All posts by leahklein

As far back as I can remember, I would wake up from my nap time to the smell and sounds of something cooking in the kitchen. I would stumble out of my bed and slowly make my way to the kitchen. My mom would be there chopping, stirring, mixing, or washing. I would rub my eyes take a deep breath and eventually be awake enough to either taste something she was chopping or ask to help out.

Mother’s Day on The Vineyard: The Other Vineyard

I love to travel.  I don’t have to travel far to enjoy a trip.  As a parent, sometimes the only way to break away from the routines of daily life that blend from work to parenting and back 24/7 is to pack up the family, shut the door behind you, and get away.  For those of us who live in and around Boston, we are so lucky because within a couple hours or less we can be by the sea (Singing Beach and Wingaersheek are my favorites), on an island (Boston Harbor Islands or Nantucket), in the mountains (Mount Washington Resort or anywhere in Vermont works for me) or even on a vineyard (I have yet to make it to Martha’s Vineyard).  The vineyards I’m talking about are the vineyards on Long Island’s North Fork and as I mentioned before it is closer than you think.

I wasn’t able to plan it for this year, but for one year soon I have a plan to have the New York grandmothers (my mom and my husband’s mom) and grandfathers meet us on Long Island for a mother’s day winery, farm, family fun weekend.

How do we get there from here? Isn’t it far?

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The Cross Sound Ferry leaves from New London Connecticut, which you can get to by train or by car.  It takes about 1 hr. and 45 minutes by car from Boston.  Then, you start your vacation on the ferry.  The ferry ride is a perfect time to enjoy a little breakfast and coffee, play some card games, chat, or read.  The Sea Jet is about a 40 minute ride and the slower ferry which can take cars is only 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Grapes at Kontokosta Winery in the North Fork region of Long Island.
Grapes at Kontokosta Winery in the North Fork region of Long Island.
How does wine tasting and family time mix? 

Well, the wonderful thing about Long Island’s North Fork is that there are plenty of activities to do other than wine tasting. If you have family driving in from New York, you can split into two cars and spend part of the day at the wineries and then meet back up at Harbes Family Farm (which has food, entertainment and a winery all in one).  This would be a perfect place for the children and dads to start the day while the moms tour a few wineries.  Then everyone can meet back here for a casual lunch or head into Greenport for a sit down affair.  If you all come by ferry, I recommend working with the Jo-Anne Perry of Vintage Tours.  Actually even if you don’t all come by ferry, I recommend touring the wineries with Jo-Anne Perry.  She will work on an itinerary that suits everyone.

Where should we go?

I would start off on a sweet note that everyone can enjoy.  The Candyman is just a stone’s throw from the ferry so stop there first.  In addition to a plethora of chocolates and confections, his family owned candy making shop has some wonderful vintage chocolate molds displayed and they are still using some of the original equipment that was used for generations before including a huge marble slab table in the back.  The store is packed with treats for sweet teeth of every type.


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Then, head out to the vineyards.  You can find a list of Long Island wineries here to choose from.

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Looking back at the tasting room at Kontokosta Winery. Behind you is a long stretch of lawn and in front of you are comfortable red Adirondack chairs including a few mini ones for the children.
I visited a handful on a recent press tour and I definitely recommend that you not miss Kontokosta Winery.  The property is large and has a beautiful sprawling lawn that leads out to the sea that the children can frolic on. After a first wine tasting, it is probably a good idea to send the children and their designated parent/chaperones off to Harbes Family Farm to visit the animals, race tractor trikes on the race track, and settle in for an afternoon of high energy fun.

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The horses at Harbes Family Farm. There are also bunnies, pigs, goats, chickens, and I’m pretty sure I’m missing a few others.
I’m not mentioning much about the wines themselves because you are going to go and taste them, but just know that any of the places I am mentioning all have excellent (many award winning) wines.  The best way to learn about wine is to taste them side by side.  The best way to learn more about wine is to talk to the wine makers themselves.  Like Kontakosta, Bedell Cellars has some wonderful wines and a chic, elegant setting.  For something a little more low key, rustic chic, but also with excellent wines check out The Old Field Vineyard and Jamesport Vineyards.

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After touring a few vineyards, you can come full circle and meet up with the rest of the family at Harbes Vineyard.  This is a great place to stop and enjoy some family time, take a break from wine tastings, soak up some sun, and take it all in.  There are plenty of treats and snacks that you can buy at the market stand.  You can also stay for lunch, but I recommend packing everyone back into the van or cars and heading over to Green Point for some lunch, a stroll through the tiny town, and a visit to the old wooden merry go round.
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If you are a cheese-lover, especially a goat cheese lover, take a side trip to Catapano Dairy Farm, where you can see the goats being milked.  You can also stop in the cheese shop to get some briny, creamy, soft or hard goat cheeses to bring home. 
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Then, just as a little cherry on top for any of the beer drinkers in the group, stop by the Greenport Harbor Brewing Company before you head home.

Day drinking with the family. Are you sure this is a good idea?

