Dear travelers, please don’t visit Boston until you’ve understood these 10 things

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Source: Dear travelers, please don’t visit Boston until you’ve understood these 10 things

1. Don’t let The Town fool you into thinking Charlestown is some organized-crime-ridden place.

Charlestown, portrayed in the Ben Affleck film as some sort of townie hub for bank robberies, is really quite a nice place. A walk around the winding, thin colonial streets today will show you nothing more than a square mile-long working class suburb that’s slowly being gentrified by Boston yuppies (Young Urban Professionals).

Sure, Charlestown has flirted with organized crime like the Irish gang war in the 60s between the Charlestown Mob and the Winter Hill Gang in Somerville. And the townies there definitely didn’t come across as the forgiving type during the “busing” conflict in the 70s. But this town is, if anything, fiercely proud of their heritage, tradition and role as one of America’s oldest cities. After all, Paul Revere galloped at high speed from here to the battle at Lexington and Concord to warn that “the British are coming!” John Harvard himself lived in Charlestown, Samuel F.B. Morse was a born and bred townie and the Charlestown Navy Yard is home to Old Ironsides, the oldest commissioned vessel in the US Navy.

2. But yes, Whitey Bulger is our resident gangster.

Bulger’s story might be a bit more common knowledge now to people outside the state of Massachusetts due to Johnny Depp’s portrayal of him in Black Mass. The notorious Boston crime boss of the Winter Hill Gang is both feared and iconized after terrorizing South Boston in the 70s and 80s, then disappearing in an attempt to escape an FBI indictment. In 2011, he was finally found in Santa Monica, California, strapped with an arsenal and over $800,000 hidden in the walls.

If you spend a lot of time in Boston, talk of Whitey isn’t uncommon, and neither are very distant relations to him. One friend of mine swears her dad worked in one of Whitey’s bars, another says his dad lived on Whitey’s block in Southie. Hell, I even met Kevin Weeks, Whitey’s right-hand man and leading rat in the case against Bulger and FBI agent John Connolly. One of my BU journalism professors, Phyllis Karas, wrote his memoirs with him and brought him into class to talk to us about the trial that was being held in 2013. Whitey was found guilty on 31 counts, including racketeering charges. He was found to have been involved in 11 murders, and later that year he was sentenced to two consecutive life terms plus five years.

South Boston is still a rougher part of Boston with embedded Irish working class residents still kicking about. However, the location and proximity to Boston’s downtown cannot be beat. Old triple deckers are making way for shiny new duplexes and not-bad pubs likeLincoln’s. I probably wouldn’t hang about some areas too late, though. Andrew Square, for example, still has the ghosts of brutality about it.

3. The Tea Party is much more than an uber-conservative activist movement.

Nowadays, when people hear the words “Tea Party” they think of painfully backward Republicans like Michele Bachman who see lowering taxes and limiting social freedoms as a pathway to getting our nation out of debt. But let’s not forget the Boston-based revolutionaries who once gave a ‘tea party’ a whole new meaning.

The Boston Tea Party was originally a badass political protest against the Tea Act of May 10, 1773 in which the Sons of Liberty dumped an entire shipment of tea sent by the East India Company into the Boston Harbor. It all went down on December 16, 1773 and was one of the straws that broke the Patriotic camel’s back and started the American Revolution. You can walk around the Harbor and sail along the Harbor Islands today, watching for whales and envisioning what truly revolutionary shit went down among that gray-blue salty water.

4. Beware the ‘Methadone Mile.’

It is easy to notice what drug addiction has done to many residents in Boston as you walk along the one-mile stretch of Massachussetts Ave near Boston Medical Center, otherwise known as ‘Methadone Mile’. Just a few blocks away from the clean brownstones and trendy cafes of Boston’s South End is a strip of methadone clinics, homeless shelters and drug treatment centers that have surfaced to try to combat Boston’s massive opioid addiction problem.

Residents walking their dogs would know to steer clear of this street for fear of their pet stepping on a used needle or picking up an empty heroin bag. I’m not exaggerating. The debris of addiction and the presence of junkies isn’t limited to the ‘Methadone Mile’– you can see the effects of the drug from Dorchester T stations to the lovely Fens gardens to Revere Beach. But in this location, however, it’s not uncommon to find addicts openly cooking and injecting drugs like it ain’t no thang. And to them, it isn’t, which should put it into the tourist’s head to be wary of people suffering and how that might affect their time in Boston.

5. We will always be proud of our role in the American Revolution.

Boston is rife with revolutionary history due to its role as a commercial center and home to some of the radicals we remember today like Samuel Adams (after whose namesake the Boston Lager was brewed) and John Adams. Just looking at a map of Boston and Massachusetts will make names of people and places from your history books jump out at you, from Revere and Quincy to Lexington and Concord.

If you feel like following in the footsteps of the Revolution that gave our nation the now-ridiculous reputation of ‘The Land of the Free,’ you can follow theFreedom Trail, which starts at the Boston Common park and goes to the USS Constitution.

6. We’re not an ignorant city; in fact, some of the world’s top universities are here.

It seems as though ‘America’s College Town’ always has been and always will be home to great minds and progressive thinking, and that idea only seems to be enhanced by the sheer amount of universities present. There are more than 100 colleges and universities in the greater Boston, Massachusetts area, most notably Harvard, MIT and Tufts.

In fact, this concentration of higher education in Boston has led to a steady increase in the population, leaving the city sort of grasping for housing. The Boston Redevelopment Authority found in a 2010 study that there are 152,000 students in Boston’s institutions, a number that had gone up about 20 percent since 1990 and, we can only assume, has gone up since.

7. Don’t visit during winter.

Many people who don’t get to really experience snow (I’m looking at you, Australia) love the idea of traveling around the States in the winter. A White Christmas! What a novelty! I urge you, however, to do yourself a favor and not come to Boston for its winter. Hell, New York, for all its sludge, is a better bet if you’re dying to freeze your ass off in a major US city. Boston is simply too miserable to show you a good time.

When winter comes to Boston, it settles in, and so do its residents. You will be welcomed not only by arctic winds, thigh-high snow and terrifying icicles hanging off the roofs, but also by bitter humans who are struggling from an ungodly combination of bone-chill, the flu, seasonal affectiveness disorder and daunting daily transportation issues. That painful moment when you wake up to a white-washed window only to realize that you must now dig your car out or else suffer the lagging and creaking MBTA is enough to make anybody’s day a miserable one. In addition, you’ll find yourself exhausted from putting on at least three extra layers of clothes only to take off two of them in a huff the second you walk into any heat-pumped building. Heading to the pub later? Count almost everyone in Boston out. They’d rather drink inside and watch the Pats game.

8. Nightlife ends early here.

Prepare yourself to start and end your night much earlier in Boston than you would in many other major cities. Most bars are only open until 2 am, so if you think that’s the time when the party is kicking off, you will be sadly mistaken and left with booze blue balls. Don’t even try to get another one off the bartender at 2:01. It’s not gonna happen.

9. You should bring your passport to the pub.

If you are planning on one of these early nights out, make sure to bring a proper form of ID and expect to get carded almost everywhere. Boston is notoriously strict about ID-ing as it is a college town and there are plenty of underage kids just trying to have a drink in a social setting like a normal adult. Foreigners will often find themselves turned away by many bartenders for not having their passport on them. No, we don’t accept your country’s driver’s license. Military ID cards are usually considered OK.

10. Seafood is good here, eat all that you can afford.

New England seafood is well known for being some of the best in the world, so don’t leave without getting your hands on some. From the hearty Boston Clam Chowdah to a succulent and fresh Lobster Roll, you’ll be writing back home to Mom about it.

