by Jay Kitterman, consultant, LLCC Culinary Institute
Carol and I recently visited Boston, toured historical sites, and traveled to Concord where our good friends Will and Cathy Andrewes reside. Will, born in England, trained as a clockmaker, and came to the U.S. to be the curator of the world famous Time Museum. The museum was housed in a resort at which I was a manager. Carol introduced her friend Cathy to him some 35 ago and the rest is history. Will now designs and builds sun dials and has installations around the world.
We arrived on a very rainy day and checked into the downtown Boston Hilton. (www.hilton.com/boston) We soon realized it was a perfect location and at the heart of that great walking city. The Freedom Trail, Boston Common, Faneuil Hall, North End plus great restaurants are close by. Their concierge, John McKinnon, was wonderful to work with providing directions, site information, and even train schedules. He is a member of Les Clefs d’Or, the prestigious International concierge society. The hotel’s restaurant, Fin Point, started our day with breakfast. Its extensive menu offered everything from snack pizza to complete dinner. The hotel is managed by Ed Mroz, formerly general manager of the Springfield Crowne Plaza. We recommend the hotel highly.
Our first stop was the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum (www.jfklibrary.org) dedicated to the memory of our nation’s 35th president and to all those who through the art of politics seek a new and better world. Located on a 10-acre park, overlooking the sea that he loved and the city that launched him to greatness, the Library stands as a vibrant tribute to the life and times of John F. Kennedy. As it was a cold and rainy day, we experienced our first cup of Boston chowder in the small dining area, and it was one of the best we had. At the museum we connected with Matt Porter. Matt was a reporter for local television station WCIA and is now a communications officer for the museum.
Our first dinner was at the Union Oyster House (www.unionoysterhouse.com), the oldest restaurant in Boston and claims to be the oldest restaurant in continuous service in the U.S. The doors have always been open to diners since 1826. In 1775, Capen’s silk and dry goods store became headquarters for Ebenezer Hancock, the first paymaster of the Continental Army. George Washington himself was familiar with its surroundings and at this very spot where we dined on oysters and chowder, Federal troops received their “war wages” in the official pay-station. The Kennedy clan, we were informed, still patronizes the Union Oyster House. For years, J.F.K. loved to feast in privacy in the upstairs dining room, and we sat across from his favorite booth that has plaque dedicated in his memory
The next morning, fortunately, the rain stopped, and we spent the day walking the Freedom Train (www.thefreedomtrail.org/booktour) with Thomas Hutchinson lll (portrayed by Mark Linehan). Thomas Hutchinson lll (1711 – 1780) was a businessman, historian and a prominent Loyalist politician of the Province of Massachusetts Bay in the years before the American Revolution. He served as lieutenant governor and then governor from 1758 to 1774. Mark Linehan, an accomplished Boston actor, provided us with one of the best historical tours we have ever taken. He has a wonderful theatrical booming voice that carries to the back of the crowd. He brought amazing and very personal facts about Paul Revere, Sam Adams, John Hancock and many other players in the history of Boston before the revolutionary war. He told us that some of the things we learned as kids in history were more myth then truth regarding the relationship between Adams and Hancock, the violence of the Sons of Liberty, the reality of the Boston massacre, etc. He made me want to go back and re-study U.S. history. When you take this to tour we recommend asking when Mark is the tour guide.
The tour ended a short distance from where the USS Constitution (Old Ironsides) (ussconstitutionmuseum.org) is docked, and we walked over for a tour. The Constitution is a wooden-hulled, three-masted heavy frigate of the U.S. Navy, named by President George Washington after the Constitution of the United States of America. The ship is the world’s oldest commissioned naval vessel afloat launched in 1797, and the people of Boston take great pride in the fact the Constitution was built in the North End of Boston. The Constitution is most noted for her actions during the War of 1812 against the United Kingdom, when she captured numerous merchant ships and defeated five British warships. Earning her the nickname of “Old Ironsides,” the public’s adoration has repeatedly saved her from scrapping.
Constitution’s stated mission today is to promote understanding of the Navy’s role in war and peace through educational outreach and historical demonstration. As a fully commissioned U.S. Navy ship, her crew of 60 officers and sailors participate in ceremonies, educational programs and special events, while keeping the ship open to visitors year-round and providing free tours. The officers and crew are all active-duty U.S. Navy personnel, and the assignment is considered to be special duty in the U.S. Navy. The Constitution entered dry dock in May 2015 to begin a three-year restoration project.
