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The Haven 2nd Anniversary Party

Our love of The Haven in Jamaica Plain is well documented. Since this place opened two years ago we’ve been regulars at the bar and in the dining room. The only Scottish pub in Boston within walking distance from our apartment is bound to get some traffic from us, but over the past two years it’s basically become a second home. We were so happy to celebrate their 2nd anniversary with them and Edible Boston.

When I got the invite I actually had to think about it because of how crazy my work schedule is in June, but there’s just no way I could really say no so we made it work (side note – later found out I was the first one to RSVP, not that it’s that shocking). We were really excited for the event which would feature Brooklyn Brewery beer and some local vendors with all their delicious offerings.

We got there and I was asked if I could take pictures for the event, which I happily agreed to while sampling the snacks and dutifully trying the Brooklyn Brewery offerings.

This is the crew from Canto 6, an amazing bakery in JP. If you’ve never been you should do yourself a favor and try it!

Discovered Quinn Popcorn before this event at the Wake Up the Earth Festival in May. Popcorn is our snack of choice, so I was really excited when I met them at the festival and decided to try the maple and sea salt variety. More about that in my next post…

As though all the treats from these local venues wasn’t enough, The Haven had their own snacks to pass around. Each was more yummy than the last.

I’m a horrible blogger and don’t actually remember exactly which appetizer this was, but does it even matter? You can’t tell me you wouldn’t want to try one of these if it was presented to you.

All our Haven favorites were out. Andy at the bar kept the Brooklyn beer flowing while Jason floated around. So much of why we love it there is about the people. Such an amazing staff.

All the happy Haven people there to celebrate their anniversary. Fans of this place are truly devoted.

We were so happy to be able to come out and cheers to the 2 year anniversary of this fantastic bar and restaurant. I cannot say enough about how wonderful the food, drinks, and staff are at The Haven. Take a trip in and get to know them! Happy anniversary to The Haven and to many more successful years!

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.

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?

And then I fed a lemur an ice cream cone…

OK, this post is only vaguely food related, but I needed to share this. I got to cross off an item from my Bucket List that wasn’t actually even on my Bucket List because really, who would even think of this?

At a conference I met two volunteers with an animal rescue and conservation organization. They actually brought in different animals during the conference, and I just couldn’t stay away. Of course I struck up a conversation with them the first time I visited their booth, then kept coming back.

At one point I went over eating an ice cream cone and they brought out Felix the ring tailed lemur so I could meet him (since I had already met the owl and the lynx). Ed told me to save part of my ice cream cone, because apparently Felix really likes ice cream and sugar cones.

Then this happened.

Seriously. I fed a lemur an ice cream cone. That is definitely something I never thought I would be able to say. And he loved it!

Lemurs and ice cream. Enough said.

Food Things We Love

Dane and I love food. Obviously, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this blog. I’ve realized how much food is part of our life, in so many ways. I thought we’d share some of our favorite food (and food inspired things) of the moment.

Kristen’s Favorites

Food inspired clothes from Dressing On The Side
Definitely ordered a shirt from Dressing On The Side the other day and I am so excited to get it. It’s no longer listed because I was lucky enough to get it on sale, but it says “You Are What You Eat” in a funky and fun food inspired font. And there’s a ton of shirts with cupcake sayings and cute drawings. You have to love the artwork and handmade quality of all the items.

Summer Street Fairs
We’ve walked around Boston the past three weekends in a row, and found two feasts in the North End the past two weekends celebrating different saints. You are guaranteed some awesome food from the food trucks and stands. It really just becomes a matter of figuring out what you want to eat with all the options. I love grabbing a lemonade (fresh squeezed, of course) from a stand, enjoying something unhealthy (usually deep fried), and enjoying the atmosphere.

Side note: There are a few more upcoming festivals in the North End this summer. If you’re interested, check out the dates here.

Brookline Fine Wine & Gourmet
Dane and I wandered into this place about a week ago and were in love. On a Saturday afternoon we were the only ones in the shop, and struck up a conversation with the owner, who was working at the time. First of all, there’s an entire wall of craft beer, along with a refrigerated case. The shop stocks local favorites and nationally known craft beer. There’s an awesome selection of wine, and the owner was fantastic about helping us find some bottles that we’d like based on our tastes. She spent about a half hour with us talking about what we like and don’t like, asking her questions about what they stock, and just learning more about what it takes to run a shop like that. We ended up walking out with three bottles of wine (only one we’ve tasted so far, a Cabernet Sauvignon, and it was perfect).

