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A Little Bit About a Lot of Things

My food adventures…and some other random stuff

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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IMG_4027I’m meeting some old coworkers/friends at Mare for dinner. The weather on Thursday was beautiful, so it was a nice walk from my office. This place will be even better once the summer gets here and they open all the windows!

IMG_4028The Dine Out Boston menu:

$33.00

Primi

3 Oysters–chef choice and 3 Cherrystone Clams

Saute Mussels, Italian style, olive oil, garlic, white wine, spicy

Fried Calamari

Bufala Mozzarella Caprese, heirloom tomatoes, basil, pesto, balsamic reduction

Secondi

Homemade Gnocchi and Clams, fresh cherry tomatoes

Rock Crab Spaghetti, shrimp, clams, scallops, cherry tomato sauce

Truffle and Spinach Spaghettoni

Butterfly Branzino, homemade potatoes and seasonings, spinach

Stuffed Calamari, lobster, clams, scallop, shrimp, lemon sauce served with broccoli rabe

7 Spice Chicken, cooked under the brick, creamy parmigiano polenta, broccoli rabe

Dolci

Tiramisu, lady fingers, coffee amaretti, mascarpone

Flourless Chocolate Cake, chocolate ganache, hazelnut gelato, chantilly

Ricotta Pie, sweet ricotta in pastry

IMG_4031I start with the Bufala Mozzarella Caprese: heirloom tomatoes, basil, pesto, and balsamic reduction. Such a beautiful presentation. Everything about this appetizer is delicious!

IMG_4032One of my friend’s gets a selection of oysters (she didn’t do the dine out Boston menu): 2 Howland’s Landing ($2.60 each), a Wellfleet ($2.40), a Cape Maysalt ($2.90) and a Little Pleasant ($2.40). The oysters come with 4 sauces, including a limoncello sauce and a tartar sauce among others.

IMG_4033For my meal, I have the Homemade Gnocchi and Clams with fresh cherry tomatoes. A lovely dish, the gnochhi is very light and the clams are good – the sauce has a really nice flavor.

IMG_4035My friend who did not the do the dine out Boston menu did the stuffed calamari($18.99) and said that it was delicious.

IMG_4036My other friend had the Truffle and Spinach Spaghettoni which was flavorful and cooked perfectly al dente.

IMG_4037For dessert, I ended the meal with the ricotta pie, probably one of the better ricotta pies I have had. Sweet but not too sweet with a dash of powdered sugar on top – I wish I could have finished it, it was that good, but I was quite full from the rest of my meal. The service was good, our waitress was attentive. The tables were a bit too close for comfort here, but we were lucky enough to score a table at the end, so it wasn’t so bad. The restaurant was quite full when we left – a popular choice among locals and tourists alike.

Mare

135 Richmond Street, Boston, MA

http://www.mareoysterbar.com/

Mare Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon

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So a co-worker revealed a hidden talent – he’s a canner. Lucky me, he decided to bring me in the last jar of carrots within days of us meeting!

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It took me a while to get the lid open, but well worth the wait. Zared makes these at home, along with all sorts of wonderful goodies. I’m hoping I stay in his good graces to continue to get such tasty treats! The carrots are crisp, with this kick to them at the end – really flavorful. Oh, did I mention that they’re award winning!

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And just recently I was able to score some horseradish mustard. Have to admit, not really a mustard loving kind of gal, but will try most anything once. Not your typical mustard and this stuff has a big kick to it. Whew! Can’t wait to try out the kimchee he’s always talking about.

IMG_9363The blueberry cinnamon jam seemed like it might be an unlikely combination, but it was delicious.

IMG_9364I love this on toast, waffles, well, pretty much everything. The cinnamon and blueberry flavors really complimented each other.

IMG_0777And when he got married, he made his own wedding favors! This was peach ginger jam. He’s insanely talented (at a bunch of things) and I’m lucky to call him a friend.

IMG_0390How amazing is this?

