Thursday, December 29, 2011

Wedding and Honeymoon Time!

Well, its hard to believe that the time has officially come, but yes, it is almost New Year's Eve, which also means it's time for me to become a wife!  Yes, Nick and I are getting married this weekend!

Engagement Photos!
Needless to say today is a bit busy, wrapping up months of planning and doing and final prep for the wedding!  Honestly, the past 10 months have flown by.

Boston Common by Moonlight
This weekend we are ready to enjoy spending time with our families and best friends and dance the night away.  Lucky for us, we will have plenty of time to rest up in the Maldives and Dubai (sorry to those who have to head back to work!).

Needless to say, I will be taking a bit of a blogging break - maybe, depending on how good the pictures are, I will post a few shots of our ocean views.  Upon my return, I will have plenty of wedding photos, but also share with you some of the things I learned along the wedding planning way.  That and some of the terrific vendors I worked with.  The engagement photos above are courtesy of Holly Redmond - I can't wait to see what she does at the wedding!

I wish everyone a fun and safe New Year!!  Next time I write I will be a Mrs. - CRAZY!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sweet Cheeks! New BBQ in Boston

I figured my final topical post of 2011 should be a good one, and what better way to finish than with one of the more talked about restaurant openings - Sweet Cheeks.  Sweet Cheeks is the new restaurant from Tiffany Faison of Top Chef fame and formerly of Rocca.  When Rocca suddenly closed, the Boston food community was a little worried it may lose one of its newer celebrity chefs, but Tiffany quickly settled the matter by telling her public that she was already working on a new restaurant in Boston.  When it turned out to be BBQ I am sure I was not the only one who was super excited about having another reliable BBQ option in Boston. 

Outside Sweet Cheeks
When given the opportunity to taste Sweet Cheeks' offerings with some fellow bloggers and the great people over at Tasted Menu, I needed no arm twisting - I was in!  For those who don't remember, Tasted Menu is the new go-to website for finding what the best dishes are at a restaurant, or where the best place is to go get your favorite food.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Holidays!!

Hard to believe it is already Christmas!  With all the wedding planning going on, it's needless to say that Christmas sort of snuck up on me!  Luckily Nick LOVES Christmas and decorating the tree.  So even though things were a bit hectic, the Sunday after Thanksgiving our tree was up, lit and decorated.

All Lit Up!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Barroco - Cozy in Old Montreal

When my two friends and I arrived in Montreal on Friday, it was starting to get late so we did a little recon on restaurants while we settled in and got our acts together.  We didn't want to have to travel too far away from the hotel, so after a little Urbanspoon neighborhood searching, A stumbled upon Barroco, which had glowing reviews and was about a 10 minute walk - perfect!

Outside Barroco
After navigating the streets of Old Montreal we ended up in front of a perfect small stone building that looked like it should in an old English village.  Upon entering we were greeted by the friendly host who said we were welcome to grab a drink at the bar while a table cleared up for our group.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Scenes from Old Montreal!

Its hard to believe, but in less than two weeks I will be a married lady.  I can't believe it was only about 9 months ago that I got engaged!  To say time has flown by is an understatement.  Around Thanksgiving I got an email from my friends A and M saying they were going to steal me away for a weekend in December for a girls trip to locations unknown.  I was told certain things that I would have to pack for a complete weekend and that was it.  So, on the Friday of that weekend I was picked up and we were off, still none the wiser of the destination.  I did have a strategy of guessing based on what roads we followed.  When we finally turned on 89N I assumed we were going to Burlington, Vermont because other than that, there was not too much going on that way and any further north required a passport!  Turns out I have a sneaky fiance and friends, they had actually gotten my passport from Nick earlier that week, so we were off to Montreal!

Notre-Dame Basilica

Monday, December 19, 2011


Last weekend Nick and I decided to head over to the South End to go to the SoWa Winter Market and see if we could get caught up on some Christmas shopping.  To say Christmas snuck up on us this year is putting it mildly - the wedding has been the first thing on my mind and so I have been scrambling a bit to make sure I get Christmas set.  Luckily, I think I finished this weekend!

