What I Did for My 21st Birthday

I just finished up my two weeks off before starting my summer job today. I thought about writing a post about what I got up to once I arrived home with Ben, but honestly there would be way too many photos and anecdotes. So I thought that a shorter post on what I ended up doing for my 21st birthday would be a happy medium.

For some people, 21st birthdays are a chance to go wild and crazy on a night out. In my case, I was just happy (and relieved) to be able to finally order an alcoholic drink at a restaurant with my family. Partying hard at a club wasn't on the cards, but a whole lot of good wine (and beer, and cocktails...) was.

After a big breakfast on my birthday morning, I knew that I couldn't just sit around an let me 21-ness go to waste. My first adult-outing was to the Harpoon Brewery where Ben and I took a tour of the facilities and had a tasting. Despite my usual status as a non-beer drinker, I thought that the experience would be worth it. Plus, it's something that's so very "Boston" that I had wanted to do for a while. 

For just $5 a pop the young and energetic team at Harpoon guide you around the brewery, walking you through the steps of how their drinks go from hops to bottle on a daily basis. We learned that Harpoon came about from three best friends who were traveling Europe and wanted to bring great beer to the East coast. We also learned how to tell whether a bottle of Harpoon had been brewed in Massachusetts or Vermont (I won't give away the details- you'll have to go on the tour for that ;) ) 

After about 20 minutes of talking, they take you into a tasting room- the moment everyone had been waiting for. Unlike other tours I had been on, they don't actually limit your intake of beer samples. They give you a small glass that they fill up about halfway, and you can essentially try as much as you'd like in the given time period. And trust me- you'll want to try them all. With a large selection (and by that I mean, about 10) of their recurring and seasonal beers on tap, Harpoon really gives you a thorough overview of their stock. 

Once you've downed your last mini glass of beer, it's back into the production area to listen to a bit more about the company and have your last few questions answered. While our group didn't have any burning questions, there was one guy who took this time as a chance to express his love for Harpoon (spurred on by the samples, of course). 

We couldn't leave without having a full pint in their famous beer hall, so I ordered a glass of the UFO White Ale (a favorite of mine from the sampling session). Ben had the Hoppy Adventure, and we shared a malted barley soft pretzel with the IPA cheese sauce and ale mustard (sensing a theme here?). While I'm not the biggest beer connoisseur- in fact, I never order it- the Harpoon brewery tour gave me a new appreciation for the good stuff. 

Going out for a family dinner is one of my favorite birthday traditions. We're a very close family, but these celebrations give us a chance to come together all at once and enjoy ourselves. Oleana was our restaurant of choice, not just for it's resemblance to our own family name, but because it's owned by the same woman who's responsible for me and my mom's favorite lunch spot, Sofra. The food is fantastic. Think updated Mediterranean classics in a chic, yet comfortable setting. 

We were lucky enough to snag a table in the back garden which, even on a Monday night, was buzzing with guests. Because we had pre-booked the family style sharing menu, the only thing we needed to order was some bubbly to start. The rest was taken care of for us. 

The dishes came out in staggered waves, and we were treated to two rounds of appetizers (in my opinion, the best part) before moving onto both a fish and meat based main, followed by two signature desserts. Due to my excitement, and my family's unwillingness to wait long enough for me to snap a photo, I came away with barely any photos of the food. It's a shame, because not only was it delicious, but it was also perfectly presented. Some of the highlights were the crispy falafel bites with beet tzatziki and spicy Middle Eastern pickles (not your average take-away sandwich), the sticky Sultan's delight braised beef, the flaky hake with roasted peppers, and the piece de resistance, the baked Alaska. Okay, that was a more than a few highlights- but forgive me, because it was just delightful. 

My final "official" birthday celebration was actually the gift that two of my brothers gave to me. And it was pretty unique to say the least. My brothers (and my only family in general) were all patiently waiting for me (the youngest!) to finally turn 21. So they treated me (and Ben) to my first "night out" as a legal American and brought us to a bar called Drink in Boston. 

This cocktail bar's clever name is a testament to how minimalist it really is. The bar features no rows of various spirits, no ingredients out on the counter, and no seating apart from the enormous wraparound bar. And what makes it even more minimalist? There's no menu. Just tell your server what flavors you like, or what you want your drink to be inspired by, and the rest is up to them. Talk about the ultimate trust in your bartender (excuse me- mixologist). Picky drinkers need not apply. 

My first drink was my favorite. I asked for something sour, and boy did they deliver. I always find that "sour" cocktails never quite make the cut for me, but this one did the trick. My guesses for the flavor were grapefruit, pomegranate, and blood orange. My second drink was something dessert-like, and my third was inspired by Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. 

The best cocktail requests of the night? Ben's "American Dream" cocktail that even Jay Gatsby would raise a toast with, Kian's "Clifford the Big Red Dog" cherry drink, and Camy's "I work on a farm can you give me something that's just like a sheep?" concoction. Coming up with ridiculous cocktail requests is half the fun (the other half is drinking them). I'm so grateful to my brothers for taking us out- it was more than generous, and I'll never forget it.         

A week into being 21 later,  and I still get giddy at the fact that I'm able to order a glass of wine with my mom at dinner. I certainly waited long enough, and my legality in Scotland made the wait even harder. Even so, I'm sure the splendor of it all will wear off in a few weeks! Might as well enjoy it while it lasts. 


Third Year Highlights

I always love doing a little round-up post once my academic year comes to a close. Okay, well the academic year for me ended quite a while ago, but I stayed in Edinburgh for quite a while after that, keeping myself busy with loads of other work.

Anyway, I think reflecting on each year of university is important. When you're a student, you really measure your life in academic years rather than proper years. But so much can go on in those nine-ish months that you spend away from home. You grow, you change, and you start to think about the future more and more. 

Now that I'm going into my fourth year (I know I say this a lot, but YIKES!), that's really the big question: what's in store for the future? And for me, the other logical question that follows is: where are you going after you finish university? Okay, slow down. I'm getting there. And next year will be all about sorting that out, I promise. 

But for now, let's look back. I want to talk about the big things that have changed, or been exciting, or been scary over this past year. 


Clerk's, Edinburgh: Your New Favorite Neighborhood Bar

Everyone needs a go-to neighborhood bar.

It's the kind of place where you meet up with friends on a moments notice. When your friend texts you "Pub?" you'll know exactly where you're going. 

It's the kind of place where you're just as happy ordering a pint as you are a no-nonsense cocktail; where you can order some chips to share, or something bigger if you didn't have time to make dinner. 

The neighborhood bar is really a jack of all trades. It hosts pub quizzes, karaoke nights, and shows every sports game imaginable (even the really niche ones). It's the kind of place that has something for everyone.    

I happened upon a new favorite neighborhood bar of my own a few months ago. After a friend of a friend invited suggested that a group of us meet at Clerk's Bar for a catch up, and I had just one bite of their pulled pork sandwich, I was sold. So you can trust me when I say that Clerk's bar is just the ticket. 


Fairytale France

Two weeks ago, I posted about our trip to Béziers in the South of France. While we were based in Béziers, staying at an airbnb in the city, we took a day trip to another (even smaller) French town called Pézenas which I thought was worthy of its own blog post. Since I'm currently writing to you from rainy (and fairly empty) Edinburgh, this post serves as a bit of wanderlust for myself, as I dream of soaking up the sun and being on holiday again.

Pézenas is practically a stones throw away from Béziers, taking only about thirty minutes on a coach bus to arrive at our destination. At only 1.60 each way, it's well worth the price for a change of scenery.

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