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A Little Bit About a Lot of Things

A lifestyle blog with a focus on my food adventures

We generally frequent the same few restaurants when we go out, so I wanted to make it a point to try somewhere new. We have been to the other restaurants in the complex, but had never been to Takara. While they restaurant is Japanese and serves a nice variety of sushi options, it was nice to see some Korean dishes on the menu as well. The restaurant was pretty empty when we arrived (around 5) and was filling up as we left.

My favorite Korean dish is bulgogi, so I was delighted to see that Takara had it on the menu ($19.95). They also had chicken, spicy chicken and pork bulgogi on the menu – can’t wait to try those out next.

Okdol bibimbab is also a favorite, served warm in a hot stone bowl (you can get the chilled dish as well). We had ours with beef ($15.95) but you could get it just as easily with chicken, spicy pork, salmon, eel or tofu. They offer tuna and salmon (chilled) bibimbab. The best part of this meal is when you stir it all together and get the crunchy rice from the bottom mixed in with the vegetables and the egg.

Tons of sushi options on the menu. We stuck with family traditional choices, including the tuna and the shrimp tempura. The fish was fresh and the sushi was tasty. The service was very good, our server was attentive – clearing out plates and filling up water glasses before you could even think about it.

There is plenty of parking available in the lot just outside the restaurant.

Where is your go to place for sushi and ethnic food in the Metro West area?

Takara

15 Elissa Avenue, Wayland, MA

http://www.takarajapaneserestaurant.com

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

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Acapulcos hasn’t changed much over the years. The Sudbury location is a little sad and dark inside. They’re a chain restaurant, with locations in Amesbury, Beverly, Enfield, CT, Franklin, Milford, Needham, Norwood, Quincy and Stratford, CT. Sudbury was the original location that opened in 2001.

They have the best deal for kids. $4.95 for a burrito, taco, enchilada, quesadilla, grilled cheese, cheeseburger or chicken tenders. The meal is served with rice and beans or fries. They have balloons for the kids and it’s the kind of place that people don’t stare at you if your kids are making noise.

They have a large menu with items like: El Paso chimichanga, enchiladas ranchers, asado burrito, tacos al pastor, bacon shrimp tacos, fajitas, arroz con camarones, pollo a la crema, chile verde, or a grilled chicken torta. They have a variety of vegetarian options as well.

Our lunches there have been OK, we had a Groupon which made the meal an even better deal. Desserts leave something to be desired, we ordered the churros and they weren’t as fresh and light as we would have hoped for. Service was decent.

Where do you go for great Mexican food in the Metro West area?

Acapulcos

694 Boston Post Road, Sudbury, MA

www.acapulcos.net

Acapulcos Mexican Family Restaurant & Cantina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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All meetings should be over food. We had a breakfast meeting and decided to have it at Urban Hearth, a cute little place in Cambridge on Mass. Ave. The cafe is open Tuesday – Sunday from 8am – 5pm. They have a special supper club Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 6pm – closing. The dinner menu changes every few weeks and has a choice of four starters, four main courses and two desserts. You can opt for a 3 course meal for $65 or a 5 course meal for $80.

Back to breakfast. Their menu changes daily, depending on what they find at the market. Here are some ideas of what you might find:

CASSEROLE FROM THE HEARTH
The grandaddy of one-dish breakfast wonders – this week we’re serving shakshuka, a smokey rich stew of tomatoes, peppers and cumin, topped with New Hampshire farm fresh eggs, cooked en cocotte and topped with sheep’s milk feta and focaccia for dipping.

ROASTED WILD MUSHROOM TARTINE
Available throughout the day, enjoy on of our creative open faced sandwiches along with a small field green salad. Roasted wild mushrooms on grilled whole wheat sourdough with leek confit and crispy chickpeas. Add Danielle prosciutto or a farm fresh egg over-easy for $1.

BREAKFAST SANDWICH
House made Old Bay biscuit with a fried egg, melted cheddar and finished with Tennessee country ham and avocado. This is a knife and fork worthy sandwich.

CARAMELIZED BANANA PORRIDGE
brown sugar, butter, pecans and caramelized bananas create and warm gooey topping for steel cut oats. All finished with a drizzle of berry compote.

I kept it light since we were having a meeting, and chose this delicious strawberry tart from the dessert case. Just the right amount of sweet and bite. We grabbed a seat at the long communal table with great natural light from the front window, but they do have a few smaller tables as well. They serve Barrington Coffee and MEM teas.

They have this fun special event once a month, a pizza night, where they fire up the oven and you get all you can eat thin crust pizza for $18 per person. They cap it at $45 with families with children under 12. They have seatings at 5:30, 7 and 8:30. Head over to their website to find out more about pizza night.