Wether I’m with my family or not, when I visit the wineries, I’m not going to get buzzed, or drunk.  Of course, the wines, after many tastings will have an effect, but if you just taste and don’t go overboard this is a perfect family outing.  I go to learn, to taste, and to restock my wine cabinet with interesting wines that perhaps none of my dinner guests have tried, but most importantly with wines that I have tried and love.  If you plan to spend the whole day and spread out the snacks and meals, and family activities well, this will be a memorable Mother’s Day for everyone.  On the other hand, if you do it wrong it could be memorable for all the wrong reasons.  Save that kind of trip for another day.

Make it a weekend or sleep a home?

Sleeping away from home can be exciting or disastrous.  It all depends on the age of your children and how well they do sleeping in new places.  I haven’t stayed here, but the two places I have my eye on for lodging are Cove Place Inn and Harborfront Inn at Greenport.

Mother’s Day Trip: A Day Out with Mom

Statue at Tower Hill Botanic Gardens in Boylston, MA
Statue at Tower Hill Botanic Gardens in Boylston, MA
The beauty of day trips is that you end up at home, in your own bed, which if you’re lucky means your children will spend the night in their own beds as well.  Of course, if sleep habits are all amuck then go ahead spend the night away. For those of you who prefer to stay closer to home for a Mother’s Day outing here are X day trips for family fun with mom. These day trips are no more than two hours away.

Away in Wellesley

Wellesley?!  Really Wellesley?! I know, I know, but give me a second to explain.  So, Wellesley isn’t exactly a destination usually, but it can be.  Here is how it works.  There’s a pretty good chance that mom likes at least a couple of these things: shopping, dining, spa, art, books, spa, and spa.  Wellesley works really well as a mother’s day destination thanks to Linden Square.  Plus, if you need to multitask (I always try to) then you can update the kids’ spring wardrobe while you’re over there too.  So here’s the plan.  You start in Wellesley with a family activity:  a visit to the Wellesley College Botanic Gardens, the gardens at Elms Bank, take a quick stroll through the Davis Museum and Cultural Center will take you from Rembrandt to Warhol and back again, or even exploring a new playground with a good cup of coffee might be just the thing.  Now comes the pièce de resistance… no I didn’t say the piece of resistance! After your morning outing, either before or after lunch depending on how early you family heads out the door, treat mom to an hour or so at Bella Santé. While mom is being pampered, the kids can be taken for some spring shopping at Kenzie Kids or for haircuts at Rooster’s.  If that’s not your thing, then take the kids to the main library in Wellesley.  It is open until from 1-5 on Sundays.  Or, there is Glow Mini Golf in Linden Square. Belkin Farm is another great stop and on Mother’s Day mom gets in free with a paid admission.

For lunch, consider Blue Ginger (Ming Tsai’s original restaurant), The Cottage (They have a great kids’ menu and serve fresh, light fare.), Captain Marden’s Seafood (I always feel like I’m at a little local place on the cape in here.), or take out sandwiches for a picnic from Linden Store Deli (a family favourite of ours).

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Lincoln & Concord Calling

In Lincoln and Concord, you can get in touch with your country mouse self. Drumlin farm is a great destination with the whole family.  The kids (as in goats) and lambs are all finding their feet and it’s a joy to watch.  In Concord, you can get arty in the ceramic painting studio or just chill out with a snuggle and a book in the fabulous reading nook at Barefoot Books.  AKA, DeCordova

Salem Willows

Salem Willows is a little time capsule experience traveling back to childhood at the boardwalk with retro pinball machines, old school video games, and classic kiddie rides.  There is a tiny patch of sandy beach, a little pizza shop and ice cream made on site. There is a large grassy area to run and play and picnic tables as well.  It can get quite windy there so if it is a windy day at home expect non-picnic worthy winds at Salem Willows and have a plan B.  If you go on Saturday, end the day on a sweet note (by 5 as they close at 5 pm) with a trip to Harbor Sweets where you can see into the chocolate factory, sample treats and bring home some of their iconic sloops which are almond butter crunch toffees chocolate-dipped sailboats.

Cambridge

If you’ve done the lilacs at the Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain and you’ve seen the daffodils at Tower Hill Botanical Garden, you don’t actually have to go far to take a walk and see beautiful blooming buds because Cambridge is in bloom.  Grab brunch at family-centric Full Moon and then stroll over to the fountain at the intersection of Craigie St., Sparks St. and  Brattle St.  continue zig zagging through the neighborhood or walk along Brattle and see the historic houses.  Stroll through Harvard Yard and grab lunch in Harvard Square. Even better, step away from the hustle and bustle of Harvard Square and head to The Art of Craft on Satuday, May 9th, where you can park, shop the artisan’s market and dine on delicious food.

Mother’s Day Celebrations Three Ways

One of the reasons I love living in New England, especially this time of year when the snow has melted (except this year’s snow farms) and the buds are blooming, is that New England is a wonderful place to travel.  Mother’s Day weekend can be an outing into Boston for a stroll and brunch or you can take a day trip or overnight trip.  Here are three ways to celebrate mother’s day this year one is an overnight trip, the other is a day trip, and the last one is staying in Boston.

