Have you updated your Google reader yet? My blog has moved to http://traveleatlove.com. I would love to see you there!
For the love of food, wine, travel, and the everyday adventures in life
Have you updated your Google reader yet? My blog has moved to http://traveleatlove.com. I would love to see you there!
If you are interested in supporting my 2010 Boston Marathon run for The ALLY Foundation, please visit:
Please be sure to update your Google readers, and if you feel like it, Tweet or post my new address on your blog. If you have recently moved I am happy to do the same.
Thanks a million for reading, and I hope to see you over at traveleatlove.com! :)
Happy Saturday, friends! I hope you are having a good day. We have had a series of great days this week. I can not even tell you how much I enjoyed writing yesterday’s Craigie on Main post and reliving the experience. And, the post made it to Boston’s Where the Locals Eat! Hearing that was definitely an exciting way to start a Saturday.
Speaking of great ways to start a Saturday, I met with Allison and Elina for a 6 mile run this morning, and it felt great! I always get nervous before long runs, but having fun people to run with makes all of that go away. I am not tired or sore at all, so I am feeling good about my marathon training thus far.
Last night I snuck out of work a little early (shhh) and met the hubs for drinks and appetizers at Masa. They have great happy hour Southwestern tapas, ten for $10. I started with a habanero watermelon margarita. Holy yum! It started out sweet and finished with a fiery spice in the back of the mouth. It was really fun to drink and went well with our little appetizers which included a fire roasted sweet corn taco and a queso fundido jalapeno empanada. Everything was so good that we went for a second round :)
It was still early when we finished our appetizers, so we decided to head to Bin Ends to pick up our fine wine flea market orders. On the way home, we decided to stop at Gypsy Kitchen in Quincy. My friend Meghan has been telling us about Gypsy Kitchen for years, and I can not even believe I waited until now to go! It is a beautiful gourmet and wine shop with all sorts of things like olives, cheese, and crostini in addition to the wines. The owner was doing a tasting of cheese, wine, and her homemade hot sauce, gypsy juice, so we joined in.
We tasted some really interesting wines including a festive sparkling shiraz and a decadent chocolate port. Along with the wines, we tried the gypsy juice which is incredibly delicious and spicy, even for me, who can handle the heat. I am dipping crackers in a little bowl of it as I write this, and I am sweating! We also sampled a runny, gooey double creme brie which we ended up buying as well. We passed on buying any wine as we made quite a few purchases at Bin Ends, but with such a great selection and a passionate, knowledgeable owner, plus so many great recommendations from my friend, I know that it won’t be long until we return. If you live in the Boston area, it is definitely worth a trip down to Quincy. If you don’t live in the area, there is an online shop, Dr. Hot Online Store, and they also have a recipe blog.
Everyone is talking about snow tonight, but we haven’t seen it here in Boston yet. We spent the day wine tasting, first in Newport and then at Travessia in New Bedford, and now we are in for the night. I am ready to sip on some wine, watch Christmas movies, and work on formatting blog posts on traveleatlove.com. It is a little bit behind in posts, and for some reason, the posts are scrambled, but it will be ready soon, and I am REALLY excited!
Have a great night everyone, stay warm and safe on those wet and slippery roads!
Yes, the title of this post is 100% true. After a year of their being opened, hubs and I finally made it to Craigie on Main right outside of Kendall Square in Cambridge. I had a meeting with Plummelo.com, where I will be guest blogging twice a month (check out my first post: http://blog.plummelo.com/), and since Craigie was close by and it was Thursday night, we decided to make a reservation. Highly recommended to do so.
Upon arrival at Craigie on Main, we were seated at the most perfect table, all the way in the back corner. Romantic, but also ideal for a shy food blogger who HATES taking photos of food in public. I want to have them; I don’t like feeling like a weirdo, and I am afraid I may get yelled at!
