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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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In a world of horrible bosses, soul sucking commutes and dreading going to work on Monday morning starting on Sunday, one company rises from the pack, M0851. I had the chance to chat with Marine Godfroy, Marketing Director for the brand, before the event started. You can tell by the way she talks about the brand just how passionate she is about it – and we aren’t talking drinking the company Kool Aid passionate, it’s genuine. The name M0851 is a combination of the owners last name (Frederic Mamarbachi) and his birthday (August, 1951).

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The retail shop opened quietly on Newbury street in December, but came out with a bang last week at their opening party. Some of Boston’s most fashionable came out to check out the new shop! Here’s what I love about this brand – they are bridging the generation gap, and succeeding at it. Would you be caught dead shopping in the same store that your mother does? (No Talbots for this girl thank you very much) Yeah, probably not. Some stores are marketing to millennials but selling to the “mom” crowd and vice versa. These bags and jackets are less trendy and more timeless. It’s that one bag, or that one leather jacket that is a staple in your collection – an investment piece.

M0851 - 2Marine walked me through the company and showed me the collection. M0851 ethically sources their leather from Europe and all the products are vegetable dyed. Each jacket is cut from one hide so that the whole piece ages at the same time. (You can spot a cheap leather jacket when you see the arm, for example, has changed color and the rest of the jacket hasn’t – that piece of leather has aged faster). The collection is made in M0851’s workshop in Montreal – on any given day you can see craftsmen cutting forms for a jacket or the amazing machine, that was originally made for cutting out shoe forms, cutting the pieces for the bags. All the bags are hand stitched and each bag can be traced back to a specific craftsman. Because the bags are handmade, they aren’t perfect, and M0851 embraces their imperfections, the bags are one of a kind!

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The Boston shop offers leather bags for men and women, outerwear and tons of accessories (you have to stop in and just feel how light and soft their scarves are!). While the company does small runs of lines, they have a large permanent collection, and with the workshop so close in Canada, they can make additional runs as needed. Pieces of the collection are available in “matador” or “Montana” leather. The matador is Danish full grain bovine with a pebbled finish, where as the Montana leather is sourced from Holland and has a smooth finish.

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Guests were treated to delicious small bites provided by the talented Brendan Burke, Executive Chef at Serafina. Pictured above is the beet soup and below are the tomato and mozzarella skewers.

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Not pictured are the Blackbird Doughnuts, which are super delicious. Check out my previous post about them here.

M0851

134 Newbury Street, Boston, MA

https://www.m0851.com

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Last week I had the opportunity to meet Deuxave‘s new pastry chef, Shaun Velez. When I asked how it all started he said that he was on track to go to college and get a degree in science, but when he go there, he realized that college just wasn’t for him. From the very moment that he told his grandmother that he wanted to go to culinary school, she was against it, after all, her husband was a line cook when they first came to the states. Shaun did go to culinary school, the French Culinary Institute to be more precise.  It was there that he fell in love with pastry. After graduation in 2008, he honed his craft at restaurants including Café Boulud, Boulud Sud, Bar Boulud and the James Beard Award winner DANIEL.

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Velez has redone the entire dessert menu at Deuxave. Pictured above is the meyer lemon vacherin with meyer lemon sorbet, black pepper, chantilly, red currant glee and matcha paper ($13). This dessert is a work of art – let’s talk about the impossibly thin matcha paper, made in house, like everything else. The flavor is subtle and works well with the dessert. The whipped cream is something that dreams are made of – it’s just perfect. Fresh currants make the dessert pop! I love all the flavors and the textures in this dessert. When I asked Chef Velez how he comes up with new desserts he said that he just pictures a dessert in his head – he picks a flavor and finds something that will pair well with it, and a third ingredient that might go well with the first ingredient (ie. if apples and lemons go together and apples and almonds go together, then lemons and almonds should pair well together).

