Who knew that the Blackstone Valley, just an hour a away from Boston, had so much history? Not me obviously. In addition to all the historic sites, they have a lovely vineyard, Diamond Hill, that offers tastings all year round! The Blackstone Valley is also home to the Stadium Theatre that offers education programs for students, McCoy Stadium that is home of the Pawtucket Red Sox, and the Twin River Casino in Lincoln, RI. While you’re there, you have to try a “dynamite” sandwich in Woonsocket! In addition to the sites, they offer culinary tours, a fall foliage train ride (October 24th), a Polar Express train ride in the winter (weekends, November – December), and an American Girl train ride to celebrate American Girl’s “Girl of the Year” who grew up in the Blackstone Valley.
Our first stop was the Woonsocket depot for a visit with Hachiko. The dog met his owner, a professor in Japan, at the train station at the end of each day. Even after his owner’s death, the dog continued to go to the train station every day. The Japanese people were inspired and Hachiko became a national symbol of loyalty. In 2009, they filmed “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale” in Woonsocket, and this statue stands where the movie was filmed.
Our next stop was the museum of work and culture. This adorable pup was waiting to greet up when we arrived!
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, immigrants came in droves to Rhode Island for work in the mill towns. Through the nine immersive exhibits at the museum you are able to take a step back in time and see what their home lives were like, their work lives, and their schooling. The museum is open Tuesday – Sunday.
We then drove to Cold Spring Park for a cruise on the Explorer. The riverboat does a 45 minute nature cruise down the historic Blackstone River. Rides are free on the 4th Sunday of the month, check out their website for more information.
Tours run on Sundays from April to October and are affordably priced at just $10 for adults.
The river was once one of the dirtiest due to all the mills disposing of their waste directly into the water, but they are working hard on cleaning it up – we even saw someone fishing!
It’s customary at the end of your boat ride to ring the bell if you enjoyed your trip.
Every trip needs a break for snacks – we stopped over at Wright’s Dairy Farm and Bakery. Wright’s has been in business for 5 generations, since the 1900’s. They are a working dairy farm and have over 100 cows that they milk daily. No trip to Rhode Island would be complete without coffee milk, and Wright’s sells it along with other milk, cream, cheese and ice cream products. (If you save 100 caps from the milk, you get $5 off your next purchase!) When you walk into the retail space you are immediately greeted by the smell of delicious baked goods and cake frosting. There are far too many choices here and everything looks delicious.
You can watch them milk the cows daily from 3-5pm. Did you know that a baby cow weighs 80 pounds at birth? I’m pretty sure I’m not complaining ever again about childbirth!
The most picturesque stop on our trip was the Manville Dam. Check out Jeff Culter, pictured above, his photos are amazing!
This is a great spot for a picnic!
The last stop was the Kelley House, located along the Blackstone River Bikeway and the canal. The house was owned by Wilbur Kelley , a ships captain and mill owner. Did you know that in 2014, President Obama signed legislation that established Blackstone River Valley a National Historic Park? It’s the 402nd park in the system! The good news is that there are park rangers here and on the bike path to answer all of your questions! Speaking of bike paths, there are 5 great ones in the area, the East Bay bike path, the Washington Secondary bike path, the Blackstone River Bikeway that runs by the Kelley House, the Fred Lippitt Woonasquatucket River Greenway and the South County bike path. For more information about the paths, check out the Bike RI website. There’s not better time than the fall to go for a nice bike ride!
I had head about Molly’s Cupcakes from their win on Cupcake Wars. I decided to head over to their New York location to see what all the hype was about!
I loved the feel of this place – and was surprised that more people weren’t hanging out here (I could spend all day here!) I picked up a few cupcakes for the girls at my office – they were pumped!!
(Clockwise starting at the top left) Cake Batter: vanilla confetti cake, raw cake batter, vanilla buttercream, festive sprinkles, Cookie Monster: vanilla chocolate chip cake, raw cookie dough center, buttercream, mini chocolate chip cookie, Flourless Chocolate: flourless chocolate cake, dulce de leche ganache filling, french vanilla buttercream, chocolate drizzle, Bimi’s Butterscotch: vanilla cake, butterscotch caramel pudding, salted vanilla buttercream, caramel drizzle, Strawberry Shortcake: vanilla cake, fresh strawberries cooked in brown sugar, vanilla buttercream, fresh strawberry topping, Chocolate Decadence ($3.75)
Lemon Mreingue ($3.75) lemon cake, lemon curd center, meringue. I loved this cupcake, from the light cake to the little bit of a crunch when you bit into the meringue.
