Brunching at Back Deck

As I walked into the Back Deck Restaurant on West Street in Boston on Sunday, I couldn’t believe that it had been over a year since I last attended a Boston Brunchers‘ event. It was also the first brunch where I got to use my new fancy camera!


Since the Patriots were playing in the AFC Championship game later that day, I knew I had to work at 3pm, so when Renee sent a contest around to win a seat at this brunch from 12pm-2pm, I knew I couldn’t pass up the chance to enter. When I was selected, I was beyond excited.

When I sat down, I was greeted by a few familiar faces, like Erika, Meghan, Liz and Jess.  I wasted no time choosing a signature drink from their menu: an Orange Cooler, complete with OJ, orange vodka, Cointreau and lime juice. I loved it. If it was acceptable to have one of those every morning, I would. The alcohol was subtle, but present and the juice was fresh. Perfect start to brunch.


Each bruncher got to choose an item off of the menu to try and we decided to start with some appetizers to share at the table: grilled zucchini with a garlic mayo, eggplant spread on pita, squash soup, chicken livers, hot wings with dipping sauce, and a honey-drizzled grilled grapefruit.  I wasn’t particularly fond of the chicken livers, and the grapefruit was difficult to eat, but everything else was delicious.


As I perused the menu trying to decide what to order, I felt the brunch menu leaned more towards lunch than breakfast. Maybe I’m just strange, but even during “brunch”, I almost always choose a breakfast item. So that’s what I did, settling on Eggs Diablo. I must’ve been feeling a little adventurous since a) I almost never order egg-y breakfast items and b) this dish came complete with a habenero sauce (which I asked for on the side just in case…)


I would say that the dish was good, but not mind-blowing. The eggs were perfectly cooked: fluffy, light and just runny enough, but I didn’t taste much spice on the “spicy” pork. The black beans and tortillas tasted as they should. I think I would’ve preferred toast to the tortillas under the beans. I didn’t really eat much of it. The crispy tortilla strips on top, however, were a textural element that I enjoyed. When I took taste of the habenero sauce, I was instantly thankful that I asked for it on the side. While tasty, even the smallest amount warmed my mouth and throat and any more would’ve overpowered the whole dish. When I was able to get everything on my fork all at once, I must say it was quite delicious. Separately, however, the elements on the plate were good, but not great.

The other menu item I was eyeing was the Challah French Toast, which the bruncher sitting next to me happened to order. The moment I took a bite, I knew it would’ve been more my style. It was crisp on the outside, creamy on the inside, and had a bourbon and caramelized banana sauce… Heaven. And, it was huge!


But we weren’t done yet. Our server came over with a dessert menu and, like our appetizers, we got a few to share. The “Drunken 3 Musketeer” ice cream was by far my favorite.


Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this brunch and would recommend Back Deck for any Sunday. Heads up – they have a kiddie menu too so don’t be afraid to bring the kiddos along!  If you’re looking for a reasonably priced good time, try it out!

*The Back Deck provided brunch free of charge to the Boston Brunchers and I was asked to write a review of the meal and experience I had. ALL opinions stated here are my own.

A Life Update

Okay, it’s been approximately 3 or so weeks since I panicked about school and I haven’t written since.  I hope you are still out there listening to me ramble in my now dust-covered corner of the Internet.

So it’s time to tidy up a bit.

In the past three weeks, I’ve calmed down and gotten through my first few projects for my grad classes.  I survived.  And did pretty well.  Maybe I overreacted a bit at the beginning.  Maybe.

A lot has been going on here at Chocolate & Wine.  Here are some highlights:

2 weekends ago, I attended 2 weddings: my cousin George married his beautiful fiancé (of 4 years!) Julie, and my friend Raechel married the love of her life, Steve.  Both weddings were gorgeous and I cried a lot. Of course I did.  I realized how much I can’t wait to plan a wedding of my own!

George & Julie's Wedding with the family

And wedding #2..

Raechel and Steve

This past weekend, I spent Friday in the North End with Stephen and we FINALLY got to go out for his birthday surprise.  I took him to Riccardo’s Ristorante where they put on a “Mystery Cafe” show every Friday night and serve a three-course meal.  The show was hilarious, if not a bit cheesy, and the food was as genuinely Italian as you’d expect from the North End.  Highly recommended for good food and a good time.

We capped our night with beers at a bar called The Point and goodies from my favorite North End bakery.

Heart You.

Saturday was party marathon day.  Together, my two best friends and I tackled a “I’m Pretty Good at Drinking Beer” party (where we consumed no beer or any beverage other than iced coffee), taco night hosted by Alyse (which were de-lish!), a Halloween party and finally, my sister’s 21st birthday celebration at Tequila Rain in Boston.

