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!
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.
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.
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
38 Newbury Street, Boston, MA
Appointment times are Wednesday – Saturday 10am -7pm
After a fun evening in the South End, we decided to grab a quick bite at Banyan in the South End. Soaked all the way through, I should have learned my lesson the last time I got caught out in the rain that my North Face jacket isn’t waterproof. We seek refuge in the back of the restaurant and hope that we can dry off before we have to head outside again. Not starving, we order a few light bites to share. We start off with the fried chicken bun with sesame mustard aioli, celery root and apple slaw, cilantro ($8). Different enough to stand out but not too different to make the dish weird. I loved the fried chicken bun!
Next up, the warm lobster on toasted house bun, honey miso butter and pickled sea beans ($15). The bread is different than what came with the fried chicken bun, but it works with the lobster. It was light and bright, another really good choice!
Lastly, we ordered the rice bowl with smoked shiitakes, egg, brussels sprout kimchi, sunflower sprouts and topped with fermented plum hot sauce ($16). I like how you can see every ingredient in the dish. When we get our hands on it, we break the egg and mix it all up. This was a really tasty dish with some bold and unexpected flavors.
553 Tremont Street, Boston, MA
After reading about Kimchi Kitchen, Leah and I decided that we just HAD to go. The restaurant, located in Cambridge, opened in 2015 and has been making delicious Korean sould food ever since. The small 16 seat restaurant leaves a little to be desired in the decor department, but we are here for the food. Order and pay at the counter and they bring out the food as it is ready. We started off with the dumplings ($8) that were filled with veggies – pretty delicious but I wish they offered a meat variety as well.
I had the Japchae ($10) that are clear sweet potato noodles season with vegetables and beef bulgogi. Two of my favorite things in one dish, bulgogi and noodles. The dish was enough for lunch with some left over – I wish that there had been a little more bulgogi because it was so delicious.
Usually I can’t do rice cake noodles when they come like this (I like them when they are cut into discs) – weird, I know. The dduk bokki ($8) are chewy soft rice cakes and odeng, smothered in a sweet and spicy sauce. It doesn’t seem spicy upon first bite, ant then it hits you like a truck. Delicious, just be prepared 😉
Another favorite Korean specialty is the bibimbap ($8) seasoned vegetables over rice, served with a fried egg and chicken bulgogi. The best part about this dish is breaking the egg and mixing the dish up, mixing up those crunchy bits of rice at the bottom of the bowl. At $8, this is a great cheap, yet filling eat!
Leah had the kimchi jigae ($10) that had homemade kimchi simmered with tofu and pork shoulder. This came with a side of rice and really hit the spot on that snowy afternoon.
Dine in, call for take out or have Caviar deliver right to your door.
847 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA
A couple of friends and I met up at Shake Shack in Chestnut Hill to check out their new chicken sandwich. The “chick’n shack” ($6.95) is 100% all natural cage free chicken served on a non GMO bun. It’s crisped up and served with lettuce, pickles and a buttermilk herb mayo. Mayo isn’t my thing, so I skip that part – and you know what? The sandwich tastes delicious without it! The chicken is well seasoned with black pepper and the texture is just right, perfectly juicy on the inside and light and crisp on the outside. Pair the sandwich with fries and a lemonade (or a shake) for the perfect meal!
If you’re planning on dining in, I suggest coming here at off peak times (or during the week) to avoid waiting (hovering) for a table. We were there at 11:30 and it was starting to pick up.
49 Boylston Street, Chestnut Hill, MA
If you’re headed to Little Big Diner for lunch, I highly suggest you get there early. They open at 11:30. I showed up at 11:15 and by 11:20 there were people starting to get in line, so I jumped out of my car and got in line – good thing too, because by 11:30 the line was about 20 people deep. I was one of the last people to get a table and since I was the only on there in my party of four, you can imagine the dirty looks I got from the people who didn’t get a table.
The shop has a handful of seats and a few spots at the counter – it’s run by Dave Punch, who owns the nearby restaurant Sycamore.
The menu ranges from little plates to sample a little of everything to big plates if you’re feeling like a full meal.
