Boston Wine Expo 2015

Better late than never.  That old saying is still true, right?  A month ago, Miss Niss had the pleasure of attending the Boston Wine Expo for the second year in a row.  The event was even better this year.  There seemed to be more wine and more food – all of the things that make the Wine Expo so much fun.

Have you tried 90+ Cellars? It's like the TJMaxx of wines. Fine wines at a discount. What's not to love?

Have you tried 90+ Cellars? It’s like the TJMaxx of wines. Fine wines at a discount. What’s not to love?

Delicious chocolates from Birnn

Delicious chocolates from Birnn

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Red velvet strawberry cheesecake with cream cheese frosting

Red velvet strawberry shortcake with cream cheese frosting


The photo in the background is so vibrant it's like I'm in the vineyard.

The photo in the background is so vibrant it’s like I’m in the vineyard.

Au Bon Pan has a new chocolate chip cookie recipe. They're crispy and full of chocolate.

Au Bon Pain has a new chocolate chip cookie recipe. They’re crispy and full of chocolate.

I love samplng olive oil and balsamic vinegar at the Wine Expo. This Greek olive oil tasted so fresh and full of flavor.

I love samplng olive oil and balsamic vinegar at the Wine Expo. This Greek olive oil tasted so fresh and full of flavor.

My favorite balsamic vinegar made with truffles!

My favorite balsamic vinegar made with truffles!


I love Pasta Chips in every variety. Yes, I sampled each one and took home a back of Garlic Parmesan.

I love Pasta Chips in every variety. Yes, I sampled each one and took home a back of Garlic Olive Oil.


I also love Brownie Brittle in every flavor. Such a smart creation, the flavor of brownies in the texture of a chip.

I also love Brownie Brittle in every flavor. Such a smart creation, the flavor of brownies in the texture of a chip.

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I love seeing new wine and food vendors at the Expo.  Just like last year, we sampled our way through the Italian and South American sections and tasted one delicious wine after another.  We ate our way down the food aisle and filled up on chocolates, cheese, popcorn, desserts, and sliders for the meat eaters.  It was a perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon.


I received 2 complimentary tickets to the Boston Wine Expo.  As always, all opinions are my own.

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Brunch at Beat Brasserie

Two weeks ago, Miss Niss had the pleasure of joining the Boston Brunchers at Beat Brasserie, formerly Beat Hotel, in Harvard Square.  We’d just received our first few feet of snow in Boston.  Since then, we’ve received a few more feet of snow and as I am writing this, there is another foot of fresh snow falling outside.  Enough, already!

Snow storms cause me to crave comfort food.  It’s a safe assumption I’ve been eating plenty of comfort foods these days.  High on my list of favorite brunch and comfort foods are pancakes.


Beat Brasserie satisfied my pancake craving with uniquely savory pancakes.  I shared Wild Flower Honey and Lemon Pancakes with my fellow Brunchers.  I liked that they were fluffy, full of flavor, and offered something new to the girl who usually opts for chocolate chips.  There actually is no brunch entree with chocolate on the menu, which is a little disappointing and surprising to me.  To get my chocolate fix, I ordered a hot chocolate.


Hot chocolate is served in an individual pot.  This makes a cute presentation and keeps the extra chocolate hot until I’m ready to drink it.  The hot chocolate tasted like real chocolate, melted with milk.

My table companions and I shared everything we ordered.  In addition to the pancakes, we ordered a coffee cake, an omelette, an eggs benedict, and a bowl Azteca. Beat Brasserie must change their menu often, because I don’t see the exact dishes we ordered on the menu anymore.


We enjoyed this thick slice of a berry coffee cake; now there is a pumpkin coffee cake on the menu.


I believe this was a mushroom, spinach and fontina omelette, but now there is a tomato, mozzarella and basil omelette on their menu.  Their new omelette sounds better than the one we had two weeks ago.  I am a picky egg eater, so I don’t always chose them when I am out for brunch.  This omelette appealed to me though so I gave it a chance.  When I cut into the omelette to share it, I cut through a big chunk of spinach and was excited to see so much of it.  After I gave out pieces of the omelette, I was surprised that I had also given out almost all of the spinach, as it was concentrated on one half rather than spread evenly throughout.  The eggs seemed too liquidy to me; I’m not sure if it was just too cheesy for my taste or if the omelette was lightly cooked. I like my eggs completely dry and cooked so long they start to brown.  This omelette was either too cheesy for my liking wasn’t cooked as long as I’d prefer.  Others may love a super cheesy omelette.  The fries were delicious, nicely crisped and seasoned.


Not photographed, the girls I dined with voted the Braised Short Ribs Eggs Benedict their favorite entree of the day.


We were seated in a prime spot near the stage.  I enjoyed the live music, and appreciated it was loud enough to liven up brunch, and not too loud that you can’t have a conversation.

