new tastes

Vermont Winter Trip Highlights

Right before the holidays Dane and I took our annual trip up to Vermont to visit with our friends Sam and Jason (who we met in Boston, are both actually from Vermont, but live in Minnesota – we don’t get to see them nearly enough). As usual we had an amazing time with them and their welcoming families.

We started off with a trip to get a Christmas tree for Sam’s family. It was brutally cold and finding the right tree took a little more time than we thought. Luckily after the perfect one was found we got to warm up with some hot cocoa.

Absolutely beautiful views everywhere. Might have been cold, but it was lovely to see.

There’s a small building on the property at the Christmas tree farm (I guess that’s the best thing to call it?) where the owner always has free hot cocoa, snacks and candy canes. We went right inside the second the perfect tree was found and cut down, thankful for the warmth from the fire and the warm drinks.

Also I wondered what a Christmas tree felt like when it goes through this netting machine thing. So I wanted to try. Dane stopped me while Sam took pictures – that’s why she’s my best friend.

Of course the food highlight of any trip to VT is maple syrup. Sam’s parents started making their own syrup last year and we went up in March to see how sugaring works. This is the sign at the end of their driveway for Ledgeview Maple.

With all of this homemade, ready for consumption, delicious maple syrup we decided there was one thing we had to try.

Syrup on spaghetti.

Like in the movie Elf. Except we opted for plain spaghetti. No Poptarts and spaghetti sauce.

And the verdict? Pretty good actually! Not something I’d eat more than a bite of, but a food experience that we just had to have.

I also met a polar bear.

Dane decided he really wanted to try elk so Sam and Jason took us to the Cow Palace – the premiere elk burger spot around. That’s where the polar bear lives, along with a variety of other taxidermy animals. Dane enjoyed the burger but I opted out of trying the elk.

Another great trip to Vermont to see our great friends and their great families. And as always, some interesting new food experiences! Thanks for letting us visit!

 

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!

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.

Central Bottle & how2heroes Wine Pairing

A few weeks ago Dane and I headed over to Central Bottle in Cambridge for an evening hosted by how2heroes featuring 4 different wines and 4 different desserts. We’d never been to Central Bottle before, but I’ve been a fan of how2heroes for awhile. I saw the invite on Facebook and signed myself right up. Only $10 for all that? Done and done.

First of all, Central Bottle and Provisions is a really cool shop. You can find a vast array of wines along with different cheeses and other items to pair with your libations. Every Thursday they host a Wine Bar, pouring a different wine, and you can also find Wine Tasting Classes and other collaborations like the one with how2heroes from time to time.

We headed over and got settled with our first pairing: Chocolate covered strawberries and a sparkling wine, Poema Cava Brut (Spain). I love that the strawberries were covered in red chocolate, made it that much more luscious.

Next up, palmiers with El Maestro Sierra Pedro Ximenez sherry. The sherry was sweet and much heavier, almost syrupy. Great pairing with the light and nutty palmiers. I wanted to eat about 73 of the palmiers. They were so good.

Third, mini cheesecakes topped with a maraschino cherry paired with a Cossart Gordan Rainwater Madeira. Again, this selection was heavier on the palate and sweet, but great with the light delicious cheesecakes.

And last (sadly there were but four amazing pairings, which I do realize is actually great but I could have gone on tasting forever), mini chocolate and raspberry cupcakes with Quinta Do Noval Fine Ruby Porto. These cupcakes were absolutely amazing. Raspberry is my all time favorite fruit flavor for a dessert. Pair that with chocolate and there’s nothing better. To be totally honest, I remember nothing about the wine, because the cupcakes were just that good.

I think I’ll have to do some of my own pairings for our next gathering. I can already think of a few things I’d like to try. OK, and then there were these other fantastic little mushroom pate appetizers. The founder of how2heroes urged us to try them, and it was so good. Another great idea for our next dinner party.

We’ll be looking for upcoming events at Central Bottle to attend. Everything was fantastic, thanks to both how2heroes and Central Bottle.

Harpoon Brewery, Boston

As fiercely as we love Sam Adams, we decided to open our hearts and taste buds to a new brewery. Several friends told us we had to try the Harpoon Brewery for a new experience, and we finally decided to visit. The Brewery is located on the water front in Boston. It’s a large fully functioning brewery, which was really cool to see.

The tour started with an explanation of how the brewing process begins and the ingredients necessary to make beer.While the guide was talking we got our Harpoon tasting glasses and were told to hold on to them for some free samples at the end of the tour. The group was then invited to look around and see the large vessels that start changing those four ingredients into beer.

We headed down to the conditioning vats, where the ingredients start to come together. There, we sampled what is called “green beer”, meaning it hasn’t finished the process yet. It has no carbonation at this stage and was not fully conditioned or filtered, so the flavors were not fully developed. Interesting to taste the beer at this point, but not delicious by any means.

