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A Little Bit About a Lot of Things

A lifestyle blog with a focus on my food adventures

Best Bees 12I met Noah, the founder of Best Bees, at the Follow the Honey Dinner. While we were chatting at the table, he invited me to come down and see what urban beekeeping was all about.

Best Bees 1Located in Roxbury, behind Boston Body Works, the bee hives are located on hydraulic lifts. It is here where I met up with Maddie and Tom, the lab manager. Noah, the founder, graduated from Northeastern with a BS in Bio – and he likes to keep the Northeastern tradition alive by having co-op students come and intern at Best Bees. Did you know that unlike yellow jackets or wasps that can sting you multiple times, honey bees can only sting you once and then they die.

Best Bees 2So Tom pulls the lift down and shows me around the hives. A major problem with bee hives is disease. Noah and his team work with all natural remedies to try and rid the hives of diseases. Did you know that bees can fly up to 5 miles to find flowers? Bees are quite smart, in order to find their way back to their hive, they use landmarks and then as they get closer, they can use their sense of smell to return to their hive.

Best Bees 3Tom estimates that there are almost a million bees in the hives at Best Bees. Did you know that each colony can only have one queen? If there is more than one queen, which ever one hatches first will kill the other queens. If you get a sterile queen, one that you are introducing to a colony, she comes in a cage with a little bit of candy on the bottom. The bees need to get used to her smell and when they are ready to accept her, they chew the candy from the bottom of the cage and release her.

Best Bees 4It’s all fun and games until someone gets stung. That someone would be me. Trying my hardest NOT to swat at the bees buzzing around us, one lands on my lip of all places and stings me right in the kisser. Bad news is that it stung (no pun intended). My eyes have started to water and my nose is starting to run…and I may be sweating a little from embarrassment seeing as I have only met Maddie and Tom about 5 minutes ago. Good news is that I am now going to give Angelina Jolie a run for her money. And now, after establishing that they don’t have to stab me with an epi pen, we come to the stinger. Still in my lip. Have to get that baby out myself. More awkwardness. But then the give me an icepack and tell me that they’ve all been stung a bunch of times…and humor me by saying that…”it’s not that bad”. So embarrassment be damned, I stick around while they tell me all about the honey process and all things bee.

Best Bees 9Clients drop off their trays and Best Bees collects the honey.

Best Bees 7First they carefully scrape off the caps of the honeycomb.

Best Bees 5How beautiful is that honey?

Best Bees 6They place the honeycomb into a centrifuge and spin it for 5 minutes on both sides. The honey is flung out to the walls of the centrifuge and drip down to the bottom where it is collected.

Best Bees 10Keeping things pure, they only filter the honey once and then dispense it into mason jars. I was able to taste a little honey that they had just collected and it was delicious. Light and amazing – sweet and fresh.

Best Bees 11Different color honey depends on the hive and which flowers the bees are attracted to.

To find out more about bees and honey, check out the Best Bees website.

Best Bees

Noah Wilson-Rich

839 Albany Street, Boston, MA

http://www.bestbees.com

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imag1234My friend Jesse moved back to Boston after being away in California for 9 years. We celebrated his move back to the bean by heading over to Fairsted Kitchen. See my previous post here. Jesse was pumped about this because it’s just steps from their new home.

imag1236Of course we had the scallops, just an amazing dish – cooked perfectly!

imag1238The sweetbreads were tasty – not something I would normally order but I’m glad Jesse persuaded me to try them.

imag1240The lobster beignets were light and delicious served on top of a light corn salad.

imag1235The gnocchi was perfectly cooked as well and simply light as air.

imag1241We had the blueberry pie for dessert. I’m not generally a blueberry pie kind of gal, I like more of a crust to my pie, but this was delicious – like biting into summer, not too sweet and the graham cracker crust gave it some good texture.

imag1242I usually turn my nose up at pot de creme desserts – chocolate desserts (at restaurants in general) usually don’t have effort put into them. However, this was outstanding – and I stand corrected about chocolate desserts. This was light and flavorful – a really delicious dessert. I am pretty sure we I licked the cup clean.