Peanut Butter Nutella ($3.75) peanut butter cake, nutella filling, nutella buttercream frosting, with a dusting of cocoa. Check out their full menu here.
What’s your favorite flavor?
228 Bleeker Street, New York, NY
Last week I was invited to check out the newly renovated Hyatt Regency Boston, conveniently located in Downtown Crossing.The area is definitely changing with recent additions such as Roche Brothers, Ogawa Coffee, Caffe Nero, Legal Crossing and the Boston Public Market. I drove my car, but the hotel is located near the T station – the silver line provides easy access to and from the airport, the red and orange line (Downtown Crossing/Park Street) are just steps away from the hotel, allowing you to explore the city and the green line is a couple of blocks away as well. The hotel offers valet parking and self parking options.
We head up to our room to settle in before we head down for dinner. The view from our room overlooks the hotel’s patio (where we will have dessert later in the evening) and showcases Boston’s skyline.
Every part of the hotel has been renovated, the only thing left to be completed are the elevators and the parking garage. The rooms are beautiful – spacious and comfortable (oh that bed!!). The rooms have a comfortable couch/sitting area and has a fridge if you want to bring leftovers back to your room!
We were greeted in our room with fresh fruit and perrier, a lovely touch for this (weary?) traveler!
We headed downstairs to the meeting/function rooms for cocktails and dinner. The appetizers were delicious, lobster with a corn salsa, cheese with lavender and cocoa and pate.
We were in luck that the Hyatt’s two resident pups were in the house and they came down and made a special visit. Meet Rocky, a two year old Boston Terrier, Remi’s brother. The pair couldn’t have been more adorable!
And this is Remington, “Remi” as his friends like to call him. He is the Canine Executive Officer (CEO) here at the hotel, a four month old Boston Terrier. He was named one of Boston Business Journal’s “Hardest Working Dogs in Boston” and is a Freedom Trail Foundation’s Tourism Ambassador. If you want to send him an email – he can be reached at email@example.com (this dog has his own business card!) and you can follow his adventures by checking out his hashtag: #remiboston.
We headed into the Adrienne Salon for dinner, an oval shaped room next to the grand ballroom. The room is beautiful and would be perfect for a cocktail hour before a wedding. The other rooms have capacity for anywhere from 12 to 700 guests and they are named after Massachusetts towns: Duxbury, Dedham, Plymouth, Lexington, Concord etc.
Meet Executive Chef Kelly Armetta. He was in and out of dinner, explaining the dishes and threw in a few fishing stories here and there!
Dinner was served family style. The evening was casual, like you were at Chef Armetta’s house, guests cut bread, served salad and poured wine. Starting at the top left and moving clockwise: Cucumber Bulger Salad with micro cilantro and pickled vegetables; Local Feta with organic olive oil, red pepper flakes and grilled lemon; Roasted Beets with goat’s milk ranch dressing; green and white asparagus; Guinea Hen with fava bean and a sherry vinegar essence.
The dinner showcased the freshest ingredients of the summer. All the items were savory and approachable. Not pictured (but delicious) was the Roasted Atlantic Halibut with garlic leek ragout. It was perfectly cooked!
Meet Terry Dunbar, the Hyatt’s General Manager. Terry had a great sense of humor and rolled up his sleeves to carve the enormous Tomahawk Chops.
The chops had a Tunisian spice and were served with an heirloom tomato salsa, a perfect pairing.
The obligatory photo, someone had to do it. Thanks Dan!
After dinner I was completely stuffed! We rolled out to the beautiful outdoor private patio for dessert. Again, a great space for cocktails or dessert on a summer evening.
There was a wonderful selection of desserts, and for “research” I felt the need to have a little taste of everything…you know, to let you all know what you were missing! (You’re welcome!) There was a blueberry cobbler (far left), a molten chocolate cake that was served warm in mugs (and if you added some of that fresh whipped cream you would be in heaven), Ricotta cookies – Chef Armetta’s mother’s recipe, that were light as air with just a touch of sweetness, blackberry pudding cake with fresh berries picked from Chef Armetta’s garden. and honey roasted nectarines with fresh whipped cream. It was a delightful evening, the food was delicious and the company was even better, it was nice to get the chance to get to know some of the staff!
