed from afar. You might have thought so too. Or maybe you have eyes that, like, see stuff correctly. Good for you.

baby lady
Wellll here's a boring photo. You're welcome.

We drove to Shaws to pick up lobster roll-making ingredients, but on the way we passed—or rather, were passed by—something we would would remember forever. A unicorn of the urban jogging set. A woman wearing headphones while pushing a double-baby stroller.

...Ok, "unicorn" is giving her too much credit; she'd also have to be walking a pack of dogs and talking on her cell phone to earn that title. How about...a pony? No. A pygmy goat? Eh?

So, back to my boring story. I first spotted Serious Jogging Lady when we stopped at an intersection not far from the bridge in the photo above. We managed to drive by her because, well, we were in a car and she was a mere human pushing two babies in a mega-stroller. Surely our modern gas-powered marvel of locomotive engineering would win the race that Serious Jogging Lady didn't know she had entered.

But as we stood on that bridge, stuck in a long line of gassy metal deathtraps ("gassy metal deathtrap" is my loving pet name for a car), we saw Serious Jogging Lady come from behind, and pass us on the other side of the barrier, and continue to jog down the bridge until she was just a bouncing lavender speck on the horizon, soon disappearing from our view (but not our minds) forever.

No...noooo! We weren't ready to let the memory of Serious Jogging Lady go! We had to know where she was going. Or at least make it up. Yes, that was good enough.

"If we're stuck here long enough, she'll make a lap around us."

"But before she comes around again, she's going to drop her babies off at home...and steal someone else's babies."

"Two babies. And then. More babies."

"She's going to jog around with that stroller and just keep stealing new babies. She can't jog without babies. Her house is going to be FULL of babies."

Making up stories about babies is fun. Especially stolen babies. A mountain of them. But hearing true stories about stolen babies is terrifying. Man! That's life. Yes, you may close your textbooks now.

Not dead yet
Goodbye, lobster.

Aaaaand we're back to the lobsters! Back to the scene of death-by-steam. Kåre was in charge of holding down the lid in case the lobsters got feisty, while Adelyn and I were in charge of standing a few feet away and unhelpfully uttering, "Auuhhhhh," or "Oohnooooo," or "Aauuhrrugugh," accompanied by sad faces. Yes, yes, it was dumb of us—we were going to cook the lobsters in some way or another, and there was no reason to get all sad face-y—but we couldn't help ourselves.

It's done
DING! It's done.

When the lobster was sufficiently dead/cooked, Adelyn and I let go of the wall we were clinging onto, remembered how hungry we were (on a scale of "not very" to "very," we were at "my stomach is kinda gurgly and I would love to eat now"), and went into lobster dismemberment mode.

CHOPPIN' TIME get the meeaaatsss bowl of meats!
Get the meats out.

Actually, I was useless and left the meat removal to Adelyn and Kåre. I mean. I was in charge of documenting it. That's sort of useful.

lobster rolls and corn
Lobster rolls!

Five of the freshest lobster rolls we'd ever eat on buns pan-fried in butter (yeah, I know my pan-frying skills are bad) plus five ears of steamed sweet corn left us super stuffed and happy.

Day 2

exterior condiments n things fluff menu
Mike & Patty's

The next morning, we started our day at Mike & Patty's, highly recommended by fellow Serious Eater Carey Jones for good reason: They make awesome, comforting sandwiches; simple constructions handled with care. Also, the place is adorable and cozy (if I recall correctly, there's seating for 6 to 8 people) and charming and impossibly crams a truckload of stuff into a shoebox of a kitchen and is pretty much just what you'd want out of a neighborhood sandwich shop. All that.

North South Classic
North South Classic

I was plenty happy with my North South Classic ($5): egg and cheese with collard greens and peameal bacon on a toasted English muffin, plus a side of home fries ($2).

Breakfast grilled cheese
Breakfast grilled cheese

For Kåre, the breakfast grilled cheese ($5): white bread with cheddar and American cheese plush an overeasy egg. Kåre added bacon for $2.

Grilled banana sandwich
Grilled banana sandwich

For Adelyn, the grilled banana sandwich ($6.50) with cinnamon and honey butter on pain de mie.

Those last two sandwiches aren't listed on Mike and Patty's website—which says they're simplifying their menu—so I can't say for sure you'll find them there. But you should definitely go. Next time I visit Boston, I'll be there.

Everything I've always dreamed of.

Chinatown was next on the to-do list. Highlights included shops rich with VCDs, DVDs, gifts, and goldfish...

China Pearl
China Pearl

This eroding restaurant signage...

Hing Shing Pastry brown sugar rice cake
Hing Shing Pastry

Hing Shing Pastry, from which I emerged with a wedge of squidgy brown sugar rice cake (80¢), a dessert I hadn't seen before (when I was a kid, I loved the rare treat of a white sugar cake)...

