awesome accidental finds

Hello from Sam Adams!

Just a quick hello from the Sam Adams Brewery in Boston! They have a new high-tech photo booth (minus the actual booth) for you to take a souvenir photo and email it to yourself or a friend. You can get a single picture or a photobooth style. No contest here for me. Photobooth, hands down.

Vee Vee, Jamaica Plain

Somehow after living in JP for almost 4 years, I had never heard of Vee Vee until recently. Thanks goodness Rebecca remedied this. As she swooned and was almost speechless over the sirloin she had had there, we decided it could not wait. We had to go to Vee Vee that night.

It was a Saturday night, and we knew it’d get busy so we made reservations for as soon as it opened. Why wait, right? We opened the place up.

Vee Vee serves modern American food that changes with the season. They have a nice selection of craft beer to go with their appetizers and entrees, as well as wine (but for me the beer selection always comes first). The staff was lovely and knowledgeable and the atmosphere perfectly relaxed, fitting well into the Jamaica Plain community.

We started out with some drinks, and I when I saw Pretty Things was on the menu I had to get it. Pretty Things is currently my favorite local brewery. I have yet to try a beer from Pretty Things that I haven’t fallen in love with. Vee Vee had bottles of Our Finest Regards, and with a name like that I knew I couldn’t go wrong.

Also, this little guy on the label at the top? I love him.

Now on to dinner. Since Becs gave the sirlion such breathtaking reviews, my mind was already made up. We both went for it. Dane mixed it up and went with the pollock.

The sirloin au poivre was served with hollandaise and a fried egg, with a side of blue cheese and bacon mashed potatoes. I had to look up what “au poivre” actually meant after I had it, and it’s a way of cooking a steak by coating it in cracked peppercorns then searing it to create a crust. In other words, just making it awesome. The egg on top of the steak is something I wouldn’t have necessarily imagined that I would have liked, but it was absolutely delicious. Both Becca and I devoured our meals.

Dane’s pollock was panko crusted, which I think is what sold it for him (he loves panko bread crumbs so much that he probably didn’t even read what came with the meal after he saw the word). Along with the pollock there was brussel sprouts, cabbage and a bacon (seriously!) aioli. Needless to say, we didn’t hear a peep out of Dane while he ate, a true sign of a delicious meal.

And although were were very full, we had to have a dessert. Pear gingerbread upside down cake.

Check out Vee Vee’s “Hood of the Week” for discounts depending on where you are coming from to have dinner. Each month another area is featured, and if you are from that town/neighborhood and come in you receive 25% off your bill. An AMAZING deal and great way to bring in new customers from outside of JP.

Bottom line? We loved Vee Vee and will absolutely be visiting again soon. It was a great place to relax with friends on a weekend evening and enjoy some great food and great company.

Vee Vee on Urbanspoon

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!

Bottega di Capri, Brookline

On Saturday afternoon Dane and I decided to venture into Brookline and find a place to eat. We passed a few places until one caught our eye: Bottega de Capri. Sounds Italian, and therefore is probably delicious.

We were right. The restaurant was small, smelled heavenly, and was a place to grab a quick bite. There was one big problem though, and that was picking what to order. Bottega di Capri offers freshly made specials that change each day, along with a set menu of sandwiches, paninis, and pasta.

We decided to each get a sandwich for lunch, but couldn’t resist getting a stuffed bell pepper to share too.

Bresaola, if you are wondering, is a dried and salted lean beef which has a dark reddish color. And it is DELISH.

That stuffed pepper was one of the best things I have ever eaten. It was beyond description good. The pepper was perfectly cooked and it was stuffed with rice, cheese, sauce, sausage, and I’m sure some other things I couldn’t even identify. I became so obsessed with stuffed peppers after eating it that I developed my own recipe for it (which I’ll post soon).

Bottega di Capri was very reasonably priced and the staff was great. We picked the brain of the gentleman helping us before deciding what we wanted, and he was patient and gave some great information. I only wish we could have eaten more!

I cannot wait to go back here again. In fact, I think I’ll go for lunch tomorrow. Ciao!
Bottega di Capri on Urbanspoon

Found! My Dream Cheese Board

I’ve been looking for the perfect cheese board for months. I looked at stores everywhere I went, shopped online, and even wrote a post with my most promising finds. But I found it when I wasn’t even looking. That’s always how it works out, isn’t it?

This past weekend we visited a store in Salem while some friends were visiting. The town was quiet and it was cold. Salem is actually a great little place to go visit, even in the “off-season”, which for them is just about any time except for the month of October. While walking around, we found a little boutique with kitchen items, specialty foods, dishware, wine, and craft beer. I had to stop in, and while I was milling around aimlessly falling in love with every item I saw, Dane took the initiative to find a store employee, locate some cheese boards, then found me and told me to pick out whatever one I wanted. I saw it right away.

The size I wanted, the shape I wanted, the color wood I wanted. AND? Matching cheese accessories (!). We picked up the accessories, and headed to checkout. They wrapped it up in a cute little bag for me and I toted it around town the rest of the day.

We went grocery shopping on our day off on Monday and picked up two different cheeses and some crackers, just to have in the house. You never know when company might be coming over, you have to be prepared with the right cheeses. Am I the only one who does this? Probably.

But, the best part of all this came yesterday evening. I was at a national conference all day and had a presentation at 8:50 in the morning. It was a great conference, but I was exhausted when I got home. What did I walk into?

Yup. That’s a cheese plate made by Dane that was ready for me and waiting when I got home. Cheddar, Brie, crackers, and prosciutto. All the makings of a very happy Kristen.

(Yes, I do realize that no one should be this obsessed with a cheese board. We all have our weird things, just bear with me on this. If you ever come over, you’ll be happy we have it!)

Welcome to your new home, perfect cheese board!


Awesome Accidental Finds: Fornax Bread Company and Tony's Market

While in Roslindale, before going to Geoffrey’s Cafe, we walked around the stores to do some window shopping. The window shopping idea didn’t last long, because we found these two places.

Dane has a weakness for bread. Any kind of bread, if it’s freshly baked. He used to work at a bread bakery in PA and seems to have an uncanny ability to find fresh bread almost anywhere we go. We saw this place just around the corner from Geoffrey’s Cafe, and Dane had to go in.

The smell of fresh bread will get you every time. We went in to look and walked out with two fresh loaves of bread, the Sfilatino and the Garlic Twist. We always seem to find something we can use bread for, even if we have to make things up.

Not to mention the tons of different pastries, cookies, and other baked goods. Now that I think about it, I’m kind of shocked we only ended up with two loaves of bread. Everything looked absolutely amazing and I’d certainly go back to give everything else a try.

On our way back to Geoffrey’s, we saw this store right next door. We actually joked, because in the window was a sign that said something about giving meat to your Valentine. Not what you’d typically think of for a Valentine’s Day gift. We decided to check it out and see if there was something we could pick up to make for dinner that night. And there was.

Tony’s is a traditional Italian market with a great selection of fresh meat and domestic and imported Italian ingredients. I made a bee line for the pastas when I saw my favorite kind.

I love papardelle, but you don’t see it often in stores. I was so excited to bring some home and got to thinking about what to make with it. The perfect idea came to mind: tomato sauce with sausage. Coincidentally, Tony’s also had fresh sausage which is made on site. We picked up a few other things for the sauce before heading out.

I love stumbling upon places like both of these. If you’re in the area, go visit the Fornax Bread Company and Tony’s Market!

What are your favorite specialty stores to shop for ingredients?

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