However you chose to celebrate, don’t put too much pressure on yourself, your spouse, or your children.  As most parent’s know perfection is relative and mother’s day is really just a way to make you step outside your weekend routine and do something special as a family.

Photo courtesy of Felix Rust who we hired to take our family photos in Harvard Square a few years ago. They are still some of our favourite photos of all time.
Photo courtesy of Felix Rust who we hired to take our family photos in Harvard Square a few years ago. They are still some of our favourite photos of all time.

Mother’s Day in Boston: Brunch, Dinner Date, Lunch & More

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Brunch at Tryst in Arlington

Mother’s Day brunch at Tryst is a two course prix fixe with a mimosa or virgin Cranberry cooler for $28.  Brunch will be served Sunday, May 10th from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. If mom likes a little spice with her brunch then the Bloody Mary with habanero infused vodka is a must.  Starters on the menu range from a traditional berry parfait to potato and cabbage pirogues with house cured salmon but it’s the boozy blintz that caught my eye with whipped ricotta, tequila and blueberries and that’s just the first course.

Wright Locke Farm in Winchester

Wright Locke Farm is my favourite place to go raspberry picking but we have a whole summer to get through until it’s time for that.  In the meantime, it is Spring and the farm is just awakening.  The Spring Fling will be held on Sunday, May 10th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  There will be a seedling sale, tractor rides a petting zoo, music and more.

Cocktails & Confections in Cambridge

Buy mom a ticket to cocktails and confections at Temple Bar on Saturday, May 9th.  I love taking new classes and this class from Bar Manager and pastry aficionado Jenn Harvey and events manager Jillian McCarthy sounds like the perfect treat.  The class will be held at Temple bar from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m.  In the class, mom will learn step-by-step how to mix, stir and shake three original cocktails before pairing them with house-made pastries based on recipes from the Temple Bar team’s moms. Tickets are $35 per person/$60 for a pair. To register, visit http://bit.ly/1CCljHi

If mom is booked all weekend, then you could give her the gift of pasta (only if she enjoys cooking of course) Russell House Tavern Executive Chef Tom Borgia will demonstrate how to make perfect pasta. Mom will learn how to make fresh gnocchi, ravioli, spaghetti and rigatoni, and then stir up the sauces that make them irresistible. Better yet, send mom to the spa and send dad to learn to make pasta on his lunch break. Tuesday, May 12, 2015 from 11:00AM-12:00PM The Cambridge Center for Adult Education, 42 Brattle Street, Cambridge MA 02138   Tickets are $35 per person. To register, visit www.ccae.org and select “TKIT.”

Riverside Stroll & Brunch at Rialto

The Charles Hotel is a stone’s throw from the Charles River, which sparkles with sunlight these days.  Bring the whole family to Rialto for their Mother’s Day brunch and then take a stroll through Harvard Square, along the river, or through Harvard yard.  On the menu are such temptations as ginger lemon scones (my mom loves all things ginger), crab tagliatelle with asparagus and crème fraîche, pan roasted char with crispy potatoes and rhubarb (I love all things rhubarb), peppered beef tenderloin with king trumpet mushrooms and artichoke three ways, and rhubarb ginger fool just to read off a few items. The prix fixe menu is three courses ($65 for adults/$25 for children) The children’s menu has a choice of tagliatelle with eggs and bacon, roast chicken with polenta and asparagus, or tenderloin with crispy potatoes and peas.  The menu has antipasti and breads for the table, a choice of secondi (main course) and a choice of dolci (dessert).  The children’s dessert menu is a choice of chocolate ice cream sundae or vanilla cupcake with chocolate frosting. The adult dessert menu has a little bit of everything ricotta, lemon, ginger, rhubarb, chocolate, amaretto, and sorbet. Brunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Sausage, egg and a biscuit at Craigie on Main.
Sausage, egg and a biscuit at Craigie on Main.

Brunch at Craigie on Main

Craigie on Main is an amazing place to dine for dinner, but are you going to get that same experience for brunch?  I always wondered if brunch could highlight the talent and ingredients the same way that dinner can, and I have to say after a few brunches there I have concluded that the answer is a resounding “YES!”.  For families with young children, this can be a great spot for lunch (once you’ve perused the menu to ensure there is something the little ones will eat) because the energy of the open kitchen is fascinating to watch.  You don’t even have to be a kid to enjoy that.  Craigie on Main will be serving a prix fixe Mother’s Day brunch for $50 per person and children under 12 are $25.  There are a few places where you really escape and enjoy brunch, but somehow time stops when you’re dining at Craigie (unless you’re in the kitchen where time seems to travel  mile a minute). Just a few words from the brunch menu to tempt and taunt you: cèpes (for the mushroom loving mama), bacon wrapped grass fed tenderloin, pavlova, chocolate, pastry basket, and smoked sturgeon rillettes.  For a more casual setting and brunch that is equally delicious try Kirkland Tap & Trotter.

