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A Little Bit About a Lot of Things

A lifestyle blog with a focus on my food adventures

I feel like everywhere I look these days, a Caffe Nero is opening on the corner. I was recently doing some returns at Legacy Place and was looking for a quick snack. I was pleasantly surprised to find Caffe Nero right there! Super easy to run in for a croissant or a fresh pastry – or if you need something a little more substantial, they have a nice selection of sandwiches. I’m a fan of the Italian focaccia and the prosciutto and mascarpone baguette. The kids love the banana bread and the apple coffee cake.

Never been to a Caffe Nero? They are a cool chain that has some really inviting spaces. They have comfy leather chairs and private booths, and you feel like they don’t mind if you sit there all day. Service has been consistently good across all the locations I’ve been to.

Where is your go – to coffee shop?

Caffe Nero

218 Legacy Place, Dedham

www.caffenero.com

caffe nero Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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I love Leonard Street in Belmont – there are so many cute shops to visit. I’ve been twice in the last few months, a great place to grab a quick bite – and super easy to do with kids. Their $9 kids menu includes a 9″ cheese pizza, a 9″ pepperoni pizza, a cheeseburger, mac and cheese or plain pasta. It comes with a drink and your choice of dessert: two cookies, one brownie or a scoop of gelato. My kids, however, can finish a large pizza on their own – which I’m not sure if I should be impressed by their good appetites or horrified.

I love the sausage pepper and onion pizza, with provolone cheese and caramelized onions. Pizzas come in three sizes, 9″, 12″ or 16″. You have your choice of crust: white, whole wheat, multi grain or gluten free. Choose from their signature pizzas or create your own. I’m also a big fan of the strombolis.

The Belmont location currently only offers pick up (no delivery) but their other location in Allston offers delivery. Head over to their website, and click on the menu to get a coupon for a free cheese 12″ pizza or 10% off your order of $30 or more (takeout only).

Stone Hearth Pizza

57 Leonard Street, Belmont

Stone Hearth Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Before baby #3 came, I was at the Starbucks drive thru three times a week, because, well….kids. Caffeine should be administered on an IV drip as far as I’m concerned. So when the new baby arrived, I feel like I took advantage of every drive thru within a 20 mile radius. Of course Starbucks on Route 9 is my #1 most frequented, but hey, sometimes when you are stuck in the car with the kids napping in the back, you just want a Fribble from Friendly’s.

Yup, 5 minutes of quiet in the car – because you know all the kids aren’t going to nap at the same time, so you bet I’m going to have a little “me” time. And get this, drive thru hours are 7am (cause you know those kids aren’t sleeping in) until 12am (because you know you’re up anyway with the baby). Happiness hour, which is one appetizer and two small sundaes, is from 2pm – 5pm and 8pm until close) and 50% off kids meals are Monday – Wednesday, 4pm until close (with an adult entree).

Friendly’s

190 Boston Post Road, Marlborough

friendlys Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Where is your go-to drive thru?

Other drive thru windows I’m a fan of:

Dairy Queen 323 North Main Street, Natick

Debby’s Drive Thru 442 Boston Post Road, Sudbury

Holly Cleaners 22 Union Ave, Sudbury

Starbucks 333 Worcester St, Natick

Panera 2 Highland Common E, Hudson

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My cousin Molly came in to Boston a while back and we wanted to take her out to some cool new restaurants while she was here. I had been dying to try out El Basha in Sudbury, a new-ish Middle Eastern restaurant that has four other locations (Newton, Westborough and two in Worcester).

El Basha is the Lebanese word for seer or sage – they named the restaurant that to honor their mother’s name.

We picked out a bunch of hot and cold “mezzeh” to share that are priced between $6 and $12 each (we had the platter, which is 4 for $30). Homus was a must, marinated artichokes in a Mediterranean sauce, kibbee balls stuffed with ground meat and of course, falafel. The kibbee balls were interesting…not sure if they were meant to be cold inside, but everything else was delicious.

For entrees, the pumpkin kibbee was flavorful (bottom right) – made with spinach, onion, and chic peas. Love kabobs? They have your choice of chicken kabob, shish kabob, kafta kabob, lamb kabob, or the mixed grill which is a combination of the three (for those who can’t pick just one). The shrimp was perfectly cooked and came with a generous portion rice.

Don’t think your kids are adventurous eaters? Don’t worry, they have chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, steak tips and chicken tips for the little ones.

Service was good – our server was attentive. Decor was pleasantly modern with large televisions at the bar. Parking is good with a shared lot for the complex.

