A bit of an odd one seeing as I no longer live in the city! But as much as I’m enjoying life in the country, I am grateful for:
A. BEING A CITY GIRL
I love city life. Pretty much any city: Dublin, Vienna, Barcelona, Seattle, Mumbai… I love them all! Country life is pretty good but while Mr. D has rural living in his blood, I am a city girl through and through. I love doing what Mr. D calls ‘city things’: museums, galleries, coffee shoos, bars, taking in a show, riding the night bus…
I know there’ll come a time when I probably won’t want to be anywhere other than the country, but right now I need the energy and vibrance of the city. I loved growing up in a place where everything was on your doorstep and it was very easy to get around, even without a car. I love that there’s always so much to see and do. You can never get bored in a city.
True, people may be more abrupt and always in a hurry but contrary to popular belief, I’ve never felt lost or lonely in a big city. I know people who live in rural towns who can’t settle in big cities due to them finding it ‘too busy.’ I can understand why they would find the transition hard which makes me even more thankful to be city born and bred, and having done the reverse has not been too difficult for me. can never get bored in a big city. I remember when I used to fly into Portland, Oregon on one of my visits to see Mr. D before we got hitched, looking out of the aeroplane window and seeing the city all lit up like jewelled specks on black cloak, highlighting the beauty and mystery of the night. Yes – bright city lights always make me happy.
B. BEING A LONDONER
As if being a city girl wasn’t enough, I’m so, so grateful that I grew up in the most amazing, exciting, diverse and vibrant cities in the world – London! Even though I know people are always complaining about all the negatives connected with London living – exorbitant costs, crowds, filthy streets, crime etc – I can’t quite put into words why I’m so proud and thankful to come from one of the world’s most famous cities. I love the nightlife, the arts, the mix of cultures; hearing all those different languages and accents, seeing people in traditional dress – something I miss very much now. I love that I’m able to get virtually any kind of cuisine without having to travel too far. You can complain all you want about public transport but at least it exists and there’s pretty much a twenty four hour service. There’s some absolutely stunning architecture and I love that some of the world’s most iconic sights are right there in London. And if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of London living, there are some districts and neighbourhoods that have a distinctly village feel.
London really is the city that has it all, and I’m so thankful and so glad its my city!
C. LIVING NEAR BOSTON
Seeing as the topic of this post is being grateful for the city you live in, I’m going to have to talk about Boston which is the city closest to where I live. I’ve mentioned before that it has always been my dream since I was an eleven year old New Kids On The Block fan to live in – at the very least visit – Boston. Never did I think that my dream would one day come true but it has!
Admittedly, as we live so far out of Boston, I haven’t visited as often as I’d like to but the few times I’ve visited I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve seen the Bruins play, seen some of the sights, been to a few gigs, eaten at the world famous Wahlburgers (haha! Although I didn’t see Donnie or Mark but Paul did say hi!) I’ve discovered the awesome Mike’s Pastries, and I know a bar where the fish ‘n chips are pretty decent!
I’m so glad to be living near a city as cool as Boston and look forward to visiting more of the historical sites. But more than that I’m grateful and thrilled to have realised one of my ambitions.
Posted in 52 Weeks Of Gratitude Challenge
Tags: 52 Weeks Of Gratitude Challenge, Ambition, America, Barcelona, Boston, Britain, City, Country, Dream, Dublin, Emigrating, England, Grateful, Gratitude, Great Britain, London, Massachusetts, Mumbai, Oregon, Portland, Rural, Thankful, UK, United Kingdom, United States, USA
EVENT: Boston Beer & Sweet Fest
HOSTED BY: Drink Craft Beer
PLACE: Space 57, 200 Stuart Street, Boston, MA 02116
DATE: 4th-5th November 2016
TIME: Session 1 – Friday, November 4th: 6-9:30pm
Session 2 – Saturday, November 5th: 1-4:30pm
Session 3 – Saturday, November 5th: 6-9:30pm (the one we went to)
When I started writing this post I was slightly hungover – and its all the fault of my sister and brother-in-law!
When I left London in October to join Mr. D. in Massachusetts after finally being approved for my Green Card (go me!) My sister and her husband decided to treat me and the fella to tickets to this year’s Beer & Sweets Fest that was being held in Boston. I love alcohol; I love sugar; I love alcohol and sugar; I love sugar and alcohol – proof that my sister and brother-in-law really do know me too well!
SO WHAT’S THIS FESTIVAL ALL ABOUT?