I must get EGG PUFFS Aw, cute Yay egg puffs!
Egg puffs

And egg puffs. Because I can't not investigate a sign that proclaims the presence of puffed egg matter. Egg puffs, sold in New York City as Hong Kong cakes, are sort of like mini pancake or waffle bites, but sweeter and eggier. They make a great little snack when straight out of the pan, but they lose their appeal after they cool down.

After walking along the freedom trail and escaping the rain at the Hub Pub—where I displayed my affinity towards alcohol by taking a nap in a booth (I mean, Adelyn and Kåre were there too, chatting; I didn't lumber off on my own and fall asleep in the corner of an empty bar)—we returned to Cambridge, Adelyn's hood. I had my eyes set on one place.

Flavors at Toscanini's.

Toscanini's, known as one of the best ice cream shops in Boston, once called home of the best ice cream in the world by the New York Times*. The world? Did you eat all the ice cream in the world, New York Times? ...Ok, maybe you did.

* Toscanini's is also home to the measurement known as the "microscoop." Surely not the only one. That's cute. But ye know what a microscoop is? That's one scoop, You know what "1 scoop" is? That's two flavors in one scoop, which is actually two scoops. I know this sizing structure is common in ice cream shops, but what's the harm in using small, medium, and large instead? Why does the scoop prevail when it means nothing? WHY DOES THIS BOTHER ME SO MUCH? You know what else bothers me? What, you don't care? I'm going to babble on anyway. When an ice cream shop's single scoop is a FUCKIN' HUGE SCOOP and they don't allow you to get more than one flavor even though making that one scoop takes like three scoops. ...You know what I mean? ....[crosses arms.] #firstworldproblems

burnt caramel and walnut something?
Burnt caramel smooshed under maple walnut.

While I can't tell you if Toscanini's makes the best ice cream in the world, I can tell you after two visits that Toscanini's is now one of my most favorite ice cream shops. I don't remember much about the maple walnut I tried, but their burnt caramel is famous for a reason. It's a punch of burnt caramel to your mouth, if something in sweet-n-smooth-n-creamy form had the ability to punch. ...Maybe that's more like a forceful hug.

Anyway, that's all I've got; this happened 11 months ago, ye know. (If I couldn't give you lazy descriptions, I'd just give you no descriptions. Admittedly, that might make the Internet a better place.) Go eat it. If you don't like it, I'll know not to trust you.

B3 and Earl Grey
B3 and Early Grey.

On my second visit the next day, I tried the B3—brown sugar, brown butter, and brownies—and Early Grey. Again, get these flavors. They do what they say on the tin by tasting just like what they're supposed to, but...better. Like awesome gelato in Bologna.

mm, bread crabcake thing Potato gnocchi Grilled lamb sweetbreads Peppered Black Angus sirloin Crispy roast chicken
We ordered...many things. Click on the photos for more info.

We ate dinner at nearby Rendezvous in Central Square. After dinner I realized we should've eaten at also-nearby Craigie on Main, aka Kenji's favorite restaurant in the world. I'll just tell myself we wouldn't have been able to get a seat.

Not that there's anything wrong with Rendezvous. It was good, it just didn't make me think, "I MUST EAT HERE AGAIN."

Gascon-style duck three ways
We ordered...many things. Click on the photos for more info.

Best part of the meal: my Gascon-style duck three ways ($26) featuring sliced breast, garlic sausage, and confit leg.

Day 3

cosmic moose fence cosmic moose fence cosmic moose fence
Cosmic moose.

The next morning during our stroll to Flour Bakery, we passed this epic cosmic moose fence. I'd tell you more about the fence if my googling turned up much, but it didn't. :C Head to the corner of Brookline and Franklin Streets for cosmic moose wisdom.

mm, tarts and cakes and things cupcakes chocolate banana bread pudding Flour
There's a thing I want to eat, plus that thing, and that other thing, and that thing.

On to Flour Bakery, home of cupcakes, tarts, bread pudding, cakes, sandwiches, and other delicious gluten-laden things, the most famous of which is....

sticky bun
Sticky bun. You can almost...feel the sticky.

...the sticky bun slathered with a thick layer of sticky caramel goo/sauce topped with toasted pecan bits. To be honest, I don't remember anything about the bun besides that I ate it (this post is sounding more and more useless with each passing sentence); for a much better description, read Liz Bomze's post on Serious Eats.

roasted lamb, tomato chutney, goat cheese
Roasted lamb sandwich.

Maybe I should've eaten the bun before eating my roasted lamb sandwich ($7.95) with tomato chutney and goat cheese. I saved the bun for later since I felt full after eating the sandwich. Dessert should come first.