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As a general rule, I never get the creme brûlée. I find it to be boring and uninspiring. Not so at Deuxave, Chef Velez totally changed my perception of the dessert, and we aren’t talking changing plain creme brûlée to pumpkin creme brûlée. This is made with hazelnut mirliton, passion fruit diplomat and hazelnut place ($13). I literally ate this whole dish (sorry Leah!) in 3 seconds it was that good.The passion fruit seeds are the little orange spots on the dish, paired with a few citrus greens. Chef Velez confits the inner rind of the passion fruit and adds it to the dish. Chef Velez said that he likes to take classing French baking and find a way to make it more modern and exciting – I’d say he has certainly accomplished that!

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The desserts on this menu are all so very different, but all works of art and all delicious with their own flavors. I love the sugar work on the blood orange tart ($14) made with sesame custard, blood orange gel and thyme glace. This was probably the most savory dessert of the bunch with the sesame flavor having a strong role in the dessert (even the sugar has sesame seeds).

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Generally restaurants don’t have to try too hard with their chocolate desserts because by nature, they are the most popular. The cafe epice ($15) is an exception to that statement. Made with chocolate dacquoise, spiced coffee mousse, cocoa rocks and orange blossom ice cream, this dessert really knocks it out of the park – and look at how beautiful it is plated! The orange blossom is subtle and fragrant and you couldn’t find a better pairing for flavors. The dish also has cardamom cremu which adds a little spice to the dish. Any of these desserts can be paired with an after dinner drink, just as the sommelier or one of your servers for suggestions.

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Last, but certainly not least, the Baba au Calvados ($12) made with a ginger biscuit, orange cream and a quince glaze. The babas are drizzled table side with the sauce that they are soaked in. The dessert is is light and delicious – a subtle pink peppercorn flavor in the glace and the ginger biscuit makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Again, the sugar work on this is impressive – Chef Velez said that he gets his inspiration from architecture and jewelry shops.

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If you are planning on proposing (Valentine’s Day is just around the corner kids), check out Chef Velez’s off the menu dessert, a sugar sphere that can hold your ring. The dessert takes about an hour to make, so please give the restaurant plenty of time if you’d like to surprise that special someone with one!

Disclaimer: I was invited to sample the desserts at Deuxave, which were provided complimentary. All opinions are my own.

Deuxave

371 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA

http://deuxave.com

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

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January was going to be all about catching up on posts from December…but then life happened, and I got that weird cold/cough that lingers for what feels like months thing…and all productivity went out the window. So, by now you probably know that SweetGreen has opened up in the Prudential, right near the Sheraton entrance in the mall.

sweetgreen 6Sweetgreen serves up healthy, fully customizable salads and bowls with ingredients from a variety of local farms.

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The menu lets you know just  how many calories are in your salad, and if you use their app, you can also see the caloric value of your customized salad. Speaking of apps, if you pay with Level Up you can get rewards!

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I’m not usually one for salads, but sweetgreen is my exception – note that I also leave with a $25 salad because I get 800 add ins 😉

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In case you are not familiar, they have seasonal salads and salad suggestions, but you can go in and get your salad any way you want it.

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Brussels sprouts are so in these days, do you love them or hate them?

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My salad today? Avocobbo ( shredded kale + chopped romaine, tomatoes, raw corn, avocado, bacon, egg, roasted chicken) and I added cheddar cheese and balsamic dressing.

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I was with a fun group of bloggers for this lunch – and as a treat, we got to take home these adorable succulents!

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As an added bonus, BlackBird Doughnuts made these adorable mini donuts for the group! Check out my previous post about them here!

Disclaimer: I was invited as a guest to preview the new sweetgreen location. My meal was provided complimentary. All opinions are my own.

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Prudential Center – 800 Boylston St

Boston, MA

http://sweetgreen.com

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

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I started off the New Year with a healthy meal – by accident. I headed over to the Freshii in the Back Bay, located just at the corner of Dartmouth and Stuart, next to the Starbucks.

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Everything these days can be custom made, why shouldn’t your meal be that way too? Of course they have suggested bowls, burritos and salads, but you can pick whatever you like, making your meal just that, yours.

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Not in the mood for a full meal, pop over to their cold case and get a fruit salad, some hard boiled eggs or a yogurt parfait. And they have some of my favorite beverages here: Zoos Greek iced tea and Hint water.

