Wednesday, September 02, 2015

24 June 2015: The search for Algiers Coffee House



Before visiting Boston, I had done a bit of research and listed down a few of the places in Boston where one can enjoy a good cup of coffee beverage. One of the cafes on the list that I had compiled was the Algiers Coffee House at 40 Brattle Street, which was relatively near Harvard.

It was in my plan on 24 June 2015 (Wed) to visit Harvard so that I could visit both Algiers Coffee House and Harvard.

Algiers Coffee House is not located near the train station so it took a while to find it. To get there, take the Red Line T to Harvard Square. To locate Algiers Coffee House, I had found it easier to walk towards Church Street after walking past Harvard Square. Yet, there are a few other alternatives to reach Algiers Coffee House.



Algiers Coffee House is a nice place to relax and watch the world go by. When I was there around 9 a.m., there was very few guests at the cafe. I learnt that Algiers Coffee House is well-known for its Middle Eastern style food. One of its unique interior decor features were its Moroccan octagonal tables.

Espresso.
Algiers Coffee House.

When I was there, I was on a specialty coffee drink spree. I ordered a cup of espresso. It was balanced and had a lingering aftertaste. The cafe had an old world vibe and I felt I was in a different world of its own. It is a charming place to visit and the cafe has two floors. The second floor terrace overlooks Brattle Street.

Special Mint Coffee. Algiers Coffee House.


After the espresso, I was wanting more coffee because I heard that its signature drink is the Special Mint Coffee. It was brewed coffee with mint and served with whipped cream. The coffee taste was very mild for the Special Mint Coffee.

Coffee Pots!

At the Algiers Coffee House, I saw coffee pots. I was told that the Arabic coffee from this cafe would be prepared the Arabic way in which the coffee grounds would be boiled with water in the coffee pots.



This is a cafe to visit especially if one is visiting Harvard.

Algiers Coffee House
40 Brattle St
Cambrige MA 02138
Tel: +1 617 492 1557
Website: http://www.harvardsquare.com/algiers-coffee-house
Nearest T-station: Harvard Square

Monday, August 31, 2015

24 June 2015: Breakfast from Mac Donalds

The McDonalds nearby Hosteling International Boston. 24 June 2015.

On 24 June 2015, my body clock has accustom itself to wake up early. It was about 4.30 a.m. in Boston when I woke up. By the time I washed myself up and was ready to set off for the day, it was still too early for breakfast. At Hosteling International Boston, continental breakfast will be served from 7 p.m.



Since I was too early for breakfast, I decided to take a stroll near the hostel. The air in the morning was fresh and energizing. Interestingly, even though it was not even 7 a.m. that day, the skies looked very bright as if it were already late in the morning. Welcome summer!



Nearby the hostel, there was a McDonalds fast-food restaurant. As the continental breakfast at the hostel did not serve eggs unless we buy our own eggs and cook it ourselves, I decided I could treat myself to eggs from McDonalds. I bought myself a McDonalds Big Breakfast take-away. After tax, one set of Big Breakfast costs USD$3.73.



I went to the hostel's dining area at about 7 a.m. for breakfast. In addition, I had a special treat for myself from McDonalds. Simple treats like this in life can make a person like myself happy enough to start the day on a brighter mood.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Places: Second weekend of Singapore Night Festival 2015 - Glimpses of Humanity





For my dear friends and readers who have missed or would like to relive the second weekend of the Singapore Night Festival, please read my picks and recommendations here:
Places: Second weekend of Singapore Night Festival 2015 - Glimpses of Humanity

Friday, August 28, 2015

23 June 2015: German food at Jacob Wirth



Within a very short walking distance from the hostel, Hostelling Internationl Boston, that I had stayed in when I was in Boston in June, there sits a restaurant known as the Jacob Wirth Co. German Restaurant. As its name suggests, it is well-known for the traditional German specialties and the American favourites that it serves.



On 23 June 2015 (Tue), after working out both my feets walking non-stop about the Musuem of Fine Arts and checking out the building of the Boson Symphony Hall, I decided to go easier on my legs and have dinner near the hostel.

New England Clam Chowder.

Jaeger Schnitzler.

