Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Meals on Wheels!

On Saturday, July 14, Worcester was invaded... BY FOOD TRUCKS!  The food truck craze is sweeping the nation and Worcester refuses to be left in the dust.  While we don't have the population to warrant a regular fleet of food-trucky goodness, Worcester was an ideal venue for the Food Truck Festivals of New England Tour. Yes, this is a real tour.  It's numbers are rivaling this summer's Springsteen sales... obviously I am kidding.  But, the buzz around the Worcester Food Truck Festival was definitely sizable.

As a former DC resident and having a husband and close friends who work in Boston, I am no stranger to the glories of the food truck.  I've actually been quite jealous of the plethora of food trucks available to those close to me when they venture from their office buildings for a quick lunch.  I've grumbled at their enthusiasm over all of the options and the surprising quality of food truck fare.  I've been feeling pretty excluded from this particular trend.

So, imagine my enthusiasm when I read about the Food Truck Festivals of New England coming to Elm Park!! Not only will I be able to enjoy and blog about this event, but it is in walking distance  of my house.  I would be able to partake in the festivities AND be able to arrive authentically... on foot.  I chalked it all up to serendipity and made plans to mosey on over with a friend for the 11AM start that Saturday morning.

When we arrived, it was a little before the advertised start time and everything seemed a bit disorganized.  There were about 8-12 trucks set up and three booths to purchase food tickets.  Not really knowing how hungry we would be, we opted out of pre-ordering our tickets online and situated ourselves in line to purchase an appropriate amount.  It was about $1.15 for a 1 ticket which could be used at any of the trucks.  The average cost of a menu item was between 6 and 10 tickets.

We decided not to make any hasty food purchases.  We lapped the trucks twice before we had mapped out a menu plan.  First, we split half of a jumbo hot-dog from one of the trucks.  It was delicious, but it turns out (whether is was the speed at which we consumed the hot-dog or the hot-dog itself I'm not sure) we both were instantly nauseous.  A ridiculously unfortunate turn of events considering our plan was to spend the next 2.5 hours eating!  We quickly purchased a light beverage and found a seat to attempt to settle our stomachs.

Luckily our illness was brief.  After roughly 20 minutes, we decided we were recovered enough to continue our adventure.  Our next purchase was a pulled pork soft taco filled with coleslaw and some sweet BBQ sauce.  It was delicious, though the pork was decidedly not what we traditionally consider pulled pork, but it was slow cooked.  We were not disappointed and luckily our stomachs were more appreciative of this particular cuisine.

After finishing our taco, we wandered again.  We knew we need to digest a bit before continuing on, so we started to plan out our dessert choices.  I was sold on a jumbo cookie ice cream sandwich, whereas my companion was deciding between a variety of cookies or a frozen treat.  Having made up her mind, we wandered to find our last agreed upon entree selection... CLAM CHOWDER.

This was a wise decision.  We shared a small bowl of delicious and super satisfying clam chowder that was full of large chunks of clam.  The chowder itself was the perfect consistency, not too runny nor heavy.  We had to pat ourselves on the back for such a superior decision.  (I was contemplating a Lobster roll, however because they were the most expensive item of the day and my friend was not a fan of lobster, I decided against it.)

Finishing our "lunch" items, we made our way to three different trucks to purchase our desserts.  I believe the number of sweet trucks was equivalent to the savory trucks.  At this point in the afternoon we were particularly glad we had already plotted out our dessert course because the crowd had grown significantly and the lines for savory items and tickets were noticeably lengthy. We made our purchases and continued merrily on our way.  We snapped a few photos and then took our leave.  We ambled back towards my apartment noting just how popular and thus successful the event was.

Here are some more photos taken by Maria:

It was a grand Saturday afternoon in the park amongst the food trucks.  I was sad to see them depart and wish Worcester was able to sustain their presence on a daily basis.  Maybe someday... sigh.... As far a Worcester events go, this was a great success and completely family friendly, yay!