If you’re looking for a bit of history, check out Union Oyster House, America’s oldest remaining restaurant. It was built in 1826, it looks like a ship inside, and it’s alright. You can do better when it comes to New England seafood in Boston. I’m a casual seafood eater myself, so a walk through Quincy Market to Boston & Maine Co. for some steamed mussels will never go amiss. Also a big fan of Faneuil Hall’s Salty Dog for the sheer joy of watching the bartender shuck those fat Martha’s Vineyard oysters right in front of me. The Barking Crab is also a local favorite, as I love a chance to sit in a big red-and-white tent on Fort Point Channel in the Seaport District while I smash salty Fried Clams and buckets of King Crab.

15 things you miss when you move away from Boston

Raw bar at Haymarket farmer's market in Boston

“When I lived in Boston, I could have written essays on why Boston’s public transit sucks.”

Source: 15 things you miss when you move away from Boston

1. Using the Citgo sign over Kenmore as your North Star

When I first moved to Boston from New York as a chubby-cheeked young freshman, navigating the city was hard. I couldn’t shut up about how things would be so much easier if the city were shaped like a grid, like my hometown. My only savior during those first drunken years when I stumbled home from the MIT frats with my shoes in my hands was the Citgo sign, shining bright in the night sky, leading me to City Convenience to buy pizza bagels before the store closed at 3am.

2. Allston

Allston skyline, Boston
View of Allston from my old rooftop.

I called it Rat City. The college/immigrant/30-year-old hipster neighborhood just outside of the city where you could get your haircut in the same shop that sold smoking paraphernalia, sex toys and Halloween costumes. Where you could buy a 32-pack of Rolling Rock for $12.99 or a 6-pack of Woodchuck for $9.68 at Blanchard’s and sit on your stoop with your shitty friends who refused to buy new shoes even though theirs were ripped in three places. Where there was the same amount of dive and college bars on every street as there were Korean restaurants. Where you could smoke a joint next to a police cruiser and then huff a slice from Pizza Days. Where you could stay up until 4am to catch Twin Donuts when they first opened and still had doughnuts on their shelves from the day before.

Rolling Rocks and PBR on a stoop in Allston
typical Allston stoop decor

I lived in the hood for one shining year, filled with mistakes and pickleback shots. But as one article makes clear, after that one year, you realize that what you thought was glitter everywhere was really just broken glass.

3. Being able to assume that everyone is on Brady’s side

I left Boston quite recently. While in California, the “Deflategate” got brought up among some other Americans. I immediately tried to cut the over-talked about convo short, exclaiming, “Ugh, enough already!” My new California friend said, “I know, right?” And at the same time that I said, “He’s innocent,” my new/late friend said, “He’s guilty.” We gave each other a hard stare. That moment defined where we each stood. #inflatethis #freetombrady

4. That Boston accent

Bostonians may sound uneducated and obnoxious when they say things like “Havahd” and “cah” and “warsh” and “beeah,” but fahk, khed, I miss the way it sounds wicked bad, guy. There’s no better accent to yell in when you’ve had a few and are shooting pool or watching the game.

5. Low, low standards of fashion

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of fashion forward individuals in Boston. For instance, it was totally not uncommon to see a pack of well-dressed guys — otherwise known as an “unpleasantry” — in boating shoes and salmon pants. That definitely existed. But sometimes, you just weren’t feeling it. Maybe it was too cold, maybe it was too hot, maybe you were just hungover. There was never any shame in strolling through Southie to Dunks in naught but your Tims, some paint-stained sweatpants and a Sox cap.

Sorry, Erin. Couldn't resist!!!
Sorry, Erin. Couldn’t resist!!!

6. Eating the world’s best seafood

Freshly shucked oysters with some cocktail sauce from The Salty Dog in Faneuil Hall
Freshly shucked oysters with some cocktail sauce from The Salty Dog in Faneuil Hall

I’m sorry. I don’t care if you’re from Greece or Italy, Japan or Colombia, New England Seafood is superior. It was always fresh from the Harbor or the Cape, often deep fried and there was nothing better. Clam chowdah wasn’t chowdah without the cream. And don’t get me started on the raw stuff.

7. All the local breweries of Massachusetts

I could live without Sam Adams and Harpoon, although I’d prefer not to. However, if we’re talking craft brews, there are a few that will always remain in my heart. I miss getting too drunk too quick off of Pretty Things Baby Tree Quad, cozying up with a Slumbrew Porter in the fall, enjoying just the right amount of hops and citrus with a Jack’s Abby Hoponius Union, and of course chasing my fried clam strips with a cold gulp of Cisco Whale’s Tale Pale Ale — I miss you all equally.

8. Being part of a REAL sports culture

crowds at Fenway Park, Boston, MA
Fenway Park

Yes, Boston sports fans are probably the most annoying sports fans — after Philly, that is. But they have every right to be. It’s intoxicating living in a city where all the sports teams are champions and the fans can’t get enough. I felt like a winner by association. Compare that to living in a city where the team sucks and no one goes to the games anyway (I’m looking at you, Tampa Bay). When you move away from Boston, you always feel like something’s missing.

9. Living so damn close to the ocean

View of the Boston Harbor from Seaport Blvd, Boston
View of the Harbor from Seaport Blvd, Boston

Twice a day, in the morning and around sundown, if you’re within at least 15 blocks from the shore, you can smell the salty sea air mixing with the low tide. Your first whiff of it made you stop whatever you were doing, close your eyes and take another deep breath, filling your lungs with the thick air and imagining that you were a sailor rocking gently on a wooden deck and not just some yuppie trying to make rent in Beantown.

10. The Charles River

The Charles River, Boston, MA
The Charles River, Boston, MA

And the esplanade. Because I went to BU, the Charles River and the esplanade were my own backyard. When the weather was nice, or even when it wasn’t so nice, I always loved to walk or bike along the river, sit on the docks and watch the rowers from one of the many universities in Boston and Cambridge, or just read a book beneath a tree. I’d bring a blanket and my homework to BU’s “beach” to soak in the sun by the water and listen to the sound of cars going by on Storrow Drive, pretending they were ocean waves.


Dunkin’ Donuts, for whatever reason, is important to Boston. It was never a question of where to go for coffee because there were at least two on every block and you could feed and water your whole family and some friends for under $10.

12. Saving up to eat and drink in the South End

Every time I’d go to Boston’s South End, I’d feel as though all of the residents knew I didn’t belong. They all had nice-looking dogs that they didn’t want me to pet, the streets were so clean, and I was always worried that someone was going to come over to me and tell me that my presence was a form of littering.

But, man, do they have some of the best restaurants. One doesn’t simply go to the South End for a nice dinner and some craft cocktails. You plan ahead, find a friend who wants to be fancy with you, pick out an outfit, do your research on what’s hot, and make a reservation. When they seat you a half hour after your reserved time slot, you don’t act surprised, you just order a glass of the cheapest wine from the bar and pretend you haven’t been looking forward to this for weeks.

13. Getting off work for St. Patty’s Day and Marathon Monday

Kegs and eggs, baby. Kegs and eggs.

14. Not being judged for aggressive driving

I suppose we can call it what it is: road rage. When I go to other states and other drivers, like, let me in their lane because I put my blinker on, I’m shocked. In Boston, you should be putting your blinker on approximately one second before you swerve into the lane of your choice, because you know that if you give the other cars advance notice, they’ll just speed up so you can’t get in. Perfectly normal, if you ask me.