Fairsted Kitchen

1704 Beacon Street, Brookline, MA

http://fairstedkitchen.com/

Fairsted Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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imag0842Have you heard of Maple Water? People are calling it the “new coconut water”. I met Kate, the co-founder, at a Good Ones party a while back. Turns out, we went to high school together – small world.  Kate has a Master of Science in Nutrition from Northeastern University. She is a Certified Holistic Health Coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and has a BA from Colby College. She’s also an ironman triathlete!!

imag0850What is Maple? Maple contains fortifying vitamins, minerals, polyphenols, antioxidants, prebiotics and is naturally low in calories. I know that when I heard about Maple water, I immediately thought it was going to be sweet. The flavor is quite subtle, light, with just a hint of sweetness – not at all what I had expected.

imag0847Maple supports good digestive health.
Maple is full of electrolytes good for natural hydration.
Maple gives you energy.
It’s naturally low calories, only 20 per serving.
It has half the sugar of coconut water.
There are no added sugar or preservatives.
Maple is gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, non-GMO.

img_20140628_120958Where do you drink Maple? I take mine to the beach and up hiking in the woods…ok, hiking might be an overstatement…but you get the idea.

img_20140724_181608You can find Maple water in Whole Foods or you can buy them online.

 

IMG_3258Gaslight, Brasserie du Coin, literally Brasserie on the corner is part of the Aquitane Group who bring you restaurants such as Aquitane, Cinquecento, Union Bar and Grille and Metropolis Cafe.

IMG_3259Gaslight is run by Executive Chef Seth Woods and Michael Zentner, his Chef de Cuisine.

IMG_3261The decor is that of a traditional French Brasseie, from the white subway tiles and dark booths to the reclaimed wood floors.

img_20140713_093916We planned on heading over to the SOWA market today, so we came to Gaslight to fuel up (that and they offer free parking!!) We start with a Cafe American ($2.95).

imag1057Meredith raves about the raspberry croissants ($3.25), which were good, but a little on the well done side.

IMG_3265The French toast ($10.50) was good, but very sweet. With such large slices, it was hard to finish the whole dish.

IMG_3263The Pork Hache ($15.50) was outstanding: Confit pork, crispy potatoes, chili sauce verte & fried eggs. It was a stick to your ribs kind of meal with the perfect balance of saltiness. I would definitely come back for this again. Service was excellent, our waiter took good care of us.

 

Gaslight

560 Harrison Street, Boston, MA

http://www.gaslight560.com/

Gaslight Brasserie du Coin on Urbanspoon

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IMG_4977Kale chips seem to be pretty popular these days. Rhythm Superfoods has a line that includes flavors like zesty nacho, kool ranch, bombay curry, mango habanero, texas bbq, pineapple coconut and honey mustard. The flavors like zesty nacho and kool ranch are a great way to ease people into the idea of kale chips because they are approachable flavors. I was sent the mango habanero, the pineapple coconut and the zesty nacho flavors to try.

Each bag starts as a bunch of fresh kale. They mix it with a hand crafted dressing made from a blend of fresh organic vegetables, seeds, juices, herbs and spices.

IMG_6387These kale chips are air crisped at a low temperature which maintains the RAW living enzymes and maximizes nutritional potency. Kale is rich in vitamins A, C and K. The chips are Gluten-free and USDA-Organic. My favorite were the zesty nacho – they were pretty tasty with a really nice crunch to them – making you almost forget they were kale chips.

Rhythm Superfoods was founded in 2009 in Austin by Keith Wahrer (co-founder of Daily Juice). The company became official with the addition of fellow Austin entrepreneurs Scott Jensen (former Stubb’s BBQ CEO), Clayton Christopher and David Smith (founders of Sweet Leaf tea), and Robert Larkin (Growing Grace, Daily Juice).

Disclaimer: I was provided samples of the product to review. All opinions are my own.

Rhythm Superfoods

Buy in store or online. 2oz.bags for $4.99

http://rhythmsuperfoods.com/

Vermont Farm Tour 7I had really wanted to attend this year’s Vermont Cheese Festival but we were going to be in Vermont the week after. So the next best thing would be a Vermont Farm Tour. I looked up the company and contacted Chris Howell, the owner. We made plans to meet on Friday in Middlebury. Tours are $400 for a full day and  $250 for a half day (up to three guests). M and I took the scenic route to get to Middlebury, and there were moments when we thought we weren’t going the right way. We met at Champlain Valley Creamery and headed out to our first farm. Nicky Foster and Julie Danyew run Bridport Creamery. They make the cheese from Nicky’s family dairy, Iroquois Acres. Julie has a goat herd and makes fresh and aged goats milk cheeses.

Vermont Farm Tour 2The young cows are kept separately from the rest of the adult cows for their own safety.

Vermont Farm Tour 3Nicky talked to us about organic vs. non organic cows – how with organic cows if your cow gets sick, you can’t give it medicine.

