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Valentine’s Day at the Liberty Hotel and dinner at Clink

We celebrated Valentine’s Day by escaping for a night. We stayed at the Liberty Hotel in Boston, and took advantage of their Valentine’s Day package (dinner, rose petals on the bed, late check-out, etc…). The Liberty Hotel is a renovated Boston jail built in 1851. They’ve kept some of the original interior architecture and have many jail themed details (the “Privacy” cards to hang on your room’s doorknob read “Solitary”).

The hotel was a little tricky to find. Google Maps steered us to the physical address, which unfortunately was the back side of the building, and situated on one way streets such that we had to do a large loop to get to the main entrance. The lobby is striking with 90 foot ceilings and sort of a luxury/modern decor/furnishing thing going on. Checking in was smooth and came with champagne or sparkling cider!

The first glitch was that our room keycards didn’t activate the elevator. Luckily someone else in the car used their keycard, and our keycards worked just fine in our door. The room was a beautiful corner room with floor to ceiling glass overlooking the Charles river in one direction and looking out over the MGH Red Line station to the Prudential Building in the other. The room was very nice, spacious, and well appointed.

The second glitch, that I didn’t realize until the next morning, was that neither of the two thermostats in the room was on, which meant that in late afternoon the room hit 79 degrees, and at night fell to 60. It simply hadn’t occurred to me that the thermostats would have been switched off.

Dinner was the standard prix fixe menu for the holiday. The restaurant, Clink, leveraged some of the original jail cells, with brick walls and barred windows for it’s theme. The food was fantastic. I found myself taking small bites and intentionally savoring each and every one, which is something I never do. Each course was delicious, and arrived in a timely fashion. The restaurant never made it over about 50% capacity, which I thought was odd for such a big day, but I can’t complain, the quieter atmosphere was perfect for a romantic dinner for two. Flagging down our waiter to secure after dinner drinks and the check was a little harder than expected, but all in all the dinner was great!

The next morning we headed down for the breakfast included with the holiday package. Once it came out that we didn’t have a reservation, we were told it would be a 30 minute wait to be seated in the restaurant itself, but that if we wanted to pick any seats in the lobby/bar/lounge area, they’d be happy to serve us there. We snagged two stools at a table right by the entrance to Clink, at 11 AM sharp. And waited. And waited. No server appeared to take our order, or provide menus, or to check on us. At 11:21 the hostess came over and told us that a table had opened up if wanted to move into the restaurant itself. We moved, on the assumption that if we’d stayed put we might have starved to death.

The breakfast was a fixed price that let you order anything you wanted from the menu and have full access to the buffet. I liked the approach since you could taste everything you wanted without penalty. The buffet looked good, but we each also wanted a single item from the menu. Our waiter took our menu and drink orders at 11:23 AM. Once he had left, we hit the buffet and got started on breakfast. Our waiter returned to let us know that actually they had no bartender, so the drinks on the menu weren’t actually available. We finished our buffet plates and waited for the food we’d ordered from the menu, which stubbornly refused to arrive. Emma’s crepe showed up at 12:01, and my omelet made an appearance at 12:14. Then another crepe tried to arrive at 12:25 (over an hour after we’d ordered it). The crepe was good, but the omelet was not worth a 50 minute wait. I’d highly recommend NOT going to Clink for breakfast.

I Found Great Croissants in Seattle

After some searching online, and reading many reviews, I decided to drive down to Cafe Besalu in Ballard. It took about 20 minutes, and I picked up three croissants and one pain au chocolat (my personal favorite).

The consensus is that while they aren’t quite as good as in France, they are really close! They are by far the best I’ve had in this country. They are flaky and delicious. If you’re in Seattle, it’s worth the trip to get some. We’re definitely going back.

French Croissants

I’m sitting in my local coffeehouse, Diva Espresso, which by most measures is a great place.  However, I’ve just choked down a croissant.  Before I went to La Napoule in the South of France, I liked their pastries.  Now that I’ve eaten the croissants and pan au chocolates from multiple cafes in the South of France, I can say that the stuff here in the US is barely edible.  The difference is huge.  The French pasties are light, flakey, soft, buttery without being greasy, etc…  The US ones are more dense, heavy feeling, and greasier.  It’s like comparing a two day old Dunkin’ Donuts donut to a fresh out of the works Krispy Kreme.  One is like a lead weight in your stomach and the other is like you’re eating halos from freshly killed angels.

Can anyone explain why I can’t get a good French pastry here?  Do they have magic water over there?  Baking is chemistry, and chemistry should be reproducible anywhere.

Tulip Country


On Saturday I took a break from working all the time and we drove up to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in Northwest Washington. The day started out pretty rough. Traffic was stop and go, which caused my brakes to overhead (I suspect I have bubbles in the lines or the shop put too low a grade of fluid in) and lock up after about an hour. After they cooled, we fought our way north, and finally got off the interstate. The winter has hung on out here, so there were only a couple fields of tulips which were showing color so far, although there were some amazing fields of daffodils out there as well. We saw pretty flowers. We saw local cops making a mint ticketing cars parked on the side of the road. We saw a 15′ high trebuchet in a guy’s yard. We saw cows. I mooed at them. They mooed back.

We also picked up some super fresh live clams and oysters, fresh bread (a big loaf and a Parisian style baguette), fresh farm butter (which is amazing), 3 day old goat cheese, and some extra sharp cheddar. On the way home we hit out local organic-y, fresh, grocery store, and picked up some things, including some amazingly fresh (smells like tomatoes) beefsteak tomatoes and fresh mozzarella.

For dinner we had raw oysters on the half-shell, caprese salad, clams steamed in a white wine/butter/garlic/onion sauce, and french bread with fresh butter. It was delicious and very European feeling.

You can see pictures from the trip here: 2008 Tulip Festival


I just finished going shopping for the food we will need for this weeks menu. I took a picture of what I bought in order to highlight, to myself and to you, how we eat. Firstly, the food:

Next is our menu for this week:


Chicken Fajitas

Grilled Chicken over shells w/butter + parmesan

Grilled Chicken on salad

Shrimp with pasta and spicy red sauce

Chicken Tikka Masala (for Devon)
Grilled Chicken on salad (for Emma)

Grilled Chicken Burgers with mushrooms and swiss

Take Out (Thai food)

A few things to note:  Lots of fresh veggies, meat, simple dishes.  Nothing fried, nothing cooked in lots of oil or butter, nothing pre-packaged, nothing super sugary, no fast food, no candy.  Veggies, Meat, and a Starch.

Post your own menu and pictures of your food if you can!