Swy, Jeff, Alyse... That's nice.

Did you know Halloween is one of my favorite holidays? 

So freaky, so cool, so legit. Cat costumes are the way to go.

And it wouldn’t be a 21st birthday without a 16-ounce beer in each hand.

Happy 21st! Here's 2 Coors Lights.

Sunday brought another 3 events: the Boston Bruncher’s 1st Birthday Brunch at the Island Creek Oyster Bar on Comm Ave. in Boston, my good friend Miriah’s daughter’s Christening (that little baby is nothing short of an angel) and a 4-hour dance rehearsal with DanceWorks Boston (always a fun time!)

A sneak peak into Birthday Brunch!

Then on to the Christening…

You can't tell me she isn't the cutest baby in the world..

I made favors… Oreo ball truffles with a piped pink A on each one, individually wrapped with a pink ribbon and a tag.

Not bad considering I usually stink at piping.

They came out pretty freakin’ cute.

Everybody loved them. Makes me happy when people like what I make!

Along with my jam-packed weekends and filming/editing-laden school schedule, I managed to get in a couple of quick training runs for my 3rd 5K coming up this weekend!  I, along with my friend Kim, will run the Witch City 5K in Salem, maybe even dressed up a bit.

This upcoming weekend also brings pumpkin carving with my BU friends and a huge DanceWorks Boston Halloween costume party on Saturday night.  I will, unfortunately, have to keep my drinking to a minimum because of the race on Sunday morning, but that won’t stop me from wearing those cat eyes!

I promise not to wait another 3 weeks to post.  I have finally pulled myself out of a slight rut I had fallen into, but I’m back and excited.

And I had delicious Bon Me truck food for dinner the other night: a brown rice bowl with tofu, shitaki mushrooms, cilantro, pickled veggies, bean sprouts and mesclun greens.  YUM.

Healthy and filling.

I wanna know: What’s new in your life?  What would your dream wedding consist of?  And what are you being for Halloween this year?

What Boston Brunchers Means to Me

I have been part of the Boston Brunchers* since April of this year when I went to my first-ever brunch at the Biltmore Bar & Grille courtesy of Megan’s wonderful invite.  Since then, I’ve been hooked.  I have been to many brunches (and one dinner) including Local 149, Lil’ Vin’sBristol Lounge, and The Cottage.

Delicious mussels from Lil' Vin's

The friends that I’ve made and the food I have eaten are all part of the experience that is the Boston Brunchers.  It is unique, fun, and I wouldn’t give it up for all the cannolis in the world (and that’s saying something; I really love cannolis…)

I also really like chocolate malts from Local 149

To really express my love for this group, I decided to write an acrostic poem for it’s 1st Birthday Blogger Brunch giveaway!

Boston.  Our home, and home to some of the best food in the country.
Overeat.  It’s okay – we don’t judge.
Support.  We love each other and each other’s blogs. ‘Nuff said.
Tweeting.  We are good at it. #BostonBrunchers #Nom
Obviously the best blogger group in Boston.
Not realistic.  How much food we think we can eat in one sitting.

Brunch. The best meal of the week. Hands down.
Recipes.  We share them.
Unbelievable. How many courses restaurants set in front of us fo’ free!
Never having to say you’re sorry – for eating too much food.
Coma. The food kind: what happens to members after brunch. Subsides after many hours.
Healthy & Happy. What all of the Boston Brunchers are.
Eater. A requirement for membership.
Renee.  Our fearless leader, boldly bringing us to new places and dealing with all of the paperwork.
Stuffed.  You probably won’t need dinner.  Or maybe even breakfast the next day.

Happy 1st Birthday Boston Brunchers!

*Check us out: !

Boston Brunchers Dine at Local 149

A mere three days after stuffing myself at Lil’ Vin’s and getting a bit jumbled, I headed into South Boston (lovingly known as “Southie”) to meet up with the Boston Brunchers yet again.  This time, brunch was held at the eclectic Local 149 restaurant located on P Street.

I immediately ran into Kathy and Renee , snapped a picture of the place and headed inside where the manager greeted us with open arms.  The indoor decor was welcoming and fun; even an old school Gulf sign hung on the bar, welcoming each and every patron.

Local 149

But it wasn’t just the decor that made me excited to be there; it was the promise of multiple courses, each more glamourous than the next.  And the company wasn’t half bad either.

Look at that awesome Gulf sign

The first course was a lovely spread of toasted bread, blue and monchego cheeses, two different types of ham and a type of homemade duck sausage.  It was served with bowl of fresh fruit.  We cleaned each platter.