I also don’t appreciate the horrified looks I get out-of-state when I make an illegal U-turn just to get a parking spot.

15. The T

B train on the Green Line at Harvard Ave T stop, Boston
B train on the Green Line at Harvard Ave T stop

When I lived in Boston, I could have written essays on why Boston’s public transit sucks. I could compare it to that of New York, of DC, of Medellin, Madrid, London, etc. But what I didn’t realize was that once you leave the Northeast United States, public transit, especially in train form, is seriously hard to come by. 

19 things Bostonians always have to explain to out-of-towners

“A liquor store is a “packie,” “jimmies” are sprinkles, a “spa” is a deli, “frappes” are milkshakes and it’s a “rotary” not a roundabout. Got it?”

Source: 19 things Bostonians always have to explain to out-of-towners

1. Yeah, that’s just a Colonial guy in breeches and spatterdashes. Ignore him.

They re-enact the Boston Tea Party, or something. It’s a tourist thing to do. Like Duck Tours and whale watching.

2. Our gods are The Sox, The Pats, the Bruins and the Celtics.

You must never blaspheme the gods in front of a Boston native. Praise the demi-gods Tom Brady, Robert Paxton Gronkowski aka “Gronk” and David Ortiz aka “Big Papi.”

3. A liquor store is a ‘packie,’ ‘jimmies’ are sprinkles, a ‘spa’ is a deli, ‘frappes’ are milkshakes and it’s a ‘rotary’ not a roundabout. Got it?

After I run this packie, I’ll take the second exit off the rotary to get a frappe with jimmies at Town Spa.

4. We nevah pronounce ouwah ah’s. (Translation: We never pronounce our R’s)

You’ve probably heard the famous phrase before. All tourists have fun with it. Let’s say it together, shall we? Pahk the cah in Hahvahd Yahd. Not so hard, right? Don’t say it to a local.

5. Good luck parking your car in Harvard Yard, or anywhere for that matter.

Meter maids are on the prowl, all the time. You parked at 5:59 when the meter expires at 6? $25 to the City of Boston. If you drove in, leave your car at the hotel and take the T. Definitely don’t try to drive in if you’re attempting to go to a Red Sox game. You will not succeed in finding parking, unless you have a large disposable income.

6. Yes, the Fens and Revere Beach have nice scenic views, but you better beware of needles.

Massachusetts has a serious opiate addiction problem. It’s very sad. Also beware the junkies; you’ll know them when you see them, and you will see them.

7. If we dig out a space on the street for our car, you can’t legally park there.

Of course, we may have to mark our territory with some chairs or trash cans or a 36-pack of Natty Lite.

8. ‘Dunks’ is slang for Dunkin Donuts, and it is the elixir of life.

Munchkins from Dunks are a perfect treat to bring to work, a party, a museum event, a tailgate, your cousin’s wake, etc. Boston runs on Dunkin.

9. The T is our subway, metro, whatever.

It generally stand for ‘transit’ or ‘transportation’ and is part of the larger MBTA, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. It’s not very fast, especially on the Green Line that runs through universities like Boston University, Northeastern, Boston College, etc. But remember, patience is a virtue.

10. Neil Diamond’s ‘Sweet Caroline’ is our anthem.

And our anthem. It’s played at every game, at the bottom of the eighth inning. It’s also not uncommon for a drunk guy, or kid (pronounced “khed,” though not actually a drunk child), to start up a chant on the T and get the whole car, including the driver, happily singing along.

11. “’Yankees Suck’ is our other anthem.

And it’s chanted at every sporting event. We’re confident that Jesus hates the Yankees, too.

12. Timberland boots are acceptable footwear no matter the season.

Also, “nice” cargo shorts are acceptable formal attire.

13. Every winter, we inform everyone that we’re moving south.

But we don’t. And every summer, we stick around to enjoy Martha’s Vineyard and “The Cape” aka Cape Cod.

14. We use ‘wicked’ as an adverb, both ironically and seriously.

Went to Kelly’s Roast Beef last night and got some chicken fingahs. It was wicked pissah.

15. In addition to Kelly’s Roast Beef for late-night bites, Santarpio’s Pizza in East Boston (Eastie) and Union Oyster House in Government Center are our Boston go-tos.

Don’t forget the D’Angelo’s chain for a variety of hot and cold subs. Yes, subs. Not heroes, not grinders, not even sandwiches.

16. Only we can pronounce our towns correctly.

Gloucester. Worcester. Cochituate. Leominster. Leicester. Haverhill. Spoiler alert! Nothing is pronounced phonetically.

17. Anyone from Mass is going to tell you that these towns are all ‘half an hour away and two towns over.’

We aren’t always lying. Unless the town is in Western Mass. Might as well be its own state, the Yankee lovers.

18. Yes, we are aggressive drivers. But we don’t care if you call us a ‘Mass-hole.’

Mass-holes drive fast, recklessly and cut other drivers off with wanton abandon, so much so that MassDOT, the Department of Transportation, has put signs on the highway that say “USE YAH BLINKAH.”

19. And our pedestrians are not much nicer.

So don’t say hi to strangers on the street. It’s creepy and may get you beat up. Mass-holes love a good fight. 

31 signs you grew up drinking in Boston

Brighton and Harvard, Allston, Boston

“You’ve enjoyed a “Hobo Special” of a 40 and a hot dog at Bukowski Tavern. The one in Inman Square. You know the Back Bay one is for rich yuppies.”

Source: 31 signs you grew up drinking in Boston

1. You’ve sat on the curb with your heels on your lap to eat street meat from the stand near Sissy K’s.

2. You’ll always drink Harpoon and Jack’s Abbey over Samuel Adams because you know that the Boston Lager isn’t actually brewed in Boston.

3. You know that to get served after 2am, all you have to do is go to a late-night restaurant in Chinatown and order a pot of “cold tea.” (Whether they give you beer or white wine is up to the proprietor.)

4. You suspect the bouncer at T’s still has the fake ID he confiscated from you when you were 19.

5. You can remember the days when you spent your weekends covered in PBR and highlighter ink from a BU or MIT frat party.

6. You’ve stolen salt and pepper shakers from the South Street diner at 4am But then felt intensely ashamed about it the next morning because that waiter was really good-natured about how drunk you were.

7. You’ve also, obviously, drunkenly ridden that mechanical pony outside of South Street at 5am.

8. You’ve been kicked out of White Horse for falling down too much.

9. When you go out of town and order a ‘Bacahdi and coke,’ you have to force yourself to pronounce the “R” because out-of-state bartenders never seem to know what you want.

10. You never forget your ID because all these students gallivanting around means you’ll be showing ID until you’re 75.

11. However you remember the days when a fake got you into Daisy Buchanan’s — easily.

12. You’ve felt the wrath of doing way too many pickleback shots at The Draft.

13. And if they ran out of pickle juice, you know what way too many Fireball shots can do to you.

14. You’ve ended up at JJ Foley’s after hours and mysteriously spent your entire paycheck.

15. You know that whenever you go to pay in Boston, the bartender’s going to ask if you’d like to pay cash or just “run the cahd.”

16. You’ve tasted the glory of adding Fireball to your Downeast Cider. (Also: Guinness and Downeast Cider, tell me that’s not good.)

17. You know that 90s night at Common Ground is the only time you can enjoy the Spice Girls without shame.

18. You’ll never say no to a pitcher of PBR. Obviously.

19. You’ve been genuinely impressed by the karaoke singers at Hong Kong, and equally impressed with the scorpion bowls and teriyaki sticks that go around like hot dogs at a Red Sox game.

