Musings

* At last, a genuine flip-flop day. Not a day masquerading as a flip-flop day (and working at a college, I can attest that students think every day in a flip-flop day until the snow bites their toes and they break down and break out the Uggs), but a bona fide sunny day that calls for the least amount of shoe you can wear.

* I lunched on pork buns from the Fugu food truck, plunked down in the park in Post Office Square, and dug into the buns and a book. The fact that the semester ended last week and that today was the perfect spring day, combined to form a dangerous vortex in which returning to work was, let’s say, a challenge.

Post Office Square

* Rational for today’s post-dinner snack: guacamole does not keep and those pork buns were small. I will finish off the tub with half a bag of tortilla chips.

* Tonight, even from the humble and not-particularly-beautiful parking lot of Target, the sun set stunned in shades of lilac. Just picture it.

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Odd lots

+ At a midweek lunch, my co-workers and I debate Iggy’s vs. Clear Flour bread while sitting in a tiny park in Bay Village taking an extraordinary amount of time to eat egg sandwiches and smell the roses. Is this phlox? Are these mosaic benches from Marshalls?

+ At Otto’s for a slice, I can’t stop laughing when a child dissolves in tears when his slice comes with no cheese, as if his bike were stolen by a thug. I’d cry too, kid. Everything should have cheese, especially pizza.

+ For three days I wear my rain boots, anticipating a flood. Gorgeous days, of course. Today will be the pick of the weekend those same meteorologists said, so I pack my beach bag in foolish anticipation and wake up to what feels like the London soup. Instead, I plan to clean the basement, which does not promise the same fulfillment.

Lunch bliss

Eighty degrees and blue skies. The lunch hour spreads itself wide. I take the subway two stops to Copley.

Dining Car food truck’s special: Mediterranean Chicken sandwich with hummus.

Eating in the park with a background of farmers’ market chatter and a guitarist strumming a catchy tune. A picnicker dances.

Anthropologie sale and birthday month discount on this cute notepad that reminds me of second grade. Can’t wait to make a To Do list.

Food truck festival

While my mom was visiting earlier this month, I convinced her to hit the Food Truck Festival in Plymouth, and though she initially thought we were visiting a truck stop, she soon got the picture when a cluster of gourmet food trucks circled their wagons around the crowded green at the Pine Hills community, doling out tacos with grass-fed beef and Kickass Cupcakes.

Apparently, Boston is loosening some restrictions on truck ventures, so Boston should no longer be the poor little sister of New York and LA that have embraced the idea of the wandering canteen. We’ve got Clover and a few others, but I can’t wait till we have enough to warrant a whole show on the Food Network. Working in Boston, you’d think the options are plentiful, but Subway, McDonald’s, D’Angelo’s, Rock Bottom, California Pizza Kitchen, and some suspect places in Chinatown, do not a good lunch make.

Good lunch

When it’s nearly 70 degrees in December, you must schedule face time with the sun at lunch. My happy moment: stealing away to a cafe that serves breakfast all day and devouring an egg, bacon and cheese sandwich on a stool by the  propped-open door and a breeze blowing in that whispered summer. And a mostly-tackled crossword puzzle. And an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie.

Clover food truck

Attention vegetarians (um, do I have any vegetarian readers?). The experimental Clover food truck that wheeled into Cambridge a few months back is worth checking out. Why? Because I said so, and I’m a carnivore. Parked behind the Kendall Square T station in a row of other food trucks that do surprisingly decent food, the truck turns out the $5 chickpea fritters, soy BLTs, BBQ seitan (the protein that just got the first contestant kicked off the new Top Chef because of the way she prepared it), salads, and even brunch. The star though, is the rosemary fries ($3). Yum. The friendly Clover folks also offer up some interesting drinks—peach aqua fresca and mixed citrus lemonade recently. Grassy spots and benches abound, so grab a friend or a book and camp out for lunch for as long as you can stretch it. Is three hours unreasonable?

IMG_0327 Chickpea fritter, rosemary fries, lemonade

How to beat the rain

When I ducked out for lunch today (as in, I looked like a duck with my rain slicker), I saw a group of co-workers headed back to the office with food from Subway and D’Angelos. Now, I’m a snob about lunch in general (ew, chains with bad food), but today, the 189th day of consecutive rain, I was especially not having it. Instead, I took myself to a fancy lunch at Bina Osteria, and Italian restaurant near the Ritz on the edge of Chinatown.

You should really do this to cheer yourself up, because when you walk in to the restaurant, everyone will be happy to see you because of 1. the recession and 2. the deeply depressing weather. You will feel loved by complete strangers. When the waiter asks if you’d like some bread, say yes. Proceed to eat the entire assortment of bread in the adorable wooden bowl, dipping the crusty goodness in olive oil and salt as you go. Because it’s cold and damp out, order a comfort food like the pasta carbonara for its warmth. Devour the entire thing without pausing. Gaze outside and appreciate that you are not a tourist visiting Boston this week. Repeat the next day. And the next, until the sun comes out (then, switch to their outdoor patio).