The Beer & Sweets Fest is an event thrown by Drink Craft Beer, who in the past have hosted events celebrating all that is good about, well, craft beer! As everyone knows that it’s not much fun drinking without having something to munch on, so these beer events are usually teamed up with a food item of some kind. So there’s been the Beer & Cheese Fest, the Beer & BBQ Fest (Mr. D. would have loved that!) Beer & Chocolate, Beer & Ice-Cream (whatever will they think of next???)… Well now it’s the turn of sweets.
WHAT’S THIS FESTIVAL LIKE?
An indoor festival, there were a series of stalls where vendors from different companies were offering unlimited, free samples of either beer or sweets. Each company generally offered three different items for people to try.
And naturally most sweet treats were paired with a beer or cider from a neighbouring vendor – as suggested in the festival guide – which complemented it.
After having our IDs checked and receiving the obligatory wrist band, we then had to pick up a biodegradable tasting cup for all our drink samples (great way to cut down on waste) a festival guide and a pencil so that we could mark off all the goodies we’d sampled.
And then the fun began!
As each stall had about three items for everyone to try. Mr. D. and I worked out a strategy that we were going to go round the venue trying one thing from each stall before working our way around another two times so that by the end of the night we’d have tried everything.
Well at least that was the plan. Unfortunately it didn’t quite work out that way because as much as I think I can consume sweet stuff and alcohol all day long, my tiny little body had other ideas and decided that it just couldn’t handle the buzzing, sugar rush it was getting.
Oh well we tried! And we didn’t do too badly either.
WHO WAS THERE?
Celebrating all that was great about New England beer, were a total of twenty breweries and cideries from the region as well as eight companies providing delicious sweet treats such as ice -cream, cookies, doughnuts, and various types of confectionery.
Here’s a list of the breweries, cider makers and confectioners who were in attendance, as well as the samples on offer.
BEER AND CIDER
Allagash Brewing Co. (ME)
Black – Belgian-style stout
Fluxus – Belgian-style saison w/ ginger
James Bean – Belgian-style strong ale w/ coffee
White – Belgian-style wit beer
Bantam Cider (MA)
Rojo-Chocolato – Bantam Rojo cherry & black pepper cider aged with chocolate roasted cacao nibs
Wunderkind – Cider with flower-blossom honey
Castle Island Brewing Co. (MA)
Hoodsie TBD – American stout with cocoa nibs & vanilla bean
Oaverzealous – Double IPA with oats & New Zealand hops
Palmside – Coconut porter
Citizen Cider (VT)
Americran – Cider with cranberries
Dirty Mayor – Cider with ginger
Stan Up – Vintaged cider made from heirloom apples
Clown Shoes Beer (MA)
The Barista – Brown ale with coffee & milk sugars
Chocolate Sombrero – Stout with cinnamon, vanilla, & ancho chili peppers
Space Cake – Double IPA
Downeast Cider House (MA)
Cranberry Blend – Cider with fresh cranberry juice
Pumpkin Blend – Cider with fresh pumpkin & chai spices
Exhibit A Brewing Co. (MA)
The Cat’s Meow – American IPA
Demo Tape Five – American brown Porter
Demo Tape Six – Dry-hopped kettle sour
Goody Two Shoes – Kolsch-style ale
Far From the Tree Cider (MA)
karr-UH-mel – Vanilla Sea Salt Caramel Cider
Cord – Oaked maple cider
Ember – Toasted chai cider with smoked vanilla & burnt sugar
Foolproof Brewing Co. (RI)
Emperor of the Yahd – Bourbon barrel aged Double IPA
La Ferme Urbaine – Belgian-style saison
Peanut Butter Raincloud – Peanut butter porter with chocolate
Henniker Brewing Co. (NH)
Hometown Double Brown –brown ale
King Misanthrope – Russian Imperial Stout
Ora – Belgian-style golden ale
Jack’s Abby Brewing Co. (MA)
Brewery Maker – Lager wine aged in bourbon barrels
Framinghammer – Baltic Porter
Red Tape – Amber lager
Lefty’s Brewing Co. (MA)
Big Brekkie Stout – Breakfast stout with organic chocolate, coffee, oatmeal, maple syrup, & bacon
Graham Cracker Porter
Vanilla/Chocolate Wedding Daze – Imperial Stout aged on organic vanilla beans & organic cocoa nibs
Long Trail Brewing Co. (VT)
Citrus Limbo – IPA infused with grapefruit & tangerine
Cranberry Gose – German-style gose brewed with cranberries
Barrel Aged Unearthed – Bourbon barrel aged stout
Lost Nation Brewing Co. (VT)