South End Sugar Mama

If mom is really a kid at heart (and on her plate) then you’ll have to treat her to brunch at Tremont 647 and order their #-worthy pop tart.  There will be mimosas and a grilled asparagus benedict, and of course Chef Andy Husband’s hues rancheros.  Just to sweeten the brunch a little more, moms will be welcomed to brunch with a fruity pebble treat.  Tremont 647 opens for brunch at 10:30 and reservations can be made at 617-266-4600p.s. Saturday and Sundays are usually pajama brunch so mom doesn’t even have to get dressed if she doesn’t want to.  It’s like the ultimate breakfast out of bed.

Brunch at Bergamot

If you haven’t been to Bergamot yet then Mother’s Day is a great time to try it out.  It’s tucked away just on the border of Cambridge and Somerville a short distance from Harvard Square.  In fact, the perfect distance to walk off brunch.  Their menu is creative but also approachable.  You will find things like Olive Oil Poached Salmon- Crispy Garlic, Shallots, Cashews, Mint, Shiso, Yuzu Nuoc Cham or Toast #1- Griddled Corn Bread, Crispy Ham, Spring Onion Cream Cheese.  There are pancakes, and chef’s salad with grilled shrimp, preserved lemons and spring treats such as ramps, peas and favas to start with.  Entrees include a breakfast pizza, a ploughman’s brunch with cured meats, cheddar, deviled eggs and house pickles as well as a beef schnitzel with asparagus, potatoes, and caramelized onions.  Dessert take care of mom’s sweet tooth with a PBJ donut, rice pudding and mint chocolate trifle. For the mom who would rather have a piece of good cheese than a donut, there is a cheese plate.The Mother’s Day Brunch menu includes three courses for $44 which includes a selection of an appetizer, entrée and dessert and will be served from 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 pm.

Suburban Brunch at Sky

You don’t have to leave the suburbs for a Mother’s Day Brunch.  Sky in Norwood has an early brunch (because they get that we’ve all been up since 5 a.m.) and a later brunch.  from 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. there will be pastries and bagels, make your own omelets, hand carved roasted turkey and sirloin as well as a variety of seasonal dishes.  There will be a make your own Bloody Mary bar and to top it off a display of desserts set up all around a four foot chocolate fountain.  The buffet is $32 for adults, $15 for children 7-12 and free for children 7 and under.  Starting at 3:00 p.m. through 9 p.m. the Mother’s Day buffet switches over to a more elaborate dinner buffet with soup service, a raw bar, and antipasti.  This afternoon/evening buffet is 449 for adults $18 for children 7-12 and free for children 7 and under.

Treatment room at Pyara Salon and Spa in Harvard Square. Pyara moved from the location right in the center of the square to just outside the square in a much more spacious and spa-like space.
Treatment room at Pyara Salon and Spa in Harvard Square. Pyara moved from the location right in the center of the square to just outside the square in a much more spacious and spa-like space.

Pampering at Pyara

Pyara is Aveda’s salon and spa and the one in Harvard Square moved a little and got a major upgrade.  It’s the perfect urban oasis for mom to escape to, especially if you’ve noticed that her shower and vanity are stocked with Aveda products.  If you’ve already made reservations for brunch, it’s okay you can treat her to a spa day another day.  After brunch in Harvard Square, you can still take mom over to Aveda and let her shop to her heart’s content especially since it’s double points day (don’t worry if you don’t know what that means- she does.)

With Aveda Pure Privilege points, every $1 spent equates to 10 points. On Mother’s Day, Pyara Spa and Salon is doubling the points! For every $1 spent, spa goers will receive 20 points. Even better, guests who are new to the program will receive triple the points.

Brunch and Cruise with Mom

Aragosta Bar & Bistro is so swanky inside it might be hard to get mom to leave brunch which will have a raw bar, tea service (in the afternoon) and a complimentary Bloody Mary or Mimosa.  If you tell her you’re just heading out because it’s for a harbor cruise (included with brunch) then it might not be so hard to convince her.  On Sunday, May 10th brunch will be served from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m..  Tea service is from 2:00 to 4:30.  Reservations are required and can be made by calling (617) 994-9001.

Hard Rockin’ Mama 

Okay so maybe she’s a rocker or maybe she’s more of an animal lover, or even better, maybe she’s both.  This Mother’s Day treat mom to brunch at the Hard Rock Café and then take the family over to the New England Aquarium to visit with the Rock Hopper Penguins. I know plenty of marine biology mamas who enjoy a day out with aquatic life.  Hard Rock Café’s breakfast buffet is $13.95 for adults and $9.95 for kids (children under 2 are free).  Every mom gets a voucher for free admission to the New England Aquarium on Sunday, May 10th for Mother’s Day.  The breakfast buffet is from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. For reservations call (617) 424-7625.

Tower Hill Botanical Gardens

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I recently joined two fabulous photographers for a photo walk at Tower Hill Botanical Gardens in Boylston, MA.  The botanical gardens are just waking up from a long cold winter and the daffodils were in full bloom.  The gardens have two greenhouses on site L’Orangerie and the Limonaia House.  My photography companions were.

