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Sunday, October 17, 2010


There's an article in the NYT about the revival of punch in cutting edge bars and cocktail menus. The writer speaks of one bartender/historian's interest in Charles Dickens era punches but I love punch and I'm certainly not old enough to know anything about Charles Dicken's recipe.

My parents did a lot of home entertaining when I was younger. My Dad was a Naval officer and parties at home were a given. My mom had a huge crystal punch bowl and beautiful little matching crystal cups with handles In the punch with rum and various fruit juice and ice would float slices of oranges, lemons and limes. It was always beautiful and even as a young girl I was allowed to have a small glass of the party punch. I loved it because it made me feel so adult like to carefully hold one of those crystal containers but the refreshing and sweet elixir from that punch bowl was like nothing else I'd ever tasted or had on a regular basis. Sure I drank a lot of Hawaii Tropican Punch as a kid but this was different. It wasn't as sweet and sticky. It was light and the hint of rum just added enough bitterness to my 9 year old tastebuds.

I don't know when punch fell out of vogue but I'm glad to see it making a come back. And if you can find places doing it in beautiful crystal punch bowls with lovely delicate crystal mugs, definitely give it a shot!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Food are E are no longer...

the only loves of my life.

Two months ago we adopted two adorable schnoodle pups that we named Diesel and Dexter. It all happened when I saw a picture of Diesel online late one night (the second pic) on pet finder from a shelter in South Carolina. I melted. I never had anything other than a fish as a pet as a kid. My allergies were so bad as a child, chances were good I'd never know the soft purr of a housecat but there were a lot of hypo-allergic dogs out there and well I always thought I'd be a dog person as an adult anyway. I also always knew I wanted to adopt a pup from a shelter. There were so many dogs in need of good homes, but would I ever find a puppy in need that was also not going to aggravate my allergies?

WELL, not only was the dog in the picture unbelievably adorable, but she was one of those hypo-allergic dogs (with hair instead of fur)!!!!! I felt it was all meant to be. We applied to adopt, crossed our fingers, and I looked at her little pictures on line everyday. When we learned we were approved and Diesel would be a part of our fmaily, we also learned she had another brother. Dexter, we adopted sight unseen but if we could keep part of the family together, I really wanted to do that. I'm so happy we got them both. I didn't care what Dexter looked like, I knew that E and had a good life to offer to any dog so I was happy to open my heart to another lil furry dog as well.

I won't lie, the first three weeks were a bit hellish. They were so young 8-10 weeks when they arrived that we had no choice but to get up at 3am and walk them. But now at 4 months, I feel like we've all fallen into a nice routine. Finally they're getting the hang of going outside to use the bathroom and sorta kinda getting the leash thing. I'm hopeful they will outgrow the puppy biting thing as they continue to grow. And grow like weeds they're doing!

Not only are they both adorable, loving and sweet towards me and E, but they really like people in general and other dogs. We really won the pet lottery when it comes to pups with personality. You'll often find us walking the streets of Kenmore and Fenway and they've developed a fan base. Sometimes when we're walking, people we don't even know will come up and say hello to them by name.

Our favorite food place is definitely Berryline. Not only do they allow us all in the place when I want a sweet treat, but they very cheerfully give me two sample size berryline yogurts for Diesel and Dexter to enjoy as well. SO nice! As a result, the Fenway area Berryline is kinda like our "Peach Pit". But even before the pups, I often would go in for some tangy frozen froyo. If you haven't checked it out, you really should. Go. Besides you might run into me and the furry kids getting our Berryline fix.

Monday, August 9, 2010


With my new "diet" restrictions (somewhat Paleo with frequent dairy stops), dining out hasn't held the same appeal for me it once had. Menus are a little tricky to navigate, and my weakness for empty carbs in the form of bread and pasta have been well documented. So if I'm gonna blow a night on food, it better be damn good. That said, Grotto did not disappoint on the food end of the bargain. But that's really only half the story. Perhaps it's best to start at the beginning.

E saw that Grotto had a lobster pasta special but upon closer inspection of the menu on-line, we realized it was part of the regular menu line up. The menu looked fantastic though with plenty of offerings for both of us. So E made a reservation a week in advance and we both put some effort into our attire that day. For me, it meant actually combing my hair and for E it meant looking like her usual cute self.

We arrived to the small basement space and had a very awkward first encounter. Neither of us was certain if she was a hostess, manager, server. But the first person who greeted us wasn't anything other than harried. She waved her hand to two tables off to the side of the door and in the middle of the dining room and told us to take either of these two places. And she went off, not to be seen again. Um, ok. E was not pleased. She had called and made this reservation a week prior and wasn't happy 1.) that the tables were in a really akward place in the dining room 2.) we were kinda waved off. We stood there for a bit, pondering if a change of tables would be possible. We were told by a waitress (we think she was a server) that those open tables in more optimal locations were already reserved for larger parties. So we sat. And a choice had to be made. Either I could move the table back so E wouldn't get constantly bumped by the people at the table behind her or we could leave it were it was and I wouldn't get bumped constantly by the people who worked in the restaurant trying to serve the table behind me. We made the choice to move the table towards me which resulted in me being bumped on the back of my seat thru-out my meal. It wasn't really a big deal for me (which is why I made the choice to kinda take one for the "team") but I did reflect with E on the fact that I'm not a big person. I'm 5'2 (ish) and weigh 120-125 (ish) so if I was any bigger, this table and seating arrangement would have not really worked well.

