That’s right. Approximately one and a half weeks ago, there was one day of a full 8-10 hours when New England basked in a balmy high of 70 degrees IN FEBRUARY!
We happened to be in Boston that week and had the fortunate experience to see the harbor front piers of the city absolutely come to life with the exuberance that only springtime weather can elicit after months of one snowfall after another.
It was also Massachusetts winter break week. Along the harbor front stretch of Boston there is the Aquarium as well as The Children’s Museum. Truth be told…I saw children running all over the area in shorts and even some in flip flop sandals. I walked so much up and down the wonderful harbor walk that is built all along the wharf side that I had a touch of sunburn on my nose at the end of the day!
So it was somewhat of a coincidence that I chose for our stay…The Seaport Hotel. This charming hotel sits right across from the World Trade Center with lovely blue views of the ocean front. Springtime decor in sweet hues like bright greens, fresh yellows, lovely pinks, and sea blues gave the impression that the hotel knew today was the day for those rare tickles of temps into the ’70s… so out came the most wonderfully inviting spring inspired ensemble.
I heard back home in our little village, the locals were flinging open their windows and ushering in a full day of soft warm winds to fill their houses with the promise of seasonal change. For a few minutes I wished I could split myself to be at the farmhouse with our windows also thrown open…to hear the rushing sound of our river with all that melting snow coming from the mountains creating rhythmic tumbling sounds. But, I was determined to explore the coastal harbor area of Boston, check out the waterfront piers, visit The Institute of Contemporary Art, and indulge in some fresh catches of seafood.
I love to walk through cities as much as possible to get my bearings and to explore things on foot. Like I mentioned, Boston has a wonderful wooden planked Harbor Walk that has been built to hug the shoreline of the city for miles and miles. I took off from the hotel and once I stepped onto the Harbor Walk, I really didn’t have to worry too much about constantly checking my map to orient myself. The wooden pathway is attractive, winds its way all along the waterfront, passes alongside all of the beautiful hotels overlooking the ocean with their tables and umbrellas spilling outdoors, and through little pocket parks which provide lovely spots to stop and relax.
I knew that there would be this one blessed day of 70 degree springlike weather before temperatures plunged back down into the 30’s so I passed up The Institute for Contemporary Art and saved it for one of the remaining days of the week. True to form, the very next day, the winds were howling, the temperatures dropped, snowflakes were swirling…so I spent most of my day at The Institute wandering the halls of contemporary installations.
The air is so salty and filled with seafood smells all along the water front. I chuckled when I realized that there are many ports where fresh seafood and fish arrive daily and are unloaded at the nearby Boston Fish Pier. Little delivery trucks are all lined up with the names of the restaurants painted on them as they move in and out during the day bringing the day’s catch to nearby Boston seafood restaurants.
Children and families were having so much fun being outdoors and unencumbered by heavy coats, mitts, and hats. It was delightful to watch them laugh and play. Easily, families can walk from one The Aquarium to The Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum to The Children’s Museum.
Many food trucks lined the common areas between the museums and office buildings giving such a fun lively air to the spaces offering all varieties of fresh and ethnic food options.
I was walking along enjoying all of the waterfront hotels when this one in particular caught my attention…The Boston Harbor Hotel. It is a beauty. It’s interior feels timeless as if the hotel’s elegance has been charming guests for hundreds of years.
Boston, you continue to delight and surprise us with every visit. Next time, we’re hoping to walk along the Harbor Walk a bit more and make our way into The North End to explore the shops and restaurants of the Italian district of the city. We’ve been there on fleeting visits and could tell there is much more to discover. Until next time!
