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A Little Bit About a Lot of Things

A lifestyle blog with a focus on my food adventures

I always try to get a jump on holiday shopping and then end up with no idea what to buy! Gift cards are convenient, but are so boring. So here are some fun gift ideas for this holiday season!

seltzer  Forlan y Cia 14 Worked Glass Vintage Seltzer Bottle from the Seltzer Shop, $195

UntitledMalta Lantern from Pottery Barn, $119 for the large and $249 for the extra large

seabags.com 2014-11-29 16 41 52Monogram pillow made from sailcloth from Sea Bags, $155.

UntitledThe Big Tasty sampler from EH Chocolatier, $28. The sampler includes: ancho bar, beernut bar, caramelized white chocolate bar, crispy milk bar, chocolate chew, coconutty bar, peanut butter crunch bar, pecan cluster, rocher, and a toffee crunch bar.

Other choices from EH Chocolatier would be the petite pumpkin pie macarons, $14.

UntitledGlass birds in love ornament, made by Glak Love, ornaments made from vintage film negatives, $16.

lid lifterLid Lifters from Container Store, $6.99

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Organic Body Scrub from Organic Bath Co. $27. While the scrubs come in wonderful scents like RefreshMINT, SubLime, Zesty Morning, Stress Less and Spiced Cacao – I love the “Naked” product, unscented and 100% organic – it exfoliates and hydrates while removing dirt and dead skin.

UntitledThe Elle bangle from Sarah Chloe, shown in gold but love the sterling silver too, $129.

UntitledThe Samsung NX Mini, sold at Best Buy $449.  Comes with a 9-27mm lens that you can switch out with other lenses (sold separately) and has built in wi-fi.

UntitledGold Tip Spout Apothecary Dispenser from Haven, $25.

UntitledFoil stamped Boston map from Minted, 11×14, $98 including frame.

UntitledElizabeth and James blue sapphire bangle from Anthropolgie, $218.

RBGBicycle paintings, oil on canvas, by Red Bicycle Gallery, $125.

What is your go to gift this holiday season?

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imag1753Cheeseboy first opened its doors in 2009 in CT and opened their first Boston location in 2010 in South Station. They have over a half a dozen sandwiches to choose from and if you still can’t find something you like, you can design your own. In addition to sandwiches, Cheeseboy offers breakfast sandwiches and sweets along with side soups and salads.

imag1754The downtown crossing location opened in 2013, which is bustling at all times.

imag1755I had the Mac ‘N Melt, all-natural mac & cheese (made with local aged cheddar, Monterey Jack, cream, and spices), hickory bacon, and local aged cheddar on artisan white bread. The sandwich was decadent, I couldn’t even finish the whole thing it was that rich! The sandwich was tasty and the service was quick and friendly – a great spot to grab a bite to eat for lunch.

What’s your go to grilled cheese sandwich?

Cheeseboy

280 Washington Street, Boston, MA

http://cheeseboy.com

Cheeseboy on Urbanspoon

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imag1799It was my dad’s birthday, so we decided to take him out to one of my favorite spots, Liquid Art House. We made our reservation with Reserve, a new reservation app brought to you by the people who brought you Uber. You use the app to make the reservation and you load in your credit card just like you do with Uber – you can leave your wallet at home!

imag1801All the bread is made in house by Master Baker Maurizio Odermatt.  Yuna, one of the managers at LAH (and owner of Y/A Apparel) is there to welcome us. She makes every visit special – her customer service is top notch!

imag1802We start with the large order of the mushroom dumplings, $25, that are topped with porcini cream, shiitake chips and sour cream. Each one is like a work of art.

imag1805We also have a large order of the Lithuanian farmer’s cheese dumplings, $25, served with aged gouda, asian pear and grain mustard. These are my absolute favorites.

imag1807Now that Hamersley’s is gone, where will you go for chicken? Answer, Liquid Art House. I ordered the Green Circle half chicken that is made on “Lulu” the rotisserie. I have said it before and I will say it again, this is everything you could ever want in  a chicken, it’s juicy and flavorful, tender and just the right amount of crisp on the skin.

