Duxbury, Boston, Negroni


I often read about how well children do in routine, how structure makes them feel secure, how a schedule offers comfort. But the older I get — just celebrated a birthday — the more I realize how well I do in routine, how happy I am when my life feels like Groundhog Day, how I thrive when my schedule looks like this: breakfast, park, lunch, naps, park, dinner, bed.

But every time I find the gumption — I know, pathetic — to get away, I realize how important it is to get away. Last week, while Ben finished up work in Virginia, I trekked across Massachusetts with the kids to meet up with a college roommate home from Abu Dhabi for the summer, living with her two boys in the seaside hamlet of Duxbury, a well-kept secret so I’m told by the locals.

It felt like such an ordeal — packing the car, timing the traffic — but had I never braved that drive, my summer would have passed without squeezing lemon over a Snug Harbor lobster roll, without commencing the cocktail hour with a Mount Gay and tonic, without satisfying the post-dinner sweet tooth with a scoop of Farfar’s Danish sweet cream.

And I wouldn’t have been able to catch up with a dear friend over tea and homemade Bouchon pecan sandies. And I would have never seen the children so happy fishing dead frogs out of a kiddie pool, searching for hermit crabs in the bay, and stealing strawberries from a roadside produce stand, making their escape through a neighboring field of wild flowers.

And I certainly would have never known how much fun a night out could be thanks to my friend’s brother who happens to be in on the Boston restaurant scene, knows where to get a great a pre-dinner Negroni, talks oysters the way oenophiles talk wine and intimately knows the Island Creek Oyster Bar menu. After a few rounds of Beach Points and Wellfleets, the most extraordinary buttermilk biscuit — a meal in itself — arrived along with steamers and lobster roe noodles and sea salt shishito peppers. To be sure I didn’t miss a detail, I sipped on housemade ginger beer all night long, the spiciest I have ever tasted, just the tonic I needed after my high-octane Negroni.

Rejuvenated by a night out, excited to get back to the with-any-luck-sleeping kiddies, we drove back to Duxbury entertained by Louis CK parenting clips streamed on my friend’s phone, all the while dreaming of lavender butter, ratatouille with balsamic and Pecorino, and sweet corn ice cream.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s the recent birthday. Maybe it’s the urge to unplug a bit. Maybe it’s too many Negronis. But wanderlust has infiltrated my system, flushing out any semblance of routine that once existed. This weekend we’re off to Lake Placid to camp with the kids. The low for Sunday evening is 32 with a 50% chance of showers. Fingers crossed that the tent’s rain-fly arrives before we head north. Have a great weekend, Everyone. And if you can’t get away, I recommend a Negroni.

Negroni: equal parts Campari, sweet vermouth and gin:
gin, sweet vermouth, Campari


rope swing


Lobster roll from Snug Harbor Fish Company:
lobster roll




1 1/2 oz Campari
1 1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth
1 1/2 oz Gin
orange peel for garnish (optional)

Combine Campari, Vermouth and Gin in an ice-filled shaker. Shake. Pour into a glass. Garnish with orange peel if using. Alternatively, pour alcohol over ice-filled glass, then stir.

birthday brownies:
birthday brownies

birthday bike:

birthday Negroni:


  1. MaryD says

    As a Duxbury transplant in NoVA, having this pop up on my news reader really caught my attention while swinging from a handgrip as I rode home on a Metro Orange Line train. The pics of your kids at Shipyard Lane transported me to a whole different world! Mmm, I dream Farfars in oreo flavor (thank you, Mrs. Carlson) and can’t wait for the next opportunity for good fry up fish in Snug Harbor. Fortunately, ICOs ship very well to Virginia, although they taste much better when washed down with a couple of brews (from Bennett’s Package Store, of course) on the beach (Bayside, naturally). A few add-on tips–go for the 4th of July (the town does it up in a big way), take a sailing class, try your hand at a real clambake (first you dig a hole in the sand…) and don’t miss French Memories Bakery or the (newly renovated) pub at the Windsor House! Duxbury was wonderful place to grow up and it still is a transcendent place to visit.

