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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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This post is one of those that slipped through the cracks – now I’m trying to play catch up! While we were in Aruba over the winter, my sister in law and I decided to treat ourselves to a day at the spa at the newly opened Ritz Carlton.

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We booked appointments over the website, which proved to be difficult. They took a few days to get back to us and there was issue with holding the appointments with a credit card among other things. Not the level of service if you called let’s say the New York location or the Boston location.

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Everything was still very new and the locker room was very clean. Just a note for the modest – people in the locker room can see through the doors into the shower even though they appear to be frosted.

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There is a lovely selection of sugar scrubs for the shower, each with a distinctive smell.

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There weren’t many other guests in the common space at the spa, so we had the place to ourselves.

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There was a great hot tub and steam room area that we didn’t get to enjoy – but it looked super relaxing!

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The spa is 15,000 square feet and has 13 treatment rooms. A 22% gratuity is added on to all services and guest must be 18 or older to enjoy spa services and ammenities.

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I opted for a prenatal massage and my sister in law for the hot stone. The treatment rooms had a relaxing vibe – and the massage was decent, but I had a hard time relaxing. I spent most of the time on my side and while I am trying to relax I hear the therapist whisper in my ear, “do I have permission to touch the belly?” which threw me for a little bit of a loop.

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In addition to the massage I had a pedicure. They have a great salon area – hair and makeup stations as well as manicure tables and pedicure chairs.

IMG_5322Even after getting a massage, I still took advantage of the massaging pedicure chair. Overall a decent experience, although not sure that it lived up to it’s price tag.

Been to Aruba? Where do you like to spa?

Ritz Carlton

L.G Smith Boulevard # 107, Palm Beach, Aruba Dutch Caribbean

View the spa website here.

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EG40 (3)Beauty icon Elizabeth Grady turned 40 this year! To celebrate, the brand got an updated logo and a big birthday bash!  Delicious bites included cupcakes made by Whisk in flavors like chocolate blackberry and basil (above), caramelized white chocolate and strawberry, and walnut and raisin.

EG40 (4)You may know Whisk from it’s time at Wink and Nod in the South End. Chef/Owner Jeremy Kean honed his skills at some of Boston’s finest restaurants (Rialto, Garden in the Cellar, Aquitaine) before starting Whisk with partner Philip Kruta.

EG40(L-R: Sam Wolf, former manager at Bistro du Midi who will be the general manager at Jospehine; Sam Gosselin, restaurant owner; Nick Oldham, former sous chef at Eastern Standard, who will be chef de cuisine) Light bites were provided by the highly anticipated Josephine, opening this spring (May) in the old Petite Robert location in Kenmore Square. Stefano Quaresima, former executive chef at the South End location of Petite Robert, will head up the kitchen as executive chef. A sampling of what you can expect to see at the new restaurant include: chicken liver mousse with port wine gelee; smoked crab, eggplant croquette and tomato coulis; gruyere cake, goat cheese creme with black olive tapenade; cauliflower panna cotta with smoked duck carpaccio and truffle oil; chocolate mousse, langue de chat; and a lemon creme cerrine with fresh raspberry.

EG40 (2)Jugos was on site with a sampling of their cold press juices. Shown above are the Montauk: kale, pear, pineapple, cucumber and mint; the Chia Fresca: alkaline h20, chia seeds, lime and honey; and the Jugos: orange, grapefruit, pear, lemon and mint.

IMG_0320Deep Eddy vodka was mixing up some delicious cocktails:

Lemon Splash: Deep Eddy lemon vodka, soda and lemon garnish

The Ruby: Deep Eddy Ruby Red vodka, soda and lime garnish

EG40 (1)Guests mingled while listening to beats by DJ Dre, of Elements Events, and every 15 minutes there was a drawing for great prizes like spray tans and facials.

Visit Elizabeth Grady at their Downtown Crossing location at 1 Winthrop Square.

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IMG_0256Select Good Ones met up at Liquid Art House for an interactive interpretation on a traditional fashion show. Guests nibbled on light bites and sipped bubbly cocktails while mingling with designers and the models showcasing their designs.

