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New Deal Fish Market, Cambridge, MA.

Summer in Phoenix, especially the heat, is infinite-not as in great but as in never-ending. It’s now mid-September, and the heat continues to blast while temperatures continue, during the day, to climb to triple digit fahrenheit.

Love the desert life style? Honestly sometimes I do, but sometimes I don’t and can’t embrace the shock of inferno air as I step outside. My sanity requires a break from relentless sun in the stretch between June and October.

I don’t long for the beach, more sun, more sand. I want to be in a place where I can look up to a leafy green canopy of oaks, maples, and elms, see clouds chasing against the blue or better yet grey of the sky, relish some raindrops, and bite into the edible bounty of summer-the best a season and a region have to offer.

My first break from the onset of this year’s Arizona summer was Eating Oregon and being a bi-coastal mom, one son in the West the other the East, its only natural that my other planned escape from the desert was New England.

Once checked in, I didn’t have to search far for my first taste of a New England summer. I found these bushes with berries ripe for the plucking two blocks from the B and B where I stayed. Forage the sidewalk!

Kick*ass Cupcakes Somerville, MA

Ideal Travel=walking a neighborhood in any city and leisurely popping in and out of shops that shout out “local”. What draws me in? Shoes, jewelry, books, creative signage, artistic or whimsical window display, plain old curiosity, the random novel thing, and always food. Seen plenty of house made doggie treats in my time but never cupcakes baked and decorated with eye appeal for dogs and cats, I mean, their owners.

The Boston Shaker, Somerville, MA.

The window display and the name, The Boston Shaker, drew me in, the artisanal mixology tools and reference material captured an hour of my time to gaze and browse. I had entered a kind of shop I had never encountered before, a room fully devoted to cocktails. The beakers, bottles and books were flushed full of promise, and I know if I lived here this would become a favorite haunt.

Tazo Chocolates

Taza Chocolates

Taza Chocolates sit on display everywhere I look-boutiques, book shops, coffee houses, and specialty food stores. The stone ground, “Mexican style” chocolate maker is a local producer, committed to direct trade for its cacao supply, and ethical and sustainable business practices. Take that Willy Wonka! I discovered too late the tour of the factory in Somerville. Next visit, sigh.

Amsterdam Falafel Shop, Davis Square

I was looking for the quintessentially Italian lunch spot until I spotted the entrance to Amsterdam Falafel Shop. A peek inside brought a change of taste desire: the photo mural of its city namesake, the spread of cold pickled salads, and a choice of six dipping sauces for the fries- dutch mayo, curry ketchup, garlic cream, tahini, peanut sauce, absolutely unadorned ketchup. How was it? The cold salad dishes hit the taste notes I desired, there was flavor, there was crunch, there was diversity. The cone of fries were hard to resist, the plus factor for the fries- curry ketchup dip.

Grape yard Cambridge, MA.

What I loved most about Boston and its satellite cities when I lived there as a student, were the neighborhoods. Yes, gentrification continues and a more eclectic mix of ethnic backgrounds exists -but the mixing of types and the vibrancy they bring, those students, successful career makers, newer and older immigrant populations and the multi-generation family remain. Some one still tends to the grape vines and the summer gardens along walkways, over the red brick drive, covering the asphalt patio, and between the fence lines. Thank you!