Sweet and Savory

Since finishing summer classes last week, I have been trying to balance my desire to completely veg out and have daily Madmen marathons with getting my grad school applications started… and exploring the restaurants, bars and cafes of Cambridge as a free woman (OBVI— it’s still me over here, people — even if I know a thing or two about quantum physics now).

Looking up. Somerville, MA.

For better or worse, my urge to be productive always beats out the urge to be lazy, but a gal can TRY once in a while (I’ve found it doesn’t take much). I’ve already made a lot of additions to the very elaborate grad school application spreadsheet I’ve been maintaining, and I may or may not have written a rough draft of my personal statement essay in one burst of inspiration (now that I finally know the topic). I’ve registered for fall classes and labs, run around town rushing health insurance documents out before quickly approaching deadlines, and I’m working on volunteer, or even potential paid PT Aide positions for the fall. I guess getting some free time these days doesn’t directly translate into “vacation,” but there is something to be said for having the time to catch up on all the OTHER stuff we have to do to stay organized. Of course, there is a lot more to do — it’s called being an adult, and you all know what that’s like — but the best complement to hard work is easy fun. Lots of it. That’s how I feel about THAT.

Luckily, I have some great friends who have been treating me very well and introducing me to new places to celebrate being free, or just enjoy the simple things about summer (sitting outside in the afternoon with a Hefeweizen, strolling by the river, impromptu oysters, and sangria…). It’s time to pause and acknowledge a few more of these places, and add them to my TwT Boston list. [Warning: I have discovered Instagram (I was slow to warm up to it), and I’m not afraid to use it…]

EMMA’S:  There was something special about this place from the moment we first walked in. I’m not sure if it was the Indie-vibe, the dim lighting, or the extremely friendly host (who even moved us to a better table after seating us at one, acknowledging his own preference for the second table and aiming to please two already content customers). The cozy spot is like a hug from a best friend; you get the comfort of delicious thin crust pizza (with the usual spattering of toppings to choose from — and even some unusual options, such as dried cranberries, artichoke hearts and sweet potatoes), accompanied by the edge of a good sangria. Meanwhile, the kind of music that breeds nostalgia plays just loud enough in the background, making one of the colorful chairs an easy place to get comfortable. Emma’s is a great low-key date spot, but it could also be the dinner sanctuary that you run to in the middle of a cold winter, when you want a badass pizza and a good glass of red wine before turning in for the night and watching movies. Pencil me in for many more visits and slices as the temperature in this town slowly drops. I’m not sure who Emma is, but I think we should be friends.

FLOUR BAKERY: Before leaving New York, I wondered outloud where I might find a good bakery in Cambridge. My friend looked at me and said one word: Flour. The name remained a distant fantasy, as I found less and less time and more and more need to treat myself to something yummy during the nonstop cyclone of physics work. At long last, I got to go there today, and I haven’t stopped thinking about my breakfast since. While not in the most scenic spot (I went to the one between Kendall and Central Squares), the cafe itself is just right for a constantly coming-and-going ground. I tried the breakfast sandwich — a surprisingly artistic souffle-like square egg on a delicious homemade roll, with just the right amount of dijon mustard, arugula, and a slice of tomato. I opted for bacon (it always seems to win the ham vs bacon battle) and even the bacon was a standout on its own. But the constant dilemma of savory vs sweet had me in a pickle, so I decided to share (I promise!) the seductive sticky bun as well. It may have just been the best sticky bun I have ever had. Somewhere between that egg sandwich, the bacon and the sticky bun, I found myself lost in a perfect breakfast. I guess all I can do now is go back and sample everything else on the menu, one delicious treat at a time… Who’s coming with me?!

Breakfast at Flour Bakery. Cambridge, MA.

THE CHARLES RIVER: For me, “The Charles” has always been synonymous with “rowing.” Rowing rowing rowing, Head of the Charles, and rowing. Most of my trips to Boston during college were to cheer on the Bowdoin crew as it raced (and sometimes won) “the world’s largest 2-day rowing event,” according to the HOCR website. But only recently did I have the opportunity to walk beside it as afternoon and evening slowly blended together. Seeing sailboats and the river in a slightly different light, in a slightly different mood, with a slightly different life made me appreciate it in a whole new way. For me, nothing does it like summertime strolls by the water… And maybe a little booze wouldn’t stop this moment from getting even better.

Boats int he summer. Charles River. Cambridge, MA.

As you can see, I’ve gotten some stuff done, and I’ve purposefully NOT gotten some stuff done in the past week. We talked a lot about balance in physics this summer — from the constant forces acting upon an object in static equilibrium, to the force of microscopic photons bouncing electrons off of things (ok, so I may know a little more about this than it sounds like I do, but you don’t strike me as the physics-loving crowd…). What I hope to accomplish with the last few weeks of summer — my entire summer, in a sense — is just more of the same; I want to be productive, but also be completely and totally, beautifully, wonderfully unproductive once in a while. Is that too much to ask?

In life, it seems we must always choose between savory and sweet, or try to balance the two. And then sometimes, we don’t get to choose at all.

(This song has been stuck in my head since my last workout…It is just the right amount of angry.)

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Filed under Food, Life Stuff, Massachusetts, School, Summer

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