I could've eaten an entire block of that Manchego cheese

Next up, a remade classic that I had for the first time at the Biltmore: Chicken and Waffles.  But these were not ordinary chicken and waffles.  Blueberry waffles with a blueberry compote and lightly breaded chicken made for a sweet and savory Southern dish that I couldn’t stop eating.  If you haven’t tried this combo, you’re missing out.

Mmm.. blueberry

Next up…breakfast pizza, complete with teenie tiny quail eggs on the top.  I have never had a thinner crust in my whole life.  I had to refrain from each multiple pieces.

I'll have one large quail egg pizza to go please...

And no brunch would be complete with a version of French Toast.  This is, by far, one of the best french toast dishes I have ever had.  Brioche bread soaked in an expresso martini, covered in Life cereal, garnished with a chocolate cigarette, Grand Marnier whipped cream, a single M&M and a sliced strawberry.  At this point, I was unable to eat more than a few bites but this is what I’m ordering when I go back there.

French Toast...who wouldn't want that?

Thankfully, the next two dishes that came out were served family-style.  First, a plate featuring Yorkshire Pudding with 2 perfectly poached eggs, cinnamon-raisin toast, spiced hash and a popover.  I don’t particularly love Yorkshire Pudding but the popover was divine.

Yorkshire Pudding plate

The other dish held the fanciest Egg McMuffin I’ve ever seen: Lobster in a large, puffed egg cylinder with potatoes on the side.  Unreal.

This thing was as large as my face..

Finally, when it seemed like my stomach could hold no more, dessert arrived.  A small glass full of a malted chocolate shake with a garnish of coconut and a chocolate cigarette.  I can’t think of anything better to end an incredible meal.

Malt-y deliciousness

Oh – did I mention they also gave us free drinks?  Four of them. FOUR.  And not the tiny sample sized ones either.  A house bloody mary (which I gave to Katy), a delicious mimosa, a coconut rum concoction served in a fresh coconut and my favorite – peach sangria.  I didn’t drive home, no worries.

Why yes, I will have a beverage with brunch, thank you.

I would also like a pretty glass, please.

Mmm.. sangria

Overall, I had a wonderful experience at Local 149 and would highly recommend it for a brunch.  Go for something a little different and definitely order a signature drink with your meal!

NOTE:  Brunch was provided to me free of charge by the restaurant but all of these opinions are my own.  Neither the restaurant or the Boston Brunchers asked me to write a review.  This does not portray a typical dining experience.

PS – There is still time to enter my 1st Blogiversary Giveaway!  The contest closes Monday night, 9/12/11, at 11:59pm EST.  Get your entries in ASAP!

Lil Vinny’s Ristorante

Last week, I got an e-mail from Boston Bruncher creator, Renee, with an exciting event: Dinner at Lil Vinny’s Ristorante in Somerville, MA.  She opened it up to the first 8 bloggers who registered.  Luckily, I check my e-mail approximately 126 times a day (rough estimate) and jumped on the chance to have a delicious dinner with fellow foodies.

After a not-so-wonderful 2-mile run per my 10K Training Plan (I skipped that day’s strength since I did it the day before plus with 2 hours of dance), I headed out to Somerville.  Note to self: Run outside more. You suck at it.

What should have been a short 28-minute drive turned into a 1(+) hour nightmare.  With no GPS, I ended up in every city around Somerville except Somerville.  I was aggitated to say the least.

When I finally found the restaurant, I walked in to a dimly-lit atmosphere, immediately greeted by the comforting aroma of Italian food.  A few steps in and I recognized my fellow bloggers enjoying each other company.  I instantly felt much better.

I was especially excited to go tonight to meet some of these bloggers in person.  It’s one thing to follow a blog and converse on Twitter but there is something even more meaningful to me when I connect with someone through actual human interaction.  I spent the majority of the dinner conversing with: KatyRachelAudreyKathy and Amanda.

Dinner itself was served family-style but no one could’ve guessed how much food Lil Vin’s would provide for us.  Six courses. SIX.  Seven if you include the bread basket and herb olive oil before the meal.  And the food was as scrumptious as it was beautiful.

I should’ve worn stretchy pants.

Delicious Caesar Salad

The salad course was a larger portion of caesar salad complete with homemade anchovy dressing and crisp croutons.  I didn’t even know the anchovy was present until one of the servers told us.  It gave a nice salty bite to the dish.

Don't those look incredible?