A new type of traffic

My co-worker and I left the office the other day to grab some lunch, emerging onto a busy Boston street where we came face-to-face with a new type of traffic: two horses on patrol. Now, crossing this street can feel like a game of Frogger at times, but the horses seemed to slow life down and we stood and stared like tourists.

The creatures, working horses used to patrol Boston Common, are more of a tourist attraction these days. At least, I can’t imagine these guys on horseback galloping after a purse snatcher, but maybe they do. On this particular day though, we watched the horses sidle up to the sidewalk and lift a hoof as if parking, while one officer dismounted to grab some lunch at a pizza shop. Pedestrians stopped to pet the horses, and cars whizzed by, hardly fazing the horses. Yet, the beasts seemed to be gazing inside the pizza place, as if to ask, “Can we get some hay to go?”

horses on patrol

Dreamy lunch inspiration

Browsing Flickr is a dangerous addiction. So many pretty pictures to tempt you from your workday. I’ve stumbled upon a treasure trove of niche collections this way—vintage aprons, lunchboxes, hats. But today’s find made me drool: shots of people’s lunches. A good lunch can really sustain you at work—and if your colleagues are like mine and love food too, a little healthy competition could foster inspiration and more importantly, jealousy.

These photographers take their lunches seriously, artfully arranging snacks in little compartments and making them look so, so appealing. Feast your eyes:

So sweet:

heart-lunch

So healthy:

healthy-lunch

So flaky:

pie-lunches

So creative:

lion-lunch

How to look forward to Monday

1. Think of your favorite meal. Revel in it.

2. Call your mother for the recipe or find it on that slip of paper somewhere in that sad excuse for a recipe box that’s cluttering up the counter. If your favorite meal is from a restaurant, pray they have a cookbook like the one I got for Christmas, On Top of Spaghetti. If not, try to recreate it as best you can.

3. Make it over the weekend. And enjoy making it. Choose fresh ingredients, put on some music, have a glass of wine and graze as you go.

4. Put it in the fridge—and this is key—don’t forget it Monday morning. 

5. Think about it all morning—especially if it’s snowing and you’re finding it difficult to launch from your warm bed. Obsess over how good it will taste. Spend so much time on this step that you don’t notice it’s Monday.

6. Eat lunch late so as to built anticipation and discover that by the time you’re done, it’s 2 o’clock. 

rainbow-lunchbox

Pre-Thanksgiving lunch tradition

For weeks prior to Thanksgiving, my co-workers and I salivate at the mention of food. Every year, our boss takes us to lunch on the day before the holiday as a way of saying thanks, and frankly, it’s a stellar tradition. Being the foodie of the group, I begin research on this project in early November. OK, October. We compare online restaurant reviews (Chowhound), keep our ears alert to new lunch spots opening around town, and consider Best of Boston nods. Or rather, I do this because I’m obsessive about us having a memorable experience. Everyone else is just happy to be taken to lunch, so they’re easy. 

Our standby has always been Les Zygomates near South Station, a comfortable brasserie with a perfect atmosphere, good food, and a wide selection of wine. Aquitaine in the South End is another favorite for their perfectly cooked salmon and French-inspired waiters. In the running this year is the new Barbara Lynch spot on the waterfront, Myers & Chang in the South End, Orinoco also in the South End for a little Latin-infused Thanksgiving, or whatever we stumble upon walking around this abundant city. Wherever we land, it must offer a tempting dessert tray and a waiter that encourages everyone to order their own desserts. We may be a close-knit, sharing kind of team, but we’re territorial when it comes to chocolate.

As you can imagine, my boss is a generous guy, and I sometimes need to rein in his extravagant suggestions lest he end up poor. Though I will say we went to the Four Season last year (my resistance waned), and I can still remember the taste of the truffle fries

Aquitaine's window in the South End

Aquitaine

Desk picnicking

Every time I unfold my sandwich wrap, my co-workers crack up and then get jealous. I bring my lunch to work in this wrappable plastic cloth (think oilcloth), which unfolds into a place mat. In an effort to be more Earth-friendly and save a plastic bag, a paper bag, or plastic wrap, I stumbled on this cool reusable sandwich wrapper, Wrap-N-Mat, that you tuck your sandwich into and wipe clean at the end of the meal. It comes in a bunch of colors and patterns, but I’m partial to the old-fashioned a red and white checkered print that makes lunch feel like a picnic wherever you go. The website is a bit dated with lots of icons and flashy colors, but the idea is a good one. The wrap is one of those things that is hip and responsible now but that would have been so uncool in the junior high school cafeteria.