The next morning we headed down to breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant,
Avenue One. If you don’t have time for a sit down breakfast there is an Avenue One Express where you can grab a cup of coffee and grab a breakfast item to go! The restaurant has a full hot buffet that looked delicious.
I had the caramelized onions and roasted portobello omelet ($15) that had Grafton cheddar and came with a slice of delicious cranberry pecan toast, potatoes and seasonal berries.
We went with the steel cut oatmeal ($9) that comes topped with roasted bananas and strawberry, honey, almond granola and brown sugar. The dish is a Hyatt Stay Fit option. Hyatt’s Stay Fit program is designed for fitness conscious guests. In addition to offering healthy meal options, there is a fitness center and pool located in the hotel.
The fitness center has all new equipment by Life Fitness and is open to guests 24 hours a day. There are chilled towels, a sauna, a eucalyptus steam room and much more. The salt water pool was just heavenly, who doesn’t love a heated pool!
Disclaimer: Hyatt Regency invited me to be their guest and provided me with a room and all my meals. All opinions are my own.
Hyatt Regency Boston
1 Avenue de Lafayette, Boston, MA
The Good Ones held their signature event of the month at the W Hotel. The theme was Candy Land. Guests arrived in bright colors and enjoyed the works of two local artists. Pictured above is Christy Chow’s “lollipops”, thin forms on the inside, layered with liquid sugar to ultimately form these zaftig women doing head stands. The pieces are 3,000 calories each! Christy was born and raised in Hong Kong and until recently she was based in Boston (now she is based in NY). Christy transforms mundane and tacky objects through mismatch of materials, tools and processes to create surprises and new definitions concerning humanity, sustainability and social justice. Her practice is interdisciplinary and involves video installations, interactive sculptures and performances. Chow holds a BA from The University of Hong Kong, a BFA from RMIT University and a MFA from Massachusetts College of Art and Design.
Local artist Markus Sebastiano was at the event, getting interactive by creating this piece live! Markus is a mixed media artist who specializes in exclusive large scale installations in restaurants, hotels, commercial spaces and homes. His latest works can be seen in The Gallows, Tavern Road, Crudo and Banyan. His mediums include a blend of multidimensional elements and textures with the incorporation of reclaimed materials as often as possible. Check out his website to see him in action. It was amazing to watch him work.
The evening’s sponsors were Corn and Co. and Bixby Bars. Corn and Co is one of my favorite brands, they are a local company (based in Lowell) that makes flavors like birthday cake, s’mores, caramel, dill pickle and pizza (don’t worry they have your classic flavors as well!). Bixby Bars are reinvented premium chocolate bars. Each bar contains a handcrafted, artisan blend of organic chocolate, fruit, nuts, spices, and brown rice crisps creating a light and truly unique indulgence for the health-conscious consumer. All Bixby Bars are non GMO certified, vegan verified, earth kosher certified and gluten free. Basically guilt free chocolate right? Bixby Bars come in delicious flavors like crystalized ginger and pecan, goji berry cardamom, bing cherry chipotle pepper peanut, and blueberry black pepper walnut. Check out their website for all their delicious flavors. The W was serving two specialty cocktails, Skittles, Stoli raspberry, citrus vodka, triple sec, apple liquor and red bull; and a lychee bellini, sparkling wine, lychee and raspberry puree.
(L-R) Carolyn Meenan, Co-Founder of the Good Ones; Ben Uyeda, Founder, HomeMade-Modern.com, which has reached over 10 million people worldwide; Tania Green, Founder, PMS Bites. You can pre-order Ben’s new book, hitting shelves on November 17th!
(L-R) Carolyn Meenan, Co-Founder of the Good Ones; Wayne Chang, serial entrepreneur and angel investor; Jennifer Brooke, Co-Founder of the Good Ones; Giuseppe Stuto, Co-Founder at http://www.smackhigh.com and Mentor.
Good One, Iva Nikolau.