When we arrived at the Market last weekend the line to get in was wrapped around the building.  Since it was open until 7, we decided to head over to the shops at the traditional SoWa Market like Galvin-ized Headware and Bobby from Boston and then grab some lunch.  Having heard so many great things about Gaslight, and considering it was right up the street, it seemed the perfect time to give it a go.

When we arrived it was like walking into the perfect french bistro, complete with lots of white subway tiles and small marble cafe tables.  After being seated we perused the menu and had a bit of trouble choosing what we wanted to eat - there were so many delicious options.  Before having to make any difficult decisions, we selected a couple of drinks to get us started.  I went with something a bit different and ordered the Belle de Brillet paired with French Brandy and cream and spiced with a nutmeg finish.  I was not sure what to expect, but loved this drink!  I am not a traditional brandy person, but with the cream and nutmeg it was perfect!   Beware - it is cold, not warm.

Brandy Lait
Nick went with the Bloody Mary (in true Nick fashion).  There was plenty of spice and garnish to more than satisfy him.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Honey Yeast Rolls

I took my roll of being in charge of bread very seriously for Thanksgiving!  In addition to the hazelnut and cranberry bread for pre-dinner, I wanted to do something from scratch for the main meal.  I thought about making the no knead bread because it always comes out well, but I wanted to try something different and something that would feed a few more people!  Thanksgiving dinner cries out for loads of bread for dipping in gravy.  I consulted a few bloggers for a reliable recipe and decided that honey yeast dinner rolls from Beantown Baker were the best way to go.

Dinner Rolls!
The recipe as stated (and below) makes 12 rolls, but I wanted there to be plenty of rolls and doubled the recipe.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Hazelnut/Pecan and Cranberry Bread

This Thanksgiving was pretty low key for us - only 8 gathered around the table.  While my brother did not make it up for the holiday (paying his dues so he gets Christmas through New Year's off), we were joined by my cousin and her family from Minnesota!  They unfortunately cannot make it to the wedding, but generously offered to come out to Boston for a visit - I mean, they had to meet Nick!  With only 8, my mom had the majority of dinner under control, but still wanting to contribute something to the meal I volunteered myself for the breads.  I figured the possibilities were endless!

Cranberry Hazelnut and Pecan Bread
I remembered a bread recipe that sounded delicious I had seen somewhere with hazelnuts and cranberries.  Knowing we had a bunch of frozen cranberries from our CSA and a bunch of hazelnuts on hand, I was on a mission to find the recipe.  Luckily Nick came to the rescue and did a quick online search and found the recipe on Real Simple's website.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Helmand - Afghani Food

The Helmand Restaurant in East Cambridge was one of the restaurants on our ever-growing list that somehow we never thought about making the effort to get across the river for.  However, after hearing many rave reviews it kept moving up and becoming more of a priority.  Finally it seemed like we had the perfect opportunity: it was a nice halfway point between Beacon Hill and our friends G and J in Winter Hill.

For those who have never heard of The Helmand, its an Afghani restaurant.  To be honest, I do not have much experience with middle eastern and Indian food, but each time I have it I enjoy it more and more.  The flavors are something so different than what I am used to.   While I knew I wanted to go to the Helmand, when I walked through the door, I realized I had not really looked at the menu and had no idea what to expect!

When the four of us arrived, the restaurant was busy, but we were seated straight away.  We reviewed the drink menu briefly and three of us settled on Anchor Steam while G got a glass of wine.

Shortly after the drinks arrived, while we were still reviewing the menu our server brought over some delicious flat bread cooked right behind us in an open wood fire grill.  The flat bread was delicious, a cross between wheat and white bread.  The texture was perfect and got me excited for the rest of the meal.

Flat Bread
Wood Fire Grill

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

French Toast - yummy breakfast!

After sending my brother the blondies, I was left with an almost full loaf of white bread.  While its good for a few Thanksgiving leftover sandwiches, there were only so many leftovers!  Next best thing to do with white sandwich bread?  FRENCH TOAST, cheap bread style.  It was a great way to use up the whole milk, too.

