Alphabet Soup – part II (Massachusetts)

This past weekend I headed east and visited a close friend of mine, Eric (whose last name is a ridiculous mess of letters, and thus I dubbed him “Alphabet Soup” when I first met him, “AS”, for short.)  I hadn’t seen him in just about a year, and I hadn’t seen our mutual friends (whom I met through him) since that last trip either.  Azelie and Trey (aforementioned mutual friends) are getting married in May, and I wanted to squeeze a visit in before their planning chaos prevented us from being able to spend quality time together.  So, we decided that I would visit during St. Patrick’s Day weekend – which also serves as the joyous (errr, 28th (29 is just too obvious!)) anniversary of my birth, and an annual reminder of just how lucky I am to be blessed with a good life, great friends, and fabulous family!

While I didn’t necessary pull a true “She Ordered What?” all weekend, I did often defer to Eric to choose my/our food.  And, sometimes, it’s just fun to share culinary and personal experiences – even if they don’t follow the theme of this blog to a T.

I arrived Friday afternoon, and Eric was kind enough to drive ~2 hours east to pick me up at the airport.  After a ridiculous scene at the airport that mimicked that one in “My Best Friend’s Wedding” (skip to ~2:10), wherein we were on the phone, trying to find each other, we headed west toward Eric’s place in Greenfield.

My personal chauffuer

My personal chauffeur

By the time we got home, we were both starving, so we headed to Magpie for some pizza.  We were greeted with a “Here they are!!!”.

Wait, what??

Turns out, Jim, the lovely (and cute!) proprietor, and his staff were greeting us as the first customers of the evening.  I joked that we should be wearing blue wigs – it was 4PM, and here we were having dinner!  Or, was it a late lunch?  Not sure!

Before I even checked the menu, Eric suggested ordering the “bread to share” with sea salt and olive oil and the Meatball pizza.  I was totally agreeable, so that’s what we went with.  And…it was ah-mazing!

The Meatball - tomato sauce, roasted pepper, onion, Ricotta, and Parmesan.

The Meatball – tomato sauce, roasted pepper, onion, Ricotta, and Parmesan.

We, reluctantly, decided against the “Fudge bottom pie” and the special shot of the day: Jameson w/ pickle juice and a pickle  (Eric thought it sounded fantastic!).

Later, we headed over to Northampton, which I’ve previously posted about to meet up with Trey, Azelie and Trey’s roommate from college, Chris, who was visiting for the weekend.  We hung out, catching up at Trey’s place, before heading to The Elevens for a monthly stand-up comedy show.  Trey was kind enough to pay our cover charges (very reasonable, folks!), and Azelie handed out our raffle tickets.  Turns out, everyone with proper admission gets entered into a raffle.

There were some really funny comedians that night – a variety of younger and older, male and female, “cleaner” and “more risqué”… though I have to admit that most of us were busy talking amongst ourselves and missed many of the jokes that got really big laughs.

At the end of the comedy show, the raffle prize was to be drawn.  Confident in my recent winning streak, including my second consecutive strong showing at The Phillip DeVito Reverse Raffle, I was boasting to Trey that I just KNEW that I’d win, especially when he said that the prize would be a ticket to the next show.  I’m an out-of-towner, and wouldn’t be able to go to the show, so surely I would win.  And as the raffle numbers were called off…my numbers matched, one for one…I did win!!!

Turns out that I had won a perfectly executed surprise birthday cake and celebration!  My friends DUPED me – big time!  Thank you, Aze (the clear Mastermind), Trey, and Eric. Y’all stink at following orders, but you’re fantastic people!

2013-03-15 21.05.41

This was a DELICIOUS chocolate cake!

We ended up sharing this cake with a man with a March 16th birthday, and with the wait staff at The Elevens.  Later, we may have *allegedly* regretted that decision – meaning the “less sober” folks in our group may have wished for cake at the end of the night.

Trey, me, Aze, and Eric (clockwise from top left)

Trey, me, Aze, and Eric (clockwise from top left)

Aze and I were sober, and ready to run our 10K on Saturday.

Okay, to be fair, Aze was ready to run, but I was still scared because I had not trained well at all for the race!  Despite my Asylum training, running was not a natural workout for me these days!

On Saturday morning, Eric and I headed to Shelburne Fall Coffee Roasters for breakfast on the way to Holyoke for the annual St. Patrick’s day 10K.  I had fond memories of Shelburne Fall from last year.  I’m not normally a fan of cream cheese on bagels, but last year, Eric had convinced me to try their homemade veggie cream cheese.  Folks, I am a fan!  Yet, on Saturday, I found myself trying the “Hadley” breakfast sandwich – bagel, strip bacon, cheese, and egg – and it was a PERFECT start to race day. Note: the race didn’t start until 1PM, so the sandwich wasn’t going to sit heavily in my stomach. (until it did)

Aze (actual name = Catherine) and I ended up running pretty much step-for-step during the whole race.  She was a GREAT running partner!  Easy-going, yet motivating.  Between mile 5 and 6, I recall Aze asking “Am I trying to keep up with you, or are you trying to keep up with me?”  The answer?  We didn’t know!  We’re just a good match!  We both finished with the exact same time:  1 hour, 1 minute, 0 sec.  Go figure!

