local foods

Quinn Popcorn Review

So back in May I visited the Wake Up the Earth Festival sponsored by Spontaneous Celebrations in Jamaica Plain with our friends Scott and Shane. I love this event each year which features local organizations and artisans along with great entertainment from bands, singers and performance groups. It has been so close and we love taking advantage of it each year.

This year I stumbled upon the best find ever, Quinn Popcorn. Dane and I would definitely choose popcorn above almost any snack. When I started talking to them at the festival they had my full attention and support. I learned that they are a small business serving up microwave popcorn made with all natural ingredients. I was sold and decided to give the Vermont maple and sea salt option a try.

Dane was pretty happy when I brought this home and we had to try it immediately. We always use an air popper when I make our popcorn snacks and I’m a little wary of the microwave variety only because I’ve known too many people who grossly overestimate how much time is needed for their popcorn and then it smells like burned popcorn for hours.

This turned out to be super easy, as long as you aren’t a serial popcorn burner. Popped it for about 2-2 1/2 minutes then added this delicious happiness.

They definitely make the instructions easy enough. Come on, if you can’t master this then I don’t know what to tell you. Even I could do it. I have found with other types of oil that it can feel like it all comes out at once and it’s hard to evenly distribute. If you cut on the line and leave a small opening to drizzle, you can just add a little bit at a time while tossing the popcorn. Add in the seasoning and you’re set.

I don’t know if I’ll ever eat any other kind of microwave popcorn ever again. Quinn Popcorn is so good with a few different flavors to try. We absolutely recommend trying it if you’re a popcorn lover. I love knowing we can support a local small business that is making great decisions on what to include in their product. Not in the Boston area? Don’t worry, you can find places to get Quinn Popcorn here!

Taza Chocolate and Beer Tasting Event

A few weeks ago the wonderful people of Drink Craft Beer partnered with the lovely people of Taza Chocolate to host a “beer and chocolate love story”. The event featured four local breweries paired with different Taza chocolate. The turnout was amazing and the best part? It all raised money for the Greater Boston Food Bank.

We got there and were in a line just waiting to enter the building. It was chilly out, but everyone’s spirits were kept up by the Taza staff bringing around various chocolate treats like chocolate covered hazelnuts, chocolate covered cocoa nibs, and chocolate covered almonds. The 15 minute wait seemed like nothing with some stone ground organic chocolate to enjoy. Jeff from Drink Craft Beer also took some video footage of people waiting in line saying “I’m (fill in name) and I drink craft beer!”. Hope they put a finished video out soon!

At the door we paid our $3 – a bargain for the pairings and for a great cause (each $3 donation provided 7.5 meals to someone in need) – and shuffled in to try the first two beers and chocolates. In the first room was Naragansett Porter with Taza Mexicano Coffee chocolate and Peak Organic Mocha Stout with Taza Mexicano Salted Almond chocolate.

Zac from Naragansett poured the Porter to some (obviously) happy fans.

After that first room we ended up on a second line for the next two pairings that took us through the Taza factory. We got to see the equipment, read up on the process, and see the facility. Taza was founded in 2006 right in Somerville and makes chocolate in the traditional Mexican style. I don’t know how I have lived in Boston for almost 6 years without knowing the factory was so close.

Beer and chocolate share so much, even a fermentation process.

In the next tasting room we tried Sixpoint Crisp with Taza Mexicano Orange chocolate and Slumbrew Happy Sol with Mexicano Ginger chocolate. Again, two great pairings. At the Slumbrew table they were nice enough to also let us try My Better Half, one of their newer releases. Everything was delicious.

After we finished the tasting we wandered the Taza shop trying some other varieties and deciding what to buy. If you check in on Foursquare for the first time you get an offer for $5 off a purchase in the shop. We ended up getting the Salted Almond chocolate and chocolate covered almonds.

The event was great. Awesome job to Drink Craft Beer and Taza! We had a wonderful time and now would love to go back to the factory for a full tour. Great event for a great cause!

Ula’s Cafe, Jamaica Plain

I love my funky neighborhood. Dane and I make an effort to eat close to home and try new places, and a favorite of mine is Ula Cafe in the Brewery complex in JP.

The cafe is a great gathering place for JP locals and visitors, that offers sandwiches, soups, and beverages. Baked treats are made on site and fresh each day. During the summer the outdoor patio is the place to be, and the cafe is dog friendly, providing treats and a water bowl for pups while they hang out on the patio with their owners. Ula’s also strives to support sustainability in their food and daily operations. In short, it’s a funky neighborhood place that welcomes everyone and supports the planet. Pretty great, if you ask me.

I mentioned the fresh baked goods. They are AMAZING. I’m a huge sucker for the raspberry crumb bars (or any of them really – I’ve tried apple, fig, and apricot too) and popovers. I would love to learn how to make popovers, but Ula’s are just so good that I feel like mine wouldn’t live up to them.

If you’re a coffee or tea lover, this is the place to try things. I love the Rooibos tea, served in a small teapot. If you’ve never had Rooibos, give it a try. Smells like vanilla and tastes so soothing.

Not in the mood for sweet treats? Grab one of their sandwiches. You have the option of a whole or half sandwich and some change with the seasons. Each has some unique toppings and amazing flavor blends. I LOVE the Black Forest Ham sandwich with herb cream cheese, apricot chutney, and cucumbers. The mix of the cream cheese and sweet apricots makes for great complimenting flavors.

With my sweet tooth, I usually only have room for a half sandwich, but I think it works out for the best. Ula’s is a gret lunch spot and hangout for coffee and a snack.

Until recently, Ula Cafe had unlimited free Wi-fi for patrons. In the past few months free Wi-fi hours have been limited to exclude the busiest times (lunch time during the week, and mornings/lunch on weekends). Smart move in my opinion for Ula’s. There were times I’d go in and one person would sit with their laptop at tables meant for four people for hours upon hours at a time, while purchasing one cup of coffee. I hope this will help this small business bring in more revenue and allow more people to come and enjoy the food and atmosphere.

If you find yourself in JP, (maybe visiting the Sam Adams Brewery?) check out Ula Cafe! Enjoy!

Ula Cafe on Urbanspoon

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