imag1808My mom orders the Muscovy duck, $35, that is accompanied by duck confit farrotto, radish, spicy sprouts and toasted rice vinegar caramel. An amazing dish by chef Rachel Klein.

imag1814The desserts are made by the wildly talented pastry chef Giselle Miller. We get the Newton’s Apple, $14: brown butter steam cake, toasted brioche cream, crispin apples, pecan, dark raisins, calvados, celery and cannele ice cream.

imag1815The French pear consumme, $14: roasted bosc pear mousseline, pain d’épices, inniskillin compressed pears, burnt honey, fennel with crema earl grey ice cream.

img_20141114_205108And something new, at LAH, Macarons. You can eat them at the restaurant or take them to go – they have cute little boxes to get them home with you in one piece. Flavors include: maple, pistachio, cranberry, pumpkin pie and chocolate. My favorites are the pistachio and the pumpkin pie!

img_20141114_211848The service was excellent – our waiter was well informed of the menu items and gave us great suggestions and was always close by should we need anything. At the end of the meal this cute little card is placed on our table. My credit card is on file and I selected the tip percentage ahead of time – so we are good to go whenever we are ready. Before we go, we get an art tour with Silvi Naci, LAH’s art director. The Ready to Bare collection will be showing until January 5th.  What’s wonderful about LAH’s collection is that there is something for everyone’s budget: high end one of a kind prints and paintings for serious collectors and prints for those who just love art. Walking around with Silvi is such a treat, she tells us the artist’s background and gives us some history – you can tell that she loves what she does by the passion in her voice when she talks about the pieces.

imag1818And as a little a end of meal treat, a few extra goodies!

Liquid Art House

100 Arlington Street, Boston, MA

http://www.liquidarthouse.com/

Liquid Art House on Urbanspoon

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IMG_7310I originally met Peter and Katie Kelly (of Uncle Truscott’s) at the Taste Trekkers conference in the Hope and Main tasting pavilion. It was there that I fell in love with their almond butter toffee and their truffles. Their almond butter tofffee comes in 1/4lb, 1/2lb and 1lb bags (trust me and get the 1lb bag!) and prices range from $4.95 to $19.95. Their toffee is made with made with almonds, butter, sugar, salt and chocolate. Who knew that  just 5 simple ingredients could taste this good! Needless to say, I’m addicted and I’m a super fan!

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They also make wildly delicious truffles that melt in your mouth. They have 4 piece boxes and 16 piece boxes. Flavors include dark, milk, caramel, cookie, espresso and peanut.

Check out Uncle Truscott’s website here and order online today! Uncle Truscott’s makes for a great hostess or holiday gift and they are made locally in Rhode Island.

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imag1774After spending some time at the Boston Christmas Festival, my mom and I headed over to Salvatore’s for lunch. Salvatore’s is owned by Sal Lupoli, who you may know from his Sal’s Pizza empire. Unlike it’s more casual counterpart, Salvatore’s is a full service restaurant featuring upscale Italian food. Of course I order the Pappardelle Bolognese ($12) traditionally made with veal, beef, pork, tomato and cream, parmigiano. The pasta ribbons are thin, which really lightened up the dish.

imag1777My mom ordered an appetizer and a salad – the arancini ($10) for the appetizer, risotto balls filled with basil, tomato, fresh mozzarella cheese with marinara dipping sauce was delicious.

imag1778The shrimp and spinach salad ($16) was gone in the blink of an eye, it had pan seared shrimp, strawberries, candied walnuts, goat cheese and was served with a balsamic vinaigrette.

imag1779And for dessert we shared the tiramisu, a classic and a favorite.

What’s your favorite dish at Salvatore’s?

Salvatore’s

225 Northern Ave., Boston, MA

http://www.salvatoresrestaurants.com/

Salvatore's on Urbanspoon

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imag1765Every year my mom and I head over to the Boston Christmas Festival at the Seaport World Trade Center. One of the attractions is the gingerbread house competition. Boston’s top chefs create them and then they are sold, with all proceeds going to Housing Families, a non profit organization dedicated to ending family homelessness.
This house won best in show!

imag1766I loved the windows on the Davio’s house!

imag1767This Peter Pan inspired house won “Most Creative” & “Kid’s Choice”.

imag1768Citi Performing Arts Center/Party Favors won the 2014 “Honorable Mention” award.

imag1769Bel Ari & Les Zygomates won the 2014 “Best Tasting” award. How fun are those barnyard animals?!

imag1770Ginger Betty’s Bakery took home the 2014 “Best Decoration” award!

