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A Little Bit About a Lot of Things

A lifestyle blog with a focus on my food adventures

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On a day trip to Nantucket this fall, we spent the afternoon walking around the island. One stop was the Petticoat Row bakery, a cute little shop just off the beaten path.IMG_2816

With the summer season coming to a close, their cases were a bit more sparse than usual, but we still found some delicious things! They bake their bread daily and offer things like cookies, cupcakes, breakfast items and they even make custom cakes. We grabbed some coffee with our treats as well! It’s unfortunate that they don’t have seating inside the bakery, so we had to sit outside on one of the benches to enjoy our treats.

Petticoat Row Bakery

35 Centre St, Nantucket, MA

http://petticoatrowbakery.com

Petticoat Row Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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With the first day of winter this week and today being Christmas, I thought that this would be the perfect time to tell you about the Taj Boston‘s Fireplace suites. With the cold weather just around the corner, here’s the scoop on the coziest spot in town. The iconic hotel, located in the Back Bay, has 42 suites with wood burning fireplaces. The suites come with their own FIREPLACE BUTLER. Yup, you read that right. My only problem is that I’d probably just want to take the butler home (even though I don’t have a fire place – wait, scratch that, I’d just never leave the suite!)  Guests can choose from the following 4 types of wood:

  • Birch Wood:Birch produces a strong heat and burns quickly, creating a warm and cozy interlude before an evening’s entertainment on the town
  • Cherry Wood:Fragrant and slow burning, the glowing colors from this fire will enhance your in-room dining experience
  • Oak Wood:A lightly scented, long-burning wood, oak produces a comforting, cozy warmth for a long winter’s night. It produces a comforting, cozy warmth and ambiance for a long winter’s night
  • Maple Wood:The sweet aroma of maple will fill the room with the ambiance of a country inn. It evokes the essence of a New England winter in the heart of Boston

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In addition to the Fireplace Suites, the Taj offers Fireside desserts and cocktails in the bar right off the lobby. Pastry Chef Robert Alger has crafted a variety of sweets to please any palette. Shown above is the Taj dark chocolate cake – a composed cake of Valrhona Dulcey chocolate soufflé, coffee mousse and chocolate mirror glaze with vanilla anglaise and crunch coffee ice cream.

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The Taj’s cheese plate was simple and yet satisfying.

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House dipped chocolate strawberries served over a cloud of white chocolate shavings.

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Warm caramel chocolate bread pudding – cinnamon custard baked with croissants and milk chocolate with caramel and vanilla sauce.

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Homemade toasted s’mores – chocolate graham cookie filled with chocolate ganache and house made marshmallow, served with chocolate sauce.

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The Fireside cocktail list includes beverages such as: The Classic – half bottle of Perrier Jouët Champagne, Dark Velvet – glass of Courvoisier VSOP Cognac, Maison Rouge – glass or bottle of 2008 Pinot Noir, Cuvaison, Napa, CA, and the Slainte – Hot Toddy with a warm blend of whisley, lemon, cloves, cinnamon and the Taj’s own roof top honey.

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A non alcoholic option is the Starry night – hot chocolate with marshmallow and chocolate shavings (oh and that fresh made whipped cream is heavenly!).

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The suites are elegantly decorated with classic furnishings and 42 inch flat screen cvs, there’s even complimentary wifi.

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While guests relax in their rooms and cuddle up next to the fire, they can choose to make their own s’mores!! I can personally vouch for the coziness of these suites and there is nothing better than the smell of a wood burning fire! The Taj is currently offering a Suite Celebrations promotion: when guests book one night at the best available rate they can delight in an additional evening at 50% off in addition to a complimentary breakfast for two in the award winning Taj Café. The promotion is good from now until April 2016, so you’ve got plenty of excuses to take a city stay-cation and check out the suites.

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As you can see, the suites have an amazing view of the swan boats, the city skyline and the Boston Common, even on a foggy day – the city looks amazing!

Wishing you and yours a very happy holiday season! What are your favorite holiday traditions? Maybe you can start a new traditional and indulge in a suite at the Taj every year!

Disclaimer: I was invited as a guest to view the Fireplace Suite and sample the above desserts. All opinions are my own.

Taj Boston

15 Arlington Street, Boston, MA

Check out their website here.