Beat Brasserie has an eclectic collection of savory dishes.  If you love savory brunch, this is the spot for you.  I prefer a sweet brunch, but am tempted by their dinner menu.  The Earth Bowl and Thai Bowl are calling my name!


This meal was provided complimentary. All opinions are my own. 

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Besito – Chestnut Hill

We love Mexican food here at The Foodies.  Guacamole? Yes please. Salsa with a spicy kick? Bring it.  Tres Leches cake and crispy, cinnamon sweet churros? We’ll say yes every time.

I don’t often shop at The Chestnut Hill Mall; it’s a bit of a schlep from my home.  But, I was there a while ago and noticed a new Mexican restaurant, Besito.  Always intrigued by a new restaurant and especially Mexican, I promptly accepted my invitation to dine there.  Besito was very accommodating with my schedule and after a very busy December and first half of January, I was finally able to enjoy a meal at Besito last week.

Although right at The Chestnut Hill Mall, there is no entrance from the mall to Besito.  You can only enter from the parking lot, which makes you forgot that you’re even at a mall once you step inside.  Besito feels bright inside, yet the lighting is so dim that we were given little flashlights to help see the menu.  I have to assume they do this for everyone and didn’t notice me using my iPhone flashlight to read it, because that’d be embarrassing.


I studied the menu before arriving, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the guacamole.









Our waitress did an excellent job making our Tableside Guacamole.  It was full of flavors from the fresh cilantro and tomato, and the avocado was perfectly ripe.  I wish you could see the ideal shade of green in this photo, but since the lighting is so dim you’ll just have to try it for yourself.

We also enjoyed the salsa and tortilla chips.  The salsa tasted so fresh and had just a kick of heat, which is perfect for me.  The warm tortilla chips are lightly salted and act as a delicious shovel to for the guacamole and salsa.


If you like margaritas and pina coladas, then you’ll love the drink I had.


The Cocoloma had coconut tequila, cointreau, grapefruit soda, agave nectar, and fresh squeezed lime.  It was fantastic.  My Mr. enjoyed his traditional margarita.

Our entrees were another big hit.  Honestly, this meal just kept getting better.  And my stomach just kept getting bigger.



IMG_0651I ordered the Vegetales Iron Skillet Taco,baby spinach; crimini and button mushrooms, goat cheese, avocado salsa verde, chile de arbol salsa, avocado.  The goat cheese was unexpected on a Mexican menu, and I loved the tart dairy bite to cut the heat of my tacos.  We also ordered a side of Elotes de la Calle, roasted Mexican street corn with queso fresco and chile molido.  Roasted corn is so delicious on its own, and the queso fresco and chile molido bring it to a whole other, spicy – but – not – to – spicy cheesy level.

For dessert, I swayed from my usual chocolate choice and opted for the tres leches cake.  I was in the mood for lighter flavors after such a decadent meal.


The tres leches cake was like a creamy, vanilla, dairy soaked pound cake topped with fresh whipped cream and berries.  I know this wasn’t exactly a light dessert if we’re talking about calories, but the light vanilla flavor was the perfect ending to this rich Mexican meal.

Or so I thought.

A bite of the complimentary cinnamon sugar churros was actually the perfect ending.


That, and these adorable Wish People to take home.


Did you have these little dolls when you were a child too? I had a half dozen or so in a little wooden box.

My Mr. and I had a fantastic meal at Besito.  The food and the service were both wonderful.  If you find yourself in the Chesnut Hill area, or near their other location in Burlington, I recommend you stop in for a meal.  If you’re not in the area, you can trust me that the experience is worth the drive!

What new restaurants have you enjoyed lately?


This meal was complimentary.  All opinions are my own.

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Chocolate Peppermint Marshmallow Candies

You know when you see a photo of a perfect holiday dessert and it just yells out to you “make me!” “pick me!” “love me!”

Well, that happened to Miss Niss when she saw the recipe for Peppermint Marshmallow Cream Cups on Lemons for Lulu.  I really should’ve been packing for my upcoming move.  But, I couldn’t get these marshmallow cream cups out of my head and I was determined to use my mixer one last time in my current kitchen.  Tackling marshmallow cream for my first time was going to be the last thing I did to procrastinate packing.  I really don’t like packing.

I really do like licking the bowl clean after making this marshmallow fluff.


See how sticky it is?  After filling each mini chocolate cup, I couldn’t put down my spoon and ended up shoveling sweet bite after sweet bite right into my mouth.  Sugar heaven.  And before I knew it, the mixing bowl was clean!