Next up, a little seafood for my palate.  Served family style, we were given perfectly steamed mussels in a spicy, yet delicate sauce.  Then they brought out extra bread so none of the broth was wasted.  They already knew us so well… a mere 2 courses in.

At this point, I was starting to get full...

Our first pasta dish (yes, I did say first) consisted of tortellinis in a yummy pesto sauce.  They were perfectly al dente and I could’ve eaten the cheese filling alone.  With a spoon.  Out of a large bowl.  What?  I like cheese.

A very large helping of eggplant parm.

See that little beauty right there?  It actually wasn’t so little.  In fact, it was a huge slab of eggplant parm.  Lightly breaded and fried, it was covered in cheese and not the least bit oily.  I must admit, I’m partial to Boyfriend’s mom’s baked eggplant parm but this is the best restaurant version I’ve ever eaten.

You had me at "Homemade Pasta"

My family makes homemade pasta.  It’s incredible.  Lil Vin’s also makes homemade pasta – fusilli with bolognese sauce – it is also quite incredible.  At this point, I couldn’t eat more than a few bites so I asked for it to be wrapped up.  Unfortunately, because of jumbling circumstances , it never made it home.  Sad.

The dessert gods must've been smiling down on me.

Finally, after much debate on whether or not I could take another bite of food, this plate arrived in front of me.  If you’ve been reading C&W for more than a day, you know that I can’t say no to sweet stuff.  Vanilla bean panna cotta with candied lemon peel and homemade caramel was the cherry on top of a very large, multi-course, Italian cake.

And I ate every bite.

A big thanks to Lil’ Vinny’s for hosting us and providing us amazing food and wonderful service (and lights for our photos!)  It is the perfect place to go for a romantic date night out or to simply catch up with a good group of friends, like the Boston Brunchers, and enjoy an Italian meal with a tasty twist.  Highly recommended would be an understatement.

Sign of a good dinner, I think...

NOTE: This dinner was provided to me free of charge by Lil Vinny’s Ristorante.  All of the opinions expressed here are mine.  Neither Lil Vinny’s or the Boston Brunchers asked me to write a review of my experience there.

End of summer, beginning of fall

I categorize the sad ending of summer in two different ways.  The first – when I officially finish my last NDA camp.  This happened on Saturday when I ended 2 back-to-back camps: Shen in New York and Bryant University in Rhode Island.

We work really hard at camp... That would be me as a dead staffer.

The second time I say goodbye to the summer is the first day of September (aka tomorrow.)  After Irene, there is an autumn chill in the air up here in Boston.  As much as I love the hot days of summer, I also bask in the cooler breeze of fall.

One of the best parts living up here in the fall is watching the leaves change colors.  Another is carving pumpkins, apple picking, then cooking with said pumpkins and apples.  I also love when I have lots of things to look forward to and this is definitely the time of year when it happens on a regular basis.

Monkey Trunks.  Has anyone ever heard of this place?  It’s in NH on Weirs Beach.  Apparently, it’s like a jungle gym for adults.  With harnesses.  And heights.  And nets in case you fall.  And medical waivers.  Clearly, this was not my idea.  I’m just being dragged along for the ride.  Could be fun.

School starts.  Hello Boston University COM.  You are a lovely building.  I think we’ll be great friends.  Conveniently located only .87 miles from the beautiful BU gym?  That was really nice of you to consider me like that.  Side note: When my mom asked me the other day “What types of notebooks do you want?” it brought me back to 4th grade when Anne Frank was popular.  Good ‘ol nostalgia..

10K Training.  6 weeks, 6.2 miles.  And I plan on crushing  (I’ll try not to throw up the process… No guarentees though.)  Follow my progress on my new 10K Training page!

Dance.  3 nights a week and I could not be happier.  Choreographing “Hello World” is both wonderful and heartbreaking.  “Sideways” hits home in more ways than one.  “Suckerpunch” and “Superbass” are high energy and just fun.  And “Crazy Crazy Insane” will be sexy as hell.  Keep an eye out of video updates.

Sweaty and happy

Boston Brunchers dinner at Lil Vinny’s Ristorante.  Good thing I check my e-mail 4543 times a day or I might have missed Renee’s invite for a free, family-style dinner at Lil Vinny’s in Somerville with the Boston Brunchers on Thursday night.  Lots of pics and a review will be coming your way!

Boston Brunchers brunch at Local 149 .  Once again, my OCD-like behavior of checking my e-mail wins.  I originally didn’t get the opportunity to be apart of this brunch but since Irene caused an uproar, they moved it and I snagged a seat!