Gose – Slightly sour German wheat beer w/ coriander & sea salt
Cask Pitch Black – black ale dry-hopped withGalaxy hops
Cask Vermont Pilsner – pilsner dry-hopped with Mandarina Bavaria hops
Newburyport Brewing Co. (MA)
Das Kolsch – Kolsch-style ale
Joppa Grande – Foreign Export Stout
Plum Island – Belgian-style Wit
Night Shift Brewing Co. (MA)
Awake – Coffee porter
Trifecta – Belgian-style pale ale aged w/ vanilla beans
Peak Organic Brewing Co. (ME)
Nut Brown – Brown ale
Fresh Cut – Dry hopped hoppy pilsner
Happy Hour – Pilsner
Samuel Adams (MA)
Slice of Citrus IPA – Citrus IPA
Black Harbor Stout – Imperial stout with vanilla, black pepper, coffee, & cocoa nibs
Neighborino Flanders Red – Belgian-style sour red ale
UNION by Somerville Brewing – Barleywine
Yankee Swap 2016 – Rotating big beer
TBD Sour Brown Ale
Wormtown Brewing Co. (MA)
Blizzard of ’78 – English-style brown ale with cold brew coffee
Blonde Cougar – American blonde ale with honey
Norm – Oatmeal stout with cocoa nibs & toasted coconut
Spices Like Us – Imperial Russian Stout
Blackbird Donuts (Boston, MA)
Grapefruit and Cracked Pepper Glaze Donut
Cinnamon Spice Donut
Vanilla Sugar Donut
Chocolate Therapy (Framingham, MA)
The Cure – Dark chocolate truffle with cinnamon, bay leaf, cayenne, and Aleppo pepper
Fix – Smooth dark chocolate truffle topped with crunchy cocoa nibs
Honey Hops – Dark and milk chocolate truffle with Citra hops and honey
Honeycomb Creamery (Somerville, MA)
Apple Cider Donut with Caramel Swirl ice cream
Brown Butter Apple ice cream
Spiced Pumpkin ice cream
Kitchen Millie (Somerville, MA)
The Peanut Patriot – Peanut butter cookie
The Sugar Blizzard – Sugar cookies with sea salt and cinnamon
The Unrivaled Classic – Chocolate chip cookies
Miam Miam Macaronerie (South Boston, MA)
Chocolate Stout macaron
Salted Caramel macaron
Vanilla Bean macaron
Spindler Confections (Somerville, MA)
Salted Vanilla Caramels
Apricot Pate de Fruits
Sweet Lydia’s (Lowell, MA)
Turtle Bark – Caramel, pecans, and dark chocolate
Mexican Chocolate Stout S’More – S’more with vanilla marshmallow, ganache made with Clown Shoes Chocolate Sombrero stout, and graham cracker crumbs
Taza Chocolate (Somerville, MA)
Toffee Almond Sea Salt
Cranberry Pumpkin Spice
WHAT WE THOUGHT
To say that Mr. D. and I had a fab time is an understatement. There was such a good vibe from the time we entered the venue and the purple-shirted staff members were so polite, helpful and accommodating. The vendors were an absolute delight (I’ve been to similar events back in London and this has not always been the case) and we managed to sample some fabulous, top quality food and drink. I don’t know who comes up with these innovative, highly original flavour combos but we had great fun tasting them.
Admittedly I’m not much of a beer drinker – that’s more Mr. D.’s thing – so I was thrilled to see that there were quite a few cider makers there that night because I am most definitely a cider girl!
Although we did enjoy almost everything, if I’m honest, I was disappointed that a very delicious and unusual sounding cider – which shall remain nameless- had to be tipped into a waste bucket because neither Mr.D nor I could finish even that little two ounce sample which had an extremely strong taste which we did not find appealing. That’s not to say that it was rank – just not to our taste but that was the only thing we ditched that night.
WOULD WE GO AGAIN?
Oh you bet! We had such an amazing time there that if there was ever to be another one next year, we would definitely go. It wasn’t just the food and drink that was on offer that made it worth it, but the vibrant atmosphere, helpful event staff, friendly vendors and fab festival goers that made this event such a pleasant experience.
And let’s not forget that it’s events like these which give local breweries, cideries and confectioners the chance to put themselves and their products in the spotlight, and make themselves known to a wider audience.
SPECIAL SHOUT OUT TO…
Although we thought everyone was amazing, there are some people who really stood out.
Mr. D. and I sampled some great tasting cider but it was the vendor who really stood out as much as those cups of appley goodness! He had no in engaging the festival goers in conversation and seemed oo have time for everyone. The fact that he complimented me ookn my accent means that he gets a zillion house points!
