I can’t believe it’s been 12 days since my last post!! I’m currently working on one encompassing everything I’ve been up to since July 6th, but at the moment, I’m slightly preoccupied…
Tomorrow morning, at 3:20am, a bus will take me, Justin, Keesa and Matt to Luton airport. I don’t know about you, but I only know what 3:20am looks like because I’m usually up on Skype or g-chat until 4am… But to actually have to be a functioning human being who is traveling to another country, I should probably take a nap or go to bed super early or something.
We’ll be spending the next 4 days in the beautiful city of Paris. Think of it as a mini vacation in the midst of my program here. We had spent the past 2ish weeks taking a special topics class on the Olympics, took our final this morning (aced it) and I have one package already done that should be posted on boston.com sometime next week. We’ll be going nonstop for the 3 weeks after Paris in full-blown internship mode so after already being here for a little over 3 weeks, a getaway to France is more than perfect.
The last time I visited Paris, I was 9, and as much fun as I’m sure I had there being hauled around by Len & Shirl, I am bouncing-out-of-my-chair excited to get to experience it again in a different way. The four of us are even considering a day trip to Versailles on Saturday.
And the best part? It’ll be my birthday while I’m there… Oh hey, how did you spend your 24th birthday? In Paris… no big deal.
So the next time you see me, I’ll be a little older, probably none the wiser and hopefully full of good French wine. Always gotta have wine..
Happy Valentine’s Day all!! Welcome to my February edition of Chocolate & Wine’sRestaurant Review.
This month, I wanted to find something completely different than anywhere Stephen and I have been. Plus, being Valentine’s Day, we decided to go out on Friday for a nice, quiet evening instead of fighting the crowds today.
I’ve gotten lots of restaurant recommendations (Thanks! Keep ’em coming!) but this is a place I found via Google. I wanted something in the “hidden gem” category and that’s exactly what I found: The Landing at 7 Central in Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA.
I made a reservation for two at 8pm (ya know.. just in case) and we found it pretty easily. It was elegantly lit and very inviting. The hostess sat us right away, directly across from a cozy fireplace.
Our waitress, who’s name escapes me, was friendly and attentive. She took our drink orders and returned quickly with ice waters, freshly baked rolls that were still hot and the most delicious olive oil I have ever tasted. A few minutes later, my Argentinian Malbec and Stephen’s Sam Adams-something-or-other-beer was in front of us. It was efficient service without the feeling of being too rushed.
The menu itself was ridiculous. There were so many options and everything sounded incredible. Things like “Chicken Jessica” and “Pan Roasted Salmon” jumped out at me but in the end, I settled on what I really wanted but rarely get: Seafood Risotto. Stephen got the Prime Rib special.
My risotto was flawless. It had muscles, tender scallops, perfectly cooked shrimp, mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, all wrapped in a not-overly-cheesy bed of puffed up rice. I had to stop myself from eating too much of it, knowing that I could devour the whole bowl if given the opportunity. (Not that it made it until the next day anyway due to a midnight snack craving but that’s besides the point..) Stephen’s prime rib was perfectly medium rare, accompanied by a blue cheese butter (amazing) asparagus and thick, garlicky mashed pototoes – comfort food for a chilly night.
Tip: Always ask what the special is!
There was only one thing that threw me about The Landing. The tables were set with white linen tablecloths with a blue overlay, lovely cutlery and a single candle. And then, resting on the dinner roll plate, under said cutlery was… a paper napkin? Wait, come again? A beautiful restaurant with paper napkins? Again, it’s small. Tiny even compared to the wonderful time we had but I think a place like that should reconsider the paper and switch to cloth. Just my two cents.
Overall Rating: 9 out of 10.
Just like January, we had another terrific restaurant experience. Wonderful, friendly service, gourmet food, good prices and the perfect atmosphere for any romantic date night out. Be aware that for young adults and students on a budget, it may be a little pricier for you, but still 100% worth it.
But please Landing friends, lose the paper napkins…
I want to know: Do you have a restaurant you’d like me to review? Been to The Landing and have a difference experience than I did? Let me know!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I would also like a pretty glass, please.
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.
It’s Friday… the best day of the week! Many happy things going on lately.
Grad school starts in 3 weeks. I’m excited and nervous. I won’t be all alone; one of the guys who went to my high school also got into my program, so at least I’ll have one friend. Nevertheless, the nerves are definitely there.
DanceWorks Boston is back in action. I’m in 5 routines and could not be happier that I get to dance 3 nights a week. It keeps me sane, the show is going to be out of this world and I’ve met some great friends through it. And my piece is going to be unreal, just saying.
I ran 3.1 miles yesterday at a 9:50 pace. My first 5K pace was around 10:50 min/mile, so I was thrilled to get through the same distance today, 3 months later, a whole minute per mile faster. I felt great doing it and I was super sweaty at the end. Win.
I have 2 more 5Ks and my first 10K coming up. Chelmsford, Salem and finally, the Tufts Women 10K in Boston. Obviously I still have more training to do for the 10K, but I think I’ll be able to pull it off. P.S. If you’d like to be my running buddy for any of these, please let me know!
I plan on running a half marathon before next spring. Yes, you heard me correctly – a half marathon. 13.1 miles. I considered the Cape Cod Half at the end of October but at the moment, it’s not in the cards. I have some awesome training plans and lots of support thanks to my runner friends. A half is definitely happening within the next year. I currently have my eye on the 2012 Great Bay Half Marathon in Newmarket, NH. We’ll see.
