Food Experiences

Girls’ Pint Out Meetup

If you know me, you’ll know I love beer. Until a few years ago, I was the girl who didn’t like it. I hated the taste (probably from tasting some awful beer) and didn’t understand why people drank it at all (besides the obvious). Then my eyes were opened when I tasted Harpoon UFO for the first time. Beer, I realized, is actually pretty great.

Since then I’ve fully embraced the world of beer. I love learning more about how it’s made, how different flavors can come out in different varieties, and of course, tasting it and picking my favorites.

Enter Girls’ Pint Out. I learned about this organization through my fellow brew diva and good friend, Becca. Besides being a fan of the organization, she’s now the head of the new Boston chapter of GPO.

Girls’ Pint Out is all about making beer accessible to women and promoting education about beer and brewing in general. Let’s be honest, the world of beer tends to be associated with macho men, sporting events, and fraternity parties. The ladies want their place in the beer community! We’re taking it, and enjoying every second of it.

GPO has already been really well received in Boston. With their tagline – “Gals in Grolsch, Angels of Ale” – and fun logo, what’s not to love? (although, I’ll be honest I’m not a big pink person, but I’ll take it for now).

I was super excited to  attend the first Boston meetup of Girls’ Pint Out last week. We headed to Deep Ellum in Allston, which boasts an awesome selection of beer (including great local brews), and mac and cheese with duck confit. I couldn’t wait to try it all. Oh, did I mention beer cheese with warm pretzels? UH HUH.

I got to meet some awesome ladies and had some delicious food and drinks. My biggest decisions of the evening were figuring out which beers I wanted to try.

I was SO happy to see multiple varieties of Pretty Things on the menu. Pretty Things is a small Cambridge-based craft brewery. You can only find it in MA, CT, RI, and NY (and even in those places it’s not necessarily easy to find). I tried the Jack D’Or – their flagship beer- and the Babbayaga. Both great. Also, I want those glasses ASAP.

The meetup was great. I can’t wait to see where the GPO Boston chapter goes! For more information, you can contact Hope to see you ladies at the next event!

Apple Picking at Honey Pot Hill Orchards

Every year we make it a point to go apple picking in the fall. There’s nothing quite like those fresh apples from the orchard. We planned our trip this year about a month in advance, which meant a month of excitement leading up to the weekend. It doesn’t take much to make us happy, and I had big plans for those apples we were going to pick.

The past few years we’ve gone to Honey Pot Hill Orchards in Stow, MA. There’s always some apples to pick, and afterward we enjoy some cider donuts, caramel apples, and cider. Plus, the all important hay ride. On a weekend in October, it was definitely busy at the orchard but some patience will get you through while having fun.

We went with a group of friends, which always make the trip more fun, including Tasha and Clint who had never been apple picking before! We brought them into the apple picking world.

We spent a while walking through the orchards, climbing to the top of the tree to get the perfect apple, and trying to get a few of every type of apple that was offered.

Then we found this crate. And my immediate inclination was to climb in it, just to see if I would fit. I did, and was actually quite comfortable. Then Dane decided to join me, and it was a bit of a process.

All for this picture…

We also learned a few things while we were there. I’ll leave it to Scott to show you.

After a long day at the orchard, we headed back to Becca’s house for dinner and dessert. And I made these little guys.

And they were really yummy. I had a mini apple pocket pie mold from Williams-Sonoma that I wanted to try, and it worked great! These little guys were the perfect end to an apple filled day.

Honey Pot Hill is fun, but I will warn you that during October on a weekend you definitely need to have some patience. There were crowds and lines at the concession area with the cider donuts and hot dogs were really long. We were in no rush, so we took our time and had fun with it. In the orchards there is more than enough space for everyone, and the first weekend in October had more than enough apples to go around.

We had a ton of apples coming home, and you’ll see more posts coming up with our apple recipes!