It was the idea of the peppermint marshmallow cream cups that intrigued me, but as I read the recipe I got a little apprehensive about eating raw egg whites.  I felt a little crazy for being nervous about it, since I searched for other recipes and all recipes are very similar; it must be okay.  However, I found another recipe for marshmallow fluff.  This recipe involves pouring hot sugary syrup into the egg whites, which in my head means that the egg whites are not completely raw anymore.  I decided to use this fluff recipe instead.   I added crushed peppermint candies and vanilla extract to the fluff, just like I would have to the marshmallow cream.

The end result?


Pretty and delicious candies to share with my family at our early Hanukah dinner.


Be careful who is around you when you enjoy these delightful little bites.  They are very messy and you will get chocolate and marshmallow all over your fingers and your face.  It’ll all be worth it though.

I used Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips for my chocolate.  I loved these candies, just like they told me I would!  I would use more peppermint next time though.  The chocolate is so chocolatey that the peppermint marshmallow almost gets lost.

Mostly, I’m excited that I can make my own marshmallow fluff now.  It was fairly easy too.  You just need some patience waiting for the egg whites to firm up and the chocolate to freeze.  My mixer may be packed away by now [okay fine, it’s not. I’m really bad at packing], but I have big plans for it in my new kitchen.  Coconut marshmallow cream cups…marshmallow fluff filled cupcakes…marshmallow fluff whoopie pies…spoonfuls of marshmallow fluff…you see where I’m going with this.  The possibilities are endless.  It’s going to be a sweet new year in my kitchen!

What new-to-you holiday desserts have you made this year?

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Itadaki – Boston

The subject line of the email inviting Miss Niss to try a new-to-her Boston Back Bay restaurant included the word “ramen.”  The easy part was saying yes the this dinner invitation; the difficult part was finding time to go!

A few weeks ago, Miss Niss found time to try Itadaki, a Japanese restaurant and bar on Newbury St.


The dark lighting, exposed brick walls, and dimly lit candles set the mood for a unique Japanese experience.


To start, I ordered the Cucumber Sake-tini, made with Effen Cucumber, Reiko Sake, St. Germaine, and Gingerale.  I love cocktails with cucumber and St. Germaine, and this was no exception.  I would go back to Itadaki just based on the drink menu!

But the food was delicious too.  I’ll admit I was disappointed (and surprised) that none of the ramen soup I was so looking forward to enjoying was vegetarian.  Luckily, there were several other options on the menu that caught my eye.

IMG_0237We shared the Chamame Edamame, special nutty flavored edamame with sea salt.  It tasted a lot like regular edamame, salted to perfection.

For my dinner course, I ordered Baked Eggplant with Miso Cheese Sauce and Itadaki Signature Cheese Gratin.



The eggplant was the most unique eggplant I’ve had at an Asian restaurant.  The slices of eggplant were perfectly tender and the tangy miso cheese sauce perfectly complemented the dish.  The gratin is a Japanese style macaroni and cheese, made with white onion and mushroom cream sauce.  It is such an unexpected dish at a Japanese restaurant. I mean, have you ever had mac and cheese with chop sticks?


I can proudly say that I have!  And, it was among the best mac and cheese in Boston.  The sauce was so creamy and the cheese on top had those brown spots reserved only for the best mac and cheese.

My friend loved her fresh sushi too.


Not one to pass on dessert, we shared the Japanese Style Flan and Strawberry Mochi.



I’m not sure what was so Japanese about the flan; it tasted like a regular flan, creamy and decadent.  The strawberry mochi tasted like rich strawberry ice cream inside a soft doughy bun.

We had a fun and delicious meal at Itadaki, combined of both traditional and unique Japanese flavors.  Take a break from this busy holiday season and enjoy a night out at Itadaki!

What new-to-you restaurants have you tried lately?



This meal was provided complimentary.  As always, our opinions are our own.



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Boston Wine Expo 2015 – Coming Soon!

It’s that time of year again. No, not time to get ready for Thanksgiving and the holiday season.  Well, yes, actually that too. But it’s time to plan ahead to February, 2015, and get ready for the Boston Wine Expo.  The Wine Expo was so much fun last year; I’m looking forward to attending again this time!

Just like last year, Miss Niss had the opportunity to attend a preview event and sample some fine wines that will be at the Expo.  I sampled red, white, and sparkling wines that you will get to sample also, if you attend the Wine Expo.  I took photos of my favorite wines of the evening – take a look at the bottles that made my cut.

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In addition to sampling wines and chatting with the vendors, I enjoyed the gourmet cheese table in the center of the room.  The Wine Expo is of course mostly about wine, but the food last year was also noteworthy enough to write home about.  A day of wine and food is timed perfectly in the middle of winter, when few events will excite you to treck across the city to the Seaport World Trade Center.

The Expo is February 14-15, also timed perfectly with Presidents’ Day Weekend.  For a limited time, you can purchase tickets at a reduced price.  Through November 30, tickets are $10 off.  Purchase your Wine Expo tickets here.