Side note: Brookline Fine Wine and Gourmet does wine tastings every Wednesday, and beer tastings every Thursday and is located at 27 Harvard Street in Brookline.

Dane’s Favorites

Movie Theater Popcorn
Movie theater popcorn has four perfect elements to me: it’s buttery, it’s salty, it’s perfectly popped, and it comes in a bucket. We go to the movies all the time, and have to get popcorn, no matter what.

UFood Grill
I go to UFood about once a week for a turkey burger (with lettuce, tomato, and pickles), Unfries (baked, not fried), and Uberry frozen yogurt (chocolate-vanilla swirl). It’s healthier than your normal fast food and I have the frequent buyer card which gets you a free meal after you purchase 7. At work, we call it “KnowFat LowFat”, as it used to be called before changing to UFood. Plus, you might see the UBerry man out in costume if you’re lucky.

Yuengling
Or lager, as we call it in PA. When you go out to a bar in PA and order a lager, you’re guaranteed to get a Yuengling. It was a favorite in college at Penn State and my friends always bring me a case when they come up to Boston for a visit, since it’s not sold here. Yuengling is America’s oldest brewery and their beer is delicious.

What are your favorite food items and food inspired things?

Elephant & Castle, Boston

I love a good pub. After our chocolate truffle class, we headed just upstairs for lunch at Elephant & Castle. Awesome decision.

Elephant & Castle is right near Downtown Crossing, making it an easy spot to get to. The spot is actually part of a chain, which was surprising to me. It’s not what I typically think of from a chain restaurant. The atmosphere was exactly what we love, relaxed and friendly. We started with some beer, because you obviously have to get a beer in a pub.

This was a place where we felt like we could just hang out for a while, so we took our time with late lunch/early dinner. The waitstaff was really friendly and knowledgeable about the menu and different beers on tap. We were also there at an off time, so the waiter had a few extra minutes to spend chatting.

We eventually decided on our food order. The menu has a great selection, including all the classic pub foods you’d expect like fish & chips, Guinness stew, and Shepard’s pie. We went with¬† some choices inspired by our honeymoon in Ireland.

We were stuffed by the time we finished. Everything was great and had elements that were straight from English/Irish cuisine.

I would love to go back and hang out at the bar during a busier time just to enjoy the different beers on tap and the atmosphere. From what I hear Elephant & Castle is also big with the after work crowd down in the Financial district.

Chocolate and beer in the same day. I’d call that a successful day!

Elephant & Castle on Urbanspoon

Our how2heroes Video!

Check it out! We’re so happy and proud to see this finished product. Feel free to send interview and autograph requests :)

To the fabulous people of how2heroes, we’re available anytime for you again! Thanks for the fun day!

Marathon Monday – Restaurants on the Boston Marathon Route

Happy Patriot’s Day to my fellow Massachusetts dwellers! Today, as all Bostonians know well, is Marathon Monday. The 114th running of the Boston Marathon will take place beginning this morning. Today is also my third consecutive year volunteering at the Marathon loading buses at the Boston Common. Set up begins at 5:00am and I’ll be there with Dane and my PIC (partner in crime) Nino to help get the thousands of runners on buses headed to the starting line in Hopkinton.

The first year I managed to keep myself awake and went out for breakfast once our volunteer shift was over. Last year, I was exhausted and could not manage to keep it together and stay in the city. This year, I promise myself that I will stay on Boylston Street and watch the runners cross that finish line.

That got me to thinking, where is the best place to go after we’ve bid farewell to the runners and sent them on their way? Then that just made me wonder what other restaurants are along the marathon route. So I started researching, and chose some of my favorites.

And here they are, in no particular order.

Lir
903 Boylston Street, Boston

This is where we will most likely be spending our time after our volunteer shift. Lir is an Irish Pub right on Boylston Street, where the marathon finish line is. You can watch the runners go by inside from the front windows, which open during the nicer weather to create an outdoor patio feel. A local radio station, WAAF, will also be broadcasting there beginning at 10am. I happen to really love this place. It has a great relaxed feel. Never had a brunch there, but I’m looking forward to it!