Vermont and Blackberry Picking

A few weeks ago Dane and I headed up to Vermont to visit our bestest friends Sam and Jason in Vermont (while they were home visiting from Minneapolis). They are originally from the Northeast Kingdom (a.k.a. almost Canada) and the area is absolutely beautiful and in the middle of nowhere. Perfect place to relax.

We spent most of our time relaxing with their families and enjoying being outside. I got to learn about sugaring (how you make maple syrup) and am really hoping to make it up to VT again for sugaring season so I can see the process in action.

Sam’s mom mentioned the fresh blackberry patch nearby. She barely finished her sentence before we all hopped in the car to head down to the wild blackberry patch. How much better can it get than fresh wild blackberries?

Maybe about a mile away in a pretty uninhabited area of VT we all picked up our buckets and started picking. Sam’s mom is a champion picker and had her container filled in about 5 minutes. The rest of us were having too much fun with it and we took a bit longer.

Oh and we noticed some of the patch was bent and crushed. Which Sam’s mom mentioned was just because of the bear. No big deal.

Wait, WHAT?! The bear?!

Yes, the bear. He comes around, but we’d totally hear him if he was coming… probably.

Whatever, back to picking.

We ended up with a TON of blackberries and barely made a dent in the patch. There were so many! We had a blast picking them all together.

And then we ate blackberries for days and days. And they were absolutely delicious!

Wine Tasting on a Yacht (fancy right? sort of.)

I have a problem with any food related group buying deal. I get three every day to my inbox: Groupon, BuyWithMe, and Living Social Boston. If it’s something more unique – a festival, showcase, or experience – you can pretty much bet that I’ll purchase it. And that’s how our wine tasting and jazz cruise on a yacht happened.

On a Sunday afternoon we boarded the Princess Yacht from Rowes Wharf in Boston. We grabbed a table near the jazz band. The band consisted of two guys in costumes. Not really sure why they were wearing the outfits they chose, it didn’t really seem to fit the feel of the event. But they were good, so I’ll let the weird jackets and hats go.

I’m not sure what I had in my head for the trip. Wine tastings generally mean to me that someone will be telling you about the wines as you taste them, or be available to answer questions. This was more get-all-the-wine-you-can-before-we-get-back-to-the-dock cruise.

Since there didn’t seem to be much of an order to things, we just jumped in, grabbed some wine and some appetizers and enjoyed the music. A few people seemed to think the pita chips and grapes were meant to be a full meal. It was kind of amazing to me how much they brought back. Two people at our table literally had 5 plates full of the snacks in front of them. We had a small plate between the two of us to snack on. They must have been super hungry.

We had a good time on the cruise and enjoyed the wine and the conversation with our fellow cruisers. The view was lovely too. I always love seeing Boston from the water. Such a pretty city.

With an open mind, this was a great afternoon. Anyone walking on and expecting a very high end experience with servers for each table would have been disappointed.

I would not have purchased tickets to this on my own, but because they were discounted it was a great Sunday afternoon event. Tickets are regularly priced at $110 each and BuyWithMe had them for about $50 each. I am all about a good deal. What girl isn’t? Cheers!

First Food Truck Festival in Boston

This summer the first ever Boston Food Truck Festival took place in the South End. I was super pumped for this event. There was a ton of buzz surrounding it in the weeks leading up to the event, and it was right next to SoWa (the South End weekly open market with antiques, local food, and local artisans showcasing their pieces).

When we got there with our friends, it was packed (and it was before lunchtime). We did an initial walk around to see all the vendors, but were disappointed that a few were missing. Then we decided it was time to get in line for some food. Before we hopped on a line (where waits were 30-45 minutes when I asked people in line who had been waiting for a while) we spotted the Sausage Guy, a Fenway Park staple, where there was no wait. Done. We went over and each got some sausage and peppers within a minute. I’m not the most patient person, and although food truck food is delish, I was not willing to wait 45 minutes.

