It was an excellent course, and I recommend it! To...you guys who would never take it.
But then it was time to check out and meet skogkatt. I had not seen Julia in a few years. She had a couple food recommendations. We checked out the menu of Sel de la Terre on Boylston and noted that they had a good deal on a prix fixe menu for Restaurant Month. It included bluefish, which I had never heard of, let alone had. A woman asked if we had any questions, and I asked her what bluefish was, and she described it as a vaguely local fish that was both flakier and oiler than cod or haddock. Or something. She was very excited about our presence and really wanted us to come inside. I had been wanting to have a fancy gourmet meal on the company dime, and this was my last chance, so we gave it a go.
I ordered the duck rillette, which sounded fancy and French. It was a...spready paste thing made out of duck...somehow. I don't know, I guess they pound an entire duckling into a little cup and serve it to me for three dollars. It didn't really taste like anything. I put it on some bread and topped it with dijon mustard and chopped onions. They also provided...pickled olives? According to Julia, who'd lived in France for a while, the French love to pickle things.
My first course was vichyssoise, which surprised me by being COLD. Once it warmed up a little bit, though, it was pretty good. It was also, apparently, the rate-limiting step, as the waitress seemed to need me to finish it before she would bring out the main courses. Julia finished her not-a-salad of heirloom tomatoes, frisee, and mozzarrella first.
My main course was bluefish, and, to my disappointment, it was not blue, but white. And upside-down, it seemed, given that the top was the darker, black side, the side that looked like it'd been cooked. It was in a tomato-saffron broth that was quite tasty, and the fish took on the flavor quite nicely. I also got some bonus mussels, and mussels are kind of gross, I think I have decided. They're kind of pointless as a food. The vegetables were practically raw and thus not great to eat. You suck at green beans, France.
Over lunch, Julia and I talked a lot about writing and The Topic That Shall Not Be Named.
For dessert, I suggested either a return to J.P. Lick's or a reluctant visit to Emack and Bolio's, which some of you defended. Julia had never tried the latter, so I said we would go there. She asked if she wanted me to buy my ice cream, as it had been a theme for the week. I was game! Oh, hanging out with people who read your LJ.
On reaching Newbury, we found ourselves at Stephanie's Restaurant. I couldn't remember whether Emack and Bolio's was past it, but I spied a Ben and Jerry's down the street, and I remembered making the comment that there were a lot of ice cream places on Newbury. I would not have made such a comment if it were only the second place we had passed; thus, Emack and Bolio's had to be in the other direction. And although I started to doubt myself after a few blocks, my logic proved sound.
Inside, the place was very cramped; there was barely room to stand around the counter. On the walls were displays of many awards. Behind the counter was the menu with wacky flavors. Black and White involved white chocolate, so it was a no go since white chocolate is stupid. Chocolate Addiction had chocolate chips and fudge and whatnot. Chocolate Moose was...just chocolate, which was lame. The winner was Beantown Buzz, which was "espresso" ice cream with chocolate-covered espresso beans and fudge. Julia went with the Oreo ice cream they had purportedly invented. We did not buy any of their wacky fucking cones that they had also purportedly invented way back in 1980. They had a marshmellow [sic] cone, for instance.
Outside, we sat on a bench to experience The Original Boston Ice Cream Experience.
And we were DISAPPOINTED.
The coffee ice cream at J.P. Lick's had had a stronger flavor. Julia's Oreo ice cream used sweet cream instead of vanilla and thus had very little flavor. Obviously, the add-ins like Oreos and chocolate-covered espresso beans were good, but the actual ice cream did not impress us. I was biased against it, but even Julia objectively declared my ice cream nothing special. She almost didn't want to finish eating her ice cream, but she had paid for it, after all.
A sign proclaimed that they had the BEST SMOOTHIES, and sure enough, many people seemed to be getting smoothies, so maybe their reputation was built on their smoothies? Because their ice cream was nothing to crow about.
