Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Surprise for Brother Jon's 60th Birthday

It is early on Wednesday morning and I am in Columbia, MO where I spent my early years. My brother Jon who is a year younger is turning 60 tomorrow. My sister Maria and Jon's wife Candy decided back in September that we should surprise him by all showing up here this week. So my sis and her partner David, and my other brother Alex and his wife Betsy took 2 days to drive to Columbia from North Carolina. I was up at 3:45 yesterday morning to catch my 6 AM flight from Boston to St. Louis. Last nite we walked into a solstice party that he was attending, and completely surprised him. He was actually shaking when I gave him a big hug.

But I am a bit ahead of myself. Monday morning I got up hoping to find some rarity had been reported in the Boston, or New England area, but none were. The weather was overcast, and winds were out of the NW rather than the NE, so I went to look for the pink-footed goose again because I had not seen it very well a couple of weeks ago. It took me about 45 minutes of scanning 2 large groups of canada geese to find it hunkered down on the ground. It then got up and fed a bit. It was too far away to photograph, but the views were quite good.

Next up for the day was to visit a middle eastern bakery and cafe named Sofra in Cambridge. My friend Lex had told me about it, so my friend Marcy and I had lunch there. The top photo is of a flatbread sandwich filled with sausage, hot peppers, green olives and spices. It was very tasty. Marcy had the mezze plate--5 different small servings of vegetarian goodies like smoked eggplant, lentils, and brussel sprouts all seasoned in different ways.

We then caught the 1 PM showing of the Fighter which is based on a true story about a local boxer from Lowell, MA. When we came out of the movie to head home it was beginning to snow. By 6:30 it had not accumulated that much, so we drove into downtown Boston to eat at Picco. Cobb, a friend of Lex's, had told me the week before that I really needed to try the pizza at Picco. We first had a piece of balsamic glazed pork belly with arugula that was the dish of the nite (middle photo--sorry for the dark, grainy phone photo). Marcy and I shared it, but it was so good that we had to order another one.

Next on our menu was the evening pasta special--pumpkin ravioli in a sage butter sauce (bottom photo). This was oh so good. The pasta was paper thin, the pumpkin was slightly sweet which went perfectly with the sage and butter.

Last we tried 3 different pizzas (no photos because they were too dark and grainy). I had the basic margarita which is always a good test of a pizza place. Marcy had what turned out to be a fine combo of sausage with broccoli rabe. Richard, her husband, had a vegie topped pie. We all thought the crust was quite good as was the fresh mozzarella, but the pizza maker could have done a better job forming the pizza. There was too large an edge. If the pie had been pulled out a bit further, then the edge would have been right, and the ingredients on top would have been spread thinner which is also a key to a great pie.

I have been checking the web to see if any rarities are around, but the last few days has been very slow. A little stint was found at Point Reyes in CA but was seen only that day. A western spindalis was seen for all of 30 seconds down in the Miami area. I saw this morning that a thick-billed murre was seen from the Monhegan ferry in Maine on the 17th, but not reported until mid day on the 20th!

I will be hanging out with my family today to celebrate Jon's birthday. Depending on the weather, I may do some birding around Columbia tomorrow before driving back into St. Louis in the evening in order to be ready to fly home early on Friday. Stay tuned!


  1. Although the birds were scarce, we packed in a lot of good eating/drinking, big screen drama and Boston sports watching! Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year to you and the family. xxoo MKG. Oh yeah, most of all congratulations to the new record holder!!

  2. hey chris....happy you enjoyed sofra.....the 5 different veg.toppings/ the mezza plate is a great idea for 3CUPS I think....happy birthday to john....see ya soon. lex

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