Which is your favorite gingerbread house?

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Itadaki 2

I recently had the opportunity to go to Itadaki and take some photos of the space and some current menu items. Itadaki is the Japanese version of a gastropub, they serve a lot of small plates here, similar to tapas. Itadaki is owned by Lena Kikuchi and Yujin Kawakami-Hess. They have teamed up with Executive Chef Kaoru Fujishiro to bring Japanese cuisine to Boston.

Itadaki 1Their upstairs dining area just got a facelift! Check out how amazing it looks! They have a great area in the back that can be closed off for private events as well as a lot of quiet corners to have a romantic dinner.

Itadaki 3They have a nice selection of ramen on the menu.

Itadaki 4A small selection of their sushi.

Itadaki 5A unique item on the menu is the sushi pizza, sushi rice that is deep fried with spicy tuna on top (scallions, onions and spicy mayo).

Itadaki 6Another great dish was the spicy tuna avocado medley that comes served in a martini glass (tuna, avocado, mayo and tobiko).

Itadaki 7In addition to the beer, wine, sake and shochu they have a great cocktail menu.

Itadaki

269 Newbury Street, Boston, MA

http://www.itadakiboston.com

Itadaki Boston on Urbanspoon

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IMG_7676Laduree in New York makes you feel like you are in Paris. The shop is charming – people are taking photos of all the beautiful pastries behind the glass.

IMG_6400I always make it a point to stop here when in New York – they have the best macarons. The shells are delicate and melt in your mouth and there is just enough ganache in each one.The pistachio is my favorite. 8 macarons cost $22.40.

IMG_7682In addition to macarons, Laduree has delicious pastries. Shown is the religieuse pistachio ($7). This was like a cream puff pastry filled with pistachio cream. Delicious and lovely to look at! These would make an excellent hostess gift!

Laduree

396 W. Broadway, New York, NY

https://www.laduree.com

Ladurée on Urbanspoon

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Good Ones Ritz Carlton 1 The Good Ones hosted a L.A. Style Power hour on Wednesday for a hand picked group of Bostonians. While the weather outside was cold and rainy, guests were warm and cozy next to the fireplace in the Ritz Carlton’s bar in downtown Boston. This intimate event allowed guests the opportunity to get to know the night’s featured guests a little better. It was great to see a lot of new faces this evening.

Good Ones Ritz Carlton 2Featured guest Zev Steinmetz and Lana Bornhausen. Zev and his best friend launched a website called IDriveEroupe.com, where car enthusiasts can share pictures, text, and video from their most recent car adventures. Zev is the co-chair of the PR and Marketing committee for the Boston JNF Board and Co-Owner of Steinmetz Real Estate Professionals in Newtonville.

Good Ones Ritz Carlton 3Guests killed it in their blue and black L.A. style! (L-R) Jeff and Maureen Carr.

Good Ones Ritz Carlton 4(L-R) Kurt Flionis, Vice President of Credit at STAG Industrial; David Berns, Ph.D., Vice President, Risk Management & Quantitative Research.

Good Ones Ritz Carlton 5(L-R) Jennifer Brooke, Co-Founder of the Good Ones; Ashley Higgins, Associate Buyer, eComm/Concept at Reebok; Sonali Lappin, Former Press Secretary, Committee to Elect Barry Finegold; featured guest Arthur Natella.

Arthur, also known as Arturo, is a consultant with Archipelago Strategies. Arthur started his career as an aid to Governor Deval Patrick and moved on to work on Senator Elizabeth Warren’s campaign and Martha Coakley’s gubernatorial campaign. He is also a founding board member for the organization Chica Project, a state wide organization focused on closing the opportunity divide for Latinas by empowering them with the skills they need to succeed.