Good Ones LAH 1Matteo Gemignani was born and raised in Tuscany, Italy. He co-founded Adora Bags with the intention of bringing the beauty and charm of Italian craftsmanship to the US, at a price point that is fair for all.

Good Ones LAH 2Liquid Art House provided gourmet popcorn – in both sweet and spicy varieties.

Good Ones LAH 5(Left: (L-R) Dominique Quinque, designer; Candice Wu, designer, Chelsea Angers, model; Milena Ilieva, model. Top Right: Candice Wu, designer. Bottom Right: Monica Singh, Carolyn Kim, Jennifer Brooke, Matthew Tambiah, Oksana Barchuk, Iva Nikolau)

Dominique Quinque comes from the former East Germany where she grew up in Dessau, home of the famous Bauhaus style of design and architecture. Here Dominique developed a passion for art and design. Although she chose a career in science, a big part of her life remained dedicated to painting, carpentry and crafts. Dominique worked until 2012 as a researcher in a lab at Harvard Medical School but after 10 years in science she decided to go back to her artistic roots and enrolled as a student at the School of Fashion Design in Newbury Street. Here she learned a varied skill set that allows her to design, create patterns and construct garments she envisions. She likes to combine her artistic and scientific views to explore the essence of fabrics and the human form. By using unexpected techniques she aims to create garments that are subtle with moments of surprise. Dominique displayed her work as a chosen LAUNCH designer of Boston Fashion Week 2014.

Good Ones LAH 4(Left: Jennifer Brooke, modeling one of Dominique’s designs. Top Right: Monica Singh and Iva Nikolau. Bottom Right: Candice Wu, designer) Candice looked stunning this evening modeling Dominique’s designs. Fun tidbit: Dominique was one of Candice’s first models when she started out!

Good Ones LAH 3(Left: Carolyn Kim, Co-founder of the Good Ones; Matthew Tambiah. Top Right: Candice Wu, designer; Milena Ilieva, model; Dominique Quinque, designer; Chelsea Angers, model; Jennifer Brooke, Co-founder of the Good Ones. Bottom Right: (L-R) Carolyn Kim, Inga Puzikov, jewelry designer)

Like what you see? Interested in attending a Good Ones event? Fill out a personality snapshot here: http://thegoodones.co/membership/

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Smokey Bones 7A few weeks ago I was invited to the soft opening for Smokey Bones in the North Shore Mall.

Smokey Bones 1A great place if you want to go out and grab some beers with friends and catch the game or bring the whole family in for an affordable dinner.

Smokey Bones 2The service was good, everyone was friendly and the timing was seamless.

Smokey Bones 8The menu is extensive – something for everyone.

Smokey Bones 3We started off with the smoked wings – they have a dry rub and then are slow smoked to keep in the flavor. They’re finished off with a drizzle of sauce – we had the sweet brown sugar. Other sauces include: KC BBQ, Chipotle BBQ, Mustard BBQ, Carolina Mopping sauce, garlic parmesan, buffalo, and spicy garlic buffalo among others. I’m not generally a wing gal, but these were pretty darn delicious. On Monday nights they have an all you can eat wingfest, $10.99 for all you can eat wings, starting at 9pm (see website for details and restrictions).

Smokey Bones 4I went with the create your own combo plate: the Texas style brisket with a side of tater tots and a side of mac and cheese. I wasn’t as impressed with the brisket as I was with the wings, but the portions were generous and the sides were delicious.

Smokey Bones 5We also had the smokehouse burger, 1/2lb patty with BBQ sauce, cheddar, bbq’d onions, peppered bacon, onion tanglers and a toasted bun. Add on a side of onion rings and this is a great choice.

Smokey Bones 6For dessert we had the hot bag of donuts. How can you go wrong with that? They came warm, rolled in cinnamon and sugar, with a side of chocolate sauce and raspberry jam. Who needs dinner, I could have eaten just these!!

GIVEAWAY: I am giving away a $25 gift card to Smokey Bones. Leave a comment below letting me know what style BBQ is your favorite: Memphis, Carolina, Texas or Kansas City. Winner will be chosen Friday, 4/3.