Math graduate student seminar

We walked off the sandwiches by roaming around MIT's campus, the highlight of which was coming upon this wall of math graduate student seminar topics. It wasn't just the topics that made us go, "What the holy fugnut," but also the wide array of graphics chosen to represent the topics. Would you just look at these packages of mathematical whimsy? Example titles:

  • Introduction to Symplectic Geometry
  • Cohomological Induction for Beginners
  • The Magnificent World of Complex Cobordism
  • The Joy of Local Fields
  • Spheres: The Final Frontier
  • Etale Cohomology, Unplugged
  • Courier Analysis: It's Not the Law, It's Just a Good Idea
  • Can One Hear the Volume of a Drum?

I don't know what the hell any of that means, but I like knowing someone else does.

Related aside: I'm one of those people who actually enjoyed math growing up (it helped that I had great math teachers). The only reason I don't like it now is because I've forgotten so much—perhaps everything that came after 9th grade—that attempting to split a bill often makes me feel like an idiot. In 12th grade for my final semester calculus project after AP tests were over, I wrote a children's-style book about calculus, but reading it now, I basically look like this the whole time, just one of many colorful ways confusion manifests itself on my very smushable face. If I ever have kids, they'll have to explain it to me.

flavors Christina's Interior Coffee, I think?

It was time for another ice cream break, this time at Christina's, another famous local ice cream shop. Unfortunately, none of us liked it as much as Toscanini's, although I've heard good things about it. Maybe we all ordered the wrong flavors? My coffee ice cream tasted alright, but if I recall correctly (and I very well may not be), the texture wasn't as agreeably creamy as Toscanini's. Overall, not bad, I just wouldn't feel compelled to go out of my way for it.

BerryLine froyo with mango
Froyo time.

And after ice cream came...froyo! Adelyn directed us towards the Harvard Square location of BerryLine, a local froyo chain. My cup of plain froyo topped with mango chunks was some good stuff.

I got a record
I shall play this forever and ever.

More good stuff was found at In Your Ear Records where, after flipping through hundreds of records that smelled of old, I was rewarded with Songs of the Humpback Whale. Sure, I could've bought it on CD so I could actually listen to it on my computer as opposed to owning a record that now uselessly sits in my closet at home in New Jersey because that's where my record player is, but there's no adventure in that. And if I know anything about humpback whales (which I don't), it's that they're all about adventures.

John Harvard

We roamed around Harvard a bit, making sure to check out that famous statue tourists rub for good luck and students pee on because they can. Oh, John Harvard, we relinquish the use of our modern toilets in your honor.

Harvard Square station
Harvard Square station.

And back to Cambridge we went.


To end this post: After this trip, I shall always read "Alewife" as "Beer Wench."

I don't know when I'm going back to Boston, but I SHALL RETURN, and Adelyn will make sure my return IS AWESOME and FULL OF ICE CREAM.


Mike & Patty's
12 Church Street, Boston, MA (map)

Hing Shing Pastry
67 Beach Street, Boston, MA (map)

899 Main Street, Cambridge, MA (map)

Rendezvous inn Central Square
502 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA (map)

Flour Bakery
190 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA (map)

1255 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA (map)

3 Arrow Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 (map)


Louisa / April 3, 2012 6:18 AM

That froyo looks like the most delicious thing ever.

Why does Boston have to be so far away! Mangoes, mmm!

I Live in a Frying Pan / April 3, 2012 8:12 AM

I was supposed to do research on Malaysia...and got toootally sidetracked reading this post! I'd have never thought of Boston as a place for yummy eats (except seafood)...I went a few years ago, and it felt pretty disastrous on the eating scene. Now I know better. Suddenly Boston returns to my map of places that have foodie potential!

[ps. Those sticky buns have made me go weak in the knees.]

roboppy / April 4, 2012 5:16 AM

Louisa: No froyo near you? :C Nothing wrong with...non-frozen yogurt!

I Live in a Frying Pan: Aw, I am honored to have sidetracked your research! Come back n visit, sticky buns are waiting!

Lizzi / April 4, 2012 6:49 AM

Everything in this post I would like to eat 8 of. Except the lobster (who I have taken - if you can have 'taken' to something if you do it once, in your head. uhh - calling Mr Lobby S. Ter). He made me sad-facey too :(

(also i have never tasted lobster so don't know whether i'd consider the deliciousness great enough to override the sad-face-osity)

ALSO have i got an offer for you!!!!4@#$! Should you desire a temporary additional eating partner, I will be visiting NYC from Australia for a week in late May/early June. I am desperate to have someone assist in stuffing the city's best yummables down my oesophagus.

Angelina / April 4, 2012 6:22 PM

It's good to see a new post up even if the actual events depicted in it happened 11 months ago. My favorite picture is the pregnant lobster - just because it's super cool. You take amazing pictures and tell great stories to go with them.

janet / April 5, 2012 1:25 AM

yay! mike & patty's was the highlight of my supershort boston interview trip! i want to live there & eat sandwiches all day long. if only I knew about toscanini's too!! sigh sigh sigh.

