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A Little Bit About a Lot of Things

A lifestyle blog with a focus on my food adventures

Good Ones Balvenie 1Last Sunday, the Good Ones got together for a Balvenie Power Hour at Post 390. The event was focused on bringing a mix of young, bright minds together with a few more seasoned professionals. This event had a charitable component to it, The Good Ones were collecting donations for Horizons for Homeless Children in Roxbury.

Good Ones Balvenie 2Co-founders of The Good Ones, Carolyn (left) and Jennifer (right) sipping on a scotch flight and enjoying caramelized cakes from Post 390, made by sous chef Jonathan Michael Moreira. Jonathan also created a delicious flourless chocolate cake and a green tea ice cream bites.

Good Ones Balvenie 3The dress code for the event was merino wool and vests. Co-founder of The Good Ones, Carolyn (left) and Iya Khalil (right) killed it.

Good Ones Balvenie 4Meet Iva Nikolau, the newest member of the Good Ones team – a recent graduate of Williams College, her psychology degree and previous event management experience makes her a great fit as the new social engineer apprentice.

Good Ones Balvenie 5Featured guest Kenny Gordon, Vice President of Gordon’s Fine Wines and Liquors, was on hand to talk about whisky with guests. Co-founder of The Good Ones, Jennifer Brooke, right, was rocking a one of a kind Petite Mort fur necklace.

For an invitation to future events, fill out the personality snapshot: http://thegoodones.co/membership/

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imag2029The Ritz Carlton is the newest hotel in Aruba. We decided we had to check it out! We dined at Solanio, the hotel’s Italian restaurant that offers both indoor and outdoor seating. The hotel is beautiful – there are multiple pools, a sprawling lawn, fire pits and a small beach area.

imag2030_burst002At dinner, there were beautiful sunset views!

imag2032We started with the arancini: smokey braised shortrib, Arrabbiata sauce, caper aioli ($16). A lovely presentation – the arancini was tasty, I loved the short rib.

imag2033The caprese salad: heirloom tomato, fresh mozzarella, basil ($18) was delicious, I added some balsamic for a little extra something – perfection!

imag2034The solanio salad: bibb lettuce, gorgonzola, cipolini onion, caramelized onions, apple, lemon vincott ($15) was tasty, I loved how all the flavors blended together.

imag2037The waiter suggested the mushroom ravioli ($29), which was a good choice. The oversized raviolis were cooked perfectly al dente and had a subtle flavor. The filling was hearty, making this the perfect portion size.

imag2035We tried the stromboli ($17), filled with three different kinds of meat – a really nice meal.

imag2038For dessert we had the pizzookie: served with vanilla gelato, almond nougatine ($10). A great way to end the meal, along with a cup coffee – a rich brownie like dessert cooked in a cast iron skillet – the almond nougatine sent this dessert over the top for us.

Solanio

Located at the Ritz Carlton Hotel
L.G Smith Boulevard # 107, Palm Beach, Aruba Dutch Caribbean

Open for dinner Thursday – Monday 6:00 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.

http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/Aruba/Dining/Solanio/Default.htm

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imag1968We loved 2 Fools and a Bull so much last year, that we just had to go again this year. See my previous post here. The private dining restaurant opened in February of 2012. Each night a new 5 course menu is created, depending on what is fresh at the market. They keep track of every guest that comes through the door and what meal they were served so you don’t have the same meal if you come back (unless there is something that you really liked). When you arrive promptly at 7, you sit on the back porch for a complimentary drink – a chance to get to know your fellow diners. There are opportunities throughout the meal to get up and stretch your legs and talk to other guest. All courses have optional wine pairings that range from $11-$18 a glass.

imag1960To start off the meal, we had cornish hen, served Waldorf style. We did have this course last time, but it was prepared differently. A really nice way to start the meal – the hen was tender and the blend of the citrus and fruit was really quite  refreshing. The suggested wine pairing was a Bishop’s Leap Sauvignon Blanc.

imag1963The second course was a shrimp ravioli served with shrimp sauce. Probably my favorite course of the evening. The ravioli had a really nice flavor and the pasta was cooked perfectly al dente. After this course we were encouraged to get up and mingle while they washed the dishes and reset the table.

