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Gabi Logan


Get Out While You Can: An Early Fall Getaway to Maine’s Hidden Gems

Full of good old-fashioned Yankee houses and fresh lobsters the size of a lap dog, there are few more appropriate places to close out the New England summer than Maine.

Most New England beach towns are aflutter with tourist traps over the summer, but there are still hidden gems and treasures off the beaten path for you to explore. Here’s a look at York Beach, a sun-bleached beach-side summer town, and Kennebunkport, a bustling (by Maine standards) historic city.

York Beach, ME

Across from the York Harbor Inn, what looks like a park or war memorial is actually the entrance to a oceanside boardwalk. The trail is a mix of Newport cliff walk and hiking trail, with views of turquoise pools and pristine rock beaches. Parts of the walk are steep, so bring appropriate footwear and make sure to pack your camera. The foliage is almost as stunning as the crystal clear water.

On the other end of York Beach, Sohier Park is home to a historic lighthouse. A ski-lift style gondola dangles invitingly, waiting to escort you to the lighthouse island, but you’ll have to sweet talk a coast guard to get a ride. No matter; the sweeping views down the coast are worth the visit.

Kennebunkport, ME

Skip the crowded, over-priced tourist joints in town and head to Captain Hook’s, over the bridge and just out of downtown. Grab a seat at the picnic-style outdoor tables and place your order. Most fish and fried things are ordered inside, but for lobster, you go out back and pick out your lunch in person.

If you are into architecture, history, or just pretty things, the Carriage Rides are a real treat. They depart from the edge of the town’s residential area at 25 Ocean Street. Watch where you park your car though – a sign on a nearby house warns visitors: “Don’t park here. We’ll crunch your car while you shop and dine.”

Wanna Stay Overnight?

In Kennebunkport, you can get 40% of the Nonantum Resort ($144-214, 1-800-552-5651) or 30% off at the Kennebunkport Inn ($199, 1-800-248-2621). Just ask for the “Inn Crowd” rate.

Gabi Logan is a jetsetting food and travel writer.  In addition to being a fabulous contributor to The SavvyBostonian, Gabi inspires people with her menus, recipes and cooking tips for delicious home-cooked gourmet food in a flash at The 30 Minute Dinner Party.  For more of Gabi’s guest posts on The SavvyBostonian, please click here.


Sweatin’ in the City: How I’m Trying to Beat the Heat

Christian Science Center Plaza Fountain by Jessica Gioglio

Hot.  Sticky.  Humid.  Oppressive.  Unbearable.  Just a few words that I have been abusing this week.  In between sucking down water and fighting my urge to jump into the Charles River, here’s how I’ve been beating the heat this week:

Sip: Coconut Water. Sweating depletes both sodium and potassium, making this lightly sweet beverage a nice way to refuel.  Offering more potassium than two bananas, sodium and sugar for energy, I’ve been sipping on one per day to replenish.  Though there are many brands available, I’m partial to Vita Coco.

Stay: Air-Conditioned Office Building: I’ve never loved my office so much.  Usually I complain about the overly cold air conditioning, but this week, the temperature feels just right.  I’ve actually found myself staying a bit later than usual to postpone going back to my heat box of an apartment.  Don’t work in an office building?  If I didn’t, I’d be spending my time in public buildings, like the Boston Public Library, Prudential Center, movie theatre and local museums.

Splash: Christian Science Center Plaza Fountain: While there are several great fountains around the city, this one has attracts both locals and tourists equally.  Though a shorted power cable temporarily disabled the fountain yesterday, it’s now back up and running.  It’s not only little kids that can shriek in delight while running through the spiral streams of water!  Who’s dashing through with me!?

Savor: Summer Soups. My friend Gabi has a fantastic food blog with oodles of soups, slaws, salads and salsa recipes perfect for cooling off after a hot day.  I can personally attest to going gaga for her Summer Gazpacho and slurping the wine-infused Chilled Watermelon Soup with delight.

Splurge: Double Shot Affogato. When this recipe popped into my inbox this week, I was instantly taken back to Italy, where I first tried this yummy espresso and coffee ice cream dessert drink.  Why didn’t I think to try and re-create this at home sooner?   Click here for the recipe.

With scorching temperatures scheduled to run through the weekend, how have you been keeping cool this week?


Boston Cafe Etiquette – Sharing a Table with a Stranger

Breakfast Cafe by su-lin from Flickr

Only in the most dire of circumstances should you ask if you can share a table with a stranger. In other countries, it is completely common for others to take up empty seats at your table (even in a restaurant- it happened to me every day in India), often without even asking. But throughout the U.S., the sense of personal space is very strong and extends in a rather wide bubbble. In Boston, that bubble most certainly consumes any empty seats at their table, and probably any standing room near it too!

If someone is at a table by themselves and there are no other seats available, I would usually say that you are out of luck. If you do decide to be brave and interrupt a single cafe goer immersed in their work/reading/facebooking, don’t commit any of these etiquette faux pas:

•    Obtain the free seat by trickery. The other day a girl asked me if I was using the free seat at my table (which was, at the time, occupied by my coat) or if I was waiting for someone. I dutifully removed my items from the seat and then she sat down. With me. At my table. Without being clear about her purpose. There isn’t even an option to say no in that situation, but you can be pretty sure the other party won’t be very happy about it.

