Friday, November 22, 2013

You need more jewelry

Everyone took the next morning to sleep in. Rocking nights out do take their toll, but luckily only one of us was hungover.

I'll take this time to let you in on a little secret about this. When I was living in San Diego still, Marc and I used to invest heavily in some pills you could get from Whole Foods called Hangover Formula (I think the reason is obvious). They were large horse pills and you'd take several (like three) before, during, or after drinking. The intent is to not get a hangover, naturally.

I told Rhinda's fiance about this before he went on his bachelor party, telling him to pick some up for our bachelorette festivities as well, should he already be in Whole Foods. Instead, he decided to break down the formula and make his own from the elements that are already there. I'm guessing he did this because Whole Foods is expensive and CVS is closer to their house. Whatever the reason, this works just as well if not better, so cheers to him.

Here is what he put together and what Rhinda brought with her:
  • 1000mg milk thistle
  • 1 non-drowsy motion sickness pill (like Dramamine or similar)
  • 1 extra strength headache relief pill (must have acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine)
You take them all before or during drinking and boom, no hangover. Rhinda and I took the formula before our big night out at Emerald (where we drank everything from bubbly, vodka, and St. Germain's...lots of all of the above), and the next morning we felt...refreshed. Not even just not hungover, we felt awake and completely normal. Like we hadn't been drinking at all.

The beauty is in the formula, actually. Each of the ingredients plays a key part and the more I thought about it, the more it actually does make sense.

The milk thistle is for liver function - apparently this helps your liver work more efficiently. I think it makes sense that any time you're going to be dealing with alcohol, your liver is going to have to push a little harder, so this just helps it along and makes sure that you're not damaging it in the process. The non-drowsy motion sickness pill is to help with nausea and other effects that make you feel like crap either during or after imbibing. The pain relief is so you don't get headaches or the other pain associated with hangovers and I'm guessing the caffeine just speeds things along while the aspirin helps thin the blood, making things flow through faster and giving your heart whatever boost you need. Also works as an anti-inflammatory agent, which reduces swelling, which could be good because your body tends to retain a lot of liquids after consumption. The acetaminophen is gentle on stomachs while also administering any pain relief necessary.

And there you have the package. Rhinda and I took this every time we drank during the trip and didn't have hangovers at all. I've now picked up the formula and am going to experiment with it here in London to see if it does have that effect every time. Rhinda's fiance claimed that during his entire bachelor party he wasn't hungover at all. That's quite a statement.

Anyway, enough about my pump of that. Eventually we woke up enough to split ways and do various things. Amy had to visit an uncle and aunt who live in town while the one who was hungover stayed in bed the whole day. The other girl with man friends in Boston (including the one who had failed to pick us up for lobster benedict) had never come home from watching a baseball game with them and said she would meet up with us later.

So the remaining three of us headed out to the bar that was filmed in Cheers. I'd wrongly navigated us to the replica bar earlier in our trip and this time I was determined to get us to the right one. We walked through the Boston Commons and Boston Public parks to get there. Gorgeous in the sunshine. And completely filled with crazy squirrels hiding nuts everywhere. Literally.

I did get us there successfully and I felt like such a navigational winner.


The girl who came with us was the only one who actually watched the show, so we let her pick the seats. She sat in Norm's seat...which I guess is significant in some way. I found out that Frasier is a follow up show (this is something I did not know). I enjoyed Frasier, so perhaps I would enjoy Cheers...no.

We had beers (yes, at 11am) - Samuel Adam's Red Brick (again, only offered in Boston, and it was great) and shared lobster artichoke dip with chips. Really just cannot get away from the amazing seafood. Really just cannot. Not even at pubs!

It was around this time that we were to meet everyone else for fancy tea time at L'Espalier. I was excited for this and had specially chosen my outfit that morning to be a little nicer than my normal tshirt and jeans. It was...nicer tshirt and jeans (yes!).

This place was nothing to laugh at though; it was definitely the fanciest tea I'd ever been to, and I've been to quite a few fancy tea places.

