Category Archives: Boston

Coffee culture: Coffee-as-a-pursuit (CAAP)

Michael C.You need to turn coffee drinking as a means to an end into the end itself, says culture and lifestyle contributor, Michael C.

IT WILL BE INTERESTING to see exactly what goes into the Tremont Street space formerly known as Francesca’s. I initially heard through the grapevine that Peet’s Coffee had secured the space, although apparently that’s now up in the air. But regardless of who moves in or when, if it’s a coffee shop I do hope they are wise enough to create something that takes into account the neighborhood’s love of coffee as a pastime. Because, you see, coffee is for South Enders and Euro-trash alike, not merely a beverage but a pursuit – indeed, an institution in and of itself. Right?!

When traveling abroad, my single favorite activity is sitting at a café (preferably independently owned and out-of-doors), espresso with lemon twist in front of me, engaged in some serious people watching. That’s right – not shopping, not clubbing, not sightseeing, but coffee! Most museums have fantastic in-house cafés anyway so it’s often a no-brainer win-win for me. As a born and raised European who has made this beloved land his home, this is where I feel that US society’s reverence towards the institutional identity of coffee-as-a-pursuit (CAAP) leaves a lot to be desired. Ask any person who crosses your path what comes to mind when they hear coffee and chances are they will tell you it’s a wake-up beverage in a paper cup, lid, cardboard sleeve and all, consumed on the run, on the move, on the way somewhere. Why, oh why can’t people see that coffee is that somewhere?

It’s a state of body and mind – a most civilized pursuit. It is something that should be enjoyed in sacred silence at dawn, with the life-and-arts newspaper section in the afternoon, over convivial conversation any time of the day and in countless other settings, never in a rush but as the ultimate activity. I recently ran into an old French friend on Shawmut Avenue and when asked what she was up to, this stunning Capucine look-alike replied with a smile “I’m going for coffee – join me?”. “Capucine” obviously gets it!

Based on my criteria, which I assume are clear by now, here is a list of M’s favorite coffee temples in Boston – and yes, M cares about the quality of the coffee. See you there!

South End Buttery – No introduction necessary. Everyone who’s alive in the South End knows the incomparable charm of this beloved neighborhood corner hangout.

Wholy Grain, Shawmut Avenue – no porcelain cup and saucer option due to legit space constraints, but the whole operation is so simpatico it’s impossible no to like – the small, independent neighborhood coffee shop is what we’re missing in this city.

SIP Café, Post Office Square – one of Boston’s independently owned coffee treasures and one of the closest CAAP establishments in Boston. Huge fan here!

L.A. Burdick, Back Bay – strictly speaking, a hot chocolate place but the coffee is good too – insanely bridge-and-tunnel-packed on weekends but very atmospheric on weekdays.

JaHo, South End – small, independent, bookish – good for coffee, sweets and work.

Flour, Clarendon Street – Ms. Chang’s Back Bay outpost proves that she, too, gets it.

Starbucks, South End – yes, it a mega-corporation, but surely one to emulate – beside offering good coffee in porcelain and (perpetually occupied) seating, this company’s respect for ethical business practices and equal rights is truly something to feel good about supporting.

Michael C About the author:  A former banker, Michael C offsets the sobriety of his professional life with his passion for design, music, the arts and anything beautiful.

© Michael Constantinides 2014 – all rights reserved

National Sand Sculpting Festival Revere Beach this weekend

Sand Castle Revere BeachThis weekend more than 350,000 people are expected to come down to Revere Beach to see the National Sand Sculpting Festival that will take place Friday thru Sunday 10:00 am – 10:00 pm.

A few years ago Sergio and I went down to check it out and I have to admit the sculptures were really impressive. More information about this free event can be found here.

UberBOAT was uber popular

UberBOAT! Boston by Boston Harbor CruisesEarlier this summer Uber briefly test-marketed a water taxi service in partnership with BHC and according to their blog post on Tuesday, the program was a success. In the image below (I swiped it from Uber’s blog), arrows point to UberBOAT district destinations. The thicker the arrow, the more trips took place.