Until next time,

Thursday, July 12, 2012

My Night with Indiana Jones

On Thursday, June 19 (yup, it's taken me this long to post), Worcester Film Works kicked off it's second annual Movies on the Common Film Series.  This was news to me because I wasn't aware that there was an inaugural series last summer.  How I missed this baffles me, but I'll tell you what I did not miss:  A CARICATURE OF INDIANA JONES in the weekly Worcester Cultural Coalition email!

INDY!!! ( http://www.worcesterfilmworks.org/)

Time for a little personal information: I love Indiana Jones.  So much so that I regularly refer to him in everyday conversation as Indy.  I use a level of familiarity that his friends in the movies use, because I may self-identify as having some sort of relationship with this character.  I know it's a little crazy, but since I was old enough to watch the Indiana Jones movies, I have wanted to be Indiana Jones, or be with Indiana Jones if the opportunity presented itself.  This led to my love of history, archaeology, religious studies, Egyptology and eventually my degree in preservation. I often weave quotes from the series into conversations, such as "We are pilgrims in an unholy land" (often when surrounded by Yankee fans), "Snakes, why'd it have to be snakes," (for obvious reasons), and "No ticket" (you'd be surprised...my husband has a habit of leaving tickets behind...).  Anyway, my dreams of a future in archaeology were shattered when I figured out that Dr. Jones is probably the worst archaeologist on the planet and that I really hate digging (well not really digging, but the fleas and other insects/creatures that go along with the process). Either way, I still love Indy and the movies...

You know you love it!
(also Google images gave me this photo, please don't sue me Lucas Films!)

Back to the relevant story, after I had settled down from my shock and excitement, I read that the first film in the Movies on the Common Series was Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (or just Raiders for us Indy nerds).  I made plans to attend this screening with my husband and friend, Maria.  Then I went about preparing for the event.  Having been to several Movies on the Mall in DC, I knew some tricks of the trade.  I packed a cooler full of snacks and drinks, several blankets for seating, sun screen, a sweatshirt in case it got cool, and bug spray. We were all set.

The movie was advertised to start at dusk, with a pre-show concert beginning at 5P.  I wanted to arrive at or before 5P to be sure I had prime seating for Indy, but my companions had other ideas.  Maria had a work event that would keep her from arriving until 8P(!) and Jackson was complaining about sitting in the heat.  This troubled me for a few reasons, first, I am a prompt person and it pains me to be later than the start time, second at the DC movies, good seats fill up quickly and I didn't want to be "in the back", third, I needed to make sure I had a spot with enough room around me that conversations and movements from other audience members didn't upset my experience.  Since I couldn't force Maria to do anything, I grudgingly told her that I understood, however, I compromised on a 5:30P arrival with Jackson.  I rushed him out of our apartment at 5:30P on the dot and we walked down the Worcester Common with our supplies in tow.  In Jackson's defense it was about a billion degrees outside (read: 89 or 90 degrees Fahrenheit), but honestly, I didn't care, we were going to see Indy(!) so his incessant whining was annoying, but didn't really kill my buzz.
I bet it was hotter in there! (Also Google Images) "The floor's on fire...see.. AND the chair!" 
So turns out my race down the hill wasn't really necessary.  We were two of seven people who arrived by 5:40.  On the bright side, we were able to snag a table with an umbrella, which was excellent for shade and because Worcester Common is entirely cement and despite my several blankets, cement is not cozy. Jackson and I made ourselves at home at our little table, pulling out our frozen water bottles and sun screen and settled in for the concert.

"I suddenly remembered my Aristotle..."
We had an umbrella like Dr. Jones the first. (Google images yet again)
The first music act was James Keyes.  He was pretty cool solo act.  He played some Dylan, which I appreciated and was perfectly mellow to compliment the stifling hot evening.  It's too bad the crowd was so small, because he's definitely a talented musician.  During his set a few more groups showed up, so by the end he had a decent audience.  There was a bit of a wait between Keyes and the second musical act, The Luxury.  This was a younger group with a louder sound.  They opened with a great rendition of John Williams' "Indiana Jones Theme" which was appreciated.  It reinvigorated my excitement and had me buzzing with anticipation yet again.  I can't say I was a fan of their particular sound, but they definitely put on a good show. Kudos to them.

