Here’s to you…

I am excited about going to Atlanta. But as I leave New England, there are many things I am sad to leave behind – notably, the food. It’s always about the food, wherever I am.

Here are a few things I will greatly miss.

It’s just not summer without lobsta. Everyone serves it in New England, even McDonald’s. In Maine, you get your lobsters fresh off the boat, prepared in more ways than you knew possible. Ever had lobster pie? The tourists put on a bib and get thoroughly squirted with ocean juice as they try to squeeze a little meat out of that hard red shell. The locals know to hit the clam shacks for a relatively cheap lobster roll – which for purists, means a buttered hot dog roll with chunks of meat and nothing else. No mayo, no celery. Just soft, chewy crustacean meat. I will sooo miss the lobster.

Irish pubs. OK, they’re Americanized for sure. But the strong Irish-American community here – especially in Boston – means hundreds of restaurants and bars with names like Matt Murphy’s, Coogan’s Bluff, The Harp, Patrick’s Pub, Kinsale and Rí Ra. When my Irish-Catholic grandmother died, we toasted her memory at the Old Irish Alehouse. The bartenders are often imported from the Emerald Isle, and you can enjoy your Shepherd’s pie while an Irish session drowns out your conversation. So even if you can’t make it across the pond, you can feel a little more Celtic right at home.

Italian food. Lobster ravioli. Braciole. Veal Piccata. Saltimbocca. Bocconcini. Broccoli rabe. Olives.

Providence is known for its unique restaurants, especially the Italian ones on Federal Hill, long home to La Cosa Nostra, or the New England mafia. The chain restaurants are for tourists and stay sequestered in the mall. I will miss making a reservation for dinner, valet parking to avoid searching for a parking space all night, dressing up (while not required in most places, definitely encouraged) and enjoying a meal that is closer to art than food.

Cassarino’s on Federal Hill is my favorite of all Italian favorites. It is moderately priced and the food is consistently good. I have taken many out-of-town visitors here and always recommend it. Try the braciole. Try the veal. Try everything.

My neighborhood bakery, LaSalle, which just won the distinction of bakery of the year. Besides the rows of appealing cakes, cupcakes and cannolis, they also make the best baguette I’ve had outside of Paris. I will miss buying Sicilian bread there every week.

The ocean. I left it, I came back to it. It is in my blood. My family has had a house for five generations in Gloucester, MA. It is where I learned to swim, to dive. I will miss these sapphire waters.

The rivers. My first office in Boston had a view of the Charles River. Every day at 4 pm, I would stop to watch the sun burn its way down over the river. Every great city has a river running through it.

Great theatre. My life is infinitely better for seeing RENT four times. For sitting within spitting distance of Kelsey Grammer as he nailed Macbeth. For Avenue Q, Spamalot, Wicked, How I Learned to Drive, The Taming of the Shrew and many, many other plays and musicals. In leaving, I handed over the reins of a theatre Meetup group I led for two years.

Newport, RI. Summer home of the obscenely wealthy, as well as the new hot spot for tacky New Jersey tourists. God, I love Newport.

Here’s to you, New England. Slàinte. Ciao.

*All photos by me except the lobster, lifted from the Internet.


2 thoughts on “Here’s to you…

  1. I remember when me and Rémi met you for the first time and you took us to this Italian restaurant (I think it was the one you mentioned here) and I was impressed with the valet parking service. I thought it was one of these very fancy restaurant 🙂 I must admit it’s very convenient though. And I ate lobster ravioli for the first time, one great new culinary moment in Providence. I’m sure you’ll find compensative food in Atlanta. Don’t be sad Nicole, it’s just a new page and the book is far from being finished.

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