There was one line I was happy to wait in, and that was for Grillo’s Pickles. Local pickle legend, usually found at the Park Street T Stop, was at the festival. I’m an avid fan of pickles, and these are my favorite. And 2 spears for $1? Can’t beat that.

And as much as I love pickles, I also love my hubby so I was nice enough to share. Those that know me, know that pickles are a big deal to me, so sharing them is also a big deal.

After that, we were happily full and headed over to SoWa for some shopping. I was overall slightly disappointed with the festival. The lines were ridiculous – though it does show the popularity of this event – waiting 45 minutes in line for food isn’t my idea of a fun afternoon. A few of the trucks I was hoping to visit were no-shows (or showed up late and ran out of food within 30 minutes of getting there like the Cupcakory Truck). Growing pains go along with every event for the first time. I would give it another chance if it’s done again next year.

Good try Food Truck Festival. See you again next year (I hope!).

how2heroes Video #2: Cherry Ice Cream

We were thrilled when our favorites over at how2heroes asked us to do another video for them. We set up a date and time and prepped for our second shoot, Cherry Ice Cream.

The crew came the day of the shoot and set up in our kitchen again. My favorite part was still this:

This time they let me play with it too. So fun! We’re basically movie stars.

They set up the cameras, put our mics on, and we got started with the shoot. I definitely messed up the first introduction by patting my microphone, which made a really loud noise on the camera. Oops. Once we got past that it was smooth sailing.

And without further ado, here’s the final video! We had a blast with the how2heroes crew, of course. Thanks to them for setting it up and coming out!

Great American Food and Music Festival

When my friends hear about food, they think of me. So when Sam saw something about the Great American Food and Music Festival, she immediately sent me an email with the link with the short message “You need to go to this”. I couldn’t argue with that.

I was really excited to see the schedule of performers and the list of restaurants from across the country who would be participating. The festival showcased different restaurants that came from all over to Gillette Stadium and brought their signature dishes for attendees to try. There were also bands playing, and live cooking demos.

We were hooked up with VIP passes by a friend, which made us feel like rockstars. When we arrived, we weren’t actually sure what the VIP passes meant. There was no clear signage to let us know where things were, or any information that made the difference between the VIP passes and general ticketing clear. So, we just followed people around that looked like they knew where they were going.

First we went up to the Wine and Beer Grand Tasting (which was the only thing we saw signs for, so we followed). Overlooking the stadium, the clubhouse was lovely. Dane and I focused on the beer varieties, and tried different craft beers. There was not one I tasted that I didn’t like, which isn’t shocking.

We finally found someone who looked like she worked with the festival and was answering questions for another group, so we asked her about the VIP passes and what we should be using them for. She let us know there was a VIP room past the main stage where we could hang out, eat, and do the meet and greets. So that was the catch, the VIP passes allowed us in a room where someone would take our order from any of the participating vendors and bring it to us, without any extra cost. The general admission was only for entry to the festival, and did not cover the cost of food.

We enjoyed ribs from Hell’s Kitchen in Minneapolis, churros from Goldie’s Churros in L.A., a steak sandwich from Jim’s Cheesesteaks in Philly, the caprese sandwich from the All Star Sandwich Bar in Cambridge, and shrimp from Harding Lee Smith. Thankfully we were with a group of people who helped us eat everything.

I have to say, my favorite part of this day was everyone we met in the VIP room. We ended up chatting with other couple’s and others sitting near us, and we met some really awesome people. First up, while I was standing and ordering a drink, Billy Costa walked by. Billy is on the Matty in the Morning show on Kiss 108, which I listen to every single morning and it gets me through my commute (and also does a TV show called TV Diner). All I wanted to do was say hi, but I’m lame and was too embarrassed. But Dane definitely wasn’t, so he went over with me and said “Hey Billy, its really great to meet you. My wife really wanted to say hi.” Billy was very nice and shook both our hands while I said “You’re a big part of my mornings”. Seriously. I said that. He offered to take a picture then I went on my way, pretty convinced that he must think I’m nuts.