IMG_8930Freshii is very green. Most of their packaging is made from eco-friendly vegetable starches, like corn or potatoes. It biodegrades quickly, leaving behind only carbon dioxide, biomass, and water. You may see them shaking up your lunch in a bag, but don’t worry, it’s biodegradable and it is great for people who have food allergies, the bag is used just for your meal, so no cross contamination! Shaking your meal in a biodegradable bag means they produce 5 to 7 times less of a carbon footprint than running even the most energy efficient dishwasher.

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As far as I was concerned, I was just going to lunch, extra bonus points that the meal was healthy! First off, I tired the vegan, yup, you read that right, vegan, chili. And you know what, it was delicious! Didn’t miss the meat one bit! Loved that they topped it off with broccoli and avocado, two things I would never think if adding, but now, how can I have it without them? Trust me, try it.

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Next up, the warrior bowl with chicken and a quinoa base topped with brown rice, corn, red onions, tomatoes, carrots, black beans, cajun spice, ranch dressing. Did you know that they make their dressings (all but one) in house? This was probably my favorite dish of the day, and who knew I would actually like quinoa?

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The buddha satay with rice noodles, crispy wontons, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, and green onions topped with peanut sauce. I’m not personally a fan of rice noodles, but loved everything else about this bowl. The peanut sauce was dreamy and the crispy wontons added the perfect amount of crunch.

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I love anything with corn, so the fiesta salad was right up my alley. Field greens, black beans, avocado, aged cheddar, corn, pico de gallo and cilantro lime vinaigrette. Loved the dressing, light and tart without overpowering the other fresh flavors in the dish.

IMG_8938They also have juices and smoothies. On most days I try and steer clear of anything green, so this was a pleasant surprise that it was so tasty….and a little sweet. I loved it. (Don’t spread the word though, it might ruin my street cred…)

Disclaimer: I was invited to check out Freshii and sample some of their menu items. My food was provided complimentary. All opinions are my own.

Freshii

185 Dartmouth Street, Boston, MA

https://www.freshii.com

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

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I haven’t been to Lansdowne Street since my college years. I was excited to check out Loretta’s Last Call, a country bar, for their bluegrass brunch.

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Every Sunday they have a bluegrass brunch from 11-4 with live music. They do other fun events like free line dancing lessons on Sundays and Tuesdays and Bourbon tastings (the next one is coming up on the 20th).

Check out Down in The Attic, who was playing that afternoon and you can check out the video I took on my Facebook page. They were awesome!

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The walls are covered with photos of country legends and the beams are draped in colored Christmas lights.

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First order of business…coffee!

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The chef brings over some Jalapeno poppers with blue cheese, wrapped in bacon for us to try. They are not too spicy and the blue cheese didn’t overwhelm the popper – great way to start the meal.

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The house smoked turkey and sweet potato hash ($12) is one of their most popular dishes. It comes topped with 2 fried eggs and a biscuit on the side. Not only is this great for hangovers, but it is some serious comfort food. The dish was flavorful and it had a little bit of everything on the plate, a little protein, some carbohydrates and oh boy do I love a good biscuit.

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We also tried the hicken and waffles ($14) served with maple bbq such and whipped butter. The chicken outshines the waffle for me, it was sweet and crunchy and tender inside. I could eat this for days!

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And just to throw something sweet into the mix, we hd the peanut butter and banana stuffed French toast ($10), smothered in syrup and topped with a healthy dose of bourbon whipped cream. Certainly satisfied our sweet tooth and who can resist the peanut butter and banana flavor combination? We sure can’t.

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Peanut buter pie ($7) was first on our dessert list, it wasn’t too sweet which we really liked.

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We also tried the fried biscuits ($6) which we wished were just a touch sweeter.

Disclaimer: I was invited as a guest to sample the brunch at Loretta’s. My meal was provided complimentary. All opinions are my own.

Loretta’s Last Call

1 Lansdowne Street, Boston, MA

http://www.lorettaslastcall.com

Loretta’s Last Call Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Right before the holidays I was invited to a blogger dinner at The Cottage in Wellesley to showcase the restaurant and the shops that are close by. We ate in the private room in the back of the restaurant. The table was beautifully decorated with linens from Bonsoir, a store that sells luxury linens from France, Italy and the US.