(L-R) Deerdra Cetoute, Student and Dancer; Djenaba Takahashi, Head of Marketing at OneGigCo.com.
(L-R) Marisa Lopez and Ayesha Wilson, both Teacher Counselors for The Work Force Program, a youth serving after school program of the Cambridge Housing Authority.
(L-R) Sarah Friedman, Customer Success Manager at Millward Brown; Jennifer Brooke, Co-Founder of the Good Ones, Alessandra Maahs, Scientific Writer at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School.
Alessandra in her “arm candy” outfit and Jennifer in her “Peppermint Patty” outfit!
(L-R) Alessandra; Sean Wan, Portfolio Analyst, Trader at Convexity Capital Management; Nathan Green, Product Manager, GMAT/GRE at the Princeton Review.
(L-R) Steve Osemwenkhae, Photographer and Filmmaker (check out his recent piece on the Good Ones); Iva Nikolau, Good One; Kupah James. Kupah is the owner of Klass Universal Entertainment (you can catch him at Highball Lounge), but so much more than that. He works at Equinox, as a trainer and he teaches cardio dance fusion, You may recognize him, as he was cast on Season 11 of The Bachelorette, and voted by STUFF magazine as one of Boston’s Sexiest (2011).
Interested in attending an event? Join the waitlist!
I had been seeing all these beautiful instagram posts and press on Amorino’s gelato and had to see for myself what all the hype was about. The company was founded in 2002 by two childhood friends and quickly grew into a gelato empire. Their cones look like beautiful roses and the flavor combinations are endless.
The afternoon was oppressively hot, so no cone for this girl – better safe than sorry with a cup
Gelato comes in mouthwatering flavors like speculoos, strawberry, raspberry, dulce de leche, mango and vanilla to name a few. I loved the pistachio – the flavor was so bold!
On a recent second trip back to Amorino, I was able to get a look inside. There are a few small tables in the back to sit and eat but most people were hanging out outside on the curb enjoying their gelato. You pay on the right hand side and then you give your receipt to the person behind the counter, telling them what flavors you’d like.
I was able to get a cone! It was still hot and the gelato melted quickly, so I had to rush to finish it! Not like I really needed the excuse. The raspberry sorbet was refreshing in the heat and I loved the hazelnut and speculoos. They had run out of small cones, so it was either a medium cone or a small cup…go big or go home, right?
What’s your favorite flavor of gelato?
249 Newbury Street, Boston, MA
At the beginning of the year, Whisk took over Fazenda Coffee Roasters in JP. It’s conveniently located across the street from the Forest Hills train station.
Whisk is run by chefs Jeremy Kean and Philip Kruta. The duo were the first to take over Wink and Nod, before Bread and Salt and Akinto. I originally met Jeremy at the Roosters event where he provided delicious snacks. The team currently puts out delicious donuts in the morning and tasty offerings for lunch. They are working on an evening option, and until they figure things out, they are hosting supper club pop ups. While Kean and Kruta hold down the back of the house, Kean’s sister Rebecca has taken on the front of the house as the restaurant’s GM.
Tonight we were attending a WHISK-y, ramen and blues event.
The watermelon salad was a must – with summer coming to a close, I want to eat all the watermelon I can! This was a hyper local salad, with everything in it coming from farms not more than 40 miles away. It’s topped with Thatcher ricotta, blue basil, husk tomatoes, and flowers. This dish is what summer should taste like.
Ben’s Wild Ramen mixed things up with tomato broth as the base, wild sorel, wild mushrooms and sunflower paste.
We also had the 20 day NY burger with lion’s mane gravy, preserved ramp and kimchee served with a side of french fries.
While I’m not really an oyster kind of gal, these Island Creek oysters with cucumber, raspberyy and wild onion not only looked amazing but were quite tasty!
For dessert we had a mint chocolate chip donut – I was prepared not to like it as I’m not a mint kind of gal, but it was surprisingly delicious! I loved the chocolate crumbles on top and the mint was subtle.
My favorite of the night was a peach donut with sesame seeds and a roasted peach on top. Not only is this an amazing presentation, but the flavor was top notch.
The restaurant has a lot of seating and they continue to brew Fazenda coffee during the daytime.
The band for the evening was a little more bluegrass than jazz, but they had a great set while we were eating.