Alison Borrelli and Lollie Weeks

Photographer Alison Borelli of Alison Borelli Photography captured some amazing shots.
Photographer Alison Borrelli of Alison Borrelli Photography captured some amazing shots. I love how she found unexpected color and contrast in her shots. You can see more of her photos here
Photographer Lollie Weeks of Fortuitous Housewife. I love how Lollie's photos are crystal clear.  Her closeups are gorgeous.
Photographer Lollie Weeks of Fortuitous Housewife. I love how Lollie’s photos are crystal clear. Her closeups are gorgeous. You can see more of Lollie’s photos here

I had done photography for many years starting in middle school.  I was a black and white girl.  Even on paper I was a pen and ink person because what I see best are shadows and shapes.  Colour freaks me out a bit.  It’s so complicated.  I’ve been using my digital camera for many years, but I have not made any attempt to go beyond point and shoot. Recently, though I went to Blog Beautiful from Blog Better Boston and learned a bit more about my camera thanks to Third Eye Chic and Hogger & Co.

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Many of the trees and flowers are just beginning to bud.

My goal for this photo walk was to play a little with Shutter speed priority (S) and Aperture priority (A) on my Nikon camera.  Here are a few of my favourites. I wish my focus was a little better on most of them and the very bright light was both a blessing and a curse.

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I haven’t learned the names of any of the flowers, so I’m no help there. This tree is right at the entrance near the parking lot and a beautiful covered gazebo. A great place to gather one’s thoughts before or after a stroll through the gardens.
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I believe these are orchids. These are in L’Orangerie and I love in this photo how the kumquats are a nice vibrant orange peeking through.
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This flower reminds me of Waltz of the Flowers in the Nutcracker. I could swear the costume designer for Boston Ballet’s new Nutcracker really studied flowers before making their long romantic tutus.
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I like how paper thin these flower petals are. The light shines right through them.




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Depending where you stood and the angle of your photo this field of daffodils looked both plentiful and sparse, full and patchy. What I loved most about the field of daffodils was seeing the different colours: white, yellow, pale yellow, orange, and green.
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I have never noticed a star shape on daffodils before.

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See some more professional photos over on Lollie’s blog and read about her take on the Tower Hill Botanical Garden Photo walk. 

Edge of Vision: Boston Ballet Leaps off the Edge of the Expected


The sweet deep voice of the cello, the feeling of heaviness on your body as night falls and tiredness overcomes you, the joy of celebration, and the sound of an Irish jig, are all familiar to us.  It is this common ground of shared experiences that makes this particular program the perfect first step off the edge of classical ballet and into contemporary ballet.  If you scoff at the mention of contemporary ballet or you tremble at the thought of discordant music and flailing movement when you think of contemporary ballet, then this is the time for you to take a deep breath, loosen up (yes shake it out) and take that step to see what you’ve been missing.  Boston Ballet’s Edge of Vision opened at the Opera House yesterday and will run though May 10th.

Principals Lia Cirio and Paula Arrais in Boston Ballet's Bach Cello Suites.
Principals Lia Cirio and Paula Arrais in Boston Ballet’s Bach Cello Suites.

A great program has diversity of choreography and music, and a common thread that ties it all together. Edge of Vision is a program of three ballets each one approachable and with it’s own unique “story” and vibe.  Each of the pieces: Eventide, Bach Cello Suites, and Celts all premiered with Boston Ballet and Bach Cello Suites had their world premiere on Thursday, April 30th for opening night.   For parents, if you have a cello student (or orchestra player) or a child who does Irish dancing, bring your child to see Edge of Vision as their first non-Nutcracker or classical ballet “story book” performance.  “I feel it is my responsiblity as a choreographer to cultivate an atmosphere that not only nurtures connection, but also incites collaboration.” says Eventide choreographer Helen Pickett.  The idea of nurturing connection carries through the entire Edge of Vision program.  There is a natural connection to the music, the movement and the sense of place.

Boston Ballet's Eventide.  Photo courtesy of Alison Borrelli Photography
Edge of Vision:  Boston Ballet’s Maria Alvarez, Diana Albrecht, and Dawn Atkins performing Eventide. Photo courtesy of Alison Borrelli Photography

Eventide

Eventide begins with a deep red backdrop and red velvet curtains are pleated and draped creating a sense of being somewhere luxurious. With the lighting, movement and music, you feel the heat of the desert and the slow movement of dusk. Saxaphonist Jan Garbarek’s tone creates the perfect jazzy lullaby to draw you into the moment.
As night falls, the red back drop is replaced with a black one.  Pitch black fills all the negative space and without a change of costume or movement everything you see looks completely different.

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Boston Ballet’s Eventide. Photo courtesy of Alison Borrelli Photography

Bach Cello Suites

Bach Cello Suites begins with a single cellist, Sergey Antonov, on stage.  The stage is dark aside from the warm glow of a spotlight on the musician.  At first you hear the deep warm voice of the cello.  It is all about the music.  Then as Antonov continues to play, it as if the musician becomes the first dancer on stage.  Antonov is both music and movement.  Then dancers begin to appear on stage starting with a duet.  In the beginning, it is as if the music notes are falling like rain from a staff-like structure that hangs from the ceiling; the notes are rolling down the dancers cheeks and off their backs. As the duet progresses, the movement begins to play back and forth with the music. Then, a quintet of dancers in black seem as if they are the notes themselves and the cellist is almost secondary.