Mentions of places visited in this post:
The Daily Catch – Sicilian Style Seafood & Pasta
- Savory Quiche Crust:
- 1¼ cups (5¼ ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 4 Tablespoons (2 ounces) cold unsalted butter
- 4 Tablespoons (2 ounces) cream cheese
- 3 tablespoons (1½ ounces) ice water, with more as needed
- generous sprinkle of dried thyme
- Quiche Filling:
- 2 large Spanish onions, thinly sliced
- oil as needed
- 6- 8 ounces smoked salmon cut into pieces
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup cream
- 6 eggs
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- nutmeg to taste (about 5 gratings)
- ½ cup or 1 cup grated Swiss and/or Gruyère cheese (I add some goat cheese to my quiche because I like the flavors alongside salmon)
- Savory Pie Crust:
- Start by mixing the flour and the pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Cut the butter and cream cheese into ½″ cubes. Toss the butter and cream cheese in the flour a few times until each piece is well coated (separate any big clumps with your hands). Cut the butter into the flour by pressing the pieces between your fingertips. The goal is to flatten the cubes into big shards, then toss them again with the flour to coat. Or, alternatively use a food processor and pulse the mixture.
- Make a well in the center of the flour-butter mixture, and add the ice water. Mix to incorporate, then add more water 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together. You can knead it a few times to make sure it’s fully combined. Over-mixing your dough can make it tough down the line, and can also warm it up, making it more difficult to work with. The dough should hold together and not look dry or crumbly – it also shouldn’t be overly wet or feel sticky. Form the dough into a disk about 1″ thick and wrap tightly in plastic wrap to chill for at least 30 minutes.
- To blind bake a crust, you need to fill the shell with something heavy to prevent the crust from buckling up. Pie weights are made specifically for this, but a layer of aluminum foil and a pound of dried beans reserved for just this purpose does the job well. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Weight the bottom of your shell with pie weights or beans and bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove the weights or beans and continue baking until the crust is golden brown and cooked through, another 15 minutes or so.
- Quiche Filling:
- Saute the onions over medium heat in a few tablespoons of oil. You might cover them for the first 15 minutes to get them steaming and releasing their moisture, then uncover, reduce the heat to medium low and continue cooking them until they are cooked down but not overly brown, about 45 minutes to an hour. Set them aside when they're finished.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the dough to a thickness of about ¼ inch. Place a 2-x-9-inch ring mold or a 9-inch cake pan on a baking sheet (line baking sheet with parchment if you're using a ring mold; if you're using a cake pan, line its bottom with parchment). Lightly oil the inside of your ring mold. Lay the dough into the mold — there should be plenty of dough overhanging the edges to help it maintain its shape.
- Reserve a small piece of dough to fill any cracks that might open in the dough as it bakes. Line the dough with parchment or foil and fill it with dried beans or pie weights so that the crust bakes flat. After a half hour, remove the weights and parchment or foil. Gently patch any cracks that may have formed with the reserved dough, and continue baking until the bottom of the crust is golden and cooked, about 15 more minutes. Remove it from the oven and patch any cracks that may have opened; this is especially important if you're using a ring mold, or the batter will leak out. The shell should be anywhere between cold and warm when you add the batter, not piping hot from the oven.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees.
- In a six- or eight-cup liquid measure, combine the milk, cream, eggs, salt, pepper and nutmeg and, using a hand blender, blend until frothy. This can be done in a standing blender as well (though depending on the size of your blender, you may need to divide the quantities in half). Or you could even mix the batter in a large bowl using a whisk (beat the eggs first, then add the rest of the ingredients. The idea will be to add the ingredients in two layers, using the froth to help keep the ingredients suspended.
- Layer half of the onion-salmon mixture into the shell. Pour half the frothy custard over the mixture. Sprinkle with half the cheese. Layer with the remaining onion-salmon mixture. Refroth the batter and pour the rest into the shell. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. You may want to put the tray with the quiche shell into the oven and pour the remaining batter into it there so that you can get every bit of batter into the shell. You can even let it overflow to make sure it's up to the very top.
- Bake in the 325 degree oven for about an hour and a half, or until the center is just set (it may take as long as two hours, but don't overcook it here should still be some jiggle in the center).
- Allow the quiche to cool, then refrigerate it until it's completely chilled, eight hours or up to three days.