El Basha

423 Boston Post Road, Sudbury

www.elbasharestaurant.com

el basha Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Volturno has a cult following in Worcester, so I was excited to hear that they were coming to Framingham. Located right off Route 9 on Edgell Road, this Neopolitan pizza restaurant feels very spacious. Their pizzas are airy and have a bit of a chew to them, along with a nice char.

We started off with the fettunta ($8), a house made whipped ricotta served with saba and grilled local bread. This dish is just dreamy – you never want the ricotta to end. It is so smooth and creamy and just melts in your mouth. I could have had this as my main meal.

For our main course, of course I went with the bolognese ($19), made with tagliatelle pasta and a mixture of veal, beef and pork. It was topped off with a little bit more of that dreamy ricotta. The portions seemed a bit small, but this dish really fills you up. Other pasta dishes on the menu include items like garganielli with bleu cheese cream and pistachio, linguine with lump crab meat and caponata, crest de gallo with pancetta and spaghetti with egg, guanciale and a quail egg yolk.

For pizza, we went simple, but other options include choices like: lemone cured meyer lemon, smoked mozzarella, red onion, basil and agrumato, cavoletti  roasted Brussels spout, bacon, mozzarella, gorgonzola, and local maple syrup,  pistachio  house made pork sausage, pistachio pesto, mozzarella and pecorino romano, or vongole littleneck clams, bacon, garlic confit, mozzarella, ricotta and agrumato. Prices for pizzas range from $11-$18 and you can create your own pizza as well.

Did you know that they also have pasta making classes? For $60 per person tax and gratuity not included), you can spend the evening making pasta (at their Worcester location) and drinking wine. Head over to their Facebook page for details.

Volturno Pizza

1 Edgell Road, Framingham, MA

www.volturnopizza.com

volturno Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. I partnered with Safety 1st to review their new HD Wifi baby monitor. All opinions are my own.

People have said to me that going from one child to two is much harder than two children to three. They were wrong. We have gone from man to man coverage to zone defense, and during the day, I am completely out numbered.

Remember when you were 20? You could drink yourself silly and then bounce back like nothing happened the next day. But then when you hit 30, you no longer had that super power and your hangover the next day felt like you were on your deathbed. Yeah, that’s kind of what having your third child feels like. It hasn’t been that long that I’ve been out of the ‘baby’ phase, but it apparently has been long enough – because those 3am wake up calls are PAINFUL.

If the celebration for your first child is a shower, and the second is a sprinkle, what do you call the party for the third? A trickle? By baby #3, I was certainly not expecting anything, but I moved into this amazing neighborhood and the ladies threw me (well, baby #3) a fabulous party. We are incredibly fortunate to have so many wonderful people supporting us – baby #3 was loved so much even before he entered the world!

With hand me downs from my two other kids, I wasn’t really expecting to have to get anything new for baby #3. We were, however, going to need another monitor. I have the Summer dual screen video monitor for my other two. I don’t love it (I had to replace the base unit already), and with all the new options out there, I was looking into a wifi monitor this time around. The Summer monitor base unit is larger than my cell phone and doesn’t hold the charge for very long – with the video on the whole time it won’t even last the whole nap time. It also doesn’t have a good range, which limits where I can be during nap time.

Enter the Safety 1st baby monitor. It was super easy to set up, and has a wide angle so I can see the whole room without needing to tilt or pan the camera. It has 12 infrared LEDs which makes it easy to see your baby at night – with my Summer monitor, sometimes it’s hard to tell where the kids are in their beds. The app that allows you to see your baby from your cell phone is easy to use and set up. You can receive noise and motion alerts, grant temporary access to caregivers, talk to you baby with two way talk back and share cute moments with family and friends.

The piece on the right is a hands free smart audio unit that can let you know when your baby moves or cries. Use it in the house when you’re not near your phone (yes, there are moments when I’m not near my phone). Pretty cool right?

Now that we have the monitor set up, all we have to do is teach this new little baby how to sleep through the night!

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Father’s Day is just around the corner, so I’ve put together a few fun baskets in this gift guide. Sure you can go with grill tools and hot sauces, but I thought I’d give a different spin on things. For Mother’s Day, everyone talks about breakfast in bed. Me personally, I don’t want to eat in my bed, but I like the breakfast theme.

This first basket has bagels from the place of your choosing – these happen to be Bruegger’s but there are so many great places to get bagels in the city: Bagelsaurus, Davis Square Donuts and Bagels, and Pavement Coffeehouse to name a few. Oh, and don’t forget the cream cheese!