Rhinda, Kelsey, and I were the first to arrive and we took a look at the menu. The choices were tea alone, tea with fancy pastries, or tea with fancy cheese, or tea with an entire selection of savory sandwiches and fancy pastries. Not really wanting fancy pastries, I asked if I could substitute the fancy pastries with fancy cheese in the "I want everything" selection. Yes, that would be acceptable.

Amy arrived straight from meeting her aunt and uncle. Upon hearing where she was going her aunt looked her up and down and said with a straight face, "You need more jewelry." Amy laughed it off as a joke but when she came to meet us she said, "OMG my aunt wasn't joking." If taking the elevator to the table didn't give you that impression, I don't know what would. Perhaps the bathroom that has nothing but "use once" towels or the fact that the cheapest thing on the menu is a tea blend that still costs you $20.

I went for gold on this one. You only live once and you spend most of that time making the money you're trying to save to spend on stuff like this. Rhinda did the same. My only mistake was ordering a tea with caffeine and thinking my body could handle it (it couldn't, and I spent a few hours in the afternoon feeling like I would collapse from the shakes and throw up at the same time...I let no one know of my predicament).

The food was pretty tasty.


The savory bites, starting from the egg at the top and going counterclockwise:

Deviled egg with American caviar and mustard. Delicious, as all deviled eggs are, but Rhinda and I agreed that American caviar isn't the way to go. Clearly there are tastier roe elsewhere in the world and this one wasn't the best.

Radish with lobster salad and dill. Absolutely yes on this one; the blanched radish was still crunchy but flavorful and the lobster salad inside was fresh and amazing, as all the lobster on this trip was found to be. Definitely one of my favorites of the bunch.

Small sandwich of guinea hen. My favorite of the selection. I don't know exactly what a guinea hen is but it is fucking delicious. Fatty in all the right ways and incredibly tasty; clearly a game fowl in my mind. I doubt they even put much else with it, it had so much flavor on its own. Probably something I could get from the rare meats butcher I see at my farmers market. Definitely something to investigate.

Ham and cheese croissant. I'm not sure why this was here, to be honest, other than the fact that it is, indeed, a small savory sandwich. It was good, don't get me wrong, and the croissant was fantastically crunchy in all the right ways, but it was nothing special. A very good ham and cheese croissant.

Cucumber and watercress triangle. I think this one they felt they had to put on just to make it fancy tea. You can't have fancy tea without the stupid cucumber sandwich. Again, nothing fancy, but somehow still oddly necessary. I felt unimpressed but still pleased by this.

Salmon sandwich. Same with this. The salmon was nice and fresh but there was nothing special about this.

All in all a good selection but nothing to shout about save the radish with lobster salad and the amazing guinea hen sandwich. Kind of a let down for $20 worth of food.


The second half, my selection of cheeses, was a bit more worth it, in my opinion.

This will go in order from left to right. They also go in order from mildest to strongest in taste. As they intended.

Cremont. Extremely creamy and pretty tasty.

Pecorino Ginepro. Its rind was rubbed with juniper berry and balsalmic vinegar. I like to eat the rinds also nowadays as I feel they have so much flavor and texture (yes, sometimes they taste like mold to me, which freaks me out...but there is so much flavor there also!). I'm not sure if that is proper cheese-eating etiquette but I've decided to hell with it. Definitely flavorful and great texture.

Ashley. This one's rind was actually covered in ash, which they say in the description, "might remind you of a summertime cookout." Yes, I suppose that would. Were it not next to gourmet cheese! Who has gourmet cheese at their summer cookout? Delightfully rich people, that's who. Note to self: become one of those people who has gourmet cheese at their summer cookout. In all reality though, I didn't remember this one tasting particularly ashy, even having eaten the rind with it.

Maxx Extra. Hilariously Rhinda and Amy had already eaten this cheese in real life at one of their many get togethers, and were proud to say that they were clearly part of the cheese eating community. This one was lovely; salty but creamy. I wanted it so badly to have larger crystalline pops in it but it didn't have it, so I was a little let down. The paper said that it may remind me crunchy peanut butter ice cream. No...I don't think so.