I made a kickass dinner last night. Chicken breasts stuffed with a spinach, low fat ricotta cheese and pancetta mixture, spiced corn-on-the-cob and broccoli. Anything with spinach and cheese just calls my name.
I’ve lost 10 pounds. Thanks Weight Watchers, you really work!
Earlier last week, boyfriend asked me if I would be interested in going to the Patriots game on Thursday night. Wait, the opening Pats game at Gillette, aka the start of football season? Of course I want to go. Duh. Oh, and the seats are 24 rows up from the field? Can I take my best friend too?
When Thursday night rolled around, three of us (myself, boyfriend and Alyse) headed to Foxboro for the game. After getting beer (our number 1 priority the second we got through security), we found out seats.
Many beers later, the Pats dominated the Jaguars 47-12 and we left the game very happy (and maybe even a little buzzed.)
For my first ever Pats game, I would say it was wildly successful.
The next night, Friday night, meant one thing: Cooking.
As my good friend and fellow blogger, Megan, quotes “So you know how some people say they need retail therapy? I often need cooking therapy.” That pretty much hits the nail on the head.
I knew I wanted to try a recipe I haven’t tackled yet. I also wanted something I have been craving for a while. A few months ago, I went to a restaurant in Boston called Cafeteria and ordered their veggie burger. Ever since then, I have been determined to recreate it. On Friday night, I got pretty close.
Black Bean Burgers with Goat Cheese, Arugula & Chipolte Mayo
(Adapted from Bobby Flay)
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
1 TB adobo sauce (from the can)
Squeeze of lime juice
Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth.
Black Bean Burgers
(Adapted from Sandra Lee)
1/2 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/3 red bell pepper, roughly chopped
2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained, divided
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup bread crumbs
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
4-6 hamburger rolls, if desired
4-6 TB goat cheese
Heat a skillet on the stove to medium-low.
In a food processor, combine onion, garlic and bell pepper until finely chopped. Add 1 can of black beans, egg, parsley, basil and red pepper and pulse to combine. (The mixture will be slightly liquid-y.)
Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add the remaining can of black beans and the breadcrumbs. Season with salt and pepper and mix well until thoroughly combined.
Divide into 4-6 portions, depending on how big you want your burgers to be. Place in the warmed skillet coated with a thin layer of oil and cook about 4-6 minutes per side or until heated through.
Place burger on toasted hamburger half. Spread chipotle mayo (as much as you like, but be careful – there’s a definite kick to it!) on the top half and place arugula leaves on top. Spread about a tablespoon of goat cheese directly on the bean burger. Place mayo/arugula-ed half on cheesy burger and enjoy!
The next item on the cooking agenda? Meringue cookies. Simple, melt-in-your-mouth, I could eat 50 in one sitting, meringue cookies. They took a little longer than I expected, but were delicious, airy and the perfect thing to bring to my aunt’s drinking party casual get-together later that night.
3 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar (I accidently put in 3/4 tsp. They came out good anyway, but I don’t advice doing this.)
3/4 cup gradulated sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Place egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat eggs on high speed until you can no longer see the bottom of the bowl, about 6 minutes or until the foam can hold soft peaks.
With the speed still on high, gradually add the sugar until the egg whites hold stiff peaks. Then, beat in the vanilla extract.
Transfer egg white mixture to a piping back or a plastic storage bag with the tip snipped off. Pipe swirled kisses on prepared baking sheet and place in oven. Bake for an hour and ten minutes with the oven door completely shut. Seriously, don’t open it. Not even to peek. Even the slightest change in temperature while baking meringues can cause them to break. After an hour and ten minutes, the cookies should be slightly browned and dry. If you pick one up and the middle is still wet, continue to bake in 5 minute intervals until done.
After my cooking and baking excursion on Friday afternoon, I rounded the night off with some quality time at my aunt’s house and drank copious amounts of red wine. Solid Friday overall.
Saturday marked a very special occasion: the day the first of my best friends got married.
I met Amy in college and we became close friends while being involved in school musicals together. On Saturday, in a beautiful Catholic church in Nashua, NH, she said “I Do” to the love of her life in a gorgeous white dress. The second my friends and I saw her, we all started crying. It was a beautiful ceremony.
And then, we partied.
She and her new husband are now honeymooning in the White Mountains and I hope they are having a fabulous time. Congrats Amy & Alex!
On Sunday morning, after a late night and many glasses of wine, Stephen and I headed back to Massachusetts so he could go to work and I could go to the mall with my parents, during tax-free weekend, to buy my first Mac laptop. Even though I’m not computer savvy at all, it has rapidly become my favorite new toy. It needs a name… suggestions?
Sunday night, I cooked again. I know, I was on a cooking roll this weekend. And a roll was exactly what I made. Craving more of my Friday night goat cheese and arugula combo, I sliced a large eggplant, grilled it, spread goat cheese on it, pressed on some arugula leaves, rolled them up and together, my father and I devoured each one.
After a wonderful weekend, I couldn’t have asked for anything better. And then I took a kickass muscle class at the gym and the new season of DanceWorks Boston started on Monday night.
How was your weekend? Are any of your best friends getting married? And what do you think of veggie burgers?