Are you reinvigorated? (Google images)
Maria arrived at 8PM, at the same time Jackson and I had decided it was time to wander the vendors and search for food.  The place was getting pretty crowded at this point.  There were plenty of food and beverage options supplied by the Theater Cafe, (who would actually deliver to your table on blanket on the common!) the Woo Card tent, and an ice cream truck.  We ordered some sandwiches from the Cafe, got a drink from the ice cream truck, and picked up our FREE! popcorn (because we swiped our woo cards).  We were totally prepared for the movie.  

Indy was a boy scout so he was always prepared!  Oh, River Pheonix...(Google Images)
The movie started at 9P, admittedly a little later than I expected. (Jackson abandoned us before the movie started because he gets up before the sun to commute to Boston, but Maria braved the "late" night with me.) But, it was just as awesome as always.  I personally was a little concerned that children and other viewers would be talking during the movie and I might have had to reprimand them, but it seemed that everyone was as invested in the film as I.  The audience "Ohhhed" and "Ahhhed" in all the right places and there was an appropriate amount of applause throughout.  

And they lived happily ever after... until he went to China and met that obnoxious blond...  (Google Images)

The night was a total success.  It wrapped up around 11P and everyone cheered enthusiastically when they announced the next film would be "Jaws."

"We're gonna need a bigger boat..."  

Followed by "The Princess Bride" - Inconceivable!!  (Sorry, no cartoon for that one yet.)

I really want to credit all of the parties involved in organizing this event.  Not only did they pick a fabulous movie, but they are bringing people back to the common, providing a free summer event for families, and showcasing local artists.  I'm completely impressed.

This is a total WIN for Worcester!!!

Until next time,


I couldn't resist... " Dr. Jones?"  "Henry & Indy: Yes"
(Google Images)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Triumvirate of Awesome

It is my esteemed pleasure to introduce you to my "place" in Worcester.  It seems like everyone in Worcester has their place, some have Peppercorns, some people have the Banner, others like Via, and some (like my dad) prefer Breen's.  Meanwhile, I was floating listlessly through the city trying to find a spot to call my own.  Well NICHExchange is it and has been for quite some time now, but I'm a slacker blogger so I haven't posted about it until now. I also needed some time to try to write a post that didn't make me sound too much like a fan-girl, but you'll be the judge of my success on that.

Prior to the start of my love affair with Niche, I had only heard whispers about it. I was intrigued when co-workers mentioned "that wine bar in Worcester," because obviously, my ears perk up at the mention of wine. So, FINALLY Jackson and I made it to The Citizen Wine, Cheese & Chocolate Bar. Now I take EVERYONE there and suggest EVERYONE eat and drink there, because it is the coolest place in Worcester.

I hope you noticed that title of this post is "Triumvirate of Awesome," (truthfully, I've been trying to use the word triumvirate in a post for a while, so I'm psyched, "sisyphean task" is next on the list if you are curious) and while you might think I am exaggerating, I promise you, I am not!  Niche is 3 layers of excellence, 3 layers deep.  Let me explain:

1.  The Citizen is a (1) Wine, (2) Cheese, and (3) Chocolate Bar!!!  - Already incredible on it's own.

2.  NICHEXchange is actually 3 different venues rolled into one location (1) The Citizen, (2) The People's Kitchen (TPK) - Restaurant, and (3) The Still & Stir - speakeasy style bar - how cool is that?

3. NICHEXchange is part of Niche Hospitality Group that includes (1) NICHEXchange, (2) Mezcal (Mexican Cantina, read: out-of-this-world Margaritas), and (3) Bocado (flamenco dancing and tapas, need I say more?).  FANTASTIC!

THE ULTIMATE TRIUMVIRATE! Teehee, still with me?

The combination of the Citizen, TPK, and the Still & Stir is heaven, my particular heaven to be exact  - I'd be thrilled to spend eternity there. It is as if it is tailored perfectly to fit my preferences. To begin with, it's an excellent example of adaptive reuse, which you've all come to realize is of the utmost importance to me. There are plenty of fantastic historic buildings around, no need to rip them down to build something new, utilitarian, and ugly. Just saying... The beautiful brick building and steel beams create a comfortable atmosphere that fits with the cultural fabric of Worcester in it's glory days.