Chocolate & Wine’s 1st Blogiversary.  I started my little blog on September 7, 2010 never knowing that people would want to read it and that I’d get so much support for it.  I am so grateful for all of the friends I’ve made and the different events I get to go to through my blog.  Thank you to everyone for making Chocolate & Wine a success.

Stephen’s 24th Birthday.  Man, he’s getting old.  I like to remind him of it everyday.  He doesn’t mind (much).  However, he is probably one of the most difficult people on the planet to buy a present for so this year, we are doing something a little different.  It includes dinner and Boston.  Hopefully it’s a success.

Yeah, we're cute like that.

Raechel’s Bacheloretty Party.  I mean, who doesn’t love dinner, drinks and dancing with a good friend who’s about to tie the knot?  I’m a big fan.

Turn that martini into a shot and we have Raechel's Bacheloretty Party.

Races.  Run for Ryan 5K on September 17th. Tufts Women’s 10K on October 19th. Witch City 5K on October 23rd.  I’m going to make it rain PRs all over those 5Ks.  And in Salem, I’m gunna do it in costume.  Watch out now.  PS – if you want to run one with me, let me know and I’ll send you the info! (Head’s up – I run slow.)

George & Julie’s Wedding.  After a long 2-year engagement, my cousin George is marrying his fiance, Julie.  Seriously, she could not be more right for him.  And of course, we can expect lots of crying from this girl right here.  Damn emotions.

My Sister’s 21st Birthday.  Finally.  She’s kept me waiting long enough.  Now we can have some real big kid fun.

Halloween.  Candy, costumes, parties… enough said.

That takes us through October.  I also plan on having my first giveaway for my blog’s 1st anniversary.  Lots of people right now are doing “Favorite Things” giveaways and I’m jumping right on that bandwagon.  If you want in, check back around the 7th!   Until then, follow me on Twitter for updates – @ChocoAndWine.

I wanna know… What are you looking forward to most this fall?  Any suggestions for what to put in my “Favorites” giveaway?

Sunday Brunch at the Bristol Lounge? Yes, please.

On Sunday morning, I hopped out of bed at 7:30 AM (a rare occurence for me on a weekend) to get ready for a day in Boston.  The occasion?  Brunch at the Bristol Lounge at the Four Seasons Hotel.

A few weeks ago, I entered a contest on the Boston Brunchers website to attend a complimentary brunch hosted by the Four Seasons.  To enter, all we had to do was follow the hotel on Twitter (@FSBoston) and leave a comment saying why we thought we should get to go to the event.  Representatives from the hotel picked 7 winners.  I almost fell out of my chair at work when I saw the tweet saying I was one of the lucky 7.

When I arrived at the hotel at 10 AM, the hotel PR rep, Kristan, greeted us with a smile, gave a brief description of what our event entailed and graciously led us to the hotel’s pastry shop.

Once inside, we were given a warm welcome by two of the hotel’s pastry chefs.  We noticed seven stations of parchment paper with a makeshift piping bag on the large counter.  Chef Ashley proceeded to give us a lesson on how to pipe words in chocolate by gently putting pressure on the bag and letting the chocolate flow as it pleased.  I need some practice (check mine out… looks like a 5 year old did it!) but his was incredible.  Some of my fellow brunchers were good at it as well.  Mom, if I just start melting chocolate and using obsene amounts of parchment paper, please do not be alarmed.

From there, Kristan took us down to the Bristol Lounge where a large buffet was set up for brunch.  We sat at a round table, each table setting decorated in our honor.  Then, the head chef of the hotel, Chef Vosika, came to chat with us, giving us fun facts and relaying the importance of brunch to himself personally as well as the hotel.

Time to eat? Yes please.  There were so many options, I had a hard time choosing.  I think I walked around and around at least 10 times with an empty plate debating on what to get.  However, that did not stop me from filling my plate for a first go-around.

When I returned to the table, hot coffee, fresh orange juice and a “Lobster Trap,” the Four Seasons Boston’s rendition of a Bloody Mary sat in front of me.  I dug into my (first) plate of food which included individual huevos rancheros, a cheese blintz, a mini yogurt parfait, oatmeal with berries and poached pears with cranberries and walnuts (by far my favorite item of the whole brunch and the only thing I had a second helping of!)  There was baked french toast (good thing I tried that last, I could’ve eaten an entire batch of it), bocconcini, and cranberry toast with a smear of goat cheese.  I also helped myself to a warm scone with homemade strawberry jam that our pastry chef buddies sent down after we left them. 