    • says

      Mary, hi! Wonderful to hear all of this. Maybe you know my friend: Bates Gregory? She grew up there. We had the best day at the Shipyard Lane — it was gray and overcast, and the kids still had the best time. And we went to French Memories Bakery every day: almond croissants for Bates and me; donuts for the kids; an extra coffee for each of us midmorning. That place is a gem. Now that I’m back in the northeast, I might just have to make it back there for the Fourth next summer. Every time I visit Duxbury, I cannot get over its charm. Thanks so much for writing in.

  2. says

    Happy Birthday! I can’ think of a better way to celebrate than with a real New England lobster roll-I used to live in Boston and although I’ve been in the San Diego area for years I still yearn for the Northeast.

    • says

      Janie, I absolutely loved loved loved my time in southern California. Seriously, I still long to get back there. But it does feel great to be back in the northeast…it’s definitely home for me.

  3. Linda says

    A belated happy birthday, Alexandra! Your birthday bike is awesome! I’m a Virginia native, but have a cousin in Brookline, so I’ve spent many fine occasions up in the northeast. My cousin frequently shows photos on Facebook of lobster rolls and I drool every time!

  4. says

    Ahh, Duxbury. It is pretty fabulous there. Britt and I once did a kayaking trip off the coast there – she grew up nearby and informed me it is nicknamed “Deluxebury.” I’m glad you had such a wonderful trip and I LOVE your new bike! Fancy!

  5. Anne Murphy says

    Happy Birthday! Just had a big bday myself. LOVE your site – your recipes are awesome and dependable. Let me know where you get your pasta please. There are a ton of options out there.
    Thanks! And again – happy bday!

  6. says

    Happy Birthday!! Sounds like a great trip, you have given me oyster urges again with your talk of the oyster bar!

    Travelling is great but it gets tiresome (we are on week 7 at the moment and I just want to vege out somehwere haha). We’ve decided to take a 2 week road trip from Miami to LA in October – any suggests on things we shouldn’t miss along the way? I am excited!!

    Hope the weekend at Lake Placid was exciting!

    • says

      YEs, I will email you with some ideas! So much fun. And you are amazing…7 weeks is a long time. I am envious. Lake Placid was exciting. More on that soon. I will be in touch re your road trip to LA soon!

  7. says

    Happy birthday indeed! I share a September birthday with you :) Such beautiful photos and a great post, I feel like I was there, too! It sounds like you ate well and enjoyed a well-deserved night out…. how fun! Here’s to many more adventures to come — cheers!

  8. Laurie F says

    The pics of the kids are AMAZING! and the camping pics on the next post are too!…..Reminded me of camping in Colorado in 2007, it got down in the 40s and I thought I would freeze but we did fine! A BIG fire and Smore’s will get you thru almost anything! We worked on the kitchen all weekend and we’re both paying for it today…Jeff was in the hospital last weekend but all is fine now….I’m looking forward to cooler temps here and a pretty Fall!

    • says

      Oh no! I hope everything is OK. Hospitals are no fun :( I can’t wait to see the finished kitchen…you two are working hard! So fun. And yes, a big fire and SMORES solve the world’s problems :)

  9. Kate Bayless says

    I am sad to admit I have never had a Negroni, but it’s been on my list to make for ages! I think this post is the universe trying to tell me it’s time…. :) p.s. happy belated bday! Adore the bike!

    • says

      Kate, you must! It is the easiest drink to make, and it is so good. I’m embarrassed by how low the bottles of Campari, vermouth and gin have gotten since I discovered the negroni…I need to stop. They are SO good. So glad you like the bike. I’ve been loving it. Feel like a kid again :)

  10. Lisa See says

    My girlfriend from the UK turned me on to these on Christmas Eve. My, oh, My! What a cocktail! The color red was so festive as well.

    Thank you for the inside review of your getaway. I defiantly want to travel there.

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