20. You’ve been ripped off paying for booze at Fenway and the Garden — because it’s just that important to drink at sporting events.

21. You or someone you know has gotten into a fight at Coogan’s. But, hey, they have dollar drafts so you’ll always be back.

22. You’ve played “beirut” or “root,” never beer pong.

23. You’re used to “happy hour” specials being more about food specials than drink specials.

24. You’ve ordered yourself at least three $1 burgers from the Avenue. (Now $2 burgers…)

25. You either regularly order a Tito’s and soda at Tia’s, or you absolutely hate the people who order a Tito’s and soda at Tia’s.

26. You know that nothing goes better with your fried clams and Martha’s Vineyard oysters than a cold Cisco Grey Lady.

27. Your friends keep telling you that Quincy Center has some awesome bars, but since they shut down Marina Bay, you have no real desire to take the Red Line out that far.

28. You’ve enjoyed a “Hobo Special” of a 40 and a hot dog at Bukowski Tavern. The one in Inman Square. You know the Back Bay one is for rich yuppies.

29. Your fanciest moment was when you got dressed up to sip craft cocktails and listen to live jazz at the Beehive.

30. Since the T stops running before last call, you’ve decided to just sober up with a walk around the Commons and wait until it reopens, rather than pay for a cab.

31. You’ve been honestly insulted by the waiters at Dick’s Last Resort

Downeast Cider: The Way Cider Should Be

At the Downeast Cider House, you can find out just how that delicious, cloudy beverage is made.

From fermentation to canning to tasting, you’ll get your fill and more with a tour of the Downeast Cidery.

Upon receiving your first pour of Downeast Original Blend Cider, sounds of shock and delight are bound to follow. Just looking at that cloudy, orange liquid is enough to make your mouth water in anticipation of an unexpected sip, something apart from the Magners or the Angry Orchard ciders you are accustomed to drinking. That first mouthful of Downeast takes your senses on a journey, back to a crisp October day apple picking with your family as a child and enjoying the local farm’s cider with a basket of fresh-picked apples by your feet. You down the glass immediately, smacking your lips and thinking, That was tasty. Why, I’ll have another. A similar experience ensues as you polish off your second glass, and only then does it hit you that you are indeed consuming an alcoholic beverage.

As a server in a rather touristy area of Boston, I find myself recommending the cider over our other choices to my guests. “Ever had Downeast?” I’ll ask. “It’s really good. Unfiltered. Brewed locally just across the harbor (pronounced ‘hahbah’) in Charlestown (pronounced ‘Chahlestown’).” My patrons, hearing the word ‘local’ almost always jump on board and order a pint, followed by the aforementioned squeals of approval. Unfiltered? Brewed locally? How quaint. How very New England.

Well, I had had enough of just telling people that the brewery (cidery?) was so close by, so I decided to check it out for myself and purchase a Living Social for an affordable tour of the brewery plus two Downeast pint glasses and a down payment on a growler of cider. Whatever that means.

two growlers of Downeast Cider on the bar at Downeast Cidery, Charlestown, MA
two growlers of Downeast Cider on the bar

The cidery resides underneath the Tobin Bridge, which thoroughly confused later Uber drivers who couldn’t quite figure out our pin point location and found themselves crossing the bridge and canceling the trip.

The Tobin Bridge as seen from the Downeast Cidery, Charlestown, MA
The Tobin Bridge as seen from the Downeast Cidery, Charlestown, MA

The large warehouse opens unceremoniously in the front, a sort of deck with a small game of corn hole serving as a foyer before the entrance to the building. A smiling girl in a cool Downeast t-shirt welcomed my cousin Faiez, his girlfriend Alex and me to the brewery from behind a fold up table.

outside Downeast Cidery, Charelstown, MA
Faiez and Alex excited to enter the Downeast Cidery
patio before Downeast Cidery entrance, Charlestown, MA
patio with seats and corn hole before Downeast Cidery entrance
sign in for Downeast Cidery tour, Charlestown, MA
sign in for Downeast Cidery tour

In the background, I could see the titan-like, gleaming silver fermentation tanks lined up like guards.

fermentation tanks at Downeast Cidery, Charlestown, MA
fermentation tanks at Downeast Cidery
me with a giant fermentation tank at Downeast Cidery, Charlestown, MA
me with a giant fermentation tank at Downeast Cidery, Charlestown, MA

The smell of fermenting apples hit my nostrils with my first step into the warehouse. “It smells like an apple with a yeast infection,” I exclaimed to Alex, making her laugh with agreement. The atmosphere at the brewery was pretty laid back. Thin, pale employees walked around cheerfully, either leading tours or cleaning growlers or pouring drafts at the bar around the corner. Visitors rested their fresh drafts on barrels and munched on free bags of snacks or sat at the games table to play Jenga or miniature finger Twister.

bar snacks at Downeast Cidery, Charlestown, MA
bar snacks at Downeast Cidery
Downeast Cidery bar, Charlestown, MA
Visitors enjoy the festivities at the Downeast Cidery’s bar
Jenga at the Downeast Cidery, Charlestown, MA
Alex playing Jenga at the Downeast Cidery, Charlestown, MA
barrel tables at Downeast Cidery
barrel tables at Downeast Cidery
finger Twister at Downeast Cidery, Charlestown, MA
finger Twister at Downeast Cidery, Charlestown, MA

Apparently this whole area serves as an office during the week, and opens up as a bar on the Fridays and Saturdays when tours commence. As we waited for our tour to start, I nibbled on some of their spicy apple ginger cookies and bought a few rolling papers with the Downeast logo on them.

offerings at Downeast Cidery, Charlestown, MA
apple ginger cookies, Downeast pint glasses, T-shirts and Downeast rolling papers are for sale at the Downeast Cidery bar

A nice young woman with thick glasses and a sarcastic yet chipper demeanor led our tour. She explained to our group of about 10 eager drinkers that the founders, Tyler Mosher and Ross Brockman, started making their famous cider out of their dorm rooms in Bates College in Maine because they wanted a cider that actually tasted like fresh pressed apples.

tour guide at Downeast Cidery Tour, Charlestown, MA
tour guide at Downeast Cidery Tour

So, in 2011, after college, they kept bottling the stuff in Waterville, Maine until 2012 when the worst harvest of apples hit their home state. So they moved to Massachusetts where the apples were still growing and settled up in Leominster for about a year. Eventually, Ross’s brother, Matt, found the current Charlestown location and became co-owner. The Charlestown spot has a maximum capacity of eight fermenters that it meets with fervor, producing that delicious original blend plus many other variations of hard cider, both filtered and unfiltered. The secret to their unique flavor? Rather than using a champagne yeast in the production of the cider, they use an ale yeast because it holds the flavor better.

