breakfast

MA GPO and Beeriety Sam Adams Brewery Tour and Brunch!

It’s so fun being part of Girls’ Pint Out! At the end of January we had an event with Beeriety at the Sam Adams Brewery and it was a blast. The event was called “Beer for Breakfast”. With a tagline like that, how could you go wrong?

I get to be the Official GPO Photog at all the events I attend, which is just fun for me. I’ve been to the brewery more times than I can even count at this point, but our GPO/Beeriety tour was V.I.P. status and they threw in some really awesome things for us.

We started out in the Ingredient Room for an overview of the ingredients used in all beer: barley, hops, water, and yeast.

After that, we got a special stop in the Barrel Room (where I’m still the Mayor, thank you very much), which is not included on any normal tours. It was interesting to hear a little more about why they now have the Barrel Room and learn about the different brews currently aging in barrels there.

Then we headed to the Brew House, to learn more about the process of beer brewing. And because I’m a crazy shutterbug, I got the tour guide to take this picture of our group. Of course, I would be the only one in the entire picture without their eyes open.

Then into everyone’s favorite stop, the Tasting Room. Again we got some special treatment here, with a tasting of 4 different styles of Sam Adams (normally 3 are offered). Our awesome tour guide was Kate, who made sure we were taken care of.

We got to leave with some fun swag too,  a free Sam Adams Perfect Pint glass and keychain, before hopping on the trolley to the famous Doyle’s. The trolley ride was definitely unique. Our driver was great and kept fun music pumping, but also liked to have some fun with the brake which kept us all holding on to whatever we could to keep our balance.

We got to Doyle’s and enjoyed brunch, coffee, and more beer. At the suggestion of our waitress, I had Sam Adams Chocolate Bock mixed with Sam Adams Cherry Wheat. Never would have thought to do this on my own, but it was so delicious. As was my french toast.

Thanks to the organizers of the event, Becca from Girls’ Pint out and Sarah of Beeriety! Lovely ladies doing lovely things to make good beer more accessible to the masses.

Speaking of which, did I mention the next event is coming up this week? GPO and Beeriety are co-hosting the Winter Warm-Up at The Haven in Jamaica Plain on Thursday, February 10. Flights of Scottish beer, good people, and a restaurant with antlers as part of their decor. You should come. It’ll be a good time.

Cheers until next time!

Traditions: Pie in the Morning on Thanksgiving

This year we spent Thanksgiving in PA with Dane’s family. It was great to see everyone, and Dane & I were in charge of the Thanksgiving meal with his relatives and family friends.

Before we got started on dinner, we attending a Thanksgiving tradition at the home of Dane’s friends from college. Every year the family hosts a get-together on Thanksgiving morning. It’s the perfect chance to see everyone and catch up before things really get busy with family dinners. The centerpiece of this gathering is pie. Any kind will do.

We gather, we chat, we eat pie. It’s been an on-going tradition with the family for years. It was great to go and see friends who we probably wouldn’t have spent time with otherwise, because of how busy the holiday can be with family. I contributed some pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. Not pie, but everyone seemed totally OK with it.

Although we only planned to stay about an hour, we all know how timing goes when you start talking with friends you haven’t seen in awhile. We just enjoy their company too much to leave.

As if it could get any better with friends, family, and pie, it started to snow that morning. It was a light dusting, but just enough to really make it feel like the holidays had begun.

I just love this tradition. Family is incredibly important to both Dane and I, but our friends are just like extended family. We were so happy to spend some time together at the start of this holiday season!

What are some of your Thanksgiving traditions?

Zaftigs, Brookline

While Sam was visiting I took Monday morning off. It was the perfect time to sleep in, then go to brunch before heading into work. When we were deciding where to go for brunch I mentioned Zaftigs. Sam said she had never been, and our decision was made.

Zaftigs in Brookline is always busy. Even on a Monday morning there was a fair share of people eating brunch. This was nothing compared to the wait on a Saturday or Sunday. But the food makes the time worth it. We sat right down and started perusing the menu.

