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To Boston With Love

April 20, 2013
I joined the rest of the world and watched in horror this past week as Boston, one of my favourite cities, went through a terrifying series of events. I went to university in Boston and know this beloved city like the back of my hand. I would hate Boston just to be associated with the bombings, so this post is designed to remember some happier reasons to think fondly of Boston. It is a truly great city and I know that it will bounce back in no time. 


Fenway Park – Go Sox!
The historic Fenway Park will always be my favourite baseball stadium. It is smack in the center of the city adjacent to Kenmore Square, and the atmosphere on game day is unlike anywhere else. The bars are packed, everyone is in their Red Sox gear, and you can hear the crowds clapping and chanting LET’S GO RED SOX from across town. Those who are bold enough to wear a New York Yankees hat near Fenway Park probably have a death wish!
 
The Fenway hot dogs, or dhaahgs, as they are pronounced in a thick Bahsten accent, are top notch. If you can’t score a ticket to a game, there are tons of nearby sports bars; check out Bleacher Bar on Landsdown Street, which boasts views straight into centerfield of the park from the bar.
Baseball is a very superstitious sport, so make sure to wear your game face!
Boston’s Live Music Scene
I haven’t been to nearly as many concerts since leaving Boston. There are tons of venues across the city from the intimate Paradise Rock Club on Commonwealth Ave to the massive Comcast Center, where I saw No Doubt from the front row! 
There are so many gigs to choose from in Boston, any night of the week you easily see big acts along with up and coming artists. If you are visiting Boston for the first time, I highly recommend seeing Blue Man Group perform at the Charles Playhouse.
A bit of advice: don’t sit in the front row if you have stage fright!
Lobster Rolls & Clam Chowdah
Boston is famous for it’s clam chowder, which will warm you up during the chilly winter months. It’s hard to say where the best spot for clam chowder is in Boston, as there are lots of great places to choose from. I have a soft spot for the chowdah at The Atlantic Fish on Boylston Street, but ask any Bostonian where the best chowder is, and they will loyally point you in the right direction of their chowder of choice. If you’re visiting Boston in the summer then trying a lobster roll is essential!

Jacques Cabaret
Ladies, for a night out with the girls that you will never forget, grab a cocktail and head to Jacques Cabaret. There are lots of fun hot spots in Boston but in my view, watching performances by fabulous trannies belting out classic tunes is always a fun night out!
Remember to bring a statement piece like a neon pink wig if you’re the birthday girl or bachelorette! 

Newbury Street
In the heart of Boston’s Back Bay, is the gorgeous Newbury Street, filled with shops, cafes, and restaurants. This is one of the nicest places to watch the world go by. 
Make sure you have brunch or at least a coffee at Trident book store, which serves breakfast food all day (and sells books too!) right in the middle of Newbury Street. Joe’s Bar and Grill is my favoured spot to grab some shopping fuel (served in a wine glass) and you cannot go wrong with a meal at Sonsie or Stephanie’s
The shopping on Newbury Street can be lethal to your credit card – you have been warned! Depending on what you are looking for, you are bound to find yourself a special treat or two at Calypso (see above one of their Spring outfits I am lusting over) or Louis Boston, where there is a designer pet wear section to die for!  
If you are at the end of Newbury Street, then you have to pop over to the Boston Common, Boston’s glorious park, which is home to the famous Make Way for Ducklings statues. 

The Boston Harbaaah
Arguably one of the best scenic views of Boston is alongside the Charles River, which is  fantastic all year round. This was one of my top places to run. In the summertime, grab your bikini and head to a patch of green grass for a picnic and an afternoon of sun worshipping overlooking the Charles.
If you are fortunate enough to know someone with a boat, it is hard to beat cruising along the Charles in style. I highly recommend boat tours with Captain Whitay. Remember to yell Quack Quack if a Boston Duck Tour Bus drives by!

