Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Seven's - Beacon Hill

On Friday night Nick and I wanted to go out and watch the Bruins game, but were not interested in getting into the mess near the Garden.  Instead, we went to the Seven's Ale House, a very local Beacon Hill watering hole located right on Charles Street.  While I have been there to enjoy more than a few drinks from their fairly extensive beer menu (no hard stuff here) and played (or attempted to play) darts at the back of the long and narrow space, I have never actually eaten there.

I have attempted to watch games at the Sevens before, but it can be difficult to get a good space because the bar fills up quickly and the space does not lend itself to standing when its crowded.  Since the game started at 8:00 and it was one the first super nice days out, Nick and I headed over around 7:30 and had our pick of most of the tables in the bar.  We really were ready to settle in for the long haul and have a few drinks and a bite to eat. 

The menu offers a variety of sandwiches and wraps all at a great price point - nothing on the menu is over $10.  Considering this is Charles Street in Beacon Hill, that is pretty amazing!  Nick ordered the breaded chicken sandwich with a homemade honey mustard and Havarti on toasted wheat bread with a side of potato salad.
Seven's Chicken Sandwich

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Five Guys! Seriously good burgers...

Last night Nick and I headed up to the North Shore for some wedding cake tasting (more on that later!).  On our way home we decided we needed a little salt to balance out all the sweet, so we finally decided hit up the new(ish) Five Guys in Saugus on Route 1 South near the Square One Mall.  Nick was the one who introduced me to Five Guys as he had it when he lived in Washington, DC.  Slowly Five Guys has made their way towards New England.  I think we are so close to getting one downtown, but for now it is probably safer to have it a drive away - I do have a wedding dress to fit into!

Something you really should know before ordering is that the regular burgers actually come with 2 patties!  A little burger or a junior only has the one patty, but its plenty for me.  Like U Burger, Five Guys offers a number of toppings to their burgers for you to choose from. 

My Burger

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bacco's Wine and Cheese

When the Deluca's fire happened almost a year ago I was not sure what I was going to do since I basically did all my food and beverage shopping there.  It was a block away - way too convenient no matter what others people's complaints were.  While there is construction being done on the building right now, it does not seem like Deluca's will be opening for some time.  However, most people and the neighborhood have adapted (yay Charles Street Market and Savenor's!) and the rest of us have learned to live without Deluca's, but where are the many Deluca's workers?  I found my answer tonight.

I recently had a Junior League of Boston committee meeting at Baccos Wine and Cheese.  Every day of the week (except of Sundays) Bacco has a wine and cheese tasting after work, s our group decided to take full advantage!  Turns out the general manager of Deluca's decided to take matters into his own hands and start his own shop of wonderfulness!

Tasting Table
Bacco's has a large variety of wines that is sold by a knowledgeable staff who are more than willing to make suggestions for you at a any price point.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

This was a book I randomly saw on various "best-of" lists but never gave much thought to until my friend L recommended it to me.  So, when I went looking for my next book to read I did not give it a second thought and ordered it immediately, not knowing much (if anything at all) about the plot.  L and I have been passing books back and forth since high school - there really hasn't been anything that she has recommended that hasn't been a great read, so off I went and downloaded "The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration" by Isabel Wilkerson.  The book follows the stories of three different people who are only connected by their desire to leave the oppression of the south for the "freedoms" of the north and the west.

Cover Picture Source

Monday, May 23, 2011

Enjoying the Sun on the Rattlesnake Roof Deck

This past Saturday Nick and I were heading out and running errands that brought us to both Downtown Crossing and Back Bay.  While we were expecting the weather to be gloomy, it turned out that the day had something much nicer in store - warmth and sun (go figure!)  I will take it for the few short hours it was here.

Around lunchtime we were hungry but had no destination in mind.  We originally thought we could go to Parish Cafe, but of course it was packed.  Instead, we decided to check out the roof deck at Rattlesnake Bar.  Turns out we hit it only a few minutes after it opened so we immediately headed up.  This isn't just some thrown together area - there is a legitimate bar, complete with seating and standing room, as well as a number of tables for any number of people.  There are plenty of umbrellas in order to keep the sun at bay for those of us who are not used to the sun quite yet.

Deciding to indulge in this weather, we got ourselves a Sam Summer (my first one of the season) and a Harpoon IPA.

Perfect on a sunny day!
The bar upstairs is completely full service and the longer we sat the more drinks we saw go out: sangria, mojitos, beer, etc.!  All of them looked pretty refreshing on a warm sunny day.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Caffe Bella Vita in Beacon Hill

I have lived within a stone's throw of the Caffe Bella Vita for four years and last night was the first time I went there for anything other than some gelato.  The restaurant has two full sides of windows letting you look in and see what is going on.  Most of the time there are some students studying (they have free wi-fi) or people catching up over a nice looking cup of cappuccino.  Within the last year they have completely repainted the interior with a deep red color and a yellow/gold trim, creating a warm place.