Then in came Duff for his meet and greet. Both him and Geof signed my VIP pass.

We got to chatting with another couple, and it turns out the wife writes a food blog too. They were originally from California, so we had a great time talking about things out here in Boston they should try. Shout out to Bite Me New England!

Possibly the highlight was meeting Mitch. We started talking with him, when I noticed his chef’s jacket that said Hell’s Kitchen. I immediately thought of a cool restaurant we had passed while I was in Minneapolis visiting. It was packed when we passed it, and told Sam and Jason that next time I come out we are definitely going to eat there. Same Hell’s Kitchen and we got to talking. Turns out Mitch is a chef there, and he was also doing book signings at the festival. He told me to tell Sam and Jason to come see him at Hell’s Kitchen, which of course I did.

We continued to eat and drink while we waited for the last meet and greet: Paula Deen. She came in as bubbly and southern as she is on TV, along with her husband. She signed my VIP pass, and I asked Michael if he would too, which he graciously did. Paula was just lovely.

I have to say, we had a good time at the festival, but I really don’t think I would have had nearly as much fun without the VIP pass. With the cancellations from the scheduled guests, the cost of the general admission plus the cost of food, and the lack of organization, the festival could use some work. I had no complaints while I sat and had free food and drinks, met some food celebrities, and talked with awesome people, but I did hear many people complaining on our way out. I guess when you do these things for the first time, you learn.

Overall, a lovely day with Dane and some friends. Cheers!

Summit Brewery, Minneapolis

As an avid fan of the Sam Adams Brewery (which we’ve been to more times than I can count at this point), I was really excited when Sam told me about Summit Brewery, a local brewery in Minneapolis. She booked a tour for us about a month before I went to visit. Luckily we had a Tuesday afternoon free because Friday and Saturday tours were booked into July.

We started the tour learning about the history of the brewery and the ingredients in Summit beer. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and had a great sense of humor. After getting all the info about Summit, we headed back into the brewery where all the magic happens. First up, the tank room.

Here was also my only complaint of the entire tour. For whatever reason the mics weren’t working and because it was a Tuesday the brewery was in operation, so this room was loud and very echoey.The entire 20 minutes spent explaining the brewing process in there was completely lost. We couldn’t hear a thing. I’m sure the whole process is  very interesting though.

Next was the bottling room. They had finished bottling for the day, but we saw the line and the many many cases of Summit ready to head out.

And then we headed to the most important part, the tasting. We each got three chips, entitling us to three samples each.

When I had my Jucy Lucy I tried their flagship beer, Summit Extra Pale Ale, so I skipped that to try some of the other varieties. It was a gorgeous day so we got our samples and walked around the outdoor patio, the gift shop, and the tasting room while we enjoyed.

I loved Summit and had a great time on the tour. If you want more information about the different varieties, check out their website. Summit does a better job of explaining their tastes than I could. All I know, was that I loved every type I tried. Now just have to find somewhere around here that sells it!

Sonic really does exist

As a kid, I remember seeing commercials for Sonic on TV. They were always pretty funny and I remember wanting to go to a Sonic. But on Long Island, there was not one Sonic.

After years of commercials without seeing a single restaurant to show me that they exist, I began to think it was one big prank. The makers of Sonic were just messing with my head, trying to force the public into wanting food from a place that isn’t real. I shared this conclusion with my best friend, Sam.

Then Sam moved to Minnesota. While gchatting one day, she mentioned she was going to Sonic for lunch. Great, I thought, now even my best friend is in on the joke. But no, she insisted, there was a Sonic less than 5 minutes away from her new apartment. Not only was it close, but the tots were amazing. Right Sam, I’ll believe that when I see it.

