keepin' it local

Deciding to stay in Boston at least another year after grad school, and in the neighborhood of Dorchester specifically, I've experienced a renewed interest in exploring more local services lately. And by local I mean avoiding Boston proper and north of Boston altogether. We live in a very residential area, which hasn't really been a big deal for most of the past three years since I spent some part of just about every day crossing town to go to my studio or across the river, through Cambridge and Somerville to get to a class at Tufts. But now that I'm not making those commutes on a regular basis (not to mention insane gas prices) I feel the need to seek out the occasional haircut, burrito, and cupcake a little closer to home.

Dorchester has its own pockets of commerce here and there, but for the most part, it seems like I'm finding what I need in Quincy (locally pronounced Quin-zee), just south of our neighborhood and technically outside of Boston, the very northern part of the "south shore." The websites for various businesses are decidedly more sophisticated in Boston and points north. But ultimately, the goods and services have to match whatever design savvy the business-owners might have. In the last few weeks, I found a new hair salon (one that I was pretty happy with on the first visit but the real test will come with the return trip later this summer), a few breakfast joints (none exceptional but good to have nearby), an alternative to summer cravings for Dairy Queen, and next week, Chipotle will open a new restaurant just a five minutes drive from our place (I know, I've clocked it already). They've opened a couple of restaurants near Tufts over the past year and we go whenever we're in those neighborhoods. To be honest, I'm not that crazy about the place (if only Cactus would open a franchise in Dorchester), but they do make a decent burrito, one that'll be even more tempting when it's just a few minutes away.

And for dessert, I can drive just a little further into Quincy and pick up a few "babycakes". Since Chrissa blogged about Somerville's Kickass Cupcakes, I've made two trips (again, when I was already near Tufts or Davis Square). On the first excursion I got the Lucky and three special edition cupcakes to share with Neal. I remember enjoying the more basic Lucky but feeling like the special edition varieties were too intense in their creative flavor combinations. But I enjoyed them enough to return, vowing to keep it simple and bringing back one chocolate chocolate, one vanilla vanilla, one brownie-like cupcake, and one special edition that involved carrots and ginger in some way. I was fairly disappointed in all four; the cake was dense but dry and the frosting kind of has the consistency of toothpaste. Babycakes, on the other hand, is a somewhat simpler experience. They still experiment with flavors, offering four or so daily varieties in addition to the staples, but they seem to have a more classic take on the cake and frosting. On this first visit, we tried the bakery's namesake (the "babycake" is kind of like a Hostess cupcake, but better), vanilla vanilla, lemon coconut, and chocolate raspberry. The chocolate cupcakes were good but really intense (dark chocolate cake paired with ganache); I would have liked to sample the chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream frosting but they appeared to be out by the time I arrived. The vanilla and lemon cupcakes, both with fluffy buttercream frosting, were delightful. I've still had better, but let's just say I'll be sticking with Babycakes for my local cupcake fix, and it's not just because they're closer.


Jolina said...

Mike did not believe me that there is a college named Tufts. I thought he knew ALL the colleges and universities! And now, you've been there! Not only was I right, which never happens in this field, but I know someone who's been there! I found my YALE sweatshirt that I made Tom drive all that way to get!

Jolina said...

I just visited the Babycakes website. Looks like fun, and they do look yummy. What is it with the term "made with only the finest ingredients?" Is it some kind of assurance to the ignorant masses that there will be nothing inferior in their product? Don't get me started during a time when I have more time to think . . .