Disclaimer: Smokey Bones invited me to be their guest for the evening and provided me with dinner. All opinions are my own.

Smokey Bones
210 Andover Street, Peabody, MA
smokeybones.com

Smokey Bones on Urbanspoon

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Good Ones Trade 6Last week, entrepreneurs and business professionals met at Trade in the Financial District for an afternoon with the #Good Ones.

Good Ones TradeThe event had endless coffee and tea, tasty treats, homemade cookies, stonefire flatbreads, and wonderful coconut cake (center) with toasted almonds and passion fruit sauce. The event was a modern take on high tea – no raised pinky fingers here.

Good Ones Trade 2Tenzin Conechok Samdo, head bartender at Trade, AKA @bostonmixdrink, was mixing up specialty cocktails featuring Motto, a delicious sparkling matcha tea. Tenzin is known for his flavorful cocktails and his out of the box garnishes. Check out Tenzin’s Momo recipe (his best hangover remedy) on Jody’s husband’s (Ken Rivard) blog: The Garum Factory.

Good Ones Trade 10Even the mocktails are delicious…so delicious you almost don’t miss the booze…almost. But thanks Tenzin for making this pregnant girl feel special!

Good Ones Trade 9Guests included: (L-R) Pamela Paquin, Founder of Petite Mort, ethical fur; Featured guest and Co-Owner of Trade, Eric Papachristos; and Jennifer Brooke, Co-founder of The Good Ones. Papachristos owns Trade with celebrity chef Jody Adams and fellow restauranteur Sean Griffing.

Good Ones Trade 3(L-R) Markell Blount​, Associate Vice President of DTZ; Ben Uyeda, Founder and Director of HomeMade Modern; Chris Cuozzo, Director, Alton Lane, CEO & Founder of Dressed By Christopher Cuozzo.

Good Ones Trade 8Jennifer Brooke with future Good One, Naia.

Good Ones Trade 5(L-R) Iva Nikolau, Social Engineer Apprentice at The Good Ones; Adam LaReau​, Co – Founder at O2X; Featured Guest Dr. Nada Milosavljevic, Founder and CEO of Sage Tonic.

Good Ones Trade 7Carolyn Kim, Co-founder of the Good Ones. Carolyn and Jennifer have really created something special – you can see it by the smiles on the faces of the people attending their events – everyone is enjoying themselves. There is always a positive upbeat vibe – and really, nice people attract other nice people. These aren’t your average networking events, there are no business cards or spiels – just people who are genuinely interested in getting to know you.

Good Ones Trade 4(L-R) Darryl Yang works at ​Hypnap LLC; Brian “Sully” Sullivan, Business Development and Strategy, The Social Lab / Independent Consultant; Adrian Gill, Founder AdHocInd.com.

Want to be invited to the next Good Ones event? Fill out your membership profile here.

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Backyard Farms 1I was recently invited to a Backyard Farms “Tomato Talk and Tasting” event. You’ve probably seen Backyard Farms tomatoes in the grocery store, they come those cute boxes with the white picket fences. Tim Cunniff, EVP at Backyard Farms, was on site to talk all things tomato.

First up, the Somerset Pinks. Don’t be fooled by the Somerset’s pink color, their flavor is quite bold. While they are the best tasting beefsteak tomatoes, they are also the hardest to grow. They are delicious on their own, so you don’t want to do a lot with them. I remember as a kid growing up, my mom and I used to eat tomatoes like apples with just a little sprinkle of salt. Funny how food can bring back vivid memories. I wouldn’t do much with these, maybe a light drizzle of balsamic or olive oil and that’s it.

Backyard Farms 2Our first course was the Somerset Pink Tomato and Burrata Salad: Backyard Farms Somerset Pink Tomato, Burrata, Olive Oil, Saba. Simple and yet super delicious.

Backyard Farms 3Next up, the cocktail tomato. Sweet and juicy, bursting with flavor. They grow about 7-8 on the vine and would taste great with almost anything. Check out these fun facts that I found on their website:

•  Cocktail Tomato clusters start out as groups of 12 to 16 flowers. We prune the flowers to 7 to 8 to ensure even ripening of the fruit and to keep the plant in balance.