Good Ones Ritz Carlton 6(L-R) Sasha Hoffman, Co-Founder of a Stealth Stage Startup and Ralu Zelinschi, Senior Analyst, Acquisitions at STAG Industrial.

Good Ones Ritz Carlton 7For more information on the Good Ones, check out their website. A lot of people ask me what an event is like. The people are always interesting and the conversation is always good. I would go out to coffee or meet up for a drink with any of the people that I have met over the past year. Carolyn and Jennifer have brought together some really great people. Good people attract other good people.

Good Ones Ritz Carlton 8(L-R) Featured guest Steven Peguero, Founder, Best Beginning Symposiums; Joeimy Gonzalez; Austin Pike.

Good Ones Ritz Carlton 9(L-R) Natasha Moustache, ​Contributing Photographer – Getty Images; Carolyn Kim, Co-founder of The Good Ones; featured guest Pamela Vargas; featured guest Vanessa Alejandra Mendizabal; Mia Teitelbaum, Attorney.

Pamela Vargas was born in Medellín, Colombia and was Miss Columbia in 2008. She represents the luxury real estate market with Gibson Sotheby’s. She is a committee member for the Boston Medical Center Food for Thought, The Lenny Zakim Casino Night, the ICA’s Party on the Harbor, the Annual Gala and Wine Dinner, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company’s Gala, Epiphany School Gala, and Bridge Boston Charter School. She is also an active board member of My Life, My Choice, which is an organization in Boston that works to empower girls to find their voice and create a positive life path for themselves.

Good Ones Ritz Carlton 10For an invitation to future parties, submit your personality snapshot here: http://thegoodones.co/membership/

Good Ones Ritz Carlton 11(L-R) Nizar Taki, Otolaryngology Resident at Tufts Medical Center; Designer Candice Wu; Daniel Krizek, Investment Professional, Brookside Capital.

Good Ones Ritz Carlton 12(L-R) Featured Guest Elena Kazlas; Kurt Flionis; Oksana Barchuk.

Elena Kazlas is a Principal with ConsultEcon, Inc. headquartered in Cambridge, MA. She is a leading management and strategic economic advisor to foundations, boards and executives working with museums, aquariums and other visitor attractions around the world.

For an invitation to future parties, submit your personality snapshot here: http://thegoodones.co/membership/

 

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imag1826I think I might be the last person on earth to do a paint night type of event. The Paint Bar is located in the Back Bay on Newbury Street and is owned by local mother-daughter duo Jill Kerner Schon and Jackie Schon. Julia and I went online and picked out a class that we thought we could handle. I have no artistic talent, so Kandinsky’s Circles seemed like a good place to start, how can you mess up circles, right? So it happens to be a Sunday afternoon class, we meet at 1:30 to get settled, the class starts at 2 and lasts about 2.5 hours. The class is pretty full – there are about 25-30 people here: mothers and daughters, a couple on a date, and a bunch of girlfriends hanging out after brunch. So what is included? For $25-$45 per class you get a canvas and all the paint you will need – and the best part is that you don’t have to do ANY of the cleanup! They provide you with aprons as well, but wear something you wouldn’t mind getting paint on.

imag1829Meet Ari our instructor for the afternoon. He’s a local art student who teaches these classes on the weekend. The class has a range of talent, some who have never painted before and others who have a little bit of experience. The good part is that you don’t need to have ANY prior art experience to take the class. We tape off our squares and begin painting our circles and backgrounds.

imag1832Check out the rest of the class!

imag1833Here is a close up view of my painting about 50% of the way done.

imag1834They  have beer and wine for sale during the class as well as light snacks. I’m thinking a glass of wine could have only improved my painting!!

imag1835We pull off the tape and paint the white space black to make a bold statement. We then add other colors to our circles to make them pop and give them some dimension. Ari comes over and gives us little tips that are much appreciated: how to better hold the brush for more control and what colors might compliment and add to the painting.

imag1838So here is the final product! Not bad for a first timer!

Disclaimer: I was provided two free passes to a class. All opinions are my own.

The Paint Bar

248 Newbury Street, Boston, MA

http://www.thepaintbar.com/

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