A Spring Weekend of Food, Walking, and Beer in Boston

In the foreground, Syringa Vulgaris "Grand Duc Constantin." In the background, hardy Bostonians.

In the foreground, Syringa Vulgaris “Grand Duc Constantin.” In the background, hardy Bostonians.

We began Saturday morning with a morning stroll around the lilacs at Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain. Some of the early blooming specimens were in full flower, while the late-bloomers were still just buds. Undaunted by the lightly falling rain, Bostonians wandered from shrub to shrub, sniffing away. Go now if you don’t want to miss them; lilacs don’t last long once the weather heats up.

After satisfying my hunger for all things lilac, we felt the need to satisfy a hunger of a different sort — at Sportello. We headed over to Boston’s Fort Point where we bellied up to the counter for our panini, chips, peanut butter truffles, Alex Palmers (like an Arnold Palmer but with grapefruit juice), and the piece de resistance, the strozzapreti with braised rabbit, green olives, and rosemary.

From there, it was over to the nearby Harpoon Brewery to visit their new beer hall. After waiting about 25 minutes to get in — which has to be a record for any bar in Boston, at least any I’ve been to — we got the IPA sampler, tasted the cask ale, and then tried one of their “pilots,” an experimental beer they usually only keep around for a couple of weeks. The winner? Hands down, it was the hot-out-of-the-oven giant soft pretzel with cheese-and-ale sauce. Just don’t burn your fingers trying to eat it too fast.

Then it was home for a movie (and another beer) at the Somerville Theater in Davis — we saw Gatsby, but it only whetted my appetite for some of their upcoming silent films, showing in their classic main theater. Where else can you see these films as they were meant to be seen — in a huge theater with a balcony, box seats, elaborately painted ceiling, and gold-trimmed vermilion curtain?

There's no more attractive way to get from Davis to Alewife.

There’s no more attractive way to get from Davis to Alewife.

Sunday started with a drizzly morning walk along the Davis Square bike path, which is covered in cherry blossom petals this time of year, and then segued into an afternoon game at Fenway Park (with mom and dad, of course). I got off the T at MGH and walked down Charles Street, through the Public Garden (where hordes of children waited with mothers to have their picture taken in front of the ducklings), and along Marlborough Street, in my view the handsomest in the Back Bay. In front of every massive architectural pile is a postage-stamp sized garden, each one unique. By the time the Red Sox succumbed to the Blue Jays, the sun was shining in earnest, so I took another long walk, this time up Beacon Street and over the Mass Ave bridge to Central Square, making a quick pit stop in Toscanini’s — as far as I know, the only ice cream store that’s ever inspired its own bailout — before hopping on the T.

The gorgeous weather was still very much in evidence when I arrived home. This early in the year, it still feels like a precious novelty, a rare resource not to be wasted. Only six months until winter! So Ben and I headed out again, this time to his secret fishing inlet on a part of the coast I somehow had never visited in 31 years of living in the state. Unfortunately, the wind was now picking up, making it hard on a fly fisherman (and his windblown, along-for-the-ride girlfriend), so we packed it in and drove back, stopping for dinner at Belle Isle Seafood in Winthrop. The good news: you don’t have to drive to the Cape (or to Rhode Island, or to Maine) for your fried-fish fix. That is also the bad news (for your waistline). The clam chowder is some of the best I’ve had, and the crab cakes were also excellent. I don’t think I’ve ever had anything more deeply fried than their scallops — and I mean that in a good way.

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