As I was not a fan of alcoholic drinks, I gave them a total miss when I was at the restaurant. For dinner that evening, I ordered the Jaeger Schnitzler. I like the peas and the sauce that went very well with this dish. I had ordered a smaller portion of it. In addition, I ordered a cup of New England Clam Chowder which was said to be an award-winning dish. It tasted fresh, rich and delicious. The clam chowder went well with the Oyster Crackers that were served with it.


The service at Jacob Wirth was attentive. I have had an enjoyable dinner there.

Jacob Wirth Co. German Restaurant
31 - 37 Stuart Street
Boston, MA 02116
Tel: +1 617 338 8586
http://www.jacobwirth.com

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

23 June 2015: A short walk near Symphony T-station

Boston Symphony Hall.

After a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts on 23 June 2015 (Tue), I realized that it was not feasible to visit the nearby Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum on the same day. In fact, it looked like I would not be visiting the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum during the June 2015 trip to Boston.

Going with the flow, I decided to head for the Symphony T-station. I had wanted to get a glimpse of Boston Symphony Hall, the performing home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. There was no concert by the Boston Symphony Orchestra that evening so I spent time enjoying the beauty of the facade.

The Christian Science Church, Boston, at a distance.

Nevertheless, I had the pleasure to walk about the area to enjoy the neighbourhood of what was probably commonly known as Back Bay. I even managed to take a sneak peep at the building facade of the Christian Science Church from a distance. I later learnt that immediately tot he right of the church, there is the Mary Baker Eddy Library and Mapparium. Due to the interest of time, I had missed it.

On my way back to the Symphony T-station after a bit of walking about, I stumbled by a musical instrument store, Rayburn Music, that dealt with repair and maintenance. It seemed to specialize more in wind instruments and there were hardly any string instrument in sight. What an adventure.

Rayburn Music
238 Hungtington Ave
Boston, MA 02115
Boston Symphony Hall
301 Massachusetts Ave
Nearest T-station: Symphony

Rayburn Music Instrument Company
238 Hungtington Avenue
http://www.rayburnmusic.com
Nearest T-station: Symphony

Monday, August 24, 2015

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Museum of Fine Arts.

On 23 June 2015, I visited the Museum of Fine Arts, in Boston. Getting there was pretty easy as it was nearby a T-subway station.



The highly cultured citizens of 19th century Boston were keen collectors, who collected art and antiquities from around the word. Their bequests have resulted in the Museum of Fine Arts having one of the foremost holdings outside Paris of Impressionist painting. This museum also has an outstanding collection of Japanese and other Asian art. I felt thankful that I have had the opportunity to visit the Museum of Fine Arts when I was in Boston.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Was it jet-lag? I felt pretty sleepy by the morning. Nevertheless, I realized that there was no way I could see every single item in the Museum of Fine Arts. To make the best out of my time there, I chose to attend the guided tour that focuses on the Highlights of the Museum's Collection. This is a guided tour worthy to attend. It is one hour in duration and gives a good highlight of a few of the museum's noteworthy collections. This guided tour did not cover the Impressionists' artworks which were so popular that visitors would have any way checked them out. It did cover a few of the important works by the significant American artists.


After the guided tour, I decided it was necessary to treat myself to lunch first. I needed energy to stay awake and to comb as much area of the Museum of Fine Arts as possible. The rout guide was very helpful and pointed me to the Garden Cafeteria. It was an affordable, comfortable and family-friendly place for lunch. On the way day, I passed by a lovely garden that was within the premises of the Museum of Fine Arts. What a lovely treat to a landscaped garden before having my meal at Garden Cafeteria.



Lunch at Garden Cafeteria, Museum of Fine Arts.


For the rest of my visit to the Museum of Fine Arts, I rented a multimedia audio guide to lend myself a good introduction to some of the important exhibits in the museum's collection.

Sculpture by Degas.
Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer.
Museum of Fine Arts.