Mine and Azelie's scores - couldn't be in much better sync!

Mine and Azelie’s scores – couldn’t be in much better sync!

That night, we spent some time hanging at Trey’s again – I got a bit of “guy talk education” when Eric left me with the guys so he could visit a friend for a bit (thanks a lot, Eric!).  I’m still hopeful that the scars will heal! LOL.

A bit later, Eric and I decided to go to enjoy a sushi dinner.  The others were happily drinking, so we ventured off together – without them.  We went to Moshi Moshi, and had a great dinner!  We went up the spiral staircase, sat on the second floor and enjoyed the Spicy Tuna Roll (2x over), the Moshi roll, and the Rainbow roll, along with the Tuna sashimi.

2013-03-16 20.28.55

Left to right: Spicy tuna, rainbow, Moshi rolls
Bottom: Tuna sashimi

Everything was truly excellent.  We left as happy patrons.

And, then, headed to East Hampton to the Brass Cat to meet Eric’s friend Brannon, and his girlfriend, Abbi.  We had a nice time chatting with these two – down-to-earth, funny, real, and all-around good people.  Eric, has really fantastic friends.  We share that trait.

Following our chat with Brannon and Abbi, we chased down Aze and the group at “The Deuce”.  The “group” consisted of Trey’s sister Cassie, whom I had met last year too, but hadn’t spent much time with prior to this trip, and Aze, since the guys had gone home and “crashed”, per se.

I have to admit that I was incredibly tired late Saturday night, since I hadn’t slept well Friday night, and was jealous that Aze had (wisely) snuck a nap in earlier.  She and Cassie were dancing up a storm, and they were having a blast doing so!  I WISH I had their rhythm, and their energy!  Luckily, Eric and I shared that lack of talent. We ended up heading home early to catch some zzzz’s.

On Sunday morning, we lounged around for a bit laughing out loud to this series of video clips prior to heading into downtown Greenfield to grab brunch at The Brass Buckle. Eric had the Cowboy (hashbrown patty, bbq, scallion sour cream, bacon & egg on Texas Toast), and I had the Buckle (rocket pesto, tomato, avocado (I LOVE avocado!), & egg on Texas Toast).  

Forefront: The Buckle (mine)Background: The Cowboy (his)

Forefront: The Buckle (mine)
Background: The Cowboy (his)

Both were INCREDIBLE breakfast sandwiches!  (we shared with each other)  We also couldn’t pass up the Irish Car Bomb cupcakes, made with Guiness and Jameson Whiskey.  Hey, it was my birthday (and St. Paddy’s day), after all! 

2013-03-17 11.42.57

The cupcakes were good, but I wouldn’t say they were super special.  They had more of a carrot cake (mild spice) flavor to them than the chocolate base I had anticipated.  Still, we managed to polish them off!

Then, we decided to head into Boston for the day/evening.  We took the T in from Brookline and headed toward the North End.  After walking all over searching for a place to eat, we settled on ducking into a little Italian joint called La Familia Spagnuolo’s.  We wanted something casual and laid back.  Well, um…

We witnessed the most epic fight between the owners and a patron that I have ever seen – In. My. Life.

I tried to record it, but by the time I got myself together, I had missed the majority of the epic cat fight.

Eric and I sat across the table from each other, each looking like two deer in headlights.  What were we to do in this situation?  Two extremely loud women were yelling at the top of their lungs at each other – trading insults and threatening to call the cops.  This lasted for a good ten minutes or so.  And, we never received an explanation or an apology from the owners, so we’re really not sure exactly what went down!

We did, however, have a tasty stuffed mushrooms (really delicious!)

photo (19)

That’s our server’s hand, not mine!

and the house pizza to which we added sausage.

photo (20)

Peppers, onions, mushrooms, chicken and sausage – oh my!

Parts of the pizza were missing sauce, but it was still a good pie.  I’d say, if you want, err, a “colorful” atmosphere, this was probably a good place to try.  🙂

Yet, we were happy to leave that restaurant and find a nice place to grab a few drinks and catch up.  We ended up in the Faneuil Hall area for the rest of the evening – just having a good time hanging out.

I always make AS pose for a picture… (he’s photogenic, he should pose!)

photo (21)

And, while I am wildly UNphotogenic, I wanted a picture with the St. Paddy’s day headband some randomly nice woman gave me earlier in the evening.  Too bad I wasn’t paying attention to the fact that they were backward (they actually light up) before Eric took the picture (and, no, it wasn’t due to excessive alcohol).

photo (22)

That was my last night in MA, and then Eric dropped me at the airport Monday morning and we headed our separate ways again.  He headed back to Western Mass, and I headed west!  I’m grateful to have had a few days to spend with wonderful people – to “take a leave” from real life, and to (reluctantly) celebrate my (28th) birthday.

Thanks so much, friends!

Cheers!

Ker

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