Vermont Farm Tour 4Here at Iroquois Acres, they treat their cows well. On hot days they circulate into covered areas where they are misted with water and fans to keep cool.

Vermont Farm Tour 5In addition to growing up on a dairy farm, Nicky married a dairy farmer. Her husband’s farm is one of the largest in the state.

Vermont Farm Tour 6Look at this face!!!!

Vermont Farm Tour 8We were able to step inside Nicky’s cheese cave and check out what was inside! In addition the cheese curds they also make:

  • Swisserella – a mild, great melting cheese in plain and herbed
  • Danz Ahn Farm Feta – a variation on a classic
  • Champlain Valley Tomme – Bridgeport Creamery’s aged cow milk tomme with a mild and nutty finish
  • Tango – a sightly sharp, aged goat milk tomme

Vermont Farm Tour 9We had the chance to buy cheese from all of the stops during the day. Chris brought a cooler so that the cheese would stay cool in the car. It was here that I tried my first cheese curd. AMAZING! We bought some to take home with us. Nicky sells her cheese to many local businesses and her cheese curds to restaurants like the Skinny Pancake in Burlington where they make deep fried cheese curds! YUM!!

Vermont Farm Tour 23Next on our tour was Trevin Farms. Troy and Kevin run a B&B on their working farm. Originally from Cambridge, they moved up to Vermont a decade ago not knowing much about farming. When they bought the property, there was only the house. They cleared the rest of the land themselves – 14 acres!

Vermont Farm Tour 14We are greeted by Troy and about 20 baby goats! He’s like the goat whisperer. Troy told us that they bottle feed all the goats inside the house, 7 times a day until they are weaned.

Vermont Farm Tour 10These are Nubian goats known for their long ears and “Roman” noses.

Vermont Farm Tour 11They couldn’t have been more friendly and curious….and vocal.

Vermont Farm Tour 12The goats were playful – running all about, while never getting too far from Troy.

Vermont Farm Tour 13Troy tells is that these goats prefer to eat things that are higher up off the ground, so it is very natural for them to get on their hind legs and eat off tall branches. This adorable spotted guy will be the father of the next round of baby goats.

Vermont Farm Tour 15In addition to goats they also have chickens. Troy and Kevin use the fresh eggs for breakfast in the morning for guests. They have an amazing garden where they grow veggies for the guest’s meals. Kevin let us in on the secret to growing enormous pumpkins….you inject the vine with goat’s milk.

Vermont Farm Tour 16And they have horses – this guy helped clear some of their land.

Vermont Farm Tour 17Look at that face!

Vermont Farm Tour 18They hand milk all of the goats. Troy and Kevin keep all of the female goats and sell off the males – so they only have two males on the property.

Vermont Farm Tour 19All the goats are named after cities.

Vermont Farm Tour 20We have lunch at the farm. Chris has picked up a variety of sandwiches and creme brulee from City Market in Burlington, one of my favorite markets. We eat and taste Trevin Farms’ fresh goat cheese. I’m not generally a goat cheese kind of gal, it’s just too…goaty. But this was so fresh and so light, really quite lovely. It really makes a difference to have cheese that was made just the other day. We also tried raw goat’s milk. I can’t even remember the last time I had a glass of milk…and as I mentioned before, I was hesitant as I don’t love really the goaty flavor. But this milk, from this morning, was light and clean, really not goaty at all. Goat’s milk is also supposed to be good for people who are lactose intolerant and raw milk is supposedly easier to digest.

Vermont Farm Tour 21Our lunch companions.

Vermont Farm Tour 22Kevin told us that Troy does the cooking and he looks after the goats and the garden. They used to try and do things together, but it works out better if they each do their own thing. Kevin delivers all of the baby goats and in addition to all of the hand milking and the care involved with these amazing animals, he also has a full time job! We had such a lovely afternoon here, Troy and Kevin were gracious hosts and really wonderful to be around. As I mentioned, they have a B&B with 3 bedrooms, and you can even do a package where you can make your own goat cheese!

Vermont Farm Tour 1While we are waiting for Carlton to arrive and show us around Champlain Valley Creamery, we stop in upstairs at Appalachian Gap Distillery for a little booze tasting! A whiskey, a rum, and two coffee liqueurs.

Vermont Farm Tour 29Our final stop is Champlain Valley Creamery – above is our guide Chris Howell (left) and Carleton Yoder (right) owner of Champlain Valley Creamery, and head cheesemaker.