I started the evening with a champagne cocktail, the Tavern Sparkler, which was made of the following:
Medicinal Spiced Elixir
cider, Becherovka, honey, Champagne
Definitely medicinal after a rushed afternoon, and delicious, this drink was the perfect way to start an autumn meal. It tasted of sweet honey and spicy cider and a slight hint of effervescence from the champagne.
My dining companion had a Piraat Amber Tripel IPA which was delicious but not as good as the beer he had later in the evening. Keep reading to find out. . .
The menu at Craigie offers a long list of tempting, local creations.
As you can see Craigie locally sources just about everything from places like Verrill Farm. They make their menu after buying their ingredients, ensuring the freshest food possible. Unable to decide on meals, we opted for a six course tasting menu and the staff at Craigie were very happy to accommodate my no venison, no beef, no lamb, no rabbit request. Apparently all of those proteins were options though, showing the breadth of dishes one can try at Craigie.
Our first course was an amuse bouche of three seafood delights.
The middle dish is a monkfish liver, and the one on the right is crispy brandade de morue with squid ink. I can not remember what the dish on the left was, except completely delicious, I want more of it.
Next up, Hiramasa sashimi with red onion shiso salsa, avocado, and harissa-rose vinaigrette.
I loved this dish. The bite of the onion, the creaminess of the avocado, and the perfect fish was subtly spiced with the harissa vinaigrette. It was light and flavorful.
Then there were the grilled monkfish cheeks.
Grrrr I wish there weren’t shadows on these photos. I’m trying. Maybe someday I will make the Foodbuzz Top 9. The monkfish was meaty with a nice grill flavor. The portion was small but because of the complexity of flavors, could have easily been an entree of its own. I was starting to get full. . .
I think it was at this point that I finished my cocktail and requested a wine pairing. Our outstanding server brought me a glass of 2007 Grüner Veltliner ‘Lois’, a nearly clear Austrian wine with an acidity that went very well with the richness of the seafood. We often think of seafood as lighter, but as the meal progressed, we definitely had some very substantial fish dishes. The wine stood up to them without overcoming their flavors. This wine exemplified the elegance and flavor of the Austrian wine that we tried in Vienna, wine that was beautiful and strong, like many things Austria has to offer. . .
The hubs ordered another beer, a Foret, which was like champagne. No, not like the champagne of beers. Like real champagne, with a beautiful bubbly, yeasty nose.
But there was no time to be full because this came next.
Collar of a fish whose name I can not remember (sorry!) with a salty, messy, sticky miso laced sauce. Our server made sure we had plenty of bread prior to this course, and now I know why. We wanted to mop up every drop of the sauce!
Think we were done after that? Not quite yet. Our next dish was
Ragoût of Local Forest Mushrooms, House-Made Rabbit Sausage, Hakurei Turnips and Romanesco
farm-fresh egg, Macomber turnip purée, herbs
Now, I said no rabbit, but there was sausage, I ate it, and I liked it. The star, however, was the runny poached egg, which the chef recommended we pierce and stir with the rest of the dish.
This may have been my favorite part of the entire meal. A farm fresh egg makes such a huge difference. With the crisp radish, earthy mushrooms, and ooey gooey egg yolk, this dish was both rustic and elegant.
We weren’t done yet.
Our final savory course was grilled pork belly with pomegranate arils and a thick apple sauce. Now, I don’t eat pork, and I think I said that, but our final course was accompanied by the famous Chef Tony Maws, and if Chef Maws brings me pork belly, I will at least try it. As it probably is with many of you, renowned chefs to me are bigger than movie stars. The hubs said my face went all white when the chef came out, and I don’t doubt it. There is something incredibly special about a chef and restaurateur who is still on the line cooking every night. You could taste the artistry in each course, and when he actually came out to acknowledge that we were there and to introduce the dish, well I was so happy that I got a little teary. Weirdo.
