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A Little Bit About a Lot of Things

My food adventures…and some other random stuff

IMG_0433This was my first event with Boston Bloggers, and I have to admit I was a little nervous, like first day of school nervous. But good thing I had my spirits expert Mark with me! We both have always wanted to learn a little more about whiskey. The other bloggers at the event couldn’t have been nicer and more supportive of each other. And who doesn’t like to swap stories about favorite places to eat and drink? The whiskey tasting was held at Saloon, the second venture for David Flanagan and Ken Kelly (owners of Foundry on Elm – also in Davis Square).

IMG_0432We had our own private room for the tasting.

IMG_0444I love the architecture and the design of this place – it gives the bar a lot of character.

IMG_0435We grab a drink at the bar since we are a few minutes early.

IMG_0436Mixed drinks run you anywhere from $9-$13.

IMG_0429The bar focuses on brown liquors and local beers.

IMG_0463Beverage Director Manny Gonzales takes us through the whiskeys – we are blind tasting and he reveals the brands after we have talked about each drink. He encourages everyone to participate, people call out what flavors and smells they are experiencing.

IMG_0445Why do some people spell whiskey with an “ey” and others spell it, whisky, with just a “y”? The Irish spell it with an “ey” at the end and the Scottish spell it with just a “y”, whisky.

IMG_0442Tonight we are sampling 4 brands. We will start at the top left and go clockwise.

IMG_0441Thank goodness there are some delicious snacks on the table while we are doing the tasting! They had this amazing bread, challah like in texture, with some sea salt sprinkled on top that was absolutely delicious. Above is a really nice meat board with crispy baguettes, mustard, pickles and pickled onion.

IMG_0446They call these “devils on horseback”, feta stuffed dates wrapped in bacon. They were amazing, and the flavors really highlighted the caramel flavors in the whiskey.

IMG_0457So starting at the top left, we later found out that it was Willett, a Kentucky bourbon, barrel #7674. Bourbon is an American whiskey, made primarily of corn (at least 51%). Bourbon is aged in oak barrels with a heavy char inside, they call the char “alligator skin”. The toasting of the wood gives brings out the wood flavor in the barrels, giving the alcohol an earthy quality. This particular bourbon is 72% corn and 13% rye. It was medium in color – Manny suggested that we keep the bourbon on our tongue for some time to get all the flavor notes. The alcohol was “sweet” (not girly drink sweet, ’cause it still burned on the way down) and had caramel and vanilla notes.

IMG_0453The second drink we tried was High West whiskey, a rye whiskey. Rye whiskey is at least 51% rye. This brand was a blend of a 2 year old whiskey and a 16 year old whiskey and made from 53% rye, 37% corn and 10% barley. This had a dry flavor, with notes of cocoa, cinnamon and licorice (a lot of spice – a characteristic of Rye) and was sweeter than the Willett.

IMG_0465On the bottom right, we have the Highland Park, a single malt Scotch whisky. Scotch must be aged for at least 3 years, this one has been aged for 12. A single malt whisky is made with malt from one distillery. This Scotch has an almost medicinal quality to it, with tangerine notes, pear and honeysuckle. It was fruity and earthy with a smoky flavor. To be honest, all I got was the smoke, thank goodness I had Mark there with me.

IMG_0459Bottom left was the Irish Whiskey, the lightest in coloring. Irish whiskey is made in…Ireland. It must be aged at least 3 years and is usually distilled 3 times (as opposed to Scotch that is usually distilled twice). This was the sweetest of all, with a smoother finish than the Scotch whisky. There are currently only 9 distilleries in Ireland.

IMG_0471Overall, it was a really great night. I learned a TON about whiskey and met some great people. Looking forward to more Boston Blogger events in the future!

*This event was complimentary, but all opinions are my own.

Saloon

255 Elm Street, Somerville, MA

http://www.saloondavis.com

Saloon on Urbanspoon

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IMG_2165What do you get for someone that has everything? Ice cream. Graeter’s (if you haven’t heard about them) is an ice cream company out of Cincinnati, OH. Order a 6 pack for $60 or a 12 pack for $120, you can mix and match your flavors. Graeter’s creates its ice cream 2 gallons at a time, it’s hand swirled and then hand packed into pints. They make nearly 20,000 pints a day!

IMG_2168Really great flavor and texture with the black raspberry chocolate chip. There are huge chunks of chocolate (signature chips) – yum!

IMG_2169Toffee chocolate chip.

IMG_2171They use the same toffee as they do in Heath bars.

IMG_2342Mint Chocolate Chip.

IMG_2343Made with triple distilled peppermint oil and their signature chocolate chips.

IMG_2250Chocolate peanut butter chocolate chip. Their chocolate ice cream that has been fortified with creamy peanut butter flavor and loaded with peanut butter cookie dough pieces and our signature chocolate chips.