Two best friends having brunch definitely called for mimosas. We started with the bagel chips they brought out (with a really yummy dipping sauce) and our brunch cocktails.

For our brunch, Sam ordered the french toast with strawberries. I ordered the Vermont Cheddar and apple omelet. I was intrigued by the combination of cheese and apples.

Everything was so delicious! The omelet with the combination of Cheddar and apples was fantastic. It was a great combination of salty and sweet. Also, the hash browns were AWESOME. Crispy, salty, and perfectly done. Sam was equally happy with her french toast, even though she couldn’t finish it all. The slices were huge! All those bagel chips probably didn’t help either.

And don’t forget the mimosas. Go get one.

As usual, Zaftigs was awesome. The staff is always friendly and efficient, even when there’s a long line of people waiting to get in. Brunch is great, but dinner and lunch are equally yummy. Try to go at an off time. Saturday and Sunday mornings are incredibly busy, so you’ll need some patience while you wait. It’s also easier to find parking during off times.

See you again soon, Zaftigs!

Zaftigs Delicatessen on Urbanspoon

The Search for Donuts in Boston

I’m not sure what sparked us to begin our quest to find the best donut in Boston, but one Saturday morning Dane and I decided that we needed to find some places that served up some delicious donuts. Maybe it was memories of my favorite bakery in NY, or a special on the Travel Channel. Whatever put the thought in our heads, there was no stopping us until we had found and tried some donuts from true specialty donut shops in Boston.

Our one biggest rule was that it could not be a chain, meaning that Dunkin’ Donuts was not eligible for our donut taste testing. Since DD’s was founded in Massachusetts, the chain is abundant in Boston. I love some great iced coffee from Dunks, but just couldn’t bring myself to put it into the same category as small shops that bake their own pastries fresh each day on site.

I started my search for some specialty shops that specialize in donuts and found a few places around the city. Finding places was the biggest challenge in this because I really wanted to try places that are known for donuts. Just being a bakery and having donuts was not enough to qualify to be on this list. The shop had to really specialize in donuts. After some time on the internet, we found three places to try and here they are.

Mike’s Donuts
2 Locations: Roxbury and the Forest Hills Orange Line T Stop
Our first stop on the donut tour 2010 was Mike’s Donuts. This place kept popping up in every search I did for donuts in Boston. I can see why after visiting. Dane and I stopped in around 12:30pm to some delicious smelling baked goods. Sadly, by the time we came by much of the selection was long gone. The donuts are baked each day here, and whatever they make is what they sell. Once something runs out, you are out of luck.

We tried a glazed donut and a vanilla frosted with sprinkles here.

There was actually a big different between the two. The vanilla frosted was much more crumbly and had a cake like texture. The glazed was much lighter and flaky, but was not covered 100% covered in the sweet glaze. We both liked the glazed donut here better than the vanilla frosted.

If you go, head out there early to get the best and freshest selection. Mike’s Donuts is easily accessible on the Orange line either by walking about 2 minutes to the shop from the Roxbury Crossing stop, or going right to the location in the Forest Hills stop. The staff is very friendly and efficient, making conversation with the customers and creating a generally upbeat atmosphere. There are also a few tables if you prefer to sit and eat there.

Mike's Donuts on Urbanspoon

Doughboy Donuts
South Boston
Second up was Doughboy Donuts. Reviews I read seemed to have some really hardcore fans and it sounded exactly like what we were looking for. We trekked out to South Boston and navigated the streets to find it. For us, this was a bit more difficult since we were not familiar with South Boston.

From the outside, you wouldn’t necessarily assume that this place has great donuts. Heading inside will make you sure that this is a local donut shop where people meet and chat about the day. They had a great selection, much more than at Mike’s, even later in the day. Here we picked up a glazed jelly donut and a glazed donut.

Both of these options were super yummy. The glazed was light and perfectly sweet. The jelly donut was filled with raspberry jelly (my personal favorite) with a similar glaze. If I lived any reasonable distance to this place, I’d probably be there every weekend.

