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A Little Bit About a Lot of Things

A lifestyle blog with a focus on my food adventures

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We were down in Falmouth this past weekend – first time of this season, avoiding the Memorial Day rush. It’s my favorite time to go (in the off season). You can still get into restaurants, you can drive down Main Street without traffic and the beaches are empty. The calm before the storm…

Of course when we come here, our first stop for breakfast is Cape Cod Bagel. My breakfast choice, plain bagel with veggie cream cheese. Not sure what they put in it (crack?), but I’m addicted.

They have great breakfast sandwiches, wraps and bagel sandwiches for lunch and delicious baked goods.

There is ample seating inside and out. Be prepared to wait during peak season as this place gets packed!

Cape Cod Bagel

419 Palmer Ave, Falmouth, MA

Cape Cod Bagel Co on Urbanspoon

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I was invited to take photos at the MA Farmers Market event held at the W Hotel this year. Bartenders from local restaurants mixed up cocktails and guests voted on their favorites. The top three bartenders then went on to a CSA mixology throwdown later in the afternoon.

MA Farmers Market 8Joy Flanagan from Armsby Abbey mixed up a  “Garden of Eden” cocktail using GrandTen South Boston Irish Whiskey, apples and pear fruit vinegar.

MA Farmers Market 7They definitely had the best looking table!

MA Farmers Market 9Fairsted Kitchen’s Will Isaza mixed up a “Gable’s Lean” using Privateer Rum and carrots. Here’s the recipe:

1 oz. Privateer True American Amber Rum

3/4 oz. Carrot Za’atar Syrup

1/2 oz. Rye Whiskey

1/2 oz. Sweet Vermouth

1/4 oz. Fresh lemon juice

2 Dashes Hellfire bitters

Combine ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake for 10-15 seconds. Strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with grated cinnamon.

MA Farmers Market 13

The guys at La Brasa having a little fun!

MA Farmers Market 23Peter Polselli and Will Jovel of La Brasa mixed up the “Baby Root”, using Amber Rum, carrots and beets.

MA Farmers Market 17

David Spielberg of the Salty Pig mixed up a drink named “The Gilded Age”, featuring Privater Reserve Rum, Amber Rum, purple top turnips, cranberries, lemon thyme ginger – and check out those campari gummies!

MA Farmers Market 29Bartenders were able to use super fresh ingredients, check out these good looking cranberries!

MA Farmers Market 14Jason Sadoian from Kirkland Tap and Trotter mixed up the “South Boston Smash” made with GrandTen South Boston Irish Whiskey, cranberries and white peach vinegar.

MA Farmers Market 26GrandTen located in South Boston, and on Friday nights they do a fun thing called “Friday Night Flights”. For $20 you get a tour of the facility and are about the taste their full line of products (along with special, limited-run spirits not available anywhere else). You get to keep your tasting glass as a souvenir! Space is limited as they try to keep the event intimate (20 people). Check out their website for more details.

MA Farmers Market 28GrandTen makes vodka, whiskey, rum and other spirits. Check out my previous post on GrandTen here.

MA Farmers Market 3“South Boston Smash”.

MA Farmers Market 16

Nadia Heredia from the W mixed up “The Poma” using Dirty Water Distiller Nosh Vodka and rainbow carrots. I love the carrot rim!

MA Farmers Market 18The food was delicious as well. The beet mousse deviled eggs were delicious.

MA Farmers Market 19Apple tarts were quick to disappear!

MA Farmers Market 20The goat cheese tarts were also a crowd favorite.

MA Farmers Market 21My favorite were the truffle mushroom grilled cheeses.

MA Farmers Market 22Didn’t have a chance to try the arancini, but they looked delicious.

MA Farmers Market 35Lonnie from GrandTen Distillery.

MA Farmers Market 39DJ Deja and Modern Gramma’s Justin Burke Samson (MA Farmers Market Chair). Make sure to check out Justin’s pop ups – his desserts are to die for!

MA Farmers Market 44The crowd anxiously waiting to hear who won the raffle items!

MA Farmers Market 49Venette (MFM Board of Director) and Will from Fairsted Kitchen competing in the cocktail throwdown competition.

MA Farmers Market 55Kirkland Tap and Trotter’s final drink in the throwdown competition.

