Thursday, April 26, 2012

Parmesan Chicken and Roasted Romaine Salad

When looking for dinner inspiration, I turn to a lot of places.  Recently, however, Pinterest has been a serious go-to for me.  Good weeknight meals are sometimes tough to find, but when I saw this Parmesan Chicken with Caesar Roasted Romaine on Pinterest, I knew I found a good one.  

Roasted Chicken and Warm Romaine Salad
The Necessities (adapted from Bon Appetit)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

An Afternoon in the Souks in Old Town Dubai

When you go to Dubai there are two very different sides - the new and the old.  When a city, like Dubai, is going for the biggest and newest of everything sometimes the original city can get a bit lost in the shadows, especially the big one cast by the Burj Kalifa!  After we landed and got settled in our hotel, we jumped in a cab and headed to the Dubai Creek, and shopped at the Souks (where the gold, textile and spices are).

At the Dubai Creek
Based on the layout of the area, we first checked out the gold souk.  With tax free shopping and people ready to bargin there are deals to be had.  I did not indulge, though, since the gold was just a bit too much, and with this being my first time bargaining I did not bring the prices down (at all!).  It definitely was fun to look at all the inventory, that is for sure.  Some of the jewelry was so beautifully intricate.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Lucca Back Bay

When Nick and I were out at The Hawthorne, we originally were thinking we would head down to Sweet Cheeks BBQ for dinner, but with an hour and a half wait and not being able to put our name in ahead of time, we decided to look elsewhere.  With some help from Open Table, we ended up making last-minute reservations at Lucca Back Bay.

It was my first time at either of one of Boston's Italian staple (the other location is fittingly in the North End).  While we were on time for our reservation, they were running a bit behind, which was to be expected for a Saturday night.  We headed over to the bar, but before we could put a good dent in our wine we were ushered to our table.  With its high ceilings and open space, Lucca Back Bay is not where you go for a quiet dinner, but great for a lively evening out.

Lucca Back Bay
Upon seating, our server greeted us and shortly thereafter brought over some hearty bread and a hummus with olive oil - a perfect way to move us from craft cocktails to dinner.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Around Dubai!

After 10 nights in the Maldives (aka, the definition of paradise), we needed to somehow slowly reenter civilization.  Since we were already on the other-side of the world and had a layover there, it seemed like the perfect idea to extend our layover for two nights and check out Dubai, one of the seven United Arab Emirates.  I have a few upcoming posts that detail a couple of our adventures, but in the meantime, here is a sampling of photos from this fantastic city.

Burj Kalifa, view from our hotel balcony
Around The Palace Hotel
Burj Kalifa at Night
Dancing Fountains!
Around the new downtown area
More Dancing Fountains
Aquarium inside the Dubai Mall (with candy store reflection)
More Aquarium  (and Gap ad reflection)
Pee Wee Hockey Inside of the Mall!
They had every American chain imaginable!  
Dancing Fountains During the Day
En route to the Souk Al Bahar
More Burj Kalifa
Entry to The Palace Old Town
Inside The Palace
Being over in Dubai, we wanted to experience new restaurants that were native to the area.  However, with all the chains, it was actually really hard to do!  For lunch we managed to find Shakespeare and Co (partly because it was right next to our hotel), which is a chain, but native to the area at least!  With simple sandwiches, Shisha (hookahs) and outdoor dining, it was a pretty fun early afternoon!

Dubai has tons to offer and things to see that are completely different from what we see in the States, whether it be old or completely new!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Tri Lamb Dinner Night - Lamb Shank with White Bean and Tomatoes

When Tri Lamb Group contacted me to host another lamb supper club, I jumped at the opportunity.  Making the Lamb Pizza the first time around was such a great success and got a bunch of my friends to actually eat lamb (some for the first time) - exactly what the Lean on Lamb group intended.  Being the lamb lover that I am, I love getting to share it with others while getting more comfortable with making it at home.

Dinner is almost ready!
This time around I invited a small group of girlfriends on a cold night for Braised Lamb Shanks with White Bean and Tomatoes.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and Cafe G

Back before the trees were green and the weather was warm, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum opened a new wing - a modern glass building with a glass tunnel that connects the original Fenway Court to the new wing, thereby satisfying the legacy and will of the museum's namesake.

Connecting Tunnel
On a relatively cool and rainy day we jumped on the E line (thank goodness that wasn't completely pulled on weekends!) and walked the quick trip to the Museum.  What is quite amazing is how unassuming the original Fenway Court is from the outside - its only upon entering the building to you see the inside out Italian Villa and architectural design Gardner created.

New Wing and Fenway Court

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Maldivian Cooking School - Fish and Coconut!

In addition to everything else wonderful about our Maldives trip, the food was exceptional!  While breakfast and lunch were buffets with loads of tasty delights, dinner was a sit-down four course meal every night, complete with an amuse bouche and a sorbet palette cleanser.  Needless to say, we ate well!

One thing that was always a feature of every meal was fish and coconut because, as the Maldivian's say, they have plenty of both.  In addition, they had a variety of curry dishes and, lucky for Nick and I, the Maldivian's like this spicy.  When we saw a cooking class offered by the the chef's whose food we enjoyed everyday, we could not resist.

Nick was a tad bit delayed because he was finishing his certification dives, but I was there camera in hand and ready to document it all!  I walked up to the outdoor kitchen area that was set up with a lovely display of spices and prepped food for the demonstration.

Colorful Spices
Each of the participants was given a cookbook complete with a great curry recipe among others that we would try that day.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Day Trip to Male, the Capital of the Maldives

When you head to the Maldives you stay at your island resort, which is a usually single small island.  The Maldives is a country made up of almost 1,200 island of which 200 are inhabited and about 100 of those are actually resorts!  Male is the capitol of the Maldives and is the most populous island in the country.  However, it is actually the smallest capitol city in the world.  Not that we were suffering from island fever, but we decided in addition to our Night Fishing excursion that it would be fun to take an afternoon tour of the Capitol City and see the local sites.