To manage the sleepy-spell, I went to the nearby New American Cafe after lunch to get myself a cup of espresso. It was not a good choice it seemed. While beans from Starbucks were used, the calibration of the grinder and the pulling of the espresso shot was far from ideal, leaving me to drink a cup of astringent coffee. Thankfully, the coffee redeemed itself because it did kept me awake for the rest of the afternoon. A lesson learnt, it takes a lot of skill and craft to be a good enough barista.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

When I was at the section of the Impressionism art in the Museum of Fine Arts, under the Europe collection, I felt I was brought home to a familiar place in which I get to see the artworks that I have read and heard about in real person. It was a privilege to see the originals and be up close with the artworks. I could see the fine details of the brush-works. This was the place where fine artworks had been collected.

Museum of Fine Arts.

The section on Ancient Egypt art captured my attention too. I learnt about the archaeological expeditions that were co-sponsored by Harvard University and the Museum of Fine Arts, that were led by the renowned Egyptologist, George Reisner. I have to say that the Museum of Fine Arts has a pretty fine Ancient Egypt art collection.

Hokusai. Museum of Fine Arts.

One of the special exhibitions in the Museum of Fine Arts was Hokusai, featuring the art of Hokusai. Hokusai is definitely a skillful draftsman. I had the pleasure to look at Hokusai's Thirty Six Views of Mount Fuji which were essentially ukiyo-e prints compiled as a picture book. I learnt that Hokusai made extensive use of the imported European synthetic pigment known as Prussian blue. This pigment is a bright colour that is highly resistant to fading, and it was cheap enough in Japan to be used in woodblock printing as well as painting. I was most intrigued by Hokusai's toy prints. These were intended to be cut to pieces, folded, assembled and then enjoyed in three dimensions. Hokusai was ingenious! This was the exhibition to see. I was thankful I was there!

A section on Western musical instruments.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

I had spent the entire day there. There was so much to experience at the Museum of Fine Arts that one day was not enough. I felt very thankful that I could enjoy an entire day devoted to appreciating fine arts.

Museum of Fine Arts
465 Hungtington Ave
Tel: 617-267-9300
http://www.mfa.org
Nearest T-station: Museum of Fine Arts

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Read: Glasser and Glasser's The Language of Choice Theory

Source: HarperCollinsPublishers

Author: William Glasser and Carleen Glasser
Title: The Language of Choice Theory
Publisher: Harper Perennial (1999)

This book took a fairly short while to read, yet it asked for space to reflect upon how our conversations could differ if we had used order or threat verus if we had used the tenets of choice theory.

This book serves to be a companion to the best selling Choice Theory by William Glasser. I do not have a conclusive conclusion which book one should start with. I could only say that after reading Choice Theory, it was such an easy task reading this book from cover to cover with ease.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

22 June 2015: Boston Common and the Boston Public Garden

Boston Common.

Boston is a lovely city to explore by foot. While I was in Boston, I took the recommendations given by one of my friends to check out two parks namely the Boston Common and the Boston Public Garden. My friend was of the opinion that Boston Public Garden would be a more interesting park to visit.

Boston Common.

I learnt that Boston Common is the oldest public park in America. It is established in 1634. This historical park is also the starting point of the Freedom Trail. However, I did not know enough of the significance of Boston Common to treasure its historical significance. That however did not stop me from enjoying the flora and fauna of this lovely park. It is like the green lungs of the city. The park's presence makes the air in Boston city fresher.

Baseball activities at Boston Common.

While I was at the Boston Common, I had a glimpse of a baseball match from a distance. Sports seem to unite people.

On hindsight, first-time visitors to Boston Common would find it useful to visit the Visitor Information Center at 139 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02111. It opens daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and provides information to Boston and so forth.

Boston Public Garden.

Next to the Boston Common is the Boston Public Garden. Aesthetically, it is more visually attractive than the Boston Common thanks to the interesting plants, the lake features and the interesting swan boats that are available for visitors to take a ride on. I learnt much later after I have returned from Boston that the Public Garden was the first public botanical garden in America.


Boston Public Garden.

Boston Public Garden.

I felt thankful to have visited two historical parks in Boston during my short stay in Boston.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Read: Glasser's Choice Theory

Amazon.com

Title: Choice Theory: A New Psychology of Personal Freedom
Author: William Glasser
Publisher: HarperCollins Publisher
ISBN: 0-06-093014-4

This book is possibly the book to read on Choice Theory. In this book, the author explains the theory, and how it would help in the progress in human relationship by giving up external control psychology.