•  Cocktail Tomatoes ripen on the vine starting from the fruit closest to the plant to the fruit at the tip. This first tomato is called the king fruit and the last tomato to grow and ripen is called the tail fruit.

Backyard Farms 4The second course was the Backyard Farms Cocktail Tomato Soup: Backyard Farms Cocktail Tomato, Onion, Dill, Tarragon, Oregano, Honey. Check out the recipe here. I have to admit that I don’t generally enjoy tomato soup, oh the childhood memories, but this recipe was SO delicious!! Something about the honey and the lemon juice just gave it a sophisticated flavor.

Backyard Farms 5We also had a Somerset Pink Tomato, goat cheese and prosciutto panini: Backyard Farms Somerset Pink Tomato, goat cheese, prosciutto and basil on Francese bread. In addition to the Somerset Pink and Cocktail Tomatoes, Backyard Farms also offers a beefsteak tomato and tomatoes on the vine.

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Backyard Farms is located up in Maine. They have a 42 acre greenhouse that allows them to grow tomatoes all year long. At other farms, it’s like a factory – one day everyone will go out and prune, another day everyone will go out and pick, etc. At Backyard Farms, each personal gardener is responsible for 10 rows of plants – these personal gardeners have a sense pride in their work – these are your plants. While we were listening to Tim talk, you could really hear that he loves his job and Backyard Farms seems like a great place to work. Recently, they switched over to a completely non smoking workplace and the company paid for three months of the patch for employees. In January they offered a subsidized weight watchers program and 40% of employees who signed up have reached their goal weight! In addition, they offer great benefits, including a 401K, insurance and paid time off – not something you see every day with gardeners.

Check out their website for fun facts and delicious recipes: http://www.backyardfarms.com

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Good Ones 1I bet you didn’t know that Abe Lincoln had so many friends! Last week, 50 members of the #GoodOnes gathered at the Avery Bar at the Ritz Carton to celebrate honest Abe’s 206th belated birthday. Members dressed up in their finest black and white attire – top hats were optional!

Photos starting left and moving clockwise: Thomas Severo, aka Tommy Hollywood, Attorney and Comedian; ​Joshua Hall, Region Manager New York / New England at Covidien; Lance M. Morrison, Business Analyst & Executive Asst to Bill Ball, VP Strategic Initiatives & Risk Management of US Division Ops.

Good OnesPhotos left to right: Ryan Wittig, Senior Major Account Executive – Ricoh Americas Corporation – Healthcare Division; Sidi Gomes, Director of Architecture & Design at CIC, CEO & Founder of ParallelCities

Members sipped on fine cocktails sponsored by The Balvenie, from whisky flights to Manhattans, everyone was in good spirits.

Good Ones 3Photo left to right: David Binder, Film Producer; Monica Singh, Assistant General Counsel at Sanofi; Julia Burr, Head of National Accounts, Independent/Regional Broker Dealer at RBC Global Asset Management.

Fun fact: did you know that March 4th was the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s 2nd Inaugural Address?

Good Ones 4Photo: Courtney Agar, Senior Associate at Harvard Management Company.

Every Good Ones event is different – whether it’s different people, different themes, or different venues. One thing they all have in common? At each event, they select a cause that is doing great work and help raise awareness for their brand. This week’s cause was Horizons for Homeless Children. Members were asked to bring one of two wooden puzzles to the event.

Good Ones 5Photo left to right: Stephanie Horn, Horn Jewelers: Owner/Partner, G.I.A Certified Diamond Specialist; Carolyn Kim, Co-founder of the Good Ones in Victorian dress for the event (hair and makeup done by Phillipo Style Hair Studio); Anna Volkova, DOLCE&GABBANA​.

The Avery Bar offers the “Avery 10″, 10 variations to the classic martini – dry, dirty and sweet to name a few. Light bites at the bar include a cheese board, charcuterie, a meatball hoagie and flatbreads.

Good Ones 6Candice Wu, Designer, Candice Wu Couture.