Vermont Farm Tour 24Carleton takes us through the cheese making process. Once the cheese has been mixed it is hand ladled into these plastic cups where they sit and drain.

Vermont Farm Tour 25They make an ash ripened pyramid cheese – here they are fresh out of their molds – they will be salted and left to ripen in the cheese cave.

Vermont Farm Tour 26When the cheese has been in the cave for enough time, it will be covered with a layer of ash.

Vermont Farm Tour 27

Organic Champlain Triple – Silver Medal Winner, 2007 American Cheese Society, Burlington VT

Organic Champlain Triple is a beautiful soft ripened triple crème cheese with a bloomy white rind. Produced from cultured whole milk and cream, Champlain Triple is hand ladeled into traditional crottin molds and aged approximately 10 days. It has a rich, creamy interior flavor that is offset by a delicious earthy rind with hints of mushroom. Champlain Triple is a must-have for any cheese plate.

Vermont Farm Tour 28In addition to these cheeses, they also make an old fashioned cream cheese, a queso fresco, and a queso anejo. If you can’t make it up to VT to try Champlain Valley Creamery’s cheese, don’t worry, you can find it at Formaggio Kitchen.

Vermont Farm Tours

Chris Howell

278 North Street, Winooski, VT

www.vermontfarmtours.com

Bridgeport Valley Creamery

Nicky Foster and Julie Danyew

3284 Lake Street, Bridport, VT

www.bridportcreamery.com

Trevin Farm

Troy Peabody and Kevin McNaught

901 Willowbrooke Road, Sudbury, VT

www.trevinfarms.com

Champlain Valley Creamery

Carleton Yoder

88 Mainelli Road, Suite 3, Middlebury, VT

www.cvcream.com

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imag1159Another summer and that means another trip up to Stowe Mountain Lodge. There is just something about Vermont that we love. I can’t quite figure out what it is, but the people are nicer, the air seems fresher and crisper, and the food is outstanding. There was some blasting on the highway on the way up to VT so it took us about 5 hours to get there. Needless to say we were a bit tired when we arrived…and some of us were hangry and cranky, but I won’t name any names.

imag1153This year, we had a two bedroom suite and a studio. Pictured above is the second bedroom in the two bedroom suite. The bedroom had it’s own full bathroom with shower and there was another half bathroom outside in the hallway near the kitchen.

imag1151This layout was a little different than last year’s suite, this layout provided more privacy for each bedroom.

imag1149The master bedroom had a king size bed and a private bathroom.

imag1150There was a stand up shower and a soaking tub.

imag1165We were all anxiously awaiting our rematch at the Alpine slide this year, there have been excuses all year long about not knowing how to properly drive the sled and who actually won. We were a little disappointed to see that the slide wasn’t open this year. They are doing massive construction to allow for a zip line, an outdoor ice skating rink and a parking garage.

imag1162This gave us a good excuse to take in some of the other parts of the property.

imag1160We took a short and easy hike around the property – which was really quite beautiful.

For more information on Stowe Mountain Lodge, check out their website.

7412 Mountain Rd, Stowe, VT

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IMG_6489Thursday night, September 4th, Buick hosted an evening at Sweet Cheeks Q. To follow the conversations check out the hashtag #summerencore and #bosdistrict along with the twitter handle @districtdrive. It was the perfect summer evening, we had the whole patio to ourselves and they pulled up the canopy so that we could eat under the stars.

IMG_6485Guests included Rachel from Eater Boston, Eric from Urban Daddy Boston, Erik from Thrillist and Tom, aka Boston Tweet. There were two signature drinks for the evening, a “Regal Buick” and a “Palmer Encore”. So here’s what you’re thinking: what does Buick have to do with BBQ? From time to time they do these events to get out in front of their audience. People buy cars every 8-10 years, you don’t want to wait that long to have a conversation with them. The evening was relaxed and casual – it was about the company and the food, talking about a new car was a bonus. Buying a car can be pretty stressful, trust me, I bought one a little over a year ago – from a 25 year old girl who looked like she just came from a club – it was so awkward I didn’t know where to look.

