St. John the Baptist Church Annual Greek Food Festival

The annual three-day Greek Food Festival held at St. John the Baptist Orthodox Church on Union Park St. in the South End took place this weekend.  Typical Greek fare was on offer including my two favorites, spanakopita and tiropita, homemade by the ladies of the church.  In addition, a wide variety of desserts including rice pudding, baklava and cookies could be purchased to take home.  Folk music played as diners ate under a white tent in the courtyard and sipped Greek beers, wine and ouzo from the bar set up in the courtyard.  One of the ladies selling desserts told us that the church struggles financially since most of the community now lives out in suburbs like Arlington or Belmont.  Parking rules used to be waived on the side streets for congregants on Sundays so that they could attend services.  That waiver has apparently been revoked so it is more difficult to get families to drive in.  Low participation from young people – no doubt a problem for all churches – is also a worry.  This is one of the biggest fundraisers of the year for the 90-year-old community.  Let’s hope it remains popular and draws in the next generation to support a great neighborhood institution.

StJohnBaptist        FestivalTent

GreekDesserts

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Goodbye Allston….. Hello South End!

Seven years ago I moved into what was my little haven nestled on a quiet street between Coolidge Corner and the intersection of Harvard and Comm.  While I preferred Brookline, the rents there were too much to watch fly out of my checking account each month.  But this location offered the best of both worlds being walking distance to the more mature and refined Brookline shops and restaurants as well as the affordable and varied offerings in Allston.  After a while though, the shine wore off.  It was impossible to find furniture to fit that didn’t come from Pottery Barn Kids.  Despite being a few years older than him, the landlord treated me like a delinquent undergrad and appears to believe 50° F is a suitable indoor temperature for winter.  The nightlife devolved into a badly behaved parade of butt cheek grazing miniskirts and plaid button downs.  I tolerated it all for the cheap rent.  The real nail in the coffin however was my company’s office move that required me to take the B line daily.  I dreaded facing it each morning and stayed later at work just to avoid the crush of rush hour or worse, the herds of Sox fans en route to Fenway.  So in an effort to improve my environment, I have moved to a new abode at the western edge of the South End which affords me the ability to stroll to work, buy adult-sized furniture and enjoy a neighborhood that is vibrant but populated with a few more people old enough to have paid off their student loans.  Yes, my rent has nearly tripled but I try not to think about that part.  Happy as I am here after just a few weeks, there are things I will miss in the old neighborhood, not the least of which is my oldest friend living less than a mile away.  The area has many popular entertainments, here are a few lesser-known gems.

Ecco Pizzeria
1147 Comm Ave, Allston
617-903-4324

Delicious topping combinations made from organic ingredients.  Their business model incorporates sustainable operational elements which also included environmentally-friendly efforts in the storefront remodel.  Friendly service too.

Ecco

Clear Flour Bread
178 Thorndike Street, Brookline
617-739-0060

Handmade on-premises breads and pastries, some with organic flours.  This is where to go for Old World style treats.  Open late for a bakery – you can pick up a baguette or financier at 7pm!

ClearFlour

Brookline Booksmith
279 Harvard St, Brookline
617-566-6660

Independent bookseller and member of the Green Business Association.  Used books sold in the basement. Open late.

Booksmith

Coolidge Playground
Intersection of Columbia and Kenwood, Brookline

Lovely little park and playground that is never overrun with too many people.  Tennis court, basketball court, playing field, picnic tables and playground.

CoolidgePark

Karma Yoga Studio
971 Comm Ave, Allston

Beautiful and calming yoga room designed with eco-friendly materials.  Now donation-based – pay only what you can afford to take a class!

KarmaYoga

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