Friday, November 14, 2014

Post 390 Farm to Post Dinner Featuring Sparrow Arc Farms

Over the past few years I have talked to you about some pretty incredible dinners I've been able to attend as press.  To be honest- I've always felt a little guilty- telling you all about these amazing experiences at chefs tables, dining with wine makers while sipping their wines, extravagant meals....well I have another one for you, but this one you can also indulge in, multiple times even throughout the year.

Post 390 is continuing their Farm to Post dinners where every few weeks they play host to one of the amazing farmers, fisherman and butchers in the area and showcase their food.  The best part of these nights- I mean beyond the fantastic food and wine of course, is that the person responsible for creating the food that is sitting right at your table, ready and waiting to answer every inane question that pops into your head.  This is an experience not to be missed.

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Sparrow Arc Farm dinner.  Sparrow Arc Farm is located in one of our favorite neighbor states- Maine, and this operation, family operated and owned by Natick native Matt Linehan, supplies fresh fruits and vegetables to many of our favorite Boston based restaurants.  Sitting at a table with Matt, and his wife and infant son gives a whole new perspective to the idea of Farm to Table.  It finally hammers home the ideals that are being brought back after so many years of mega farms shipping their produce all over the country and eliminating the little guys.  It provides fresh fruits and vegetables that have true, real and clean flavors.  It makes food the very best it can be.  Sitting with Matt lets us city dwellers in on the incredible hard work, dedication and sacrifice that goes into growing carrots and turnips, lettuce and squash that we take for granted.   

It goes without saying that the meal, created under the watchful eye of Chef
Eric Brennan, was incredible.  Seated dinner started with spaghetti squash latkes, adorned with smoked arctic char, house made pickles made from a variety of vegetables and a green onion creme fraiche.  Lets talk about spaghetti squash latkes.  They were amazing.  Soft and buttery enough to be decadent, but with great texture from the strands of squash.  Thick pieces of delicately smoked Arctic Char lay across it, their velvety soft texture was a perfect contrast to the latke.  A bit of acidic crunch, and creamy creme fraiche rounded out this dish with an excellent variety to keep every bite interesting.

Our second course was, plain and simple, decadence in a bowl...but only sort of.  A leek and turnip vichyssoise - an impossibly smooth, creamy soup which blends together those fresh turnips and leeks with cream and stock into an incredible, thick and comforting soup.  Set inside, a gorgeous, plump Wellfleet Oyster, and then a poached flounder wrapped around sauteed turnip greens.  Root to stalk....that's the same as nose to tail right?  The flavor here were not over powering, they were light, and yet decadent, similar, but intriguing.  

This was paired with an absolutely gorgeous Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc
blend from the mother land for the blend, Bordeaux.  It was fantastic to see this special bottle, a 2010 from Chateau Ferran in the Pessac-Leognan.  Bursting with grapefruit and fresh white flowers, it had beautiful acidity to lighten the richness of the vichyssoise. What I loved even more was the fact that it had this beautiful medium to medium plus body that gave it the ability to spar perfectly with the weight of the soup.  Favorite pairing...

Our main course featured a grilled Rohan Duck breast with a root vegetable hash, pureed turnip, topped with roasted broccoli raab and finished with
an orange and green peppercorn sauce.  The duck, first and foremost was perfectly cooked.  Moist, well flavored, the skin perfectly salted- when duck is done well it is a work of art.  This dish had all the classic components of Sunday night dinner, but like you've never had before.  The truly incredible piece here was the sauce- where there was spice and natural sweetness that enhanced the rest of the dish.

The team paired this with a Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley.  The Couley-Dutheil Clos de l'Echo from 2009.  Cab Franc is one of those fantastic lesser known grapes.  It packs in flavor of black fruits- plums and blackberries, cassis...all with light body and high acidity.  Its an easy pairing wine and here, with the aging it had fantastic tobacco notes.  I loved the mix here- the earthy qualities presenting in the wine with the bright beautiful flavors of the sauce and dish.  

We ended the evening with a pumpkin cremeux topped with candied dahlia
root and a Canadian heirloom blood diamond cake with apple gelee and carrot caramel.  The idea of dhalia root and carrot being so artfully incorporated into our dessert is exactly what is so beautiful about these dinners.  Its a perfect marriage of local produce with classic fall flavors.   It was a perfect sweet treat to end the meal.

Post 390 hosts these incredible evenings all throughout the year, with details appearing on their website.  I've had the great fortune to attend a few of these dinners and have walked away each time feeling unbelievably lucky to have sat a midst the company I did, and enjoy the food that they cultivated.  Its a phenomenal experience.   

Thursday, November 13, 2014

How Is Wine Flavored? What's the Deal with Terroir?