imag1974The third course was a fish wellington, cooked on the amazing oven pictured at the top of this post. Three types of fish wrapped in a light flaky pastry crust. The suggested wine pairings were a St. Michelle Riesling ($14) or a Stags Leap chardonnay from Napa ($16). During the break we chatted with some of the other diners, one Dutch couple who was visiting their parents in Aruba, a couple from New Jersey who was here with 50 family members and another couple from New York who was coming back on Monday night with the rest of their family – renting out the whole restaurant.

imag1970I was slowing down at this point, so I didn’t have much room for the stuffed lamb, which was surprisingly light. Suggested wine pairings were a Lunta Malbec ($13), a Felino Merlot ($15) or a Bramare Cab-Sav ($18).

imag1980The dessert was outstanding – strawberry fields – fresh berries, pastry cream, a sugar pastry shell, strawberry ice cream and a tuile cookie.

Service was outstanding and the as always, entertaining. I highly recommend checking 2 Fools out if you are in Aruba, but make sure to make your reservations ASAP (I’m talking months),  they book out fairly quickly – especially during peak season. As always, reconfirm when you get to the island to secure your seat.

2 Fools and a Bull

Palm Beach #17, Aruba

http://2foolsandabull.com/

Closed Saturday and Sunday

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I was invited to join Blog and Tweet Boston for a launch party this past week for a new app in town, HeyLets, an alternative to other review sites. There was a great turnout and I had the chance to meet some really cool bloggers. Check out Karenly Nieves’ blog, Forever, Karenly and Elizabeth’s blog, Little Moments of Happiness. We all met up at Papagayo in Charlestown for Sunday brunch. They are running a cool promotion: every Sunday, from 10am-3pm, if you sing a song for their karaoke brunch, you get your meal for free!

papagayo 1Papagayo offers a brunch buffet and an a la carte menu. I went with the a la carte menu and the chilaquiles ($9). The portion is generous and the dish was delicious: poached chicken, baked corn tortilla casserole, sunny side up eggs, chihuahua cheese and tres chili salsa.

papagayo 2The carne asada con huevos ($13) was a popular menu item at our table. It’s on my list for next time: Marinated and grilled skirt steak, scrambled eggs, salsa verde, chili dusted home fries, guacamole and pico de gallo.

So let’s talk about the karaoke. There were definitely some serious contenders here – people could sing. But don’t be nervous, you don’t have to be the next American Idol to get up and sing – if you’re nervous, try singing with some friends! And yes, this group did sing for their brunch!

Parking is a little sticky in this area. There is street parking and there are pay lots near by (I paid about $16 for 2 hours). Try and take public transportation or an Uber if you can.

Papagayo is offering some great specials:

Superbowl promotion:

All diners at any of the Papagayo locations will receive all their food for free if the patriot’s win on game day (February 1st, 2015)! The only catch is they must purchase a beverage and they must be there at kick off. Reservations are  also mandatory for operational staffing. And even if the Pat’s don’t win (GASP!), guests will get 50% off of their food bill.

Valentine’s Day specials:

Couples can look forward to authentic specials in addition to the regular menu which features dishes like, Roasted Salmon Fillet with Chipotle Miso Glaze, Poblano-Potato Gratin, and Seared Greens ($16.95) and Short Ribs Ancho Chili Glaze, Shiitake Mushroom Chips, Cotija and Mashed Potato ($18.95). Paired with a great bottle of wine, or an award-winning cocktail makes the perfect Valentine’s Day date night!

Singles looking to make it a night out with friends will revel in amazing shared appetizers like Ostiones En Fuego – Fire Roasted Island Creek Oysters Baby Spinach, Oaxaca Cheese, Roasted Peppers and Crumbled Chorizo ($14.95), Flautas with slow-cooked beef, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream and Queso Anejo ($8.95), or their special “Fill Your Face with Love Nachos”–  featuring fresh house made tortilla chips smothered in cheese, black beans, lettuce, tomatoes and jalapeños, served with salsa, sour cream and hand-hacked guacamole for ($10.95). Add beef, chicken or pork for an additional $3. Or lobster for $7.

Disclaimer: Papagayo provided me with a complimentary meal, all opinions are my own.

