Best of Boston: Restaurant Challenge

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Boston Magazine‘s list of the 50 best restaurants in Boston came out a few days ago. As I skimmed the winners, I realized how many of them I want to try. In fact, some I’ve been thinking about trying for a few years. And yet I’ve only been to a handful of them.

So here is a thing I made up for myself:

I’m going to see if I can manage to try all 50 top Boston restaurants in the next year. Since I’ve already eaten at a few of them, a rate of about one new restaurant a week should more than cover them all. This will provide a fun opportunity for date nights, outings with friends, and maybe even a few solo missions!

And if I don’t manage to complete this task, I still get to eat lots of tasty food and get better acquainted with the Boston restaurant scene. It’s a win-win!

I’ll be posting about my adventures from time to time and keeping a log of my progress at the Boston 50 page. Ready? Let’s go!

Two Tomato Sandwich

I was having lunch with a friend last night and as our forks began to slow over a pile of delicious Indian food, I was describing a few of the odd leftover-based concoctions I’ve made for myself when Brian is out of town. She asked me, “Do you ever post stuff like that on your blog?” I figured, why shouldn’t I post about whatever I happen to be eating? It’s not like I’ve been posting anything else lately!

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Although I do have a fridge full of leftovers and Brian is out of town this weekend, I didn’t eat any of that for lunch. Because today I was singing with my a cappella group at the Union Square Farmer’s Market and I was surrounded by beautiful veggies and I couldn’t help but be inspired.

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It was our last non-holiday gig of the season and it was a perfect autumn day. It started out crisp and cool, but the sun came out to warm us as we sang. And in an homage to the end of summer, which finally seems to be loosening its grip on New England, I purchased a glorious yellow heirloom tomato and some local raw blue cheese. And then I made a sandwich.

The sandwich contained (from top to bottom):

Bread (top)
My favorite pesto
Yellow heirloom tomato
Slow roasted cherry tomatoes
Blue cheese
Basil leaves
Mayo
Bread (bottom)

And it was good.

Bookprint

This is a Scholastic campaign from a few years ago, but I’ve just come across it now. To quote, “A Bookprint is the list of 5 books that leave an indelible mark on our lives, shaping who we are and who we become.” Many celebrities created these “Bookprints” as part of a campaign to encourage literacy and reading.

I can’t think of every book that inspired me because there were many, but here are some of the top contenders:

Science, magic, and girl power pretty much sum it up for myself as a young reader!

Ice Bucket Challenge: A Few Thoughts

By now, you’ve probably heard of the ice bucket challenge so I’ll keep the background brief: A former Boston College baseball player named Pete Frates was diagnosed with ALS in 2012 and started a challenge among his friends to donate $100 to ALS research within 24 hours or dump a bucket of ice on their heads. Once they had completed the “challenge,” they were supposed to pass the task along to three friends. As the mainstream media likes to say, this challenge has gone “viral” and I can hardly scroll a two-fingered swipe down my Facebook feed without finding a video of folks in skimpy swimsuits, drenching themselves in frigid water.

So the posts have been piling up. Family members, friends, coworkers… And then, unsurprisingly, last week I found myself being “called” to the challenge. In a bout of serendipitous timing, my whole office got on board that same day and planned a massive group drenching to occur after work. But as I pondered joining in on the chilly escapade, something didn’t feel right. I couldn’t clearly articulate why I didn’t want to record myself dumping a bucket of ice water over my head, but I very firmly did not.

I knew my resistance had nothing to do with the two primary components of the challenge: 1) cold water and 2) ALS. After all, I can handle frigid water – not one week ago, I was plunging into icy waves at a beach in Maine. And I know how much ALS sucks – not from personal experiences, but from the experiences of a handful of patients I’ve treated who had lost the ability to speak and swallow, and were facing the horrifying inevitability of drowning in their own secretions or quite literally losing their breath. Yes, I’m already well aware of ALS and among the many terrible debilitating neurodegenerative diseases out there, it’s a real bastard.

I turned to the internet to help me better articulate my discomfort because if I’m feeling something, you can bet someone on this Earth has blogged about it. And whaddaya know? I quickly found an article all about the #icebucketchallenge and a new term called Slacktivism.

“The whole thinking is that instead of actually donating money, you’re attributing your time and a social post in place of that donation. Basically, instead of donating $10 to Charity XYZ, slacktivism would have you create a Facebook Post about how much you care about Charity XYZ- generating immediate and heightened awareness but lacking any actual donations and long term impact.”

-#IceBucketChallenge: Why You’re Not Really Helping by Ben Kosinski

And in some respects, that rang true. After all, the videos feel a bit… hollow. Dump water, record, upload post, tag three friends. I know the videos are doing some good – some people will Google ALS and find out a little more about it. Some will even throw some money at it. And that’s amazing! But many others are simply swept up in a trend they may not fully understand and will quickly forget.