Toro
There are so many incredible restaurants in Boston, I should really post about them all (next visit!), but Toro is without doubt my top pick. Located in South Boston on Washington Street, Ken Oringer’s Toro serves modern Spanish tapas like you have never experienced before. 
Photo credit: Boston.com
Toro has a really nice relaxed vibe and a creative yet delicious menu, which will make you become a regular in no time. They don’t take reservations, so show up early if you want to bag a table or a spot next to the massive bull head in the back of the restaurant. Toro serves killer sangria, a great Spanish only wine list, a vast selection of tapas, and their signature grilled corn with alioli lime and grated cheese is literally finger licking good. 
Make sure you save room for Toro’s crispy churros dipped in melted chocolate – they are worth every calorie!

The People
It’s hard not to fall in love with the people of Boston. They are welcoming, fun, hard-working and proud of their fantastic city. The friends I have made in Boston are life long pals.  What kind of city is crazy enough to have an annual Santa Speedo Run in the dead of winter?
I have no doubt that the people of Boston will be resilient and overcome what has been an unspeakably horrific week. I’m running the London Marathon tomorrow, and my thoughts and prayers go out to all Bostonians and runners at the Boston marathon last week. Stay strong Boston and keep being the fabulous city that you are, my heart is with you!
Food

All Hail The In-N-Out-Burger

September 17, 2012
It might be thousands of miles away from London, but whenever I go back to California, it seems like I was just there yesterday. If you read my recent blog posts, you will know that I have just been in Cali visiting my mom, my pug Bogart, my friends, and yes–*drum roll*– In-N-Out Burger. I love rating and slating a good burger wherever I go, but this was one of those return visits you almost dread: would In-N-Out Burger live up to my expectations?
I have mentioned In-N-Out Burger to you before, and to be honest, I was a bit nervous that it wasn’t going to live up to my memories as I had not tasted In-N-Out’s beefy goodness for 18 months. Eager finally to try the famous burgers that I had boasted about for ages, my English boyfriend joined me for my reunion with In-N-Out. 
I am not averse to change, but if In-N-Out had gone downhill since I moved to London, then I would have to check myself into Malibu Promises rehab to cheer myself up. As we approached In-N-Out, I was relieved to see that the outdoor patio set up had not changed one bit. The marble benches with red parasol umbrellas were still outside and the In-N-Out color scheme was the exact same. So far so good, I thought to myself.
 
A big sigh of relief came over me as I was hit by the amazing wafts of that In-N-Out burger smell while walking through the door. The prices and décor were exactly how I remembered and all the In-N-Out employees were in those cute red and white old-school American diner outfits. As I waited in line I couldn’t believe I had even doubted In-N-Out for a second – this should be a crime and I vowed to myself I would never do it again. I ordered and we waited…

After 5 minutes our order was called and I brought these patties of perfection to our table outside – I couldn’t take my eyes off these juicy burgers! 
 
In terms of value, a Londoner will appreciate that a Double-Double ($3.20), a cheeseburger ($2.20), fries ($1.50 each), and two cokes ($1.35), comes to a grand total of $11.10 for two people. A burger in a gastro pub in London typically starts at £10 ($16.22) excluding fries so a meal at In-N-Out is basically a steal.
 
Before taking the first bite I thoroughly inspected every inch of my burger. The buns were just as I remembered: slightly toasted yet still fluffy on top. The beef was cooked to medium-well perfection… In-N-Out doesn’t offer to cook their burgers rare, but then again life isn’t perfect right? The signature In-N-Out sauce covered both sides of the inner buns, the cheese had a Michelin Star worthy melted consistency on top of both patties (a skill which is hard to master), and the tomatoes, lettuce, and onion were ideally cut and placed. My heart was racing with excitement.
I picked up my burger after sampling a baked potato fry or two and thought here goes…
Words cannot describe the feeling of bliss I experienced when I took my first bite out of my In-N-Out burger – probably something similar to what marathoners feel after crossing a finish line. This is my version of heaven in a toasted bun. In-N-Out Burger truly does live up to their slogan of “Quality You Can Taste.” The burgers were even better than I  had remembered.
In-N-Out Burger is primarily located in California, but they also have branches in Nevada, Utah, Texas and Arizona- brilliant for road trips! They have been serving burgers the same way since 1948, which means they don’t “freeze, over-process, or pre-package” their food, nor do they over-price it. I’m usually forward thinking, but when it comes to In-N-Out Burger, doing things “the old-fashioned way” is hard to beat.