Friday Vacation Breakfast
The Necessities...
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • cinnamon
  • vanilla 
  • nutmeg

Monday, December 12, 2011

Pumpkin Blondies with Salted Caramel

My brother lives in Charlotte and basically had to work for most of the Thanksgiving holiday (and pay his dues) because he will be home for Christmas and my wedding!  I wanted to send him something homemade because I was not sure how well he would fend for himself.  That, and I wanted him to have a bit of a taste of his New England home.  When trying to come up with something to make I was at a bit of a loss, but my recent obsession in Pinterest really helped me search for just the right fall dessert.  Finally, I settled on a Salted Caramel Pumpkin Blondies recipe from Sing for your Supper.

This recipe calls for caramel sauce, and while store-bought is good enough, I thought I would challenge myself and make some homemade salted caramel.  After scouring a bit more on Pinterest I stumbled upon a Salted Caramel Sauce from a A Twist of Kate.  The caramel sauce seemed easy enough so off I went.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Trade Boston

When my cousin and her family came into Boston over the Thanksgiving holiday for an extended visit, they wanted to do dinner at one of the many restaurants she sees on this blog!  They were staying at the Marriott Long Wharf, so I was trying to think of a good place to meet up that would be simple (tougher than one might assume in Boston!).  Finally it dawned on me - Trade, Jody Adams' new restaurant at Atlantic Wharf.  Between the buzz surrounding Trade and the fact that it's a straight shot from the Marriott I immediately made some reservations.

On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving I headed over to Trade after work and was there a bit early, which gave me some time to snap a few shots of the amazing interior and a beer.  I decided on the Delirium, something I had never had before, but a Belgium Ale that happened to be a bit higher in alcohol content sounded perfect to me!  That, and the cute elephants on the tap and the glass ;)

The interior of Trade is quite striking with the combination of the washed out industrial I-beams, the con-caved brick ceilings and the fun lighting throughout.  The contrast in style really comes together in the cavernous space to make a place you want to come and hang out at.

The Bar Area

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Power Hour at Morton's Back Bay

Once a month I have a Junior League Events Committee meeting.  Generally each meeting's theme is based around the different aspects that go into planning an event.  This past month, we went to Morton's Back Bay to discuss the events they do as a company as well as events you can hold in their space.  I had never been to any Morton's before, so I was not really sure what to expect.  Turns out, Morton's has a Power Hour Menu: a bar menu with really well priced food and drink, offered all day long!

Red Wine
During Power Hour, beers are $5, certain wines are $6.50 and some martini's are $7.50.  Morton's is generally known as being on the pricier side, so I was super surprised at how cheap the drinks were.  Even better, it was not the cheap stuff - my glass of wine was delicious!  During the summer, Morton's had a spa martini was was low in calories, but since it's no longer summer they switched modes.  We were lucky enough to sample the sparkling cinnamon apple cocktail with Prosecco, Lindemans Pomme Lambic (green apple), Monin Honey Syrup and some whipped cream, all topped off with a cinnamon and sugar ring. I was a little worried about a creamy cocktail, but this was delicious!  I would highly recommend this on a nice cold evening.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Girls in White Dresses

Since I read a number of books on the T in the morning, I am always looking for some good recommendations.  However, I have spent quite some time going through books on and rating the ones I've read, so they generally have some good recommendations for me.  One of these books was Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close.  What caught me was the description, saying that the book followed a couple of girls after college trying to make it through life and jobs and watching their friends get married...and they're not.
This book was interesting to me, and it did a great job of tracking the lives of 4 friends after graduating from college.  The reader follows their lives until they are a little over thirty and finally become OK with who they are.  As most of us know, there is a lot of growing up that happens through your 20's, and this book shows just how much in its pages.

The book is written from the view of each of the four girls and you start out by going to parties with them and laughing about the random hook-ups, to following them through the first boyfriends out of school.  From there you see how the characters make some life changing decisions about work and love.