IMG_6486I love how creative they got with the seating. Guests were sent home with a Buick wine stopper and the opportunity to take a Buick vehicle out for a full week for a test drive. Conor, co-founder of SoonSpoon joined me for the evening and we had a blast! He’s from Texas, so this was right up his alley.

imag1404

The cocktail hour featured small canapes: summer tomato with whipped pimento cheese and charred scallion; maple crisped southern “Johnny cake” with bluefush pate (above); smashed cucumber with North Carolina tahini and dill; and crispy oysters with lettuce and corn salsa.

imag1405

First course was plated: pork belly and grits with smashed tomato sauce and shrimpy sauce. How can one go wrong with pork belly?

imag1407The second course was served family style: a fried chicken and shrimp boil poured out right onto the table. How amazing is this? The fried chicken was PERFECT, crispy on the outside, tender on the inside. You should have seen the size of those shrimps! Tiffani came out and chatted with us over the course of the meal – we talked Top Chef, opening your own restaurant, and where the other best places in the city are to get fried chicken. We met briefly at a Good Ones party months ago, but this was a nice chance to get to know her a little better. Let me tell you, she couldn’t be nicer or more down to earth.

imag1409Don’t for get the sides: biscuits with honey butter, mac and cheese, collard greens, fried okra and broccoli casserole. The best part about Sweet Cheeks are the biscuits – not only are they enormous but they still manage to feel light – and that honey butter? Forget about it – I dream about that stuff.

imag1412Dessert was a gigantic nutter butter with garnishes. One word: AMAZING! On the regular menu, it’s just the nutter butter, so this one was kicked into overdrive. We couldn’t finish it all! Thanks to Buick and Tiffani for a wonderful evening. Can’t wait to pick out a car and take it for a spin!

Disclaimer: Buick invited me to attend this event as their guest – all opinions are my own.

Sweet Cheeks Q

1381 Boylston Street, Boston, MA

http://www.sweetcheeksq.com/

Sweet Cheeks Q on Urbanspoon

 

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IMG_6445The Friday before Labor Day I was hoping to already be out of town – escape the students and dreaded September 1 move in (No Allston Christmas for this gal). Since I was still here, I decided to head over to Charles River Park and check out the Jugos pop up location. Ron Marco, owner of Jugos in the Back Bay, opened a second pop up location at the outdoor pool at Charles River Park for the summer – you know the place – the signs that say, “If you lived here, you would be home now”.

IMG_6453The private party was a farewell to summer party of sorts. They had great live reggae music as well as samples of some of their delicious menu items.

IMG_6456While it was an unusually cool night for the summer, the music certainly heated things up.

IMG_6464Strawberry lemonade was a nice treat – not too sweet.

IMG_6446I’m a huge fan of Jugos – our old office was right around the corner from Back Bay Station and I was there at least twice a week, getting my figawi fix.

IMG_6463While the Back Bay location only has juices and smoothies with a few pre-made items like chia pudin, salads and sandwiches, this location has an expanded menu. The tostones were warm and salty – and not too sweet.

IMG_6460I forgot my floss at home, so no corn on the cob for this gal, but it looked and smelled delicious!

IMG_6440There were a variety of empanadas that went in the blink of an eye.

IMG_6438All of the food was delicious, there wasn’t one thing there that I didn’t like. And it just kept coming…more food after more food.

img_20140829_185227Some of the food I had never tried before, like these plantains stuffed with cheese. Bold flavors that really worked well with each other.

imag1381The fruita en chile had a surprising kick to it, fresh fruit with chile lime salt.

imag1377The chia pudin had chia seeds, homemade cashew milk, sea salt and vanilla cinnamon.

imag1379And the fruta bomba was a delicious blend of papaya, strawberry, mango, tumeric, banana and coconut water.

Jugos Pool Club

10 Whittier Place, Boston, MA

www.visitjugos.com/jugospoolclub

Jugos on Urbanspoon

Check out their Back Bay Location: 145 Dartmouth Street, Boston, MA

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IMG_6553By now you may have heard that Stephanie Cmar (Stacked Donuts) and Justin Burke Samson (Trademark Tarts) have officially partnered up and re-branded to Party of Two LLC.

IMG_6554What have they been up to this summer? They have been on a whirlwind tour – taking their sweets on the road to LA, Las Vegas, Chicago, Brooklyn and Portland, ME. And they have been getting some great coverage: Boston Magazine in April, again in July,  Lux and Concord, and Eater.

IMG_6569I stopped by State Park on Friday to chat and get some treats. Justin made fruity pebble pop tarts.

IMG_6579And cookie dough candy bars…a little melty/messy but boy was is tasty.

IMG_6575Stephanie rolled out a chocolate Guinness stout donut.

IMG_6571She also made a white chocolate cherry donut and a sugar bruleee donut (not pictured). Did you miss them on Friday? Don’t worry, they will be at Fairsted Kitchen on Monday, September 8th at 10pm serving up boozy versions of tarts and donuts!

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