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We started off with a sampling of appetizers, the beef tenderloin crostini and the mini crab cakes. The beef tenderloin was served with a whipped goat cheese spread, homemade sweet onion jam and placed on a piece of ciabatta crostini. The mini crab cakes were served with a basil vinaigrette and placed on a bed of roasted corn and frisee salad.

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The goat cheese salad was served with caramelized walnuts, roasted red peppers, and topped with a light balsamic vinaigrette.

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One of my favorite dishes of the night was the lamb bolognese that was topped with some fresh local ricotta. The dish was a winter comfort dish with cumin undertones.

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The chicken milanese was served with a shaved fennel and arugula salad and topped with a lemon thyme vinaigrette.

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The mahi fish tacos were served with guacamole, napa cabbage, pico de gallo, and cottage baja sauce. It was served in two corn tortillas and had a side of papaya salsa.

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The trio of desserts included a chocolate souffle cake, white chocolate raspberry bread pudding and a cheesecake.

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The different shops at Linden Square had tables showcasing their products. For a full list of shops, check out the Linden Square website. How amazing is this statement necklace from Impulse? They have the latest in fashion forward jewelry. See their website here.

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There were some great outfits showcased by Sara Campbell, Kenzie and Tiny Hanger. Tiny Hanger is one of my favorite stores for kid’s clothing – they have some pretty adorable things.

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Have a fur baby? Check out Unleashed by PETCO. Since I was the only one with a cat, I took home some pretty cute toys and treats – although my cat is so old and grumpy when I showed them to him he just glared at me….

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Yup, he can’t be bothered…

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Another fabulous part of this evening was a manicure at Bella Sante. Located just above The Cottage, the spa was much more spacious that I had originally thought it would be. I was running late for the dinner, but they still managed to squeeze me in! Laura did a fabulous job on my nails and they lasted a whole week, which for me is huge – usually by day 3 I manage to destroy my nails.

Disclaimer: I was invited to The Cottage as a guest for this special holiday dinner. My meal was provided complimentary, as well as my manicure at Bella Sante. In addition, I received gift bag with discounts and gift cards to the shops at Linden Square for attending. All opinions are my own.

The Cottage

190 Linden Street, Wellesley, MA

http://www.cottagewellesley.com

The Cottage Wellesley Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Peter had the afternoon off of work so we headed over to try out Seoul Soulongtang in Allston. Half of their menu is variations of beef soup with the other items making up the combination plates. What is Soulongtang? It’s white ox bone broth with brisket, marrow and thin flour noodles with salt and scallions.

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The restaurant leaves a little something to be desired decor wise. The tables in the front are all two tops pushed together to make tables of 6/8, so you may be sitting with strangers.

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We love all of the complimentary items they bring out, we love us some kimchi.

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We decide to do the kalbi tang, beef broth with premium short ribs. Just note that the sort ribs are bone in, so they are a little tricky to eat – you basically have to stick the whole thing in your mouth and spit out the bone. This soup would be amazing on a cold, snowy night!

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We both had the kalbi tang combination plate ($19.95) with bulgogi, grilled beef with onions and soy sauce. The combo plate came with a side of white rice. $20 for lunch is a bit on the pricey side, but you can definitely get two meals out of this.

Seoul Soulongtang

1245 Commonwealth Avenue, Allston, MA

http://www.seoulbeefsoup.com

Seoul Soulongtang Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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January is all about catching up on posts from the end of the year. With the holidays and the new year, time just flew! So back at the end of November, Leah, Dori and I headed over to the Harpoon Brewery for the Dundee VI Brawl at the Hall. People packed in to taste meat pies made by local celebrity chefs. Previous winners are as follows: 1) Sam Monsour 2) Chin Kuo (Saus) 3) Samuel Jackson (KO Pies) 4) Chin Kuo (Saus) 5) Current champs, Mike DiSabatino and James DiSabatino (Roxy’s).