Having lived through most of the same situations made this read really fun, and I was almost reflective seeing how much life has changed for me since I graduated college.  No matter what stage you are at in your post-college life, you will see yourself in this book, which makes it a fun read.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Chicken Sausage Pasta with a Semi-Homemade Sauce

Sometimes when it's my turn to cook there's really no recipe inspiration striking and I do not have time to troll the internet to find something that works.  On those nights, sometimes an easy pasta dinner is just what the doctor ordered.  However, jarred pasta sauce isn't always something I am interested in using - I like to pretend some legitimate effort was put into this meal!  Turns out, crushed tomatoes are the key.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Attempt #2 at Brussel Sprouts

Brussel sprouts are not something I had growing up because my mom was not a fan.  However, Nick is a BIG fan of brussel sprouts so I have been trying to figure out a way to cook them at home where we both enjoy them.  My first attempt at brussel sprouts was not super successful in my book - Nick liked them though, which counts for something!  So after getting some great feedback in the comments of that blog post, I now have a little treasure trove of tricks and recipes to play with.

While out shopping at Whole Foods I saw brussel sprouts that they were selling straight from the stalk!  I had never thought about where they come from before, and it seemed a bit odd but did make sense.  Next to the big stalk were bundles of brussel sprouts that were a bit smaller in size, a bit more manageable and, in my opinion, the perfect size for my next attempt at brussel sprouts.

Smaller Brussel Sprouts!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pumpkin and Sausage Pasta

Nick was in charge of making dinner last week, which is great for two reasons: 1) I can relax, watch TV and blog a bit, and 2) he is a good cook!  Nick wanted to capitalize on the available fall flavors, and after a bit of searching came across an Autumn Pasta with Pumpkin and Sausage that sounded delicious.  So, while I was lounging, Nick got to work!

Dinner is Served!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"A Visit From the Goon Squad"

As we all know, I think the world of my kindle.  However, when other people use kindles I cannot look to see what they are reading and that drives me nuts!  I love to get new book ideas from seeing what others are reading on the T or on plane rides.  Lucky for me, though, there were a few people on the plane to Greece that had some hard cover books.  One of the books I saw and then heard so much about was A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan.

cover picture from
To be honest, I finally downloaded the book because I had seen those people reading it, but also because I started to see it on a number of best seller lists and figured it would be good.  While I do not think I am very picky about books, maybe I am (I hated Franzen's Freedom), but I really did not like this book.  

A Visit From the Goon Squad is a series of semi interconnected stories following different characters somehow involved in the music industry.  I did not see the stories working together very well.  Further, some of the stories and the voices I really enjoyed, however, those chapters often finished too quickly and moved onto another voice that may not have been as engaging.  I felt like some of the characters were just left hanging and their lives changed but the reader had no idea how or why.  

After reading some books that I reacted so strongly to, I think I like books that tell complete stories.  I like character development and seeing how things progress.  I need characters that are redeemable in a way that I believe it.  Watching characters fail without much hope of seeing how they get built back up doesn't do it for me. 

Obviously this book has been loved by many readers, I just do not happen to be one of them - not enough of a story for me.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Lean on Lamb - Lamb Pizza!

About two months ago I was contacted by the Tri Lamb Group (a collaborativeinitiative of lamb producer organizations from the U.S., New Zealand andAustralia) about hosting a supper club for 10-12 of my closest friends.  The goal of this group is really to educate American's on lamb.  In general, I think people think of poultry, beef and the other white meat - pork - for meats when cooking dinners, while lamb is not something that typically comes to mind.  This group's goal is to change that.  Turns out, lamb is much leaner and nutritious than beef.

By providing the components for a great meal they are able to provide a group with a fantastic experiencing with lamb to get the ball rolling.  In addition to the ingredients, the group also provides some fun decorations, like lamb jokes that also include lamb facts.  My favorite joke: "What is a lamb's favorite protest?  Flock-upied Wall Street!"