Papagayo

1 Chelsea Street, Charlestown

http://papagayorestaurants.com/charlestown/

Papagãyo Charlestown on Urbanspoon

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image(15)Simply Fish is located at the Marriott Hotel, just a quick cab ride from the Radisson. We dined here our first night in Aruba. The palapas that you sit under by day at the beach were transformed at night, providing a wonderful ambiance. There are spectacular sunset views here, make sure to check the times for the best views.

image(8)The chef sent out California rolls to the table.

image(17)The menu is simple, choose your fish (barramundi, king salmon, corvina, halibut, or mahi mahi) and choose your style (blackened grilled or pan fried). Each order comes with two sides (sliced fried potato, creamy spinach, sweet carrots, fried plantains, steamed asparagus, mashed potato, broccoli or coconut rice). Above, the mahi mahi ($40). A little pricey for a piece of fish and two sides (which were cold).

image(16)The macadamia grouper ($37) was tasty and light.

image(12)The chocolate cake ($9.50) was good, every bite was rich and delicious.

image(11)The tiramisu ($9.50) was not a traditional one, but light and sweet.

Service was good at the beginning but trailed off at the end of the meal, I think that the meal was best described as served on island time.

Simply Fish

L.G. Smith Blvd. 101, Noord, Aruba

http://www.arubarestaurants.com/sea-food/simply-fish/

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IMG_5292I’ve been going to #aruba for the last 20 years or so. The weather is always warm and sunny and it never rains for more than 10 minutes. The people are friendly and it is very safe. So much has changed in the last 20 years. I remember when the airport was outdoors – you had to wait in the hot sun in line and pass your bags under the counter. We started out staying at the now closed Bushiri hotel and have since moved up island to the high rise hotels.

IMG_5283We have stayed at the Marriott, the Westin (now part of the Riu), the Occidental and the Radisson. We frequently go back to the Radisson, which is where we were this year. All beaches in Aruba are public. This year we noticed a huge number of cruise ship people on the beach. Here’s the scoop on these palapas that you see above: you can wait in line starting at 3pm, they open the booth at 4pm. You can only reserve for the next day and whatever they have available is on a first come first serve basis – these palapas are free of charge. You can purchase the palapas ahead of time for a fee (depending on the location it can be anywhere for $18/day to $40/day). If you rent a suite, you get a palapa free of charge for your stay but you don’t get to choose where it is. Or, risk it day of, any palapa that is open after 10am is fair game. So what about the cruise people? Itito’s, the water sport company next to the hotel rents chairs ($10) and umbrellas ($30-$45) and they make three rows in front of the palapas closest to the beach. I question how fair that is for the hotel guests who paid for their palapas…

IMG_5282While there are a lot of activities to do (water sports, horseback riding, off road tours etc.) we generally stick to sitting at the beach. Over Christmas it is super crowded – many of the people there seem to be from the north east (no surprise), mainly New Jersey and New York. If you’re going during the holidays, make sure to make reservations for dinner early!

IMG_5280The Radisson is home to a number of tropical birds – some talk and some just whistle as you walk by. The hotel offers a daily bird interaction for guests – guests can hold birds and have their pictures taken with them. The gentleman who cares for the birds has been there for ages and provides a great experience to the guests.

imag2057For more exotic birds, head a few doors down to the Hyatt where they have black swans.

IMG_5281No day on the beach would be complete without a little “woo hoo” from the aloe man. He’s a real character – he walks the beach in brightly colored outfits and crazy hats selling his aloe. Again, we’ve been seeing him walk the beach for years!

IMG_5320The weather this year was a little windier than previous years and it rained a bit more…but it’s better than being back home in 20-30 degree weather! Note that the sun in aruba is intense. Make sure to keep hydrated and eat throughout the day. You will burn faster so even if you normally wear 30SPF and are fine, you may want to consider something a little higher while on the beach.

IMG_5252There were rumors that the hotel was recently renovated, but the room that we stayed in looked the same as it had before. The king size bed was comfortable and the room was very clean.

Stay tuned for more posts this week about our adventures on the island!

For more information on the Radisson, check out their website.

For more information on Aruba, check out their website.

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IMG_9562Happy 2015 #goodones! It’s fitting that the first official post of the year should be the first Good Ones event of the year! Boston’s finest gathered at Alton Lane on Newbury Street for a power hour of networking on January 9th.

IMG_9563Alton Lane creates custom men’s clothing at an affordable price. The shopping experience is like no other. When you step in the door you meet your style expert, you can grab a drink at their bar and then you can start looking at fabrics. You choose how you want to customize your clothes – lapels, cuffs, etc. They take your measurements and then show you into their 3D body scanner. Each showroom has a scanner with 32 sensors inside, which captures your body image and allows them to make a better garment based on your exact measurements.