Taleggio. Meaty and creamy, nutty yet slightly tart. They liked to choose the tart ones for this tasting. Maybe it goes especially well with tea or something. I like nuttier, heavier cheeses myself so this was nice but also a little bit disappointing.

Great Hill Blue. The only bleu cheese in the tasting, much to my dismay. This one was surprisingly bright, rather than being heavy like most bleu cheeses I've had. It almost had a citrus backtaste, which I found pleasing but also confusing. Tart is the way to describe it. Not one of my favorites, which is a shocker because bleu cheese is usually one of my hands down winners.

All in all a worthy substitute since I don't eat pastries (the girls thought the pastries were good but some of them were too rich and the chocolate one looked like a rich mess...plus it seemed to be covered in something that resembled both in look and feel...like pop rocks...confusing).

My tea was also amazing - I had their special anniversary blend. I made the mistake of drinking the whole pot and as mentioned before, paid the weird sickly price for it.

We split ways again after the tea - three of them going shopping for various things and Rhinda and I returning to the hotel to check on the one who was still hungover (and yep, she was still hungover) and get our jackets before going back out and checking out the old timey printing press and chocolatier.


The printing press had a man who talked about how Boston actually had a printed version of the Declaration of Independence before the (more famous) handwritten one was even made. This guy is also so into what he does that he is the one who owns the press himself and was the one who went to the archives to see the original and have it made in the original way, with each piece (over 900 of them) recast and made into the one that is used in the demonstration today.

Rhinda and I delighted in this man after he described his experience of going to the archive and holding the original metal plate in his hands: "I breathed in Paul Revere's particles...my knees were shaking so much." After that we believed that he was clearly the coolest printing guy around. Anyone who can be that excited about printing is the guy you want for this job. Oddly, he is not recognized by the government in any shape or form for what he has done and runs purely on donations.

Across the hall was the colonial chocolatier.


Though this woman is clearly less excited about her job, she still gave a good description of what chocolate was like in the olden days: less sugary than what we have now (that should be obvious, since sugar was rare and expensive in those days) and actually filled with a lot more spices. We got samples of drinking chocolate afterwards and it was pretty amazing. I'm all about this kind of chocolate.

It was after this that we all reassembled at the hotel room and then went to dinner at The Barking Crab. Sort of a walk away from everything (this now meaning something like a 0.8mile walk...which is long when everything you've done so far is 0.5miles or less) but we enjoyed it; the weather had been wonderful and surprisingly warm. Though jackets were needed it wasn't like anyone was going to be freezing to death anywhere.

I'd been told to visit this restaurant by someone recently and a few others in our group had been told as well. We got there and the place was pretty rockin. Large picnic tables under fancy xmas lighting. Reminded me of Joe's Crab Shack back at home...but with the freshest seafood ever!

Several of the girls at our table got the fresh lobster (market price), but I just wanted to try the cold lobster roll with mayo. So Rhinda and I did the split again and got our heart's desires:


Crab cake sliders, for one. Rhinda wanted to see if crab cakes were really better on the east coast as compared to the west coast. Amy claimed that despite what the menu said (that these were famous crab cakes), she was unimpressed with these particular ones (Amy is from Maryland, where crab cakes reign supreme). Rhinda and I both thought these were pretty good though; there wasn't too much breading and you could clearly taste the crab. Plus the remoulade was amazing.


And the cold lobster roll. Definitely my preferred choice. Butter is great and all, but I dunno, it doesn't provide the saltiness necessary to enhance the sweet meat of lobster (in my humble opinion). Maybe it's just because everyone is being a purist and using clarified unsalted butter. If they used the terrible salted butter that I loved maybe I would want it more. But in any case, I'll take the poor man's version any day and be happy as a clam. :)

The fries were also quite good. But I always love fries with a heavy side of ketchup. Or mayo.

After this we took to the room to finish off The Goose and a bottle of wine that someone else had bought somewhere along the way. Everyone was leaving tomorrow except me so it just seemed budgetary to stay in rather than go out. Unfortunately our room didn't have a DVD player because Rhinda had brought Bridesmaids the movie, and that would have been a perfect ending to our adventure. But alas, no dice. We ended up watching Pawn Stars instead, which is hilarious.

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