The shop itself seems like it’s probably been around forever. The staff was not as lively as at Mike’s, but got the job done. Here the people that stood out were those that were clearly locals, who stopped to chat with us when noticing that Dane was wearing his Penn State t-shirt. This place was not the easiest to find or access if you don’t have a car and know the area well, however. Again, there are some tables and chairs should you choose to sit and enjoy your snack.

Doughboy Donuts & Deli on Urbanspoon

Verna’s Coffee and Donut Shop
Cambridge
Last, but definitely not least, on our one day donut journey was Verna’s in North Cambridge. After having a hard time finding specialty donut shops only in Boston, I expanded my search to include Cambridge and am so happy I did. Verna’s was our resounding favorite of the day.

When we walked in to the shop it was clear that we were walking into a real bakery with fresh baked everything. The smell was delectable. At this point we were in the late afternoon, so there was no crowd to contend with, but they still managed to have a great selection of donuts. After looking at our options, I decided to go with another jelly donut while Dane chose a glazed lemon filled donut.

The staff consisted of one woman at the counter, who seemed to mean business. I wasn’t sure that she liked the fact we took a minute to decide what we wanted, even though we were the only ones in the shop. However, I quickly realized that feeling was wrong after we ordered. She threw in a free donut for each of us with our order. The perks of visiting a bakery towards the end of the day!

Both donuts were light enough to contend with the rich fillings and glazed perfectly. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. We grabbed a table to enjoy our donuts and both decided Verna’s had been our favorite of the three shops we visited that day.

We had so much fun visiting all these different places, but are always looking for new suggestions. Is there any really great places that we missed and should try? We’re always up for a new challenge!

Robinwood Cafe, JP

Robinwood Cafe is quickly becoming one of our go-to places for a quick and affordable bite to eat. We passed by one day and decided to stop in for brunch. It was one of those mornings where I just needed some bacon and a cup of coffee (aka – I had a great time out with friends the night before), and Robinwood was perfect.

The restaurant opened recently and has a cozy atmosphere with a friendly waitstaff. There are a few booths and tables, and a counter for service.

Dane went with an omelet with vegetables and cheese and some home fries. I decided on a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich on a toasted English muffin. Of course, had to also go with a side of home fries. Oh, and don’t forget my coffee.

Everything was really good. The home fries have a little kick to them. I’m thinking there’s some red pepper on them. Service is fast and efficient and everything on the menu is very reasonably priced.

Last time Dane and I went there (because we’ve now gone 3 or 4 times), we finally realized there’s a laundromat next door. Makes this place even more perfect for us. Throw in a load of laundry, go eat, throw it in the dryer, and by the time you’re done eating and have paid the bill it’s ready to be folded.

Give Robinwood a shot, especially if you are already in the JP area. And let me know, I’ll meet you there!

Robinwood Cafe & Grille on Urbanspoon

Victoria’s Diner, Boston

First off, I apologize for being an awful blogger. I went on vacation to Disney, then had my sisters visiting for the weekend. We had a blast, but it didn’t leave much time for blogging! I’m back now. Promise.

Dane and I are becoming brunch people. Honestly, breakfast/brunch has never been my meal of choice (unless I’m eating it for dinner, which is just awesome). But we’ve found a few places worth loving, including Victoria’s Diner.

When I moved to Boston, one of the things I missed was the diner scene. I can’t count how many times I ended a night with friends at a diner on Long Island. There didn’t seem to be any diners around, and if there were, then I just wasn’t finding them. And then an episode of Phantom Gourmet shed light on a diner in Boston with Nutella French Toast. Dane and I were in the car within about 5 minutes headed to Victoria’s Diner. That was about 2 years ago, and we’ve been together ever since.

Most recently we stopped in to grab a quick brunch before heading out shopping. It was packed (as it usually is on Saturday/Sunday in the mid-morning) so we headed to the counter to grab two open stools. The service was fast and efficient, the food is good, and the bill is always reasonable.

Dane started by getting up close and personal with some muffins before we ordered.

