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Boston – North End – A taste of Italy!

With an afternoon to spare on a perfect fall day in Cambridge we found ourselves in a fun neighborhood of Boston – North End. A couple of T-rides and we were in Haymarket – a tourist destination where we have been countless number of times. But today we ventured beyond the tourist attractions and behind the buildings to one of the most charming parts of Boston – also known as Little Italy! And on the way there we even spotted a HUGE farmer’s market where everything was $2! Now, the quality of produce was questionable but it was still amazing to see tents after tents of vendors.

Past the farmer’s market was a whole different world! The streets were narrow, the buildings mostly brick, the decor so charming, it took us back in time. Restaurants galore, most of them Italian, this place is food heaven! It was 4 in the afternoon and we saw lines forming outside some of the popular restaurants. What also amazed me was a mile long line outside Mike’s Pastry! Seriously, what does he put in those cannolies?

Besides the restaurants, I also spotted some nice boutiques where I obviously had to stop for quick snoop shopping 🙂 I spared Gagan the agony and made a mental note to go back there with a girlfriend.

Now Boston is the oldest city in the US and this being the oldest residential neighborhood, does this mean that this is the oldest neighborhood in the country? I’ll have to do some fact checking.

As we walked down the street, we spotted this cool coffee store which looked interesting so we went in.

Turns out they sell lot more than coffee. From their bulk bins, I bought french lentils for only $1.99/lb! I’ve seen them as high as $5.99. These will be awesome for my lentil salad. I took a photo just so I’ll remember the name of this place. You have to check it out! People were buying all kinds of coffee beans here. It smelled heavenly in there and the owners were such happy people.

Out on the main street there was this Pasta shop where you could buy all kinds of fresh pastas. Totally going back there!

We sampled some espresso gelato at a small italian cafe and finally escaped the hustle and bustle of the restaurant row to this quiet cafe on the next street over. A small cup of cappuccino was the perfect ending to a perfect day with Gagan.

If you are in the neighborhood or visiting Boston, North end is not to be missed! Most restaurants here require reservations so plan ahead for dinner. I know I will!

T-Stop – Orange Line – Haymarket

Week 3: Cambridge – When it Rains, it pours, and it floods, and it breaks….

Well technically it is week 4 but I wasn’t in Cambridge much last week so no time to explore. Ok so you know New England has been hit with a heat wave the last couple weeks. Well this week it rained. And boy did it rain or what. So I thought that’s what I’ll write about. Rain in the city, the joys (not) of getting rained on.

Flash floods in Cambridge

Lesson 1: There is a reason people don’t keep cars in the city. When it rains, they stay home! or wear the raincoats and go out on foot. They most certainly do not drive!

After getting completely drenched walking home from the T, we decided we will drive back home and do some chores. Yeah right!

So as we drive out from our street, we’re like “this is not so bad”. “Not so fast”, a voice in my head said. Just ahead of us was a street which was flooded and there was water up to our knees. Since it was too late to turn around (there were cars behind and in front), we decided to brave it. BAD IDEA!
Car in front of us

The car stalled, we started the engine again and somehow got it out of the mess and parked it to the side. It was too late. Something was really wrong, the car started making really bad noises and look at all that smoke coming out of the exhaust.
Smoke? Steam?

Long story short, the car’s gone! It had to be towed to our car dealer which ended up costing us a lot!
Oil leaked from the car

on the tow truck.

We called up our insurance and when we described what happened, she said “We might just have to call it a loss!” It’s a new car! Oh well, it is what it is. Atleast we have the other car and since Gagan doesn’t need it right now, I can drive it.

On our way to the car dealer, the tow truck driver gave us lot of tips to talk to the insurance agency. When I asked, could we have done anything to avoid this, he said “No”. When the water got into the engine when it was hot, it cracked it. All the oil leaked out and now its toast. Even if we didn’t restart the car, it would have been the same. So I don’t feel so bad. He was quite helpful actually. Like I said.. kindness and greatness is all around us.

The whole Cambridge/Somerville area was flooded in just half an hour of rain!