So of course, it’s a small world, and the drummer/trumpet player was Mike Greenstein, and we went to high school together. Take a listen below!
Whisk at Fazenda
3710 Washington Street, Jamaica Plain, MA
Check out their Facebook page here.
I just went on a tour of the Blackstone Valley this weekend – you couldn’t have asked for better weather! For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Blackstone Valley area, the Blackstone river is 46 miles long and runs from Worcester to Providence. Samuel Slater engineered the first water powered cotton spinning mill in 1790 in Pawtucket which encouraged other mills and mill villages to pop up along the river. The goods were then transported by boat along the canal. In 1847, steam power was king, and the Worcester and Providence railroad opened as a solution to carry the goods faster and more reliably – making the water powered mills obsolete.
The Blackstone Valley has some really fun train rides coming up:
Saturday, September 19th, in conjunction with American Girl, the Tourism Council is having a Grace Thomas train ride experience. Grace Thomas is the 2015 American Girl Girl of the Year. She has 3 books based on her life growing up in the Blackstone River Valley. In the books, Grace’s story identifies land makers such as a train ride though the Blackstone Valley, Slater Mill Historic Site, the Blackstone River and Canal and the Blackstone Bike Path. The train will depart from the Historic Blackstone Valley Train Depot in Woonsocket and there are trips at 10am, 12pm, 2pm and 4pm. For more information visit www.blackstonevalleyamericangirl.com. Tickets are $69.70 and $75.70.
Saturday, October 24th there will be a fall foliage train excursion. Guests will leave at 9am and enjoy a scenic trip through the Blackstone River Valley from Woonsocket, RI to Putnam, CT. For more information checkout tourblackstone.com/fallfoliage. Tickets range from $29.50 to $59.50.
Weekends from November 20th – December 20th they offer the Polar Express Train Ride. Enjoy a 90 minute train ride inspired by the book. For tickets, check out blackstonevalleypolarexpress.com. Ticket prices range by date and by car.
Make sure to get your tickets today, the train rides sell out every year!
Barbalu was just around the corner from the hotel we were staying at. Barbalu is the marriage (literally) of husband and wife team Stefano BARBAgallo and Adriana LUque. The couple rebuilt their new restauarant in the same location as their old restaurant Barbarini, which was completely destroyed by Superstorm Sandy.
We arrived in the city late and had GrubHub deliver.
Fettucini bolognese ($17) was ok, but came out more like lasagna since all the noodles were stuck together. The presentation for take out doesn’t do the restaurant justice. had I just based my review on the take out alone, it wouldn’t be as favorable.
The Meat lasagna ($17) was tasty, but nothing to write home about.
Two nights later, we needed a casual spot on the fly to grab a bite, so we dined in the restaurant with my aunt and my cousin.
I started with the burrata salad ($16) which was delicious – although I wish the tomatoes had been a bit more ripe. The burrito was smooth and creamy.
The Spaghetti alla Chitarra ($17) with sausage and cream alla Norcina was delicious, I devoured my meal. We had a much better experience when we dined in – the restaurant has two rooms and a patio in the back. The service was excellent, for the majority of our meal we were the only ones in the room off the the right.
225 Front Street, New York, NY
Ames Street Deli is the more casual spot to hang out, grab a bite to eat or get a drink at the bar. Study is the more formal dining experience next door.
Both are owned by Sam Treadway, pictured above. He’s a talented and accomplished bartender, competing all across the country. Check out Sam taking home the first place win at the 2015 Shake it Up competition.
I first met Sam at the GrandTen tasting at Journeyman, the sister restaurant to Study and Ames Street Deli, and we had a chance to meet again when the Good Ones had an event at Therapy not too long ago.
Check out the cool drink matrix and menu at Ames Street Deli here.
Sam started off the evening by showing everyone how he makes his ideal martini.
He gave a brief history of the martini and explained why James Bond was wrong, asking for his shaken not stirred. Next time you stop into Ames Street Deli or BackBar, ask him why!
There were about 20 or so participants and everyone had the chance to customize their own martini, choosing their gin, vermouth and garnish (and whether or not to add bitters).
Sam explained that it is important to peel the fruit over the cocktail so that when the oil from the fruit mists, it lands in your drink.