Maldivian Flag
Tons of Bright Colored Buildings

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Santarpio's Pizza - East Boston Tradition

Whenever you hear people talk about pizza in Boston there are three places that come to mind: Upper Crust, Pizzeria Reginas and Santarpio's.  I have more than frequented the first two but somehow had never been to Santarpio's, even though I grew up north of Boston and have lived in Boston for over 5 years.  Nick and I have said on many a trip home from the airport that we should stop, but never had before.  Finally, Nick was coming from a business trip on a Friday night, so we decided to make a date of it and meet at the famous East Boston spot.

I had no idea what to expect when I arrived at Santarpio's and was waiting for Nick to arrive.  For some reason I just figured it was a place that was mostly take-out with a few chairs.  When Nick came and saw me waiting outside, he was very confused - turns out the restaurant is pretty big, nothing fancy but had loads of people chowing down on some delicious looking pizza, and I should have put our name in!  After sitting down and ordering some diet cokes (big night!) we looked over the menu.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Lamb Jam - Loads of Lamb!

Anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis knows that I am a big fan of lamb, and for the past few years have been out of town for the Fan of Lamb Boston event.  However, this year when I saw that Nick and I were actually going to be in town, I bought us tickets immediately!  With over 15 restaurants coming and showing off their talents with lamb (and a few brewery's), we knew we were in for a treat.  A portion of the proceeds from the event go to Share Our Strength, which focuses on childhood hunger.  Lamb, beer and good times to help a good cause - perfect!

The event was held in the ball room of the Charles Hotel, which was packed full of lamb dishes.  While there were tons of great tasting plates, here are a few photos of some of my favorites!

Pain D'Avignon did a Smoked Bone Marrow Beignet with braised lamb shank,
Vermont  Shepard Cheese and  blood orange mostarda

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Pumpkin Muffins

When weekends morning happen here and we don't have plans, we like to be super lazy and catch up on the DVR, but we still like to make a yummy breakfast.  This past fall there was discussion of another great pumpkin shortage, so whenever I saw pumpkin in the store I bought at least 2 cans of it.  After only making pumpkin blondies and a pasta dish, we had a whole lot of canned pumpkin sitting in our cabinets!  So, on a recent Saturday morning I decided pumpkin muffins would make the perfect breakfast - who said pumpkin was just a fall food!

Pumpkin Muffins!
Using my mom's trusty 70's edition of the Joy of Cooking, I found a recipe for Quick Pumpkin Bread, which turned into muffins (because they are so much better then bread!)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Flatbread Pizza and Candlepin Bowling

Pizza, beer and bowling - probably one of the best combinations ever.  So when G and J brought us to Sacco's Bowl Haven for a couple of drinks at the end of an evening, we knew we had to go back for the delicious Flatbread Company and some true old fashion candlepin bowling.  When our friends told us they were heading over for a fun Friday night out Nick and I were eager to join them.  We called ahead to add us to the bowling and dinner list in hopes of getting ourselves closer to the top (it being a Friday night and all!).

Pizza Oven
Flatbread prides itself on its use of locally sourced organic ingredients - that and the stone hearth with the wood burning fire perfect for cooking the pizza.  Between the 6 of us we decided to order three pizzas to split.  The first was the homemade nitrate-free pepperoni with organic mushrooms, the wood-fired cauldron tomato sauce, whole milk mozzarella and imported Parmesan cheese baked on organic bread dough with homemade organic garlic oil and our blend of organic herbs.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Private Villa Dinner Oceanside in the Maldives

Views to Start the Evening
While enjoying the diving and night fishing in the Maldives, we still were able to spend plenty of downtime in the sunshine.  Just in case we were not having enough relaxation time, the Banyan Tree took the extra steps to ensure that we would on a evening where they set up a private dining experience on our deck overlooking the ocean.  Between the sunset and hearing the waves lightly crash against the beach, it is truly hard to imagine a more perfect night.  Add to that delicious food cooked sea-side and it really may have been the most perfect evening!

Full "White" Cloth Candle Lit Table Setting
Due to our long stay at the resort, they provided us with a couple of bottles of wine that we saved for this in-villa dining (there was plenty of other drinks at meals in the dining area).

Monday, April 2, 2012

Bondir - an Incredible Dining Experiance

Menu and Center Piece
When word spread that Chef Jason Bond was leaving the Beacon Hill Hotel and Bistro to start his own restaurant, Boston area foodies got excited.  Bond opened Bondir, a small farm-house style restaurant in Inman Square that focused on local ingredients that dictated each day's menu.  Word quickly spread about how fantastic the new spot was, and it was quickly listed on Bon Appetit's Top New Restaurants of 2011.  Needless to say reservations became hard to come by, and coupled with its location across the water, it sort of became "out of sight, out of mind."

Waiting Area
Finally, Nick called and asked to make reservations for any Friday night, so three weeks from when he called, on a cold and rainy evening we headed to Inman Square for an 8:45 reservation to indulge.  We found the unassuming building on Broadway Street, quickly ran inside and were greeted by a charming bricked foyer with loads of fresh potted herbs scattered about.  While we were a bit early, our table was ready and they brought us right over.  Upon sitting down, I took some time to take in the French Country stylings and the mismatched center pieces and plates.  The soft green pallette and simple wall hangings make for a comfortable atmosphere - like being in a friend's dining room.  Helping complete the feeling was the size of the restaurant - it's tiny!  With two short rows of tables in the seating area, and each side having their own bench seating, I quickly understood why our reservation had to be made so far in advance.

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