Recipes and Jokes.
Growing up, my mom actually cooked lamb about once every two months for my family, and since moving out it is always my request from her when we have a "fancy" dinner at home.  When I go out to eat, if there is lamb on the menu, I generally order it.  However, I have only cooked lamb once at home.  I think I find the meat intimidating to cook for some reason.  So, when given the chance to put a meal together and get some more experience under my belt in a well-guided atmosphere, I jumped at the opportunity.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Shepard's Pie...ish

This recipe goes back aways - back to when we had fresh corn and onions on a weekly basis.  I mean, its only been two weeks and I am really missing our CSA goodie bag!  Having received so much corn and potatoes for a number of weeks in a row, we really were looking for meals that utilized these ingredients.  Nick decided to take the lead in the kitchen on this night and wing a recipe.  While not really a traditional shephard's pie in any way, the same flavor profile was there.

The Necessities...
To begin, Nick cut up loads of onions and put them in a saute pan with some olive oil and kept them heating low and slow for quite some time to get them fully caramelized.

Caramelizing onions....
Using the special corn trick, Nick cut the kernels off of the ears of corn.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Gallows

The Gallows is one of those restaurants that has been on our ever growing "list" for a while now.  When Boston Magazine listed The Gallows as one of the top restaurants in the area, it finally reminded me that I needed to go!  So that Tuesday, Nick and I headed over to check it out after work.

When I arrived, Nick was already sitting at a snug little booth sipping on a pumpkin beer, but the pumpkin martini on the cocktail list caught my eye!  This was delicious because it was not creamy but instead just had a good pumpkin spice flavor.

Pumpkin Martini
Inside, the Gallows is rustic and warm with its slatted wood ceiling and interesting lighting fixtures.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Butternut Squash Chili

After so many amazing months of getting great veggies from my CSA, I am so sad it has finally come to an end.  Mondays now come and go with no boxes of fresh produce.  However, I get to relive some of the last great pick-ups by writing them up here.  When I had a couple squashes to use, I turned to trusty Gojee and plugged in acorn and butternut squash (delicata squash is an easy substitute for butternut) and found a recipe for Cincinnati Chili from the Judicial Peach.  This recipe was for a regular chili, but had some squash, avocado and chocolate - how could I resist!

To begin, I started the long process of preparing the squash.  Luckily, delicata squash does not need to be peeled, so it cuts down on a lot of the prep, but stilled needed to be cubed.  The acorn squash, however, not only had to be cubed but also peeled.  Peeling a ribbed vegetable is not easy to say the least.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Highland Kitchen - a trip to Somerville

Nick and I had been trying to get together with friends G and J for what seemed like forever, but for whatever reason we could never figure out a date.  The original destination for our dinner was supposed to be P.F. Changs because we had a gift certificate, but we passed on the free pastures for something a bit more fun.  Even better for our Somerville friends, we decided to go out to them - a rarity! - and went to a great neighborhood restaurant: Highland Kitchen.

Driving up, we really wondered where we were going because from the outside, the restaurant looks like an old dive bar (which in fact it is - a pool hall to be exact).  When we arrived, we were told there was an hour wait, so we decided to head to the bar and grab some drinks.  Highland Kitchen has a pretty good cocktail list so I had no problem waiting - that, and we had perfect company!

Milk Stout
G could not wait to get her hands on a Mark and Stormy - a dark and stormy made with Makers Mark - and it was just as delicious as she remembered.

Mark and Stormy

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Villa Mexico - the "Gas Station Burrito Place!"

I have lived in Beacon Hill for over five years now and sadly only just experienced the amazingness that is Villa Mexico - AKA, the gas station burrito place!  Up until this night I only heard the rumors of how delicious the burritos were.  I had been many other Boston burrito places and while some are better than others, I really did not think Villa Mexico could be that different.

Burrito and Dia de los Muertos Bread
Villa Mexico is located right at the gas station on the corner of Cambridge and Grove Streets.  When I first moved to the area and saw the sign, I thought it was pointing out a restaurant that was behind the fence, but I quickly learned the truth.  On this night, Nick and I decided to walk down to grab some burritos because with all the rumors of the gas station building being re-purposed, I wanted to try out this burrito (just in case).