Like at any brewery or distillery tour, the tour guide explained to us how the stuff was made. The apples are fermented for two weeks, during which time they produce carbon dioxide, alcohol (yay!) and heat. The optimal temperature that the workers there look for is 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit. The cider is then cooled by glycol tubes and then after another two weeks, the temperature drops to 32 degrees so that the yeast goes to sleep and sinks to the bottom. This yeast is then removed and reused for future batches, because yeast is expensive. The remaining cider is then flash pasteurized at 115 degrees to kill any lingering yeast that might cause the cider to continue to ferment. Then the cider chills out in some artsy cool holding tanks until it’s ready to be canned, at which point they’ll add a bit of CO2 back in for some fizziness.

artful, chalk board holding tank at Downeast Cidery, Charlestown, MA
artful, chalk board holding tank with drawings of ships and clouds and “The way cider should be”
artsy chalk board holding tank at Downeast Cidery, Charlestown, MA
further illustrations of a ship on chalk board-like holding tank at Downeast Cidery
graffiti holding tank at Downeast Cidery, Charlestown, MA
graffiti holding tank with words”The way cider should be” at Downeast Cidery

Next, our tour guide walked us through the canning process. Why cans? Because they are cheaper, lighter and easier to ship, and because they have a light and air tight seal, which means that there is neither room for oxygen to sit and nor any way for light to enter and ruin the cider, making it taste like wet cardboard. The cans idea was also an homage to Maine college boy life, where hunting and going to the beach are a weekly habit and bottles are banned from both of those scenes.

canning station at Downeast Cidery, Charlestown, MA
canning station at Downeast Cidery
cans of Downeast Cider at the brewery, Charlestown, MA
cans on cans on cans
kegs and cans at Downeast Cidery, Charlestown, MA
kegs and cans in the back

Our group got to taste Downeast’s delicious Original blend, their Cranberry blend, made with 10% fresh cranberry juice, their hard lemonade and their Unoriginal blend.

taste of Cranberry Blend Cider at Downeast Cidery, Charlestown, MA
taste of Cranberry Blend Cider

If you’ve been paying attention, you might guess that the Unoriginal tastes like the other brands. I guess they caved and made a cider fermented with champagne yeast to give it that drier taste that nobody I know loves. As our tour guide said, “It’s unoriginal because it’s how everyone does it.”

Later at the bar, I sampled the sweet and rich Maple Oak blend, a specialty blend that’s made in their two original, old school fermenters from Maine, complete with heating pads plastered to the sides and an opening at the top to cool the brew. This just goes to show that the employees at Downeast take the proper amount of time and give a little extra effort to create fresh flavors for their fans. Demand is so high, in fact, for all their blends that they are currently looking for a new warehouse that can fit additional fermenters so that they can expand their blooming business.

original fermenters from Maine warehouse at Downeast Cidery, Charlestown, MA
original fermenters from Maine warehouse at Downeast Cidery

“Locally grown, fresh pressed, gluten-free, not from concentrate.” The way cider should be, indeed. I know it’s a hike, but it’s worth it for a sweet taste of that New England nectar, straight from the source. Keep an eye out for their specialty brews like their hard honey cider and a pumpkin blend coming in the fall!

the line up of Downeast blends at Downeast Cidery, Charlestown, MA
the line up of Downeast blends

Downeast Cidery

200 Terminal Street, Charlestown, MA




by Rebecca Bellan

PENTALUM Luminarium Brings Light to Southie

inside PENTALUM, South Boston, the Lawn on D

PENTALUM luminarium attracted Boston residents to The Lawn on D in Southie for a glorious, light-filled weekend.

The inflatable maze, by Alan Parkinson and Architects of Air, created an awe-inspiring space-within-a-space using colored, translucent PVC and inspiring geometric architecture.


PENTALUM luminarium, a blow up sculpture that creates the feeling of walking through a stained glass window, graced Boston with its presence on May 28 through May 31 at The Lawn on D in South Boston.

PENTALUM exterior at The Lawn on D, South Boston
PENTALUM exterior at The Lawn on D in Southie
The Lawn on D event space, South Boston
The Lawn on D event space

The Lawn, an experimental and interactive outdoor space for Boston residents and visitors, was the perfect location for PENTALUM, creating a nice transition from the orb-like swing sets, lounge chairs and ping pong tables to the colorful, inflatable funhouse.

The Lawn on D, South Boston
People enjoying the public spaces at the Lawn on D
a couple sharing a swing, The Lawn on D, South Boston
a couple sharing a swing, The Lawn on D
me on the swings, The Lawn on D, South Boston
me on the swings, The Lawn on D

After paying the affordable $5 cover charge, guests were asked to remove their shoes before entering the sculpture and to watch out for any sharp objects in their pockets.

entrance to PENTALUM luminarium, The Lawn on D, South Boston
entrance to PENTALUM luminarium
entrance to PENTALUM luminarium, The Lawn on D, South Boston
entrance to PENTALUM luminarium, The Lawn on D, South Boston

Inflatable and de-flatable, PENTALUM is made of thin PVC, polyvinyl chloride, that lets in natural light to create an effect that has been correctly described as “somewhere between a womb and a cathedral,” both encompassing and inspiring.

inside PENTALUM, South Boston, the Lawn on D
inside PENTALUM, South Boston

Fluid geometric designs in red, blue, green and everything in between serve to make the guest breathe in sharply with awe at the surreal surroundings and greet the newly clothed light with spirituality.

inside PENTALUM luminarium, The Lawn on D, South Boston
trippy lights inside PENTALUM luminarium
inside PENTALUM luminarium
inside PENTALUM luminarium
inside the green dome in PENTALUM luminarium
inside the green dome in PENTALUM luminarium
inside PENTALUM luminarium
experiencing awe inside PENTALUM luminarium
me, inspired by the light and warmth of PENTALUM luminarium, South Boston
me, inspired by the light and warmth of PENTALUM luminarium

You forget at once that there is material around you as you are enveloped in a sort of smooth and weightless perfection. You feel completely alone and at peace, and simultaneously one with all of the other guests who are experiencing the same sense of wonder. Soothing electronic tones, created by David Bickley, play quietly in the background as children seem to frolick in slow motion as if they are moving through water, and a few comfortable souls curl up in suggestive-looking pods.

enjoying the coves of PENTALUM luminarium, The Lawn on D, South Boston
enjoying the coves of PENTALUM luminarium, The Lawn on D, South Boston
guests lounging in pods in PENTALUM, The Lawn on D, South Boston
guests lounging in pods in PENTALUM
guests lounging in pods in PENTALUM, The Lawn on D, South Boston
Alba chilling in a pod in PENTALUM
guests lounging in pods in PENTALUM, The Lawn on D, South Boston
guests lounging in pods in PENTALUM, The Lawn on D, South Boston

The sculpture, and other luminaria like it, have attracted over 3 million visitors in 41 countries since the foundation of Architects of Air in 1992. Founder and artistic director Alan Parkinson’s intent on creating a sense of wonder at the beauty of light and color is made possible by his combined influences of architecture, from Islamic geometry to Gothic cathedrals to Archimedean solids. Visitors wander dreamlike through the labyrinth of tunnels and domes, experiencing their relation to space through the art.

inside PENTALUM luminarium, The Lawn on D
inside PENTALUM luminarium

Architects of Air has built six sculptures in total that tour the world with ease, taking only 4 hours to anchor and another 20 minutes to inflate. While the Boston exhibit is hitting the road, you can catch the next one, called Arboria, in Bad Pyrmont, Germany from June 12-21. In the meantime, The Lawn on D will still be open for games, activities and events, both public and private, until October 12.

ping pong tables at The Lawn on D, South Boston
ping pong tables at The Lawn on D, South Boston
unique swing set at The Lawn on D, South Boston
unique swing set at The Lawn on D, South Boston
little girl on swing set, The Lawn on D, South Boston
little girl on swing set, The Lawn on D, South Boston


by Rebecca Bellan







Coppersmith Restaurant: The New Model of Hospitality

Coppersmith exterior rendering, South Boston

Coppersmith is changing the perception of your neighborhood restaurant for the better.

When hospitality and community combine, the social impact is deliciously positive!

Coppersmith Restaurant logo, Boston

In the culinary world of Boston, most restaurants will tell you that their business is about hospitality, service or food and beverage. Not many could venture to say that their business is actually about goodwill and social impact, that is, until the idea for the Coppersmith came along.