Diana / April 7, 2012 4:32 PM

Yum!! I love Tosci's too. If you are looking for an eating partner or some recs around Cambridge/Boston, let me know! I'd love to help/join you=)

sophia / April 8, 2012 12:54 AM

I remember going to Boston...because like any other Asian with Asian parents, we wanted to visit the Ivy Leagues. Ha. But all I remember, really, is that awesome cornbread and clam chowder I had. Now I want to return again and travel it your style!

Liza / April 10, 2012 11:25 PM

As a Bostonian, I love seeing you go to all these places. Toscanini's is indeed fantastic (Rancatore's, run by the brother of the man who owns Toscanini's, isn't half bad either) - you got good recommendations. Glad you enjoyed your trip!

kay / April 12, 2012 1:51 PM

I was going to say something about the roasted lamb sandwich, but then I began to drool onto my keyboard. I think that says it all.

Manda / April 13, 2012 7:50 PM

Ooh, good timing! I'm glad you wrote this 11 months after your trip. ^_^

I'm heading to Boston for a conference in 2 weeks and added Toscanini to my possible-to-try list. I already have my Craigie-on-Main reservation ready to go. Hooray!

roboppy / April 14, 2012 1:39 AM

Angelina: Thank you!

Janet: OMG you must go to Toscanini's next time you're there.

Jess: Glad you liked it! Pretty fun to write lobsters.

Diana: Thank for offering to help!

Sophia: I must've been one of the more lazy and unambitious Asians when it came to applying to colleges. I visited one college before filling out apps, and I didn't apply to any Ivies. ...Errwell IT ALL WORKED OUT IN THE END YEAAH!

Liza: Woo, Bostonian approval! I feel like you bestowed me with a virtual gold star.

Kay: Oh no...I extend my apologies to your keyboard.

Manda: Sweet, you're more prepared than I was! Let me know how your Boston eats go!

Eric / April 16, 2012 12:14 PM

oh poor lobster. I imagine this started off really pleasant for him. Like he took a trip to the spa and then everything went horror movie wrong for him.

Mike & Patty's was great. Boston's got some great spots. Can't wait to make another trip.

Jen @ Tiny Urban Kitchen / April 22, 2012 2:23 AM

Fantastic post! And it looks like you hit a ton of my favorite places. We tend to have similar opinions on stuff (e.g. Tosci's is better than Christina's) and you most definitely have to try Craigie the next time you are here!

Ahh - you are know making me crave ice cream even though it's 2AM here!

Rose / April 23, 2012 4:48 PM

I love that you make so much time for ice cream desserts in your life. Life would not be worthwhile without ice cream.

roboppy / April 28, 2012 9:49 PM

BLUUUH...hi guys...yup, this is a delayed reaction. :( Thanks for reading!

Eric: I'm reminded of that episode of The Simpsons where Homer gave his lobster a hot bath. Whoops.

Sandra: Thank you!

Fonzi: Hehe, more like "the girl who doesn't write anymore"...I still eat too much! :C

Jen: I crave ice cream like ALL DA TIME! And yay for Tosci's!

Rose: Oh hell yes, I'm all about the ice cream. Especially since I made a few friends who like to make ice cream at home. These are very good friends to have. :)

Manda / May 2, 2012 10:46 PM

Hi Robyn,

Craigie on Main = teh awesomesauce. Totally reminded me of a few favorite neighborhoody places in San Francisco - warm, but with a bit more polish.

I was too stuffed to try Toscanino's. Gonna squeeze that in by Friday. :)

John / May 24, 2012 4:38 PM

The best food in Boston is actually across the river near Boston University. French-Cambodian@ the Elephant Walk, cheap Thai@ Nud Pob, Middle Eastern food cart@ Campus Trolley, Mexican @Anna's Tacqueria (also in diff. locations in the Boston area), salty spicy squid@ Victoria's. Heck, even the best dining hall food in the nation is @West Campus on BU's campus. If you ever do a series on the best campus dining halls start w/ BU. Then check out Cornell, which I hear folks rave about, as well.

John / May 30, 2012 12:00 PM

Craigie On Main rides on its reputation. But out-of-towners seem to like it. Locals prefer Rendezvous, a genuine neighborhood spot. Or Sandrine's, down the street in Harvard Sq. Also worth visiting in Cambridge, Hungry Mother and Area Four. If you are visiting from out of town, you should stay in Boston but dine in Cambridge.

roboppy / June 3, 2012 11:53 PM

Michael: Oo, nice lobster rolls! Wish I could've been at your dinner. ;)

John: Thanks for the recs! Next time I visit Boston I'll probably stay in Cambridge again since that's where Adelyn lives...and then eat more stuff in Cambridge.

Something random from the archives