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This interplay between dancers, Bach’s music, and cellist Sergey Antonov continues throughout the piece each taking turns stepping into the foreground.  Then, something changes and another dimension is added.  The dancers are exposed as instruments themselves as the choreographer, Jorma Elo enters the dance.  It’s like a peek into the process, accidentally walking by a rehearsal, or capturing a moment inside the choreographers head.  Elo was appointed Resident Choreographer of Boston Ballet in 2005, where he has created many world premieres including Bach Cello Suites.

Left to right, Boston ballet principal Jeffrey Cirio, Choreographer and dancer Jorma Elo, and Boston Ballet
Left to right, Boston ballet principal Jeffrey Cirio, Choreographer and dancer Jorma Elo, and Boston Ballet principal Kathleen Breen Combes in Elo’s Bach Cello Suites. Taken during dress rehearsal for Boston Ballet’s Edge of Vision.

And just for fun, a sneak peek into an actual rehearsal moment.  The detail and work that goes into each piece, each movement, each step, takes hours of work and a team of trained, watchful eyes.

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On left: Artistic Director Mikko Nissenen going over the piece with dancers. Center back: principals Kathleen Breen Combes & Jeffrey Cirio. Center foreground Principal Whitney Jensen takes corrections from Ballet Master Anthony Randazzo

Celts

We’re in Boston, and if anyone knows an Irish jig (outside of Ireland) it’s Bostonians.  What I love about Celts is that it is not “Boston Ballet does River Dance.”  For those who know or do Irish dancing, of course they will see familiar moves but done as ballet rather than ballerinas doing actual Irish dancing.  The movement, lighting, costumes, hair, and music transport you far away from downtown Boston to the old, historic, slightly fantastical world of Ireland.  The audience went from completely silent and mesmerized to bursts of applause throughout the piece.

Boston Ballet Principals Dusty Button and Lasha Khozashvili in Celts.
Boston Ballet Principals Dusty Button and Lasha Khozashvili in Celts.

Principal Jeffrey Cirio was as sharp as a pin in his movements and Lia Cirio and Lasha Khozashvili had this primal energy seemingly running through their veins propelling them through space. Dusty Button had a grace and etherealness to her movement that made the piece dreamlike.

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Pricipals Lia Cirio and Lasha Khozashvili in Boston Ballet’s Celts

The festive nature of Celts had everyone smiling on and off stage. The corps de ballet looked like they were enjoying themselves even as they threw themselves across the stage at a non-stop allegro pace.  There were also some quieter moments where you felt that you stood at the edge of the land watching waves lap against the shore.   
  All in all, Edge of Vision is a wonderful program.  The dancing is precise, dramatic and Boston Ballet’s star dancers shine brightly. For tips on getting tickets and student rates you can look here.

Eventide Photo courtesy of Kerry Goodwin Photography
This photo, courtesy of Kerry Goodwin Photography, shows how much the red backdrop changes the entire “picture” painted on stage.  Below you have the black backdrop, and all of a sudden the costumes and dancers have a completely different look.
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Principal Paulo Arrais and Soloist Rie Ishikawa in Boston Ballet’s Eventide. Photo courtesy of Kerry Goodwin Photography.

The Wheat Has Risen: Where to Binge on Bread this Weekend & Ever After

Passover ends on Saturday and all the lovely light and risen baked goods will be welcomed back into many of our lives.  Here are some of my favourite breads and baked treats and where to find them.  Bonus:  a one of a kind pop up that you won’t want to miss.

Croissants

Let’s go big or go home here.  What could be better than a flaky pastry that rises with the help of butter sandwiched between layers of dough.  When I get a croissant I want it to be flaky and crisp on the outside.  I want it to be on the small side, the larger ones just don’t come out right.  I want the butter to have a slight caramelized taste and the inside to be springy, every so slightly yeasty and not greasy.

My favourite croissants can be found at: Praliné in Belmont, Dwelltime in Cambridge, and PB Boulangerie in Wellfleet.

Bread

We have discovered a new bread at Iggy’s Bread of the World in Cambridge that is so good.  Iggy’s breads are all sour dough based but it’s amazing the variety of loaves that come out of those ovens.  The Kamut bread is a must try.  If you can get there early in the morning, you’ll be able to pick up a loaf while it’s still warm.  The crust is crunchy and has a nice woodfired taste (even though it’s not woodfired).  Our daily bread is the Large Francese (aka holey bread) which we keep on hand for toast.

When it comes to baguette, my “go-to” is the Clear Flour baguette.  It reminds me most of the baguettes we used to get in France when I was little.  Clear Flour also has plenty of beautiful fun breads from Sunflower shapes to loaves in the shape of ladders.  Hi Rise has my all time favourite challah and their potato bread is spectacular too.  If you like sweet challah then Cheryl Ann’s is the one to go for.

Bagels

Bagelsaurus created quite a buzz when they first opened and we’ve been hooked ever since.  As a Cambridge resident, I no longer have to trek to Brookline for a bagel and that works for me.  Bagelsaurus bagels are good for those of you who like a chewy bagel.  If you want a softer bagel, more similar to the local Finagel a Bagel, then stop into Pemberton Farms for an OMG Bagel.

