Harpoon Brewery, or How to be a Bad Girlfriend Thursday, Apr 1 2010 

How to be a Bad Girlfriend, Lesson Number One:

Last weekend, three days after I returned from San Fran, I opted to drive the five hours up to Boston to visit Boyfriend.  Naturally, I chose to leave right from work on Friday afternoon, which put me on the Jersey Turnpike at approximately 5:15pm.  Which is, coincidentally, the exact moment I began questioning this little plan.  Did I mention that I also made the decision to not change out of my work clothes? Yeahhhhh…

Anyway, several hours and half a book on tape (yup – you read that right) later, I pulled up to his apartment still in high heels and a dress.  Because of course I did.  In fairness, he only judged me this much, but I think that if he’d known then how Sunday afternoon would play out, he may have been a much harsher critic.

Here’s how it went down:

Boyfriend works.  A lot.  As in, I lose track of the multitude of jobs he holds down because he does so many different ones.  When I come up to visit, he generally tries to work as little as possible while I’m there, which is sweet.  Unfortunately, taking 2-3 days off from his approximately 2.5 million jobs is not exactly easy, and he usually has to work at least once while I’m there.  This is fine with me for a couple reasons: 1) the shifts he keeps are usually so early in the morning (5am. True story) that I sleep right through the entire experience and before I know it, he’s back in bed, and 2) the ones that aren’t freakishly early in the morning afford me a little free time to hang out with my Boston friends.  Not that I avoid doing this with Boyfriend, it’s just that having friends up there makes it easier to entertain myself when he’s not around.

This little visit was no different.  Boyfriend knew in advance that he was going to be operating the scoreboard at Northeastern’s baseball game on Sunday afternoon well in advance, and I immediately told my sorority “Little Sister” that she’d be responsible for entertaining me while he was otherwise engaged, since I strongly believe that baseball is the most boring sport on the planet.

Now here’s where it gets dicey for me and I become a shitty girlfriend.  Little suggested a brewery tour – more specifically, since we’ve both already been to Sam Adams, the Harpoon Brewery tour – and I couldn’t say no.  Of course, this resulted in the following conversation with Boyfriend/his boss when I dropped him off at work.

Boss: Are you staying to watch the game, Katie?

Me: Um, no…

Boyfriend: No, she’s going to the Harpoon Brewery.  With her friends.  Without me.  Even though I haven’t been there yet.

…Awkward.

So despite my new place in the doghouse, Little and I had a fantastic time at the Brewery.  The tour was, bar none, the best brewery tour I’ve ever been on.  And I’ve done my fair share of brewery touring.  Five dollars bought us a half-hour tour with two hilarious, knowledgeable guides and an hour-long “tasting” at the end.  And by tasting, I mean that they led us to their bar, stocked with 12 taps of Harpoon beer, filled our souvenir four-ounce tasting cups with their original ale, and proceeded to let us drink as much of whatever we wanted for the next hour or so.  Um, hello? Can you think of anything else you’d like from a brewery tour? Because I can’t.  Not one thing.

I also have to make the confession that I wasn’t Harpoon’s biggest fan before this tour.  Having only had their IPA (and, as a rule, hating IPA’s), I wasn’t compelled to really try anything else.  That, my friends, is called foolish – their beer is delicious and extremely well-made, especially the Oyster Stout, Munich Dark, and Cider.  By the end of the afternoon, I was effectively eating drinking my words.  Just consider me a Harpoon convert.

And as for my place in the doghouse?  Well, I think I made a little gain in that department when I brought Boyfriend home a growler of Harpoon’s newest beer: the Belgian Pale Ale.  I mean, he finished it in under two days.  So I’m 97% sure he enjoyed it.

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Salem, Mass. Monday, Oct 19 2009 

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Say what you want about the boardwalks of the Jersey Shore – the real characters are found in Salem, Massachusetts.  This is the town that embraces all things bewitching year round (at least, they have since the Puritans left), but especially comes alive during Halloween.  Nowhere else in the world, I imagine, would you see – in broad daylight, no less – a witch (cloak, hat, heels and all) walking through a graveyard.  It’s spooky and quirky in the best possible way.