Stay tuned for more info and a ticket giveaway as the Boston Wine Expo gets closer!  We’ll see you there!

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Biscoff Everything Treats

If you’ve ever flown Delta you are probably familiar with Biscoff — those graham cracker-like cookies that are always a better option to peanuts. TFAW were shocked to learn there is life outside of planes for these little guys, and when we received a gratis package we put the new baking ingredient to work.

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The premise of this recipe was a little of “everything left in the pantry.” While Speculoos or Biscoff spread probably would have been a preferable ingredient to peanut butter, I made do. I will admit, they were a bit dry and not as gooey as I would have liked. I would suggest cutting the baking time by 5-10 minutes or adding some more butter perhaps.

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Biscoff Everything Treats
makes 24 mini treats

1/2 package Biscoff cookies, finely crushed
1/2 cup mini marshmallows
1/2 cup HEATH milk chocolate toffee bits
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
1/4 cup peanut butter (I used PB&Co. Mighty Maple ’cause that’s what was in stock)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and fill a 24 mini-cupcake tin with liners. On a stovetop over medium heat, melt butter and brown sugar. Once smooth, remove from heat and add peanut butter, stirring until blended. Set aside and let cool.

Combine all dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then fold in the marshmallows, butterscotch chips and HEATH pieces.

Add egg into your cooled mixture on the stovetop, then combine liquid and dry mixtures. Pour into each of the 24 mini-cupcake tins, filling about 3/4 to the top. Bake for about 25 minutes.

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Spice up your Summer Grilling

I’d never heard of Coleman’s mustard or COOKINA grilling sheets before I was asked if I wanted to participate in the Summer Blogger ‘Grill – Off’ hosted by COOKINA and Coleman’s Mustard, but I thought who doesn’t love summer grilling and mustard?  I sure do!

Soon enough, my package of goodies arrived at my door.  I received one COOKINA Barbeque Reusable Grilling Sheet, Coleman’s Dry Powder Mustard, and Coleman’s Original Prepared Mustard.  I tasted the mustard immediately.  It looked like plain yellow mustard.  I put a big smear on a cucumber stick and was blown away.  This is no ordinary mustard.  It tastes a lot more like wasabi than a typical mustard.  I checked the ingredients – there is no horse radish!  Just mustard.  Very spicy mustard.

Since the mustard reminded me of wasabi, I thought an Asian marinade would be appropriate.  Then I thought better of my audience.  Not everyone likes such a spice so instead of marinating vegetables, I made a sauce to use as a topping for grilled vegetables.

In past summers, My Mr. and I have grilled frequently.  This summer has been so busy that we’re barely home for dinner and sadly have not used our grill once!  Luckily, my parents had us over to grill.  I took control of the veggie side of the grill and finally had an opportunity to test out my grilling sheet and mustard sauce.

I started with sliced zucchini tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

I started with sliced zucchini tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper.


You can’t even tell, but the COOKINA grilling sheet is on the left side of the grill under the veggies.  I cut the sheet to fit the grill.  I actually read the directions – rare for me, I know – and it said you can cut the sheet.  It also said you don’t need to use any fats when grilling.  Too bad I had already added the olive oil.  The sheet is nonstick and not only suited for grilling, but a replacement for tin foil wherever you may use it in cooking or baking.  I see cookies on a COOKINA sheet in my future.  My favorite part of the COOKINA sheet is not the ease of use or the nonstick surface.  It’s the fact that this sheet can make any grilling surface vegetarian!  I won’t have any meat touching my vegetables!  My parents know this and actually keep the left side of their grill vegetarian for me, but now I can bring this reusable sheet to any barbeque and ensure my vegetables are vegetarian.


Anything grilled on a COOKINA reusable grilling sheet gets grill marks as if it was grilled directly on the grill.


My grilled zucchini also tasted just as delicious as if it was grilled directly on the grill.  And this Spicy Mustard Sauce only took it up a notch.  It was a hit with the whole family.

You too can celebrate summer grilling with COOKINA.  The brand is hosting a social media contest and the winner gets a trip to Las Vegas!  Tag your photo featuring COOKINA on Instagram or Twitter with #YesYouCanCOOKINA or upload your photo to their Facebook page to enter to win.  COOKINA is available at Home Depot, and you can visit their website for more information.  The easiest place to buy Coleman’s mustard is Amazon.

Spicy Mustard Sauce
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 T sesame oil
1-3 T Coleman’s Mustard, depending on how spicy you like it!

Stir all ingredients together in a dish.  Top your favorite grilled vegetables, meat, or fish.

What have you been grilling this summer?


I received COOKINA Reusable Grilling and Sheet and Coleman’s Mustard products for free.  My opinions are my own.

Posted in Recipes | Tagged , , , | 1 Response
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