MA Farmers Market 56Fairsted Kitchen won the event with the “Sexy Kumquat”. As the winner of the competition, Will will be back next year as the head judge. Here’s the winning recipe:

1 1/2 oz. Privateer Silver Reserve Rum

3/4 oz. Clove Turmeric Syrup

1/2 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice

1/4 oz. Apple Cider

2 Kumquats

1 Thumb of Ginger

Slice thumb of ginger. Muddle half of the ginger with kumquats. Add muddled ginger and kumquats to shaker with rum, syrup, lemon juice, and ice. Shake for 10-15 seconds. Pour contents of shaker into a rocks glass Garnish with a halved kumquat and ginger.

MA Farmers Market 57W Hotel’s final drink in the throwdown competition.

MA Farmers Market 58The judges for the throwdown were Dan Whalen, The Food in my Beard, Megan, and Michael Ratty.

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IMG_7032I was invited to brunch at the Elephant Walk in the South End with the Blog and Tweet Boston group. Executive Chef Nadsa de Monteiro came out to greet us and told us about the her family and the restaurant. She told us that her father was a diplomat and when they had to leave Cambodia, when the Khmer Rouge took over, her mother, at age 45, with no experience, opened a restaurant in France. They moved to the US in the early 90’s and proceeded to open three restaurants. The restaurant is a family business with Nadsa running the South End location and her brother in law running the Cambridge location. The Brookline location recently closed, so I am glad I had the chance to check out the South End location. There is definitely a different vibe here – laid back atmosphere with exposed brick walls and windows that open out to the street.

IMG_7036 My favorite thing here are the Rouleaux, filled with ground pork and noodles, they are served with greens and fresh herbs. The dipping sauce tuk trey — traditionally made with prahok, or fermented fish sauce, along with lime, garlic, and peanuts — lends distinctive Cambodian flavor to the dish.

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Loclac Frites à la Cambodgienne ($15) Beef tenderloin caramelized in black pepper, garlic and mushroom soy are served with homemade French fries and dressed baby greens. Think of this as the Cambodian version of steak frites! The meat is so tender and flavorful, making it another one of my favorites.

IMG_7040Pain Perdu au Sirop d’Erable au Cidre ($11) French toasts with brioche, Wood’s Cider Mills cinnamon cider maple syrup and fresh fruit. Personally I would have liked the syrup on the side, but the dish was delicious. The syrup’s flavor made this French toast stand out.

IMG_7039MeeSiem ($10) Rice noodles in a sauce of salted soy beans, tofu, PT Farm pork belly, garlic, chilies, pickles shallot; Chinese chive, bean sprouts, red bell pepper, omelet garnish. When we ordered this, I couldn’t imagine what an omelet garnish would look like, so I was pleasantly surprised. This was a really nice dish, it felt light and crisp.

IMG_7044Of course I had no room after brunch, but had to have dessert! The crepe special was delicious – it was filled with ice cream!

IMG_7043My personal favorite is the Le Pèché au Chocolat ($8.50) A rich creamy chocolate truffle cake perfectly paired with raspberry coulis. Hit me with anything raspberry coulis and I am in love – this dessert is decadent, the cake is dense so the raspberry pairs with it nicely.

Disclaimer: The Elephant Walk invited me to be their guest for brunch and provided me with a complimentary meal. All opinions are my own.

Elephant Walk

1415 Washington Street, Boston, MA

http://elephantwalk.com/

Elephant Walk on Urbanspoon

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Nix Mate 1Nix’s Mate is located in the Hilton Hotel in the Financial District. It has a modern interior with a chic club vibe. We ventured out for dinner on a Monday night so it was relatively quiet. We started with the braised short rib tacos ($12) served topped with black beans, green apple slaw and goat cheese fondu.

Nix Mate 2The clam chowder ($6) served with bacon and chives had a creamy texture and a smoky flavor.

Nix Mate 3The cheeseburger sliders ($12) came topped with sharp cheddar, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickled cucumber and special sauce on a sesame seed bun.

Nix Mate 4Not generally on the dinner menu, but I had been there for lunch and requested it (and they kindly accommodated), the caprese salad ($12). Probably one of the better caprese salads I’ve had, this one is beefsteak tomatoes and mozzarella di bufala served on a bed of arugula and topped with basil pesto and aged balsamic.