From CNN: Heavy rains cause flash floods in greater Boston area

Oh well, At least we made it home safe, thanks to my friend Emily who picked us up from the Car Dealer and dropped us home. Monday morning the ordeal starts 🙂 But… I am not going to complain. It happens, what are you going to do?

Week #2 Cambridge – Christina’s Spice & Specialty Foods

This week I WAS a good wife! Last night I made gazpacho and it’s in the fridge ready to be had for dinner tonight. So, that leaves my evening free to explore!

It’s officially summer and it’s farmer’s market season among other things. So I was going to write about the Harvard Farmer’s Market today, except it sucked 😦 Hey, I didn’t say that everything I explore is going to work out. 12 tents with baked goods, honey, cheese and glass jewelry is not my idea of a farmer’s market. And I walked half hour for this! So you can imagine how disappointed I was. Apparently I forgot that we’re in New England, where fresh produce isn’t ready until July/Aug.

So as I was going back home (I took the bus this time), I spotted one of my favorite stores in Cambridge and requested to be dropped off at Inman Square.

If you love to cook with spices, you are going to be in heaven! I have never ever seen a collection of that many spices in a single place. I pride myself on knowledge of spices but I felt quite ignorant when I entered here. There were some of the things I had never even heard of!

And if you’re ever in need of Tabasco, well is this the place for you or what! Lifetime supply!

Not only can you find spices here, there are a variety of grains and seeds also. Eating healthy just got even more fun!

All the ingredients for a yummy granola are right here. Check out the variety of dried fruit.
dried fruit

For the bakers, they also have excellent quality cocoa and chocolate. And if you fancy making your own beer, they even have Hops!

The prices here aren’t cheap but if for the price of the spice you can make a gourmet meal at home and save yourself hours of work making your own spices, it’s worth it. Christina’s spice is also one of the locally owned independent businesses and I like to support them.

As for me, I got what I came here for. Berbere spice to make Ethiopian lentil stew. And as I type this, the lovely aroma of the lentils fills my little apartment. I did good!

Christina’s Spice
1255 Cambridge St
Cambridge, MA 02139
(617) 576-2090

P.S. In the mood for some homemade ice cream? It’s right next door.

Week #1 – Cambridge – Poor Little Rich Girl

Vintage inspired consignment clothing and accessories

Sunday afternoon. Gagan is at MIT with his study group slogging away. A good wife would take this time to clean the apartment, and have dinner cooking on the stove and welcome him with a smile on her face with a glass of water at the door.

You have got to be kidding! No offense to the “good wife” but I’d rather be out exploring this lovely city while I’ve got the chance. But, before I left, I did stock the fridge with some frozen veggies and milk. There is always cereal too you know 🙂 Don’t get me wrong, I do love to cook but right now I don’t even have a can opener in the house! I need my gadgets. So I suppressed the guilt, donned my wind breaker and after 3 flight of stairs down, was on my way to Francesca’s at the Cambridge Side Galleria when I spotted this cool store and I decided this is going to be my first entry.

Cambridge boasts more than 250+ local businesses and PLRG is one of them. I am not much of a thrift store shopper but this store was CUTE! Definitely vintage inspired, you could tell a lot of love went into arranging the items, which is not an easy job. The shoes were my favorite spot. I even tried on a few. And because I am on the lookout for cute flats these days, I fell in love with a pair of maroon Earth shoes. But I have enough shoes. So I resisted 🙂

Even though I wasn’t interested in the clothes, I did look at them. They were awfully cute! I am a little uncomfortable buying used clothes and shoes but today for the first time I did feel like buying them. It’s all in the presentation. They all looked very clean and neatly arranged and the staff was super helpful. It’s obvious they take pride in their business and I would be proud to take a friend in there.

However, if you are a serious thrift shopper, the prices are a bit on the higher side. Most of the skirts and pants I li

ked were around $30. They had a good selection of skirts and dresses were really cute. I am pretty sure I’ll go back in there to explore a bit more. I think there were some new items in there but I was sort of in a hurry so I didn’t ask.

If you are in the area, and like vintage inspired clothes and accessories, this is a store worth checking out!