IMG_2252Buckeye Blitz.

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Just like the Buckeye Candy, this has a chocolate-peanut butter base with peanut butter cookie dough pieces and dark chocolate chips.

IMG_2263Probably our favorite flavor of the bunch was the egg nog.

IMG_2262Check out Grater’s here: http://www.graeters.com/

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IMG_3727Bagelsaurus is a twice-a-week micro-bagel-bakery that is located inside Cutty’s sandwich shop. They are open Friday and Saturdays at 8am and go until they sell out. Mary Ting Hyatt hand forms these babies!

IMG_3723Current flavors: Classic, Everything, Sesame, Poppy, Sea Salt, Black Olive, Pretzel.

IMG_3725Check out my Favecase video: http://favecast.com/24CDfjQUWB

IMG_3726I was glad that when we arrived late morning that they still had bagels. We had ours with butter, but there was a delicious egg sandwich on the menu that is calling my name next time I stop in.

IMG_3728The pretzel.

IMG_3730The everything.

IMG_3731The salt bagel. Not many places make salt bagel – man are these delicious. The bagels had a nice crust on the outside, the sign of a good New York bagel.

IMG_3732The insides however are very light and fluffy, which makes these bagels the best of both worlds! Cutty’s does have a few small tables if you want to eat in.

Bagelsaurus at Cutty’s

284 Washington Street, Brookline, MA

http://bagelsaurus.com/

Cutty's on Urbanspoon

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Freshii is tying to change the way we think about food, offering fresh lunch options that fill you up – think slow burning carbs, filled with fiber and lean protein.  They are a green restaurant, eliminating traditional industry staples: excess packaging, heavy energy consumption, and greasy processed meals.

If you order off the menu, step right up to the line. If you are making your own creation, grab a clipboard and a pencil and start checking off your choices!

I choose the Asian noodle bowl ($7.99): rice noodles, roasted chicken, cucumbers, carrots, edamame, crispy wontons and warm peanut sauce.  The portions are generous here, and I can’t even come close to finishing this thing! The cucumbers were a little weird for me in this dish, but it was tasty. The dish was light and yet filling at the same time (mission accomplished?). The line moves quickly – like most lunch spots in the area. Freshii has a good variety of salads, wraps, burritos, bowls and soups (built fresh to order).

Freshii

100 High St #100, Boston, MA 02110

http://www.freshii.com/us

Freshii on Urbanspoon

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IMG_3257It feels like Steve Wynn didn’t spare any expense with his luxury hotel. Their lobby is another one of my favorites.

IMG_3258The Wynn tapped famed event planner Preston Bailey to create this hot air balloon that is 20 feet tall and weights 4,000 pounds.

IMG_3274There is also a working carousel that is 13 feet tall, 16 feet wide and weighs 6,000 pounds. Every three weeks the property replaces more than 5,000 seasonal flowering plants. Amazing!

IMG_3260Travel down the escalator to the lower floor to SW Steakhouse.

IMG_3261The lighting!

IMG_3262If you can, try and sit out on the patio, it overlooks their lake of dreams – giving you prime seating for their shows. The have 8 in total that run on the half hour.

IMG_3263We arrive and get an inside table.

IMG_3264I would say that the dress for SW is business casual, although I did see some people wearing jeans.

IMG_3265You’ve heard me say many times before that you can judge how good your dinner will be by the breadbasket you receive. This one was exceptional. A French baguette, pretzel rolls and my favorite, the bacon and cheese rolls cooked in muffin tins. I could have eaten these for days!

IMG_3266We start with the King Crab Soup ($16). It was hard to taste the old bay that was supposed to be there, and to be honest, I thought that this was going to be a creamy soup. Either way, it was delicious and the “puff pastry crouton” on top was lovely.

IMG_3267The Ribeye ($58) was exceptional. The meat was a little fattier with great marbling and flavor. It comes bone in and was 20 oz.

IMG_3268I had the Scallops ($38) English pea risotto, pea vines, black truffle sauce. I almost had no room after the bread, but this dish was delicious – the scallops were perfectly cooked, a well executed dish. An excellent choice if you are not in the mood for steak.

IMG_3271Lemon tart ($12). As delicious as it was pleasing to look at. We licked the plate clean!

SW does offer a vegan menu for those in your party that may not eat meat. The food was delicious, but the service was excellent – some of the best that I’ve had. Mark was our server and I feel like I just had to think that I needed something and he was right there at the table. He was knowledgeable about the menu, confident in his recommendations, personable, and on top of everything that we needed. It was the service that really put SW over the top for us. Next time we are in Vegas, we will certainly be back!