Friday, November 11, 2011

Spaghetti Squash Dinner

In the final weeks of our CSA we were getting tons of squashes, one of which was spaghetti squash, the flesh of which basically turns into spaghetti when you start scraping it out.  With this, I let Nick be the guinea pig and figure out how to make this squash into a meal.  Using the ever popular Gojee, Nick found a recipe for "Mexi Squash" from the Sprouted Kitchen.

To being, Nick cut the squash in half, pulled out the seeds, placed the halves face down on a baking sheet and put it in a 375 degree oven for about 50 minutes.  Once tender, he allowed the squash to cool a bit.

Cooling Roasted Squash
While the squash was resting, Nick combined the juice of two limes, olive oil, 2 teaspoons of minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of cumin, a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, and some coriander in a small bowl.

Using a fork, Nick scraped out all the spaghetti goodnesss from the cooled squash into a large bowl.

Scraping out the spaghetti
Nick then added the sauce and a handful of feta crumbles to the bowl with the squash and combined.  You could also use a mexican cheese here, but since they didn't have any at the store that night, the recipe said feta would work just as well.

Dressed Squash
To beef up this dinner, Nick seasoned some chicken with the zest from the 2 limes, salt and pepper and put it on the Foreman Grill to cook through...
Some Seasoned Raw Chicken
...and then topped the mexi squash with the grilled chicken.
Dinner is ready!
Spaghetti squash is a really fun vegetable (well, technically, a really fun fruit,!) that offers the same concepts of a pasta but is way healthier.  With a crunchier texture, I liked the change up, but I will say, sometimes there really is no substitute for straight up pasta!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Brahmin

Recently I have had a couple of girls nights, and most of the time I get to select the location (being the blogger and all) but I still find the task a bit daunting.  On this night, however, I was excited to do so because I had been looking forward to going to The Brahmin, so I figured this would be the perfect time!  The term "Boston Brahmin" goes way back and basically describes the old Yankee families (those with lots of money but don't really show it "old money") who have relatives that fought in the Revolution and qualify for the DAR.

On a Wednesday, I met A and M over on Stanhope Street (the new "it" place to be) at the former 33 space, the top floor of which has been dramatically redone.  The main floor has a large bar area that is surrounded by comfy leather couches and brick walls.  The decorating does make you feel like you have entered an old brownstone - but with a twist.

The Front Door

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Portobello - Italian in Jupiter Florida

As a final entry on my trip to West Palm Beach back in September (!), on Saturday night of the visit, we headed up to Jupiter to have dinner with some of Nick's mother's friends at Portobello.  While we had reservations for our group of five, we really did not need them as it was still the off season during our visit.  It was amazing to see how many places were closed for the season, but after dealing with the heat and humidity for a long weekend, I am not surprised - it's HOT!

Upon sitting down, we ordered some wine for the table to share.  I really enjoyed this Malbec and would definitely consider getting it again.  In general, I feel like you get a nicer wine for less money with a Malbec

Dinner Wine
To go with our basket of bread at dinner we had some nicely roasted garlic cloves sitting in olive oil - is there anything better to put on bread than this?!  Good thing we were all friends here though, because I had more than my fair share of garlic.

Roasted Garlic

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Billy Tse's - North End Chinese

Not all restaurants in the North End are actually Italian!  While there aren't many outside the traditional fare, they do exist.  One such place is Billy Tse's, a Chinese/Japanese restaurant right on Commercial St.  When my friend L was looking to do a small bachelorette party, she decided to have dinner at the place where she and her future husband originally met.  Even better, they have Scorpion bowls, which is always a great way to get a ladies night going.  This scorpion bowl is served in a proper Tiki ceramic bowl with the volcano of fire (the traditional way).  However, in order to ensure I didn't waste any alcohol, I immediately blew out the fire - its 151!  Like most scorpion bowls, this has plenty of alcohol but tastes more like juice.

Scorpion Bowl
As in most Asian restaurants, we of course had to order some edamame.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Spinach, Chicken, Feta and Almonds...