One of the most commonly asked questions that I'm asked during tours with City Wine Tours, is how do they get those flavors into wine?   My latest installment of A Boston Food Diary: Decanted explores that very question!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Il Ruspo Barbi 2010 Sangiovese: Value Wine for a Chilly Night

So I'm going to be honest with you, as much as I love to pair great wines with delicious meals, I get pretty jazzed about a wine that I can crack open at the end of a very long day and just relax with.  These wines have to be full of great flavor, they normally need to be light to medium in body so I don't fill up on them too fast, and I like limited tannin in a sipping wine.  I also want them to be economical.  Rarely do I want to crack open an expensive bottle of wine on a random Tuesday night, however, and here's the trick- I want to FEEL like I'm treating myself to that amazing bottle just because.  I want there to be depth to the wine, and complex flavors.  

The other day I was browsing at The Wild Duck in the North End and I found the perfect bottle.  Il Ruspo Barbi 2010 Sangiovese.  This bottle rang in well below the $20 mark, as I recall closer to $13, and presented with a medium garnet rim blending to a ruby core.  An incredibly clean nose, medium intensity and scented with black fruits, eucalyptus, and the slightest hint of chocolate.  The palate fell right in with what I anticipated, medium to medium plus acid, gentle tannins, light in body, and bold flavors.  Similar to the nose, I got tastes of bright, fresh sour cherry, and then baked plums and black berries mixing with a subtle feel of chocolate or mocha and a hint of herbal and eucalyptus again.  Gorgeous wine.  A medium length finish made this a very nicely balanced wine, and a great representation of what slightly aged Sangiovese can be.  

I can't say that I'd age this one much longer, the body and tannin can't hold it for too much longer but right now, this is a gorgeous wine.  It's a perfect sipper on a chilly night to keep you warm and chase those bad day blues away.  Of course just as easily it would pair with a heaping bowl of pasta smothered in red sauce, or in a wine reduction sauce to marry together pork and vegetables.  This is a good one folks- drink like a prince at a paupers price.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Salvatore's Restaurants Offer Half Off Entrees for Unplugging

You know - when Salvatore's pizza soaked fruit in alcohol and tossed it atop a pizza I thought they were pretty great.  It was a smooth move, one might even say it was a way to improve the impossible to improve.  Now however, now Im in love with Salvatore's.  

The restaurant group has decided to help us unplug.  Far too often when I'm out I look around and it seems every person is nose down in their phones.  Between the texting, and the face-biz, and the twittering and the instagraming...well- there is a lot going on on those hand held devices.  So starting today, Salvatore's Restaurants is offering a buy one, get one for their entrees every Monday during lunch (12 pm to 3 pm) if their patrons check their phones at the host stand for their meal.  The restaurant will take care of bagging and tagging the phones and then will return them at the end of the meal.  And dont worry if you're dining alone- you'll get 50% off of your entree.  

I gotta say- I applaud Salvatore's for this one.  Meal time is one of the best times to catch up with loved ones, to share stories of the day, and to enjoy the company of those sitting right next to you, or across the table.  Let's join Salvatore's in this movement to unplug, taste our food, and enjoy our companions.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Frosting

Oh it is, with the utmost certainty, that time of year again!  Sure there's the Pumpkin Spice Latte movement, but really this is the time for all things apple, and pumpkin and most importantly - cinnamon and nutmeg and cloves and all spice.  It is the time of year when our baked goods are warm and spicy and bring you right back to those blessed childhood memories of sitting in your mothers kitchen, the first few weeks of the new school year behind you, and the warmth of the oven radiating through the room.   This is the time of year where I crave baking.  All of a sudden every thought is of sweet treats and how much time I carve out to bustle in my kitchen with my music blaring.

This year I have been all about pumpkin cupcakes.  Any and every occasion seems to call for them to be made, and after a few different attempts at finding the right frosting combination I believe I have finally nailed it.  Both recipes I've made exactly true to the recipe-rare for me.  I didn't tweak or change them at all.  The cake is a perfect mix of spices and full pumpkin flavor, mixing the flavors of pumpkin pie with moist cake.  The frosting, sweetened with brown sugar, brings its own twinge of caramelization and down home rustic feel.  Every bite is full of long shadows, filtered sunlight, crunching leaves and the smell of autumn.

Pumpkin Cupcakes from Always with Butter (recipe image from them as well)

Creamy Brown Sugar Frosting via CD Kitchen
12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup golden brown sugar, (packed)
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until fluffy. Add brown sugar; beat until well blended. 
Add powdered sugar 1/2 cup (scant) at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in orange juice concentrate and vanilla. Chill until firm enough to spread, about 30 minutes.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Please Allow Me to Introduce You To....

Feel that chill in the air?  Those leaves are starting to turn...yeah its Fall.  I have already started my fall baking spree, and so much more to come on that, but I wanted to take a moment to talk non food life. 