The steamed cabbage and pork dumplings ($9) with black vinegar, chile crisp, and scallions. The vinegar was so delicious we wanted to lick every last bit of it off the plate!
We all split the cauliflower bahn mi sandwich which was delicious. The key to the perfect bahn me is the bread – not too crunchy not too soft. The filling has to be flavorful, and this did not disappoint.
The shrimp buns were tasty as well, with pressed cucumbers, lime, and mayo – a perfect three bite treat!
I had the shio chicken ramen ($15) with grilled thigh, ajitama egg, shaved cabbage, funny daikon, and schmaltz. The perfect thing on a chilly day!
Next time, I definitely want to try the forest mushroom ramen ($14) that my friend had, heiwa tofu, watercress, sesame and marinated shiitakes – it smelled delicious!! Ramen not your thing? Don’t worry, they have brown and white rice bowls and some tasty sounding small plates!
Little Big Diner
1247 Centre Street, Newton, MA
In a world of horrible bosses, soul sucking commutes and dreading going to work on Monday morning starting on Sunday, one company rises from the pack, M0851. I had the chance to chat with Marine Godfroy, Marketing Director for the brand, before the event started. You can tell by the way she talks about the brand just how passionate she is about it – and we aren’t talking drinking the company Kool Aid passionate, it’s genuine. The name M0851 is a combination of the owners last name (Frederic Mamarbachi) and his birthday (August, 1951).
The retail shop opened quietly on Newbury street in December, but came out with a bang last week at their opening party. Some of Boston’s most fashionable came out to check out the new shop! Here’s what I love about this brand – they are bridging the generation gap, and succeeding at it. Would you be caught dead shopping in the same store that your mother does? (No Talbots for this girl thank you very much) Yeah, probably not. Some stores are marketing to millennials but selling to the “mom” crowd and vice versa. These bags and jackets are less trendy and more timeless. It’s that one bag, or that one leather jacket that is a staple in your collection – an investment piece.
Marine walked me through the company and showed me the collection. M0851 ethically sources their leather from Europe and all the products are vegetable dyed. Each jacket is cut from one hide so that the whole piece ages at the same time. (You can spot a cheap leather jacket when you see the arm, for example, has changed color and the rest of the jacket hasn’t – that piece of leather has aged faster). The collection is made in M0851’s workshop in Montreal – on any given day you can see craftsmen cutting forms for a jacket or the amazing machine, that was originally made for cutting out shoe forms, cutting the pieces for the bags. All the bags are hand stitched and each bag can be traced back to a specific craftsman. Because the bags are handmade, they aren’t perfect, and M0851 embraces their imperfections, the bags are one of a kind!
The Boston shop offers leather bags for men and women, outerwear and tons of accessories (you have to stop in and just feel how light and soft their scarves are!). While the company does small runs of lines, they have a large permanent collection, and with the workshop so close in Canada, they can make additional runs as needed. Pieces of the collection are available in “matador” or “Montana” leather. The matador is Danish full grain bovine with a pebbled finish, where as the Montana leather is sourced from Holland and has a smooth finish.
Guests were treated to delicious small bites provided by the talented Brendan Burke, Executive Chef at Serafina. Pictured above is the beet soup and below are the tomato and mozzarella skewers.
134 Newbury Street, Boston, MA
Last week I had the opportunity to meet Deuxave‘s new pastry chef, Shaun Velez. When I asked how it all started he said that he was on track to go to college and get a degree in science, but when he go there, he realized that college just wasn’t for him. From the very moment that he told his grandmother that he wanted to go to culinary school, she was against it, after all, her husband was a line cook when they first came to the states. Shaun did go to culinary school, the French Culinary Institute to be more precise. It was there that he fell in love with pastry. After graduation in 2008, he honed his craft at restaurants including Café Boulud, Boulud Sud, Bar Boulud and the James Beard Award winner DANIEL.