Regardless, I was ready for a nice meal and looking forward to having some tasty empty carbs! One of the things about the menu was that it was kinda heavy for the summer. Fondue, cheese garlic soup all of these things were listed as appetizers. And a lot of rich sounding pastas and heavy meats for mains. For our appetizer I ordered the garlic, parm and truffle soup and E ordered the only summer sounding item on the menu, the mozzarella, tomato and arugula salad. Only thing was that it ended up not being all that summery afterall. The server let us know before the dish came so we were aware but I was really surprised at how the dish was described compared to what truly arrived. It was basically a grilled cheese sandwich with some nice sundried tomatoes and dressed greens. It was a nice dish but again fairly heavy. The soup was lovely. Rich and creamy. I wish that it had a bit more truffle going on but eh, it was still pretty darn good. E also ordered a fairly reasonable wine. She said it was usually over $100 but at Grotto it was only around $60. Seemed like a good deal to me but I don't really drink so I had a few sips but as to how good it was, well, that's really lost on me.

For our mains we ordered the braised short ribs with gorgonzola and gnocchi (me) and spaghetti bolognese (E). Again, heavy dishes but really nicely executed. The pastas were both clearly homemade. The gnocchi was feather light and the pasta for the bolognese was cooked perfectly al dente. I loved both dishes. But by then E and I were stuffed from our appetizers. So we only had a few bites before dessert.

And of course we got dessert! Well, I should say I had dessert. I ordered the banana bread pudding and E ordered the molten chocolate cake for me to eat, of course. The desserts were very good. Not especially note worthy but good and a nice ending to a really lovely meal.

We still had an entire bottle of wine at the end of the meal and were relaxing and talking a bit after our dishes were cleared but I clearly got the sense that the staff was a little stressed and were really wanting us to go already. I can understand that in such a small place it's hard to maneuver around the tables or turn tables when there aren't that many but making us feel rushed after I was bumped into constantly wasn't cool. Even if someone had just said to us, here is your check, please take your time and poured us more wine, I would have thought, "well how very gracious". It wasn't the case.

So overall, I enjoyed the food quite a bit and found it to be an excellent value but the space lacked "romance" for me and the service seemed a little all over the place. I would absolutely go back to Grotto but next time, I think we'll specify that we want a corner table.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Dry Cupcakes, Crossfit, a Brief Brush with Lipo 6, and Discovering Quinoa

What's with the odd comments in Chinese that I get on this blog? Anyone else getting this too? Since they're all in a language that I can't read, I assume they're either spam or porn related and delete them. If you happen to be leaving legit comments to me in Chinese and haven't seen your comment pop up, I apologize.

I've been around. I haven't had any culinary revelations to speak of so I've been keeping my trap shut. Lately Boston has been disappointing me in the dining out arena. This happens to me every so often. But lately it seems to be an epidemic. I recently tried Rocca and Zocalo and both really sucked ass. Like sucked so hard. A meal at Sorelina was really damn good, but my main dish (pork chop) was a bit on the dry side and not worth the cost. Sorelina is pretty as hell. I wish I had just stuck to appetizers and pasta. That seems to be where they shine. Anyway, nothing really blowing up my skirt these days in the world of food.

Speaking of not blowing up my skirt, I've come to a general conclusion about cupcake culture in Boston. The cake part is ALWAYS dry. I've been to the Buttery, Sweet, Lindells, and had a Kickass Cupcake and so I feel fairly comfortable making this statement. I don't ever doubt the tastiness or the quality or care put into the products and sometimes I find myself craving a cupcake so I'll indulge but the cake is always a tad dry to me. Maybe the assumption is that you have a glass of milk (or a glass of wine) with the cupcake? I dunno. I've tried the cupcakes at all the major suppliers of this trend in Boston and found the cake part is always dry. Now before you go getting your panties in a bunch and telling me that it has to be me. When we went to Austin we found a cupcake place (well Airstream Trailer really) called Hey Cupcake and those cupcakes were not dry. Even after they had sat all afternoon waiting for us to sample them. Nope, not dry. I'm telling you people, dry cupcakes is so totally a Boston thing. Anyone had thoughts on this? Please don't beat me. Okay... Moving on.

