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A Little Bit About a Lot of Things

A lifestyle blog with a focus on my food adventures

Branch Line 1Located in Watertown, Branch Line is a hot new restaurant in Watertown, known for their rotisserie chicken. They recently opened for Saturday lunch, which is served from 12pm – 3pm.

Branch Line 2We went during the week for lunch and while we were there right when they opened, don’t let the empty seats in the photos fool you, by noon time there wasn’t a free seat! I love the decor inside, the lighting fixtures, the tall ceilings and the wine taps.

Branch Line 4Branch Line offers Green Circle chickens (if you haven’t heard about them, read the NYT article here). I’m pretty sure that these chickens eat better than I do – four star restaurant veggie scraps – and they roam free. If you can’t make it in, you can get take out, half birds are $19 and whole birds are $36. It seems like a high price when you hear the number, but once you taste the chicken, you’ll think it’s totally worth it.

Branch Line 3Everything on the menu sounds delicious, so we have to contain ourselves….we order a half chicken to split and some tasty small plates just so we can try a little of everything.

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We started off with the fried cheese ($6) which looks to not be on the menu anymore. Tasty bites to get our appetites in gear.

Branch Line 6Snap peas ($11) mushrooms ($8) half chicken ($19). You MUST have the snap pea salad, not only is it pretty to look at, but there is just something really special about the flavors here, and I can’t quite put my finger on it.  It comes with a marcona almond vinaigrette, mint and ricotta cheese. YUM! The grilled mushrooms are served in CHICKEN DRIPPINGS….let the salivating begin. So super tasty. The chicken itself is served in “house sauce” and is so tender and flavorful.

Branch Line

321 Arsenal Street, Watertown, MA

http://www.branchlinearsenal.com/

Branch Line Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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IMG_8458In December, Pepe’s pizza opened in the Chestnut Hill Mall. The opening was greatly anticipated and the lines for both dine in and take out were long! We got there early (on day 2 of being open) and were close to the front of the line – luckily we were able to get a seat (and don’t worry, we ordered pizzas to go too)!

IMG_8465Pepe’s is one of the oldest pizzerias in the US. The chain opened in New Haven, CT and has locations in CT and NY. If you’re from New Haven, you’re either a Sally’s or a Pepe’s (there are strong feelings about this!) and it’s all about the white clam pie.

IMG_8459Foxon Park sodas have been served at Pepe’s since 1925! It comes in flavors like kola, diet kola, sassosa (Italian Lemon flavor), white birch beer, root beer, cream soda and ginger ale.

IMG_8460Pizzas come in three sizes (12″, 16″, 18″) and can range from $7 for a small tomato pie to $28 for a large clam pie. The New Haven style, thin crust pizza is cooked in an oven with coal, which leaves those lovely char marks.

IMG_8463The famous white clam pie – if you could have only smelled the garlic!! YUM!

So are you a Sally’s or a Pepe’s?

Frank Pepe’s Pizzeria

199 Boylston Street, Chestnut Hill, MA

http://www.pepespizzeria.com

Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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IMG_8631On a rainy afternoon, a few friends and I headed out to suburbia to try out Saltbox Kitchen in Concord. Ben Elliott is at the helm at Saltbox Kitchen, as the chef and farmer. Elliott was previously the Chef de Cuisine at No.9 Park, opened Lynch’s demonstration kitchen Stir, and launched Lynch’s catering company 9 at Home as Chef de Cuisine.

IMG_8633The sandwiches all sounded delicious, it was hard to choose (there were additional sandwiches being served as specials). I love love love the bread!

IMG_8632The Brussel Sprouts were a crowd favorite at our table, made with bacon and preserved lemon ($8).

IMG_8635I am very picky about my bolognese, and this dish did not disappoint. I only wish there had been more of it, I gobbled it up so quickly!

IMG_8636The desserts were tasty, although none of us really had room left by the end of our meal. The carrot cake was probably my favorite of the two.

IMG_8637Saltbox is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers takeout as well. Selections change daily – so check them out often!

Saltbox Kitchen

84 Commonwealth Ave., Concord, MA

http://www.saltboxkitchen.com/

Saltbox Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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IMG_8405Leah and I decided to grab lunch at Dumpling Palace one afternoon. Located on Mass Ave, parking can be dicey at times – best to try and take public transportation there!