I must say, the atmosphere, the food, the generosity and graciousness of the entire staff at the Four Seasons and the Bristol Lounge made me feel right at home.  Although the decor was on the fancy side (hello.. it’s the Four Seasons!), I was completely comfortable and chatted endlessly with my fellow brunchers: Megan, Justin, Kimmy, Jessica, Robin and Athena.  Thank you so much to Renee (we missed you!) and the Four Seasons for hosting us (and giving us a behind-the-scenes tour)!  It truly was an incredible experience and I hope to go back again soon.

Oh – and about those fun facts that Chef Vosika gave to us…  Well, the Four Seasons was giving away a free overnight stay at their Boston location and I was one of the four finalists via Twitter.  No, I didn’t win… but for being one of the finalists, the Four Seasons gave me a complimentary dessert to enjoy in their Bristol Lounge.  Now I have a definite excuse to go back… who wants to come with?  I can’t eat this cake tower, building, Prudential Center-looking skyscraper all by myself!

And I might have taken in a Sox game with my bestie Alyse after brunch.  The beer was cold, the guys in front of us were funny and the Sox won.  Not bad.

Sweet seats

Awww Yeahh


 Sorry… every time I talk about Oklahoma, someone sings that song.  Most of the time it’s me.  I can’t help it, it’s catch-y.

Anyway, yes, I spent my Memorial weekend from Friday til Monday in Oklahoma. Why? Because I dance for the National Dance Alliance (
“NDA”, a company based out of Texas) and Oklahoma is where our first camp of the year is… and it’s pretty centrally located anyway.

I love Oklahoma.  Sure, it’s a tad flat and yes, they aren’t experiencing the best weather at the moment (Read: devastating tornadoes) but nonetheless, it’s a very nice state.  If you haven’t been, I recommend checking it out.  Even if it’s just to see the University of Oklahoma at Norman.  If you went to a tiny college like mine, the campus alone will blow your mind.

I spent the weekend seeing some of the most incredible people I’ve ever met.  It is a rare occasion (only once a year) when I see some of the NDA staff because we come from all different states and don’t always get to work together.  But even only seeing them once or twice a year, when we get together for staff meeting, it’s like I saw them yesterday.  We are one big family and it’s one of the reasons why I love my job with them.

So camps for this summer.. so far I have 6 and I want at least 3-4 more.  At least.  As of right now, I will be spending my summer bouncing around Maryland, Kentucky, New York (twice), Wisconsin (never been there before) and Rhode Island throughout July and August and will hopefully find a camp or two towards the end of June. 

Oh – and some unrelated exciting news…

First – my DanceWorks Boston show is this Thursday and Friday!  The culmination of 4 months of very hard work and the curtain goes up tomorrow!  I am so lucky to be apart of DWB, have met some amazing people and get to do what I love.  I haven’t been in a “recital” of sorts since my senior year of high school (no, college nationals doesn’t count) so I’m really looking forward to performing on the BU Dance Theater stage.  (PS – there are still tickets for sale if you want to go but they are selling out fast.)

Second – a few weeks ago, I entered the Boston Bruncher’s June event contest to win a complimentary brunch at the Bristol Lounge at the Four Seasons Hotel in Boston.  I found out yesterday, via Twitter, that I was one of the 6 chosen to attend!  Needless to say, I have never been to the Bristol Lounge or the Four Seasons Boston so I am very much looking forward to this brunch.  It’s next Sunday and I will be sure to borrow a camera from someone to take lots of pictures and bring you a full recap of the yummy food I get to eat.

Finally, my good friend Megan from Cooking Whims got engaged over the weekend to her boyfriend, now fiance, of 6 and 1/2 years!  Congrats MK & Chris!!

Weekend & Easter Recap

Happy Easter Monday everyone!  Too bad it’s not an actual holiday… I’m pretty sure we could all use an extra day to come out of our food-induced comas.

My weekend was full of friends and family and I loved every minute of it.  After work on Friday, my sister and I decided to spend some quality time together.  We hit the gym for a bit before getting Panera for dinner (I’ll have the You Pick 2: Black Bean Soup & 1/2 Chicken Thai Salad, no wontons, dressing on the side, please!) and went to see the movie Water for Elephants.  It was one of the best movies I’ve ever seen.  The storyline was typical of a romance but the acting was wonderful and I have a soft spot for elephants anyway.  Go. See. It.

After the movie, I headed to Medford to meet up with some friends for Friday night in Boston.  I would have to advise you to skip Kitty O’Shea’s the next time you want a bar/club scene.  Needless to say, the bouncers there are inappropriate, rude and very inconsiderate.  No details necessary, just keep that in mind.

