Day 511: All-request Weekend

I wonder if you recognize the term in my title today: “All-request Weekend.”   I don’t know if radio stations, where you live, do those on holiday weekends.

In case you request a definition,  All-request Weekends are when a radio station counts down — from some number (like* 500)  to #1 —    songs that people request.  When I was regularly listening to All-request Weekends,  “Hey Jude” by the Beatles was often #1.

Perhaps (I humbly request), as you read this post, you might remember your own top song countdowns.

Oh!  I haven’t told you, yet, why I think “All-request Weekend” is such a great title for today’s blog post.  Yesterday’s post, Day 510: Order(s), featured one reader’s request that I smell some flowers. In response to that post, WordPresser Plant Electrician* requested that I smell some chocolate (and Diana Schwenk* added to the request that I taste the chocolate, too).  Since I followed all of those requests  — and because this is Memorial Day* Weekend in the USA — Voila!  It’s an All-request Weekend!

Is everybody with me?


After the requests came in, yesterday, from Plant Electrician and Diana, I asked myself:

What chocolate would I choose — from all the available options — to smell and taste, today?

… which was not the easiest question to answer.  First, I thought of the cupcake shop I visited a year ago* on Charles Street in Boston, but that place is currently closed.

The next thing I thought of was ….


For anybody who has attended MIT, Harvard, other local schools, or is at all familiar with the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts, Toscanini’s is

  1. A number one
  2. King of the hill
  3. Top of the heap
  4. Head of the List
  5. Top of the hill
  6. (ice) Cream of the crop

… and so on (including  other superlatives Frank Sinatra has sung in his hit, New York, New York*.

Speaking of New York, New York, the NY Times has rated Toscanini’s “The Best Ice Cream in the World.”

Speaking for myself, I used to habituate Toscanini’s all the time, but haven’t been there in many years.

May I request that you accompany me on my trip there?

Let’s go!

I made a brand new start of it* yesterday in Cambridge, like so:


And, like old times, I wanted to be a part of it, right through the very heart of it*:





… a heart, which as you can see, has a LOT of LIFE.

Before the chocolate at Toscanini’s, I wanted to have lunch.  And it seemed like Life Alive would give me a healthy balance for the sweets to come.


I know you can’t see the Life Alive meal options* in the above photo, but I wanted to get Order* into this post, too.

I requested “The Emperor” (which is #2 on the menu):


Then,  when I saw familiar sights on the walk down Massachusetts Avenue to Toscanini’s, I remembered to let them into my heart:









I also saw new things, and remembered to let them into my heart*, too:





As I turned onto Main Street and neared Toscanini’s, memories of  past amazing ice cream flavors  showed up. Counting those down:

#5 Chocolate Pudding

#4 Chocolate Chip

#3 White Chocolate

#2 Belgium Chocolate

#1 Some amazing flavor with giant chunks of delicious chocolate cookies, perhaps the best ice cream I’ve ever had in my life.

Where was I?  Oh, yes, approaching Toscanini’s, yesterday.  As I got closer, topping my Toscanini-memories was the place’s owner: Gus Rancatore.

Why?  Because Gus Rancatore:

  • is an incredibly friendly, nice guy.
  • was somebody I used to see a lot, in the 1980’s, when he, I, and several friends were REALLY into Jackie Chan’s Hong Kong films.*
  • is somebody I haven’t seen in a long time, and I wondered if there was any chance he would be there, on Memorial Day weekend.



He was!

Gus and I reminisced about the old days and — before I could even request anything — he gave me a sample of a brand-new, super-rich vanilla ice cream:


… which was amazing.  When I told Gus about my requested mission, he gave me samples of his top recommendations for the day’s chocolate choices …


… which included:

  • Belgium chocolate
  • Chocolate Pudding
  • Ovaltine* (not sampled), and
  • Chocolate sorbet, which was milk-free and, quoting Gus, “for people who are lactose intolerant or just intolerant.”

Gus and I discussed possible top-of-the-list chocolate orders* for me, and we decided on a micro-sized sundae with

  • Belgium Chocolate ice cream,
  • Salted Caramel ice cream,
  • a chocolate shell, and
  • whipped cream.


Request completed, deliciously!

After I said goodbye to Gus and Toscanini’s, I decided to make the day better, better, better, better, better, better, yeah! … with additional familiar — and new — Cambridge sights.











As I was finishing my chocolate-inspired adventure, I encountered one more request, to stop:




That’s Iris, who told me about this new Cambridge space, where there’s art, music, stand-up comedy, and more,  throughout the week. Upon my request, I also got a photo of her, Amanda, Jess, and Rilo  …


… but, as you can see, I barely had time to focus, because my phone was about to die. However, I requested a few more shots at EMW:


…. and then my phone died.

