The reality is we don't get out much with 4 kids (only one of which is school-aged) and now that our babysitter is in Toronto tending to her ailing sister, it's effectively nil for some time.
So I was pleasantly surprised this Wednesday when I arrived at the Charles/MGH T-Station more than 40 minutes early for a nearby doctor's appointment and had time to poke around Beacon Hill for a while. Beautiful brick buildings housing specialty shops and some great looking restaurants - there's a Thai restaurant there I'm dying to try. I only had time to walk up Charles St. a bit, and ended up going into two places, Savenor's Market and Charles Street Liquors, pretty much right across the street from each other.
Savenor's was a cozy little place that had just about every kind of meat and poultry I could think of, including meat byproducts like rendered duck fat, which is absolutely superb for roasting potatoes (put about half an inch of fat in roasting pan, heat to 400F, parboil potatoes, throw them in the pan and roast, turning occasionally - they come out with an awesome deep-fried-crispy-outside-creamy-inside-book-your-bypass-surgery-now flavor). A great deal of it is fresh, butchered right there, and raised more naturally than the usual stuff you buy from the grocery store. They make plenty of specialty meats there, and they import some hard to find (buffalo, wild boar, kangaroo) flash-frozen stuff as well. Throw in a produce section, a cheese section and a good selection of gourmet specialty groceries and it's a place I'll be returning to when I go back next week. All their beef is grass-fed, as corn tends to seriously f**k a cow's shit up. The stuff is expensive, but I was still curious to see their prices. On my way back to the T station I picked up a piece of top round (slightly more than a pound, about $11). We're cooking it this weekend; I'll let you know how it tastes. I also grabbed a piece of aged Vermont cheddar.
Charles Street Liquors is, well DUH you know what it is. I could spend hours in there - they do an amazing job optimizing what little space they have. A little more pricey being in Boston (as a benchmark, Sam Adams Chocolate Bock costs $16.49 a bottle vice $15.99 at most other places) but their beer selection alone is worth it. Tastings Friday and Saturdays from 4-7 pm. In addition to a bottle of Chocolate Bock to replace the one I've consumed, I bought the following to haul back home on the T.
The Lindeman's Kriek (cherry) is the second bottle of lambic I've bought since James gave me a big bottle of their cassis (currant) on my birthday. My last bottle was a framboise (raspberry). I think I'm hooked on lambic. I'll get to this when I do over the holiday season, but the other two are what I'm interested in. I have the Sierra Nevada Harvest Ale in the fridge right now, and will open it later. According to the bottle, the brew is "wet-hopped" with freshly-picked (the previous day) hops of the standard Pacific Northwest variety. Some of the reviews called the beer "piney" but I'll see for myself. (note: I drank it between writing this part and publishing; the hop character was excellent - very complex, citrus, spice, floral and pine accents, strong but not overpowering at all, and you can still taste the malt. Well done, I would drink it again and would love to try it on tap.) And the one I'm saving for later this weekend - Pozharnik Imperial Stout - espresso, vanilla, aged in a whiskey barrel. The bottle states it's great to try now, but recommends "afficionados" cellar it for a year or two. Like Hell I am - it has me as excited and intimidated as "that girl". You know...you've hooked up, and you're gonna' get something you've got from others, but you know it's gonna' be different, and you think probably better, but just HOW better? Or is it going to be lame? Or is it going to be just so damned freaky that you need to cut her loose right now? Lower your expectations, man, lower your expectations...hey waitaminit, this is just beer. Keep 'em sky high! If it's good, then I'll get some to cellar!