Nix Mate 5For dessert, the three of us split the mini ice cream sandwiches ($10) served with a side of salted caramel sauce and chocolate sauce. Vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream sandwiched between two delicious chocolate chip cookies.

Nix Mate

89 Broad Street, Boston, MA

http://www.nixsmate.com/

Nix's Mate on Urbanspoon

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IMG_5438In lieu of holiday gifts for one another, a group of us got together and went out for dinner at Alden and Harlow. We sat all the way in the back of the restaurant on the far side of the bar – which on a weekend night was a tough spot – it was right next to the door so we felt a cold draft every time someone left and the door didn’t close all the way so we would have to pull it tight each time. In addition, the bar was packed, so we were constantly getting our chairs bumped and people were hovering over our table. That being said, I love the food at Alden and Harlow. We started with the chips and dip ($8) that satisfied our salty snack craving!

IMG_5440I had the burrata that was so creamy and delicious, a really nice texture when paired with the crispy toast.

IMG_5443The Verrill Farm corn pancakes never disappoint – they come whimsically topped with popcorn and shishito peppers ($13).

IMG_5444The charred broccoli with butternut squash, hummus, bianco sardo and cashew was delicious ($13).

IMG_5445Even though it was a weekend night, the service was excellent, our dishes came out promptly and our waiter was on top of the ball.

IMG_5446Trust me when I say “oh my gravy”…it was really delicious!

IMG_5447As a side note, who can’t wait for Scelfo’s Naco Taco to open in Central Square?

IMG_5448I loved the cauliflower dish – maybe even more than the broccoli…

IMG_5449The great thing about Alden and Harlow is that they have tapas style plates – you can order a bunch of things for the table and share – allowing you to try a little bit of everything.

IMG_5450They were out of the secret burger that night, so we went with the steak instead, which came beautifully plated and the flavor did not disappoint.

IMG_5451For dessert we had the smoked chocolate bread pudding with Jacobsen Salt ice cream ($9). The smokey flavor definitely pulled through and the salt just elevated the dish to another level.

IMG_5452My favorite dessert of the night was the buttermilk and lemon pound cake with torched blackberry compote and almond whip ($9). The flavors were simple and clean and yet after licking the plate clean I found myself craving more!

Alden and Harlow

40 Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA

http://aldenharlow.com/

Alden & Harlow on Urbanspoon

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Good Ones Limelight 1

Meet #Goodone Martina Blazeska, a 20 year old student attending Berklee College of Music. Originally from Ohrid, Macedonia she is an up and coming musician who came to perform at a recent Good Ones event held at Limelight Stage and Studios. While everyone else was singing karaoke, Martina played two cover songs and an original. To hear her sound, check her out on YouTube.

I had a chance to interview Martina after the event:

D: You’re originally from Macedonia, what made you decide to come to Boston?

M: I really like the United States in general. I chose Boston because I was accepted at Berklee College of Music. The city turned out to be great, even though I’m more of a West Coast fan.

D: How long have you been singing?

M: I started playing guitar and have been at it for only 5 years! Two years after I started playing guitar, I started to sing and it developed naturally from there paired with the guitar.

D: Is your family musically inclined as well?

M: No one in my family does music professionally, but they are true music lovers. In fact, my mother used to play accordion when she was a little. I think I have her genes.

D: Who are your biggest musical influences?

M: From contemporary to jazz, blues, funk, disco and pop, I have a lot of influences. When it comes to guitar I’m a fingerstyle player, but I compose music in mixed styles.

D: If you could meet any musician, alive or deceased, who would it be and why?

M: If I could meet one person, that would definitely be John Mayer. I am fully inspired and affected by his music. His music, personality and style plays a huge role in my career in general.

D: Where do you get your inspiration for your original pieces?

M: The inspiration for my original music comes from the actions and daily events around me. I get inspired by people, nature and the music I listen to. If something touches my emotions strong enough, my reaction easily becomes music.

D: Do you play other instruments besides the guitar?

M: I have trained in classical music on the piano for years.

D: What are you studying at Berklee?

M: I’m a guitar performance major at Berklee, which means the main focus is on my guitar playing. Other than Guitar and Ensembles, I take Harmony and Arranging and Ear Training classes which help me improve my music understanding and knowledge.

D: What are some of your other passions besides music?

