College Visiting, Day 3
On to Amherst! I must confess, I fell in love with the campus. Not having an official tour almost made the experience better. I met up with my first ever piano teacher, who teaches there, and he spent at least an hour and a half showing us around. I swear, he was born to be a tour guide!
Anyways, backing up, I had a quick breakfast (we had stayed over at our family friend’s, and I had a fun time scrounging through the cabinets to see what I could find). I came up with Ezekiel cereal (Basically Grapenuts with almonds), 2% Fage, a banana, peanut butter, almonds, and dried cranberries.
As we drove further and further from the city, I began to fall in love with the countryside. Who knew?
For lunch, my piano teacher took us to one of the many cute restaurants in Amherst. The fanciest spot was probably Chez Albert. I snuck a peek at the menu, and WOW. Apparently Amherst is so green that it’s almost annoying, and they have a farmer’s market right on campus. We went to Fresh Side, a Pan-Asian place. It was one of those joints where everything on the menu is appealing… NOT for the indecisive (aka my mom).
Luckily, my piano teacher is a regular there, and he helped me decide what to get. Fresh Side’s specialty is their tea rolls, an original creation that I would call “Asian burritos.” According to them, a Tea Roll is “Our Original Invention, A Combination Of Japanese Maki Roll And Cantonese Dim Sum. All The Tea Rolls Are Made With Paper Thin Wheat Flour Wrap. EachOrder Is made with Fresh Ingredients, And Accompanied With House Made Sauces.”
My teacher and I ordered the same rolls: The Pad Thai Tea Roll W/Beancurd or Chicken. Warm Spicy Rice Noodle, Egg, Peanuts, And Fresh Cilantro. Choice Of Fish Sauce Or Peanut Sauce On The Side.
It came with peanut sauce (essentially diluted peanut butter), and was a tad carby for my taste (noodles wrapped in bread? what?), but I think the concept is really cute. The rolls were really fun to eat, and it was amazing to see all the different options.
I also ordered a miso salad with (you guessed it) more tofu. Interestingly, the tofu was the smoked kind, the kind known in Chinese as dou fu gan. The salad had romaine, cucumber, bamboo-shoots, shredded carrots, scallions, and a miso dressing. Very Pan-Asian, but in a good way.
After Amherst, we drove to Northampton. I loved it. What an amazing place. So liberal, vegetarian friendly, awesome thrift stores, laid back vibe. I would go to Smith just for the area that it’s in, except for the fact that I don’t want to go to a women’s college.
In order to make the 9:00 Wesleyan tour the next morning, we had to stay in Middletown overnight. We drove there, checked in to the local inn, and walked down nearly the entire central strip looking for a restaurant. For a place with a reputation of being dead and empty, there were tons of restaurants. Maybe not the most epicurian, what but what do you expect? Lots of Italian places (and bars, lots of bars… and it was St. Patrick’s Day), an Indian place, a sushi restaurant, a Thai restaurant, etc. etc.
We ended up going into what seemed like an Italian place, but was really American. The food was classic, and not cheap, but we had been walking a lot and it was late, and it was just what we needed.
I ordered the special, which was striped bass with caramelized butternut squash, fennel, and pine nuts. It had all my favorite foods, with the exception of some sort of leafy green. I ate all of easily, leaving only some of the pine nuts.
My parents continued to be carnivorous (beef for lunch and dinner? Oh my.)– my mom ordered steak. She was hesitant because according to the menu, that hunk of meat was 12 oz! No way could (or should) anyone finish that. Luckily, it didn’t end up being as big as she thought. It came with broccoli and asparagus, which I stole a lot of. She ordered it rare, of course.
Sometimes ethnic food isn’t always the best option. It can be done really badly if it’s cooked, well… badly. After this relatively rich meal (more so for my parents than me), we were ready to jump into bed. We slept, anticipating Wesleyan the next morning.