Next, they've got plenty of options based on your dining/drinking pleasure for the evening, whether it be a private dining room, an open bar area with both bar and table seating, a private 'back room" bar, and an open patio (that is available year round do to space heaters and a nifty iron canopy). No matter your mood, they've got a space for you. They also host private functions, so if anyone is planning a party, you're covered as well, be sure to invite me though.

The menu is by far the best in the city. The People's Kitchen cuisine changes monthly depending on what fresh options are available, but they always have a fish, beef and vegetarian entree. You can often detect a theme in the entrees based on season, but it is varied enough that everyone can always find something they like - even the pickiest eaters go home happy. Honestly, they provide a much needed reprieve from the sea of Italian restaurants and steak houses that flood the Worcester dining culture. I love options and Niche is full of them. Every bite is full of flavor and prepared in a way that makes me want to lick my plate clean.  Not very lady-like, I know, but the food is that good. The TPK menu is available when sitting in the Citizen as well, but they also have their own "bar menu." Don't be fooled, the bar menu is filled with gourmet options, but they double as comfort food, like macaroni and cheese, burgers, and American Chop Suey.

For the adult crowd, niche cocktails are works of art. Traditional drinks are served to perfection and they are constantly developing new house concoctions for patrons to try. The Citizen has a huge wine list and even serves wine on tap! My fav is the Gotham Project Pinot Noir, but they are all worth a taste. The bartenders are masters of their trade and really personable. I'm not even embarrassed to say that I'm somewhat of a regular and I may have decided on my new apartment because it is walking distance from this place.

If you are looking for a late night spot, wander back through the courtyard to the Still & Stir. The bar was once the home of the Worcester jail! Iron bars and a low ceiling create a unique cave-like atmosphere. I've been to several tastings and drink competitions back there, where live music and a rowdy crowd made for memorable nights. The bartenders identify as part artist, part scientist and full time ambassadors to the customers. The experience is top notch and no cocktail is off limits. Don't know what you want? No problem, they are quick with suggestions and new ideas to meet the approval of your taste buds. Even if you aren't a big drinker, it is worth checking out.  The space has a great vibe and speakeasy-like feel that you won't find elsewhere in Worcester.

Niche tops that charts for location, cuisine, service and beverages, but what I LOVE about this place are the events. Niche knows how to throw a party!  Whether it be a Kentucky Derby party (where Millionaire row attire is strongly suggested), an experiential meal with wine and liquor pairings, or a Friday night concert on the patio, they spare no expense. They've created the formula for an impressive event and they keep their patrons coming back for more.

Not that you need any more encouragement, but here's the latest monthly menu straight from the website:


Garden and Caesar Salad Always Available on Request
Radish & Romaine Salad
Fresh Strawberries, Trio of Radishes, Balsamic Black Pepper Vinaigrette
Frisk “Prickly” Riesling
Creamy Potato Leek Soup
with Chorizo Sausage
The Game Reserve Chenin Blanc
Shrimp Toast Bruschetta 
Baby Greens, Balsamic Reduction, Olive Oil
Lobster Reef Sauvignon Blanc
Grilled Beef Tenderloin Kabobs 
Summer Vegetables, Chipotle Honey Drizzle, House Steak Sauce
Indaba Shiraz
Kobe Beef & Pork Meatballs
BBQ Molasses Broth, Spicy Romaine Slaw, Chopped Pistachios
Spellbound Petite Sirah