A woman walked past us and asked if the yogurt was good. We said we didn't know, as we had ice cream. But! "The ice cream is disappointing!" I called. "It's not very good," I added, exaggerating. "I recommend J.P. Lick's instead."
The woman turned around. "Thanks for the tip!" she said and walked away, heading down the street and not toward J.P. Lick's at all, as if she didn't really want ice cream if it was not convenient.
Julia and I high-fived each other. It was the most awesome thing that would happen all day. We had cost Emack and Bolio's one (1) customer! Score!
I almost wanted to sit there for hours convincing people not to get ice cream, but instead we hopped over to Newbury Comics because I needed to read the latest Buffy comic. And so I did. And then I recommended several graphic novels to Julia.
On our way out, however, I spied Veronica Mars season two for $15. "Aw!" I cried, just because it was there. But behind it was The O.C. season two for $10. Wait, this was confusing. These were new DVDs. Wrapped in plastic. On CRAZY SALE.
They had three seasons of Samurai Jack for $16, but I didn't know how many seasons there were and whether I would really like it. Aaaaand they had Volumes Two and Four of Batman: The Animated Series for $10 each! These were CRAZY DEALS.
I called the_narration, a big Samurai Jack fan, for assistance. He said there were four seasons, which made the three-season set less appealing since buying the fourth season separately would probably cost more than the first three seasons, which would be annoying. But it was still a great deal, clearly, and I offered to get it for him. So that worked out. I also asked him to look up prices for B:TAS on Amazon, and, yes, those were crazy deals, and I could probably get the missing seasons for a decent price on the Amazon Marketplace.
But, man, if only they had the others! I asked someone at the counter, and he said that season three was on sale, but season one was not. He couldn't find a copy of season three, but, lo, it was right behind me when I went to purchase my selections. It was $15, but that was still cheaper than I'd get it on Amazon. Now I only have to get Volume One, and I can totally mainline the awesomeness!
Julia suggested I put the DVDs in my suitcase, which I had checked at the hotel, and I thought it was a good idea, so we walked back. My suitcase was so full I wasn't supposed to have bought anything at all, but I could not resist the CRAZY DEALS. (I mean, they were crazy, you guys. All kinds of random seasons of shows for $10. Like the complete series of Joey! And the first season of She-Ra! And Thundercats!) Rather than get my suitcase out, however, the bellman just checked my bag of DVDs.
We both needed to use the restroom, conveniently, but on the way we noticed one of those little touchscreen things. Like, it was a picture of a tidepool with starfish and stuff, and you could POKE IT AND THERE WERE RIPPLES! And you could PLAY GAMES AND SHIT. We resolved that we needed to play with it after our respective restroom excursions, and each of us was glad the other understood the necessity.
First, we made ribbons. Ribbons! You created ribbons by pressing down on the screen with your GLOWY FINGER, and then they slid around like little snakes. Then we played a little puzzle game with tiles that was like Bejeweled Attack or something. You moved tiles around, and when you got three or more colored tiles in a row, they turned into a bomb that shot at the other player. The neat thing about this spin on the game was that you could destroy an incoming bomb by tapping it. So you had to play offense and defense. I kicked Julia's ass twice.
Then we moved to Music, which was sort of like a giant iPod Touch, and Pictures, which was sort of like a giant iPod. We could move pictures around and resize them and shit. We tapped on News stories and made them bigger and smaller. Basically, we had way more fun with the thing than two adults should have.
Both of us were going up to Cambridge for dinner, so we decided to take a walk down to Park Station. On the way, however, there was a Borders, and I figured we should stop in and see how much the Batman: The Animated Series DVDs went for, just for kicks. We had to get someone to open the stupid glass case: they were $45 each. I like my $10 better.
Unfortunately, I learned that the Borders Rewards 40% coupon was actually good today, not just Sunday! And there I was in a Borders, and I should take advantage of 40% off. So I picked up an Ex Machina trade. Stop buying stuff, me! Criminy.
We walked through the Public Garden, which was very pretty. A woman was cooing at a baby posing behind flowers. "Wooo! Wooo!" she said, trying to get the baby to smile. After the picture had been taken, her cheerful demeanor dropped and she barked, "All right, on to the next flowers."
