Literary City Guide | Cambridge, MA
Tour Guide: Fiona Moriarty
Fiona Moriarty is a passionate runner and writer who adores good food, great art, and black coffee. She is pursuing her master’s degree in Nutritional Biochemistry at Tufts University; her life dream is to work for the IOC in athlete-focused nutrition policy. As a professional baker, the nosh quality is of utmost importance when she needs a post-penning pick me up.
Relationship to Cambridge: Long-time resident
Writer you'd like to invite to dinner: Julia Child (we’d chat about books, cooking and Cambridge)
Writing soundtrack: Anything instrumental
Pen or Pencil: Pen
Coffee or Tea: Coffee
Paperback or Hardback: Hardback
Raven Used Book Store. This subterranean spot boasts wall-to-wall coverage on every discipline. The academic locale sources an infinite number of lightly used books and the annotated copies are filled with enlightening musings of its previous owner.
Harvard COOP. In need of an obscure Italian text or art historical tome? The COOP is sure to have it on one of their three floors, separated topically and by relevance to the visiting public.
Sidewalk Sale. Perched at the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Pleasant Street, scores of books are sold here for as little as $.25 cents. Rare finds can often be unearthed in the string of cardboard boxes.
Cambridge Public Library. A blend of modernist and romanesque style architecture, the Cambridge Public Library is the embodiment of its readership. Funky, environmentally conscious and cozy the library is equipped with ample table space and relaxed reading chairs to welcome visitors into the space. The floors become increasingly silent until the children’s floor at the top level of the building. Cascades of jungle canopy delight kids and parents alike as they can escape the ever day in Tarzanesque revelry. Readings also take place at the library regularly.
Kennedy School Library. This petite and well stocked space is perfect for anyone in need of a foreign paper or just an escape form the hectic thrum of Harvard Square.
HBS Library. Soaring colonial buildings comprise Harvard Business School and their library is no different. Windows welcoming streams of daylight keep one feeling uplifted while scribbling away. For a break, a quick ramble to the Le Pyramide inspired worship space calms the nerves and inspires mental quietude.
READINGS & CONFERENCES
The Blacksmith House Poetry Series. Founded in 1973, the award-winning Blacksmith House Poetry series brings established and emerging writers of poetry and fiction to Harvard Square.
Flour Bakery and Cafe. It may seem unlikely, but there is a single location where one can find a nourishing salad or sandwich followed by the most sumptuous chocolate chip cook or oozingly gooey sticky bun. Joanne Chang’s Flour Bakery in Cambridge is one of a small chain by the Harvard alum with a flair for fantastic food. With low communal tables and a space that is flooded in light, this european style cafe thrums with the energy of its patrons and its products.
1369 Coffee House. As quirky as the residents of Cambridge, 1369 offers a plethora of coffee and teas to satisfy even the choosiest of customers. Limited to 45 minutes of wifi, it offers a pleasant technological escape to converse with friends or focus on their latest book.
High Rise. Wallpapered in something a grandma would adore, this golden hued interior is as warming as their lattes. Delicious food, prepared onsite, complements the excellent coffee and espresso selections.
A PROPER MEAL
Russell House Tavern. Russell House is excellent, hearty food served at its finest. Elevated american cuisine is their forte. The cocktails are inspirational and served with panache.
West Bridge. An elegant meal in the works? If you have the budget and the time, West Bridge is a must. The dishes are sourced locally and the flavor combinations excite the palate and the mind…Egg in a jar anyone?
Green Street. Don’t be fooled by its morose exterior. This local hangout is home to fantastic cocktails and truly enthralling food. Whether you are in the mood for wings or crispy roasted brussels with hidden chips of bacon, saddle up to a table at this spot and you won’t leave hungry.
Friendly Toast. If brunch is more your steam, the Friendly Toast is a hotspot for Cambridgians and visitors alike. Piles of hot steaming food with many options for vegetarians and gluten free folk are what make this locale so popular. A fruit smoothie for the table is an option that shouldn’t be overlooked.
LA Burdick. Luxurious in its chocolates and aesthetic, LA Burdick’s is a chocolatier with a passion and talent for evoking the nostalgia that accompanies a steamy cup of cocoa or snappy piece of chocolate. The delightfully luscious chocolate mice and penguins easily enliven any customer’s day.
Viollette Bakers. Nestled between the academic hubs of Harvard and MIT, the upstart gluten free bakery Viollette bakers crafts the freshest products that satisfy any one in need of a sweet treat. The products range from savories to sweets, and their taste is improved by Viollette Baker’s use of alternative flours.
Toscaninis. Established megalith of ice cream, Toscaninis does the frosty treat justice with elegant flavor choices and options that delight young and old. Tosci’s as it’s commonly called, also serves vegan and allergen sensitive options.
Fiona's 5 Favorites
1. Favorite view. Running along the Chalres with sunlight just beginning to creep in and sparkle over the water.
2. Favorite place to write. Flour Bakery is my favorite place to write and get a strong cup of coffee; nothing can best the happy buzz of caffeinated folks and the scratch of my pen on paper.
3. Favorite museum. The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in WIlliamstown, MA
4. Favorite coffee shop. See question #2.
5. Favorite thing about Cambridge. The intellectual curiosity of Cambridge is enthralling. Striking up a conversation with a passerby can mean chatting with an astrophysicist or future leader of a foreign country.