Cold brew coffee is big these days – why not treat dad to a fun sampling. I picked these up at Brother’s Marketplace in Weston, but you can find them in your local market or even at Target. Our favorites are Stumptown and La Colombe – but even Starbucks and Dunkin’ make a grab a go cold brew option.

I love a good breakfast sandwich – my go to spot when I am not making them at home is Cafe Fresh Bagel (not only are they enormous, they are made fresh to order). My friend Leah introduced me to Mulay’s sausage, which would make a tasty addition to any home made sandwich.

I’m totally obsessed with the Trader Joe’s “everything but the bagel sesame seasoning blend” – I put it on popcorn, used it when I roasted pumpkin seeds, and sprinkle it generously on bagels and cream cheese at home.

I’ve been big into maple syrup these days – testing them out – I had a whole post in the works, and missed maple season this year so I will have to shelve it until next year. “Fancy” syrup can make a good addition to this breakfast basket – bonus points if you make waffles or pancakes on Father’s Day. Runamok Maple makes syrup in flavors like smoked with pecan wood, bourbon barrel aged, cinnamon and vanilla infused and even a ginger root infused flavor.

And when the food is all gone, I always like to have something to remember the day with – so I threw in this cute sriracha pin from Pintrill.

Father’s Day and grilling just seem to go hand in hand, but what about a fun picnic? Pack up some sweet and salty treats and take your dad out to the Boston Common (or the beach) for a day of fun and relaxation.

Salt and pepper peanuts are the way to my heart – but I’m sure my dad would love them too! We picked these up from Formaggio Kitchen.

This Maine Made rope beer bottle opener is the gift that keeps on giving – throw it on a six pack of dad’s favorite beer this year and he’ll have it to use for years to come. I picked this one up at Wescott Mercantile in Belmont. I literally want to buy everything in the store!

Other fun snacks include my favorite ‘cookies’, Effie’s oatcakes, a little sweet, but can certainly be savory if you pair them with cheese!

Speaking of savory, EPIC makes a great line of bites that dad is sure to love –  choose from flavors like sweet and savory boston and uncured bacon, hickory smoked uncured bacon and pork, sweet sesame ginger tender chicken bites and maple glazed and smoked tender salmon bites.

Leah introduced me to a new company recently, Waltham Popcorn. Choose from flavors like butter and salt, orange cheddar, caramel, white cheddar and kettle corn.

I love everything that the Happy Chocolatier makes. Their signature Cubze line makes a great gift on its own, but I liked these milk chocolate potato chip cups for this basket – the ultimate sweet and salty combination.

Recently, an old friend introduced me to Patty Mac’s. This fairly new, local company puts out some seriously delicious bread and butter pickles and the pickled jalapeños have a good strong kick to them! Add them to your favorite grilled treat or sandwich this summer – you won’t be sorry. Right now you can find them online – but follow them on social media to see where they might be popping up next!

And finally, for that dad who loves to cook, ‘A Little Taste of Cape Cod” by Annie B. Copps is a beautifully illustrated cookbook that features classic Cape Cod dishes like fried clam rolls, corn pudding, baked stuffed lobsters, Portuguese sweet bread.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there. What are you getting your dad this year?

My friend Leah is the absolute best. Last weekend, these two moms packed our bags and ran away from home! No kids, no husbands – just a weekend worth of quiet time, good laughs and of course, great food. So we headed over to Logan Airport to catch our Cape Air flight. I’ve been to Nantucket a handful of times, but always took the fast ferry (Leah prefers the slow ferry). The plane is quite small, it seats maybe 10 and prepare yourself, they ask for your weight at check in 😉 It’s a bumpy ride today – generally I am a good with small planes, but this one really made my stomach do somersaults. And just as we land, the guy in front of me proceeds to vomit – great start right?!?

We are staying at the beautiful Harborview Nantucket Hotel. The property hosts 11 luxurious cottages that range from 1-4 bedrooms. As you can see, just steps from the water and a short walk into town, the best of both worlds! We stayed in the “Crow’s Nest”, a two bedroom cottage with one bedroom on the main floor and one bedroom on the upper floor. Each had its own private bathroom, a second sitting room upstairs, a full kitchen with stove, microwave and dishwasher and a washer and dryer in unit. You can request a fire to be built at night – which we did, and it certainly made the cottage feel like home. The cottage also has a widow’s walk – so you (and by you, I mean Leah) can go up early in the morning and watch the sun rise.