SW Steakhouse at the Wynn

3131 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV

http://www.wynnlasvegas.com/Restaurants/FineDining/SWSteakhouse

SW Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

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IMG_2551There has to be good for at the Super 88 market, every time you drive/walk by, there is a line to get into the parking lot and the food court is packed. We recently got take out from Pikaichi, which took over the space formerly occupied by Ken’s Ramen House. Ken closed his doors in 2011 to move back to Japan While no one’s ramen can compare to Ken’s, who imported noodles from Japan, Pikaichi does offer some delicious dishes . Pikaichi boasts that they serve 6oz of ramen in their dishes, where the industry standard is 5oz.

IMG_2552The part I love most is that they give you all the pieces of the meal separately – no soggy, bloated ramen noodles here.

IMG_2558The portions here are generous – with the additional ramen and the thin slices of pork.  The broth is salty and allows the other flavors in the dish to shine through. Overall, we were very satisfied with this meal.

Pikaichi

1 Brighton Ave, Boston, MA

Pikaichi on Urbanspoon

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IMG_2183I stopped in to Olives and Grace on Christmas Eve (I’m catching up on posts!), I was doing some last minute shopping and figured I could pick up some stocking stuffers.

IMG_2184Check out “The King candy bar” from Liddabit Sweets. Never heard of Liddabit? They are a small company based out of Brooklyn, and the HAND MAKE everything! The company is founded by two friends, Liz Gutman and Jen King who recently finished writing a cookbook.

From their website, they tell you what goes into making a King Bar:

  1. Butter is browned, and used to make the cookie dough base. The dough is rolled out, cut to size, baked off in sheet pans, and set aside to cool.
  2. Peanut butter nougat is made by cooking sugar syrup to a certain temperature, pouring it over whipping egg whites, and folding in smooth peanut butter at just the right time. The warm nougat is spread over the cooled cookie base.
  3. Fresh bananas are puréed and mixed with white chocolate and cream to form a ganache. The ganache is spread over the cooled nougat, and the whole slab has to set up.
  4. Milk chocolate is tempered. The slab is turned out of the sheet pan and chocolate is spread over the cookie base. Once the chocolate sets, the slab is cut by hand into 1” x 4” bars.
  5. More milk chocolate is tempered. The bars are dipped by hand and allowed to set up; any holes or “bald spots” are fixed up afterwards with a small metal spatula and some more tempered chocolate.
  6. The bars are hand-packaged in cello wrapping and heat-sealed. Boxes are hand-stamped with the “best before” date and folded, and the bars are nestled inside. Finally, the label is wrapped around the box (you guessed it – by hand).

IMG_2185The King bar is soft peanut butter nougat is sandwiched between a brown sugar-brown butter cookie and a layer of fresh banana ganache, and dipped in milk chocolate. After eating one of these candy bars, you can never go back to a Milky Way or a Snickers…the banana flavor in the bar is pretty subtle which I liked…these candy bars are out of this world. Check out their website for other flavors like: PB&J, S’mores, beer and pretzel caramels, fig ricotta caramels and tally ho’s.

IMG_2201Apotheker’s is a small family run company founded by Russell and Shari Apotheker. Their dark chocolate is sweetened by honey from third generation beekeepers. They come in great flavors like Cashew Sea Salt, Cherry Almond, and Spicy Triple Pepper. They will be doing a pop up at Olives and Grace this weekend. The event is 12pm-3pm on Saturday (3/29), and they will be debuting their newest product!!

IMG_2259Sweet Lydia’s is a Lowell, MA based company specializing in s’mores. Other flavors include: white chocolate, raspberry, caramel and peppermint bark. See their website for additional flavors and  to view their hand made candy bars.

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Check out Olives and Grace here (or at the store on 81 Pembroke Street in Boston), Liddabit Sweets here (or at the Chelsea Market in NYC), Sweet Lydia’s here, and Apotheker’s here.

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IMG_2566A friend of mine and I took a calligraphy class in the leather district and decided to grab a bite just around the corner at Sorriso. In January, Sorriso, and it’s sister restaurant, Les Zygomates, were bought by Anthony Botta. Botta teamed up with his brother in law, Mark Tosi, and they are planning on giving both restaurants an interior facelift.

We were there about 2 weeks after the sale. It was late at night, and we were given a quiet table in the back – perfect for catching up! Even though there is a facelift in the works, I do think there is something charming about this place.

IMG_2563To start, we have Ben’s mushrooms ($12): soft polenta, Grana Padano (an Italian cheese) and a poached egg. I love anything with a poached egg! The egg here added to the creamy saltiness of the dish.

IMG_2565I had the braised beef short rib ravioli ($21) with white truffle oil and shaved Parmesan. The pasta was light as was the sauce. Short ribs can sometimes overwhelm a dish with their strong flavor, but this dish was excellent – filling but not heavy. Service was good, although being all the way in the back, we felt that sometimes we were easily out of sight, out of mind. I will be curious to go back and see what changes they have in store for the menu.