To state the obvious- I have been remiss in keeping you all abreast of my dining adventures as of late.  I promise I have a good excuse.  In July, I welcomed the most adorable puppy into my life.  Ms. Lucy St. James is a little girl I found on who couldn't be more fun, exciting, or wonderful.  She is a rescue hailing from Memphis, TN.  She and her littermates were pulled from their mommy at a very young age and given out at a local park.  Ms. Lucy had a rough start to her life, but she has been settling into her Boston life quite nicely.  She is the official greeter of our neighborhood, being sure to say hello to every passer by, she has kept the neighborhood from all collecting leaves, and has established a gang of puppy friends.  She keeps me laughing daily.

Now, I will admit, it has not all been fun and games.  Puppy raising is hard, and yet adorable, work.  As my friends may attest, I had some breakdowns in the beginning, as I spent 90% of my day running up and down the stairs to my apartment with her, and then cleaning up her accidents moments after returning home.  There were mishaps with chew toys being ignored and shoes finding a sad demise.  Learning curves as I fed her doggie ice cream, and found that it didn't agree with her stomach...for a week.  Rocks were eaten and fields of grass seemingly consumed.  But then, then there were puppy kisses and contented sighs and ridiculous play times. 

Lucy (Luce Goose) is basically the best thing ever, and now as she and I clean up our act and get on a more sustainable routine, I am back to cooking and baking and eating out.  I can finally see straight as I type on the computer, and I can feel my creative juices flowing. 

Happy fall all, I am stoked to spend it all with you again!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


BIG news. BIG BIG BIG news....I recently found out that I achieved success in my Level 3 Wine and Spirit Education Trust course!  Similar to the Level two that I took in February, the Level 3 covered every different region in which wine in made, delved into the different varietals, taught us about all of those wonderful sparkling wines and then uncovered the highlights of the spirit world...alcoholic spirits that is.  

Over the next few months Ill continue to post videos regarding wine, Ill share wine reviews, and start talking about pairing wines.  I'd love to hear from you all though- what are your burning questions about wine?  What would you like to hear about?  

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

How to Taste Wine Like a Pro!

As you all know I joined the team at City Wine Tours earlier this summer as one of their Wine Ambassadors.  One of my favorite parts of the tours is when I get to walk through a tasting note.  We review all of the different aspects of the wines we look at from the sight of them, to the nose, and finally the taste.  I thought I'd share the same experience with you all!  I worked with the Martin Codax Albarino, if you'd like to taste a long!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Do Rose Wines Confuse You?

Are those pink wines out there making you scratch your head?  Are you turned off by the color?  Do you believe that they are just super sweet wines to be scoffed at? Check out my discussion that explains all the ins and outs of those pretty pink wines!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Fairsted Kitchen, Washington Square, Brookline

I gotta say- the last few months have seen the opening of some amazing restaurants.  These are restaurants where the food is inventive, but not approachable.  They are places where it's not necessary to consult google to determine what an ingredient is, they are places where a word like homey could be used....if your home contained a professional chef, of course.  One of these places is Fairsted Kitchen, located right on the green line in Brookline.

Under the extremely capable hands of chef Jason Albus, the team is offering up comforting, delicious, and well planned meals.  The cuisine can only be categorized as Contemporary American, though that general term does it no justice.  Fairsted Kitchen isn't holding back.  

The menu is designed for sharing, and so, on a recent trip, we sat down to four of their small plates.  We began with the sumac cured salmon, topped with fresh arugula, an herbed citrus vinaigrette and crunchy fried potato strings.  The salmon was beautifully seasoned and cured.  It sparkled with the unique lemon-esq flavor of the sumac, but upheld its classic salmon flavor.  The spice of the arugula was a wonderful complement, and of course the fried strips of heaven brought a sense of danger to an otherwise healthful meal.  As much as I loved all of the components of this dish, this was actually the only miss of the evening.  We found that someone had a heavy hand with the salt in the dressing and often found that to overcome the other, more delicate flavors.  

Next to our table was their house made
gnocchi, swimming in a creamy, buttery sauce, enhanced with those beautiful spring vegetables of bright green peas, fava beans and earthy Maitake mushrooms.  One of my favorite scenes in the movie Julie & Julia is when Julia Child takes a bite of her fish entree and sighs with delight "butter!".  I had the exact same blissful reaction to this dish.  The gnocchi were delightful, pillowy soft, still with some weight to them, fresh, sweet green peas, nutty fava beans with their wonderful toothsome feel, and of course the Maitakes, but the sauce that sang with pure butter is what pulled all of those other flavors and textures together in harmony.  Simple flavors is what it's all about.

Next were the crabcakes, sitting in a bright fresh Romesco sauce and accompanied by my favorite charred romaine lettuce.  Steering away from the classic crab cake accompaniments took this, bordering on ordinary dish, to a whole new level.  The Romesco was bright with acidity, a tiny hint of spice and an overall clean feeling which highlighted the sweet crab and ensured that was the true star.  The cakes themselves were plump and had the perfect mix of filling, and crab.  It is far, far too infrequent that I see charred romaine on menus and here it was became a stellar way to sop up every last bit of sauce.

