Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Calm Before the Storm

Today was a crisp and cool day in Boston and, as this was the last Saturday before the holiday rush begins, MBH and I headed downtown for a little business and a lot of pleasure. While MBH met with a business partner this morning at a Starbucks shop on School Street, I wiled away the time across the street at Borders browsing cookbooks and holiday cooking magazines. After making a purchase, (I couldn't resist a cookbook called Small-Batch Baking). I headed upstairs to the cafe to drink a cup or two of coffee and read the New York Times. I then finished my Christmas shopping list and finalized what I was going to bake for my holiday goodie trays.

After his meeting ended, MBH met me and we both shopped a bit more . MBH bought me two books, the Maxwell House Coffee Drinks and Desserts Cookbook and a book on WordPress 2, for the soon to be launched site. Then it was off to the Copley Place Mall to have lunch at Legal Seafoods and for me to pick up a few things in Williams - Sonoma. While I don't completely eschew stores during the Christmas shopping season, I do avoid malls at all costs and all the Williams-Sonomas in the greater Boston area are parts of large malls. So, unless I order it online from them, I won't be getting anything from Willams - Sonoma until after Christmas. The Legal Seafoods in Copley Place Mall is our favourite location. It is tucked away in a back corner of the second floor and normally is busy but not crowded. It has a nice view across Back Bay and caters to the Boston locals unlike the location across the way at the Prudential Center which with the Boston Duck Tours and the Top of the Pru is a major Boston tourist destination.

Today, however, the restaurant was pretty crowded. Both MBH and I had the popcorn shrimp lunch; he with fries/no slaw and me with polenta and slaw. We also both had a nice Washington State riesling to wash it all down with and I had a cup of fish chowder as an appetizer. Legal Seafood's fish chowder is normally full of fish chunks but today it was full of little bits of not quite cooked onions and there seemed to be something missing. Their warm, sourdough rolls were also not as good as normal. Mine was cold and dried out. And my polenta? I love polenta. I like it fried into little croutons, baked, and as a pudding. I like it as bottom puree under a nice piece of pork or chicken. Unfortunately, the polenta at Legal Seafoods today was cold and tasted like it had been sitting uncovered so it could take on the flavours of the walk-in cooler or the plastic wrap. Thankfully the popcorn shrimp was its normal terrific self. All in all the meal was ok but not the standard we have come to expect from that particular Legal Seafoods location. I really shouldn't complain too much though, we used a gift certficate I had been given several years ago and the bill was quite small after but all the same...

After a quick stop into Williams-Sonoma where I purchased a small crock of Herbes de Provence and a tub of meringue powder, we were off for the Landmark Center and Best Buy for MBH to pick up two computer disc drives. One hour later, we were back in Cambridge and to celebrate a fine day, we treated ourselves to ice cream at Rancatore's Ice Cream. Ranc's, as it is known locally, is one of the top ten ice cream shops in Boston and run by the same family that owns Toscanini's, the ice cream store in Harvard Square that is always in the top five ice cream shops in America. The ice cream at Ranc's is full of sweet cream and inventive flavours like kulhfee (cardamon, ginger, cinnamon, chile) are the norm. MBH got his normal chocolate chunk/vanilla and I had a mix of cinnamon/nutmeg ice cream and kulhfee yogurt. It was the perfect way to top off our day.