After the tasting, we headed back to see where the beer is bottled, and how it’s packed. We learned that this facility is significantly smaller than the main facility in Vermont, and has much older machinery. The guide mentioned that 8 hours of bottling usually turns into at least 12 hours because of how often the old machines will shut down or break. After that, they brought us to the warehouse. Filled from top to bottom with Harpoon beer and cider.

At the end of the tour, we were brought back up to the gift shop/tasting room to try the different varieties of Harpoon. Everything was on tap, and each tour group had 30 minutes to try the different types of beer (aka, 30 minutes to drink as much as possible in the tiny glasses they gave you). Everyone gets a sample of the Harpoon IPA, their signature beer, but from there it’s up to you.

I tried the Chocolate Stout, UFO White Ale, Celtic Ale, and then an interesting mixture. As I went up for my last sample, the woman next to me suggested I try a mixture of the Harpoon Cider and Winter Warmer. I was a little skeptical, but she assured me it tasted just like apple pie, so I gave it a shot. She was right and it was delicious. Never would have thought to mix two types of beer.

We had so much fun there with our friends. It was $5 per person to get in. Parking wasn’t a problem, and it’s easy to get to if you’re driving. Not sure how it would be to get there via public transportation, though there did seem to be a Silver Line stop nearby. It was a great and different experience, and I have a feeling we’ll go back!

The time I ate moose

I have this thing on my list of things I want to do in my life that I don’t think many people share. I want to see a moose. A real live moose in the wild, not in a zoo. I’ve been to Vermont twice, both times hoping I would see a moose. It didn’t happen.

Now, my need to see a moose ended up getting me closer to a moose that I would have imagined, but not really in a way that I wanted. Last time we went to Vermont to visit our friends Sam and Jason, I shared my moose story with Sam’s parents. Somehow at the end of the story, Sam’s dad decided since I didn’t see a moose I may as well eat a moose. They just so happened to have moose in their freezer and sent us home with some.

Not that I especially wanted to eat moose, but since we had some I figured I’d at least try it. Wrong. Dane made it one night and ate it all before I got home. Bummer.

But as luck would have it, Sam and Jason stayed at our place before going home to Minnesota and brought us more moose. Awesome. So we made it this weekend and after much deliberation I decided to try it.

We had steak that night too, since I wasn’t too crazy about the moose idea. Dane grilled it up and seasoned it. Have to admit, it smelled pretty good.

Then came the moment of truth. The bite of moose.

And with that bite, I have officially eaten moose. It tasted basically like steak, but had a gamey after taste. I don’t have any intention of becoming a regular moose eater, but I’m glad I tried it.

Sorry to the mooses (is that the plural of moose? pretty sure it’s not) out there. But you were pretty yummy.

Kristen

We Are Not Martha 2 Year Blogiversary

This past weekend I got to spend Saturday night with my friend Heather, some fabulous bloggers, and the lovely Susie and Chelsee from We Are Not Martha. WANM celebrated it’s two year anniversary, and these two know how to throw an awesome party.

The site: The Rattlesnake on Boylston Street in Boston
The chef: Brian Poe (@Poes_Kitchen)
The food: Amazing
The cocktails: Scrumptious, and slightly deadly.

I used this opportunity to try some new things that I’d never had before. Everything just looked exceptionally good, making it hard to say no to anything. Heather picked up the first plate for us to share.

I had no problem figuring out the cornbread. It was sweet with a great texture and had green chile, Guadalajara butter and queso fresco. Normally not a huge fan of cornbread, but this was good. The bruschetta looking things are Fig PBJ’s with fig chutney, pine nut butter, and Maytag blue cheese on toasted bread. And last, the mystery item on spoons. This looked like crab to us, and though I’m not a huge fan of shellfish, I’m still in my adventurous phase. I tried it.

Turns out I still don’t really love shellfish. Also turns out that it wasn’t crab, but it was lobster. I did love everything else on the spoon though, which I later found out was grilled avocado and creme fraiche. Grilled avocado needs to be a more regular part of my diet.

Then, things got crazy. Someone said “There’s prociutto wrapped….” and pointed to the bar. I didn’t really listen to the rest. I was all set with prosciutto wrapped anything and got myself some. Turns out? Prosciutto wrapped tuna (that was RARE) and some kind of cheese. Slightly hesitant because I’d never had tuna this way. But (again with this daring side of me) I jumped in. And I am so glad I did. It was heavenly. Tuna was perfect and everything really complimented each other. I wanted 18 more pieces of that immediately, but I behaved.

I didn’t actually get to try the cake, but it looked perfect!

Now, the cocktails were an entirely different story. Let me just say, the Snake Punch there is killer. In more ways than one. Give it a try yourself. Bet you can’t have just one.

And as if all of this wasn’t enough, Sues and Chels put together swag bags for all the guests with some awesome freebies! I already used some of the items in there.

I’ve been to the Rattlesnake before and will absolutely go again. Thanks to the ladies of We Are Not Martha for inviting me to this awesome party! Here’s to many more years of success for you two!

Cheers!

Kristen

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