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I had been wanting to try Babbo for some time, but wanted to wait for the hype to die down before heading in. The restaurant, that is located in Boston’s Seaport District, opened in April and has been serving up Mario Batali’s Italian cuisine to locals and tourists alike.

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The restaurant is enormous, with over 8,000 square feet of space. The open space features three bars, one for pizza, one for antipasti and one for cocktails.

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The restaurant features a wood burning stove that churns out delicious pizzas and pastas.

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I’m pretty sure I could have ordered one of everything on the menu. We restrained ourselves and started with the cheese plate. They come 3 for $11, 5 for $15 or 7 for $19. The accoutrements were cherries, apricots and truffle honey.

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We did the following cheeses: Piave VecchioCow, VEN; Parmigiano ReggianoCow, EMI; Provolone MandaroneCow, LOM. All hard cheeses with a sightly nutty flavor to them. Really delicious.

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All of the pasta dishes sounded delicious, pasta all Norma, spaghetti carbonara, squid ink cavatelli, and on and on. I ordered the gnocchi ai fruity di mare ($15). The dumplings were light as air. I was afraid that the spicy sauce might over power the gnocchi, but it was delicious. This is the first place I’ve seen gnocchi served with seafood, so I was really happy with my meal. And don’t let that sauce go to waste, use some bread to scoop up every last bit!

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Babbo is known for their pizzas, so of course we had to try one. We had the quattro formaggi ($13) that is topped with mozzarella, gorgonzola, fontina and grana. I love a good white pizza and this one hit the spot. The cheese blend was really nice and the crust was thin and both crispy and chewy.

What’s your go to Italian dish?

Babbo Pizzeria

11 Fan Pier Boulevard, Boston, MA

http://babbopizzeria.com/

Babbo Pizzeria e Enoteca Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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If I were young(er) and single, I would be hanging out at the Abbey every night. This restaurant, located in Brookline’s Washington Square neighborhood, was packed with tons of good looking guys drinking beer and snacking on small bites at the bar. We had to wait for a table, as the restaurant is pretty small. We hovered awkwardly over people sitting at the bar and drank some beers while we waited. We sat at the counter in front of the kitchen, bonus for us because it was warmer and we got to see all of the delicious food coming out. I started off with the BBQ chicken fried dumplings which were delicious. I mean, like gobbled these down in two minutes delicious.

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If you read this blog, you know I love me some bolognese, but I usually like a very traditional one. This dish, however, is the exception. The bison bolognese is served with fresh linguini, piled high and topped with a healthy serving of grated Romano cheese. This bison isn’t gamey at all and these is a nice little kick to the sauce. I could seriously eat this for days. I took some of it home and it was even better on the second day!

Note that they don’t serve dessert here, so head next door to Emack and Bolio’s if you’re craving an after dinner sweet.

The Abbey

1657 Beacon Street, Brookline, MA

http://abbeyrestaurant.com/brookline/

The Abbey Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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After lunch at the nearby Naco Taco, we decided to stop into Mariposa bakery. The chop is super cute with exposed brick walls and some great lighting from the large windows in the front. There are a bunch of tables inside, where you can enjoy your treats if you don’t have the willpower to make it home (trust me, it was tough).

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Because we hit them up after lunch, they were out of a few things. I was looking forward to their doughnuts I had been hearing so much about.

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Don’t worry, I settled on a turtle brownie. I was only going to try a little bite when I got home because I was going out to a media dinner that evening, but someone how one bite turned into eating the whole thing. I don’t even know how it happened. Well I know how it happened, but it was THAT good. So stop in for a tasty treat, maybe we will see each other there, you know I’m going back for a doughnut!!

Mariposa Bakery

424 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA

Check out Mariposa’s Facebook page here.

Mariposa Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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When we were in Salem for lunch at Turner’s Seafood, I had the chance to walk around a bit before heading over the the restaurant.  I was craving something sweet so I stopped into Turtle Alley. The flagship store is located in Gloucester, the Salem location is their second store.

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The space is quite large. Even though there is a fair amount of product, the store feels a little sparse. They have all kinds of barks, chocolate covered everything and hand dipped truffles.