M: I love traveling and exploring. I usually do it with my family and closest friends.

D: Do you have any shows coming up where people can see you play?

There are no shows scheduled at the moment but I encourage people to follow my YouTube and Facebook page to keep up with the news.

Good Ones Limelight 2The rest of the evening was a blast as well! Good Ones Eric Kramer and Heloisa Fitzgerald gave George Michael a run for his money with their rendition of “Faith”.

Good Ones Limelight 3Co-founders of the Good Ones Jennifer Brook (left) and Carolyn Kim (right) also gave stellar performances that evening.

If you are interested in a Good Ones membership, check out their website here. Memberships include 3 party invitations per month with a complimentary guest at each event.

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underFiRE 1For me, when I think of FiRE + iCE, I think tourists. Restauranteur Jim Miller and Rafael Barbosa opened a new restaurant located under FiRE + iCE called underFiRE. Miller and Barbosa were looking to fill a niche – a casual neighborhood space where people could come and relax after work. Even though they are hoping for a casual vibe, the attention to detail that Barbosa put into the space is impressive – everything from the lights to the tabletops.

underFiRE 2The drinks are handcrafted, check out the strawberry basil margarita made with Don Julio Blanco Tequila, house-made sour mix, simple syrup, and muddled strawberries, and garnished with fresh basil leaves.

underFiRE 3The specialty of underFiRE are the tacos: The Club (Peruvian style grilled chicken, braised pork belly and cheddar), Spicy Idaho (chorizo and diced potato) and Chimi-Rib (braised beef short rib and chimichurri). Other menu items will include chips and guacamole, a build-a-burger selection featuring beef, turkey and veggie burgers, buffalo calamari (where the buffalo sauce has been dehydrated and added to the batter), and quesadillas.

underFiRE

205 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA

Check out their Facebook page here.

Under Fire on Urbanspoon

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Honeybaked Ham 2We tried to get a ham around Easter time (big mistake, after all, it is the unofficial ham holiday!), but couldn’t get in the parking lot at the HoneyBaked Ham store. Plan B – wait until Mother’s Day. HoneyBaked ham has a sweet, crunchy glaze and a smokey flavor. We picked up a 3 pound bone in ham for $32.90. This is the perfect size for 3 people.

Honeybaked Ham 1They also had a deal on sides, 3 for $25 – so we picked up the cornbread dressing (right), the sweet potato souffle (left) and the broccoli rice casserole. What is great about the sides is that you heat them all up at the same temperature! One oven, one temperature, one cook time – so easy! The sweet potato souffle was great, it tasted almost like a dessert. The cornbread dressing was great, a little crunch on top just the way I like it. The broccoli casserole was a bit of a mess for us, it didn’t come out the way it looked on the box – it was super watery. But by the time the second day rolled around, the sauce had thickened up and when we reheated, it was perfect.

Honeybaked Ham 3While you can get HoneyBaked hams for special occasions, you can also stop by their stores and pick up a ham for a weeknight dinner, they have bone in and boneless hams that you can order and reserve in store (or just drop in). They have other options I didn’t know about like thick cut bacon, beef pot roast, pork roast, and bbq baby back ribs. Did you also know the store in Framingham offers lunch (pick up in store) and catering – sandwiches (not just ham, they have turkey too), soups and salads. So stop in and take another look at HoneyBaked Ham…you will be pleasantly surprised.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. HoneyBaked Ham provided me with gift cards to sample their products. All opinions are my own.

HoneyBaked Ham

240 Worcester Street, Framingham, MA

https://myhoneybakedstore.com

Honeybaked Ham on Urbanspoon

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Vine Brook Tavern 1I was invited to have lunch the other day at Vine Brook Tavern, located in historic Lexington. Vine Brook Tavern is owned and run by Marcus Palmer, who has worked with an amazing array of talented chefs, most notably, Jean Georges Vongerichten. Palmer has worked in some of the top restaurants in Boston, including: Market in the W Hotel in Boston, Smith and Wollensky, Morton’s, Olive’s and Legal Sea Foods. The kitchen is run by Executive Chef Chris Frothingham, who has worked at places like Sel de la Terre, Bonfire and Kingfish Hall.

Vine Brook Tavern has two floors and offers a number of different dining options: shown above are two of the upstairs dining rooms, perfect for a private party.