As some of you know I've been doing Crossfit for a little while now. And while I suspect I'm getting stronger, I haven't lost any weight. The other day I was in class with a couple of guys and they were joking that they just walk in and lose weight. Nope, not me. And I've got about 10-15 lbs I could stand to lose. So in a fit of desperation and after being advised by a very gay South End man on the benefits of it, I decided to try Lipo 6. I did it for about 3 weeks and stopped. I did notice I lost weight but for me it came at a price. For one thing I couldn't have coffee. And I'm in love with my nespresso maker. Seriously, I might very well die without the sucker. So that was a true bummer. I also noticed feeling a little depressed while I was on the stuff and lastly, my lymph nodes in my neck began to swell and become painful. I'm not 100% certain that the last thing is a symptom of Lipo6 but I do know that I stopped taking them and my neck began feeling lots better. Granted I'd love to lose some poundage b/c I've been putting in the Crossfit time but it wasn't worth it for me. I realized something during those 3 weeks; I'm unwilling to damage my overall mental and physical health to be thin. "Nothing tastes as good as thin feels" is a freaking lie!!!!!

And lastly, I'm back to trying to be fairly carful with my eating habits but not overly restrictive. I've discovered the joys of quinoa. Seriously this stuff is damn tasty and good for you too. Lately I've taken to making a big bowl of it and mixing it with feta cheese, mint, tomatoes, pine nuts, raisin (prums work too), parsley, avocado, white miso paste, balsamic vinegar and lemon juice. Infact this is what I'm about to dig into for lunch right now. I like quinoa and since I am debating going on a Paleo diet for a bit, I hope I can continue to eat it. Seems to be some mixed opinions on whether quinoa is Paleo allowed. It is a seed and not a grain so I think it makes the cut. The feta in my salad probably would not. Lucky for me the steak I'm gonna have for dinner is definitely Paleo approved. Perhaps I'll give it a shot.


Monday, April 5, 2010

There Aren't Enough Cuss Words to Describe How I Feel

...about Ben and Jerry's selling out and doing an exclusive flavor with Walmart for Walmart Super Centers. Super Center!?!? Seriously the only time I've ever seen Supercenters are in rural or semi rural locations where they've blown away all the local mom and pop grocery/hardware/knickknack stores. Secondly, it's Walmart. WALMART?!? Yes, the Walmart that has a record of treating its own employees like crap giving them such small salaries that they can only afford to shop at Walmart. The same Walmart that refuses to give its employee healthcare or allow them to unionize and the very same Walmart that takes down small businesses at any cost/price. Yeah THAT Walmart.

Sigh. I'm so disappointed with B&J right about now. Not only do I dislike Walmart immensely but even if I didn't feel as strongly as I did about them, there are no Supercenters near me so I can't even try this new flavor and well that as a life long Ben and Jerry's lover that really sucks. It sucks hard.

So thanks for a whole lot of nothing Ben and Jerry's. Way to keep a loyal fan(s) happy.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Finn Jr.

I'd like to introduce you to the newest member of our household. My sourdough starter that I named Finn Jr.

I got the idea for making a sour dough starter from a Twitter pal named "Finn". He started tweeting about his sourdough starter dying and having to start a new one. I got curious and asked him if a very infrequent non-baker such as myself could create a sour dough starter and only use it once and a while? He said yes. Finn claimed that sour dough starter took little to no time to take care of and was worth it.

I did a little bit of online research and found this recipe: Beginner Sour Dough Bread It was not only simple but also very comprehensive in the steps. Other recipes I found online seemed a little bit vague or called for yeast (I didn't have any) or even potato starch. King Aurthur (my flour of choice btw) goes as far as to sell a sour dough starter kit online. I think it was only $35 or something but still it seemed a little bit lame and cheaty.

I also chose this recipe because I loved the idea of using the "wild yeast" in the air and all around us to create my sour dough. It seemed like a super neat science experiment and as a kid who excelled at science fairs (I went to regional in 9th and 10th grade) that seemed really neat to me.

And so I began. I used the instructions I found online as my chief guide but after three days I was a little skeptical that the sour dough had fermented enough or produced enough yeast. My Twitter friend Finn said that he had been feeding his starter ("Veruca") for 12 days and it was now time. So I asked him if he thought my starter was ready? He confirmed what I thought and said no. So I've been letting "Finn Jr". grow and grow. Last night he became a rebellious teenager and we woke up to him trying to escape the safety of his jar to explore the world (thus the picture above this posting).

He seems to be doing just fine. Lots of bubbles and activity for sure! See:

Speaking of which, I need to go feed him again now. I'm going to make my sponge with him on Sunday and if all goes well, I will be able to share my first loaf of sour dough bread from Finn Jr. on Monday with some friends we're having over for dinner. I'm actually going to be sad when it becomes time for me to put Finn Jr. into the fridge and I don't have to feed him everyday but like all children, he will need to move out of the nest and learn to fend mainly on his own.

But I certainly am one proud mamma for now!