Finally we tested out their sea
scallops, seared, and served with shaved leeks, puréed butternut squash and chopped cashews.  The scallops were perfectly cooked, golden brown exterior to a just translucent interior.  In these warm summer months, squash may have seemed out of place, however combined with the freshness of the leeks it was a refreshing choice.

As we wrapped up dinner we were buzzing a bit on how delicious it had all been so when our server asked if we'd like dessert, it wasn't a hard choice.  Blackberry pie, graham cracker crust, marscapone whipped cream.  The Blackberry filling was slightly tart, slightly sweet, a little creamy...the
crumbly graham cracker crust didn't was a perfect summer dessert that brought me right back to my mom's kitchen table on a hot summers eve.

Fairsted Kitchen is homey, the plates are mismatched, there are several sets of utensils being used, and you're sitting on church pews.  The coffee comes in a French Press for self serving.  It is homey, warming, and comforting.  It's food is no exception- simple food executed perfectly.

Sunday, June 29, 2014


Today was a big day around these parts!  I have been playing with the idea of doing some videos for you all for a while and today, I can finally launch my new segment- Decanted!  I'm so excited to use this space to answer any and all wine questions you may have so please send them on over- and definitely check out my first video!  

Thursday, June 26, 2014

City Wine Tours, and Their New Ambassador!

Have you ever wanted to take a fun tour of the different neighborhoods of Boston?  Meandering through them, learning their rich history....maybe drinking some wine along the way?

If you haven't heard, City Wine Tours offers explorations of the Back Bay, South End, North End and Harvard Square each and every weekend.  Each tour is two hours and takes you to three different destinations which includes multiple glasses of wine and tasty snacks.  All along the way your guide will talk you through the wines you're tasting, relay some handy dandy tips for how to order wine in a restaurant or what to look for at a wine store, and even throw in some fun facts about the neighborhood your in.  

Now the super fun part?  Earlier this month I joined the team at City Wine Tours as a Wine Ambassador- meaning that you may even get to tour an area with me!  I'll warn you though- I get pretty geeky about wine and can definitely get into a lot of detail about different aspects, but, like all the ambassadors- I love answering questions and making wine so much less complex!

Definitely check out and sign up for your favorite neighborhood- a good time awaits!

Thursday, June 19, 2014 The BEST Ticket Agency Around!

As much as there is fantastic food here in Boston there are some amazing concerts, games, and shows to take in between meals.  Over the last few years a new ticket sourcing agency has been taking the city by storm. isn't your generic ticketing agency.  Here you name your price for the tickets you want, allowing you to get steep discounts on some of the hottest seats in town!  The system couldn't be simpler, and the whole thing takes just a couple of minutes!  

First off- browse their incredible selection of available events.  Itching to cheer on those champion Red Sox?  They've got seats to almost every game! How about that Justin Timberlake concert coming up?  Or maybe one of those amazing Broadway style productions that we are blessed to have visit us?  Yeah- they can help you out with that.

Then, once you've found your perfect event, pick your date and time, and then
your seat level.  All of their tickets fall into different levels of seats/prices and their handy dandy tool will show you which area the levels fall into.  Pick which is best for you and then name your price!  The system will show you how likely it is that you will get your tickets for the named price by a red to green slider.  Click accept and within a couple of minutes you will know what kind of a discount you get!

Tickets are inclusive of taxes and shipping, and so just a few days later they will arrive and you will be on your way!  ScoreBig has become my favorite way to purchase tickets to any event- super easy and I feel like Im playing a game looking for the best bargain- what could be better??  

Next time you're looking for tickets to any event- check them out!  

Please note, this is a sponsored post by

Monday, June 16, 2014

Garden Party Recap- Partying Down with Hood Cottage Cheese

There are very few things better than sitting outside, in gorgeous weather, with good friends, good food and good wine.  Really, there just aren't that many things that make the world more enjoyable.  So when Hood contacted me about hosting a summer garden party, focusing on their awesome new Cottage Cheese flavors, I immediately accepted.

Earlier this year, Hood released their delicious, creamy, high protein and nutrient rich Cottage Cheese in new flavors of Garden Veggie and Cucumber Dill.   These are classic flavors, but here, they are deliciously done and perfect for making all sorts of brand new creations.  Now when I'm creating a party menu, I love to make finger foods- items that are easy to eat, easy to mingle with, ones that are small bites but full of flavor and textures.  

First up, I concentrated on
the cucumber dill.  For whatever reason, whenever I think of this combination of flavors, I immediately think of something spicy to contrast the cooling nature of the cucumber, and even more so the dairy that was present here with the Cottage Cheese.  I decided on spicy chicken, set in convenient boats made out of endive and topped with the Cucumber Dill Cottage Cheese.  Simple to make, and perfectly easy to eat the endive creates a satisfying crunch with just a bit of refreshing water to cool the heat from the chicken, and then further with the cottage cheese.  Paired with a glass of slightly sweet Riesling, or a nice, acidic Sauvignon Blanc- these bites were both filling and light.