In essence, it is divided into three key sections: the theory, the practice, the application.

Generally, it is written in accessible language although the content in this book is both extensive and fairly massive in its scope. For people who are new to Choice Theory, I may not start with this book because it was necessary that this book discusses the elements of Choice Theory to a fair level of depth. Then again, for people who have already been exposed to Choice Theory, it is the introductory book that covers the essential elements of Choice Theory with further depth.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

22 June 2015: Mike's Pastry, possibly Boston's most popular pastry shop

Florentine Cannoli from Mike's Pastry.

The North End of Boston is well known for its many wonderful treats to food especially in the evening. Nearby the Italian restaurant, Giacomo's, there are many other food establishments and restaurants.

When I met up with one of my friends, Emz, while I was visiting Boston in June 2015, she brought to my attention a pastry shop called Mike's Pastry. After a dinner at Giacomo's, our next stop was Mike's Pastry

Mike's Pastry is a pastry store that specializes in Italian pastries, for example: cannoli, ricotta pie, rum Cakes and Wedding cakes. Mike's Pastry claims itself to have make everything fresh on the premises. 



I was too full to eat anything immediately after dinner so I ordered a Florentine Cannoli to take away. It was USD$5 each. The attending staff at Mike's Pastry nicely placed my order in a box and tied the box nicely with a string for me to carry my order about. When I ate a cannoli from Mike's Pastry, my humble taste test agreed with the claims. The cannoli was fresh and delicious. I generally do not have a sweet tooth, yet the delicious cannoli that I had from Mike's Pastry makes me crave for a lovely sweet pastry treat.

Mike's Pastry on a weekday afternoon.


The front lobby of Mike's Place functions as a no-frills cafe whereby guests can enjoy the food and drinks from Mike's Pastry's. This is a lovely arrangement for guests who prefer to dine in.

Mike's Pastry on a weekday evening.

It is observed that in the evening, Mike's Place is especially crowded with queues. This could be a sign to say that Mike's Place is perhaps one of Boston's most popular places for Italian style pastries. In addition, I saw a photograph of Mike's Place being put up at the Hostelling International Boston that I was staying in. This could show that it is well-endorsed by the locals?

Anyway, my learning point is that all pastry-lovers will make their visit to Boston complete by visiting Mike's Pastry to eat at least one of the delicious pastries. 

***
Mike's Pastry Inc
300 Hanover Street
Boston, MA 02113
USA
https://www.mikespastry.com
Nearest T-station: Haymarket station.

Monday, August 17, 2015

22 June 2015: Dinner at Giacomo's

Giacomo's at the North End of Boston.
22 June 2015, I had one of the most lovely dinners while I was in Boston. Delicious food with the lovely company of a good friend, Emz, makes the dinner at the chosen Giacomo's restaurant one of the best dinners that I have had while I was in Boston.

If not for my friend's recommendations, I would surely have missed Giacomo's. It opens for business daily at around the late afternoon. The place has limited seats and it usually take the existing customers who were already seated about an hour to finish their meals. So when my friend said that there were times she had queued quite a long while to have a meal at Giacomo's, she was stating the facts. My friend and I arrived at Giacomo's slightly after 5 p.m. and to our pleasant surprise, we waited for less than 10 minutes before we were ushered our seats in this cosy and friendly restaurant.

Burrata cream filled fresh mozzarella ball over sliced tomatoes with basil and extra virgin oil.

The people at Giacomo's who were serving the customers seemed to have the gifts of engaging in conversations with customers and making us feel welcomed. One of the waiters was very thoughtful to help us place the napkins on our lap when he noticed we were to eat lobsters. He even passed up a device to break the shell of the lobsters when he noticed we needed some help with that.

This is a no-frills restaurant that offers a range of Italian dishes that is delicious and yet thoughtful in prices for the budget-conscious guests. While there is often a line spotted right outside Giacomo's, After enjoying a delicious dinner at Giacomo's, I can fully appreciate why my friend had said that the food at Giacomo's is worth queuing for! A number of the guests ordered take-away at Giacomo's.

