Restaurant Review: Avana Sushi

August 9, 2014 – Somehow we didn’t know that the other one liked sushi.  The topic came up randomly one night, and once we realized that sushi was on the table for food options we decided to find a place in Boston with good sushi.  Our search led us to Chinatown, which (although I’ve never been to China) definitely feels like a “we’re-not-in-Boston-anymore” area of the city.  For starters, there are outdoor checker tables, a large arched gate, narrower streets, and stores selling live animals for that night’s dinner.

We walked by the restaurant the first and second times we tried to find it.  Finally we looked up the address and realized it’s in a “food court” of sorts – really, just a few little shops that share one entrance.  There aren’t many tables, but we managed to snag one.  We both ordered milk tea (mango and Thai, respectively) with boba.  For sushi we had the spicy tuna, spicy salmon, and Black Boy.  All the sushi was very fresh, presented nicely, and tasted fantastic, with the various flavors blending expertly together rather than competing with each other.  Black Boy (salmon, avacado, roe) might have been the hit of the afternoon, but the spicy tuna and salmon were also quite good.  The only downside was the pickled ginger wasn’t as fresh as it could have been, but it was more than edible.

 

Harpoon

Harpoon Brewery

August 7, 2014 – Last weekend we decided that we were long overdue for a tour of Harpoon Brewery.  Harpoon was the first brewery in MA to obtain a license after Prohibition, and was founded about 30 years ago.  What can I say, Prohibition hit this once-Puritan stronghold hard and didn’t let go for a long, long time.

Harpoon has a nice German-style beer hall, with long communal tables, a standing bar, standing tables, and great draft beer and pretzels.  Let’s chat about the pretzels first.  They’re boiled in beer, then oven baked so the bottoms are crispy (and coated with some great spices).  They come with sauce – Louisa likes the ale cheese sauce, while Tony prefers the Parmesan pretzel with marinara sauce.  Either way you can’t go wrong.

Now, the beer.  They have the traditional favorites on tap – ale, UFO varieties, and then some experimental kinds.  Like bacon boch.  Louisa didn’t like it, but Tony said the smokey taste was pretty good.  Next time I think we’ll stick to the traditional ones though, like ale and dunkelweizen.

The tour is funny, informative, lets you walk through the factory and includes samples – what more could you ask for?  Our group was pretty outgoing, what with the kids from Jersey, but definitely funny.  We also got to sniff hops and try malted barley.

One tip – get there early.  By the time we left at 2pm there was a line waiting outside for the beer hall.

 

Plimoth Plantation

Boston Historical Weekend

June 28-29, 2014 – This weekend we stuck around Boston, but that doesn’t mean we stayed home (at least, not all weekend).   So, what did we check out?  First up was Plimoth Plantation.  The plantation has a nice air-conditioned cafeteria where we got lunch, as well as a recreated settler village and an Indian village.  There are people in traditional dress in both villages, and various buildings you can walk into.  There are also farm animals in the settlers’ village, with the chickens, cows, and mini goats being the favorites.

Christian Scientist
The Mapparium is located near the Church of Christ, Scientist.

Next up was Cold Stone.  This was back in Boston, and it was a warm day that definitely called for some ice cream. After a bit of wandering around we eventually found the Mapparium.  The Mapparium is inside the Mary Baker Eddy library; you have to take a tour to see it, and you only get 20 minutes.  However, it is pretty neat to see, particularly if you’re lucky enough to be tall enough to see over and around the other people crammed into the room.  One of the interesting things about the map is the current version is from the mid-1900′s, so there are some out-dated national borders and names there.

 

Champlain

Weekend Trip to Acadia National Park

June 20 – 22, 2014 – It had been a long, long week, and we just needed to get away and relax for a bit.  So we headed to our favorite weekend getaway – Acadia National Park.  Since we’ve done so many of these posts in the past, let’s just cut to the chase and give you a nice little list of what we were up to this time around. :)

  • The weather finally cooperated enough to climb the Beehive and Mount Champlain.  We always bring enough snacks with us to have an informal light lunch on Mount Champlain.  Today the view was great, we could see mountains in the far, far distance, and had a clear view of Schoodic Point.  We also saw a bald eagle soaring.
  • We’ve never made it to a sunset at Cadillac Mountain, though now that we have (we stopped at a pulloff about 2/3 of the way up), we might just make this a regular occurrence.  The sky was perfect, and we could hear birds singing up the valley.  We also had a view of a pond, and could see a little sliver of ocean peaking out from between two mountains.
  • Pizza, garlic cheese knots and beer at Pat’s Pizza.  The pizza has fantastic pepperoni and sausage, and a nice light but still substantial crust.  This is one of our must-eat-at places (now that we’ve discovered it).
  • Picnic lunch at the little section of the park by Trenton bridge.  Maine is perfect for outdoor dining.  Just stop at an IGA or Hannaford’s, grab some bread, cheese and cold cuts, juice and pop, and some chips and you’re set.  I like to bring a table cloth and plastic silverware with me from home, so that simplifies the picnic process a bit.
  • The walk along Jordan Pond from The Bubbles to the Pond House.  This is a really lovely, wooded walk.
  • Along the walk we heard some squeaking.  A baby common merganser and mother were swimming along.  When the mother dove, the baby would look for her underwater, and then start squeaking until the mother came back up.
    Mergansers
  • Peanut butter and black raspberry ice cream at Blueberry Hill.  They only take cash, but the ice cream is always good and the large cone is huge.
  • On Sunday we did a new hike from Jordan Pond House – down the Asticou trail over to the Thuya gardens.  Actually, we kind of found the gardens by accident.  We’d just hiked up several dozen, very old stone stairs (apparently this was one of the first trails built, around the turn of the last century) with lots of hungry mosquitoes, when we found a trail covered in woodchips.  Then we found a little map hut.  And then we realized that our trail up a little mountain was going to be both flooded and overgrown.  So instead we walked down a road with a sign that said “Thuya.”  We had no idea what “Thuya” was, but we figured we’d find out.  Thuya is actually a garden landscaped in the English style, with a lodge and some lovely overlooks that are just right for a picnic lunch.
  • Just down the hill from Thuya gardens are the Asticou Azalea gardens.  These are slightly smaller than Thuya, but lovely and peaceful.

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