UberBoat_map-04-300x294

Uber’s blog shares a number of findings from this test run but the stat that impressed me was they say demand was about 7x greater than supply and remained consistent through out the trial period.  Based on that stat, it would seem to me that there is a good possibility this service could return on a more permanent basis. You can read more about the trial run here in Boston in Uber’s blog post, here.

Riding the Green Line

I wish I was on this Green Line train when this a cappella group decided to harmonize and sing.

Deck of Cards workout every Monday

Free work out, health, fitness, Boston fitness

Source: November Project

Inspired by a recent article in The Boston Globe, I wanted to write (again) about the many opportunities to work out for FREE in the city. Starting tomorrow, the ever so cool – November Project – hosts their Monday morning Deck of Cards Workout. The way it works is they flip through a deck of cards doing situps when they turn over a red card and pushups when it is a black card; the value of the card is how many you have to do.

The workout starts at 6:30 AM in Boston.  Details about the workout can be found on their website, here.

BosGuy brain teaser

brain teaser, rodinEach Friday morning I post a riddle to get you to think outside the box and exercise your brain.  If you are stumped, feel free to get help or share it with a friend or colleague to see if you can figure it out together.

I’ll confirm answers later in the day so don’t worry if you don’t see your comment posted right away. I want to give everyone a chance.

This weeks riddle:

A child is born in Boston, Massachusetts to parents who were both also born in Boston, Massachusetts. However, the child is not a United States citizen. How is this possible?

Hint: Today.

Like riddles? Check out past week’s brain teasers.

Chef Mario Batali to open Babbo Pizzeria in Seaport

Babbo Pizzeria BostonThe Boston Globe reported that celebrity chef Mario Batali will open an 8,700 square foot restaurant at 11 Fan Pier in the Seaport District by the end of this year. The restaurant will be called Babbo Pizzeria and will include three bars – one each for cocktails, pizza and antipasti.  Plan designs also include a large patio and private dining space.  While the Seaport has seen many restaurant openings in recent years, this is one of among a handful that I’m excited about.  I have high hopes and expectations for Babbo Pizzeria’s wood-fired pizzas and pastas.

Extending hours for bars and restaurant nixed (for now)

drink, cocktail, boston, bar, nightlifeThe Boston Globe reported today that proponents for allowing bars and restaurants to stay open later was dealt a setback today when the provision that would have allowed establishments to stay open until 4:00 AM was not included in the State’s budget.

Although the Mayor voiced support for the provision the Globe said the Mayor “did not strenuously lobby House lawmakers to agree” and without that support it appears local lawmakers who opposed the measure won the day. I do hope this is brought up again because I do believe later hours in parts of the city make a tremendous amount of sense and would add to the quality of life in Boston. You can read the Boston Globe article here.

Don Chiofaro proposes $1 billion waterfront project

Source: KOHN PEDERSEN FOX ASSOCIATES

Source: KOHN PEDERSEN FOX ASSOCIATES

This week The Boston Globe reported that developer Don Chiofaro is reviving his effort to build a pair of skyscrapers along Boston Harbor.  His previous 2009 plan to develop this real estate had been blocked by Mayor Menino, but with a new Mayor in Boston it appears that Mr. Chiofaro has come back with a new plan proposing a 600′ complex that he says will “wow”.

Source: KOHN PEDERSEN FOX ASSOCIATES

Source: KOHN PEDERSEN FOX ASSOCIATES

The $1 billion project, that would redefine Boston’s skyline and waterfront still needs approval, includes about 1.3 million square feet of commercial and residential space; 700,000 square feet of offices, up to 300 hotel rooms, 120 luxury condominiums and three levels of stores and restaurants.

More about this story here.

World Naked Bike Ride in Boston this Saturday

Boston Bike Ride NakedThis Saturday, June 28th (for the fifth year in a row) Boston is one of 70 cities from around the world to partake in the World Naked Bike Ride, where hundreds are expected to shed their clothing and mount their bikes to ride through several neighborhoods.