General Manager Morag, and her husband Matt run the property seamlessly. They arranged to pick us up at the airport, sent us a list of restaurants that were open for the season, set up our tour at Cisco Brewery and answered all of our questions.

Famished from our plane ride, we popped into The Nautilus for a bite to eat. Open for both lunch and dinner, this rustic restaurant has classic New England dishes with hints of Asian flavors. They make their own bitters and syrups for cocktails and of course, they make their own delicious pickles. Everything on the menu looked delicious, and our eyes were certainly bigger than our stomachs, but we ordered a little bit of everything: the prime cheeseburger, the blue crab fried rice, the fried chicken drumettes and I’ll admit that I even had some of the salad – that dressing was so good! Stay tuned for a full review.

If you know me at all, you know I did my research before we took this trip, and I wrote down all of the bakeries and sweet shops I hoped that we would visit. I had been to Petticoat Row before, but was pleasantly surprised by all the fun treats for Daffy weekend (April 27-29). Fun iced sugar cookies in the shapes of daffodils, and cute little pink and yellow whale cookies. I tried out the morning bun and it did not disappoint. Another fun thing if you are on island for Daffy weekend, stop in and pick up one of these cute picnic baskets for the beach – or the ferry ride home. You can order sandwiches and salads – fruit and drinks, and of course some delicious sweets. Leah ordered a $40 basket and it came packed with two sandwiches, 2 side salads, 2 pieces of fruit, a Nantucket Nectar, and a bunch of cookies – so cute! We thought we would add a Cisco beer and a bottle of wine just for fun. Again, full review coming soon.

For dinner, I chose the Greydon House. The luxury hotel was on Conde Nast’s Traveler’s 2017 Hot List – it has 16 luxury rooms and suites – designed by the same people that did The Ace and The Standard Hotel in New York. No wonder it felt familiar! Chef Marcus Ware has a well rounded menu and it was certainly one of the better meals I have had in a LONG time. We started off by sharing the fusilli pasta with veal ragout – so savory – I could have eaten my body weight in this dish! We shared the caramelized sea scallops with English peas, broccoli and yuzu vinaigrette and the grilled black angus steak with crispy smoked potatoes and bernaise sauce. The potatoes were smooth and creamy on the inside and crunchy on the outside, and that steak was perfectly cooked with just the right amount of salt. We ended the night on a high note with the baked Alaska – chocolate and mint ice cream with lady fingers – torched meringue and strawberry. I couldn’t get enough of the strawberry puree – so delicious. Service was excellent – a must try if you are on the island.

We had the next morning free so we decided to rent a Jeep and head out to the lighthouse. We headed into town and picked up this baby at Young’s. We drove to the Northern most lighthouse, Great Point. You can access it by foot – but it’s a 7 mile walk on the beach, or take a Jeep with a beach permit sticker. We had to let out the air in the tires and popped the Jeep into 4 wheel drive. Leah was at the wheel – I was in charge of photos. We brought breakfast with us and enjoyed eating with the seals that were taking a little nap in the sun. Don’t forge to fill up the tires on the way out!

For breakfast, we had stopped at the Downyflake, a family run diner that I can only imagine is packed in peak season. They serve breakfast and lunch – we took some egg sandwiches to go – which totally hit the spot. And how can you leave without trying some of their homemade doughnuts. Try the sugar coated, the chocolate covered, the maple glazed, the coconut or the plain for just 90 cents each! Don’t forget your cash though, they don’t accept cards (ATM is on site if you need it).

Next stop in the afternoon was Cisco Brewers for a tour and some sampling. We brought our own lunch because the food truck wasn’t open for the season yet – stop in at Bartlett’s Farm next door for a sandwich (we had a Cuban sandwich that was just what we needed after an afternoon of sampling!) Back to the brewery – there’s a free shuttle from the Nantucket Visitor’s Center on Federal Street (check websites for times) which I would recommend, as parking is very limited. We were lucky enough to have Matt from the Harborview drive us over and pick us up. We had a fantastic tour guide – with a witty personality and heavy pour (perks of the last tour of the day?).

For dinner we mentioned to Matt and Morag that we were thinking of the Proprietor’s Table for dinner – they happened to be going there as well so we knew that it would be a good meal! A great menu filled with mostly small plates to share at the table – we had the carrot hummus, the kimchee pancake, the shishitos and the braised short rub cannelloni (which was a larger dish). The restaurant had a cool vibe – everything made you feel like you were in a friend’s garden for dinner – mismatched china plates, cutlery in mason jars – really home-like. The naan for the hummus was probably my favorite part of the dish – and I loved the flavor of the hummus. Star might have been that house made twinkie on the bottom right – a lemon poppyseed cake filled with strawberry. YUM!