Saturday morning included an iced coffee and spending time with my sister before meeting up with some high school friends for lunch at Bertucci’s (Salad Vivaldi con Pollo & Bello is highly recommended..just saying).  I don’t know how I ever let my communication with these girls go.  We caught up on everything from college life to life now.  We’re older and wiser, but still those high school jokes are still as hysterical.

Later that night, I met up with the boyfriend and we decided to head to Grassfields in Danvers for dinner.  Little did we know that is the identical twin to one of our favorite restaurants a few towns away.  Who knew?  Regardless, I got the Surf & Turf broiled scallops and steak tips (medium rare of course) with a double side of veggies.  The scallops were dusted with a combination of spices that were out of this world and the steak tips were gently marinated and cooked to perfection.  And the veggies? Crisp tender and NOT slathered in butter, thank goodness.  We highly recommend it for a casual, inexpensive date night.  Oh, and try the pomegranate margarita – you will not be disappointed.

Easter Sunday rolled around and I was out of bed by 8:30 to go to mass with my family.  It was beautiful, as the St. Pius V Parish masses always are.  Communion takes a bit longer than normal Sunday service because of how packed the church is but our priest’s homily was short, sweet and meaningful.

We headed home and I made breakfast: Egga-Pinwheels from Hungry Girl.  The first carb-y thing I’ve had in 40 days.  It was heavenly and healthy which is always a nice combo.  It was similar to a ham-egg-cheese traditional breakfast sandwich but with way better nutritional info!

I also made HG red velvet cupcakes with my own buttercream (made with Brummel & Brown spread).  Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of the cupcakes but it was curiously warm outside yesterday and after piping beautiful swirls of buttercream on my cupcakes, it quickly melted ALL. OVER. THE. PLACE.  Still tasted good even though I was pissed about it.  And of course my family would say that “it’s not how they look, it’s how they taste, Rie.”  Yeah, yeah.  Good thing they were yummy – that could have been just embarassing.

Can you tell we are Italian?

After dessert, I headed to Stephen’s and had more wine and his mom’s Italian cookies.  I swear, I could eat an entire batch of those things.  Made with anise and almond extracts, they are little pillows of confectionary genius.  An old family recipe.  Utter perfection.

Overall, it was a successful weekend and I look forward to getting my butt to the gym today and spending the next 2 weeks in body detox.  Fine with me!

Also!  Here are a few things coming up that I am getting excited about:
– My first 5K : Saturday, May 14th @ 10AM
– NDA Staff Meeting in Oklahoma: Friday-Monday, May 27th-30th
– My First DanceWorks Boston show: Thursday & Friday, June 2nd & 3rd
– BAHAMAS: June 11th-18th

Adapted from Hungry Girl

1 package (roll) of Pillsbury Seamless Creations Crescent Dough
6 slices lean deli ham (blotted dry with paper towels to get rid of excess moisture)
1 cup Egg Beaters
3 slices fat-free American cheese, torn into pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Spray a frying pan with nonstick cooking spray and bring to medium heat.  Scramble cup of Egg Beaters until fully cooked and set aside.

Roll out dough on a clean, flat surface dusted with flour.  Roll out until dough is about 1/4th inch think and even with the shorter sides to the left and right.  Lay ham evenly over the dough leaving a 1-2 inch border on the right side only.  Evenly spread scrambled eggs over the ham and sprinkle the cheese over the egg.

Starting on the left side of the doll, roll the dough tightly and seal both sides and the middle.  With a sharp knife, slice the roll into 8 disks.  Lay flat on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick spray and bake in oven 15-20 minutes, until dough is puffed and golden brown.

Sunday Brunch at the Biltmore

Last Sunday, after waiting about 3 weeks for the Boston Brunchers’ event, I finally made my way down to Newton to where my friend and fellow blogger, Megan, lives (in an adorable apartment I might add.)  Megan and I went to college together and when she found out I too write a food blog, she was more than supportive.  I mentioned to her that I wanted to get more involved in the food blogging world and when she won two tickets to this event, she didn’t hesitate to ask me.  If that isn’t blogger love, I don’t know what is.

When we arrived at the Biltmore Bar & Grill, the host took us through the front bar to the back part of the restaurant.  There were vintage signs and old-fashion art plastered on the walls and our long table was set with flowers and a white tablecloth.  I must admit, I was pretty jittery all morning in anticipation of the brunch.  Since it was my first time meeting all the other guests (minus Megan), I wasn’t sure how I would fit in with the seasoned bloggers.