Eastern Standard
528 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston

This place is currently on our Restaurant Wish List. We’ve never been here, but I have heard nothing but rave reviews from friends who have visited. I would really love to try their Mac and Cheese with Pork Belly Confit. I think we all know how I feel about mac and cheese, and it one of the item menus that people tell me to try time and time again. Eastern Standard also has an outdoor patio, which I would imagine would be open if weather permits, making it a great spot to see the race.

Cactus Club
939 Boylston Street, Boston

This would make an awesome spot to see the Marathon. Cactus Club is located on Boylston Street, at the corner of Boylston and Hereford Street. The Boston Marathon route has the runners come down Hereford, then turn left on to Boylston where the finish line awaits them. There’s an amazing energy when the runners turn that corner and head for the end of the marathon. Not to mention, Cactus Club has awesome margaritas and sangria. What better way to cheer the runners than with a delicious cocktail in hand? Cactus also has an outdoor patio, which is lovely if the weather holds out.

O’Leary’s
1010 Beacon Street, Brookline

Our favorite Irish pub in all of Boston. This pub is laid back with great food and a comfortable atmosphere. Every meal I’ve had here has been delicious, not to mention every drink. They have several Irish beers on draught, along with Magner’s cider. O’Leary’s is smaller than the two previous bars I mentioned, so you won’t have quite as many people on Marathon Monday, though you can still count on it being crowded because of the prime location along the marathon route. No outdoor seating here, but you’ll definitely see the runners if you step outside onto the sidewalk on Beacon Street.

There are countless places to see and enjoy the Boston Marathon today, even if it’s from the comfort of your own couch. At least know you’ll be sleeping later than we will, and wish us luck with our 5:00am shift at the Boston Common!

how2heroes Chicken Pot Pie Shoot

About a month ago I reviewed a wine tasting and dessert pairing that Dane and I went to at Central Bottle in Cambridge. The event was co-hosted by how2heroes, one of my favorite cooking sites. After posting it, I got some really lovely comments from some of the fabulous people over at how2heroes. After talking with Lynne, the founder, she asked if Dane and I would be interested in being featured as home cooks.

Seriously? YES!

I had to read the email twice to make sure I was reading it correctly. I never would have thought we’d get to do something like this, but we were so excited!

We scheduled the shoot for right after we returned from Disney. The morning of the shoot we got to meet some of the people behind all the fun food on how2heroes. They set up in our kitchen with two video cameras, a still camera, mics, lighting, the whole works. It was so cool to see it all happening in our own little apartment!

Since they would be taking pictures of us, I decided to snap some photos of them.

We got set up with all our food. Most of it we prepped the night before and morning of the shoot. Then we got our mics and a rundown of how this whole video shoot thing would go.

We divided up the chicken pot pie prep, so that I demonstrate the pie crust and Dane makes the filling. It was so fun seeing each other being home cooking superstars.

When it was all finished, our pot pie got its very own photo shoot. It really did have a leading role and celebrity status that day.

We are so excited to see the finished product! The video should be up on how2heroes.com soon. There will be an update when it does!

And how2heroes, if you ever need us to cook for you again we’d be more than happy to! The crew was so professional and fun. I sent them home with almost half a chicken pot pie. Pretty great perk if you ask me.

Stay tuned!

El Oriental de Cuba, Jamaica Plain

I have nothing but wonderful, happy feelings for Oriental de Cuba. Dane and I have been going here for about 2 years now. Every visit is delicious. Always.

El Oriental de Cuba is located on Centre Street in Jamaica Plain. The restaurant has been a neighborhood fixture since 1994. In 2005, the site faced a major setback when it was destroyed by a fire deemed to be an arson. El Oriental rebuilt and came back strong in the community in 2006, and has been thriving ever since. Once you’ve tried their food, it’s easy to see why.

My absolute favorite menu item is the Cubano sandwich. Besides the tostones, they’re also my favorite. OK, they’re both my favorite. Whatever.

Dane always gets something different. He’s tried everything from the pork chops, to ropa vieja, to arroz con pollo. Today he opted for the Churrizo sandwich. If you’ve never had it, churrizo is a latin sausage. And it’s delicious. This was another winner for El Oriental de Cuba.

Oh man, now I’m really hungry. We are big fans of El Oriental de Cuba, and feel pretty strongly that everyone should try it. We’d be happy to take you there. So just let us know. Any excuse to eat there, we’ll happily take.

Just go there. Now. Stop waiting. Thanks.

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