Other quick side notes – we stopped into the Nantucket Bake Shop for some treats – we were there close to closing time, so there wasn’t much left. They have an old school feeling about them – pick up some classic pastries or a Jamaican patty for lunch!

We also stopped into Wicked Island Bakery and picked up some adorable sugar cookies made by Amy Hinson. Whale cookies and cookies shaped like the island with a cute daffodil flourish on them will make you the envy of all the other picnic go-ers on Daffy weekend. They didn’t have the morning buns when we were there, but they do sell to the Handlebar Cafe, where was got to try one – they’re made from scratch with pure Vermont butter and Tahitian vanilla – they’re gooey on the inside and sugary perfection on the outside! I also picked up an apple pastry which was pretty darn tasty as well. In the mood for something savory? They have breakfast sandwiches and pizzas as well.

On our last morning on the island, I took Leah to the Brant Point Grill for brunch – it’s located inside the White Elephant hotel. The brunch is AMAZING – so much delicious food to choose from. While Leah had stayed at the White Elephant before, she had never eaten there – so I was excited that I got to introduce her to at least ONE new thing! They’re open 10-2 on Sundays for brunch and have tasty items like lobster scrambled eggs, chicken and dumplings (I am still dreaming about this dish), a fresh raw bar, desserts as far as the eye can see, and even an ice cream cart for the kids! We happened to go on a day where they were having a charity event – so all proceeds went to Community Sailing and Nantucket’s Science Center. The weather was perfect and we sat for a long time – eating our way through the buffet and watching the ferry come in.

Thanks to Leah for being the best!

Have you been to Nantucket? What’s your go – to spot?

 

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I’m always on the hunt for a good breakfast spot. Big Apple is located just over the Marlborough line and the prices can’t be beat. I have to admit that it doesn’t look like much from the outside, but the packed parking lot every weekend should be a hint that they’re serving up some good food. I recommend going early – as it can fill up pretty quickly.

The egg sandwiches were the way we decided to go – $2.95 for an egg and cheese and $4.45 for an egg and cheese with either sausage or bacon. Pretty tasty! What else is on their menu? Omelets, eggs benedict, pancakes, mini potato cakes and waffles to name just a few things. Kids can get 2 pieces of French toast, 2 pancakes or 1 egg and their choice of meat for $5.95 (drink included).

Lunch items include sandwiches (pastrami, egg salad, ham, tuna, etc.), burgers, salads and wraps. Kids can order chicken fingers, grilled cheese, hot dogs, mozzarella sticks or a flatbread pizza for $5.95. Big Apple is open 7 days a week from 6am – 2pm.

Big Apple

890 Boston Post Road E, Marlborough, MA

www.bigapplerestaurant.net

Big Apple Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Growing up in the area as a kid, I have memories of spending my high school days with my friends at Friendly’s. The service was always horribly slow, but it was a place to go and hangout with friends or to celebrate after a sporting event. When Da Vinci Bistro moved into the former Friendly’s space, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it, but when you walk in the front door, you can’t even imagine that a Friendly’s was there in the first place. The decor is sleek and modern and the food is tasty. We went early one night with the family – they offer mac and cheese or spaghetti for the little ones. We started with the arancini ($9), risotto balls with mozzarella served with pomodoro sauce. While they were rich in flavor, they still felt light and crispy.

For my main course I had the bolognese ($18). The house made rigatoni was tossed with a sauce made up of tomatoes, ground sirloin and red wine. Certainly a stick to your ribs kind of meal. Other offerings on the menu include dishes like spaghetti all vongole, tortellini ai quattro formaggi, lasagna and gnocchi. If pasta isn’t what you’re in the mood for, they offer dishes like chicken parmesan, beef tenderloin and salmon.

Service was good. The tables felt a little tight, and while they do offer a children’s menu, I would recommend leaving the kiddos at home (unless you go when they first open – but even then, it felt a bit uncomfortable).

Da Vinci Bistro is now open for lunch Friday – Sunday and they have a 3 course menu every Monday – Wednesday for $29 per person. Reservations can be made online with Reserve or by calling the restaurant. Parking is available in the lot next to the restaurant. You can visit their sister restaurant Da Vinci on Columbus Ave in Boston or their other sister restaurant Soul of India on Boston Post Road in Sudbury.

Da Vinci Bistro

457 Boston Post Road, Wayland, MA

www.davincibistro.com

Da Vinci Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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