The vendor was very welcoming and took time to explain what the samples were and invited is to try them. And they were gooooood!
I found that this company were very generous with their samples. I’ve seen restaurants who serve up mingier dessert portions! They were all incredibly tasty and even though I’m not normally a huge coconut fan, I really loved the taste and texture of their coconut marshmallows.
FAR FROM THE CIDER TREE
Mr. D and I were very impressed with what we tried, and I loved the flavour of the vanilla sea salt caramel cider. The vendor was also a very cheery, laid back dude!
Okay, I was disappointed that there were no vanilla sugar doughnuts, and I really wish that their grapefruit and pepper doughnuts – which were created especially for the festival – had a greater hit of grapefruit. But I can overlook all of the above because Mr. D. fell head over heels for their cinnamon spice doughnuts, and I can’t say I blame him because they were pretty yum!
Mr. D. couldn’t get enough of their apple cider ice – cream – especially when he teamed it up with the cinnamon spice doughnut from Blackbird Doughnuts. And I loved the bits of roasted apple in the butter brown apple ice-cream.
THE CHUBBY CHICKPEA
They weren’t giving away any beer or sweet samples but instead were selling reasonably-priced actual food – for which Mr. D. and I were extremely grateful because as fabulous as sweets are you need food to mop up all that alcohol!
I ordered the falafel which was cooked to perfection – light on the inside and beautifully crisp on the outside. And Mr. D. loved his chicken schnitzel sandwich. Both were served with hummus – Mr. D’s fave – and a type of salsa.
My only complaint? Guys, ditch the bread roll/bap thing and go for a flat bread instead!
These guys have a food truck located in parts of Boston so catch them if you can.
EVENT STAFF MEMBER
Mr. D. and I need to give a massive shout out to a bespectacled, shaven-headed male event staff member on the Saturday night we attended – for having a heart of gold. Thank you.
MY SISTER AND BROTHER-IN-LAW
Thanks guys for this amazing gift. If it hadn’t been for you two, we wouldn’t have had such a great night out. Next time, leave the kids at home and come with us!
Well done to Drink Craft Beer – you excelled yourself. Here’s to next year!
Posted in Out And About
Tags: 2016, alcohol, America, Apple, BBQ, Beer, Boston, Brewery, Butter, caramel, cheese, chicken, Chocolate, Cider, Cidery, Citizen Cider, Confectioner, Cookies, Craft Beer, dessert, Donuts, Doughnuts, Drink Craft Beer, drinks, Falafel, family, food, fruit, Ginger, Ice cream, marshmallows, New England, people, Sugar, sweets, The Chubby Chickpea, Tickets
I’ve been a little quiet with the posts this month as April has been quite a busy month for me. As everyone knows Mr. D. and I left England to go and live in Massachusetts after Mr. D. had been offered a job there. However because we had left quicker than we would have liked, it was always known that I’d be returning after a few months in order to tie up loose ends – so here I am!
It’s great being back in my city though I wish Mr. D was here because I do miss him terribly but hopefully I shouldn’t be staying for too long and I will be back with Mr. D. before I know it. In the meantime, I just want to enjoy all the fab things London has to offer; see all those I never got a chance to say goodbye to back in January, and spend time with those who matter because it might be a very long time before I see them again.
I’m actually enjoying using my Oyster Card and hopping on and off public transport because not being much of a driver – despite having passed my test yonks ago – I’ve never really been much of a driver, so depended on Mr. D. to ferry me around which I know will have to change once I move back to the States. You can complain all you want about public transport in London – and we do – but it’s not brilliant in Massachusetts at all, so when we first moved out there and had to wait to get a car, we really struggled. I’m so thankful that we have a fairly decent bus and tube system here in London.
I know a few people are confused that I have found myself a job in a school but it’s only for the duration of my stay. The truth is I really miss being in a classroom; being an English teacher is a big part of who I am. So when the opportunity arose, I grabbed it and I have to say its a lot of fun. It’s great getting to know my new students and colleagues, and one of my former colleagues is also working there, so it’s great to see a familiar face.
I’m so glad I’m having this time in my hometown because who knows when I’ll be back. But funnily enough, it’s also made me feel more optimistic about living in America and I really want to give it a go. Not everyone has the opportunity to experience life in another country so I’m determined to make the most of every second which isn’t easy when homesickness rears its ugly head… But I’ll try!
And Mr.D. and I have some rather exciting news which I’ll be sharing with you at some point but I don’t want to give too much away now. I will however make it clear that for those who are expecting to hear an announcement about the pitter-patter of tiny feet, well it’s not as exciting as that – but it’s pretty close!
Watch this space…