We enjoyed the Florida State comeback victory, a win that, unbeknownst to us at the time, would be referred to ad nauseam during the run up to the national championship game as “the turning point to the season.” Also, Jameis Winston’s 50 yard bomb for a touchdown with no time left at the end of the first half was a favorite highlight of all the sports channels. Chestnut Hill, the location of Boston College, is charming and a unique setting for a college football game. The campus and stadium feel like they are in the middle of a neighborhood so the words “quaint” and “cute” were bandied about as we walked the grounds toward the football stadium. I imagine Boston College’s HOA fees are huge. By kickoff at 3:30, the sun was working overtime and we regretted the long sleeve shirts and jeans we’d chosen to wear. We were representing our team with pride but not without personal cost in sweat and discomfort. The crowd was not into the game, especially after FSU pulled ahead in the second half, with the exception of one gentleman who kept yelling obnoxious statements disparaging Florida State’s run defense and the culture of the university in general. His stamina was remarkable, either fueled by alcohol or driven by a deep seated hatred of my alma mater, and he continued his tirade well into the fourth quarter. Despite that annoyance, I enjoyed the day and took some time to think about the history of Alumni Stadium and some of the super stars that had played there. Doug Flutie, Matt Ryan and Luke Kuechly all ran up and down this same field so the venue, although half the size of Doak Campbell Stadium, has a rich, if inconsistent, past. Discovering and remembering that is a fun aspect of attending games on the road. And it is fun to win.
As pleasant as the game day experience was, we were ready to get back to Boston and continue the food journey once the game clock hit zeros. We knew the subway had a stop next to our hotel and someone pointed us in the general direction to walk to find the Chestnut Hill line, so we punched the request into Kyle’s phone and let the GPS guide us to our ride back to the Hotel Commonwealth. As we walked, our discussion gravitated to dinner plans. After all, it had been nearly five hours since we had eaten anything of substance. The football stadium food was not appealing and the heat and victory had burned off earlier meals; we were hungry and concerned for our health. After forty-five minutes of walking, we realized Kyle’s GPS was taking us to the nearest Subway sandwich shop and not the train to the hotel. Although Kyle blamed his phone, the rest of us were not so understanding, though the humor of the situation helped us ease past the frustration. Then again, if the operating system is trained to learn the owner’s preferences, logic would dictate we were looking for a place to eat. We hailed a cab and returned to our hotel.
After allowing a few minutes to freshen up our clothes and deodorant, we gathered in the lobby to begin plans to find a place to eat supper. Based on a recommendation from the staff at the Hotel Commonwealth, we began walking to an Italian restaurant they said was a few blocks away. It was soon obvious that the restaurant was not “a few blocks away” as promised, it was “many blocks away” but we arrived before anyone passed out and Trattoria Toscana was worth the hike. It was small, with less than ten tables, and we were fortunate to be seated with only a fifteen-minute wait. Despite the size and the fact that it was a Saturday night, the staff did not seem to be in a hurry and were pleasant and helpful. We settled in and ordered our first bottle of chianti.
We started with an antipasto plate to share, I ordered a bowl of the seasonal pumpkin soup and Kyle chose a liver pate with crostini which, at a diner, would be referred to as toast. The appetizers gave us a needed lift, helping us shirk off the weariness that had descended when we sat down and relaxed. Kyle tried to share his appetizer but I was the only one to take him up on it and the girls missed out on a delicious course. For main courses, Kyle ordered the tripe braised with vegetables and I ate liver filets. It was a cow organ donor evening for the men. Shannon had gnocchi and Hope decided to stick with a salad; Tuscan options were not exciting her taste buds. We passed our entrees around, partaking in our sharing ritual although the tripe seemed to be the favorite to pass without tasting. One has to acquire a taste for cow stomach, I suppose, but this night Kyle and I were the only takers. Alas, there were no lobster rolls on the menu but we were fine with that. Overall, the dinner was remarkable and to my shame and regret, not one photo was taken during this feast beyond a quick snapshot of the menu. As an emotional salve to my lack of documentation, I stress that ignoring our phones proves how much we relished the experience.
Kyle and I enjoyed a post dinner cigar on our leisurely walk back to the hotel and, since midnight was approaching, marking the official beginning of my birthday, we gathered in The Hawthorne, the bar connected to the Commonwealth, for a nightcap and celebratory toast. The ladies had wine, the men drank bourbon and my next year of life was ushered in with little fanfare, wedged within the masses gathered in the club. I disappointed everyone by being the first to decide to go to the room, but it had been a long, eventful day and bed was resonating better than the bar. I slept deeply, dreaming of lobster rolls and subways. Turning 54 was exhausting, but I bid 53 adieu on a full stomach. Happy birthday to me…