“We are in the business of community,” said one of the three owners/developers of Coppersmith Restaurant, Travis “Tbone” Talbot, a hired gun and a bold, trend-breaking presence in both the hospitality and philanthropy spaces, noted for his participation in the Boston Bites Back event at Fenway Park to raise money for the One Fund.

Travis "Tbone" Talbot, Boston
Travis “Tbone” Talbot

“The new model of hospitality is giving,” he said, smiling lightly under his characteristic Red Sox cap, a fan despite his Canadian origins.

While still a for-profit restaurant, Coppersmith, set to open at the end of this fall, is creating a unique business paradigm focused on community, specifically the communities of South Boston, South End, Dorchester and Fort Point/Innovation District, that is intent on collaboration with local non-profit organizations as part of everyday business, as well as providing a “third space” between home and work for residents to relax, be entertained and eat a great meal.

map of Coppersmith's community, South Boston
map of Coppersmith’s community

“We see ourselves as being a hub, a place where people can socialize and be a part of the community. We like to say that Coppersmith is an authentic neighborhood restaurant, not just another restaurant in the neighborhood,” said Talbot.

The venue, located at 40 West 3rd Street in Southie off the Broadway T stop, settled in a rustic copper foundry (formerly the Dalquist Manufacturing Co.), will feature a large, 88-seat communal-style dining room, two dueling food trucks, an indoor and outdoor bar totaling 59 seats, a street-side patio with 60 communal-style seats, a roof deck and raw bar, and a grab-and-go café. Much of the décor and design of the venue comes from the original building and reclaimed materials from the demolition.

Coppersmith exterior rendering, South Boston
Coppersmith exterior rendering, South Boston
Coppersmith exterior rendering, South Boston
Coppersmith exterior rendering, South Boston
Coppersmith dining room rendering, South Boston
Coppersmith dining room rendering

Coppersmith plans to use their historic space and goodwill relationships as a home base for activities like fundraisers, educational “family dinners”, food literacy seminars, cooking classes, and food truck competitions, where a portion of proceeds would go to charities, and initiatives within the community like the organization No Kid Hungry.

Each area of the spacious restaurant can offer a different style of dining, all of which will be a mix globally influenced preparations and traditional dishes with “adventurous” updates, according to Executive Chef Chris Henry, formerly of 9 at Home and Drink with the Barbara Lynch Group.

Executive Chef of Coppersmith, Chris Henry, Boston
Executive Chef of Coppersmith, Chris Henry

“We want to start with a broad range of offerings and narrow it down based on community feedback,” said Henry. “We want to let the neighborhood dictate the direction that we take, while still making sure to be socially responsible with all of our vendors and ingredients.”

In a recent press release, Henry revealed a “sneak peak” at the menu, divulging fare options like lobster fritters with pimenton aioli, food truck offerings like thin patty burgers or tacos and street corn, large meals like a roasted pig or clam bake, or bar snacks like homemade beef jerky and spiced Macrona almonds.

“At the end of the day, we want everything to be accessible,” said Henry.

Clearly, there is something for everyone, and Coppersmith means that. From their nearly 20 partnerships with non-profits to the food they will provide, they are conscious of how they can be of service to their audience in every capacity.

One of the many ways that they intend to create community wealth is through employment and workforce development initiatives. Coppersmith’s most impressive initial partnership is with Triangle Inc. in Malden, an organization that works to empower people with disabilities, teach them life and vocational skills, and place them in paid, competitive jobs so they are active and productive members of their community.

“Coppersmith is a community partner that values their mission of providing good food, but also values being a true community employer,” said Jeff Gentry, Director of Youth Services and Community Relations at Triangle.

Coppersmith’s partnership with Triangle is two-fold. Triangle has been aggressively recruiting students and adults with disabilities for their Career Pathways Program and their Barista Training Program. The restaurant is guaranteeing eight position slots for Triangle recruits—three in food prep, three in barista, and two in custodial.

Triangle has received both state and federal training dollars at Bunker Hill for the recruits to do 100 hours of culinary training and be ServSafe Food Handler Certified. The recruits, six from Boston Public Schools and six adults from career centers, will also have to spend 35-40 hours at Triangle or their career centers doing job readiness training, according to Taciana Saab, Workforce Development Coordinator at Triangle.

“We are looking for commitment, attendance, positive attitude and a desire to learn and grow,” said Saab, gesturing with her hands as she sat in her cubicle at Triangle. “Not every student at job readiness training will make it to Bunker Hill.”

On the barista side, Joel Costanzo, Program Director of Youth Services Division at Triangle, will be using his talents as a barista from his time as General Manager of Atomic Café Coffee Roasters to train and develop student skill sets. The program, for which he is still recruiting BPS students and recent grads, includes 10 weeks of training, eight of which will be hands-on activities, learning the day-to-day operations of the café at Coppersmith.

“They will be on the floor with other coworkers, learning about teamwork and how to interact with people in a social environment, and I’ll be right there, guiding, helping and supporting,” said Costanzo.

Costanzo said that he hopes to begin training in mid-July and is looking forward to giving students the skills they need to start a career.

“If you can do vocational training and career development at a hip restaurant in Boston, in the real world, you sink or swim every day,” said Gentry as he walked around their large Malden offices. “So many people with disabilities have been protected from failure their whole lives, and it’s incredibly disabling. Young people should have ability to mess up a latté or see what happens when you skip a shift. It’s a realistic approach to developing individuals.”

General Manager Paul Bruno, formerly of Dillon’s with Glynn Hospitality Group, expressed excitement at the opportunity this partnership brings for networking, both to raise awareness about Triangle’s cause, and to get Coppersmith’s name out as a company that wants to get involved in the community and is willing to help anyone who needs it.

Talbot reiterated this notion of making the restaurant available to the non-profit world and going beyond just providing a space.

“We are a part of so many different goodwill collaborations and want to provide as many opportunities as we can,” he said.

Another impressive partnership that Coppersmith is involved with is the Fresh Truck, “a retrofitted school bus that operates as a mobile healthy food market to support food access and community across Boston neighborhoods.” To start, Coppersmith built the truck for them out of a school bus, using their connections with Building Restoration Services and their food storage expertise to design the space based on how people would move through it.

Fresh Truck, Boston
Fresh Truck

“This is not your typical food truck,” said Josh Trautwein, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Fresh Truck, who found inspiration for the truck when one of the main markets in Charlestown had to close for a year for renovations, leaving the low-income residents lacking for fresh produce and unable to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

To enter the bus, you simply walk in through the front door, and can stroll down the aisle, handpicking produce from the shelving units along the driver side that carry 30 to 40 different kinds of food. A counter top for additional space, games for kids, cooking demonstrations, etc. runs along the passenger side. Payment via cash, credit or food stamps happens at the back of the bus, where a set of stairs has been built into the back bumper for customers to exit. WIFI and electricity is built onto the bus, as well.

Fresh Truck interior, Boston
Fresh Truck interior
Fresh Truck interior, Boston
Fresh Truck interior

In addition to mentoring Fresh Truck on things like bus maintenance and food storage, Coppersmith is storing the bus and their food for them on-sight, saving the non-profit thousands of dollars each year and helping the business work towards becoming a more sustainable model. This is only a small example of the circle of reciprocity that is part of the daily agenda and operations at Coppersmith.

“They leverage the resources that they have to streamline costs of nonprofits,” said Trautwein. “Connectivity to a restaurant and food space is a huge asset to us. Funders and partners look at that and see it as invaluable.”