Good Ones 7Photo left to right: Vaia Kolios​, Theo Asaridis, Despina Garalis​​, and featured guest George Papachristos. George is a lawyer with areas of expertise ranging from all areas of criminal defense to family law. George works within the community with non-profit law programs such as Senior Partners for Justice, the Massachusetts Bar Association, the Norfolk Bar Association and The Senior Partners for Justice.

Good Ones 9Doug Wakefield, Associate Director, MBA Global Experience Office at Harvard Business School.

Good Ones 10​Featured Guest Nick Taylor, Scotch expert at Gordon’s Fine Wines & Liquors. Nick spent last October visiting ~40 distilleries, enjoying tastings, meeting with owners, and delving deep into the intricacies of some of the world’s best whisky-making. Gordon’s Fine Wines & Liquors was an event sponsor for the evening.

For an invitation to future parties, submit your personality snapshot here.

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IMG_5419Dumpling Daughter opened in November to rave reviews by the Globe. The restaurant is the brain child of Nadia Liu Spellman, Weston native and Babson College graduate.

IMG_5424The restaurant is small, it only has about 30 seats – but they also do takeout! Bonus is that you can BYOB and they don’t charge you a corking fee. Order at the counter from the menu on the wall and grab a seat – a food runner will bring your dishes out when they are ready. The service was quick and the staff at the counter were quite friendly

IMG_5420We started with the wonton soup ($5) lean pork wontons with scallions in chicken broth. Delicious.

IMG_5421Coco’s rollup ($8) was a big hit at our table, a crispy scallion pancake, rolled around beef shank and hoisin sauce. The scallion pancake was light – crispy on the outside but soft on the inside.

IMG_5422You can order 6 dumpings for $6, such a great deal. We ordered the pork and chive dumplings, pan fried. Other flavors include chicken with napa cabbage and mixed vegetable.

IMG_5423The scallion lo-mein ($9) was another hit at the table, the noodles were delicious and they weren’t too heavy or starchy.

Dumpling Daughter is open daily from 11:30-8pm. Stop in this Friday (3/13) for custom french pastries from Cafe Madeleine in the South End.

Dumpling Daughter

37 Center St. Weston, MA

http://www.dumplingdaughter.com/

Dumpling Daughter on Urbanspoon

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IMAG2332Earlier this week I was invited to attend an event to taste a new kind of dessert, frozen yogurt pearls. They are made with organic frozen nonfat yogurt and wrapped in fruit casings – inspired by the way nature packages fruit, like a grape. The event was held at Cafe ArtScience in Cambridge. Mixologist Todd Maul was on site mixing up a signature cocktail, The Pearl Jam. Here’s the recipe:

1oz Hayman’s Gin

1oz Hayman’s Navy Gin

2oz Guava/Cranberry Juice

3/4oz Lime Juice

1/2oz Gran Classico

Method: Spin the guava puree at 10000 rpm in a centrifuge for 15 min to separate the liquid from the solids. Mix and serve.

IMG_20150224_181713The creator of the pearls, Dr. Dave Edwards was on hand chatting about the dessert and WikiPearl science.

IMAG2340The frozen yogurt pearls come in 4 delicious flavors: strawberry outside with vanilla inside, peach outside with vanilla inside, strawberry outside with chocolate inside and coconut outside with chocolate inside.

IMAG2322I think that the peach was my favorite of the bunch, it had the boldest flavor. The chocolate coconut was a close second.

IMAG2331The frozen yogurt pearls are available exclusively at Whole Foods in the northeast. They are perfectly portion controlled and come in packages of two. Even cooler,  the packages are made from 100% renewable sugarcane.

IMG_20150224_213803About the size of a golf ball, these pearls taste best to me when you let them sit out for a minute once you take them out of the freezer. Because they are wrapped in these fruit “skins” they don’t melt nearly as fast as regular frozen yogurt treats.

IMAG2337Want to try the Frozen Yogurt Pearls for yourself? Click the link below for a coupon!

Whole Foods $2 Off SF FYP Coupon FINAL VERSION

For more information, follow them on Twitter @wikipearl and #exquisitelydelicious

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post

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Exterior - Hi Res Outside

Come in, they’re open….and as an added bonus, The Breakfast Club has a parking lot!!

