This is going to be a catchall post about our first night in Boston. What a crazy damn town that is.
But it's also about my REAL kitchen sink. Like I've mentioned before, tackling odd jobs around the house can be really rewarding on a cleanse. So the other day I woke up and decided it was time to finally clean under the kitchen sink ... which has become a place as spooky and terrifying for me as the furnace room in my grandparents' basement used to be.
I have no idea how the underside of a place that's supposed to get things clean can become such a cesspool of splashes, drips, crumbs, dust and God knows what else, but I gloved up and went at it and came out about an hour later with an increased heart rate, a sense of accomplishment and a new respect for Martha Stewart. An added bonus is that I just love looking under my clean sink for something to do when I'm bored ... I can almost hear the shine - PLING! Really makes me feel proud of myself. ;)
As for Boston, after wine and chowder near Fenway, our next drinks came after checking into the W where we were staying. We gussied up just a titch (the lobby bar at the W Boston seems like THE place for local movers and shakers ... not to mention the kinds of hip old tourists who like to stay at the W) and took a cool little table by the window to watch the Bostonians trekking home from work.
I started with my fave cocktail - a kir royale - which I discovered in Paris on our honeymoon almost fifteen years ago. You start with a splash of creme de cassis (a blackberry liqueur) in the bottom of a champagne flute and then top it off with sparkling wine or the real thing if the budget allows. It's a fizzy pink drink that's not too sweet or tart. Love it!
The rain started to come (not the first we'd see on the trip) and as we watched the umbrellas come out, we ordered edamame with parmesan (bizarre combo), lobster rolls and another drink. I moved on to a New Zealand Sauv Blanc, generously proportioned. So by the time we left the lobby bar, I was feeling pretty zippy.
Then it was up to the room to freshen for dinner. I'm not going to say too much about the W Boston. I complained enough in their official "How Was Your Stay?" questionnaire already. After an email tussle with the manager's assistant, 15,000 bonus points in our Starwoods Preferred Guest account has bought my relative silence.
But suffice it to say - it's a damn bizarre hotel. The big problem is this: there's no wall between the bathroom and bedroom. I'm not kidding! I've been in hotels where there's a glass wall between the bathroom and the bedroom. Like the Hudson in Manhattan. The standard rooms at that hotel are so small you get the feeling you're traveling steerage class. To create the illusion of space, they installed a glass wall between the shower and the sleeping area, with a curtain to close for privacy. That makes sense in a small room.
But the room at the W was a good size. But still, no wall at all. Just a thin translucent woven blind between the bathroom sink (speaking of sinks) and the bed. This was great for, say, conversation while getting ready ... but use your imagination. Not so great at night.
Every time you turned on the light in the bathroom, the bedroom was flooded with light too. Every sound - every tinkle, clatter and click - transferred so clearly it was as if you were in the same room. Because you were. There was a water closet, but there was no light switch in it, the door was loud as a bank vault and the granite walls amplified sound like a cathedral ceiling. Not a romantic combination in the middle of the night, if you get my meaning.
Anyway, before I even knew I was in a wall-less room (I assumed there was glass beneath that blind at first), I was still in good spirits for dinner. We popped the brolly and skipped down the street through the drizzle and hoards of post-secondary students (Boston is a real university town) to The Rustic Kitchen, a casual-chic place on Stewart Street.
It was cozy with low lighting, beamed ceilings, stone walls and - if I remember correctly - wood burning pizza ovens. We took a seat at the bar and ordered a dozen mixed oysters, tuna tartar a salad and some California pinot noir. Yum. Pinot noir is a lighter red wine that I've found works really well with fish. A new waiter made us feel like welcome regulars, so we sang his praises to the manager, Tom Holloway. A bear-chested man who seemed warm and gruff at the same time (like a lot of people we met in Mass), he told us a cooking show based on the Rustic Kitchen was in the works. Not surprising, there are four locations, including one in Mexico.
At this point, we had no idea about the hellish night we were going to have in the W torture chamber yet, plus we were so pumped with happy endorphins from the wine and yummy seafood that when we heard about a possible TV show, my husband - a producer - almost turned over his resume ...