Friday, October 01, 2010
Fall has arrived and this transplanted Southerner is looking forward to what I like to call "outdoor air conditioning" becoming a constant feature of my walks. And that reminds me that I haven't posted about some of the good things I have learned about life in New England in quite a while.
Time to reel off a short list now...
Portuguese Cuisine -- I have the best luck in the world with barbers. It usually takes me forever to settle on one when I have to switch, but my fussiness is usually rewarded. For example, back in Houston, my barber helped me learn about the local jazz scene and a really good band that plays semi-regularly within blocks of my old job. My new barber is likewise helping me appreciate what Boston has to offer.
This barber is something of a foodie, so some months ago, I was telling her about how much I enjoy experimenting with the Cajun and Creole cuisines of Louisiana, which often involve seafood. As it turns out, this barber is of Portuguese descent and Portuguese food often involves seafood, so I came away that day with a great restaurant recommendation: Atasca, located in Cambridge. I tried it one evening between work and a networking event, and thought enough of it to get my wife to try it.
Mrs. Van Horn, despite being from Louisiana, is not a big seafood fan. This was in the dead of winter, and the restaurant is a good ten-minute walk away from the nearest T stop for me. My wife walks much more slowly than I, so this translated into twenty minutes for the two of us. She also hates cold weather. On the way there, she told me later, she thought, "This place had better be good."
Not only did I not end up sleeping on the couch, my wife said the trip was worth it. If you're from around here, go, and see for yourself.
Apple Picking -- One evening, at a networking event, I bumped into someone I see there from time to time and learned, to my surprise, that hops, a key ingredient of beer, are native to New England. In fact, this acquaintance had purchased some (and had them on-hand) for a home brewing friend. He mentioned that they came from an apple orchard he had visited recently that Stephen King had purchased and started diversifying. I thought that was all kind of interesting, but it didn't occur to me to ask why he had gone to an apple orchard. I just assumed that it was a visit to relatives or personal business of some kind.
The next day, my barber asks me what we had planned for the weekend. I told her that we were coming off a long week and would probably spend Saturday recuperating: Maybe we'd do something Sunday. So she suggested we try visiting an apple orchard. I haven't done this yet, but apparently, this is a favorite pass time in New England. (And then, suddenly, my conversation the evening before made much more sense...)
Being from the South, I do not naturally think of farms as a tourist destination: no "outdoor air conditioning," you know. We probably won't make it this fall, but I'm looking forward to finally doing this. In addition, the next time I see that guy who told me about the hops, I'm going to learn where the orchard he visited was. I'd enjoy seeing a hops farm -- if that's even the right phrase.
But failing that, I've found a list of orchards.
Hats and Jackets -- I like both, but either will make you bake to death outside in the South for most of the year. Up here, with the strong sun and the cool weather, hats are not only stylish, they actually make more than just sartorial sense. I like fedoras, but it's usually too windy for those, so I typically go with an applejack hat.
Well, that wraps it up. Have a great weekend!