Signature Steaks Available with Prix Fixe
Sirloin: Uppercut Cabernet Sauvignon  / Filet: Velvet Devil Merlot
Grilled Mahi Mahi 
Pistachio Peppadew Relish, Charred Asparagus, Grilled Vidalia Onion Mashed Potato
La Cappuccina Soave
Roasted Pepita Crusted Tilapia 
Mango Salsa, Dressed Baby Greens, Creamy Pineapple Basil Risotto
Mercer Pinot Gris
Smoked Barbeque Short Rib
Grilled Sweet Corn with Truffle Butter, Warm Pancetta Potato Salad
90+ Cellars Shiraz
Bacon Wrapped Pork Medallions 
Warm JalapeƱo Corn Bread, Marinated Vegetables, Pomegranate Molasses
Hullabaloo Zinfandel
Seared Sesame Tofu 
Chilled Bean Salad, Scallion Couscous, Ginger Hoisin Glaze
Paul Dolan Chardonnay

Lemongrass Infused Tropical Fruit Salad
Standing Stone Chardonnay Ice
Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta 
Orange Ginger Coulis, Fresh Berries
M Trignon Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise
Trio of Sorbet
Chef’s Selection
Alasia Moscato d’Asti
Belgian Chocolate Tasting
Sampling of Our Callebaut Squares
Leacock Rainwater Madeira

Be still my foodie heart....

I did a little searching through my facebook page to find some photos for this post.  Honestly, my photography skills are even worse than my writing, so judge me and not the venue... better yet go see for yourself!

The actual STILL at the Still & Stir, note the piano and jail cell bars.
Syd on the patio enjoying some wine and music.

It goes without saying that Niche gets 200 gold stars, two enthusiastic thumbs up, and whatever other award I can give them. It's definitely my favorite place in Worcester.

See you there!

Until next time,

Thursday, May 3, 2012

In an attic in Worcester

I wrote this a while ago and just realized I never posted it.  Silly me... Better late than never...  [Extreme tangent, but it kind of works with this post.  During my freshman year of high school, every Friday, my history teacher would tell a joke to end the week.  They were always TOTALLY CHEESY so I loved them.  She had one particularly famous joke that all of the upperclassmen talked about - Nate the Snake.  It took almost the entire class period to tell the joke and the best part was that her laugh was the funniest part of the production.  She was a tiny woman with this fully-bellied, high pitch, laugh that you couldn't help but laugh along with.  Anyway, using the phrase better late than never makes me, and probably every other NDA alum who had Mrs. Heeder, chuckle. If you want to hear the joke, you'll have to email me.  It will take me a while to type it out.]

Last night, my husband and I went to Biagio's on Park Ave for their Thursday night comedy show.  I had heard about this bi-monthly event from friends, but it has always slipped my mind.  Turns out, a friend of mine, Christina Thomas, happened to be preforming, so with this added incentive, Jack and I drove down the street to check things out for ourselves.

Biagio's is your run-of-the-mill, Worcester, Italian restaurant.  Not great, by any standards, but decent enough that the Italian population isn't offended and the rest of Worcester finds it comforting (like they do the other 100 Italian family restaurants in the city).  The comedy show isn't held in the main dining area (thank god) or at the bar.  The restaurant has an attic space they revamped with a small bar, smaller stage, and passable lighting and sound systems to create a comedy hut.  It's a bit awkward to find and feels a little shady walking up there, but these grassroots comedians make it work and the small audience (and I do mean small) has plenty of space to spread out and relax. 

We loved the host, Sarah.  She took the meager attendance and mostly very green comics in stride and had us cracking up in no time.  She's this adorable platinum blonde, who kind of reminds me of Rose McGowan ala Scream, who relies on her witty and sarcastic sense of humor to ease awkward silences and awkward comedians (read on, you'll understand).

Now to protect the innocent and myself (again, keep reading) I am going to give you a random assortment of the comedians that opened the show with nicknames.

1. Awkward kid.  He was young, new to the business and is exactly like his nickname suggests.  He had a few great jokes, but needed to work on his overall act.  I give him an A for effort and think over time he'll be fantastic.  I'm pretty sure he was barely out of high school, so he has plenty of time to perfect his act.

2. Mr. Flamboyant. He was outrageous and supposedly straight, contrary to his eye make-up, colorful scarf and skinny jeans - I should add, he was way too old to be a hipster to clear up any suspicions.  His jokes were like watching the last scene of Little Miss Sunshine - if the family hadn't joined the little girl on stage.  It was a train wreck. I'm pretty sure no one knew what was going on.  We were an easy to laugh crowd so I feel like his self esteem was still in tact, but it was rough.