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In the spirit of competition, they had some pretty amusing chef bios. Here’s just one:

Ryan “The Pork Peddler” McGuire was born on the mean streets of Cape Cod. At an early age he realized that he did not have a jump shot, so his only chance for fame and dollar bills was to sling pork out of the back door of his mother’s kitchen. With bigger aspirations than pork on the Cape, he grabbed his brother Kevin “The Sloppy Sailor” McGuire on a journey to make the greatest pork meat pie known to man. With a slab of pork in one hand and a dark and stormy in the other, they have achieved greatness peddling the world’s best pork pies. They will be entering the meat pie octagon with a mariachi band in tow playing their theme music of “momma gonna knock you out” so everyone knows how serious they really are about knocking out the competition with their pork.

Everyone got a score card that the chefs marked off when you went up to get a pie. The event was really well run, you never really waited in line too long for a pie.

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First up the Shepard’s Pie Meat Pie – Stewed lamb and beef, smoked corn gravy, habanero and jack cheesy mash, black garlic ketchup. When I think of lamb, I think gamey. This wasn’t at all and it had a little bit of a kick to it! Some serious comfort food!

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Shrimp, Oyster and Crab Gumbo. All the pie crust were made by KO Pies, and this one was perfect. The filling was so flavorful!

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Lobster Rangoon” with butter poached lobster, allium cream cheese and sweet and sour sauce. I think that people were wowed by the ingredients of this pie. It was creamy but the mint and sweet and sour sauces really kicked the pie up a notch.

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Al Pastor with pineapple, mushroom and chicharron. This was delicious, well balance flavors and I loved the sweetness.

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North Shore Three Way – Roast seasoned beef, American cheese, brown bbq sauce, kewpie and crispy onions.The filling here was tender and the sauce was tasty (but a little too heavy if you must ask).

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The Clam Alamb a Ding Dong – a baked stuffed clam pie  with chowder sauce. I didn’t really get a clam taste on this one, garlic overpowered this pie, but don’t get me wrong, we ate this one all up!

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The Steakbomb Sub – Short rib, pastrami rub mornay, whipped salami, peppers and onions. The meat was peppery and flavorful and the sauce was thick and creamy – a really well done pie.

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Crawfish Pie – Fritos, jack cheese, smoked monsanto corn, essential andouille oil. I love fritos on anything nd this was just perfect. There was a nice crunch and a little bit of a kick – another flavorful pie.

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The Pork Hat Pie. I liked the pickle addition, it gave this pie a little but of a punch and the mashed potatoes inside were delicious.

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The Chili Mac Smack – with short rib chili, tallegio mac n’ cheese and a wild mushroom salsa. This was one of my top choices – the mac n’ cheese was delicious and the mushrooms melded really well here.

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The Ruben – with swiss cheese mornay, mustard, pastrami and kraut. You know Chef Nookie from Commonwealth was going to go big or go home, and he brought his A game with his pastrami pie. It was a like the perfect Jewish deli sandwich in a pie – the pastrami was well seasoned and while I generally don’t love kraut, this was a really nice addition to the pie – subtle.

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Chicken and Quinoa Meatball Pie – with Chinese garlic sauce, spicy mayo and spicy peanuts. Kate Holowchik was the only female chef in the competition tonight, and she brought it with her chicken meatballs. While I generally shy away from chicken meatballs in general, these were really flavorful and the perfect texture. The pie would have been perfect on its own, even without the sauce.

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Check out the fun photos from the night, courtesy of The Danger Booth! Congrats to all the participants – all the pies were delicious! The winner of the battle was Chin Kuo with his Lobstah Rangoon pie. Nice work Saus for bringing home the championship for the third time!

Participants included:

Samuel Jackson, Michael Serpa, Chris Douglass, Mike and James DiSabatino, Steve “Nookie” Postal, Ryan and Kevin McGuire, Kate Holowchik, Matt Drummond, Dan Amighi, Chin Kuo, Samuel Monsour, and Nicholas Dixon.

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So let’s be honest, how many of you made the resolution to be healthier in 2016? I bet a lot of you. That’s why gyms are so crowded starting January 1st and when you walk into a store, the first thing you see is workout gear and exercise equipment. How many of you got a Fitbit/Jawbone/Misfit this year for the holidays? I know my niece did!