I don’t want to judge these people. After all, I find myself a bit tired of being asked to give money at every turn. Why is it my responsibility or burden to fix the world? Why do I feel guilt when I don’t toss in $20 bucks and a sense of relief when I do? Am I really making any difference?

I’m not sure what the ice dumpers should be doing. It’s probably not my place to say. And even though I didn’t choose to get wet with a dozen of my coworkers, I know they already are doing the most wonderful thing: They are devoting their lives to a helping profession, battling illness and despair with their hard work and long nights and genuine caring for our patients and families. So if they feel like getting cold and wet at the end of a day of that, I certainly won’t stop them.

As with most bouts of seemingly irrational emotion, I think I’m hitting on something deeper in myself. And so I pose this question: How do we as caring, but limited humans balance our selfish goals and motivations and need for self care with a life of service to others? What is too little or too much or just enough? Is it spending time with loved ones or giving money to strangers? Sharing facts on facebook or dumping a bucket of ice? Does it matter if we give of ourselves every year, every month, every day? It’s a personal question and you have to answer it for yourself, because in the end, I think you only have to answer to yourself (and perhaps whatever deity you believe in).

So I challenge you, friends, readers (and spammers who keep commenting about Coach handbags): In the coming days of your life, how do you want to give of yourself to others? Answer that question for yourself, and then go do it.

Food Cycle

WeightLoss

I was going to tell you all about the new way I’m eating.  And I want to.  But as I was trying to organize the ideas on the page, I realized something…

I’ve been here before.  In 2011.  And again in 2012.  And that’s frustrating.

As I reflect over the past three years, here’s the cycle I seem to be stuck in:  I hit a weight I’m unhappy with.  I do Weight Watchers until I hit a more comfortable weight.  I go off the plan in favor of a diet/lifestyle that’s more in line with my ideas about health and nutrition (and one that doesn’t require me to be glued to my phone at meals).  I get off track.  I gain weight.  I start again.

And that’s frustrating.  Especially because weight loss isn’t my primary goal.  My goal is to internalize habits that will fuel my health, with the expectation that my weight (whatever it is) will be a reflection of that good health.  I see now that I have completely failed in that goal.

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Changing your behavior is hard, especially around eating.  (Most of my patients would agree.)  I actually relate it to literally navigating a route.  I find that when I have a GPS in my car (as I have for oh… not even a week – haha), I don’t actually learn where I’m going.  I just follow the directions and somehow I end up where I wanted to be.  But when I am using written (static) directions and peering at every street sign along the way, I engage more with the process.  In one or two trips, I’ve memorized the route because I can visualize and understand it.  And maybe that’s a big reason why I’ve failed to change my habits after Weight Watchers.

Anyway, I’m hoping this latest attempt will help me make real change, not just be another arc in the cycle.

For the Next Stage

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I had to say goodbye to an old friend yesterday…

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But I made a new one in the process.

Goodbye Blue, hello Sandy!

Spring Return

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I have been feeling so compelled to blog lately. I even started a post recently entitled “Food Is Personal.” I was going to include pictures from the Food Photography class I took a few weeks ago, but the post felt rambly and pointless and the pictures weren’t that great and I was having trouble uploading them (with the new Flickr format), so the post remains a draft, likely never to see the light of blog.

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Instead I’m here with an equally rambly post saying that I’d like to come back here soon, to think in this space. I’ve been thinking a lot about food and spirituality and home, not necessarily in that order. I’ve been stockpiling a list of products that I love and would love to share. I totally changed my eating habits 2 weeks ago and I’d love to chat about that and tell you where it takes me.

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I am currently on my way to work and sometimes that seems to be the thing that sucks up 95% of my time and energy, but truly there are a million other things I’d like to tell you about.

I’ll be back soon.

Vacation Recap

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Last month, Brian and I went on an Eastern Caribbean cruise to St. Maarten and St. Thomas. I really enjoyed Saint Martin/Sint Maarten! There was so much to see and unlike a lot of the Western Caribbean ports, you are actually allowed to explore the island!

Umbrellas

I had heard about this neat area called “Grand Case,” which is referred to as the Caribbean Restaurant Row. We headed over there for lunch and although the beach was beautiful and the restaurants were abundant, much to my dismay, only 3 or 4 were actually open! Apparently, it’s more of a nighttime hotspot. And since the restaurants were closed and the cabs were few and far between, we didn’t even end up eating there. Maybe next time… Or maybe we’ll skip it and head to Maho beach instead.

Welcome to our fake island!

We also got to recreate this… special picture. I’m pretty sure we’ve improved with age!

Recreation

Here’s the link to the rest of the photos!