12 September 2014


I tried really hard to have a recipe or something worth reading this week, but I just have zero content right now and zero time to generate it.  Please keep your expectations low for September.  Instead, I'll be rehashing the epic tale of my travels last month.
It started out with Jimmy Johns, which is my go-to travel food.  If I'm eating a JJ #12, I'm most likely on a road trip (in this case, the road that led to the airport).  A few hours later, I was in Boston.  And half an hour after that, I was at Walden Pond.  THE Walden Pond, apparently there are two of them in the area.  Thus began my week-long habit of parking illegally.  I got to the Pond about half an hour before the park closed, and the ranger station wasn't staffed so I didn't really know what to do.  I just parked.  Oh well.
What I found was Thoreau's idyll, overrun by parents and children trying to squeeze in the last rays of the summer sun.  There was also a (replica) Thoreau cabin to explore.
The whole experience, I'm sorry to say, was completely the opposite of Thoreau's.  Rather than simple or self-sufficient, my side trip put me way behind and maybe even too late for dinner.  My phone died and I didn't have a car charger so I was forced to fire up the laptop just so I could get enough juice to navigate the ridiculous driving experience that is Boston.  My first post-Walden priority was Night Shift Brewing for their uniquely flavor-infused brews.
My selection did not disappoint.
Whilst there, I inquired with the bartender whether he knew of any nearby restaurants that were still serving food.  He recommended Sarma in Somerville, and it was an excellent choice.  Small-plate Turkish bites - absolutely fantastic.  In all honesty, if work hadn't been paying for it there's no way I would have eaten there (the prices were a little higher than what I'm used to), but if you're splurging it's definitely worth it.
The flavor profile reminded me strongly of our Moroccan Christmas last year.  So delicious.  And it was only a little bit weird to be eating alone.  Walking back to the car I realized I was yet again parked illegally - there was a sign hidden by a tree branch, and the car that had been parked in that area (the one that let me know it was okay to park there) had left.  After that it was a late check-in at the hotel and I was dead to the world until morning.
The next night I bee-lined for the coast.  I ended up in the fancy-pants section of town (again parked illegally - it was residents / parking by permit only, which I didn't realize until I'd been there for half an hour). 
I had a delightful chat with the couple in this photo.
From there, I headed to downtown Salem, where the overhyped death of 20 women has led to a huge commercialization of...witches. (I realize that comes off as insensitive.  What I mean is that there are many events in history where the death toll was wildly higher, and sometimes I feel that those events are not given the respect they're due, whereas the small number of deaths in this case is popular only for the bizarre circumstances.)
I stopped at a brewery to try some different craft beers, but I was ignored for so long that I decided I would rather be walking around while the sun was still out and the air was still warm, and I left before ever even talking to a server (disappointing).  It was a GREAT night to be wandering around town - perfect weather.  This was an odd sight in the middle of an urban setting - at first I thought it was fake but those are indeed very, very old gravestones.
Next was a late meal at another fantastic restaurant - Dube's Seafood.  I had found this one online before I left.  It was in the middle of a residential area and the building was extremely nondescript.  I even stopped some patrons outside the restaurant to confirm that the food was worth eating.  The waitress warned me that my swordfish would take some time, which made me concerned that she meant they had to thaw it first, but it was clear when it arrived that the time was due to its enormous size.  Lemon slice for scale?  Sorry for the filter, it was a dark restaurant and the filter improves the photo a bit. It was so perfectly cooked and so tasty, I was blown away.  I ended up taking half of it home and eating it for breakfast the next day.
Day 3!  I took approximately three photos because as soon as training was over I headed straight to the airport.  Harpoon brewing has an airport location so there was no question about where I was eating dinner.
My little brother picked me up at the airport and arranged a bed for me to sleep on, then I spent Thursday at the farm working in the gardens with him (okay, so I slept for the first few hours while he worked but after that I gave it 100%!).  Later, he pawned me off my my dad, who drove me up to Cadillac.  After saying hi to my parents, Kyle and I visited some friends and had some wine.  I have one photo from Thursday and it begs too many questions to actually post here, so here's Zeppy instead.  Actually, I have hardly any photos from the rest of the trip.
I visited the gardens where my mom works, we visited my grandma, we went canoing, we had a cookout, all great fun!  But no photos.  Oh wait.  It occurs to me that Kyle took photos at the cookout, but they're on the camera, not my phone.
Then on Sunday, we visited my other grandma.  It was really great to see family on this trip.  It's definitely been hard to be so far away while they've been going through so much.  And after the visit, we started our journey home - with a quick stop at Horrock's to pick up a few of the Michigan craft beers that we missed (huma lupa!).  You just can't find beer like this in SC!
We made good progress on Sunday but called it quits with ten hours left to go in the drive.  On Labor Day, we timed our lunch stop to sneak in a quick visit to Asheville, NC to try out a brewery there.  We stopped at LAB, and the beer was great but I can't recommend the food.  Hopefully it was just an off day for the cooks.  Oh, and this is a very "Asheville" story:  when we first parked, a guy came up to our window and said he was leaving and still had two hours left on his meter, and we were welcome to take his spot.  So yay for legal, paid parking!  And the kindness of strangers!
So that was my whirlwind trip.  Oh, and one last photo.  After spending half my week in gardens, I brought home tons of fresh produce, including this pile of heirloom tomatoes left out to ripen.  Sure, they're slightly blighted and I threw most out before they were usable, but I still got 12 pints canned this week!
It was a awesome trip, starting out with great food and ending with great people.  Excellent weather, fresh veggies, fresh air, fresh perspectives.  It was exactly what I needed.

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