Urban Hearth

2263 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA

www.urbanhearth.net

urban hearth Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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My mom and I have this tradition of driving up to Freeport, ME every year to do some outlet shopping. We’ve done it since I was a little girl. When we first started going, we stayed overnight at a cute little B&B that is no longer. We’ve watched the little town grow and seen stores come and go. Sometimes we stop in Kittery, sometimes Portland, and sometimes Ogunquit (can’t miss those lobster rolls!)

The drive is just over 2 hours from Boston, and while there are outlets now in Wrentham and at Assembly Row, I still like to go up to Maine because it’s such a cute little town.

So where do we start? Can’t start the trip without making a pit stop at L.L. Bean! Don’t forget to take a picture with the enormous boot! They have FREE concerts and events during the summer. Check out the schedule here. Did you know that L.L. Bean is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year?!? When I was younger, it was so much fun going into the store at midnight.

What are some of my favorite stops on Main Street (and off)?

Sea Bags I have a MAJOR addiction. In addition to their recycled sail bags, they have some cool jewelry from Lemon Line and some fun options for your home.

J. Crew I’m a sucker for the J. Crew outlet. I love all their kids clothes too.

Vineyard Vines They have an outlet store in Wrentham and at Foxwoods. This store is two floors of preppy heaven. Just note that there is no way to the second floor besides the stairs, so be prepared to leave your stroller. (Although they did offer to help carry my stroller all the way up, but that just seemed cruel ūüôā )

When Pigs Fly¬†I can’t get enough of this delicious bread. You can get it in the market, and they even have stores in MA. But this is a favorite stop for me – oh and did I mention that it smells delicious?

Fj√§llr√§ven just opened a store in Boston. They have their only outlet location up in Freeport. They sell first quality merchandise at around 10% off. I picked up a “maxi¬†K√•nken” backpack and use it in place of a diaper bag on most days. It has an extra expandable compartment for a laptop if you want to use it for a commuter bag.

What else can you find in Freeport?

The Coach Factory Store, Coastal Maine Popcorn, Dooney and Bourke, Lindt, Sperry, The North Face, and Maine Woolens to name just a few.

Where to eat? To be honest, we usually eat somewhere else (like Ogunquit or Kittery) but I’ve always wanted to try the Harraseeket. We’ve had a few meals at Linda Bean’s Maine Kitchen. My first meal there was delicious, this past time, when we went for lunch it was just meh. Sort of disappointed when you pay for a lobster dish, especially in Maine, and it’s just meh.

For more information on Freeport, ME, check out their website here.

Have you been up to Freeport, ME lately? Where’s your favorite place to eat?

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I keep hearing good things about Worcester. So we hopped in the car one day and headed out to the Farmer’s Market and Crompton Collective. BirchTree Bread Company is in the same building as Crompton Collective, such a cute place to eat (with plenty of seating). BirchTree Bread Company offers artisan breads, tasty pastries and specialty coffee. They’re open Tuesday – Friday 7am – 5pm (Wednesday and Friday are pizza nights from 6pm – 9pm), Saturday 8am – 6pm and Sunday 10am – 3pm.

Here’s a list of their delicious breads:

DAILY BREAD:

  • Country
  • Local Wheat (except Tuesday)
  • Olive & Herb
  • Coriander Raisin
  • Seeded Levain

SPECIAL BREADS:

  • Tuesday and Wednesday-Whole Wheat Flax & Toasted Oat
  • Thursday- Rosemary Ciabatta
  • Friday-Danish Rye
  • Saturday-Caraway Rye
  • Sunday-French Baguette

Let me give you an idea of the things on their lunch menu:

Corned beef and kraut sandwich, local wheat toast with house cultured butter, local honey and sea salt, local organic greens salad with picked julienne vegetables and cider vinaigrette, quiche and savory bread pudding to name just a few.

I was just on their website and their specials sound delicious this week:

Brittany’s toast made with taco bean spread, melted sharp cheddar, and pico de gallo, served on ciabatta. Breakfast special is saut√©ed swiss chard, tomato, feta, toasted seeds and a farm fresh duck egg, dried with evoo and served open faced on seeded levain. Looking for something lighter? Try the soup de jour, this week its a sugar snap pea and potato – umm…even though it’s 90 degrees outside right now, ¬†that sounds pretty darn delicious.

Need something quick to go? I can vouch that the cookies were delicious, but they also have croissants, scones and muffins.

And just as I was walking out the door, I spotted our good friends, Fox Point Pickling Company! Make sure to pick up a jar while you’re getting lunch.

What is your favorite spot in Worcester? I’m looking for some new places to try out!