Earlier this week I attended an event that was rescheduled from earlier in the month (who’s tired of all this snow!!). The theme for this event was Valentine’s Day! I was in good company, Bianca from Confessions of a Chocoholic, Leah from Leah’s Life: Pearls and Oysters, Melanie from A Beautiful Bite, Molly from Pop.Bop. Shop, Erik from Thrillist, Devin from Only in Boston, Rachel from Foodista on Pointe, Dan from The Food in My Beard. The Breakfast Club is now serving breakfast for dinner (by reservation only) on the first Monday of every month.

IMG_20150223_183413The first course was “Chocolate Dipped Strawberries”, strawberries with vanilla yogurt and chocolate shavings. There was fruit in there…makes it healthy right? ;) I loved every bite of it!

IMAG2304For the second course we moved onto “The Color of Love”, red velvet pancakes with cream cheese icing. Now how cute are these pancakes? I could have eaten a dozen of these – they were  THAT good, really light and fluffy. I loved the icing, it was just the right amount of sweetness – not overly so and it didn’t fight with the pancakes.

IMAG2307For the third course we moved to something savory – “Opposites Attract” 2 poached eggs on a grilled Stone and Skillet English muffin, 1 topped with smoked salmon and Hollandaise sauce and the other topped with shaved sirloin and their spicy home made Hollandaise sauce. At this point I was feeling pretty full and while I wanted to finish the whole dish, I couldn’t. The steak was probably my favorite, I love that spicy Hollandaise sauce…it would be delicious on a variety of dishes, not just this one.

IMAG2317For the final course, we had the “Mini ‘Box of Chocolates’ Milkshake”, chocolate, cherry, caramel, peanuts, and marshmallow swirl all in one shake. Holy food coma! This was a home run! The shake tasted heavy on the peanuts but that wasn’t a problem for this girl. A really nice way to end the meal.

The Breakfast Club’s regular hours are Monday-Friday 6am-2pm, Saturday and Sunday 7am-3pm. I have  heard that the lines on the weekend can be out the door! It’s hard to find a good diner. Owner George Athanasopoulos is the ultimate host. He started his career working at The Diner in Watertown Square, one of my other favorite go to spots. It was his uncle’s diner and it  is now owned by his cousin. George bought The Breakfast Club in 2002 and has filled this 70 seat diner with some great 80’s memorabilia. I’m already ready to go back: on my list to try – the milkshakes in flavors like Banana Nutella or Reese’s or one of the specials like the S’mores French Toast, Gingerbread Waffles, or the Pumpkin Pecan Pancakes. Are you drooling yet?

Check out the next couple of events below. Here’s how to get tickets: http://bit.ly/1AUtV1Y

Monday, March 2, 2015

St. Patrick’s Day

The Breakfast Club borrows from traditional Irish and St. Patrick’s Day fare, but with a quirky spin, offering up breakfast bites like a colorful Lucky Charms Parfait, decadent Bailey’s French Toast, and a riff on the classic Corned Beef & Cabbage incorporating it into the diner’s scratch-made Corned Beef Hash. Wash it all down with an “Irish Coffee” Milkshake - sláinte!

 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter

Skip the Easter Egg Hunt this year because The Breakfast Club is hoarding them all! Start your meal off with some throwback Deviled Eggs and then ponder the age-old question: Chicken or the Egg? while chowing down on an egg-white omelette filled with grilled chicken. For your Easter sweet tooth, Carrot Cake Pancakes and a Marshmallow Peep Milkshake should do the trick.

 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Spring

The trees and flowers are in finally in bloom and it’s time to rejoice because winter is over. Join The Breakfast Club for homage to springtime featuring a colorful Spring Hash, tropical banana/coconut/pineapple Hummingbird Pancakes, a Fresh Herb Omelette and a garden-inspired Vanilla-Lavender Milkshake. Better pack it all in now before swimsuit season arrives!

Disclaimer: I was invited to this event as a guest of The Breakfast Club. My meal was complimentary, all opinions are my own.

The Breakfast Club

270 Western Ave, Allston, MA

www.thebreakfastclubboston.com

Breakfast Club on Urbanspoon

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