The 50th season launched with a bang—including a bang-up London tour that deserved every "favourable" review it received. The company then gave Boston a free "Night of Stars" gala on the Common. At the Opera House, it looked equally at home in the classical Cinderella, George Balanchine’s neoclassical Jewels, and Jirí Kylián’s quirky Bella Figura. Capping off the season this past June with a traveling tour to Washington and New York, the Boston Ballet is solidly placed as one of the top five companies in the U.S. bostonballet.org.
Don't be deterred by the plaza sign advertising big-box bores like Kohl's—this open-air mix of 70-plus businesses has one-offs that justify jockeying for a parking space, including hip young boutique Gia B, and the Bay State's first outposts for the Obama-approved Crewcuts and color-splashed homegoods store Company C. Shop up an appetite, and sate it at the lively bistro Rustic Kitchen, or even at the fully tricked-out Whole Foods (hey, is that a gelato bar we spy?). 92 - 98 Derby Street, Hingham, MA 2043, .
Ever wish for an elegant overnight bag, one that can hold all your clothes and accessories but doesn't resemble something from a military maneuver? Coach has the answer. With its new store open at Copley Place, the luxe leather manufacturer continues to expand and redefine its products, recently adding luggage to the line-up. From men's dop kits to large duffles, Coach's Hamptons Travel Collection is perfect for quick overnight trips, and also includes pieces for the long haul. Copley Place, Boston, MA coach.com/.
It's not much to look at from the outside, and the décor inside isn't much of a confidence builder, either. But who cares? The giant 500-gallon tanks hold oceans of fresh-caught lobsters in a range of weights from manageable one-pound chickens to gargantuan granddaddies. The assortment of fresh shellfish is neatly and temptingly displayed on beds of ice. From sushi-grade tuna to cod fillets, the salty dogs at Fresh Pond catch the best. 355 Fresh Pond Parkway, Cambridge, MA freshpondseafood.com/.
Sick of hearing the yammering of burrito snobs putting down the local variety? Take them to Anna's and shove one of these foil-wrapped fat boys in their mouths. Chances are, they'll change their minds. Anna's got the whole thing down: the rice, the frijoles, refritos, the guacamole, and the salsa are just like your mother used to make — that is, if your mother happened to be born south of the border. 1412 Beacon St., Brookline, MA .
What makes HealthPoint the in this crowded category? Three stories of windows overlooking an evergreen thicket, plenty of trainers on the floor at any given moment, an astonishingly clean pool, and a top-condition track. The cherrywood lockers in the dressing rooms give it that Ivy League feel, and the steam and sauna rooms can actually accommodate a crowd. Plus, one side of the lobby offers a café while a Daryl Christopher salon holds court on the other. 840 Winter St., Waltham, MA .
Makeup savant Katrina Hess gives brides a glow so natural they seem lit from within. We'd guess it was magic, but Hess will also provide tips to help you re-create the look at home. And she doesn't tout just one particular line: She blends high-quality products such as Chanel, Laura Mercier, and Shu Uemura to find what works best with your coloring and skin type. 105 Newbury St., Boston, MA katrinahess.com/.
Blessed with great taste and strong buying instincts, co-owners Martha Hilfinger and Jane Schlueter have stocked their airy 900-square-foot Back Bay boutique with work-to-play separates and delicious dresses from modern favorites (3.1 Phillip Lim, Vena Cava, Vanessa Bruno) and exclusive up-and-comers (Lyell, Lofli denim). The shopping experience is a joy; if you've left your best friend at home, one of the chatty girls here will be happy to dish out reliable opinions on her behalf. 221 Newbury St., Boston, MA dressboston.com.
Getting married in today's world just isn't what it used to be—it's much better. Thank the gay community if you want, but we're also grateful for the designer bands that line the cases at Alpha Omega's flagship store. From Carelle and Art-carved to Tycoon and Simon G., the world-class selection is as epic as it is beautiful. Leave it to a jewel of a store to throw down one of the most compelling reasons to get married—right behind that whole love thing, of course. 1380 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA .
There are an endless number of meal kits on the market, but only one that taps into New England’s creative culinary minds. From bangers and mash from New England Charcuterie’s Joshua Smith to black-bean burgers from Grafton Group culinary director Mark Goldberg, Just Add Cooking’s recipes (made with locally produced veggies and proteins) are so simple that even the most frazzled home chef won’t mess them up. MA justaddcooking.com.
This Davis Square establishment holds all the accoutrements you need to make one killer cocktail (or six). Swizzle sticks? More than you could swizzle in a lifetime. Recipe books? Your options rival Barnes & Noble. Shark-shaped tiki mugs? Also available in whale variety. And don’t forget about the lauded bitters tasting bar, from which staffers are more than happy to provide samples. Happy drinking, indeed. 69 Holland St., Somerville, MA thebostonshaker.com.
If you’re on the gala circuit, you know that the similar guest lists can make it feel like one big night on repeat. But this year, with a vivacious crowd (perhaps thanks to first-time co-chairs Charles Carignan and Michael Cerruti), the Boston Ballet Ball stood out—particularly for its stunning preview of Full on Forsythe, by legendary choreographer William Forsythe, a whole month ahead of its opening at the Opera House. How’s that for a night to remember? bostonballet.org.
Maybe it's the two dozen varieties of oysters talking, but we've fallen hard for B&G. Barbara Lynch's imaginative takes on the standards—a lobster roll lined with bacon, Portuguese clam stew accented with pork belly—pair seamlessly with an ever changing menu of flounced-up yellowfin, sole, perch, and halibut. Wash it all down with one of 40 wines on offer and you, too, will feel a wave of affection coming on. 550 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 2116, bandgoysters.com.
The one downside to ordering at Toscanini's is trying to choose from flavors like the obscenely rich B3 (brown butter, brownie, and brown sugar); tangy, creamy goat cheese-brownie; and exotic Earl Grey. It's enough to give you brain freeze. The best remedy we know is to get 'em all in a massive cup, douse the whole thing in a river of hot fudge, and dig in. 899 Main St., Cambridge, MA 2139, tosci.com.
We can hardly believe Nicolazzo responds to a 24-hour answering service, appears for emergency work at almost any time (with assistants), and does excellent work. He's even plumber to the stars; that is, he's doing the work on the home of rock singer Ric Ocasek of the Cars. "I remodel old bathrooms and kitchens," the affable Nicolazzo told us, "but not new ones. No challenge. But I will repair them." And for a reasonable price. Newton, MA