2. Prison Tat.  I'm not kidding.  Still a little afraid of this guy.  His act was actually excellent, but I felt that if I didn't laugh he would hunt me down and kill me.  I might be over exaggerating, but when he brought up his jail time and illegal activities (and didn't want his picture taken) I tried not to make eye contact for the rest of the evening.  To be fair, he said his life was on the straight and narrow now, but he still intimidated the heck out of me.

Personally, our main event was Christina Thomas - though she wasn't the headliner.  She killed it.  I'll admit some of her humor, okay, most of her humor was not at all family friendly and had me blushing like a school girl, but I was in tears laughing for the majority. Her girlfriend, who I've known for years, was often featured in her jokes, so I had the added bonus of a personal connection.[Note: Christina went on that weekend to be a finalist in a huge comedy competition at Mohegan Sun (a large casino in Connecticut), so other people think she's an amazing comedian,too - it's not personal bias.]

The headliner was Orlando Baxter.  He was up from New York helping out as a favor to the host.  He wasn't bad, but you could tell he didn't take the gig seriously... but honestly, we were in an attic in Worcester and there were about 5 people in the audience, so you can't blame him.  I bet one of his larger shows would be stellar.

Either way, I had a great evening with a phenomenal cast of characters - in an attic in Worcester.  I hear that Biagios does comedy about three nights a week, so it's definitely worth checking out, plus they could use a larger audience.  One last warning before I go, when you are leaving, if you have been drink (and honestly even if you haven't) remember you've been in an ATTIC for a few hours and you've got a steep set of stairs ahead of you... I may have tripped a little on the way out.  It might have been one of the funnier moments of the night, because as long as no one is seriously injured, it is always HILARIOUS when someone falls.

<3 K

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The other Abbey that everyone is talking about.

This weekend I realized there are two very important abbeys in my life.  The first, of course, is Downton.  My love for this show is endless and if you haven't watched Downton Abbey yet, stop reading this blog and rent/netflix/buy it immediately.  I'm not joking, why aren't you moving?  You'll thank me.  The whole premise is total mind candy for romantic, history-geeks everywhere and entertaining enough that my husband loves it too.  More importantly, Maggie Smith is a genius (I'm actually thinking about starting another blog of Dowager Countess Quotes.... I'm still not joking... don't judge me).  I'll move on, but seriously, watch it.

The second abbey is ARMSBY ABBEY!  This small (and I mean small) restaurant, has a chic bar feel.   Located on Main Street in downtown Worcester in one of the old street front properties (bonus points for preservation... can I get a w00t?), they specialize in craft beers and artisanal foods.  They've created a Brick Skellar-vibe,with a non-descript almost speak-easy-esque feel more often found in New York or San Francisco, but they've found their niche and quite a following here in Worcester.  

Photo Credit Armsby Abbey

Armsby is always packed.  I'm not exaggerating.  No reservations for parties under 6, so plan to have a beer or two while you wait for a table during peak hours.  You'll be rubbing elbows with your neighbor, but after that first Chimay no one seems to mind. The rustic looking high-top tables and bar stools create a casual atmosphere and provide the majority of their seating.  However, two window box tables are always the most coveted seats in the house and somehow manage to tone down the bar-vibe enough to make the restaurant socially accessible for several generations (read: as long as you have had a 21st birthday).  In the warmer months, you can enjoy your beer and/or meal at a small cafe table on the front side walk.  A truly inspired touch that compliments the entire presentation and minimizes the wait. 

Photo Credit Armsby Abbey

Unlike your corporate chain (COUGHApplebeesFridaysLonghornCOUGH), the waitstaff seem to have PhDs in craft beer.  With over 20 beers on tap that change constantly and a bottle list that takes a good half hour to read through, I have yet to encounter a server who couldn't supply me with a useful description any of the beers offered.  I may be guilty of trying to stump them a time or two.  Spot on with suggestions and impressively attentive despite the crowd, the Armsby staff shows a level of professionalism that severely lacks in most establishments on the East coast.  (It's unfair of me not to note that I think this trend is changing and the service industry is really improving in New England, but I'm always pleasantly surprised by a really knowledgeable server.)  Warning: This is not a place for the bud light drinkers of the world.  Budweiser has it's time and place -kegs and flip cup tables, but Armsby provides a chance for you to expand your palate and take some risks.