I would highly recommend the french toast with Nutella, but for this visit we opted for some egg sandwiches. Dane ordered the Egg BLT (yes, a BLT with fried eggs) and I went for a simpler Bacon, Egg, and Cheese sandwich. All breakfast sandwiches come with their yummy hash browns.

This was just one of our many visits to Victoria’s Diner and, as usual, we left happy and full. The staff at Victoria’s embodies the no-nonsense kind of diner service you’d expect. You can be in and out quickly, or take your time with your meal.

If you’re in the mood for diner food, Victoria’s is a must try.

<a href=”http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/4/54857/restaurant/Roxbury/Victorias-Diner-Boston”><img alt=”Victoria’s Diner on Urbanspoon” src=”http://www.urbanspoon.com/b/logo/54857/minilogo.gif” style=”border:none;width:104px;height:15px” /></a>

The Friendly Toast, Cambridge

This is a place I kept hearing about, and has one of the cutest names ever. I had to give it a try, and given the name, it seemed like the place go to for brunch. Last weekend, we headed over around 10am on a Sunday.

And it was INSANE. The wait was at least a half hour, and the tiny waiting area was overflowing with people. My immediate reaction was two fold. First, this sucks because I’m really hungry. Second, well they must be doing something right for all these people to wait around just to have brunch here. So we settled in amongst the masses and waited for our name to be called. (FYI, another option would be to eat at the bar, which is first come first serve. We would have done this, except that families kept letting their kids sit in the seats and play on the bar, so there were no open seat and I didn’t want to be the mean lady that made the kids move.)

When we finally got a seat, we were greeted by a friendly waitress who handed over these menus. Love the 50′s themed cartoons and kitschy decor. All over the walls there were vintage decorations and signs. And then there was this guy…

Looking at some of the orders around me, it seemed that the portion sizes were huge. When I decided to go with the french toast, I had to ask about the massive slices of bread I kept seeing. The waitress told me one piece would probably be more than enough, and she was very right. I ordered the Drunkard’s French Toast (or something like that, I can’t remember the exact name and can’t find it on the menu online) with a Grand Marnier and raspberry cream sauce. Dane ordered Omar’s homefries, which was a mix of pototoes, veggies, and cheese.

Everything was delicious and we managed to polish it off. Service was fast and friendly, and for such a packed house it was a great experience. The staff seemed totally prepared for the rush. We definitely go back, but maybe at an off peak time. When I’m hungry I have to eat! I get cranky in large crowds when my stomach is growling. Can you blame me? Oh, and did I mention the toast is as big as your head?

Overall, good job Friendly Toast. We shall meet again, I’m sure.
Kristen

The Friendly Toast on Urbanspoon

Geoffrey’s Cafe, Roslindale

We were invited to brunch at Geoffrey’s Cafe by one of Dane’s co-workers a few weekends ago. She told us they had Disco Brunch every weekend, along with what seemed to be a magical creation called the Donut Muffin. That’s all it took for us to hop in the car and get ourselves to Roslindale.

We met up with everyone just as Geoffrey’s Cafe opened at 10:00 am. First people in, first people seated, and for a while the only people there. The decor is great and gives the place a really comfortable feel. Not to mention that I totally want an awesome wall like this in my own house one day.

We started with the reason we came, the Donut Muffin. They were piled high on platters on the bar, and made the whole restaurant smell amazing. We got two for the table to share because they’re huge and we wanted to have at least some room for our actual brunch. Let me just say, Donut Muffins are heavenly. Just go there and try one. You can thank me later.

Did I mention that our waitress was FANTASTIC? She chatted with us about her suggestions, and when Dane told her I have a food blog she asked me to give her the URL so she can check it out. Then she gave us ideas of other places to try in the area. Since we really aren’t familiar with Roslindale at all, it was great to hear about some new restaurants and stores that we can explore.

The restaurant started filling up with people who seemed to be regulars shortly after we got there. Or maybe it was just that the staff was super friendly, so it just seemed that way. It took a bit to decide after the Donut Muffins and I was fairly boring with my order. Just scrambled eggs, toast, homefries, and bacon. Everyone else tried different things.