As if all of this savory gorgeousness was not enough, we were then brought two little shots of panna cotta, one with jasmine tea and one with rooibos tea and citrus. Creamy with a hint of flavor, these cleared our palates and prepared us for the real dessert that came next. We paired it with a glass of Maury Mas Amiel which our server kindly split for us. This dessert wine was dark red, nearly brown in color, rich and sweet. Splitting it gave us the perfect tasting.
Our server brought us Olive Oil and Taza Chocolate Mousse and Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Parfait. They were both perfect, but the Taza chocolate mousse and olive oil offered an unbelievably rich and smooth treat. The pumpkin parfait offered exquisite fall flavors. I loved being able to taste the squash flavor of the pumpkin along with a little bit of sweetness. Again, perfect portions and balance of flavors.
Craigie is cozy, fancy but completely and utterly unpretentious, and the service is like being at home with extremely knowledgeable foodie and wine enthusiastic friends. Our dinner was comfortable but really special, not stiff at all but made us feel like we were the guests of honor. It was far better than some meals that we have had at more famous restaurants, and I know we will be back again and again. Maybe we won’t be able to afford six courses each time, but I am certain the bar bites and cocktails offer the same quality, love, and creativity as our meals last night did.
What restaurant do you absolutely drool (or in my case cry) over?
A couple of days ago I shared my current marathon training plan and got some really great feedback from all of you. Thanks! :) Yesterday was one of the most important days in that plan, and it came along right when I needed it. After Tuesday’s elliptical workout, five sub eight minute miles, I wasn’t sore at all, but I was TIRED. Rest days are possibly the most important and influential part of my training plan. Even my walk into work was overdoing it.
So last night when I came home, I did some deep stretching to help me loosen up for today’s workout, and then I got ready for a night of total vegging, starting with a bit of this:
It was our first time trying Harpoon chocolate stout, and it is definitely like dessert. For me, it was a perfect pre or post dinner drink, delicious, but it didn’t go well with food. The chocolate flavor is noticeable at first sip, and it moves from there into a nice, toasty, coffee like flavor. It is definitely a dark beer, and perfect for this time of year! Here’s what Harpoon says about the beer:
A chocolate stout is a beer with a noticeable dark chocolate flavor. This flavor is created from the use of darker, more aromatic malt that has been roasted or kilned until it acquires a chocolate color.
My favorite rest days include beer and pizza, so I borrowed from Nigella Express and made garlic naan pizza.
I started with two pieces of Trader Joe’s garlic naan.
I promise I don’t work for Trader Joe’s or get any compensation for writing about their products, but this is just another bit of inexpensive deliciousness that they offer. I love that they change their selection up; I get something different every time I go!
To make the pizza, I heated the naan in the oven at 400 for 4 minutes. Then I removed them and added the leftover homemade sauce, reheated from Tuesday’s dinner and Trader Joe’s ricotta.
I popped it all back into the oven for 4 minutes and voila, the pizzas were ready.
I served the pizzas with the most delicious and easy slaw ever.
It was just a bag of broccoli slaw with a cup of white vinegar, a sprinkle of sugar, crushed red pepper, and a few drops of habanero oil. I heated the vinegar and other ingredients until the sugar melted, then poured over the slaw. It was hot enough to get the flavors into the broccoli, but cool enough that it kept it crunchy. I ate about four cups of this stuff!
Dinner was ready in about 20 minutes, and I spent the rest of the night watching old episodes of Law & Order with my feet up. It was just what I needed, and made for a refreshed, energized workout today! Tonight I have a meeting regarding guest blogging for a new site and dinner at last at Craigie on Main a highly acclaimed Cambridge hot spot that I have not been to yet! Super excited, and I will be back with a review!
I have been a little bummed lately with blogging topics in general. I really want to keep a good balance of travel, food, wine, and the occasional fitness post, but working full time and not being able to travel as much as I would like sure gets in the way. I thought that I had run out travel posts to write when I realized that I take for granted a lot of the places that I go on a regular basis. Travel doesn’t always require a passport or an overnight flight; worthy destinations are everywhere! A couple of hours in a car or on a bus can make for a drastic change in scenery. . . and in state of mind. One destination that I hold near and dear to my heart is Western Massachusetts where I spent four years living while I attended the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Amherst is in the Pioneer Valley, also referred to as the Happy Valley, and the students who go to UMASS, Amherst College, Smith College, Hampshire College, and Mt. Holyoke, among others, are lucky to live there!