I took a trip to Minnesota to see Sam and her husband Jason in May. Lo and behold, there was actually a Sonic. A real one, with real food! I had to experience it for myself.

So I obviously documented the entire trip to Sonic and created a video. Now you can all be part of my first mind blowing trip to a Sonic, the restaurant that really does exist.

Chocolate Workshop with Taste of Chocolate, Boston

First of all, I’ve been completely out of touch for the past month. June was the craziest, most hectic, but fun month at work I’ve ever experienced. But I’m back now and happy to have some free time again! Thanks for sticking with me!


Back in February (around that holiday we all know and love), Groupon Boston offered a great deal on a chocolate making workshop hosted by Taste of Chocolate. There was no way I could pass it up, and purchased two (one for me and one for hubby) to give to him as part of his birthday present in March.

There must have been a huge demand for classes after the Groupon went up. We waited about two weeks to book our class, and the next available class wasn’t until the second week in May. It was a bit of a wait, but totally worth it in my opinion.

The day of the workshop we headed to Elephant and Castle, a restaurant near Downtown Crossing in Boston. The class was held downstairs in the restaurant in one of the lovely event/meeting rooms. We were greeted by our instructor, a chocolatier who hasn’t gone a day in 10 years without having at least one piece of chocolate, and were given some hot cocoa.

The hot cocoa was in the style of Europe/South America. Rich, thick, and creamy. Much different than you’d get at Dunkin Donuts today. And SO good. I definitely drank three mugs of it. I couldn’t help myself, it was there and delicious. There was no way I could say no.

Our instructor started out by giving us some history about the cacao plant and scientific properties of chocolate. Some fun facts I learned:

  • Cacao beans can grow only in climates 20 degrees north and south of the equator.
  • Montezuma’s Revenge, which now is used to describe some unfortunate things that happen when you drink the water in Mexico, actually dates back to the time of the Aztecs. Emperor Montezuma was a avid consumer of a delicious thick chocolate drink that was vanilla scented. The explorer Cortez realized the value of the vanilla plant and brought some back with him. However, vanilla is a very hard plant to grow, and without the bees that pollinated the plants and allowed them to grow in Mexico, the vanilla plants couldn’t survive. This become known as Montezuma’s Revenge, a punishment to Cortez for “conquering” the Aztecs.
  • There are different kinds of crystals that form in chocolate that are instrumental in the tempering process.

Our instructor then began a demonstration on how to make Earl Grey infused chocolate truffles. Using a huge contraption created to temper chocolate, he filled molds for the chocolates and started the ganache at the same time.

Next, the fun began. We each got a tray with three different types of ganache to roll truffles: Raspberry, Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur, and traditional chocolate.

We rolled each truffle by hand, which got really messy, then rolled each in a topping (there was almonds, pistachios, cocoa powder, crushed Heath Bar, and espresso). There was also the option to dip the truffles in the tempered chocolate, which I had to take advantage of. Our instructor warned us to be careful with dipping the chocolate. If a truffle got lost in the chocolate it would change the tempered chocolate and he would have to start all over. Seems most people had a pretty difficult time with this, but somehow I managed to dip all of mine without issue.

We had such a blast rolling out each truffle and dipping them in the toppings. We got a little messy in the process, but the chocolate was actually a great moisturizer (obviously, cocoa butter comes from the cacao bean). My skin was super smooth when I washed my hands.

And at the end of the day, we had almost 60 truffles to take home. Our lucky co-workers got to share some of them. We probably could have eaten them all, it just would have taken a while.

I would absolutely recommend this class to anyone who has a passion for chocolate. The Groupon made it affordable for us, but I’m not sure I would have done the class without the deal. It’s a great thing to do with your significant other, and would make a fun girls day out. Check out Taste of Chocolate’s website for more information on upcoming workshops. They also offer Chocolate Tours in different parts of Boston (which is definitely next on our list to experience after how much fun we had).

And let me know if you’re going to try a class. I might just have to come back with you!

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