July 24th, 2010


New England Roadtrip, July 4, part 2: Western Massachusetts

We drove from New Jersey through New York and Connecticut to Massachusetts. We managed to dodge New York City this time, unlike the last time we went to Massachusetts. Yay us.

We had a very nice visit with our friends Jude and Jennifer and their three-year-old daughter, whom I will refer to as Punk in emulation of Jude's online habit. We had brought birthday presents of butterfly wings, a tutu, and a tiara, which were received with great enthusiasm.

But we did not foresee that this gift would have some horrible consequences. As Punk was running down the hallway in her wings, the wire loop that formed the border of one wing caught against the protruding handle of a cabinet in the hallway.
The result was like a cartoon: her body swung upward until it was level in the air, and then cruel gravity interceded and slammed her to the ground. Alarums and consternation ensued, followed by an attempt to persuade her not to run while wearing the wings. "No! I have to run with the wings!"
And then a few minutes later, the wings caught the cabinet handle again. She was going a bit more slowly this time, so it wasn't quite as bad. At this point, she was persuaded to the merits of a rule that when running with the wings, she had to take a route that did not lead near that cabinet.

Jude and Jen chose Osaka, a Japanese restaurant in Northhampton, for dinner. I had the Ishi Yaki Chicken, for which they bring a stone grill to the table and let you cook the thinly sliced chicken yourself. The flavor was basically just grilled chicken, but I'm glad that I ordered it; the fire and the cooking was fascinating to all of us, and absorbing Punk's attention probably made the meal much more pleasant.

Lori ordered the avocado chicken, "Grilled chicken rolled around avocado with Chef's special sauce." It looked good and tasted good, but it was very hard to eat; the avocado was much softer than the grilled chicken, so cutting or biting into the chicken caused the avocado to squirt out like toothpaste from a tube that's been stomped on.

Afterwards, we went across the street to the flagship store for Herrell's Ice Cream. Herrell's was the second chain founded by Steve Herrelll, inventor of the smoosh-in concept for ice cream. The ice cream is rich, creamy and delicious.

Herrell's store window. The sign reads: "Please do not feed the bears. They are on a strict diet... ice cream only!"

I ordered a cone of girlsenberry (a mix of grape, blueberry, and raspberry). It had great texture and a wonderful berry flavor:

Lori ordered vanilla ice cream with peanut butter swirl, hot fudge, and peanut butter cups smooshed in. She said that the Reese's Cups were unnesscessary with the rich peanut butter swirls in the ice cream and the deep, dark chocolate fudge. She loved Herrell's.

Punk enjoyed her ice cream so thoroughly that she ended up with chocolate stains on the backs of her knees.
(It was hard to take a good picture because she kept moving. This is the best single picture, I think, but the series beginning at http://www.flickr.com/photos/48435163@N04/4795908479/in/set-72157624514016972/ is in my opinion a very cute series.)

Herrell's had some great looking pies and cakes, too. But I would probably get ice cream twenty times or more before I sampled the pie.

We dropped Jen and Punk off at their home, and then went with Jude to watch fireworks on the UMass campus. Good fireworks, and lots of good conversation.

We accepted Jude's kind offer of their guestroom and slept very well.

(no subject)

It's hot. (90° Fahrenheit, which is about as hot as Pittsburgh gets.) And it's very humid - so humid that when I get out of an air-conditioned car, my glasses fog up.

My insistence upon hosting a dinner party in mid-July may have been ill-considered.

I'm not quite able to work up a good complain, though, because our dinner party has a New Orleans theme - and this is nothing if not authentic New Orleans weather, the sort that New Orleans cooks deal with routinely. So we'll deploy lots of fans, we'll take breaks in the room with air conditioning, and we'll get through this somehow.