Another home, another city, a lot to explore

I am sitting here facing a beautiful bay window on the 4th floor of a cute little apartment in Cambridge and writing as the cool breeze gently blows a few wisps of hair away from my face. What am I doing here? Let me backtrack…

Ok so where have I been the last month? Well after my first week in India I decided to really take it easy and not worry about anything but spending time with family and be with myself. I needed that! And I guess I am glad I took the time to do it because my life right now is crazyyyyy. But in a good way. Let me explain.

While I was in India, we got some good news. Gagan got accepted into M.I.T.’s sloan program. For those not familiar with the sloan’s program, It’s a one year full time MBA program for individuals with 10+ industry experience. Earlier this year he had applied for it so when he got accepted it was really cool! Now since commuting from the suburbs to Cambridge every day is not an option for him, we have rented a small apartment in Cambridge which is where he will be for the next year. And me? Well, I am going to go back and forth between Acton and Cambridge, although from spending just a few days here in Cambridge, I have a feeling that it’ll be more of a home for me over the next year. Atleast in the summer when its so gorgeous here!

And while Gagan gets busy with school, I’ve decided to make the most of my time here in the city. In the last few days I’ve walked more than I ever have in a whole month but I feel so good, so energized. And can I just say? When we walked to M.I.T. yesterday from our apartment, I felt my I.Q. going up already 🙂 It’s funny, I feel smart already.

So as I was walking to the apartment this afternoon carrying a heavy backpack containing my laptop, a few basic supplies, a grocery bag containing some fruit and veggies I picked up from the nearby grocery store, and a fruit tart, to celebrate the beginning of our wonderful year here in Cambridge, I felt nothing but happiness and contentment and the next thing I know, I am smiling… at random strangers 🙂 And it feels good.

But… first things first. I need some good flats and I need to charge my camera so I can share my experiences here with you. Here’s the challenge… 52 weeks. Each week I explore something new in the city. And I take you with me. Whether you like it or not. Are you with me?

Garment District! – Not so fast… It’s an old thrift store where you find clothing by the pound! I am almost afraid to go in here… but one of these days.

A Fun Summer Day

Saturday was so nice and you guys, we have like 15 such days in the whole year so it was important that we made the most of it and boy we really did. I opened up yelp to see what’s going on and found the Cambridge River Festival. We took the train from Alewife and an hour later we were walking under the sun, clear skies amidst hundreds of people enjoying the fair.

They had closed off Memorial drive and the festival was all along the Charles River. There were tons of artists selling jewelery, hand blown glass, clothing and what not. It was just so much fun. There was even a blacksmith! Lots of fun activities for kids and adults. We made our own soap at Mrs Meyers 🙂

On one of the stages they had a dance competition which was really fun!

Gagan enjoyed the music more

There were tons of artists

This one vendor was selling custom made clothing so I obviously had to check it out. Their specialty was linen. I must admit, I wanted to buy each and every one of their pieces but the sewer in me prevented me from doing so. But as I was hovering over this one really pretty linen skirt the guy in the booth says “This is really nice. It’s lined with…. Lining”. When he paused after lined with, I almost wanted to say “Rayon?” “Bemberg?”, “Ambiance?”… 🙂 I am a nerd, yes I am. But at least he was making an effort. I could see how uncomfortable he was trying to sell clothing which he had no idea about 🙂 Gotta love the effort though.

It was really nice to just get out and walk around, soak in everything the city had to offer and not have a plan. There were lots of food carts, so we had our fill and on our way back I spotted a Vintage Store. How cool!!

I promised Gagan that I would only go in there for a quick peek and I did keep my promise. I saw the store was jam packed with clothing (looked like they had real vintage stuff). I asked the owner if I could take a few photos for my blog and promised to come back. I loved the jewelry in there. The prices were totally affordable. I am very excited to go back there with a few friends to check it out. Hmm.. maybe it’s time to plan a PR Day Boston.

And since I am always on the look out for bulk bin stores, and Harvard Co-op was right there, we stopped there for a quick bite to eat and I found the Teff flour (to make Ingeras) I’d been looking for.

All I can say is that I came back very inspired and VERY HAPPY. So, my advice, make the most of summer wherever you are!

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