Velez has redone the entire dessert menu at Deuxave. Pictured above is the meyer lemon vacherin with meyer lemon sorbet, black pepper, chantilly, red currant glee and matcha paper ($13). This dessert is a work of art – let’s talk about the impossibly thin matcha paper, made in house, like everything else. The flavor is subtle and works well with the dessert. The whipped cream is something that dreams are made of – it’s just perfect. Fresh currants make the dessert pop! I love all the flavors and the textures in this dessert. When I asked Chef Velez how he comes up with new desserts he said that he just pictures a dessert in his head – he picks a flavor and finds something that will pair well with it, and a third ingredient that might go well with the first ingredient (ie. if apples and lemons go together and apples and almonds go together, then lemons and almonds should pair well together).
As a general rule, I never get the creme brûlée. I find it to be boring and uninspiring. Not so at Deuxave, Chef Velez totally changed my perception of the dessert, and we aren’t talking changing plain creme brûlée to pumpkin creme brûlée. This is made with hazelnut mirliton, passion fruit diplomat and hazelnut place ($13). I literally ate this whole dish (sorry Leah!) in 3 seconds it was that good.The passion fruit seeds are the little orange spots on the dish, paired with a few citrus greens. Chef Velez confits the inner rind of the passion fruit and adds it to the dish. Chef Velez said that he likes to take classing French baking and find a way to make it more modern and exciting – I’d say he has certainly accomplished that!
The desserts on this menu are all so very different, but all works of art and all delicious with their own flavors. I love the sugar work on the blood orange tart ($14) made with sesame custard, blood orange gel and thyme glace. This was probably the most savory dessert of the bunch with the sesame flavor having a strong role in the dessert (even the sugar has sesame seeds).
Generally restaurants don’t have to try too hard with their chocolate desserts because by nature, they are the most popular. The cafe epice ($15) is an exception to that statement. Made with chocolate dacquoise, spiced coffee mousse, cocoa rocks and orange blossom ice cream, this dessert really knocks it out of the park – and look at how beautiful it is plated! The orange blossom is subtle and fragrant and you couldn’t find a better pairing for flavors. The dish also has cardamom cremu which adds a little spice to the dish. Any of these desserts can be paired with an after dinner drink, just as the sommelier or one of your servers for suggestions.
Last, but certainly not least, the Baba au Calvados ($12) made with a ginger biscuit, orange cream and a quince glaze. The babas are drizzled table side with the sauce that they are soaked in. The dessert is is light and delicious – a subtle pink peppercorn flavor in the glace and the ginger biscuit makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Again, the sugar work on this is impressive – Chef Velez said that he gets his inspiration from architecture and jewelry shops.
If you are planning on proposing (Valentine’s Day is just around the corner kids), check out Chef Velez’s off the menu dessert, a sugar sphere that can hold your ring. The dessert takes about an hour to make, so please give the restaurant plenty of time if you’d like to surprise that special someone with one!
Disclaimer: I was invited to sample the desserts at Deuxave, which were provided complimentary. All opinions are my own.
371 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA
January was going to be all about catching up on posts from December…but then life happened, and I got that weird cold/cough that lingers for what feels like months thing…and all productivity went out the window. So, by now you probably know that SweetGreen has opened up in the Prudential, right near the Sheraton entrance in the mall.
The menu lets you know just how many calories are in your salad, and if you use their app, you can also see the caloric value of your customized salad. Speaking of apps, if you pay with Level Up you can get rewards!
I’m not usually one for salads, but sweetgreen is my exception – note that I also leave with a $25 salad because I get 800 add ins 😉
In case you are not familiar, they have seasonal salads and salad suggestions, but you can go in and get your salad any way you want it.
Brussels sprouts are so in these days, do you love them or hate them?
My salad today? Avocobbo ( shredded kale + chopped romaine, tomatoes, raw corn, avocado, bacon, egg, roasted chicken) and I added cheddar cheese and balsamic dressing.
I was with a fun group of bloggers for this lunch – and as a treat, we got to take home these adorable succulents!
Disclaimer: I was invited as a guest to preview the new sweetgreen location. My meal was provided complimentary. All opinions are my own.
Prudential Center – 800 Boylston St
I started off the New Year with a healthy meal – by accident. I headed over to the Freshii in the Back Bay, located just at the corner of Dartmouth and Stuart, next to the Starbucks.