IMG_8406The fun part about this place is that there’s a little window and you can look in on the chef making the dumplings by hand!

IMG_8407I love soup dumplings – and they have some seriously good ones here. Soup dumplings are steamed and generally filled with pork. Good thing Leah and I are friends, sometimes these can get a little messy to eat 😉

IMG_8408The steamed pork and leek dumplings were delicious.

IMG_8409And just to round out our meal, we ordered the rice cake noodles with pork and mustard greens. I love me some rice cake noodles and this dish was tasty – it felt very light. Looking forward to heading back to get my dumpling fix!

Dumpling Palace

179 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA

http://www.dumplingpalaceboston.com/

Dumpling Palace Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Version 2Talk about being behind – this was from back in December!! When I think of McDonald’s I have childhood memories of my mom taking me there for dinner. We would drive through the drive through and then eat in the car, a special Monday night treat while my dad was working…even though sometimes it was more than just on Mondays…

_MG_6401While the memories were good, and at the time, the food tasted delicious, I’m pretty sure that we could have made some better, healthier choices. McDonald’s challenged Top Chef Stephanie Cmar to come up with a menu using ingredients only found in the McDonald’s kitchen. Cmar, who you may know from Stacked Doughnuts and Party of Two, rose to the challenge and put together a delicious three course dinner at Fairsted Kitchen (where she was formerly the Executive Chef).

_MG_6409As guests arrived they sipped on a pineapple mango mocktail inspired by McDonald’s McCafe smoothie.

_MG_6411What McDonald’s event would be complete without a fry bar?

_MG_6455The first course was chicken croquettes with cilantro lime sauce, cucumber and peanut salad and wilted Romaine puree. Cmar made these with chicken nuggets, although if she didn’t mention it, you never would have known.

_MG_6435She mentioned that the croquettes tasted/reminded her of corn dogs…(although I’ve never actually had one in real life).

_MG_6472Note that Cmar is no longer with Fairsted Kitchen, she has moved to SRV as a daytime pasta maker, can’t wait to check it out!

_MG_6485Second course was a French fry gnocchi with sausage and beef bolognese. Cmar put the frozen fries through a meat grinder to make the gnocchi and the meat for the bolgnese was from the hamburger and sausage patties.

_MG_6512No dinner with Cmar would be complete without one of her signature doughnuts!

_MG_6525Third course was homemade doughnuts with cranberry and salted caramel – so delicious!

Fairsted Kitchen

1704 Beacon Street, Brookline, MA

http://fairstedkitchen.com/

Fairsted Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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I didn’t know I even craved donuts that much until Kane’s Donuts took over the pop up shop at The Street in Chestnut Hill.

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As soon as you walk in, not only are you greeted with a smile and a friendly hello, but you are also greeted with a sugar high. The smell of the donuts is intoxicating….and I think I may have gotten a cavity from being in such close proximity 😉 The donuts are on display inside a glass case so you don’t drool on them while you’re making decisions.

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They’re open from 7am-3pm, or until the donuts sell out. I recommend heading there in the morning because by 1:30/2pm they are running low on choices.

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They are best  known for their honey dip – it’s award winning! They’ve got traditional yeast donuts, cake donuts, donuts dipped in chocolate, filled donuts, even gluten free donuts! Oh and they serve coffee if you need something to help you wash down those delicious donuts!

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Other unique flavors include pistachio (bottom left), creme brûlée (bottom right) and blueberry (top left).

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Starting at the top left and moving left to right by row: French cruller, turtle, honey lemon, chocolate orgasm, coconut, strawberry, jelly, snickers and an apple fritter. Stop in soon, they are only at The Street until March 26th!

Can’t make it to the pop up? Visit the original location in Saugus or their newest location in the Financial District – see the website for more details.

Kane’s Donuts

3 Boylston Street, Chestnut Hill, MA (next to the Star Market)

http://www.kanesdonuts.com/

Kane's Donuts Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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We were invited to The Quarry in Hingham to spend the evening learning about bourbon from Beverage Manager David Danforth. Executive Chef Greg Jordan provided light bites to pair with each drink.

_MG_6780 (1)While it was a bit too cool this evening, we are looking forward to warmer weather when they open the patio – check out the great view.

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The dining room is open and bright, taking full advantage of the beautiful scenery outside.