IMG_0391A close up of some of the favors. There’s nothing that this guy can’t pickle! Everything he makes is delicious – he challenges me to try new flavors.  Check out his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/FoxPointPicklingCo

Zared was also just recently featured in an article in The Bay magazine, check it out here. And here’s a snippet:

Another incubee, Zared Goldfarb, seconds this. His company, Fox Point Pickling Co., hopes to become “Rhode Island’s pickle” by creating hand-crafted, hand-packed pickled vegetables using local RI produce. “Hope & Main is allowing me to follow my dream by providing crucial resources along with education and guidance to help me as an entrepreneur. This is essential for my success given I have limited experience starting my own business,” he says. “In the short time that I have been involved with the program, I have already been able to learn from professional chefs, restaurateurs and other like-minded people who I normally wouldn’t have access to.”

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IMG_3944It’s Dine Out Boston week – so many great restaurants to choose from, so little time. Check out this great article by Eater that lists the best bets, broken down by meal and by price. New to Dine Out Boston? It’s the revamped restaurant week. Lunches are $15, $20 and $25 and dinners are $28, $33 and $38 for a prix fixe menu.

IMG_3946After careful research, I chose Tremont 647 for one of my Dine Out Boston meals. They have plenty of things on the menu that just sounded delicious. I have been here before, but that was for brunch. Andy Husbands, the owner and chef at Tremont 647 was recently recognized at the New England Food Show that took place over the weekend.

IMG_3962They are offering the following:

Appetizers

Asparagus & Leek Soup
lamb bacon, smoked paprika

5 Spice Pork Rilllette
sambal, scallion pancakes

Molly’s Quinoa Fritter
harissa aioli

House Smoked Salmon Lettuce Wraps
herb crème fraiche, sweet red onion relish

Agave Glazed Grilled Asparagus
zaatar, pistachio, preserved myer lemons

Somerville Buratta
grilled and marinated spring vegetable salad, grilled foccacia

BONUS: S/M/W
Lobster Mac’n’Cheese
mornay sauce, topped with ritz crackers

Korean Beef Dumplings
soy sake sauce

Entrée

Skuna Bay Pan Seared Salmon
cilantro israeli couscous, carrot ginger purée

Andy’s Famous 180 Ribs
st. louis ribs, coleslaw, cornbread

Buttermilk Fried Chicken
bacony collards, rosemary biscuit, 3-chili gravy

Red Wine Marinated Short Rib
sweet potato grits, braised kale

Spit Roasted Pork Loin
serrano mashed potato, mushroom jus

BONUS: S/M/W
Pan Roasted Sea Scallops
roasted baby vegetables, spring pea & parmesan puree

Steak Frites
chipolte fries, almond mole, grilled asparagus

Dessert

Dark Chocolate Cremeux
pretzel crunch, red currants

Rhubarb Cobbler Cheesecake
vanilla ginger honey

BONUS: S/M/W
Banana Cream Pie
caramel and chocolate drizzle, bacon almond chocolate bark

Buttercake
caramel whip, prickly pear jam

IMG_3949We start with the Lobster Mac’n’Cheese with mornay sauce and topped with ritz crackers. Really tasty, I like the consistency of the sauce and the amount of lobster in this dish.

IMG_3951We also have the Korean Beef Dumplings with soy sake sauce – and odd choice, but they are indeed delicious – the filling has really nice flavors.

IMG_3953For an entree we have the steak frites with chipolte fries, almond mole, and grilled asparagus. The fries are hot, hot, hot. After a few bites, we can feel ourselves getting a little warm!

IMG_3955I order the buttermilk fried chicken with bacony collards, rosemary biscuit, 3-chili gravy. The chicken was tender, it fell off the bone. And the biscuit, holy hell was it tasty – the flavor was subtle and the biscuit just melted in your mouth. The greens, which I would normally pass right over (I try and put as few vegetables in my body as humanly possible) were to my surprise, very tasty. They were  little bit sweet from the onions. A really  great dish.

IMG_3960The best part: dessert. Dark Chocolate Cremeux with pretzel crunch, and red currants. The pretzel crunch, I could have eaten for days, I wish there were more of it on the dish. The dessert was VERY rich, you have to have bites of everything to cut the  heaviness of the cremeux. I love the presentation of this dessert.

IMG_3961On paper, this is not a dessert I would have chosen. Rhubarb Cobbler Cheesecake with vanilla ginger honey. These two desserts were like night and day. The cheesecake was impossibly light without giving up a creamy texture. The crust had a hint of sweetness and was probably my favorite part. An excellent dessert by Heather Paige, the resident pastry chef!