Half Lobster, clams, mussels over linguine, served with giacomo on the left.
Fruiti Di Mari on the right.

For the appetizer, my friend and I ordered Burrata cream filled fresh mozzarella ball over sliced tomatoes with basil and extra virgin oil. It was Giacomo's Appetizer Special. A unique dish for me because it was my first time eating such an interesting dish. It was tasty too. For a price of USD$11, it was considered value-for-money given the taste of it and the fresh ingredients that were used.

We also ordered the Fruiti Di Mari. This is a pasta that is served with shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams, calamari. We chose the scampi sauce to go along with this pasta dish. The scampi is essentially a garlic-based sauce. It went very well with the seafood and it was a pleasure to soak sour dough in the scampi sauce. This dish is simply delicious.

We also ordered a dish with half lobster, clams, mussels over linguine, served with giacomo. This is delicious and the giacomo sauce was very rich in texture and went well with the lobster. I realized that Boston is a place to enjoy seafood!

My lesson learnt: Trust our friend's recommendations especially if they are more familiar with a foreign place than we are. Thanks Emz!

Giacomo's.

Please take note that Giacomo's accepts cash only.

355 Hanover Street
Boston, MA 02113
USA
Tel: +1 617 523 9026

Places: Black or White: An Exclusive Evening Experience of Esplanade&Me Programme





On 15 Aug 2015, thanks to the invitation of the Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay, I had the opportunity to enjoy an evening experience of a glimpse of benefits of the Esplanade&Me Programme. Find out more about it here:

Places: Black or White: An Exclusive Evening Experience of Esplanade&Me Programme

Sunday, August 16, 2015

22 June 2015: Along the Freedom Trail

King's Chapel Burying Ground. Boston.
Before visiting Boston, I have heard often about the historic Freedom Trail. This 2.5 miles route runs past 16 official sites that are among Boston's oldest landmarks. The Freedom Trail tells the story of the American Revolution as it began in Boston. I learnt that the Freedom Trail was officially established in 1958 to preserve the relevant key monuments and sites.

The Old State House in a distance.

It was fairly easy to recognize the Freedom Trail. The Trail is marked by a red-brick or painted line on the pavement. All that visitors have to do is to follow the marked trail. There are also daily guided tours available from Boston's main Visitor Information Centre (northeastern edge of Boston Common south of Park Street subway station) and from Faneuil Hall.
My friend, Emz, and I walked about parts of the Freedom Trail with a clear understanding that we would not be trekking the entire Freedom Trail that afternoon. Our plan was to have dinner at the North End of Boston by around six in the evening.

Boston's Old City Hall. I walked past it on 24 June 2015.

My friend and I visited the King's Chapel Burying Ground. It was a tranquil place to visit. The ship named Mayflower caught my eyes when I was reading the inscriptions on a few of the tombstones in the burying ground.

The Old State House, Boston.

On our way, we past by the Old State House. It was very popular with tourists and there was a queue to get in . Out of the interest of time, we moved on.

Remembering the Boston Massacre.


Looking back, during my short visit to Boston in end June 2015, I could have visited or seen from a distance many of the 16 official sites on the Freedom Trail without realizing I had done so. Here are the 16 official sites on the Freedom Trail:

- Boston Common
- Massachusetts State House
- Park Street Church
- Granary Burying Ground
- King's Chapel
- King's Chapel Burying Ground
- Benjamin Franklin Statue and Boston Latin School
- Old Corner Book Store
- Old State House
- Site of Boston Massacre
- Faneuil Hall
- Paul Revere House
- Old North Church
- Copp's Hill Burying Ground
- Bunker Hill Monument
- USS Constitution.

(source: http://www.thefreedomtrail.org/freedom-trail/official-sites.shtml)

My heartfelt thanks to my friend, Emz, for walking along part of the Freedom Trail with me. It was liberating to feel safe enough to explore a foreign country. The Freedom Trail is a reminder of a time in history when people acted on and lobbied for their ideals of freedom which subsequently shaped the story of the American Revolution.

Admittedly, I would still need some help and time to fully appreciate the story of the American Revolution please.