Everything was fantastic. Food was delish, service was wonderful, easy location to get to, great atmosphere. Almost the entire brunch menu (except one item) is under $10, which makes it very affordable. Can you tell that I loved this place? We’ll definitely go back. In fact, maybe this Sunday would be good. See you soon Donut Muffins!

Geoffrey's on Urbanspoon

Apple Cinnamon Topping

I got a little creative this weekend when I had leftover apples from the sangria I made. We decided that we wanted waffles in the morning, and although syrup is always a good bet for a topping, the beauty of waffles is that you can put so many different kinds of toppings on them. I couldn’t just go for the syrup. It was too expected.

So, I had 4 small pink lady apples. And I got an idea. We love the way this variety of apple tastes, and pink lady apples have a great texture that would work well in an apple tart or pie. Why not make my own apple cinnamon topping? I’m all about making people happy.

Here’s what I did.

Apple Cinnamon Topping

Ingredients

  • 4 small apples (I used pink lady apples, but choose whatever variety you like best)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup of water
  • 1 teaspoon flour

Peel the apples and core. I don’t have an apple corer, so I cut the apple into quarters and cut out the seeds myself. Cut the apple into small chunks. The smaller you cut it the faster it will cook, but don’t cut it so small that it’s practically apple sauce. I cut mine into about 1/4 inch cubes.

Preheat a nonstick frying pan to low-medium heat. Add the apples once the pan is heated. Add the brown and white sugar and cinnamon. Give it a stir to distribute the sugar and coat the apples. Add the water and stir again. Cover the pan and let the apple mixture simmer until the apples are tender, stirring occasionally. This took about 25 minutes for me.

Once the apples are tender, add the teaspoon of flour. This will thicken the mixture and make it the consistency of a pie filling. If you want it more syrupy, you can let it cool without adding the flour before using.

Now top your waffles and enjoy!

I didn’t actually have a recipe for this topping. Using the basics that I know from watching hours upon hours of the Food Network, I just decided to wing it. I’m glad it turned out well! This would be amazing served warm on top of some vanilla ice cream too. Definitely going to try that soon. You know, for the sake of the blog. Because I’m selfless like that.

What’s your favorite waffle topping?

Time to weigh in: Pancakes vs. Waffles

There have been many great topics brought forth for debate in the world. Topics such as how to handle the war in Iraq, whether the drinking age should be lowered, or the best way to increase sustainability always come forward as topics of great contention. But, the question we pose today has great implications for breakfast food everywhere. Pancakes or waffles?

As Dane and I spent an evening trying to figure out what to have for dinner, we tossed around the idea of having breakfast for dinner. This is always a great idea as far as we’re concerned. But then this topic came up. Which did we want? Would it be pancakes or waffles?

We decided the only fair way to settle this battle of the breakfast greats was with a list of the positive attributes of each contender. You can make your own decision, but this is what we came up with.

Pancakes

  • Pancakes potentially have more varieties (chocolate chip, banana, strawberry, blueberry). These can be done with waffles, but not always as easily.
  • You don’t need special equipment (i.e. a waffle maker) to cook up pancakes, just a pan and a spatula.
  • Pancakes can easily be made into fun shapes (like Mickey Mouse or letters).
  • Depending on the size of the griddle you can make a bunch of pancakes at a time.
  • Pancakes tend to cook faster.
  • You can roll a pancake up with toppings and eat it burrito style.
  • If needed, a pancake could totally be used as a frisbee.

Waffles

  • Waffles have perfect holes for gathering syrup or other toppings.
  • Waffles are known for making a great pair with whipped cream.
  • They have complimentary crispy and fluffy qualities.
  • With the right waffle maker, you can get perfect and consistent waffles every time.
  • If you put ice cream in the middle, two waffles make an awesome ice cream sandwich.
  • You can go crazy and make them savory by pairing them with chicken.

In the end, we ended up going with pancakes, for the only reason that we got a new griddle for our wedding and had yet to use it.

A little flip action. It’s all in the wrist.

What would your pick be?

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