Boston Common was also pretty but in a different way. Park Station is not pretty, but it's pretty important, being a transfer station. Downstars on the platform to the Red Line, whom should we find but Julia's boyfriend and the people she was meeting for dinner! Well, that was weird. Introductions were made, although I would only spend ten minutes with these people. I got off at Central Square Station, hugging Julia goodbye before leaving.
I walked up Mass Ave to Asmara, an Ethiopian restaurant. I was about to sit down and wait for the Buffistas to arrive when I saw three Buffistas waving to me. I was the one who was late! Present were Frank and Jon and Theodosia. It had warmed up quite a bit, so we went inside.
Our waitress asked if we wanted a traditional table or a regular table. The traditional table was like a little basket with a tablecloth in between the chairs. "How does the traditional table work?" I asked.
"Just like the regular table," she answered. Our waitress clearly had no patience for silly questions. Jon liked her; she had sass.
After we took our seats, I presented Frank with his gift from Comic-Con, a poster of the cover for Planetary #27. He was exceptionally awesomed by it.
For appetizers, we ordered things that were stuffed: peppers stuffed with ground beef for Frank and Jon and tomatoes stuffed with rice for me. I asked the waitress if I could have a separate check for me, and she seemed sort of thrown by the request, like, "Really, you think you're so special you need your own check?" They must not get many business travelers.
The stuffed tomato was very good; it was topped with what seemed like a spiced marinara.
The main course was family style. We had ordered n - 1 dishes: chicken with red pepper sauce, chicken with mild yellow sauce, and lentils with mild yellow sauce. Each of us got injera, the Ethiopian staple bread. Although the dishes came in plates, the waitress immediatelly turned them over and poured them out onto the table, which was now covered in a lighter bread. We all dug in, and everything was tasty. The injera was a little sour and spongey.
When I noticed the bottom with lots of holed indentations and concentrated on the taste, I realized what it tasted like. "It's like a dosa!" I said, proud of myself.
Our waitress was around at the time. "I have heard many people say that," she said. "Indians." FINE. I DO NOT HAVE ORIGINAL THOUGHTS.
There was also a little salad in the middle that I ate with my hands.
Conversation topics included Hitchcock films and Dollhouse.
The dessert menu did not seem to offer any traditional Ethiopian desserts, but we three men all gravitated to the coppa pistachio, a mix of chocolate and pistachio gelatos topped with praline pistachios. Neither Frank nor Jon actually went so far as to order it, however. I did.
"And you will want that on your own individual check?" said the waitress cheekily.
But she kindly brought four spoons so we could share. It was pretty good, but not seven dollars' worth of good.
After dinner, Jon and Frank had to leave. Theo and I went over to Pandemonium Books, a sci-fi/fantasy bookstore. I browsed there for a while until Theo had to leave. Urban fantasy novels sure do like having hot chicks on the covers, huh.
And then! It was time to be whisked away by smrou and barenakedjanie to a GGMM Adventure! I had never met nor spoken to Janie before, and I thought she had a nice voice. First, smrou had to navigate her way out of Cambridge and back to my hotel to pick up my bags. On the way, I called duchessdogberry and bragged about my crazy deal on B:TAS and being in the car with smrou and Dirty. She was jealous of all three of us for being with each other.
I helped smrou get to Huntington, having navigated the Back Bay more than she had by this point, and I rested in the back as she drove us to her house. House!
In her house (house!), we chillaxed for a while until it was time for the Psych premiere. smrou didn't watch Psych. Janie was a big fan. And I was a casual fan who was now going to watch regularly. We all enjoyed the episode quite a bit (and I was glad I'd watched Miller's Crossing recently). It was particularly funny, I thought, which was good since we were making a non-fan watch with us.
Then we talked about playing the Wii. Remember that time we talked about playing the Wii? Man, that was a good time.
We adjourned to the living room...where we all got on our laptops and I wrote this post.