Tremont 647

647 Tremont Street, Boston, MA

http://tremont647.com/

Tremont 647 on Urbanspoon

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IMG_3873On Friday, the weather had let up, so I took a walk up to Piperi in Government Center. I had driven/walked by this place many times before, but never really had the chance to stop by. My real job keeps me pretty busy and most days, I’m lucky to get out of the office and jump across the street for lunch, let alone take a walk somewhere a little farther. But I’m glad that I had the opportunity to stop in last week, as the food was worth the wait!

Here’s what they have to say on their website: “Piperi Mediterranean Grill offers flavorful, nutritious, Mediterranean-inspired food available quickly, in an energizing atmosphere. We buy the freshest possible ingredients, cook in small batches, make our recipes from scratch and bake our unique gözi bread right on the premises—all to create food that’s bursting with flavor and nutrition. We know that great service makes a good meal even better. That’s why we’re committed to making every aspect of the experience at Piperi easy and enjoyable—so you leave feeling better than when you came in. Our team shares that commitment. We also take our role in the local and global community seriously, and are committed to making socially responsible purchasing decisions. Whenever possible, our produce is sourced from local suppliers and growers who employ sustainable practices.”

IMG_3876Like most places, Piperi (pronounced Pip-AIR-ee, which is Greek for peppercorn, one of the many spices they use) has a busy lunch hour. Even though the line is wrapped around the restaurant, it moves quickly.

IMG_3875There’s a different feeling in the air here. When I get up to order, the man behind the counter asks me how I am. He’s genuine – you can’t fake that. Then when I ask him how he is, he says with a warm smile, “great, glad that I get to serve you today”. He says it in a sincere way (not in the creepy way that you get at some places – you know what I’m talking about, when the creepy dude in an greasy tank top says it while flashing his gold tooth and winking at you).  Right off the bat, Piperi, gold star on service! There is a sense of calm behind the counter (even during the rush), everyone knows what their job is on the line, and things run smoothly – it’s not stressful or rushed.

IMG_3877Wanting to try a bit of everything on the menu, I order the chicken gozi wrap. Gozi is their signature bread, used for all their sandwiches. It’s a modern interpretation of Gözleme, a traditional hand-rolled pastry from Turkey. This wrap has Moroccan carrots, tomato relish, feta, and a spicy tomato sauce. For $7, there are a ton of bold flavors in this wrap, and it tastes/feels like a much healthier option for lunch.

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You can also create your own meal: Choose a wrap, a mezze plate or a salad. Pick your main ingredient: falafel ($6.50), chicken ($7), steak ($8) or vegetable ($7.50).  Add up to 4 of their signature toppings or sauces: hummus, white bean tabouleh, Moroccan carrots, Feta cheese, cheddar, marinated olives, red cabbage slaw, tomato relish, yogurt cucumber sauce, tahini sauce or spicy tomato sauce. You can get extra falafel ($1.50), chicken ($2), vegetable ($2.50) or steak ($3).

I choose the mezze plate with chicken. I have to admit when I get burritos or chicken dishes at lunch, I usually expect the chicken to be dry and over cooked. Not here. The chicken was so juicy, tender and flavorful, I surprised myself by finishing it all. The carrots are also top notch, I love the flavor.

As we proceed to check out, I introduce myself to Tim, who I recognize from his photo on the website. I really respect a co-owner who is at the restaurant every day, working behind the counter along side everyone else. He hurt his ankle earlier in the morning, but is still here, crutches and all! We move off to the side, and he greets me with a warm smile and a handshake and thanks me for stopping in. We would both like to chat more, but I don’t want to take up his time during the rush. He tells me to stop in any time – he’d love to chat. I plan on taking him up on that!

Stop in the Piperi for lunch or dinner. They have generous portions and excellent service – you won’t be disappointed. Already been to Piperi? What’s your favorite menu item?

See my Favecast videos here: http://favecast.com/79DefLpty8 and http://favecast.com/3cDKqrtW8b

*Disclaimer, my meal was paid for by the BC Enactus club, but all opinions are my own.

Piperi

1 Beacon Street, Boston, MA

http://piperi.com/

Piperi Mediterranean Grill on Urbanspoon

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