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It’s also only about a half hour outside of Boston, and when I told Boyfriend that I wanted to do something “Halloween-y” (English major be damned, I make up words sometimes, too) during my visit this weekend, he didn’t have to do much research to find the ideal venue.

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And not to toot his lovable little horn too too much, but it was pretty much perfect.  The weather, which dropped a wintry mix all over New England the following day (when I was trying to board a plane and Tom Brady was trying to single-handedly crush the spirits of the entire Tennessee Titans franchise) even cooperated fully.  It was sunny and crisp outside, cool enough for the gloves that happened to be stuffed, forgotten, in my pea coat from last year, but mild enough for an afternoon of walking through this quaint, eccentric little town.  We sipped cups of hot apple cider (75 cents from a beautiful store called Pamplemousse) and marveled at the full face paint and costumes worn by some of our fellow explorers.  We also took an hour-long narrated trolley tour  around the city, learning about the history of one of the oldest towns in America and giggling like children at the tiny voodoo dolls and foam gravestones dangling from the trolley car’s ceiling.

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We ate lunch at a bar that proclaims to be haunted, and is part of the afterdark, ghost-story-ridden Salem pub crawl (unfortunately, this event sells out in the summer months, so we weren’t able to participate), and stopped later in the afternoon for beers at the Salem Beer Works, where we sampled everything from their Black Rider brew to their much lighter (and full of tiny fresh blueberries!) Blueberry beer.

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Hours after we arrived, we ambled back to the train station and crammed ourselves into a car full of other Salem tourists, our cheeks pink and windblown, peeled off our gloves and hats, and promptly fell asleep, wholly content with our tour, our day, and each other.

Welcome to Beantown, Baby Friday, Sep 11 2009 

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Some time ago, when we had only been dating a few months, Boyfriend dropped quite a bomb on my cute little big stubborn head: he wanted to quit his job and go back to grad school…outside of New Jersey.  Now, if you happen to be lucky enough to know either of us personally, the fact that he wanted to leave the Garden State should not come as a shock.  We’ve both been trying vehemently to get out since we graduated from high school and went to college in other states.  New Jersey, and especially central Jersey, where we’re from, really has a way of sucking you right back in though, and lo and behold, we both wound up back at home after college.  So it wasn’t that I was shocked, surprised, or alarmed at the fact that he again wanted to put some distance between him and the NJ Turnpike – it was that college, and my ex-boyfriends, had exhausted whatever zeal I may have had for long-distance relationships (admittedly, not much to begin with).

Needless to say, I am unbelievably proud of him for taking the steps that will enable him to one day secure his dream job.  But I’m not going to lie to you, him, or anyone else – having him live five hours away from me for the forseeable future freaking blows.

The upside to all of this (and trust me, I needed some upsides for the sake of my sanity) is that five hours does not require a plane ride, and that it gives me a whole new city to explore eat my way through!  So from here on out, people, expect to see some Boston in this blog, because as of last weekend, when I moved Boyfriend into his new apartment, I officially got some Beantown in my life.

A while back, Gourmet published one of their “8 Great” lists of the best ice cream places in Boston.  And I read it a month before Boyfriend moved.  Guess what made the agenda during the very first (of what will hopefully be many) Boston weekend.  You guessed it, ice cream.  More specifically, the Toasted Gingerbread ice cream sundae from a restaurant near Copley called Picco.

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This was, by the way, Labor Day weekend, also known as The Weekend Boston Chose to Announce that it was Fall! We ate our dessert in sweatshirts and jeans because suddenly, as if someone had flipped a switch, it was no longer summer.  The day before had been shorts and t-shirts.  The next day, I could fathom ingesting nothing but the dark spiciness of real, honest-to-goodness gingerbread and some of the rich, pumpkin-spiced beers of autumn.  And surrounded by the hustle and bustle of a city full of college students returning from their sleepy summer vacations, there was no other season, no other dessert that could adequately sum up the feeling that the end of summer was upon us – whether we were ready or not.

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