I know I have mentioned Gojee as a good source for recipes a number of times.  While I get really annoyed with daily emails, I still allow Gojee's because they have some good suggestions and it only comes once a week, so I don't get too inundated.  Recently they sent an newsletter that featured Chicken Stuffed with Spinach, Feta and Almonds, which looked and sounded delicious.  Since it had been awhile since I had done a wrapped chicken (I went through a phase, pre-blog) I figured I should give this a go.

The Ingredients

Friday, November 4, 2011

Dinner at Area Four and a night cap at Catalyst

Recently I had a girls night with some lovely ladies: A, C, and G.  Being the blogger, I was tasked with finding a fun location for us girls, and based on a couple of things (location, cost and my desire to try somewhere new) I decided on Area Four - small plates and a good bar list always makes for a fun way to dine with a group.  So, we headed over to Kendall Square on a Friday night - who knew it's becoming a place to hang out outside of business hours!

When we arrived at Area 4, we actually were able to grab a 4-top in the bar area straight away and they said they would make a exception and give us a server - perfect!  However, these chairs were not what you would call easy to sit on - they were pitched forward, so I kept sliding out.  I promise I was not the only one having this problem.  Once we figured out the seats we looked over the drink menu, and while some decided on white wine and another on a pumpkin beer, I went with a sangria because I am always looking for a good red sangria.  This one was actually pretty good - a bit more juice-like but not too sweet.

Red Sangria
After reviewing the Area Four menu we decided on a couple of items that we could split.  The first to arrive was the roasted mushrooms with Maderia vinaigrette and gremolata.  Now, they were only $5 so I am not sure what portion I was expecting but what came out was tiny.  Really, we had about 2 or 3 mushrooms each.  This plate really is not one to share.  The flavors were good, but the size was off.

Roasted Mushrooms
Next to arrive was a bit of redemption: KK's bacon and sea salt pretzel nuggets with a side of Pimento cheese dip.  While these were tasty, soft on the inside with a little crunch on the outside, I did not get much in the way of bacon flavor.  The bites were great for snacking and were a more generous portion.  Also, they are definitely a different dish on a menu that was fun.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Fluffiest Pancakes Ever

When I was doing my daily blog reading, I stumbled upon A Boston Food Diary's post for what looked to be the best pancake recipe ever.  One quick read and I knew I had to make them!  So, on a recent Sunday that Nick and I had to ourselves I knew pancakes would be perfect to accompany our morning coffee.

Fluffiest Pancakes!
The main difference between these pancakes and the more traditional recipes is that it calls for cake flour.  Since I had some on hand, I set to work.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Paris Wife

I take the T every morning to work, and those who have ever stepped foot on the green line know it can be a bit of a battle.  I only ride for six stops, making somewhat of a reverse commute, so its not too much of a hardship.  Really though, the way I make it even better is that I keep my kindle in my purse at all times.  Needless to say, getting lost in a book, even just for one chapter makes, the ride go by a lot easier.
Photo from Amazon...
I recently finished The Paris Wife by Paula McLain.  This was a novel I had seen in bookshops (when they were around!) and online for awhile, but I had not really looked at it closely.  Finally, Amazon recommended it so many times based on my other interests I decided to take a closer look.  Turns out this was a novel (historical fiction) about Ernest Hemingway and his first wife Hadley Richardson and their time in Paris.  I must admit, I really have only read Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway and did not know much about him other than what Chris O'Donnell taught me in In Love and War.  What makes this book stand out, however, is Ernest Hemingway is only a supporting character, and the book is really about Hadley and written in her voice.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tasting Menu at Craigie on Main

I started this blog almost a year ago (November 4, 2010) and its amazing to see how far I have come since then.  When I first started, I really had no idea where it was going to take me but I knew it would be a great way to keep track of all the fun places I go and what I see - but also, it turned out to be a fantastic way to track all the restaurants I frequented.  Finally, I can recall what I ate and if I actually liked it!  Even better it got me to try new places rather than continually going to my comfort zone.