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Jewelery designer Heloisa Fitzgerald and her business partners just launched Blingtec, a Boston based jewelry/wearables company that blends traditional jewelry and next generation biometric tracking. Blingtec is producing a product that is beautiful and functional.Screenshot at Jan 04 09-24-35

The new line consists of these pieces in 18K yellow, white and rose gold plated:

Center and side charms for Fitbit Charge and Charge HR

Pendant holder/necklace for Fitbit Flex

Center charm for Fitbit Flex bracelet

Center and side charms for Jawbone Up

Bangle bracelet for Jawbone Up and Up 3 + 4

Pendant holder/necklace for Misfit Shine
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All the pieces are reasonably priced between $98 and $228. Now you can track your fitness and be fashionable! These pieces might convince me to dust off my Fitbit – they’re so pretty!Screenshot at Jan 04 09-22-43

For more information or to purchase a piece from Blingtec, check out their website: http://www.blingtec.com

Happy New Year! I thought I would start this year off with the last event in December I went to hosted by the Good Ones.

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A select group of Good Ones headed out to Beacon Hill to mingle, shop and meet some amazing founders at Follain.

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The name Follain is Gaelic for “healthy, wholesome and sound”.

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There aren’t a lot of restrictions in the beauty industry in the United States. Follain carries only the highest quality healthy beauty products available.

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Check out this list of brands that they carry.

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Tau Zaman and Dr. Nada Milosavljevic  (founder SageTonic.com) checking out the Sage Tonic mobile app. From the website:

The Sage Tonic mobile app is a modern sensory platform, which supports common mind-body conditions with the touch of your finger. Whether you are on the road, or at home, you can login on your mobile device to create a customized treatment just right for you. 

Our sensory platform provides a sense specific therapy to target common symptoms such as stress, fatigue, poor focus, etc. Each of your senses: sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch can be engaged in a personalized session you help to design. Based on your sensory selections a program is created to target your current condition.

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Sage Tonic is an innovative hollistic program for wellness. The products are specially formulated, all natural and non GMO. High quality teas and tisanes include: Relax – lemon balm and passion flower; Happiness – green tea and St. John’s wort; Sleep – lavender and valerian; Clear Head – cinnamon and peppermint; Energy – black tea and grapefruit; and Focus – green tea and ginseng. They also have a line of essential oil towelettes. The line includes: Relax – lavender and neroli; Happiness – bergamot and clary sage;  Sleep – lavender and patchouli; Clear Head – peppermint and geranium; Energy – grapefruit and lime and Focus – basil and rosemary. I was lucky enough to take home a sample of the Relax towelettes and it was like having a spa moment on the go. You open up the packet and release the essential oils and breathe it all in – you can feel the stress melting away!

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Ali Jawin, Adrian Wong (owner of Beta Burger), Suvd Tsolmon​. Check out my recent review of Beta Burger here.

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Dr. Nada Milosavljevic and Christina Wang, Founder of Six Tomatoes, an international strategy and business development company providing strategic advice to clients in food & beverage, education, and non-profit sectors.

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Katie Dolaher​, Jenni, Iva.

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On left and right (Founders of Organic Bath Co.), Jay ​& Gianne, center is Follain Brand Ambassador.

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Organic Bath Co makes a full line of body scrubs, body butter, body oil, body wash and more. When I’m looking for something scented, I love the “Stress Less” organic body scrub, made with almond, apricot, sunflower and calming lavender oils. When I’m just in the mood for the scrub, without the scent, they have a “naked” body scrub that is unscented but still exfoliates and hydrates, leaving your skin super smooth.

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Matthew Tambiah​, Jen Burney (Founder Amber Blue)​. Amber Blue is an environmentally friendly organic skincare line. Jen is a master herbalist and aromatherapist – she makes all of the products in small batches and packages everything by hand.

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Regan Cleminson and Dr. Nada.

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Steve Osemwenkhae, the Good Ones super talented videographer, who is currently working on a no makeup series.

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Dr. Nada​, Tara Foley, founder ShopFollain.com​, Carolyn, founder thegoodones.co.

Want to join the Good Ones in 2016? Check out their website: https://thegoodones.co

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