Sorrisso Trattoria

107 South Street, Boston

Sorriso Trattoria on Urbanspoon

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IMG_0112The next Good Ones party was at Stella in the South End. Theme: “Elegant Aquarium” – wear your most tropical, underwater inspired colors. Come casual or fancy – just have fun, bring your own sense of style, and prepare to brighten the room with your presence.

IMG_0048The party was located in the back room at the restaurant – a very different vibe at this party. The scene: lighhearted fun, a guy in a scuba outfit (tank and all!), a mermaid, dudes dressed in their finest Nantucket reds, a balloon extraordinaire outfitting guests, free flowing drinks and lots of laughter.

IMG_0043Music and lighting by Team Sayles, meet Julian!

IMG_0099The talented Mark Penta – back at his caricatures!

IMG_0103Taza chocolate was a sponsor of the event – love their chocolate!

IMG_0106The charity component: Ticket sales go directly towards the costs of event operation and to raising awareness for Vitamin Angels 501(c)(3). For 20 years, Vitamin Angels has been helping at-risk populations in need (specifically pregnant women, new mothers, and children under five), gain access to lifesaving and life changing vitamins and minerals.

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IMG_0047Snap infusion super candy

IMG_0046Hint water

IMG_0061Our wonderful hostess, Carolyn, super stylish – per usual.

IMG_0060Balloons Extraordinaire at work!

IMG_0069Miss Bulgarka wearing local designer Akmaral Design

IMG_0110Bacon popcorn by Corn and Co.

IMG_0022Kylee Anderson worked with Ensan Wong for this battle.

IMG_0024Kylee and Ensan’s dumplings…

IMG_0038Current Champion Chef Brendan Andrew Burke and Tico Huynh (Big Night Entertainment Group) worked with the ingredient selection from Chef Michael Scelfo – owner of Alden and Harlow:

Rice flour, sweet potato, turnip, garlic, ginger, fish sauce, rye flour, apples, pancetta, eggs and chestnuts

IMG_0062Brendan and Tico’s dumplings.

IMG_0066Newton Native, and Paris-Trained Chef Ensan Wong of Liquid Art House (opening soon) worked with the ingredient selection of Executive Chef Karen Akunowicz of Myers and Chang (oooh! Did you catch her on Beat Bobby Flay?!?!):

Lamb, shiitake mushrooms, black vinegar, sunchoke, rice flour, quail eggs, harissa, opal basil, cumin, almonds and mint

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Ensan and Kylee’s dumpling.

IMG_0077Are you drooling yet?

IMG_0092Ensan and Kylee’s mushroom dumpling served in broth with sour cream.

IMG_0094Chef Brendan and Tico’s chestnut dessert dumplings.

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Simple but elegant plating.

IMG_0072Kayla Harrity from NESN’s Wicked Bites.

Another great party – The Good Ones never disappoint! Can’t wait to see what they come up with next!

http://thegoodones.co/

Stella

1525 Washington Street, Boston, MA

http://www.bostonstella.com/

Stella on Urbanspoon

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IMG_2997Il Mulino is located on the upper floor of Caesar’s Palace Forum shops.

IMG_3004The restaurant feels like old school New York. The restaurant is a bit pricey, be aware that a soda will run you $5. There’s an interesting mix of people here tonight.

IMG_2998As soon as we are seated, before we even get a menu, we are greeted with a wedge of Parmesan cheese and a plate of fried zucchini. Rather than it feel like a special amuse bouche, it feels like a drop and run. Either way, our zucchini is cold. There was also a garlic bread basket that was a bit soggy.

IMG_2999We are also given a piece of bruschetta and one mussel along with a plate of thinly sliced meat (which I thought was just plated in an odd way). Our “captain” comes over and recites a long list of specials.

IMG_3001I order the porcini and truffle ravioli ($50) that is a special. Pricey but really quite delicious. I was full but wanted to keep eating – the sauce was so delicious.

IMG_3002We also had the Rigatoni bolognese ($28.50) which was also quite good and it felt light compared to the ravioli – an excellent choice.

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For dessert, the cheesecake ($14). It was light and just melted in your mouth, definitely one of the top desserts I had while in Vegas. Note that when you get the bill, there is a space to tip the captain and a space to tip the team. The service didn’t miss a step, there was always someone around clearing your plate or fold your napkin. We could have done without the complimentary appetizers (they almost took away from how good I thought the meal was) – but the food itself (the main course and dessert) was delicious, we would certainly go back.

Il Mulino

3500 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Las Vegas, NV

http://www.ilmulino.com/las-vegas/

Il Mulino New York on Urbanspoon

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