When a new internet venture, Tasted Menu, contacted me to help build up their website I was more that willing to help out.  Tasted Menu does not limit you to review the restaurant, but every menu item, so you have a good feeling about what the plates will look like when it comes to your table.  There is nothing worse than ordering a dish and being totally let down when you see it in person.  Since I loved the concept of Tasted Menu, I was more than willing to go into my archives and start add my reviews to the site.  As a thank you, the founder Alex took myself, RachelElizabeth and the One Food Guy, due to our number of photos, to Craigie on Main for the 8 course tasting menu.  Having been to Craigie once before for dinner and then for the BEST burger so needless to say I was excited for the tasting menu.

When I arrived, Rachel, Elizabeth and I were a bit early and decided to ask for some bread as we all had not eaten for most of day in order to leave plenty of room for dinner, but we were hungry!  Nothing like some fresh rolls to get things going for the evening.

Fresh Rolls
Once the rest of our table arrived, ordering went quickly because all we had to say was the 8 course tasting menu!  To begin, we were served three amuse preparations; house-cured Portuguese sardine, house-smoked artic char with a buttermilk vinaigrette and an Albacore tuna rillettes with hackleback caviar.  These really fit the definition of an amuse (something I did not know about until Top Chef), just a bite to awaken your taste buds to get you ready for the rest of dinner.  The flavors of these three bites did just that - fun combinations that just wet your whistle.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Yappy Hour - Halloween Style

This summer, Nick and I took Holly to Yappy Hour at The Liberty Hotel and had a fantastic time.  Basically, the Liberty Hotel sets up a bar tables, chairs and plastic couches out in the Yard, behind Scampo, and allows pets and their owners go crazy.  Most of the dogs are running around off-leash, just having a ton of fun while the owners are hanging out with the dogs enjoying a few drinks.  For me, it is really nice to be able to head out with Holly after being away from her all day.  Yappy Hour is done every Wednesday through the summer, up until (as it turns out) Halloween.

Enjoying a drink with Holly!
The Liberty Hotel's cap to the Yappy Hour season was the Halloween Party!  I had seen an ad through Four Preppy Paws' twitter account and thought it would a fun way to spend the evening.  Even better, we got to torture Holly by dressing her up in a costume.  We were a bit late to the shopping, but were able to find a great bee costume at Fish and Bone on Newbury Street.  The costume was a little snug, so we said she was the bumble bee girl on the cover of the Blind Melon album, but doggy glasses are a little hard to come by ;).

Heading to Yappy Hour
On our way down the street, Nick asked if I was sure it was truly the costume night because he did not want Holly to be the only pup dressed up.  He knew how uncomfortable he would have been to be the ONLY one dressed up.  Even though all the dogs were dressed up, at the entrance we saw a french bulldog dressed in the exact same costume!  Oh the horror!  Turns out bumble bees were big this year.

Look of panic
The first time we were at Yappy Hour, Holly was definitely the shy girl, and this night was no different.  We found ourselves a nice little couch area, and Holly made herself right at home looking down at the other dogs - from all angles.

Asking "what is going on?!"
There was a doggy costume contest going on throughout the night, so while there were repeats, there were some real original ones as well.

Great Dane as a horse - owner was a jockey
Hooters Girl
There was also a dog dressed Hugh Hefner, complete with a captain's hat, and the owner had a bunny costume on.  Meanwhile, Holly still was hanging out on the couch with the humans.

Eventually, she decided to seek refuge on Nick's lap.

A close up on her sitting position was needed because she was literally sitting like a person would on a bench.  But she was a happy camper.

The winner of the evening!  & Holly's twin...

Blackhawk - the lit couch was killing my photo!
Finally, when we were ready to leave and I got up to pay the tab, Holly jumped down from her perch and and ran around a bit.  While it was only to see other people - not dogs - I was proud nonetheless.  Next year maybe she will branch out more.

Yappy Hour is such a fun time and a great way to have some apres-work cocktails.  If you have a dog or just like dogs, I highly recommend heading over to the Yard on Wednesday evenings next summer.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...