Trautwein said that going forward in the future, Coppersmith and Fresh Truck will work together to figure out how the two businesses fit into the broader food and health ecosystems. For example, Coppersmith and Fresh Truck are exploring food rescue possibilities to get healthy offerings to families living in shelters or people who don’t have access to prepared foods.

“Coppersmith sees us as a resource to be a ‘vehicle’ and partner in their development of new initiatives that they want to support,” said Trautwein.

As if Coppersmith didn’t already have enough community partnerships. They will also be working with non-profits like Slow Food, Let’s Talk About Food, Pine Street Inn, Men With Heart, Future Chefs, Lovin’ Spoonfuls, among 12 others, and they are always looking for more ways to redirect their resources back into the community.

Coppersmith impact partnerships
Example of some of Coppersmith’s social impact partnerships

“Non-profit worlds are amazing at helping others,” said Talbot. “We are simply applying our resources and unique skill sets in areas like marketing, logistics, and even volunteer manpower to help those making a difference.”


by Rebecca Bellan

John Radcliffe: From Clam Bakes to White Plates

Chef John Radcliffe of Central Wharf Co. turns New England Clam Chowder into a fine dining experience.

From Seared Tuna Wonton Nachos to Broiled Oysters, Radcliffe combines seasonal and local ingredients with New England flavors and refined techniques to create a truly unique plate.

“Hey! ¿Qué pasa, man? ¿Todo bien?” says John Radcliffe, head chef at Central Wharf Co., on any given day as he greets his coworkers in the kitchen. The wiry chef, 31, wears his shoulder length brown hair in a low ponytail and his white chef coat a little wrinkled. A friendly smirk lingers on his bearded face as he describes to the wait staff in detail the special he’s prepared for the day, Scallops Florentine, broiled with shallots, spinach, herbs and Asiago cheese and finished with cornbread crumbs.

Scallops Florentine, Chef John Radcliffe at Central Wharf Co., Boston
Scallops Florentine cooked by Chef John Radcliffe at Central Wharf Co.
Scallops Florentine, Chef John Radcliffe at Central Wharf Co., Boston
Scallops Florentine cooked by Chef John Radcliffe at Central Wharf Co.

A Massachusetts native who has bounced around the American culinary scene, working under chefs like Roxanne Klein in California and Chris Schlesinger in Westport, Radcliffe is on the rise in Boston and determined to make a statement about sustainable local flavors with refined and inspired twists.

While John has a strong culinary background that ranges from preparing a traditional clambake on the beach to creating a ponzu demi-glace for blackened tuna tartar, his New England roots remain a strong influence and base for his cooking. You can often find him before the restaurant’s rush in the prep kitchen, two hands grasping a giant wooden spoon, stirring a large, steaming pot of New England clam chowder, which he makes with homemade mussel stock among other wholesome ingredients. This fragrant, creamy stew was one of the first things John learned to cook. As a boy growing up in the south shore of Massachusetts, specifically New Bedford, Dartmouth and Westport, John would dig up quahogs and mussels with his father, “Ragtime” Jack Radcliffe, grind them in an old-fashioned meat grinder, and make chowder with them.

Chef John Radcliffe preparing New England Clam Chowder for Central Wharf Co. in Boston
Chef John Radcliffe preparing New England Clam Chowder for Central Wharf Co. in Boston

“I love the ocean,” said John. “I think that comes through in my food and from my roots.”

Radcliffe’s style of cooking is usually seafood based, like any good New Englander. However his varied culinary experience adds a fun, creative, upscale element to his plates.

“A lot of my creations are stemmed off New England flavors, but they’re not New England style at all,” he said.

For example, one popular dish on Central Wharf’s winter menu is called “Goldwater vs. Rockefeller.” Oysters Rockefeller are a traditional broiled oyster with rich, Ritz-cracker breadcrumbs, bacon and butter. John likes to “play with new flavors,” so he created Oysters Goldwater, broiled with horseradish, blue cheese, artichokes and cornbread crumbs, to see how the two stack up against each other.

“Barry Goldwater was the 1964 Republican candidate who put Rockefeller out of the seat,” said John as he maintained perfectly polite eye contact. “Goldwater beat Rockefeller, so I’m hoping that my Goldwater oysters will become more famous than Rockefeller’s.”

While Radcliffe has worked erratic, 50-hour weeks as the head chef of Central Wharf Co. for nearly two years, and as a head chef in general for nine, he has been working and learning in kitchens for 17 years. When the young chef was 14 years old, he got a job dishwashing at a typical New England mom-and-pop restaurant in Dartmouth where he “had been watching and learning without knowing it,” to the point that when one fry cook called out sick, John immediately jumped behind the weeded grill to help. The chef asked what he thought he was doing, to which he replied, “We need two fish and chips and three fried clams, right?” He never dish-washed a day after that.

Radcliffe knew early in life what career path he wanted to follow, so he felt no remorse leaving high school early after a failed attempt to stop the construction of the new Dartmouth High School on wetlands that buffered run off into the Padanaram Harbor. He got his GED and worked at The Back Eddy in Westport under chef Chris Schlesinger who instilled in him some of his most sacred barbeque methods, such as “developing different spice rubs, pickling anything that came out of the ground, and smoking anything that once breathed.”

By the time he was 16, John was running an 18-burner sauté station and a five foot wood-burning grill alongside a bunch of hardened chefs, with whom he’d spend his summer nights starting fires on the beach and summer mornings surfing before heading back in to work by noon. He still surfs today year-round, donning a head-to-toe wetsuit to ride the winter waves that he says can keep him going for 45 minutes to an hour and a half before he goes completely numb.

John’s creativity truly flourished when he left home at 17 for San Francisco and attended the California Culinary Academy, which Le Cordon Bleu bought out while he was in school. He now has two Associate’s Degrees in the culinary arts from both schools. Halfway through his education, John got a job at a fine dining, 13-course menu, raw-food restaurant with a $5 million kitchen called Roxanne’s, where he claims he learned more than he did at school.

“It takes a lot to make raw food fine dining,” he said with a raspy, surfer-dude laugh.

While John says that there’s something to be said about working in a high-volume sauté station, filling up a restaurant with smoke and getting slammed on a Friday night, he prefers working in fine dining because he likes the detail involved in the process.

“I love the passion that everyone shares in the kitchen for putting out awesome food and even the interior competition. Everyone wants to impress everyone else, but in a friendly way.”

That being said, in the future, Chef John wishes to open up his own food-focused, 50 to 100 seat spot, ideally outside the city in a farming location, like Westport, that has a summer influx of tourism but still maintains a farming tradition and an emphasis on local ingredients.

“What really makes a difference on the plate is getting what’s local and fresh, especially seasonal vegetables,” he said.

For instance, in the spring, John will feature ramps and rhubarbs on his menu, and he is now featuring the Massachusetts native macomber turnip. He chooses his produce distributors for Central Wharf’s menu with care, buying from local companies like Cambridge Packing.

Radcliffe believes that it is the chef’s responsibility to set a trend of sustainability.

“We’re the ones feeding people who can afford to go out to eat, and it’s up to us to help the environment out,” he said. “I don’t know why anyone would ever serve Chilean sea bass. It’s going extinct.”

John hopes to be able to only plate ingredients that are grown or produced within 10 miles of his location, but that doesn’t mean it will be a typical New England beach dive, serving up chowdah and slinging fried clams.

“I’ve got a lot of fuel to burn in terms of stuff I’ve picked up from California,” he said.

John also has the experience to build his future kitchen exactly how he wants it. In fact, Central Wharf Co.’s kitchen is his third kitchen design project after The Noon Hill Grill in Medfield and the Lakeville Country Club.