Next I concentrated on the Garden Veggie.  I'll be honest, I was anticipating rather flat flavors from this variety- the delicacy of vegetable flavors overcome by the dairy.  However, instead it is full of real flavors- peppers, herbs, zucchini...and somewhere just a little bit of a kick of spice.  The flavors in the cheese demanded being the star of the show, so I made two simple recipes with them.  The first was a similar "boat" experience as the endive, but instead here I decided hollow out the insides of a few small zucchini, and then fill it with sauteed ground turkey breast, and topped it with the cottage cheese.  Minimizing the seasoning here on the turkey meat allowed the cottage cheese to take center stage and the delicate flavors within to come into their own.  The flavors here are so rich and powerful, I loved pairing this with a full bodied glass of Grenache based Rose.  

Finally, I riffed a recipe that the team at Hood sent me.  Easiest recipe ever,
with maximum deliciousness.  Hollow out just a couple of cherry tomatoes, fill the center with Garden Vegetable Cottage Cheese, and here is where I differed the recipe- top with freshly fried pieces of bacon. Yup- I went there.  

I found all of the flavors to be highly adaptable and easy to work with.  Each contributes its own unique flavors- flavors that are fresh, natural, and completely delicious.  Hood Cottage Cheese is full of awesome nutrients and is a fantastic addition to a balanced diet.

Spicy Chicken Endive Bites
2 chicken breasts
1 tsp cayenne pepper (more or less dependent on your taste)
1 tsp garlic powder
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
10 Endive leaves, washed but kept whole
1 1/2 cups Cucumber Dill Cottage Cheese

Pre Heat oven to 375.  Blend together the cayenne pepper, garlic powder, black pepper and salt and rub into the chicken breasts.  Bake until done, then dice the chicken.  Distribute the chicken between the endive leaves and top with the cottage cheese.

Zucchini Turkey Boats
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 Lb Ground Turkey
1/4 of a white onion, diced
1 cup Garden Vegetable Cottage Cheese
4 small zucchini
Salt and Pepper

Pre Heat the oven to 300.  In a small pan over medium heat, add the olive oil, and saute the onions, and then add the ground turkey, salt and pepper.  While that cooks, slice the zucchini in half lengthwise, and then, with a small, sharp knife score the inside into small pieces being careful not to cut all the way through the skin.  Remove the pieces, leaving the space to fill with the turkey meat.  Add the pieces to the sautee pan with the turkey meat.  When the turkey is done cooking, shovel the mixture into the cavities in the zucchini, top with cottage cheese and serve!      

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Partying Down and Filling UP with Hood Cottage Cheese!

It is FINALLY spring time- which brings sunny skies, chirping birds, blooming flowers and warm temperatures.  I don't know about you but that screams outside fun to me!  To celebrate the joy of this time I've joined forces with Hood Cottage Cheese to host a little springtime gathering, out in the sun!  

Now, I have to say, I have had a little bit of an obsession with Cottage Cheese lately.  My go to lunch lately has been roasted veggies topped with the cheese and I have been loving it!  Full of all sorts of calcium and 13 grams of protein, it's the perfect way to fill up my belly and keep my energy levels high through the most tedious of afternoon meetings.


Just recently Hood launched a few new flavors to their line up to keep out taste buds intrigued- a robust Garden Vegetable and a cool Cucumber Dill.  They have tasked me with making up a few new recipes to serve at a springtime/summer time gathering that incorporate these delicious flavors- and I couldn't resist!  With the glorious weather planned for the next week and this holiday weekend I thought this would be a perfect time to have some friends over, enjoy those chirping birds and and chow down on some filling, energy producing snacks!  I'm picturing boats filled with lean turkey and topped with Garden Vegetable, and spicy chicken cooled off with Cucumber Dill...though my brain is still working hard!  Let me know if you have any ideas for me and Ill post soon with my finished recipes and let you know how the fabulous party turned out!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

FlatOut Flatbread Winner!

So how was that for some suspense?  A couple of weeks to let you know who the winner was for the FABULOUS FlatOut Flatbread give away!  I wont make you wait a moment longer- the winner is 

Vivacious Ramsey!!!

I will be reaching out to you to arrange delivery!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Flatout Flatbread Give Away!

Over the past few weeks I had the great opportunity to spend a lot of time feasting on Flat Breads and Wraps from the Flatout Flat Bread Company.  I got to make my own recipes, and I tried out a few of theirs as well.  And now, I want to give you the same opportunity!

One of my favorite recipes that I found on their site was for their PB&J with SB&G Flatout Wrap.  Chock full of delicious all natural peanut butter, sweet jam, tangy berries, filling banana and cruncny granola- this was a perfect lunch.  It was filling, and with all of those flavors and textures- it felt indulgent!