BirchTree Bread Company

138 Green Street, Suite 5, Worcester, MA

www.birchtreebreadcompany.com

birchtree bread company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Leah and I grabbed lunch one day at The Automatic, a quirky little spot run by East Coast Grill founder, Chris Schlesinger, and B-Side Lounge alum, Dave Cagle. They serve lunch Monday through Friday and dinner all week long. The menu has a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Small plates like “Cousin Xiangs Jerky”, spicy Portuguese party mix, Arkansas State Penn chili, calamari and grilled mushroom tacos. Grab a standard salad or build your own. Order a sandwich or a gouda burger if you’re looking for something more filling. Appetizers start at just $4 and sandwiches are $6 to $9.50.

They have a great outdoor patio for when the weather is nice and fun events like “Paella on the Porch with Old Man Schlesinger“. On July 25th from 6:30-9:30, Chris Schlesinger makes his famous paella along with other Spanish style appetizers. The fixed price for the evening is $35 and there are limited seats available.

On July 31st they are hosting “Cuban Sandwich Crisis with Chez Here’s Paul O’Connell“. They will be serving the famous pork butt sandwiches for $13, starting at 5pm and serving until they are gone. Make a reservation, or just walk in.

If you like heat, and if you are a fan of Chris, you can’t miss the “Frito Pie from Hell”. The Fritos come topped with chili, cheese and inner beauty hot sauce. And dear god, it’s hot!

The Automatic

50 Hampshire Street, Cambridge, MA

www.theautomaticbar.com

the automatic Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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I love milkshakes recently opened in the Natick Mall. The kiosk is located in the newish part of the mall near the Apple store. I was excited about the concept – over the top milkshakes are all the rage these days – I mean, have you seen Black Tap’s photos?

They have a lot of choices on their menu, and I went with the “Who’s Your Daddy”. The milkshakes are made with soft serve, which I was a little bummer out about, the texture and consistency was a little off. The super sweet strawberry syrup ¬†made it feel like I was at a fast food joint, and the Kit Kat was not only ground up inside the milkshake (which I personally don’t like), but the whole garnish was stale.

Bummer.

Wanted to like this place a lot.

I Love Milkshakes

1245 Worcester St., Natick, MA

www.ilmilkshakes.com

I love milkshakes Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sunday night I had my favorite kind of tasting menu…a 5 course dessert tasting! I was lucky enough to be a guest at Sugar Rush 2017, the creation of Jaime Schick – the talented pastry chef that has worked at places like No. 9 Park and Deuxave. She is in her fifth year of running Sugar Rush, and this year, the proceeds from the event went to Bakes for Breast Cancer. Through dessert oriented events like this one, Bakes for Breast Cancer raises money and awareness for breast cancer. The event was located at Rail Stop Restaurant and Bar, near the New Balance Headquarters in Brighton.

The first course was a Watermelon Herbed Vacherin: lemongrass poached blueberries, candied watermelon, and meringue. How beautiful is this dessert? A great way to kick off the evening. Super summery with the fresh fruit and such a fun twist with the crown of meringue.

The amazingly talented Shaun Velez, of Deuxave, created this dessert. See my previous post about him here. I am always so excited to see the things that Shaun creates, each one more spectacular than the next!

The optional drink pairing for this course was a “Flower Power 75“: Bombay Dry Gin, St. Germaine, and Sparkling White Wine. Going out for drinks these days isn’t what is used to be – it’s an experience. ¬†This drink was thoughtfully created, right down to what they put into the ice cubes.

All drink pairings were by Eli Shapiro, Bar Manager, Rail Stop Restaurant and Bar. All their craft beer is local and all of their cordials are made in house.

After something sweet, you need some salt to balance things out. Executive Chef Jonathan Schick is a “popcorn genius”, claims his wife, and Sugar Rush 2017 creator, Jaime.

Course #2, a Coconut Mousse: cucumber mint sorbet, and caramelized quinoa. I wasn’t sure I was going to like this one, to be honest, because coconut isn’t one of my favorite flavors, and we all know how I feel about quinoa. The coconut flavor was so subtle and the dessert was so light and refreshing. I loved the cucumber sorbet – a nod to Jean Georges cucumber soup. Caramelized quinoa might be the only way I want to eat quinoa from now on!

Stacy Mirabello, of Johnson & Whales University created this beautiful dessert.

Drink pairing #2 was the “What’s Pimpin’ Pimms“: Pimms No. 1, with cucumber and mint. Such a fun drink, and I do love anything with gin these days. Very bright and perfect for summer!

The pairing and flavors were a nice play off of Stacy’s dessert.

Course #3, Salted Caramel Macarons: passion fruit sorbet, almond, plums, and Laphroaig whisky. THIS is how macarons should taste! Perfectly light, super fresh, with an equally light filling. The passion fruit sorbet was a bright kick in the dessert, balancing the smoky gelée. I loved everything about this dessert.

Katie Hamilburg created this dessert. The Wayland native is the pastry chef at 80 Thoreau in Concord. Katie was a professional ballet dancer and after her career, she moved back to Boston to pursue her love of pastry. She helped open Bergamot as the pastry assistant to Stacy Mirabello (see above).