Maybe I’ll honor Iris’s request, and visit there again, soon.

Thanks to Plant Electrician*, Diana Schwenk*, David Frost*, the Beatles*, Frank Sinatra*, Gus Rancatore, chocolate, Iris, people who inhabit and/or have memories of Cambridge, anyone who makes (or fulfills) requests, all those observing Memorial Day, and to you — top of the heap! — for requesting and reading this post, today.

* Something or somebody I’ve requested you link to, in this post.

** That first photo of street signs includes a play on words, and is dedicated to all my pun- and classic-movie loving readers*.  My last request of this post: that anybody comment on that (or anything else).

Categories: inspiration, Nostalgia, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

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24 thoughts on “Day 511: All-request Weekend

  1. Thank you for sharing your chocolate experience with us!

  2. Well, well, well, dear Ann.

    You have managed to fill all 500 requests of an all-request weekend into one superb post about finding chocolate. This baby is loaded with goodies, and not just the vanilla of the day, either.

    I got to meet your old pal Gus and my old pal Ovaltine. (I wouldn’t have tolerated a taste of that one, either, for its powdery memory is best left in the past, I think.)

    And I think maybe the perfect record store would be a combination of Weirdo Records and Cheapo Records. But both of those would probably have me flipping through racks for hours.

    Happy Memorial Day post, Ann, the fine order of the old neighborhood with new hot spots.

    • As always, Mark, your comment helps me know my post achieved its wished-for rank in the hit parade. I’m glad you found it good and appreciated its goodies.

      I must admit two things: (1) I was, initially, eager to try the Ovaltine yesterday and (2) I was back at Toscanini’s today, and sampled it. I have fond memories of Ovaltine. Gus told me, yesterday, that the customers who especially appreciate that flavor are college students from outside the U.S., who have fond childhood Ovaltine-memories, also.

      I hope you’re having a wonderful Memorial Day weekend, dear Mark.

      • Ovaltine was always an underdog, here, I thought, trailing Quick and Hershey’s. But my parents seemed to think Ovaltine was heathier, as I recall, so it snuck it’s way onto my drink list, too. I’m glad you liked it, Ann! And, yes, this has been a fantastic Memorial Day Weekend here in Syracuse, thank you, my friend.

  3. Oh, thank you SO much for this post. I think it may be my favourite. I had so much fun reading it.

    Last year, I was in Boston/ Cambridge for about 3 days. It was my only visit to Boston (ever) and the temperature was a muggy 100 degrees, which is very hot for someone more used to frost in the mornings.

    Know what? I went to that ice cream place and I didn’t even know that it was famous! I am pretty sure that I had the Ovaltine ice cream. (I love Ovaltine) One of us did, anyway, and it was delicious. I walked down Mass Ave and have photos of some of the same places you have photos of. What are the odds of that?

    I feel like you took me back there, but under a gentler sun. I love all the things you took photos of. It’s not a holiday here in Canada, but thanks to you I feel like I’m on vacation again.

    • This may be one of my favorite comments, too. I’m so glad you had fun today and when you visited Boston/Cambridge last year (despite the heat). I love the fact that we took photos of the same things. And I agree with you about the Ovaltine ice cream. Thanks for making my holiday complete.

  4. Clearly I don’t get out enough. I’ve never been to Cambridge, and have been to Boston only for business trips. Toscanini’s and other sites you documented give me (chocolate) food for thought. Hmm.

    • There’s a lot of interesting stuff out there, Jill, including chocolate … and thoughts, too! I’m very glad for your visit here.

  5. It looks so hip or funky or artsy in your town Ann! Glad you enjoyed your chocolate – my mouth watered just looking at the picture! I love the names of record stores there Weirdo Records and Cheapo Records – made my laugh out loud!

    Diana xo

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  7. Great post…

  8. KBL — kibble?

  9. irisue

    Ann this is beautiful! What a thorough and colorful adventure of what Mass Ave/Central Square has to offer 🙂 Thank you for your openness and enthusiasm! You’re always welcome @EMWBookstore!! I’m jazzed the wind reeled you in!

    • I am jazzed to have met you, Iris, and about this comment, too. Thank you for seeing beauty, openness, and enthusiasm in others, as you so obviously do!

  10. What a treat to take this tour with you! I enjoyed each photo and as you’ve described them, I know I would love each establishment. You have a zest for life that is quite contagious, Ann. I’m so glad to have met you!

    • Speaking of treats and contagious zest, I have just caught some joyfulness from you. In other words: I’m so glad to have met you, too!

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