On Saturday, April 18th save the date for Better Bagels pop up at Coppa in the South End. There will be a choice of plain, poppy, sesame, everything and salt bagels.  As for topping options there will be plain cream cheese ($6), scallion cream cheese ($6), Mortadella pimento cheese spread ($6), butter, bottarga, espelette combo ($6), trout roe cream cheese and charred broccoli ($8), Avocado, Calabrian chile and agrumato ($8).  Bagels are available from 9 a.m. until supplies run out.  Naked bagels will be $3 with a limit of 6 per order.  Please note that this will be CASH ONLY.  In addition to coffee to go there will be a selection of Coppa signature cocktails: the Bloody Mary, Coney Island Strong Man (yellow & green Chartreuse, lemonade, lager) and a Rhubarb Mimosa.

More…

Seven Stars Bakery out of Rhode Island makes an amazing semolina loaf (that I buy at Whole Foods Fresh Pond).  Mamadou’s has a wonderful loaf topped with sesame seeds.  I get an incredible German style rye bread from Red Hen Baking Co via Farmer’s to You. Pain D’Avignon makes an delicious seeded rye and just about anything they make is a tasty treat worth seeking out. If you like a rich English Muffins then indulge with a Stone & Skillet English Muffin. If you want vegan and chocolatey then stop by Flour for their Vegan chocolate muffin. Flour is another spot where you can’t go wrong ordering anything that looks appealing to you. Newcomer Forge Baking Co. is making it’s mark with their baked goods from croissants to sweet treats.  A few places on my “yet to try” list are Café Madeleine (I hear their croissants are fab) and Blackbird Doughnuts (their donuts look delectable). I’m not usually a fan of Italian pastries, but the Iris at Brelundi blew me away this sugared raised donut is stuffed with some of the most amazing ricotta I have ever had.  Now if it’s pasta you’re looking for wherever you live find a way to get to Tuscan Market in Burlington, MA or Salem, NH.

 

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Calling All Kids: Opening Day, Gate K, and Mayor Marty Walsh

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Now that spring is in fact here and white monster of winter’s reign has retreated, the Green Monster can come out and play.  Today, Mayor Marty Walsh led a tour of Fenway and cut the rope for the new Gate K.  Fenway’s Gate K is designed for families and their littlest Red Sox fans to enter the ball park in an environment set up just for them, with family-friendly Fenway ambassadors donning red jackets guiding them as they enter.  Calling All Kids is the Red Sox’s newest ball park cry but it is more than just a phrase.  The Red Sox organization members have put themselves in the shoes of families (and in fact many have families of their own) and have made many changes to help families enjoy a game or two…or three or four at Fenway.

Ticket Prices

Going to a Red Sox game with two adults and two kids paying full price tickets was a stretch for just about any family.  To address this, the Calling All Kids initiative is offering a free ticket to children under 15 through the KidsPass program and students (high school through college) 15 and older can get $9 tickets through the Student Ticket program.

Transportation

Taking the T is part of the Fenway experience and it makes getting to and from a game so much easier.  The folks at Fenway have been working with the T to make sure there are plenty of trains coming and going to and from the games.  In addition the new Yawkey Way station is a full service commuter rail station with an double track capacity now.


DSC_4425Take me Out of the Ball Game

Wally’s Clubhouse, which is open from the third to the seventh inning, is the perfect spot to take the kids if they need a break from the excitement, energy, noise, or sun at your seats.  Don’t worry though, the game will be playing on large screens in the clubhouse, but the kids can take a break and play a little Wii, work on a giant Wally floor puzzle, play with Duplo or Lego, play a round of “Wally says” or sit at a table and color.  There is a family bathroom located right outside the Clubhouse and of course Gate K has many concessions and entertainment for those short little attention spans.

Gate K at Fenway

This Way In

Gate K which is located right next to Gate B will have balloon artists, face painters, magicians, storytellers and more for families to enjoy (included in the price of the ticket).  Gate K creates a Red Sox Nation vibe that is welcoming to fans of all ages.  Having Fenway ambassadors there to guide families is a wonderful way to put everyone at ease whether you are attending your first Red Sox game as an adult, as a parent, or as a child.

Henry & WallyThere’s Wally

Of course a family visit to Fenway isn’t complete until you see Wally and Wally will be hanging out in his Clubhouse so you won’t have to chase him down to capture that Kodak moment. The Clubhouse is large enough to entertain quite a few families at a time and is divided in to areas that cater to fans of all ages.  For those of you who like to attend multiple games each season you can expect different entertainment in the Clubhouse and by Gate K throughout the season.

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Take In The Game Trouble-Free

Did you know that any of the customer service stations throughout the ball park have just about anything you might have forgotten at home or run out of during the game.  I’m talking diapers in every size, extra wipes, band-aids (they cure everything don’t they?), sun block and other such items.  If they don’t have exactly what you need, they can definitely help you find it.  For families concerned about peanut allergies or other special needs, there are games that have areas that are peanut-free, and staff members ready and willing to help with special accommodations.  For severe allergies, please speak with a customer service agent prior to your visit for special arrangements.  Note that May 24th is the Red Sox’s autism awareness game, which has a quiet zone.

