During my tenure on MasterChef, my surrogate family was 20 cast members! While isolated from our families during the filming, we all became a tight-knit family amongst ourselves, with 5 of the cast having ties to Boston. I call it the “Boston Posse”: Jason Wang, from my favorite city, Newton, MA; Necco Ronaldo, from SC whom now resides in Boston; Adam Wong, yes from the OC, attends a small School, aka Harvard; Danny Pontes-Macedo, aka (The Bus Driver), from Somerville, MA; and Sam Reiff-Passarew, well let’s say he’s the traveler from NYC/DC! Then there is Gabe, our future TV host and “Culinair Extraordinaire”. I've got my money on this one! We’ve all gathered for Danny’s wedding, as well as our first mini reunion.
I am as excited to see the "Posse" as I am hyped for the history and food adventures, for I have never been to “Beantown”. Our gracious hosts, Jason and Nathan, start off by picking us up at Logan Airport, and promptly take us to the Seaport for lunch at Legal Seafood for some local oysters, lobster bisque, clam chowder, lobster mac and cheese, crab cakes, appetizer white pizza with arugula and meat. Hell, had he fed me a lobster roll, he could’ve just sent me back home on the completion of the culinary adventure!
After the seafood feast, we're off to North End to Modern Pastry for Lobster Tail pastry, cannoli and truffles. S.O.B., this lobster tail isn’t the meat version, it's a pastry dessert that is basically puff pastry filled with pastry cream and LOVE! Now, being it’s ”Little Italy”, we have to get the cannoli, which isn’t at all what I attempted on MC, an Irish Cream Truffle, as well as a double espresso! Let me make this clear, I have four “Compadres” to assist in this sugar bliss, thank you Lord!
With this sugar/caffeine rush a’kickin', we're off to the the Old North Church and cemetery! My first taste of Boston history, a church older than our nation and a cemetery that most of the folks were born prior to the nation as well. To say the least, it's quite moving. It’s amazing to me, as we walk these narrow streets, that the buildings, churches and shops have stood the test of time, I love history! For dinner we're taking a trip to Chinatown via the Beacon Hill area. Talk about “old money and housing”! I’m in complete awe of the architecture and parks.
In Chinatown, Jason selects Jade Garden, a Chinese restaurant, and promptly does all the ordering, so excuse my description destruction of the plates: lobster seafood soup; crispy chicken; lobster, Chinese style; beef with pickled mustard greens and cabbage (OMG); pork and calamari; white fish tempura with green onion stalks; shrimp fried rice; bean sprouts sautéed in garlic; then the final salvo, a whole baked flounder in soy! What an incredible dinner along with the “Posse” companionship! Oh, I can’t leave out our mates, Nathan, Jess and Mel, What an incredible start to a great weekend!! Now, I believe it's time to unbutton my britches and head home for some much needed rest!
Saturday is wedding day, and we start with fresh lox and bagels and a little pickled herring. We check out a local Irish Pub, Dunn-Gaherin's Food and Spirits, and enjoy some local brew before heading back to put on our wedding finest. Being the gracious host that he is, Jason wants to be sure we enjoy the best pastry shops in Boston, which are crazy busy and good, and as if we haven't had enough already, on the way to the wedding we stop at Japonaise Pastry in Brookline, where the Azuki cream Pastry is crazy good! The wedding is dynamite, and being me, dressed in full cowboy regalia, I am the most underdressed, so it's a perfect wedding!
Sunday is the slow, chill day with fall ramping up. We (Mel and I) decide to have brunch with some old soul friends, the Hulak’s, at Gustazo’s Cuban in Waltham! It's amazing to catch up with old friends, especially over a Cuban sandwich and great conversation! Then back home to relax and recharge the batteries. Much to our surprise, Jason makes an incredible dinner of shrimp scampi, celery root salad, mix of greens dressed with sunflower seeds and a dressing that is out of this world (orbital), and romenesco broccoli with garlic and tomatoes! Damn, this guy can cook! He should go on MasterChef! Oh, he did, and damn near won it! After this meal, Mel and I scamper down to the Newton Town Center to have a little ice cream at JP Lick’s, however, since we are on vacation and my only requirements on vacation are to sleep in an awesome bed and food doesn't matter since you don’t gain weight while on vaca, hahaha, I make a pit stop for a slice of pizza at Sweet Tomatoes Pizzeria! Now with an extended belly and a comida coma setting in, it's back home to bed.
Monday starts off by donning the full regalia and heading off to South Newton High School to be introduced to Jason’s musical and orchestral class to speak with them about my life experiences and MasterChef. What a pleasure to meet such considerate students!
There's a little chill in the air, and Mel needs a little java, so I head to Starbucks to get that pumpkin spice conglomeration. While standing in line, a gentleman walks in, gives me the once over, and asks, “Where are you from?”. I reply, “NYC”. After the chuckle, I give him the truth. Mr. Fitzgerald is his name, and with the kindest gesture, he wishes me a great stay and invites me back. I love the people of Boston!
Jason wraps up his classes early, and takes us, along with Dino and Kelseay, to Minado’s, a Chinese buffet that is over the top! The food and sushi were prepared in small portions so it isn’t only fresh, but there are options of so many different choices! I’ve never seen such a buffet.
This fall day is what one would expect. The leaves are turning to their fall hues, it's a brisk day in the upper 50’s and slightly overcast. The only thing missing is warm cider. What the hell, we're off to the Honey Pot Hill Apple Orchard!
This is my first visit to an apple orchard. I’ve always dreamt of hunting grouse and chukar in an apple orchard, so this will do, lol! To my surprise, they raise, if not 20 varieties, damn near close to that many, and being with Jason, a food aficionado, we have a great instructor on each variety, along with a tasting. As we walk through the orchard, I am amazed that the trees aren’t your typical 'stand up' tree. The branches start just above ground level and are loaded with fruit, if not already picked, to the crest. BTW, the cider here is damn good, not to mention the apple cider donuts!
As our field trip wraps up, we head back to the city, and along the way I notice all of the beautiful old homes. These homes have these placards with “Circa Dates” of when built, most being in the late 1700’s to early 1800’s. This is truly amazing to me, as it seems to me, back at home, if it’s more than fifty years old, we tear it down and start over, unless it’s the Alamo!
Once back in the city, we're off to our final dinner with the MC crew at Osteria Posto for some fine Italian fare and good company! Good food, good wine and great companionship...what a way to wrap up a trip!
Well, it's time to head back to Texas, and I must say, “I can’t wait to get back to Boston”, the kindest people, history everywhere, great FOOD , and great friends!
Thank you to all, and a special thanks to Jason and Nathan, incredibly gracious hosts and true gentlemen!
Adios Boston, see ya soon!