PB&J with SB&G Flatout Wrap
Posted in On-The-Go Lunch
1 Flatout® Light Flatbread
1 Tbs reduced fat peanut butter
1 Tbs sugar-free jam
2 strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/4 banana, cut in half lengthwise
2 Tbs low fat granola

Spread peanut butter evenly over entire Flatout. On one rounded end, spread jam. Layer strawberry, banana and granola. Roll, cut and enjoy!

Now I'd like to offer you the opportunity to receive a prize pack to indulge in from the Flatout Flat Bread Company!  The pack will concentrate in their all natural offerings, which will make help you make delicious and healthy breakfasts, lunches and snacks!  To enter, please leave a comment telling us what your favorite wrap is.   Please be a US resident, 18 years of age or older.  Entries close May 5, 2014 at 5:00 pm EST

Monday, April 28, 2014

Nespresso VertuoLine Machine and an Iced Coffee Perfect for Springtime Entertaining!

Ohhhh Nespresso- you've done it again...So you all area well aware of my love, my adoration, of my Nespresso machine.  Espresso and lattes at the touch button, every cup perfect with rich crema...I savor every drop.  Earlier this year however, Nespresso brought a new addition to its line of machines, and this one is brewing large cups of coffee in addition to its line of espressos.  I was the lucky recipient of this new maching, the VertuoLine, and have been loving it!

The large pour matches the size of regular drip machines, perhaps even a little over, but with the incredible robust flavor that we come to expect with Nespresso.  They are using the same extraordinary measures to source this coffee as they always have and it shows in

brewing a rich, fantastic cup of coffee.  

As Spring is upon us, and temperatures are getting warmer, now is the perfect time to switch to iced coffee, and the Virtuoline is the answer to robust flavor, combined with that ice. I thought this might be a perfect addition to some springtime entertaining I've been doing.  Nothing is quite like ending a delicious meal with a cup of coffee, but a special iced treat is even better.

I wanted to bring the flavors of summer right into this treat, which to me always means lemon.  The combination here is with lemon and honey which created a lemonade type flavor and was a delicious

post dinner icy treat.

I brewed a full cup of the VertuoLine Elvazio, and then added a teaspoon and a half of honey to the hot liquid, and then chilled that in the fridge.  In my Aeroccino I grated about a teaspoon of lemon zest into the milk before frothing, and then cool frothed the milk.  I poured the coffee into a glass filled with ice, and topped it with the foam.  Summer coffee in a glass... 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

WSET Level 3 Update

I just have so much to share with you all!  The past few weeks have been jam packed with awesome food I am so excited to share with you, a side project that I will be discussing more this summer, lots of delicious coffee, and I even have a give away coming up!  I'm going to get to all of it- I promise!

I wanted to take a quick moment though to let you know how my wine studies have been progressing.  In late February I wrapped up the WSET Level 2 course, and passed our final exam with merit, which made me insanely happy.  I walked out of the exam convinced I had failed so when the good news came in a couple of weeks later I literally jumped for joy.  Even before level 2 ended I begane the third level of the WSET and am deep into that now.  Every week we spend hours diving into the incredible regions around the world that produce our wines, and discuss what factors unique to these areas create the diverse palate we all enjoy.  We swirl, smell and sip wines from each region, pulling out every flavor, rating their acidity, debating the tannin levels and judging their quality.  Every wine is a marvel of how terroir truly affects the flavors of wine, and a wondrous look into the culture of the country in which it was grown. Our classes are this glorious mix of studying specific areas, and revisiting our global history, seeing how different wars, changes in leadership and the emergence of technology have impacted wine.   

I'll be reviewing more wines in the upcoming months, once everything settles down a bit- Ive found some new favorites I cannot wait to show you! Im also working on new formats to talk about wine with you all. In the meantime I'll be getting some articles written for Groupon, and posting some fantastic reviews here as well.  Stay tuned!    

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Flatout Flatbreads, Starkist Tuna and a Simple Gyro

After my love of my Healthy Italian Style Tuna Melt, I caught the sandwich bug and wanted to start converting all of my favorite unhealthy sandwich loves into a healthier product.  The partnership with both Flatout Flatbreads and Starkist Tuna was making this a very easy task to achieve.   Next up I wanted a Gyro.  I desperately wanted the savory Greek feel with a creamy, fresh Tzatziki Sauce.  I wanted to use traditional flavors, but with a unique twist as well.  

Tuna "Gyro"
2 pouches Starkist Fresh 
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried marjoram
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbsp finely chopped red onion
Freshly ground black pepper

Two Flatout Foldit Flatbreads Rosemary and Olive Oil variety

Tzatziki Sauce
1 cup non fat Greek yogurt
1 tsp honey
1/4 cup diced cucumber
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
Salt and pepper to taste

In a mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the Tzatziki Sauce, cover and set aside for 30 minutes.  In a separate bowl, combine the first 7 ingredients, place half the mixture on each of the flat breads.  Top with the Tzatziki Sauce fold over the top and enjoy all of the messy wonder of a Gyro.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Flatout Flatbread, Starkist Tuna and a Healthy Italian Style Tuna Melt

I love a good sandwich- I mean I really love them.  We have an ongoing joke in my family about our search for a good sandwich.  We are the family who will drive for hours, stomachs grumbling, moods diminishing, in pursuit of that perfect specimen.  There is just something so satisfying when the right combination of bread, condiment, protein, veggie and maybe a little cheese comes together.  Of course, my search for the sandwich has petered out the last few years as I've become more and more health conscious.  

