By Suzette Martinez Standring.
Experience delicious bakes, blooming dogwoods, summer fare, and a grand manor estate in a single day, all within the short distance between Canton and Milton. As New Englanders know, the early summer season is fleeting, so why not fill a June day with some great memories?
Begin the day’s jaunt at The Alchemist Baker in historic Canton Village with coffee and fresh breakfast bakes, such as scones, coffee cake, croissants, and more. Walk through the door, and the old-fashioned fragrance of buttery goodness infuses this small-batch, family-owned bakery. Hailing from Pakistan, owner Ambreen Hassan left her chemical engineering job to attend the French Culinary Institute in NYC. She now creates pastries, breads, and confections that far exceed the usual fare of a neighborhood bakery. Pick up some lemon bars, rugelach, brownies, and other specialties to sustain you throughout your morning activities. Baked goods in hand make a great snack stash for later, if it’s possible to hold off.
Six miles from The Alchemist is the Mary May Binney Wakefield Arboretum in Milton, or the ‘Wakefield Estate,’ its 22 acres of dogwood trees are abloom with clouds of white flowers in June. Sit and meditate in the gardens. Stroll along paths that lead past a field of sheep and llamas. The Arboretum’s annual Dogwood Days celebration opens summer with family activities, such as a dog show, a sheep-shearing display, and more. There are spots and tables for picnics and a chance to marvel at the enchantment of the four-petaled white blooms of flowering dogwoods. Include your canine pets for the visit, as leashed dogs are welcome.
Devoted to public education and horticulture, the Wakefield Estate traces its origins back to 1706, when the Davenport family first built its residence on the property. Mary May “Polly” Binney Wakefield is the arboretum’s namesake, and her legacy of environmental stewardship is very much alive.
Is it time for lunch yet? From the Wakefield Estate, it’s just a 15-minute ride to Novara Restaurant in East Milton Square, which serves modern comfort food with an Italian flair and a focus on seasonal and local ingredients. The menu offers an array of choices. Novara’s patio is just the place to savor lobster tacos, pasta Bolognese, and chicken and eggplant parms. The former movie house is now a spacious restaurant and wraparound bar. In keeping with its movie house history, Novara plays old films—on mute—on a 16’x16’ screen (unless a major sporting event takes precedence). Oysters are half-price every weekday until 5 p.m.
Feel like packing a picnic instead? Call ahead to Novara for a quick pick-up (or delivery) of favorites, such as lobster rolls, turkey and avocado panini, or fresh summer salads. The Mediterranean Plate features white bean hummus, whipped goat cheese, olive tapenade, tomato marmalata, and grilled panini. “It travels well, and parents are looking for healthier alternatives for their kids,” says manager Amelia Browning. A children’s menu includes pizza, chicken parm meatballs, and pasta, but any of the menu items can be customized for kids.
Cocktails to go! Yes, Novara can pack adult refreshments for a picnic, such as their popular Tuscan Lemon Cocktail. Enjoy! (As long as you’re not the one driving.)
Thus fortified from lunch, or with a picnic ready to go, take a four-minute drive to the Eustis Estate Museum and Study Center, a jewel among the mansions of the Historic New England network. The 18,066 square foot Queen Anne manor is a rare local example of Aesthetic Movement design and sits on 80 acres at the base of the Blue Hills. Originally built in 1878, the era’s lavish interior has been restored and preserved, such as the masterful carving and woodwork, gold paint, rare wallpaper, and furnishings. Take a leisurely self-guided tour through the mansion. There is an admission fee to the building, but a visit to the grounds is free. Picnickers and leashed dogs are welcome outside.
Mark your calendars!
On June 17, 2023, Historic New England will host a second annual Juneteenth Community Celebration at the Eustis Estate. Perfect for family picnics and entertainment. Admission is free to the public to enjoy a day of historic jubilation. Last year, the event featured the Branches Steel Drum Orchestra and Afro-Latin drum circle artist Cornell Coley. This year, local artists, music, and artmaking activities are also planned for the celebration. Enjoy a cultural experience of different traditions to mark Juneteenth, a federal holiday as of 2021, which celebrates June 19, 1865, the date on which Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, to deliver news of the emancipation of enslaved African Americans.
New England, especially Massachusetts, offers rich experiences to families who visit these historic sites set amid natural surroundings. Like an unforgettable meal, such experiences will be savored for a long time to come. Perfect for a memorable one-day getaway to mark the start of summer.
The Alchemist Baker
563 Washington Street
Canton, MA 02021
The Mary May Binney Wakefield Arboretum
1465 Brush Hill Street
Milton, MA. 02186
556 Adams Street
Milton, MA. 02186
Phone: (617) 696-8400
The Eustis Estate Museum and Study Center
1424 Canton Avenue
Milton, MA 02186
Novara Tomato Marmalata
- 1 pounds Roma tomatoes cut in half
- ¼ olive oil
- 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper
- ½ cup caramelized onions
- ⅓ cup sun-dried tomato pesto
- 3 cloves roasted garlic
- 2 teaspoon each chopped parsley basil, oregano
- 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
- ¼ cup balsamic glaze
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- Toss tomatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast at 350 degrees until tender.
- Add all ingredients except parmesan to a deep skillet and cook on medium for 30 minutes.
- Remove from heat and use a potato masher to crush to desired consistency.
- Let cool slightly, and fold in parmesan. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Novara Olive Tapenade
- 1 pound pitted kalamata olives or your choice if you prefer green or a mix!
- 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Fresh oregano
- Zest of one lemon
- Combine in food processor and blend to desired consistency.
Suzette Martinez Standring writes and cooks in Milton. She also is a contributor to eSEMA’s “Locavore Abroad.” This June she may secretly sip a Tuscan Lemon Cocktail among flowering dogwoods. Visit her: www.readsuzette.com