While their dining menu is short, Armsby spares no expense on quality.  Local farming and co-ops are the suppliers of the artisanal cheeses and fresh ingredients that go into every delectable meal.  Dishes are flavorful and exotic, and while never offering a traditional entree, somehow they've tapped into the comfort food market.  Portions are reasonable for the most part, though the slates - which actually come on SLATE - should probably be shared. 

Obviously, I'm a big fan of Armsby, so why write about them now, you wonder.  Until Sunday, I had never tried their lauded BRUNCH.  I have no excuse for this, I'd try to blame Jackson, but he's actually suggested it a time or two.  Anyway, I am now kicking myself for dragging my feet to get to Sunday brunch at Armsby, because it was phenomenal.  Still non-traditional and locally grown, the entrees were enticing and exciting.  As you can tell from previous posts, I'm a big fan of traditional diner breakfasts, but for brunch I want to have options.  I was not disappointed.  I enjoyed a mimosa while waiting for a table (if I thought evenings were busy, brunch was a zoo), and loved the Moroccan Hash I ordered for brunch.  

So, like Downton, if you haven't tried Armsby Abbey, what are you waiting for?! It's a favorite of mine and a real win for the Worcester restaurant scene.  Two enthusiastic thumbs up, I'll be back.

Until next time,


Monday, March 12, 2012

Worcester Gone Wild or The St. Patrick's Day Parade

As most of my readers are from New England, you completely understand why a St. Patrick's day parade is synonymous with debauchery, however, for the few others who are not privy to this tradition please let me explain.  The Worcester/Southie/Newport/(insert all other major parades in RI and MA) parades are a rare moment where friends and families line the streets dressed in crazy accessories and Kelley Green and open container laws cease to exist.  I kid you not, the entire parade route becomes a family-friendly bar. (I tried to explain this tradition to a few DC friends when I first moved south, but honestly, you have to see it to believe it. For a while, they thought I was either crazy or a serious alcoholic.) Drinking starts early (in Newport I think people start drinking when the sun comes up), but all of this centers around a parade with floats, marching bands, politicians, the whole-nine yards.  The street is littered with thrown candy, grocery-cart-pushing street vendors and red solo cups.  From an outsider point of view, this seems strange and bordering on inappropriate, however, to anyone who grew up near these parades, it's just what you do.  And you HAVE A BLAST! 

So I did. I went to the Worcester parade for the first time in over 10 years.  Jackson and I walked from our apartment and started at the end of the parade route and worked our way down to the beginning.  I was afraid that after so many years away, I might be a little disappointed, but alas the excitement of the day was infectious as soon as we reached the crowd.  I felt like a kid again, dodging candy, waving to the people on the floats and laughing at the ridiculous drunk college students. Note: I would love to link to the Worcester St. Patrick's Day parade website, but it's exceeded its bandwidth or something and the site is down at the moment.

We met up with family and stopped to watch just in time to see the Shriners zipping around in the little cars!  Honestly, these guys have always been my favorite.
 Shriner photo credit Jim Motavalli Mother Nature Network blog.
I found myself watching for some of the groups I remembered fondly from my younger parade going.  The carpenter's union had a great float with moving parts, the catholic schools of Worcester were blasting the unicorn song and I had to really stop myself from doing the hand movements.  Here's a you tube link if you have no idea what I am talking about. There was the man who rides on a toilet... can't remember what he's advertising, but the point is that I was surprised how reminiscent the day was for me. 

We ducked out a little early to beat the crowds, but the true experience (read: with beer - we weren't drinking) usually lasts into the afternoon.  Families cook out or have a nice lunch spread and Park Avenue becomes a block party.  The barrooms stay packed with the young twenty-somethings and local bands play into the evening.