The “Figroni“: (in house) Barrel Aged Negroni, House Made Fig Cordial and Citrus. Because all good drinks should be garnished with bacon and a cheese curd! A really nice pairing to the dessert, playing off of the smokiness. Whoa, we should start pacing ourselves, because these drink pairings were certainly on the generous side!

Course #4: Peach Cobbler: rosemary, olive oil and basil. Such a lovely spin on a classic dessert. The presentation was just lovely and this was probably my favorite dessert of the evening.  The whipped cream was heavenly and the cookies just melted away in your mouth. I never wanted this to end.

Jesse Jackson III of No. 9 Park is the talent behind this dessert. This makes me want to head back to No. 9 Park soon!

Basil Bourbon Bellini“: Eagle Rare, Bubbles, and a Peach – Basil Syrup. Sweet but not too sweet, and a perfect compliment to the dessert. The peach ring was dehydrated and was the grown up version to those peach gummy rings you know you used to love.

Course #5: Raspberry Whoopie Pies: raspberry meringue, mocha sauce, and chocolate crumble. To be honest, I was looking forward to this dessert the most. I had been following the Williams Family Baking Co. on Instagram for some time now and have been dying to try their drool worthy desserts. They specialize in catering and wholesale, but you can find them at the Kendall Square Farmer’s Market on Thursdays. I have a love hate relationship with whoopies. I love them, but more often than not they are dry or heavy – just not quite right. These on the other hand were so light and the filling actually tasted like raspberry. Really nice flavors and textures in this plate.

By Craig Williams of Williams Family Baking Co.

Espresso Yo’ Self“: Luxardo Espresso, Meletii Cioccolato and Irish Cream. Can we just talk a minute here about the ice cube?!?! AMAZING.

I was so full that I couldn’t drink as much of this as I had wanted to. All the desserts were wonderful, light and just the right amount of sweet. Make sure to check these chefs out at their regular gigs!

For more information on Bakes for Breast Cancer, check out their website here.

A special shout out to Carol Sneider, President of Bakes for Breast Cancer, for hosting me at this event.

I was invited as a guest to attend the Sugar Rush 2017 event. My ticket for the event was provided complimentary. All opinions are my own.

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Allston and Brighton are becoming quite the new hot spots for restaurants these days. Beard Papa’s is just one of the new-ish restaurants in the neighborhood. This chain boasts that they have the world’s best cream puff. Let me tell you, they’re pretty darn good. This location has a good amount of seating – so if you’re like me and can’t wait until you get home – you can hang out a while and eat these freshly filled desserts!

They have a variety of shells and flavors. Shells include the original cream puff, the eclair shell with chocolate, the Paris brest shell and the croquant. Every day you can get the original vanilla, chocolate or green tea fillings and then they have a special filling of the month. July is mango. Previous special fillings have included: strawberry, cookies and cream, coffee jelly, and cherry pie.

Each puff is filled to order, so you are getting the freshest possible  treat!

Have you been to the Chinatown location? Check out my previous post here.

Beard Papa’s

145 Brighton Avenue, Allston, MA

http://beardpapa.com

beard papa's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Moody Street in Waltham has become quite the foodie destination. A friend came in from out of town and we went to Tempo Bistro, a recommendation from his brother who lives close by. The restaurant was jammed and service was a bit slow at times, but we were catching up, and didn’t mind. The menu changes seasonally. Appetizers include items like: flash fried calamari, sweet potato braves, shoestring truffle fries, fried Brussels sprouts and smoked bacon. Salad options include burrata and truffle honey, kale caesar, roasted beet and goat cheese and an asian chopped salad. Entrees son dad so delicious it was hard to choose just one thing: spring carrot vegetarian ‘bolognese’, spice rubbed rare yellowfin tuna, grilled Berkshire heritage porterhouse pork chop and grilled all natural angus prime hanger steak.

 

Desserts change daily, but here are some sample items: raspberry ricotta cake, flourless chocolate cake, blood orange vanilla creamsicle, coconut lime pound cake and ice cream sundaes.

Appetizers will run about $10, while entrees are $19-$28. They have a great cocktail menu featuring some killer signature craft cocktails. Head in on Tuesdays for $1 oysters. Fridays and Saturdays they offer late night food, $5 breakfast sandwiches and $10 kobe beef bacon cheeseburgers from 10:30pm – 12:30am.

Upcoming events include a rose the night away dinner on July 19th and a tacos and Don Julio tequila night on July 26th.

On busy nights, parking can be tricky, so get there a little early. Street parking and small pay lots nearby. Open for dinner only, Monday through Saturday.

Tempo Bistro

474 Moody Street, Waltham, MA

https://www.tempobistro.com

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

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