“The most important thing when designing a kitchen is knowing what type of food you’re going to put out so you can design the kitchen to have an even flow to push that food out, whatever your handicaps are.”

Even though Central Wharf’s kitchen is tiny, John designed it to be shaped like an L with each line of the letter flowing to the middle where the window is, which avoids traffic on the line.

His fellow cook, Omar Martinez, said he likes the flow of this kitchen in comparison to others he has worked in, and he said that he has learned a lot from John and John’s ideas.

“We learn from him and he learns from us,” said cook Marcos Orellana. “John does his job. He is a very calm person.”

His own restaurant will have to be put on hold for the time being while John takes care of personal matters. The charismatic chef is happily engaged to a woman of Italian background named Maria. The two got engaged on June 13, 2014 and have the wedding date set for May 23 on the beach in Westport. The reception will be held where John fell in love with cooking, The Back Eddy. Maria has a 7 year old daughter, Jocelyn, whom John says he already sees as his daughter. He likes to make pizzas with Jocelyn and cooks for Maria’s parents, Italian immigrants who have taught him the best way to make stuffed shells and a great recipe for cannoli filling.

To any aspiring chefs, John advises that you, “be a sponge, work hard, get your hands dirty, and don’t say no. Bounce around to different spots and try new styles. Don’t be afraid to leave your comfort zone.”

Central Wharf Co., Boston, MA
Central Wharf Co., Boston, MA
Central Wharf Co., Boston, MA
Central Wharf Co., Boston, MA

Central Wharf Co.

160 Milk St., Boston, MA



Embrace Your Inner Hipster at Deep Ellum

cheers at Deep Ellum, Boston Massachusetts

Deep Ellum– Charming upscale hipster dive in the heart of Allston.

An inspired seasonal menu meets a rotating tap selection and superb craft cocktails.


Deep Ellum restaurant, Boston, Massachussets
photo taken from Deep Ellum’s Facebook page

Happiness is eating at this restaurant. The wait staff doesn’t wear uniforms, and they don’t bother with pleasantries. Half of the kitchen staff has beards, which might explain the hair in the back of my throat. The small rectangular dining room is over-crowded with hipsters. All of these things in your peripherals disappear the moment that waiter in a red flannel and black Ray Bans plops a steaming Rueben sandwich in front of your face, crispy and buttery on the outside and full of salty meat on the inside, complete with fries, coleslaw and house-made pickles.

Reuben sandwich at Deep Ellum, Boston, Massachussets
Reuben sandwich at Deep Ellum

The beer list is superb and constantly rotating, the cocktails are even better and the menu is original and mouth-watering. Chow down on poutine, fennel and apple risotto, or homemade bratwurst while you watch black-and-white movies on the corner TVs. Sip on Evil Twin Hipster pale ale or Dank and Sticky IPA and stare at a dead animal’s mounted skull above the bar.

poutine at Deep Ellum, Boston, Massachusetts
poutine at Deep Ellum
cheers at Deep Ellum, Boston Massachusetts
cheers at Deep Ellum

The décor, music and food might just trick you into thinking you’re actually in the hip entertainment area of Texas after which the restaurant is named, rather than the beer-soaked college neighborhood where it resides . It’s even got its own version of Southern hospitality.




by Rebecca Bellan


Deep Ellum:

477 Cambridge St.

Allston, MA 02134



Café Polonia’s Chef Brings Poland to Boston

chef at cafe polonia, boston

Chef Hannah Bochynska dishes out traditional Polish food right in Dorchester.

From pierogis to potato pancakes, Café Polonia has the best Eastern European comfort foods.

Blink and you’ll miss Café Polonia. Small, unassuming and located in what is becoming less and less the “Polish triangle,” this old restaurant is warmly decorated with light wooden furniture and small lantern centerpieces.

table settings at cafe polonia, boston



Bottles of Polish beer line the faux hearth in the north center of the restaurant, and jars of pickles and sauerkraut crowd the walls along with framed pictures and art.








The manager, Michal Hryhorowicz, a man with honey colored eyes and a quiet, thickly accented voice, greeted us immediately and made us feel even cozier than the restaurant did. He brought to the table waters and fresh rye bread with a side of lard, bacon bits included.



“It smells like my grandma’s house in here,” said my friend of Polish descent who accompanied me to dine in Dorchester.

Everybody knows the rule: if it smells like Grandma made it, it’s authentic, and Café Polonia’s grandma is Hanna Bochynska, 51, from the Wielkapolska region in Poland.

Hanna is short, plump, and speaks only in Polish, visibly embarrassed by the extra attention, but seemingly accustomed to Michal translating for her. She has been working as Café Polonia’s chef since she arrived in Boston from Poland 44 and a half years ago. The recipes are the owners’, but Hanna has been making the same food since she was a child in Poland, working with her sister to help their mother feed the family.

“Our recipes are just like what women in Poland would make, everything from scratch,” said Michal.

The menu doesn’t change, and Hanna loves everything on it. “Polish food is delicious,” she said through Michal. Why try to change it? Her favorite thing to eat is a gypsy pancake, which is potato pancakes stuffed with Hungarian goulash.

She loves her work, she said with a smile, but hates dishwashing. When asked where she cooked before Café Polonia, she replied, “Home.”

Hanna works around 42 hours a week, which includes not only cooking, but also shopping for supplies at restaurant depot, cleaning, and making sure her kitchen is in the right shape. Her busy work life combined with her citizenship and English classes leave her no time for hobbies.

She calls herself a food technician. Food is important to her because it is both work and culture, and she likes knowing that the customer is satisfied. Hanna also prides herself on feeding her family the same things she serves her customers, only slightly healthier. A little less lard, a little more vegetables. Hanna has a 30-year-old son, who prefers to eat organically, and a 27-year-old daughter who has two daughters herself.

Do you like other types of food?

Oh, yes, she nods.

How about Chinese food?

Michal translates that she doesn’t even know what that is.

Where do you go when you go out to eat?

UNO or 99.

Almost 45 years in the United States, and she doesn’t know what Chinese food is. That’s impressive. The lady loves her Polish food.

Watching Hanna cook in her kitchen is like watching my mother cook in hers. She moves methodically, slicing the sausage, spooning potato pancake mix onto a hot skillet, boiling water. She wears a hair net to cover cropped chestnut brown hair, and a green polo, black jeans, worn brown loafers, and black-and-white striped socks. Michal repeats orders to her that he has written on a notepad quietly and in Polish. She nods, barely, and continues cooking, adding more sausage to the grill or more pierogis to the boiling water.






There is something so exciting about watching grandma cook for you. You see all the deliciousness that goes into what you’re about to eat, and the anticipation is almost unbearable. I watched her create what I had ordered with Michal off the English side of the menu: the Polish Plate and Smoked Salmon Potato Pancake. As she plated the food, I hurried back to my seat, giddy as a girl on Christmas morning. Awaiting me was a complimentary beer called Zywiec, an amber-honey colored lager.

Three boiled pierogis topped with carmelized onions, grilled kielbasa on a bed of sauerkraut with bits of meat in it, stuffed eggplant smothered in “bigos” or hunter’s stew all came delightfully packaged on the Polish Plate. The potato pancakes came on a separate plate, and a few minutes later, Hanna sent out some Hungarian goulash to eat with the potato pancakes. I’m getting hungry just writing about this meal. Everything tasted like home, and I’m not even Polish.

Potato Pancakes (Latkes) with smoked salmon
Polish Plate



611 Dorchester Ave

Boston, MA 02127




by Rebecca Bellan