Some people chose to garnish with a lemon, an orange or a grapefruit. I found it interesting that only one person chose to garnish with an olive!
Pictured, Rafiq Abdus Sabur.
Look who we ran into, Mr. Opus himself, Graham Wright!
The lovely Rose Drucker.
Guests carefully measured out their alcohol in jiggers, an hourglass measuring device you see at many bars.
After the drink was stirred, guests poured their drinks into chilled glasses.
Pictured, Ryan Lee.
Eric Klotch, Sam Treadway, Catherine Owens, Director of Food Sourcing, Social Media and Design at Journeyman.
Guests were invited to sample the different types of vermouth available – tasting the difference between the sweet and dry varieties.
Three guests were mixing drinks at any give time. While they were mixing, other guests were snacking on a delicious charcuterie board and fried cheese curds.
Miss this class? Sam will be teaching another one on September 3rd – this time he’ll be mixing up some tiki drinks! Get tickets here.
(L-R) Jennifer Brooke, Co-founder of the Good Ones, Jonathan Mendez, Entrepreneur; Featured Guest, George Papachristos, Attorney; Carolyn Meenan, Co-founder of the Good Ones.
Monday night the Good Ones gathered together at The Yard at the Liberty Hotel for a party featuring all things Greek. Attorneys, Entrepreneurs, food bloggers, animal lovers and fashionistas mingled all night with Aperol spritzers and other custom cocktails.
(L-R) Carolyn Meenan, Co-founder of the Good Ones; Jennifer Brooke, Co-founder of the Good Ones; Alessandra Maahs, Good One and Scientific Writer of Research & Communications at Harvard Medical School, Biomedical Research Institute, BWH.
(L-R) Robert Whynott, Attorney; Jonathan Mendez, Entrepreneur; Featured Guest, George Papachristos, Attorney.
(L-R) Paul Kotakis, Director of Annual and Alumni Programs at the MFA; Janet Wu, Reporter/Anchor at WHDH-TV, Adjunct Professor at Emerson College; Kennedy Elsey, Voice of Mix 104 Radio.
Janet turned Kennedy on to fostering dogs for the Great Dog Rescue New England, check out the cute puppy that is available for adoption in the photo above.
(L-R) Daniella Messler; Tau Zaman, Good One.
(L-R) Brianna Garland, Marketing Communications Specialist; Featured Guest, Allison Daroie, Founder at Paridaez; Elena Kollarova, Research Associate. Hair and makeup for Brianna and Elena by Viselli Salon.
Paridaez is an amazing company with transformative pieces that can each be worn a variety of ways. For instance, the “bird of paradise” top on Brianna on the left can be worn with the cutout on the front or the back. Brianna’s skirt, the “hummingbird” can be worn 4 ways, as a skirt (shown), a shawl, a scarf or a hood. The “albatross” skirt that Allison is wearing can be worn 3 ways – Elena is wearing it as a dress!
From the website: “The name “Paridaez” is as transformative as our clothing… stemming from an ancient Persian word meaning a walled enclosure or garden and later adopted by the Greeks, interpreted as the Garden of Eden and at times translated to mean heaven. The sound and spelling was later changed and adopted into English to mean paradise.”
Pictured, Janet Wu.
This puppy is available for adoption, for more information, click here.
(L-R) Alessandra Maahs; Oksana Barchuk, Business Development at Educatius International.
These ladies brought their A game with the red dress code!
(L-R) Taniya Nayak, Interior Designer/Television Host HGTV; Jonathan Mendez, Entrepreneur; Robert Whynott, Attorney.
(L-R) Elena, Brianna, Tau.
Elena and Sofie. Follow Sofie on Instagram!
Kinda Touma, fashion designer, and Sofie.
Brianna; Greg Ux, founder of Deluxe Life Fitness; Kinda; Lance Morrison, Professional Boat Man and proud father of Sofie the mini husky; Elena.
Alessandra is the newest member of the Good Ones!
Interested in becoming a Good One? Join the waitlist for membership. Membership includes access to three events each month.
And just to give you a taste of next week’s party, it will have a Candy Land theme and the featured guests will be Markus Sebastiano, a mixed media artist who specializes in exclusive large-scale art installations in restaurants, hotels, commercial spaces, and homes; and Christy Chow.
Hope to see you at a Good Ones event soon!