IMG_9564After they make your clothes, they are sent straight to your home. It’s just a better shopping experience.

IMG_9581Lunch was catered by Scissors and Pie (see my previous post here). Scissors and Pie is a great pizza place on Newbury Street that serves up hand cut Roman pizza. Each square piece of pizza is cut with scissors and you pay by weight or by (full or half) tray.

IMG_9560Pizza comes in flavors like:

Bufala, Pomodorini e Scaglie di Parrmiggiano: fresh handmade mozzarella, plump local cherry tomatoes, fresh arugula, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, fresh handmade bufala mozzarella, home made pesto sprinkled with home made garlic sauce.

Cotto e Patate: Fresh handmade mozzarella, imported prosciutto cotto, thinly sliced roasted potatoes, pink pepper flakes, extra virgin olive oil, and a home made thyme and rosemary oil infusion.

Salsiccia e Broccoli: Fresh hand made mozzarella, imported sausage, fresh broccoli, red pepper flakes and spicy oil.

IMG_9586(L-R) Jennifer Brooke, co founder of the Good Ones; Allana Taranto; Candice Wu, designer at Candice Wu Couture.

So what can you expect at a Good Ones event? You can always expect great people. Each person is hand picked for the individual event, so you are sure to meet lots of smart, interesting people. Conversations are always interesting – I always walk away from these events impressed. Who attends? Well, this isn’t your typical networking event (so leave your stack of business cards at home) – there are designers, community leaders, CEO’s, entertainers, students and people from the start up community (to name a few) – in a nutshell, movers and shakers!

IMG_9580Maddie Bergier of Reserve (left) and Malori Tinsley (right).

Feel nervous that you aren’t going to know anyone? Use it to your advantage! Since you don’t know anyone,  think of this as your chance to make a great first impression! Put the best version of yourself out there! Show up on time – there are bound to be other first timers in the same boat – it’s easier to break the ice when everyone is arriving as opposed to showing up 30 minutes into the event (plus you want to maximize your lunch hour and meet as many great new people as you can).

IMG_9576Each Good Ones event has a dress code. Today’s was grey and white or edible red. Meghan Leary, business development manager at ACE Group (left) and Kristin Phelps of Caviar killed it!

IMG_9575Sunjay Agtey, advertising sales manager at Fiksu (left) and Shannyn De Arman (right).

Come with a great, positive energy – there is a great culture at Good Ones events, which is due to all the hard work that co-founders Carolyn Kim and Jennifer Brooke put into these events. Words that come to mind: friendly, outgoing, supportive, energetic, creative, accepting, exciting, interesting, intellectual, fashionable, happy.

IMG_9571Meghan Keaney Anderson from HubSpot (left) and Andrew Sobel, broker at Warren Residential (right).

Are all the events at lunch time? Afraid you won’t be able to get away from the office? No sweat! These lunch lounges are new – they also have events in the evening after work.

IMG_9569(Left to right) Nikki Marie, Lynne Viera, Farah Bernier.

So what else? Well at this event, Hint Water and Motto were beverage sponsors. Hint water is an unsweetened flavor water without calories, sweeteners and preservatives. Flavors include watermelon, blackberry, crisp apple and blood orange. Hint also makes a sparkling water called Hint Fizz that comes in flavors like grapefruit, blackberry and strawberry kiwi. Motto is a great sparkling matcha tea beverage created by Tom Olcott and Henry Crosby.

IMG_9567(Left to right) Chris Cuozzo, of Alton Lane; Carolyn Kim, co-founder of the Good Ones; Nada Milosavljevic, Founder and CEO of Sage Tonic; Christina Wang, Vice President of Strategy and Finance for the Marcus Samuelsson Group in New York City.

All events have featured guests that highlight some rockstars in the community. Chris Cuozzo started his own brand in 2009 known as Dressed by Christopher Cuozzo before joining Alton Lane in 2012.

Dr. Nada Milosavljevic is a board certified, Harvard trained physician who launched a start up, Sage Tonic, whose first product (launching in the spring of 2015) is a holistic solution to stress and anxiety.

Christina Wang manages the finances and helps build new restaurants for celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson. In addition she is the founder of SixTomatoes, a culinary consulting company focused on helping small to medium sized businesses reach their full potential.