To participate or for more information link here.

According to event details, riders will meet at the bandstand on Boston Common at 9 p.m. before they strip down to their skivvies and set out on the trip down Newbury St., Mass. Ave., and over the bridge into Cambridge. Participants are welcome to attend an after party (clothing required) where cyclists can mingle. The exact location for the meet-and-greet has not been announced, but details will be posted on their Facebook page, here.

Three (gay) days in Boston

Back Bay RainbowI’ve often commented on how much I love Boston and am happy to act as any newcomer’s or visitor’s concierge, answering questions or providing suggestions. While I realize my preferences may not be yours, I thought I’d share ideas on what to see over three days in Boston. I’ve taken care to avoid suggesting places only a trust fund baby can afford. You can read my suggestions from Day 1 Here and Day 2 Here.

Day 3:  Three (Gay) Days in Boston

3 gay days in BostonWhat would a visit to Boston be without checking the Freedom Trail? This 2.5 mile walk chronicle’s America’s history in the years leading up to and during the American Revolution. Although the walk technically starts on Boston Common, I’d suggest starting your morning by splurging at The Omni Parker House dining room for breakfast just a few blocks from the start of the trail. This restaurant has been serving Boston and Boston travelers since 1855 and is the birthplace of the Boston Cream Pie. It also has the distinction of having employed Mao tse-Tung Ho Chi Minh and Malcolm X.

3 gay days in BostonAfter walking the Freedom Trail you are going to be tired so spend the afternoon taking a 90-minute Duck Tour.  Before or after your tour (you decide) grab lunch on Boylston Street in the Back Bay. I’m partial to the patio of Atlantic Fish Co. if you’re not a fan of seafood or want a cheap eats alternative check out Cafe Jaffa a few blocks away.

3 gay days in BostonStart your final evening by visiting another iconic Boston restaurant, The Oak Long Bar + Kitchen, in the Fairmont Copley Hotel in Copley Square. For dinner on the cheap head over to a South End neighborhood mainstay, Anchovies, for basic, affordable homestyle Italian-American that is just a few blocks away. For something a little more interesting, try Myers + Chang – a Pan-Asian Tapas restaurant on Washington & Berkeley Street.  Take a taxi rather than walk – it should be about $6 from Copley; again make reservations. After dinner walk just two blocks down Washington Street to Boston’s newest gay bar – more of a Bear / Sports Bar – Cathedral Station.

Three (gay) days in Boston

3 gay days in BostonI’ve often commented on how much I love Boston and am happy to act as any newcomer’s or visitor’s concierge, answering questions or providing suggestions. While I realize my preferences may not be yours, I thought I’d share ideas on what to see over three days in Boston. I’ve taken care to avoid suggesting places only a trust fund baby can afford.  You can read my suggestions from Day 1 Here.

Day 2:  Three (Gay) Days in Boston

3 gay days in BostonLeave all the walking for the afternoon today and start your morning at the original The South End Buttery on the corner of Shawmut Ave and Union Park St. Relax and enjoy the morning hub bub, use the free wifi and people watch at this busy corner coffee shop that serves some of the best coffee in town.

3 gay days in BostonIn the afternoon head over to Ernesto’s Pizza on Salem Street. It isn’t as famous as some of its neighbors but it is damn good, has no lines and the slices are HUGE. Then go to The Modern Pastry to get something decadently sweet you can enjoy while you stroll down The Rose Kennedy Greenway, which offers views of Boston’s skyline, harbor and public art. When you end your walk near Chinatown, take a left and head over to Boston’s only remaining Gay Bookstore, Calamus Bookstore (at 92b South Street; open 11am – 7pm Tues – Sat and 12-6pm Sun). Peruse the shelves and support this great LGBT bookstore with a purchase or two.

3 gay days in BostonIn the evening go to Sister Sorel on Tremont Street (or next door if it is nice weather – Tremont 647) in the South End to carouse with locals. Skip the food here; it is the n’hood vibe that makes the place fun. While it isn’t technically a gay pub, there is always a quorum present. When you get hungry head over to Stella on Washington Street; it may seem like a tough area but it is safer than you’d ever imagine so walk like a local down W. Brookline Street until you arrive at Stella. If it is the weekend, ask for directions to the back bar where it is easier to snag a seat.   After dinner head to the front bar for drinks and people watching.