Vine Brook Tavern 2Top left, one of the upstairs semi private dining rooms; top right, the large bar located downstairs (they have several tvs so you can come in and catch the game while grabbing a bite); pictured on the bottom are the upstairs windows that face the street.

Vine Brook Tavern 4Vine Brook Tavern will serve lunch 7 days a week, with an express lunch Monday – Friday, a menu focused on those that only have an hour for lunch, with a spotlight on salads, panini press sandwiches and burgers. Pictured on the right is the “secret” pizza menu, offered at dinner time only, and only available for pickup – you can choose from 4 options or choose to create your own.

Vine Brook Tavern 3Pictured on the top left: the cast iron eggs ($12), loaded breakfast potatoes, caramelized onions, bacon, two eggs over easy, topped with sausage gravy. The gravy is what did it for me, really flavorful – it made this dish special. Pictured top right: the crispy challah French toast ($11)  served with maple pecan butter, blueberries and maple syrup. Here is what makes this dish so delicious, the custard cream center of the toast and the “crispy” is frosted flakes cereal…just to add a little extra sweetness. Pictured on the bottom is a flat bread with proscuitto, fried eggs and pea tendrils. The dough is delicious, stop in and pick up a pizza today, you don’t want to miss it!

Other great things about Vine Brook Tavern: they have a chef’s table, once a month, on a Tuesday or a Wednesday, you and 8 of your friends can come in for a 6 course meal, complete with pairings, for $99 per person. Vine Brook Tavern also offers a wine class once a month, each one focusing on a different varietal. The classes are $30 per person. They have previously had beer and tequila classes too – stop in and check out a class, they last about 2 hours.

Disclaimer: Vine Brook Tavern invited me to be their guest and provided me with a complimentary lunch. All opinions are my own.

Vine Brook Tavern

20 Waltham Street, Lexington, MA

http://vinebrooktavern.com/

Vine Brook Tavern on Urbanspoon

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Au Bon Pain 4A few weeks ago I was invited to check out the new look (and tastes) at Au Bon Pain. I was pleasantly surprised with the updates that had been made. First the space – open, with traditional seating (with outlets!) and some high top tables. Come in and pick up something on the go, or sit for an hour with your computer, it’s your choice.

The new executive chef, Katherine See, was challenged to redesign the menu for spring and summer. They are rolling out a bunch of new salads, with the intent on making the portion sizes larger and adding more protein to their offerings. The chicken and turkey found on all the salads are all antibiotic free. Pictured above is the Asian chicken salad with udon noodles and a whole chicken breast, with edamame as an added protein!

Au Bon Pain 1Top left, the steak salad, 4 ounces of sirloin, sliced to order – cooked a perfect medium rare. Top and bottom right, the harvest turkey salad with red grapes, walnuts, turkey breast and goat cheese. Bottom left, the lobster salad with bacon and avocado over a bed of romaine. With this new line of salads also comes a new line of dressings – I loved the sesame ginger dressing on the asian chicken salad.

Au Bon Pain 3Moving on to sandwiches, the same steak that you saw in the salad above is also available in a sandwich. Now I’m not usually a steak sandwich kind of gal, but this was delicious – the meat was tender, add on some melted asiago cheese and serve on fresh bread – yum! It felt like a fresher, healthier version of a steak and cheese sandwich. Pictured on the right is the lobster salad, served on a croissant – perfect for summer time!

Au Bon Pain 2

Au Bon Pain listens to their customers – people really loved their croissants, but wanted a healthier version – so they introduced the multigrain croissant. And gone are the days where multigrain tastes like cardboard, these won’t make you feel guilty if you have one every day. Moving on to the sweets, pictured  on the top right is their monkey bread: sticky (but not too) sweet, light dough, meant to be broken apart with your fingers. Chef See was also challenged to add more fresh seasonal fruit to the menu, bring in the Croisbun: croissant dough filled with sweet cream and topped with a light spread of jelly and fresh strawberries. Not pictured, but quickly devoured, was the peanut butter cookie: this is not just a peanut butter cookie, it has whole roasted chopped peanuts and peanut butter – you’ll just have to stop in and try one for yourself!

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post.

Au Bon Pain

431 Boylston Street, Boston, MA

http://aubonpain.com/

Au Bon Pain on Urbanspoon

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