Let it Snow?

Now I get it. Our sweet friend, Hannah Orlansky, warned us before we moved up North that we would tire of winter and the hassle of snow. I didn’t believe her.

This week we got over 16 inches of snow in Cambridge. Now I believe her. The snow is beautiful and exciting when it is coming down fast and furious, but bundling up, stepping in slush and shoveling out your car … not so much. However ,what IS fun is Charlie in the snow, and Charlie wearing booties in the snow. We have gone on many walks, and he has probably ingested more snow that regular dog food over the last few days.

In addition to our snow adventures, we also celebrated Tom’s 27th Birthday! Hooray! We fixed Betty Allin’s red velvet cake, went to one of our favorite cocktail bars, Drink, and had dinner at Sportello with Nick and Becca. Drink (which we’ve written about before) is a really neat spot in Fort Point that sits just underground…though you can still see people walking down the street. Drink does not have a menu, but instead encourages you to share characteristics of drinks you like (‘Whiskey and Citrus’ or ‘I like a Vieux Carre’), and they whip up a lovely, often unfamiliar cocktail for you.

Sportello, which is right above Drink and overseen by the same chef, is a wonderfully yummy place for an Italian dinner full of fresh pastas and soups and…octopus. Nick, Tom and I had gotten the octopus appetizer at Kirkland Tap and Trotter a few weeks before and decided to brave Sportello’s octopus appetizer. We were not disappointed (well, Nick decided one bite was a enough), but it was definitely the first time I’ve eaten something with a suction cup still visible! Tom had a wonderful bowl of bolognese, and I had gnocchi with a cream sauce, mushroom ragou, and peas.

Tom also received two exceptional videos from down South to warm up his birthday – one from many of our friends in Jackson performing their recently composed lyrics to a one-of-a-kind birthday song, and one from our nephew, Maury, and niece, Sarah, performing ‘Happy Birthday’ with a very enthusiastic ‘Ta Da!’ at the end.

Now that the celebrating of Tom’s birth has passed, we are looking forward to our holiday trips to NC and MS even more. Tom has been making nut fingers – a Allin/Biggs winter dessert tradition – and I’ve been painting ceramic Christmas ornaments that have turned out far uglier than I expected. Who knows, maybe I’ll decide to give them to our friends and force them to hang them on their Christmas trees for many years to come.

Happy Holidays everyone! Stay warm out there.


Chilled Octopus and Jalapeno Sausage: Eating in Somerville and Cambridge

We are right in the middle of the holiday season, so I’d like to start with the topic on everyone’s mind. Eating. Particularly since one of our favorite things to do in the Boston/Cambridge area is find new places to eat and drink.

This weekend we went to Kirkland Tap and Trotter because Tom’s cousin and my mutual banana-loving housemate from Helena, Arkansas, Jordan was here for a visit! We had octopus and hummus, beet salad, chicken liver pasta and cocktails with ingredients we couldn’t pronounce or recognize. The atmosphere was warm and laid back, and we had a completely adorable waitress who was more worried about Tom’s peanut allergy than Tom was. If you live in Somerville or Cambridge, you need to go!

Jordan also had many adorable moments with Charlie the Poodle, and I’ll spare you from all of them, but a few can’t be missed.

Beyond restaurants there are also groceries.

And I’d like to take a moment to contrast our two regular shopping experiences in Somerville. They are both equally wonderful and over-the-top in their own ‘special’ way. The first is our local Market Basket. Queen of low prices and wide variety. It is our go-to spot for an affordable, big weekly shopping trip. Unfortunately, it also fills this need for everyone else on the planet, so the crowds are well… crowds. I literally leave my shopping cart on one isle and walk around the stoIMG_1453re gathering the things I need and bring them back to my stationary cart location. They were so busy on the week of Thanksgiving that THEY RAN OUT OF PECANS. Here is the check out area at 5pm on a Saturday, the time when the average grocery store has about 15 shoppers total.

Our second regular grocery spot is the exact opposite and Tom’s favorite – Savenor’s.  Established in 1939, Savenor’s was the grocery of choice for Julia Child during her many years as a Cambridge resident. It sits just around the corner from us and is full of beautiful produce, baked breads, fantastic salt (just ask Mindy Waldrop) and our favorite – jalapeno, pork sausage. We mix it with tomato sauce in true Sandi Welker style for a spicy, yummy 15 minute spaghetti dinner. We may have even had that two nights this week, and it’s Monday…shhh… They also have a delightful blogIMG_1470 if you are eager for more ideas. While we love Savenor’s, it was also not designed for a student budget, so we continue to try to thoughtful balance the scrumptious with the affordable.

Aside from food, this week brings two other unique experiences  – snow and exam cramming. Come Friday I will officially have completed one semester at HKS, and while I’m in the library, Charlie is skeptically exploring his first Boston snow.

IMG_1427Finally, we had two big birthdays this week. On December 7th my dad celebrated his birthday, and on December 5th Tom Fitzsimmons, resident CPL photographer, celebrated his as well. You can see the prezi I made for my dad here :). And we were lucky enough to surprise Tom F. during a great party last Thursday as well. Here he is with many of the Gleitsman Fellows and Casey, the Associate Director of the Gleitsman program!

Until Next Time!