Driving West from Boston, you can easily reach Amherst in under 2 hours. If you feel like taking back roads, you can get off the Mass Pike at Palmer and take in some beautiful, rural scenery which is really lovely year round. There is so much to do in the Amherst area for foodies and outdoors enthusiasts alike.
Go just a few miles beyond the town center of Amherst on Rte 116 past Hampshire College to visit Atkins Farms, a year round indoor farm stand with a tantalizing bakery, homemade ice cream, and fresh local produce and milk. They have the best cider donuts I have ever had.
Get sandwiches to go from Atkins’ deli, and drive up the road just a few minutes more to the Holyoke Range State Park. Here you will find a visitors’ center and several marked hiking trails that vary in length and difficulty. Climb to the top of Mt. Norwottuck for an amazing view of the valley and a good place to have a picnic lunch. This hike is about an hour and forty-five minutes round trip and provides some good uphill walking.
When you are done with your hike, head back into Amherst center for a coffee at one of the adorable cafes. The Black Sheep is one of my favorites both for their cream cheese brownies and their sandwiches which are always fresh and offer interesting combinations. It is also close to the town common where there are often festivals and there is a farmer’s market in the summer months.
The Black Sheep is also close to Bueno y Sano, only one of the best taco places ever.
If you are in the mood for a more formal meal, head to Judie’s, an Amherst favorite and THE place to go when the parents are visiting ;) It is always crowded because everything is delicious, especially their homemade popovers stuffed with a variety of salads. The portions are huge, but if you can bring the leftovers home, they make quite the next day treat.
For something more casual or a fresh brewed beer after your meal, head to Amherst Brewing Company, right across the street from Judie’s. They offer a variety of beers on draught, and they are all good. The food is great too, especially the fried pickles!!
Amherst is a small town, but there is a lot to see and to eat. If you have the time, the UMASS campus is a nice place to visit, and the Quabbin Reservoir is only about 20 minutes away, back toward Boston. The Quabbin is absolutely gorgeous and has an interesting history. Also in the area, the funky and fun town of Northampton, the Norwottuck Rail Trail for biking and running, and historic Deerfield.
If you live in or are visiting Boston and are looking for a fun day or weekend trip, there are many more fun things to discover in the Western part of the state. I haven’t even been to the Berkshires yet (but will be going for a wedding in the summer!). There is more to Massachusetts than just the beautiful East coast!
Do you have fun day/weekend trips close to home that you like to take? I would love to have some guest posts on traveling close to home!
A little Travel Eat Love in the news :) Loved meeting with all of “America’s top food bloggers” !
IRVING, Texas, Dec. 2 /PRNewswire/ — Buzz about Nature’s Pride® bread is out of the box following the first annual Foodbuzz Blogger Festival – a first-of-its-kind event that brought together America’s top food bloggers to network and nosh over good eats and in great company November 6 – 8, 2009 in San Francisco, CA.
So what’s the word on the virtual street about the only brand of 100% natural breads available across the country?
“This bread [Nature’s Pride] was delicious. So hearty and nutty tasting! It felt like a lot more than 100 calories and it kept me full longer than most other breads…” The Daily Balance Blog.
“I really love Nature’s Pride’s commitment to natural ingredients, lack of HFCS, and overall health philosophy…” Travel, Eat, Love.
“…[N]ow I can start incorporating more fiber by enjoying these yummy breads with my meals to start eating healthier. And they’re not only healthy…but they’re really delicious too!” Mission: Food Blog.