Oh! I found out a little to late that there is a very popular Guinness Celtic 5k before the parade.  I was a little jealous because the t-shirts were uber cool.  Jack and I have made plans to run next year.  I heard that the racers had a great run and the turnout was particularly impressive.

It's a good day of not-exactly-wholesome family fun and it's totally free!! Slainte Worcester and Happy St. Patty's Day to everyone who will be celebrating on Saturday!

Until next time,


Friday, December 9, 2011

A Station Transformation

If you live in Worcester county and are looking for things to do, I suggest you subscribe to the weekly emails from the Worcester Cultural Coalition.  They keep me privy to things going on in Worcester and let me know about discounts available using my Woo Card. Which leads me to another suggestion, get a Woo Card.

This is a woo card
This baby gets you tons of fantastic discounts at places around Worcester: restaurants, shows, gyms, shops, etc.  It's pretty fantastic and highly recommended by me.

Last week the Worcester Cultural Coalition email told me I should stop by stART at the Station, a large craft fair held at Union Station, Worcester's recently renovated train station.  stART at the Station is the winter edition of the fall and spring events, stART the street.  Having never been to any of these events, I wrangled up some friends and we attempted to do some holiday shopping.

Union Station was packed.  The fair started at 11AM and was scheduled until 5PM.  We arrived around noon and you could barely move through the aisles.  Awesome for the vendors, no bueno for customers, but we survived.  There was an extreme variety of goods available, which I appreciate, because I am really sick of going to shows that are comprised of dozens of jewelry vendors and a lady who knits things for infants. Not that I have anything against jewelry, ladies or infants, but I like a lot of options. 

There was no admission fee (w00t) and just for stopping by I got to swipe my Woo Card for double points (double w00t)!  There were refreshments available -bake sale style, with tasty treats that started a day-long sugar high for our small group.  Once you got used to sharing your personal space with other shoppers, it was a pretty awesome event.  Note: I really don't like sharing my personal space in large crowds with strollers and toddlers that roam free, not because I don't like children, but because I get overly nervous about tripping or being accidentally shoved and injuring a small child.  As it stands, I'm not very coordinated or graceful and I can't imagine how horrible I would feel if I toppled onto an unsuspecting stroller. I also can't imagine most parents keeping a cool head about such an accident if their child was hurt. It would get confrontational and awkward, two things I avoid at all costs. So I was a little anxious throughout the afternoon.  On the bright side, I've finally posted about a free, family-friendly event!

I can't list all of the vendors, but some that stood out - by description, not name - were the puppets, the orbs with plants, the tie t-shirts, some fantastic photographers and potters, unique serving trays, vintage ornaments, and of course lots of jewelry.  I stopped at one table that had the coolest set up ever.  This guy had antique luggage, lined with wallpaper (or scrapbook paper) with funky nobs and handles attached for his necklaces to display from.  There are several of these set up and they were completely awesome so I asked, "Excuse me, do you sell the jewelry cases as well?" He looked at me oddly and with a hint of attitude answered "uh, no."  I frowned and said, "Okay, thanks anyway."  He replied, still with the tone of annoyance or arrogance, I can't be sure, "If I had said yes, can I ask what you'd use them for?"  I was a little taken aback, because I thought their use was kind of obvious.  I glanced at the suitcases and my friend who was standing beside him and answered in a cheerful tone, "The same thing you are? I'd hang my necklaces so I don't have to look through drawers or boxes to find what jewelry to where." If he replied to that I don't remember, but it was an odd exchange that left me wondering if I had done something to offend him by asking about his set up.  I mean, I had audibly announced that I liked his jewelry prior to our conversation.  Either way, I'm now trying to figure out if I should make my own wicked awesome jewelry display case.  I'll post pictures if I attempt it.

 At the end of the day we all had a great time and most of us managed to cross a few names off of our gift lists.  I'll definitely be checking out the spring and fall events and I'll let you know how those measure up. For now, good job Worcester with your cool crafts, excellent advertisement and snazzy little cards that give me points!

Until next time,