Since we hadn't been to New York since Mother's Day weekend, we went down for a random September weekend to see Mom and Dad's new apartment. It's lovely--all beautiful shades of greens and oranges and yellows. We got to eat interesting Peruvian Chinese food at La Union (just a block from my grandfather's roofing store, where my mother lived as a little girl) and fantastic empanadas (both sweet and savory, regular or organic whole-grain) from this place, and we got to visit a little with Aunt Mary. We're going back to New York for Thanksgiving, to celebrate our first holiday in their new apartment, and then Mom and Dad are coming up for the first weekend in December, so we'll be trading visits again soon. Other than getting to see family and the apartment, the empanadas were really a highlight of the visit--I would absolutely go back there again. They also had excellent homemade ice pops made in little plastic cups; I had an arequipe (dulce de leche) one which was delicious, and I ate it standing in the park across the street. We love walking around ethnic areas in Queens and getting great food, and this weekend was no exception to that.
With Sarah and Suzi and a friend of theirs, we went to the MIT Glass Pumpkin Patch. We got there less than an hour after they opened, and it was madness; the pumpkins, which had been $30-$200 when we first went in 2001, are now $90-$450, but that didn't seem to stop insane suburban folks who drove in with their families from grabbing five, six, seven, or eight pumpkins and waiting on huge lines. Clearly price has increased to keep pace with demand. We don't think we'll be going back, though the pumpkins are, as always, exquisite. After our disappointing foray, we wandered over to Central Square to buy treats in the Korean grocery, and then we went to the Columbus Ave. Jazz Festival for Southern food and great ribs. That was followed by Trivial Pursuit and then a Rosh Hashona dinner at our place with friends, for a really nice day overall.
My small group hosted another Welcome Dinner for Park Street Cafe. We went with our tried and true Hawaiian theme; here's part of the buffet table (not showing the main courses), and here's part of the made-to-order smoothie table. Chris and Laurie pose happily; the chocolate volanco cake smokes, thanks to Ben A.'s dry ice, and Karen nearly chokes from all of her leis. David was the gracious host, so we got to meet some of his new roommates, and Karen and I got to have a hysterical afternoon driving to David's, wandering through Brazilian groceries, buying ice, and setting up. When Robert got there, he got a pre-dinner snack from a nearby Brazilian by-the-pound buffet, and then we went out into the parking lot next to David's house and swapped some Hawaiian butter mochi for some freshly barbequed, succulent skirt steak and juicy corn on the cob from the Brazilian men who had a barbeque set up in the lot. And, as icing on the volcano cake, I think the new people to Park Street may have actually felt welcome in the midst of everything else.
Cori had told me about Fruitlands, a great four-museums-in-one site in Harvard, Mass., not that far west, so Robert and I went out before they closed for the season. We got to see Bronson Alcott's nutty commune (where Louisa May spent part of her childhood freezing in the attic and eating raw foods and vegan things, courtesy of the Graham diet they all followed), a neat Indian museum, a portrait gallery with a selection of New England Primitive portraits, and a Shaker house moved from the nearby (now, obviously, defunct Shaker community). There are also nice trails in the meadows and woods, but it was quite a brisk fall day, and the chilly wind combined with the unsettling sound of muskets from a nearby shooting range (I wouldn't swear this was what it was, but, as we walked in the woods, this is certainly what it sounded like) made us hustle through the walk and eat our picnic lunch in the car rather than outside. Robert was sad that the woman in the information house didn't seem to like us (she whisked away the informational brochures on the counter after I shockingly took one), but he perked up when the guides in the individual museums shared lots of neat historical trivia with us. At one point, I was nodding so agreeably (you know, while hearing about closet taxes and wood-block printed wallpapers and original vs. reproduction bricks) that the tourguide broke off and asked me if I was an archaeologist. No, I responded--just an old-house fan. I made Robert climb up into the attic (he didn't hit his head) and even use the bootscraper outside; I think these old houses are growing on him, after this long.
We love picking apples, but lately I've felt that the circus-like atmosphere of Honeypot Hill and other places isn't exactly what I want in an apple-picking experience. As a result, we chose Phil's Apples--they have competitive prices, orchards right near the road (not a giant hike or a hayride away), and a great no-pesticide section of apples. Plus, they're friendly and family-run and will chat to you about energy-efficient cars if you like, and their prize-winning cider is freshly made (literally less than an hour old when we bought it, and there are always free samples), wonderfully tasty--apple-y pure, not spicy--and unpasteurized. Kids--and Robert, supposedly the tallest person ever to try the cider press--got to help make cider inside the little screen house. We will definitely go back to pick apples and peaches next year; if you go at the beginning of September, you can hit both! I really recommend this place--the twins who run it with their wives are really nice and will tell you as much as you want to know about their apples.
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Created: 10/22/06. Last Modified: 10/22/06.