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People rave about the burger in the main dining room, so I know what I’ll be ordering when I come back. Other delicious option on the main dining room menu include a center cut choice filet mignon, a chive and honey brick chicken, a gnocchi bolognese and a pan roasted swordfish.

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We sampled 5 bourbons. We started off with a house made bourbon punch made with passion fruit and citrus. It was slightly sweet and at the same time savory with hints of peach, orange and apple bitters.

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Our first drink was the High West American Prairies Bourbon served with cheese gougeres. High West is made from three whiskeys, Seagrams and two other undisclosed distilleries. It is aged in new American oak barrels for at least 2 years. It is a smooth whiskey that is light and has lots of character, making it a great starter whiskey. High West demands to be the star of the show and would be great when making a Manhattan or an old fashioned.

IMG_0213Next up was the Redemption High Rye Bourbon served with these delicious biscuits topped with country ham and whole grain mustard. The picked red onion was house made giving this bite the right amount of fat and saltiness. Redemption is a rye, with notes of cinnamon and nutmeg (making it a little spicy). It has a complex character and the alcohol comes through a little more. You are really able to feel the flavor in your throat. It combines the sweetness or bourbon with the spiciness and dryness of a rye mash.

Next, not pictured, was the Old Forester 1870 Original Batch served with some smoked nuts. The nuts were smoked for 30 minutes and the chips (in the smoker) were soaked in the same bourbon to reinforce the flavor from the bourbon we drank. The bourbon is made in copper pot stills and has a flavor profile that is a blend of citrus fruits: orange, grapefruit and blood orange.

IMG_0216We followed this up with some delicious cashews. The cashews were mixed with the trimmings from The Quarry’s house made bacon and if that wasn’t enough, there is candied bacon added as well! This was served with the Hillrock Estate Solera Aged whiskey. Hill Rock is the only distillery in the US and is located in the Hudson Valley. Solera is a stack of barrels where a small portion of whiskey is taken out and new whiskey is added. The average age is about 20 years. This has a softer, richer, molasses, chocolate covered cherry flavor – it was nutty with an earthy quality to it.

IMG_0225One of the coolest drinks we sampled was the orphan barrel forged oak 15 year old bourbon. It is a single barrel whiskey with notes of brown sugar and molasses. The Orphan Barrel Whiskey Company was started to share barrel of rare whiskey that were lost and forgotten in the back of rickhouses and distilleries. Every bottle is hang bottled in Tullahoma, TN. Foraged Oak was found while foraging the historic Stizel-Weller rickhouses. It spent 15 years in a charred American white oak barrel giving it the flavors of cedar, maple and vanilla bean, cocoa and black pepper.

This whiskey was paired with English Stilton cheese, blood orange marmalade and sour dough croutons. So delicious! Thanks to Chef Greg Jordan for the delicious bites and David Danforth for the lesson in bourbon!

The Quarry

415 Whiting St. Hingham, MA

http://www.quarryhingham.com

Quarry Restaurant and Lounge Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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_MG_6823You would never know that spring is around the corner with the weather being cold and rainy the past two days…but it is. If you can’t wait for spring (it’s only 4 days away!) check out the Boston Flower Show to get your fix. The show opened today and will run through Sunday.

_MG_6830I was able to stop into the Seaport World Trade Center yesterday for a media sneak peek.

_MG_6828In addition to viewing beautiful flowers, the show offers lectures and demonstrations throughout the weekend.

IMG_0575Check out events like “Hort in a Hurry, Succulent Garden Success”, “Urban Beekeeping” with my friends from Best Bees Company, “The Growing and Harvesting of Tea”, and “The Cocktail Hour Garden: Evening Landscapes for Relaxing and Entertaining”.

_MG_6821Bringing your little ones? They have a children’s area at the end of the 1000 aisle. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 11am-12pm, and 1-2:30pm, and on the weekend, Saturday and Sunday from 12:45-4pm, they have crafts and gardening activities. On Saturday and Sunday from 12:30-4pm they have paper flower making and face painting as well!

_MG_6817The center of the floor will have all the landscape designs, while the perimeter will have vendors of all kinds. Check out a full list of vendors here.

IMG_0571Ticket Information:

Adults – $20
Seniors (65+) – $17
Children (6-17) – $10
Children Under 6 – Free
*Flower Show After Dark  – $15
(Weds – Sat After 5pm – After Dark tickets must be purchased onsite at the box office

Show Hours:

Wednesday, March 16: 10:00AM-8:00PM
Thursday, March 17: 10:00AM-8:00PM
Friday, March 18: 10:00AM-9:00PM
Saturday, March 19: 10:00AM-9:00PM
Sunday, March 20: 10:00AM-6:00PM

For more information, check out the Boston Flower Show website.