For an invitation to future Good Ones events, sign up for a membership: http://thegoodones.co/membership/

Alton Lane

91 Newbury Street, Boston, MA

http://www.altonlane.com/

Scissors and Pie

225 Newbury Street, Boston, MA

http://www.scissorsandpie.com

Scissors & Pie on Urbanspoon

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This is the third part in the “Meet Your Maker” series, letting you get to know those friendly faces that are serving your meals! See Part 1 and Part 2.

IMG_6501

Meet Brett!

Tell me three things that people don’t know about you. 

I am a vegetarian, I lose my possessions constantly and I love being outdoors.

What is your first food memory?

First food memory has to be my childhood addiction to French Fries

What’s your favorite Bon Me menu item?

The tea eggs

Do you cook at home? What’s your go to dish?

I have mastered the quesadilla so my go to is a black bean, red onion, bell pepper and other goodness I won’t reveal, quesadilla.

What’s your best kept food secret?

Frozen pizza from 7/11

IMG_6537A side note: Bon Me has just opened it’s second location in the Fort Point neighborhood. Their soft opening was yesterday (January 13) and they are open for business today! The 1,300 square foot restaurant is located at 313 Congress Street in the oldest existing building in the neighborhood. Bon Me has has a food truck in the Fort Point neighborhood for over 2 years and they really wanted to have a permanent space in the neighborhood. I’m super excited to see the new space!

IMG_6514

Meet John!

Tell me three things that people don’t know about you. 

I taught skiing for 6 years in Vermont; I played college football at Hobart; and I regularly ate Bon Me for breakfast, lunch and dinner the month before I started working at OKS.

What is your first food memory?

Eating meatballs in my kitchen as a kid.

What’s your favorite Bon Me menu item?

Chinese BBQ pork sandwich with Brian’s hot saus.

Do you cook at home? What’s your go to dish?

Yes – I make Julia Child’s rosemary pork chops like a champ.

What’s your best kept food secret?

Trina’s Starlight Lounge – open late with 5 dollar burgers and 3 dollar beers.

IMG_6536You can order all your favorite food truck items at the OKS location!

IMG_6560Meet Rachel, Manager at OKS!

Tell me three things that people don’t know about you.
I speak 4 languages.
My ancestor signed the Declaration of Independence.
I used to compete in a drum line which holds the highest score ever in the history of the association we competed in.

What is your first food memory?

Making my moms marinara sauce.

What’s your favorite Bon Me menu item?

A pickle sandwich with no meat.

Do you cook at home? What’s your go to dish?

I love to bake at home. My specialty is chocolate croissants.

What’s your best kept food secret?

Super Fusion in Washington Square for sushi and then for dessert you have to go to Athan’s for the rose gelato.

IMG_6555While I get the same thing every time: the soba noodle salad with BBQ pork, I was enticed to try their bubble tea while I was at OKS. All the drinks are made in house, and the bubble tea rocketed to the top of my list. Other delicious house made beverages include: a thai basil lemonade, Vietnamese iced coffee, and a spicy ginger lemonade.

Stop by and say hello to the crew at OKS today and visit their other location in Fort Point. Let me know what you think!

Bon Me OKS

1 Kendall Square, Cambridge

M, T, W, Th (11 am – 8 pm)
F & Sat (11 am – 9 pm)

http://www.bonmetruck.com/

Bon Me on Urbanspoon

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2014 has been a great year, thanks to all who helped make it special! Looking forward to seeing what 2015 brings!

Fireworks from last night’s celebration in #aruba

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IMG_3693 Mark, Bekka and I popped over to Solas for a drink one night.

IMG_3691This cozy Irish bar is located right off of the lobby of the Lenox hotel. There are murals and celtic knots all around the bar, along with a Guinness poster or two. The space is warm and cozy, there’s a great fireplace to keep you warm. The bartenders are friendly and the beer is cold.

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While they do have your typical fried bar food, other tasty choices include: Guinness onion soup, honey and whiskey glazed salmon, shepherd’s pie, a steak and potato flat bread and fried fish sandwiches.

What’s your favorite Irish Bar in Boston?

Solas

710 Boylston Street in the Lenox Hotel, Boston, MA

http://www.solasboston.com/

Solas Irish Pub on Urbanspoon

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