In and Around Fitchburg, Massachusetts

This blog was created to discuss some of the positive aspects of living in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, that are often overlooked by outsiders and residents alike.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Bangkok Hill

I owe a huge thanks to the readers of this blog who resoundingly recommended Bangkok Hill. I at last overcame my nostalgic sorrow at the thought of dining at the former site of Gloria’s (prior post here) and discovered that Bangkok Hill is a wonderful addition to our area dining options.

I was joined by my husband and a friend for our Saturday night dinner at Bangkok Hill (located in Lunenburg on route 2A, just over the Fitchburg border). It was relatively busy, but we had to wait only about ten minutes for a table. As those of you familiar with the former Gloria’s know, the interior of the building is quite small – it’s definitely not the place for a private dining experience. However, the food is fabulous! I had the Massaman curry with tofu, which was perfectly prepared. The most striking characteristic was the freshness of the vegetables. They were extremely flavorful and cooked to that “just right” point where there’s still a bit of snap as you bite into them. The tofu in the dish, an option that many restaurants throw on the menu as an afterthought, was lightly marinated and remarkably delicious. My companions had similarly glowing reviews of their dinners.

We capped off the evening with the fried ice cream, which I should note involved a dough-like coating rather than the coconut or cornflake style coatings to which I am accustomed. I think next time I’ll go with ginger ice cream instead. I also plan to ensure that my next visit occurs when I’m a lot more hungry, as there were many tempting appetizer options!

One thing to keep in mind if you’re visiting Bangkok Hill for the first time is that the spice levels indicated on the menu seemed to be rather non-specific. The entrée that I chose was designated as mildly spicy, but Massaman curry is actually very mild, and I definitely wouldn’t describe my meal as spicy. Red curry, which is typically a much spicier curry, was marked with the same mildly spicy designation as the Massaman. So I wouldn’t put TOO much faith in the spice ratings on the menu (although no one at my table tried one of the few three-star items, they might truly mean it with those!).

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Mayoral Candidate Meet and Greet

Let me begin by noting that it’s not my intention to debate political issues here – much better outlets exist for that kind of discussion (e.g. Save Fitchburg). I have absolutely no plans of using this blog to throw my support behind (or, alternatively, to berate) any candidates.

What I DO want to call attention to, however, is how fortunate we are to live in a city with a relatively accessible political process. Last night, Ward 1 councilor Dave Clark hosted a “meet and greet” session with the current candidates for mayor in place of the monthly neighborhood meeting. The event was very well organized. Each candidate was introduced by Councilor Clark, who read aloud a statement provided to him by the candidate. Candidates were then given five minutes to use as they pleased. Some read prepared statements, while others spoke informally of their backgrounds. A few candidates set aside time for questions. Those who did not have prior commitments remained to speak with residents after the formal program concluded.

Following the event, Councilor Clark acknowledged to me his relief that the audience had remained courteous and refrained from “heckling” certain candidates. While I cannot say I always agree with Clark’s views, he is to be commended for the example that he set at last night’s meeting. Throughout his opening comments, he stressed that we are early in the election season and that the intent of the evening was not to serve as a debate, as those are best saved for the fall. He treated all candidates with the utmost respect, including those whom he does not personally support. Overall, he staged an evening that demonstrated they way in which politics would play out in a more polite, sincerely engaged society.

In this manner, I would encourage everyone out there to take some time in the coming months to learn more about our candidates for mayor (in alphabetical order, and with links provided for those candidates with campaign websites): Ted DeSalvatore, Ronald Dionne, Thomas Donnelly, Dan Mylott [addendum: Mylott has withdrawn his candidacy], and Lisa Wong. Represented in the field of candidates are a variety of different races, ages, academic backgrounds, and community and professional experiences. Browse the local news sites as the race progresses (links at right), and take a moment to chat when the candidate comes knocking at your door.

I happen to be a scientist by training, and I’m the first to admit that my motivation to follow local politics continues to be a slow, emerging, sometimes reluctant process. But I always try to remind myself that without engaged citizens who take the time to vote in an educated manner, candidate accessibility is for naught. Our Fitchburg politicians are putting themselves out there. Even if we often disagree with them, we owe it to them and to our city to at least take the time to listen. Only then can we expect them to do the same!


Monday, June 11, 2007

Community Festivals

Now that the warmer weather has arrived, there are a lot of activities going on in and around Fitchburg. Over the weekend, I was fortunate to take part in a citywide Family Day event on Day Street that was organized by the Fitchburg Community Connections Coalition, Montachusett Opportunity Council, Neighborhoods and You Coalition, Three Pyramids, the Ward5B/college Neighborhood Association, and No Place for Hate. The rain cleared up just in time to make the most of the afternoon, which included live music, free BBQ and ethnic foods, a youth bake sale, and a moon bounce for the kids. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet some new people. And, as those with children pointed out, it was also a good way to ensure that their kids would be tired at bedtime!

Saturday’s St. Anthony’s Italian Festival unfortunately conflicted with my commitment at the Family Day event, but it’s something I’d highly recommend checking out when it returns next summer. My experience at the festival in the past has proven that there’s nothing quite like homemade pizzelles and anise cookies!

This weekend also featured a Beatles cover band concert at Coggshall Park, which is a wonderful venue to listen to music, relax, and just enjoy being outdoors. A series of free concerts take place at the park on Sundays throughout the summer and always draw quite a crowd. Sentinel and Enterprise has posted the 2007 schedule here. A Saturday concert series at Riverfront Park, River Jam 2007, also kicked off this weekend. Yet another round of free concerts run on the Upper Commons on Wednesday evenings starting in mid-July; the Concerts on the Common schedule is available here.

[7/3/07 Addendum: It appears that the S&E link above is now dead, and there is no longer a formal online schedule for the Coggshall Concert Series. So here's the schedule I was able to piece together for the remainder of the season from the Johnny Appleseed Trail events page. All concerts are on Sundays from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.: July 8 - Country Mile (country music, rain date July 22); August 12 - Erin's Melody (Irish music, rain date September 16); September 9 - East Bay Jazz Band (jazz music, rain date September 16).]

Next weekend, I’m looking forward to the annual Grecian Festival on June 16th, which is open to the entire community. In past years, I’ve enjoyed some outstanding food (the fresh feta, for example, was perfect on a salad) and also loved watching the Greek dancing - those who are more courageous than I are welcome to join in. And I’m particularly excited to visit Oakridge Farmstand’s Strawberry Festival, which takes place June 16th and 17th. The event promises lots of activities, but I’m most drawn to the mention of hot air balloon rides! Also worth noting, Oakridge’s ice cream stand is now open and features a variety of homemade ice creams.

I hope that many of you had the opportunity to take advantage of this weekend’s selection of events and are looking forward to those to come!

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