•    Be rude to the person who allowed you to sit at their table. If you have asked someone if you can sit at their table, you are giving them the right to ask you to leave or generally not to do other things that bother them. Don’t talk loudly on your cellphone, work in irritating (there’s that personal space bubble again) proximity to them, or talk back to them if they ask you to stop taking up so much space. The manager will almost positively side with whoever had the table first, particularly if that person is a frequent customer (believe me, I spoke to him when I had my squatter incident the other day).

•    Take up excessive (or really any) space at the table. If someone has agreed to let you use their extra chair, don’t abuse their politeness by getting in their way or practically pushing their things off the table with your laptop, coffee, scone, and four textbooks.

•    Chat up the person. If the person you have sat with is by him or herself, they are probably doing something, and you should not abuse their hospitality by badgering them with pointless small talk or get to know you questions. If they decide to talk to you…well, that is the price you pay for sitting at their table.

Most importantly, thank the person when you leave. I offered a seat at my table to someone else who had been waiting along time when I was lucky enough to snag a table and he was polite throughout and very thankful when he left. It *almost* made me thinking sharing a table with a stranger isn’t so bad after all.

Gabi Logan is a Boston-based food and travel writer. On the web, you can find her recommendations for affordable yet delicious food in Boston at the Examiner and The 30 Minute Dinner Party.


L.A. Burdick, L’Aroma Most Coveted Cafe Tables in Cambridge and Boston

Following a piece on the do’s and don’ts of snagging a table at a busy cafe, Boston-based food and travel writer Gabi Logan shares her picks for the most coveted cafe tables in the city. These locals are so popular both for their coffee and ambiance that tables open up rarely and disappear quickly. If you can land a table here, you can land a table anywhere.

L.A. Burdick by Melissa Schneider, Flickr

L.A. Burdick (Harvard Square – Red Line)

The place is small, and the tables are smaller. Due to some persnickety next door neighbors, Burdicks’ tables have stools attached to the floor and no extra chairs are allowed, so unless you can squeeze several people into the booth side, you are in for an intimate one-on-one. However, the hot chocolate and pastries are some of the best in the city, so there really are few better cafes to get cozy with someone.

L’Aroma (Arlington – Green Line)

With its popular terrace closed for the winter, L’Aroma is another European-style cafe that maintains a very continental approach to personal space. Here you won’t even find stools at the terracotta inlaid cafe tables, but the curved window box area at the front is where you really want to plant yourself anyway. Order up a London Fog (steamed milk with vanilla and Earl Grey tea) or Affogato (espresso with gelato) and stay on the look out for a choice spot.

Luna Café (Central Square – Red Line)

But if you don’t want to battle to crowd, head to Luna Café in Central Square. They have wifi, solid food (especially the panini) and excellent coffee – be sure to take advantage of the special seasonal espresso beverages. Unless there is a band planning (late evening or sometimes on weekend brunch), you are practically guaranteed a table at one of the best secret spots in town.

Gabi Logan is a Boston-based food and travel writer. On the web, you can find her recommendations for affordable yet delicious food in Boston at the Examiner and The 30 Minute Dinner Party.


Boston Cafe Etiquette – Grabbing that Free Table

In France, snubbing someone else out of the next free table is an art form. Here, it is likely to get your very icy glares and a hot drink that just happens to spill on you as your defeated competitor walks by.

Tables and Chairs by etcher67 from Flickr

To succeed in the most dire of crowded cafe situations, try these techniques:

•    Always keep your eyes peeled. This is more important than ordering; you can always go back and get in line for your latte, but if you miss that table that opens up, you might not get another chance.

•    Stake your claim early and clearly. Once you see an individual or group begin reaching for their coats or bags, stand near enough to their table to deflect other competitors but far enough away not to annoy those at the table into staying longer.

•    Don’t be afraid to defend your territory. If someone starts to move in on your prospective table while you are waiting for the current occupant to vacate, inform that foul-player nicely, but firmly, that you were waiting for the table. I have never seen anyone argue back or cause a scene upon being told this – the person will probably be embarrassed they were caught trying to snake you.

However, under no circumstances should you commit the following gross errors in judgement:

Tables and Chairs by etcher67 from Flickr

•    Put your belongings on a table before the current occupant has finished gathering theirs. Completely rude, presumptuous, and likely to make the person tell you the table isn’t available. There is never any reason to do to this. If they are leaving, they will leave. Let them finish enjoying that small bubble of personal, semi-private space that is their table until it has been fully vacated. If you have staked your claim clearly, no one else will be able to swoop in.

•    Ask too aggressively if someone is leaving. If there are no used dishes on the table, it is much more likely that their order hasn’t come up yet, and the individuals at the table (and any nearby who hear your inane request and snicker to themselves) will be less likely to give you their table when they are finished. On the other end of the cafe experience, if someone is standing and putting their coat on, they are clearly leaving. If you ask them as much, they will think your your Captain Obvious moment is stupid and be annoyed that you are rudely rushing them.

•    Cut off someone else who was clearly waiting for the table before you. This can result in a calling in the management situation, which can end particularly badly if the person is a regular or others saw them waiting. In other places, it may be completely acceptable, but here in Boston, don’t be surprised if someone tells you that they were waiting for the table first and expects you to vacate, lest a glove-slapping throw down ensue.

Gabi Logan is a Boston-based food and travel writer. On the web, you can find her recommendations for affordable yet delicious food in Boston at the Examiner and The 30 Minute Dinner Party.