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All the chocolates are hand made. Of course I had to get some turtles, the cashew ones are my favorite! I picked up milk and white chocolate. In addition to cashew they also have pecan, macadamia, almond, cherry apricot, cranberry pecan, chipotle and  macadamia with coconut. They were delicious, you can taste the quality – I highly recommend stopping in.

Turtle Alley

177 Essex Street, Salem, MA

http://turtlealley.com

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The ebar is located on the first floor of the mall, attached to the entrance of Nordstrom’s. It’s a specialty coffee shop (similar to Starbucks) where you can grab a cold drink and a snack. There are tables in the mall area, just outside the restaurant, where you can sit and enjoy your coffee.

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Not feeling like coffee, I ordered a strawberry lemonade, that was both sweet and tart and hit the spot after a day of shopping. Note that this restaurant is different than the cafe that is upstairs in the store on the 2nd floor.

Nordstrom ebar

290 Speen Street, Natick MA (located in the Natick Collection)

http://restaurants.nordstrom.com

Nordstrom Ebar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday – Saturday 8:30am – 9pm

Sunday 10am-6pm

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Dianne and I met over at Stephanie’s on Newbury a while back. It was a great chance for us to catch up since it had been such a long time. The restaurant has gotten a facelift since I was last here, how ever many years ago. The color palette has changed to gray with splashes of accent colors of red and orange. There are tons of new textures here as well, trying to modernize the space. The restaurant was crowded with people on business lunches, tourists, and moms with their kids. I had the Cobb salad ($20) that was grilled chicken, corn, tomatoes, egg, cheese, red onion, bacon, avocado and romaine lettuce, tossed with blue cheese dressing in a crispy flour tortilla shell. The presentation was lovely. I would have liked to have seen the chicken cut into a little smaller pieces, but the salad was full of all the things I love!

Stephanie’s on Newbury

190 Newbury Street, Boston, MA

Click here for their website.

Stephanie's on Newbury Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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I’m a sucker for noodles and dumplings, so when Live Noodles came in right down the street, I was dying to try them out. They serve traditional hand pulled noodles with authentic soup. From their website:

Lanzhou beef lamian, or Lanzhou beef hand-pulled noodle, is a type of Chinese noodle dish originated in Lanzhou, China, and generally popular in China. It is referred to as “beef noodle”  or “beef big bowl”  in Lanzhou. It is sometimes simply called lamian , which means hand-pulled noodle in Chinese, or “beef lamian”  elsewhere in China.

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Like most places on this block, the decor leaves something to be desired. While you can get some recognizable things here, they also serve authentic dishes like squid tentacles, chicken hearts and pig ears.

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We were glad that we decided to get take out, as the place was packed! The place is small, with mainly two tops, so if you are going with a group, make sure to call for a reservation.

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The home made dumplings ($9) came a dozen to an order. They were steamed and the filling was super tasty.

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I love soup dumplings. These pork dumplings ($8), that came 6 to an order, were so good.

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Here’s a close up of the hand pulled thin noodles.

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The beef hand pulled thin noodles were a hit in our house, they came with corn, cucumbers, carrots and other vegetables to balance out the dish. Dishes are generally prices around $8-$15, but there are a few “big pot” dishes that can cost you up to $28.

Live Noodles

1026 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA

http://www.livenoodles.com

Live Noodles Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Long story short, my car got a flat tire and I had to wait 2 hours to get it fixed. Instead of sitting in the Sullivan Tire waiting area watching horrible daytime tv, I decided to take a walk down to Clear Flour Bread. Located at the edge of a residential neighborhood, this tiny shop puts out some of the best breads and pastries I’ve had. I had been waiting to try one of their pretzels and it was so worth the wait. Their soft, German style pretzels are great warm and they are available after 10:30am the day they are baked! They are soft and chewy, a little bit of a crusty outside – so good!

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I dream about their clafoutis. They are just the right amount of sweetness and I love when the outsides have a little crunch to them.

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The classic croissants are hand rolled every morning and are crispy outside and buttery delicious on the inside. I love the almond ones. They offer plain, chocolate and gruyere daily and pretzel, breakfast croissants, apricot or raspberry on weekends and holidays.

If you’re looking for authentic Italian and French breads, look no further. Get there early though, the lines on the weekend go around the block!

Clear Flour Bread

178 Thorndike St., Brookline, MA

http://www.clearflourbread.com

Clear Flour Bread Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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