Over the last few years, as I put together my lunches, I've sought out healthier options, salads and nutrient rich soups, basically anything that steers me away from those pesky carbohydrates that rarely benefit my waist line as they turn to sugar.  I can't lie though- I've missed my sandwiches.  Its such a perfect, handy, filling, delicious lunch.  The last couple weeks though, sandwiches have been back in my life in a big way.

So why the change?  The Flatout Bread Company has entered my life in a delicious way.  A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by their PR representatives and asked me to collaborate with the company and Starkist Tuna to develop some recipes and host a little give away for you all- I can't even tell you how fast I jumped at the idea.  See, the Flatout Bread Company has created a loophole in the sandwich curse.  They have found the way to make a product with almost 50% less carbs than regular bread that is full of flavor, a pillowy texture and makes provides a fantastic base for your favorite sandwich combinations.

Now I love tuna- far, far too many of my lunches and dinners feature tuna as my protein of choice.  Full of great Omega-3's, and low in fat, it's filling and delicious without adding anything unhealthy to my diet.  Starkist has recently launched a great a line of Flavor Fresh Pouches which contain a single serving of tuna, clocking in at just 70 calories, sealed in water, but just enough to keep the tuna from drying out without any need to drain it.  I am pretty picky about my tuna, if it gets too fishy tasting at all, my stomach hosts a strike and it doesn't get eaten.  I have downed multiple packets of this Starkist Tuna and loved every bite.  
As I started dreaming up recipes I wanted to enjoy the Flatout Breads without losing my normal dose of nutrients from my standard lunch options.  I have been loving kale lately- one of those perfect greens that has been linked to decreasing cancer risks, reducing cholesterol, and helping the body to naturally detox.  I eat it daily and so I wanted to combine it here in a new way, and so with some creative thoughts, the Healthy Italian Tuna Melt was born.

Healthy Italian Style Tuna Melt; serves 2
3 cups baby kale
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Salt  and fresh ground black pepper to taste
Olive Oil
2 packets Starkist Tuna
2 slices of fresh tomato
4 slices Mozzarella cheese
2 Flatout Foldit Artisan Flatbreads 5 Grain Flax 

Preheat your broiler
In a food processor, or blender, combine the first 5 ingredients and begin processing.   Gradually add the olive oil until a loose paste is formed.   Spoon the mixture into a small bowl and combine with the two packets of tuna.

Place two flatbreads on an ovenproof dish and top with  two slices of mozzarella cheese on each.  Broil the breads until the cheese melts and remove from the oven.  Transfer the breads to a serving plate.   Top with the tuna mixture and a slice of tomato on each, fold and enjoy! 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Lamb Jam Tour Coming to Boston April 13, 2014

Are you ready for next weekend?  Have you been in training?  Ready to feast?  The annual Lamb Jam Tour is making its Boston stop this coming Sunday, April 13th, and all of those stomach expanding exercises will certainly pay off.  If you have somehow missed this great event previous years, it pits 20 chefs from all around the area against each other in a fierce battle for best dish, and you get to try all of the entries...not such a bad gig.  Oh and did I mention that there will be 12 different local breweries on site to help wash down all that awesome lamb you'll be noshing on- not bad right?

You may, if you aren't already in love with it, be wondering why lamb?  Lamb has
been a product of the US for centuries but is one of the most underutilized foods.  It is sustainably farmed, mostly by long term family run businesses.  Lamb farms are situated all over the US, meaning that when you find lamb in the grocery store its gotten there within just a couple of days, which means its fresh, and full of natural flavor.  On top of that, lamb meat is incredibly lean, and is a great source of protein, vitamin B12, niacin, zinc, and selenium. 

Probably best of all though, is that Lamb is incredibly easy to prepare.  Lamb doesn't contain the same dangers that chicken or pork do, so the idea is to cook lamb to tender, but not to a certain temperature.  This makes for a much easier, stress free cooking experience.  

Lamb Jam next weekend is the perfect way to start looking at all of the ways lamb can be prepared and all of the delicious creations that are out there.  Tickets are still available- definitely check it out- you wont be disappointed 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Boston Food Diary and Groupon- A Heavenly Partnership!

As I wrote my last post I realized that there was one very large piece of my life lately that I haven't properly introduced to you all here!  Last August I was asked to start writing for a new section of the king of "deal" websites- Groupon.  They launched a local Guide component to their website, and I have been contributing there as an expert on the food and drinks that the great city of Boston has to offer.  