Normally we try and dine at locally owned restaurants but made an exception to enjoy The Legal Seafood (www.legalseafood.com), a Boston institution. A short walk from the hotel, the Legal Seafood Harborside is a 20,000 square foot flagship property on the Boston Waterfront. Famous for their menu of seafood favorites, Legal Seafood started as a fish market and served mainly fish and chips, fried clams, fried shrimp and fried scallops served on paper plates while the customers sat at picnic tables. Now some 60 years later they are full service restaurants with some 30 plus across the U.S. Their operating philosophy is “If it isn’t fresh, it isn’t Legal,” and we can attest to the freshness and quality of seafood served.
The next morning we enjoyed an all-day narrated motor coach sightseeing tour (www.viator.com/boston) of the greater Boston area. Amongst the sites visited were Beacon Hill, the Seaport District, Rowes Wharf, the West End, shopping at the Faneuil Hall Marketplace (Quincy Market) and travel through the surrounding historic towns. Bus driver and expert tour guide “Frankie” shared with us stories about Paul Revere and the Minutemen during the American Revolutionary War.
We stopped for lunch at Quincy market, part of the Faneuil Hall Marketplace. One of the options amongst many was Cheers (cheersboston.com). Not the original, which is actually the Bull & Finch on Beacon Street, this Cheers replicates the fun atmosphere of the famous bar as seen on television. Several items are on view in Cheers that came from the show including Sam’s Red Sox jacket, Cliffie’s mailman suit, and a variety of other items that fans will enjoy seeing. In the tradition of Norm, we enjoyed a Sam Adams and massive hamburger. Of course there is a gift shop offering glassware, shirts and “tchotchkes” related to Cheers.
People of Irish descent form the largest single ethnic group in Boston. Once a Puritan stronghold, Boston changed dramatically in the 19th century with the arrival of European immigrants during the Great Irish Famine. To celebrate the Irish tradition we dined just a few blocks from the Hilton at the Black Rose (www.blackroseboston.com). For the past 40 years, The Black Rose has been Boston’s premier Irish pub and restaurant, serving up perfect pints of Guinness and traditional Irish fare 365 days a year since 1976. Its name comes from the Gaelic term “Roisin Dubh” or the small black rose, which originates from a 17th century poem inked by an anonymous author who wrote: “Over the highways and byways the pilgrim goes aflame with the name of my small black rose.” Pints are poured by staff with authentic brogues and there is live Irish music seven nights a week, all year round.
The following day we traveled by commuter train (passing Walden Pond) to Concord to see Will and Cathy. They looked great and were gracious hosts. There were lots of catching up and visiting the historical sites in Concord. For dinner they chose the restaurant 80 Thoreau (www.80thoreau.com) named of course in honor of Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau, famous American essayist, poet and tax resister is best known for his book “Walden” and his “Essay on Civil Disobedience.” The restaurant is considered one of the Boston area’s best, offering New American cuisine and genuine hospitality in a convivial setting. Chef Carolyn Johnson grew up in Northern California, graduated from Wellesley College with a degree in economics and studio art. From there it was a leap into her true passion of food, cooking and restaurants. She has cooked at many top restaurants in the Boston area. Over the course of her cooking experiences, Carolyn has developed a passion for seasonal menus and a commitment to locally sourced cuisine.
We returned to Springfield with a new understanding and appreciation of what our forefathers endured to create our democratic form of government. Our thanks to Cathy and Will, all the tour guides, the Navy, and everyone that made our visit so enjoyable. Chef Carolyn has provided the following recipe from her restaurant.
Cauliflower and Mussel Soup
by Carolyn Johnson
Recipe will provide servings for 8.
2# mussels, scrubbed and debeared
1 stalk celery, sliced
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 cup white wine
4 cups water
1 bay leaf
2 Tablespoons butter
- Heat the butter in large sauce pan. Add the celery, onion and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook over med-low heat until the vegetables are are starting to wilt and become translucent.
- Add the mussels to the pan. Stir to coat in the butter and vegetables. Add the wine and bay leaf. Turn the heat to med-high.
- Once the wine has come to a simmer, add the water and stir well. Cover the pot and cook until the mussels have opened.
- Strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer. Set the mussels aside to cool.
1 head cauliflower, chopped
1 leek, sliced and well washed
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 small bulb fennel, sliced
2# yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
¼ lb butter
- Heat the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the fennel, leeks and celery. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until vegetables are starting to wilt.
- Add the cauliflower to the pan. Stir frequently and cook until cauliflower is just starting to become tender.
- Add the mussel broth and potatoes to the pot. Bring to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender.
- Puree the soup in a blender. Be careful to fill the blender only half full at a time with the hot soup. Add a small amount of water to the soup if necessary to achieve the desired consistency.
- Pick the meat out of the mussels reserved from making broth, use them to garnish the soup.