This cold and rainy day seemed like the perfect time to test out a place that has a reputation for great soups, among other things.  Having watched all those people with their gourmet cups of coffee, I decided to order myself a cappuccino.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tilapia and Quinoa with Feta and Cucumber

For dinner last night I almost had the whole plan before getting to work.  By "plan" I mean I had a protein that was sitting in the fridge defrosting.  For me that is huge - I never remember to make that switch!  For some reason I was set on using the tilapia filets in the freezer that came from Whole Foods, nicely vacuum packed and ready for just such an occasion. 

Having the main ingredient really helps narrow down the recipe to use.  In this case, Martha (of course) had the most interesting recipe that called for tilapia and quinoa, so I went for it.

Dinner is ready!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Addis Red Sea - a trip to Ethiopia in Boston

Boston does not have what you call a "plethora" of restaurants from many cultures like many other big cities.  I always want to try out different types of food, but when push comes to shove, I don't - not because I don't want to but because its easy to get intimidated by the menu, and really, I don't think about these less-traditional options when the time comes.  In this case, however, Groupon helped push us into going.  In March Groupon was featuring Addis Red Sea, a completely authentic Ethiopian restaurant, and so I decided to go for it.
Nick and I went last week, somewhat early, and the place was busy.  The set up isn't your traditional table and chairs but rather stools and smaller chairs, and something more like a high ottoman than a table.

Table and Chair

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Taste of Beacon Hill - where everyone knows your name

Last week was basically the "who's who" in Beacon Hill dining - it was the Taste of Beacon Hill!  This year the event was held in the ballroom on the 14th floor of the Omni Parker House.  The ball room was set up with tables set up everywhere with plenty of food stations to go around.  We set off with a plan: up and down both aisles twice, making sure we didn't miss anything.  Here are some of the highlights.

The first stop was Zen Sushi.  I mean, how do you walk by that sushi boat - it has to be the biggest I have ever seen!

That's a sushi boat!
This place is one my favorites for sushi in Boston.  They had some shumai that was delicious, and I will definitely be ordering some the next time I head in. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Craigie on Main Burger with a trip to Toscaini's

If you are at all into burgers and you read any Boston-based food articles, then you have probably read the accolades of Craigie On Main in general (Tony Mays is a recent James Beard Award winner!) and their burger in particular.  In case that press wasn't enough, during the "chat" with Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert, they said that was the place they wanted to try on their trip to Boston.  According to the "New York foodie mafia," it is THE place to go.  On our first trip to Craigie we sat in the dining room (where they actually don't serve the burger at dinner) and had an amazing meal - still the best octopus I have ever eaten.

Since then we have been wanting to go back for the burger but just had not found the time.  Randomly on Friday night we check out whether it was something that was served on their brunch menu and when we found out it was, we had our Sunday brunch plans.

The Burger

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Help - Kathryn Stockett

After struggling for awhile to get through another historical fiction book (I am done with Henry VIII stories!) I decided to finally read The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

The novel tells the story from the viewpoint of three different women, all from different backgrounds, over the course of about a year in Mississippi in the early 1960's.  Two of the women are black maids to white families across town - some who have plenty of money and others that only pretend to.  The final storyteller is a white women who grew up with a black maid, but has some issues with their treatment.  After a very disturbing movement made by one of her friends, which would allow the maids to only use bathrooms outside or in the garage, she decides to do something about it. 

This book has been all over the best seller lists for over a year now, but for some reason I had trouble committing to reading it.  I thought it would be hard to find a book that could be so convincingly written from the perspective of three very different women.  Even more, writing as two black maids and a wealthy white woman without sounding like a caricature is difficult, to say the least, but somehow Stockett does this amazingly well.  The whole town is so vividly imagined and laid out you feel like you are going through each of these experiences.

I think the fact that the movie will be coming out soon with actors that I enjoy helped push me to buy the novel.  I hate not reading the book before seeing the movie - I like to make sure I have my own version of the characters in my head and then judge the casting fully!

I fully admit I jumped on this bandwagon, but it was totally worth the read.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Cinco de Mayo Fish Tacos!

I was feeling a bit uninspired looking for a recipe last week - I wasn't even sure where to begin looking because I was not in the mood for anything specific.  However, it was Cinco De Mayo, so that took me down a path that led to only good things.  The fantastic food blog We Are Not Martha featured a recipe for Crispy Fried Fish Tacos that looked like it would hit the spot.  To be honest, I had never fried fish at home so I was really curious to see how this was going to go - a fun challenge, shall we say.