Take Me Out To the Ball Game

I was born a Blue Jays fan, but having called Boston my home for several decades now and I am definitely part of Red Sox Nation. Henry and I enjoyed visiting Wally’s Clubhouse along with other members of Kid Nation.  In addition to being a member of Kid Nation (which your families can all sign up for too). I have the privilege of being one of the many local bloggers who are part of the #RedSoxMoms.  As I learn more about Fenway, the Red Sox and upcoming special events I will do my best to share the info with my lovely readers!.  Now let’s play ball!

Owls, Senses & The Arts

Owls have become trendy over the years.  They’re cute. They’re smart. They’re  powerful and their heads turn almost all the way around.  I’ve liked owls well enough but recently I have become a bit obsessed with them for on r simple reason: presence.  

Last week I saw an owl close up, in real life, not in captivity for the first time I can remember.  Now, I check daily for ‘my’ owl.  I beg the kids to let me stop and check on it any time we drive remotely or not so remotely nearby. 

It got me thinking about the arts.  The thing about this owl is that it breathes extra life into me. There’s an odd sort of adrenaline you get from seeing it face to face.  The same thing is true for theatre, dance and music.  The feeling you can get by seeing a live performance can’t be explained it just has to be experienced.  Even if you have been to live performances hundreds or dozens of times, if it has been a while go and remind yourself what it feels like.  Nothing compares to sitting in an audience vip seats or cheap ‘nosebleed’ seats and spending an evening or matinee in a room with artists sharing their work.

We live in a city filled with talent from Broadway in Boston, Boston Ballet, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Boston Lyric Opera to all the talent and performances by our top notch students at Berklee, New England Conservatory, Longhy School of Music at Bard College, Boston University, MIT (love those MIT Logs) just to name a few.

Make a commitment to get outside and play this spring. Take time to stop and smell the flowers, to take a walk in the woods, and to attend a performance.  

Spring Lamb Roast (Recipe)

I have recently been reconnected with Australian Lamb.  For those of you who know me, you know I like to shop and eat local more often than not.  In fact, the other day I saw that some grass fed beef was on sale, but then I saw that it was from Australia and I didn’t give it another second because why would I buy grass fed beef from Australia when I can buy local beef.   

The thing about Australian lamb though is that it tastes different.  It has a little less earthiness and is so delicate and tender. I don’t buy only American wines.  I don’t buy American olive oil.  I also don’t buy meat that often so when I do buy it, I want meat that I love the taste of.  American lamb is very tasty and there are some great farms nearby for lamb.  On the other hand, Australian lamb has it’s own characteristic.  It is grass fed from start to finish and the environment it is raised in gives it it’s own flavour.  It all comes back to terroir.

I grew up on Australian lamb in Canada.  It was the best lamb available and my mom cooked lamb often because it was a favourite of hers and it was less expensive than other meat.

I was recently invited to a lamb dinner hosted by Australian Lamb, KO Pies and Harpoon brewery and fell in love with Australian lamb.  As a child, I didn’t appreciate lamb at all.  As an adult, I’ve discovered a new love for it especially because it gets me out of a chicken and beef rut. Australian lamb tastes a bit less gamey to me and it is incredibly tender. That is why I prefer it. I was recently sent a few samples of Australian lamb to play with in the kitchen: a leg of lamb and a rack of lamb. 

The first recipe I tried was a roast leg of lamb.

A roast is a beautiful thing.  It is dramatic and luxurious, yet it is one of the simplest pieces of meat to cook so long as you do it carefully. To be able to cook your roast to perfection, a thermometer is very helpful.  I used this recipe from The Kitchn as a guide, but I love the taste of mustard on lamb, so I modified the rub. Also, my lamb took quite a bit longer to come to temperature.

Additional ingredients needed:

  • 2 TBSP Dijon mustard
  • replace 3 sprigs of rosemary with:
    1 sprig of rosemary, 1 sprig of thyme, 1 sprig of oregano

After browning the meat in the broiler I let it cool for a bit. Then on each side of the roast, rub 1 TBSP of the Dijon mustard.  Chop the herbs finely and mix the herbs with a tsp of kosher salt and some pepper.  After rubbing the Dijon mustard on one side of the leg of lamb sprinkle the herbs and garlic onto the mustard and press it in.  Then flip the roast over and do the same on the other side. 

The best thing about serving a roast for dinner is having some leftovers.  Thin slices of roast leg of lamb are delectable for a sandwich.

Save the drippings from the roast, and you can make a gorgeous gravy for a lamb French dip.

Here are a few other delectable recipes that you can serve your family for a Passover Seder or Easter dinner: Garlic and Oregano Roast Boneless Leg of Australian Lamb, Rosemary and Lemon Australian Lamb Rack with mushrooms and spinach to the table. Australian lamb is available at most major grocery stores in Eastern New England, including Whole Foods Market, Stop & Shop, Costco, Wegmans and Shaw’s.