I have been LOVING my partnership with them.  Their local guides focus on food, fashion and fun around this great city and the writers that they have compiled to delve into each of these are fantastic voices bring color and excitement to each post.  

Definitely check out the section I get to be a part of here, and please let me know if you have any suggestions for future articles!

A taste of what I've been covering for them thus far:

Monday, March 10, 2014

Boston Center for Adult Education Launches New “R & D” Restaurant Series

It's been a little quiet around here lately and for that I deeply apologize- my day time career and my wine studies have kept me rather busy which has caused a bit of a delay in updates here.  However, I wanted to break the silence to let you all know about a very cool series coming to our own Boston Center for Adult Education.

The Center, known for giving the adults of Boston a place to expand their knowledge, pick up a new hobby, or learn a craft is launching, dates to be determined, an R & D Series, partnering with the local chefs of Boston.  So what does this mean?  This will literally be a Research and Development series, wherein chefs and restaurateurs who are in the process of opening new restaurants will have a place to showcase their "in development" recipes on a live, non partial audience... you!  

The idea is that the new restaurant will have an opportunity to show off their concepts, and the diners (read, again, you) will get to give your feedback, and, of course, have some bragging rights around your food obsessed friends.  Think a much cooler, futuristic Yelp...on steroids.  

We don't yet have dates, but it sounds like some will be announced soon- so stay alert people!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Nespresso Launches New Line of Machines- featuring a large cup pour!

Photo courtesy of Nespresso USA
Have you heard the news???  Just today Nespresso announced a BRAND NEW LINE OF MACHINES WITH BRAND NEW TECHNOLOGY!  Oh that's right- the best single serve coffee system out there has launched a new line of machines known as the Vertuoline that, through barcode technology, determine the optimum brewing for the inserted capsule.  So why is this important?  Well this new machine has the capability to brew a large cup (8 ounces) of coffee- with crema!

Now, I haven't yet gotten to test out the machines, however I will bring you as much information as I can on this as I learn more...but man - THIS is exciting!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Vins Auvigue 2011 Moulin du Pont

As many of you know, a few years ago I attended the International Food Bloggers Conference that was held in Seattle, Washington.  While I was there I had the incredible fortune to meet one of Seattle's best chefs, Matthew Farrer, and he became someone I count as a very dear friend today.  Late 2012 he was diagnosed with advanced stage cancer.  The restaurant community in Seattle has rallied around him and, for the second year running, are putting together a benefit dinner to assist with his medical bills.  This dinner is scheduled for this weekend, February 16th.  

Unfortunately I am unable to make it to the festivities but I wanted to commemorate the occasion in the best way possible- by toasting him with a glass of wine that I was first introduced to by him- White Burgundy.  The Burgundy region of France, located in the mid -east region of the country, is the classic and often regarded as the best place where Chardonnay grapes are grown.  The climate is cool to moderate which creates a more acidic wine.  

I purchased a bottle of Vins Auvigue Charonnay from Villages de Davayé, 2011
vintage.  These grapes are hand harvested, pressed and then aged in steel.  Here this created a wine without any oak notes which is typical of the Maconnais portion of Burgundy.  The wine had an incredible fresh lemon and citrus nose, clean, and moderate in intensity.  It's flavor however was a beautiful mix of both lemon, and butter.  It was acidic, had great body and was very pleasing to sip.  It wasn't perhaps not the most complex wine, but at $20.00 for a bottle, inexpensive for the region, it was exactly what I wanted, and I could feel Matt's approval from across the country.  

More information concerning Matt's dinner can be found here.  If you can attend, or donate, every bit will help.  Either way- I encourage you to raise a glass to his honor.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Banana Bread Chia Seed Pudding

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the wonders of Chia Seed Pudding.  Since then I have been feasting on it for breakfast almost everyday since.  Then, last week, I got a craving for Banana Bread.  I blame it on the cold, but I came very close to mixing up the batter and baking up a loaf.  However as I thought more about it I knew that there had to be a healthier way to satisfy my craving....and then I thought...Banana Bread Chia Seed Pudding!

The mix of warm spices, with mashed banana and crunchy nuts immediately satisfied my craving and made me glad that baking pans got to stay tucked away in my cabinets.  My recipe makes two servings.

1 slightly over ripe banana
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chia seeds
1/2 tsp honey (maple syrup or agave syrup would also work)
1 cup milk (low fat, almond, or soy as you desire)
1/4 cup chopped almonds or walnuts

Mash the banana and blend thoroughly with the cinnamon, honey and vanilla extract.  When blended, stir in the milk and chia seeds.  Refrigerate four hours or over night, stirring about a 1/2 hour in to make sure it's evening blended.  When read to eat, stir in the chopped nuts. 


Restaurant Reviews: A dead art?

Last December I declared 2023 the year I would return to food writing.  It was a bold statement (even now as I look at my last published dat...