My anxiety quickly diminished as I sat down at the table.  The others immediately introduced themselves and I recognized a few of them from their blogs.  I could feel my face turn a not-so-subtle shade of fuschia as I told them who I was and I what the title of my blog is.  They welcomed me with open arms and I knew it was going to be a good morning.  My fellow bloggers included Megan, of course, Corey, Krista, Kimmy, Justin, Amanda, Carolyn, Josie, Katy, Michelle, and our wonderful host, Renee.

–Oh! And by the way… since my camera doesn’t want to cooperate and upload my photos into my computer for actual use, all of the photos in this blog post are courtesy of Renee. (Thank you!!)

When the restaurant host came out with paddles of sample cocktails, I was instantly intrigued.  The first was a homemade Bloody Mary, the second, a Mimosa, made with the restaurant’s freshly squeezed OJ.  I’m not really a huge fan of tomato juice so I only had one small sip of the Bloody Mary but the Mimosa blew me away.  I had to restrain myself from draining the glass in one gulp.  Someone sign me up to juice oranges in that place if it means I can drink those everyday.

The first course consisted of a lobster frittatta.  Now – I rarely eat lobster.  I don’t love it when it’s merely dipped in butter but throw it in a soup or on the top of fluffy egg and cheese and call me SOLD.  The egg itself was crispy on top and along the edges and creamy (yet light) in the center.  I immediately ate the green tendrils off the top.  As tempted as I was, I knew I couldn’t eat the full amount of every course so I dug into about half the frittatta, picked off and ate all the lobster, and prepared for the next course.

Before I go any further, I have a confession to make.  It’s no surprise now (although it was to my fellow brunchers) that I gave up carbs for Lent.  Now, I don’t really believe in the whole “You can have what you gave up for Lent on Sundays” and I haven’t used it as an excuse at all this Lent with the exception of this past Sunday.  I could not justify being at this beautiful brunch with complimentary food from an obviously very talented chef and at least not TRY it.  I think you’ll forgive me when you see what’s coming up.

When the second course came out, so did my Lenten secret.  Nevertheless, my new friends were not judgemental, just awestruck.  The plate in front of me held a (very large) chive biscuit topped with a poached egg (perfectly runny, just how I like it) and a jalepeno cheese sauce.  I carefully broke the yoke, letting it ooze down the sides of the biscuit.  I sloshed the mixture onto a piece of egg white and a bit of chive biscuit and let the whole thing melt into my tastebuds.  Now normally, I don’t eat eggs (only egg beaters) or just avoid the yokes, but I couldn’t resist the golden hue of the egg mixed with the cheese sauce.  It was all-around heavenly.  This time, I ate the whole egg and all of the sauce with a few bites of the biscuit, but sadly had to leave most of it behind.

Course three was a play on a popular dish: Pigs in a Blanket.  Instead of the mini hotdogs wrapped in crescent dough we all remember from childhood, this piggy was a maple breakfast sausage wrapped in a warm buttermilk pancake.  It was served with apple-maple syrup.  Okay, I know this might be a stretch but the syrup just might have been my favorite thing about the ENTIRE brunch; I kid you not.  It was thinner than regular maple syrup and infused with an apple-cider taste that was uncomparable to any syrup I have ever had.  As I said multiple times during the brunch, I could drink a vat of the stuff.  Sure I’d be on a sugar overload after and probably feel sick, but hey, this syrup was WORTH it.  The actual pancake/sausage combo was delicious as well.  Sweet syrup, savory meat and fluffy pancakes are always a good combo in my book.

Next up: Chicken & Waffles.  I won’t lie – I was nervous about this one.  I don’t never eat fried chicken or waffles.  Although I am aware of the Southern significance of the dish and despite the fact I have been to the South more times than I can remember, I had not yet had it.  But when the waitress set the plate down in front of me, I was pleasantly surprised.  The fried chicken was crisp not not oily at all.  The waffles were sweet and both were accompanied by the same apple-maple syrup I swooned over in the previous course.  The host told us that normally, our plate of 1 piece of chicken and 1 waffle was just one-third of the normal sized meal.  Granted, I was already filled with 3 courses prior to trying the chicken and waffles but the thought of eating triple the amount dumbfounded me.

Finally, the last course, our “dessert” was served.  A simple parfait of homemade granola, fresh berries and a dollop of fresh whipped cream garnished with a strawberry finished the tasting menu.  The granola was crunchy and slightly sweet and was the perfect accompaniment to the tart berries and thick whipped cream.  It might just have been my favorite course at the brunch.
Overall, the Biltmore Bar & Grille provided delicious food, excellent, friendly service, an ecclectic atmosphere and an experience that I will not soon forget.  I plan on attending many more Boston Bruncher events in the future and hope to see my new friends there as well!