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Pure Cold Press 4Pure Cold Press is not just a restaurant, it’s a community. A major part of this is because of Haim Cohen, the owner. You may know him as the son of Rami Cohen, owner of Rami’s next door (after all, that is where he learned about the restaurant business). He has an infectious personality – it feels like he is inviting you into his home the minute you step in the door. He greets regulars and knows their orders – and first timers feel like old friends. Business is going well, but Haim has a lot of new ideas and has has been making changes since I was last there in August. For example, stop in on Sundays from 1-4pm for some live jazz.

Pure Cold Press 3The space is so different than anything in Brookline – there is so much natural light in here (a blogger’s dream!). It has a laid back California vibe to it – and I knew I wanted to hang out here all day when I heard Dispatch playing on the sound system. The restaurant feels like a cross between Jugos and sweetgreen – Cohen said that he took a lot of his inspiration from his travels to California. I get a quick tour of the space and the kitchen – you would never know that this space used to be a beauty supply store – they did a complete renovation and the kitchen is spotless.

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I got to meet their sandwich guy (yup, for consistency, the same guy is making your sandwich all the time) and the gentleman who makes sure that everything in kosher. Pictured above is the avocado smash – avocado with lettuce and tomato on challah bread. All items are kosher and vegetarian – and Pure Cold Press is almost completely vegan as well.

Pure Cold Press 1Haim tells me that he has a great staff that knows their juice and he learns from his customers every day. Pure Cold Press opens at 8:30 am and offers some delicious breakfast options. For lunch you can grab a salad, a sandwich or a cup of soup. Cold pressed juices are ready made in the case but you can customize a freshly pressed juice (there are more health benefits to getting a cold pressed juice), order a smoothie or get one of their delicious acai bowls.

Pure Cold Press 5The bottles are one of the things that have changed since my last visit – they’re much sleeker. Stay tuned for new bottles that will be available in 4 sizes!

Pure Cold Press 6The day that I stop in I grab some salads to go and they are delicious. Above is the beet salad. Did you know that Pure Cold Press also offers catering?

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The caprese salad was a delicious light bite.

Disclaimer: I was invited to Pure Cold Press as a guest. My meal was provided complimentary. All opinions are my own.

Pure Cold Press

326 Harvard Street, Brookline, MA

http://purecoldpress.com/

 

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BrilliantEarth 4

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend. This lucky lady got to spend an afternoon picking out a new ring doing some research. Located on Newbury Street, Brilliant Earth sells beyond conflict free diamonds. The company was founded by two friends, Beth Gerstein and Eric Grossberg, in 2005. At Brilliant Earth, they are dedicated to sourcing environmentally and socially responsible diamonds. In addition, they only used recycled gold in their rings in order to reduce dirty gold mining. Each piece is hand crafted in San Francisco and you can have your engagement ring in as little as two weeks!


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The showroom is up on the 6th floor. It’s best to make an appointment, but they can accept walk ins if there is availability. The back room is divided into two sides, both mirror images of each other. At your appointment, they walk you down the case and you choose which ring(s) catch your eye and you narrow it down from there. From simple to ornate, there is something for everyone. I personally love the twisted vine collection and their nature inspired line. The shop is all about over the top customer service. Buying an engagement ring is one of the largest purchases of your life – you want to feel good about the company that you are giving your money to.

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Don’t see anything that you love? They have a lovely selection of vintage rings or you can even design your own. Thinking of something sentimental? Bring your old gold and have it melted down and made into a new ring (you will be given a store credit for the gold). The only thing they can’t do is use your own stones.

BrilliantEarth 3Already engaged or married? No problem! They have a lovely selection of anniversary bands with a price point that makes them perfect for any occasion.

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Looking for a perfect way to propose? Shaun Velez, Pastry Chef at Deuxave, makes an incredible sugar sphere to showcase the special ring you’ve chosen. See my review here. Photo courtesy of Deuxave

Brilliant Earth

38 Newbury Street, Boston, MA

Appointment times are Wednesday – Saturday 10am -7pm

http://www.brilliantearth.com/

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