I am often struck with lunchtime boredom and constantly try to mix things up with different ingredients and types of dishes. Looking through our cupboards and refrigerator, I saw that we had a few cans of chickpeas and decided that I wanted a healthy salad. I Googled chickpeas and Greek yogurt, and one of the first sites that came up was my friend Amie’s at The Healthy Apple. Amie has a great curried chickpea salad, so starting with that in mind, I further prowled my kitchen and came up with the following:
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used Oikos 0%)
small piece of red onion sliced paper thin
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 scoop Trader Joe’s cranberry chutney
shake each of cayenne pepper, garlic powder, Burmese curry powder, and ground black pepper
I simply combined all of the ingredients together to make a creamy, crunchy salad.
I took a bite, and the sweetness of the chutney pairs perfectly with the kick of the cayenne. I am looking forward to eating this lunch today and hoping it will be filling enough to power me through a 5 mile elliptical workout!
Phew. . . feels good to have the Monday after a holiday over with, doesn’t it? I had a great day! It started with a good workout and ended up being a quiet work day listening to Christmas music and getting a lot done. I am grateful for good work days.
After work, the weather was raw and rainy, and I wanted something warm and comforting. Polenta was the perfect choice. I decided to make it with toasted walnuts, gorgonzola cheese, and roasted garlic.
1 tube of organic polenta
1/2 cup to 1 cup crumbled gorgonzola
5 cloves of roasted garlic (roast in skins at 400 until soft and easily squeezed from skin)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted in a dry skillet
I cut the polenta into discs and placed them in a pan of sizzling olive oil, then seasoned with ground black pepper.
My plan was to neatly top each disc with crumbled cheese, sliced roasted garlic, and walnuts, but that fell apart quickly. It didn’t look very pretty, but it tasted good!
I served this over a bed of romaine lettuce which, though I bought it only yesterday, is rapidly going bad. I don’t know if the lettuce was the perfect pairing for the polenta, but I hate wasting and wanted to use it up. It ended up tasting good and providing a nice crunch.
The mix of polenta, lettuce, and walnuts makes for a constant change in textures, and the gorgonzola and roasted garlic provide strong but complementary flavors. Polenta is another one of those ingredients that is extremely versatile and it sort of feels like a luxurious treat but only costs $2.99 for the entire tube. Next up, making my own polenta. . . but maybe not this week.
Happy Monday! Over the past few months, I have done a lot of thinking about blogging and realized that, while I consider myself a food and wine blogger much more than a healthy living blogger, there is still plenty of room for health and fitness in my blog. As you probably know, I am running the 2010 Boston Marathon for The ALLY Foundation. I haven’t written about running much at all lately, and that is because I am barely running! After a hip injury this fall, I am staying completely committed to a more holistic training approach than I have used in the past. It is my hope that this way of training will help me to avoid injury and mental/emotional burnout that comes with marathon training. The plan I am using is 100% my own, so I really won’t know how effective it is until I am doing my longer runs in February and March. I will report that I am feeling great right now and in surprisingly good shape at the moment! In case you are interested in my plan, I have included a full week’s workout plan below:
Sunday- 1.5 hours of dog walking
2.5 mile speed walk (11 minute miles)
20 minutes of Dave Farmar power yoga
Monday- 2.5 mile walk to gym
35 minute bike ride with low level hills
Tuesday- 45 minutes on the elliptical at 8:30/ mile pace
Wednesday- 60 minute massage! (just this week, not every week)
Thursday- 2.5 mile walk to work
40 minutes of power yoga
Saturday- 6 mile run
20 minutes power yoga
For the next couple of weeks, I am only running one or two times a week! I am also participating in Project Strength with Julie at Savvy Eat which means I will be adding push ups and planks daily, if possible. Hopefully this type of training will make my entire body strong and will give me endurance without overuse on any one muscle or muscle group. Some of the Project Strength participants are posting photos or measurements, but instead I am going to focus on the contribution upper body strength makes to my running. Hopefully I will notice a difference!
How do you train for big runs/hikes/bikes/swims? Do you follow a recommended training plan, make your own, or a mix of both?