Wicked cool: Boston’s very own phantom opera house

Phantom Opera House in Boston

Source: Greig Lamont (c) Project of Ruins

Did you know that Boston has its own phantom of the opera; 120 year old concert theater that is 40 feet below street level? This concert hall below the iconic Steinert & Sons storefront on Boylston Street has been closed for nearly three-quarters of a century.

The “acoustically perfect” theater built by Alexander Steinert seated 650 people.  Apparently world-renowned pianists and opera singers performed here up through 1942 when nearly 500 died in Boston at the notorious Cocoanut Grove. Following that tragedy subterranean spaces like Steinert Hall became subject to strict fire regulations and was forced to close.

Read more about this fascinating space and check out The Boston Globe video, here.

 

 

Three (gay) days in Boston

3 gay days in BostonI’ve often commented on how much I love Boston and am happy to act as any newcomer’s or visitor’s concierge, answering questions or providing suggestions. While I realize my preferences may not be yours, I thought I’d share ideas on what to see over three days in Boston. I’ve taken care to avoid suggesting places only a trust fund baby can afford.

I’m happy to provide suggestions on places to stay but for the purpose of this series of posts I am going to assume you have reserved a hotel, B&B or apartment in downtown Boston and will provide suggestions with dining options for morning, afternoon and evening.

Day 1:  Three (Gay) Days in Boston

3 Gay Days in BostonStart your morning at Panificio Bakery on Charles Street in Beacon Hill. Grab a cup of coffee, tea or juice and a decadent, warm carb recently pulled from the oven that you can enjoy while walking along the Charles River. This public park offers great views of Back Bay, Cambridge (and men walking, running and biking).

3 Gay Days in BostonIn the afternoon, enjoy a relaxing picnic in Boston’s Public Garden (the nation’s first botanical garden). Call The Upper Crust in Beacon Hill  (617) 723-9600 and ask them to walk or bike over your pizza order. All you need to have is a cell phone and a credit card. They will bring the pizza, drinks, plates and napkins. You can enjoy the park, the views and of course the pizza.  After lunch take a stroll through Back Bay: enjoy the Commonwealth Mall with sculptures on each block with some of the neighborhoods most beautiful homes or walk along Newbury Street (Boston’s version of 5th Avenue) which includes both national luxury chains as well as one of a kind boutiques.

3 Gay Days in BostonIn the evening head over to The Trophy Room on the corner of Berkeley and Chandler Street in the South End. Grab a cocktail (or two) at this gay friendly neighborhood bar and when your appetite reminds you it is time to eat, walk the four blocks to Aquitaine on Tremont Street (reservations are strongly suggested). I won’t presume to know your preferences and am confident that everything on the menu would be to your liking. After dinner if you are in the mood for a 20 or 30-something crowd head to Club Cafe on Columbus Ave and Berkeley Street where there is always a crowd and dancing in the backroom. If you would like something more relaxing walk two blocks down Union Park to Boston Chops and enjoy a cocktail and the guys who congregate here after dinner by the bar.

Boston Pride Back Bay block party

On Sunday, Boston Pride hosts their official block party from 12-8 PM. The weather was absolutely spectacular and a large crowd came out to enjoy themselves. Below are a few photos from the block party.

Boston Pride Back Bay block party

Back Bay block party

Dirk Caber and Jesse Jackman

Dirk and Jesse pose for a quick photo

Boston Pride Back Bay block party

Sergio in the thick of it

Boston Pride Back Bay block party

Gostoso Brasileiros

Boston Pride Back Bay block party

Gawd bless shirtless menz

Boston Pride Back Bay block party

Well hello there Harry (and posse)

Boston Pride Back Bay block party

Left to Right: Handsome, Handsome, Handsome, Handsome and Handsome