Crispy Fish Tacos

Monday, May 9, 2011

America's Test Kitchen Chocolate Chip Cookie Challenge!

I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that chocolate chip cookies remind me of growing up and being in the kitchen with my mom baking - a bit of Americana.  Most people have their own twist on traditional recipes passed down through their family.  Each of my friends would trade secrets that we learned: for example, my mom, who learned from HER mom, always used shortening (Crisco) rather than butter or a mixture of both, which created a puffier cookie.  I find it very difficult to break from the traditions I learned from my mom - to this day I still use Crisco when baking anything, from cookies and pies to frosting.  This may seem really odd to some, but its the way I grew up doing it.  The first time I made my chocolate chip cookies for Nick, I really hoped he liked them (even though they were different from what he may have learned growing up) because the little tweaks I learned are things I want to pass on to my children.

All that being said, I still love to try out new recipes to see if there are new techniques that would make me want to try to change my ways.  When I recently saw the America's Test Kitchen Boston blogger challenge to make Cooks Illustrated's Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies, I could not resist giving it a go.


Friday, May 6, 2011

Honeyed Prawns & Polenta - Bringing the South up North

We realized this week that it had been awhile since we really cooked a "real" meal ourselves, so when it came time to select a recipe I was at a loss.  However, when we were in Savannah we became obsessed with the delicious honey from the Savannah Bee Company so of course we bought some souvenirs.  This was as good a place as any for some inspiration.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Red Bones - BBQ in Boston...

...or, I guess I should say Somerville!  In general, it takes a Groupon or a really good reputation to get me to cross the river.  In this case it was actually a meeting with a potential wedding photographer AND a Groupon AND a good restaurant.  With the appointment schedule we were off to Red Bones to indulge in a little BBQ. 

The first time I went Red Bones I was with some co-workers during a summer internship.  After we had gone to Anna's for lunch they suggested we get some dessert and off we went.  However, rather than ice cream (which was what I was expecting) we went for some micro brews - pretty good in my book.  Since then I have been to Red Bones once for a quick meal and it was great, so I was excited to go back.

It was fairly early on a Tuesday night and the place was already busy, but we were able to sit right down.  One of Red Bones' claims to fame is their extensive list of microbrews on tap.  For those who cannot make up their mind, you can let the wheel decide - spin it and whatever it lands on you drink.  Feeling less adventurous tonight and not wanting to leave it up to chance, I went with a good stand by - Pretty Things.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Russell House Tavern - FINALLY!

This is one of those places Nick and I have been meaning to try from a long time - people have been singing its praises for awhile now.  However, it being ALL the way across the river we had to plan ahead.  Lucky for us two of my cousins were coming to town and I thought this would be a perfect time to test out the Russell House Tavern.

I was surprised at how big the restaurant was.  We were seated at a big table on the bottom floor that was a nice open space, though it seemed a bit loud at first.  However, after a couple of cocktails from their nice drink menu, that stopped bothering me :)

The menu had a good mix of foods, including pizza, a raw bar, small plates and more traditional entrees.  Our group decided to pass on appetizers and dive right into main courses.  One of these was Roasted Giannone Farm chicken, served with mashed potatoes, thyme roasted carrots and smothered with pan drippings.

Roasted Chicken

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

First Game at Fenway for the Season!

Last night I was lucky enough to get to go to Fenway to watch the Sox for the evening.  My friend M had an extra ticket and invited me along, and needless to say I was more than willing to go.  There is something about baseball for me that really just triggers spring and summer.  Going to Fenway really means that summer is right around the corner!

Working only a few stops away, I made sure to bring my Sox t-shirt and hat to work so I would be fully prepared for the evening.  As I sat in my office waiting to go, I was so happy to see how fantastic the weather was - sunny and warm.  I could only hope that it held out a little while longer.  Lucky for us it did!  The seats were before Pesky's Pole in Right field and gave us a great view of most things going on in the stadium.  I always love trying new seats at Fenway because each one is completely different - for better or worse, you never know what you are going to get.  Tonight, it was definitely better!

It really wasn't that cloudy!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Savannah Day 3 - Paula Deen's (!) and a Trolley Tour

I was one lucky lady on our last day in Savannah because I did not have to wake up early but still got reservations at Paula Deen's The Lady and Sons.

Paula and I!
Not because it was a quiet day, because as you can see in the photo below, the place was packed.  Rather, Nick got up and was in line at 8:30am in order to make reservations that they don't start taking until 9:30am - that is how crazy it gets down there!

Crowd getting ready...

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