Everything these days can be custom made, why shouldn’t your meal be that way too? Of course they have suggested bowls, burritos and salads, but you can pick whatever you like, making your meal just that, yours.
Not in the mood for a full meal, pop over to their cold case and get a fruit salad, some hard boiled eggs or a yogurt parfait. And they have some of my favorite beverages here: Zoos Greek iced tea and Hint water.
Freshii is very green. Most of their packaging is made from eco-friendly vegetable starches, like corn or potatoes. It biodegrades quickly, leaving behind only carbon dioxide, biomass, and water. You may see them shaking up your lunch in a bag, but don’t worry, it’s biodegradable and it is great for people who have food allergies, the bag is used just for your meal, so no cross contamination! Shaking your meal in a biodegradable bag means they produce 5 to 7 times less of a carbon footprint than running even the most energy efficient dishwasher.
As far as I was concerned, I was just going to lunch, extra bonus points that the meal was healthy! First off, I tired the vegan, yup, you read that right, vegan, chili. And you know what, it was delicious! Didn’t miss the meat one bit! Loved that they topped it off with broccoli and avocado, two things I would never think if adding, but now, how can I have it without them? Trust me, try it.
Next up, the warrior bowl with chicken and a quinoa base topped with brown rice, corn, red onions, tomatoes, carrots, black beans, cajun spice, ranch dressing. Did you know that they make their dressings (all but one) in house? This was probably my favorite dish of the day, and who knew I would actually like quinoa?
The buddha satay with rice noodles, crispy wontons, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, and green onions topped with peanut sauce. I’m not personally a fan of rice noodles, but loved everything else about this bowl. The peanut sauce was dreamy and the crispy wontons added the perfect amount of crunch.
I love anything with corn, so the fiesta salad was right up my alley. Field greens, black beans, avocado, aged cheddar, corn, pico de gallo and cilantro lime vinaigrette. Loved the dressing, light and tart without overpowering the other fresh flavors in the dish.
They also have juices and smoothies. On most days I try and steer clear of anything green, so this was a pleasant surprise that it was so tasty….and a little sweet. I loved it. (Don’t spread the word though, it might ruin my street cred…)
Disclaimer: I was invited to check out Freshii and sample some of their menu items. My food was provided complimentary. All opinions are my own.
185 Dartmouth Street, Boston, MA
I haven’t been to Lansdowne Street since my college years. I was excited to check out Loretta’s Last Call, a country bar, for their bluegrass brunch.
Every Sunday they have a bluegrass brunch from 11-4 with live music. They do other fun events like free line dancing lessons on Sundays and Tuesdays and Bourbon tastings (the next one is coming up on the 20th).
The walls are covered with photos of country legends and the beams are draped in colored Christmas lights.
First order of business…coffee!
The chef brings over some Jalapeno poppers with blue cheese, wrapped in bacon for us to try. They are not too spicy and the blue cheese didn’t overwhelm the popper – great way to start the meal.
The house smoked turkey and sweet potato hash ($12) is one of their most popular dishes. It comes topped with 2 fried eggs and a biscuit on the side. Not only is this great for hangovers, but it is some serious comfort food. The dish was flavorful and it had a little bit of everything on the plate, a little protein, some carbohydrates and oh boy do I love a good biscuit.
We also tried the hicken and waffles ($14) served with maple bbq such and whipped butter. The chicken outshines the waffle for me, it was sweet and crunchy and tender inside. I could eat this for days!
And just to throw something sweet into the mix, we hd the peanut butter and banana stuffed French toast ($10), smothered in syrup and topped with a healthy dose of bourbon whipped cream. Certainly satisfied our sweet tooth and who can resist the peanut butter and banana flavor combination? We sure can’t.
Peanut buter pie ($7) was first on our dessert list, it wasn’t too sweet which we really liked.
We also tried the fried biscuits ($6) which we wished were just a touch sweeter.
Disclaimer: I was invited as a guest to sample the brunch at Loretta’s. My meal was provided complimentary. All opinions are my own.
Loretta’s Last Call
1 Lansdowne Street, Boston, MA