“What’s your favorite…” (Part One)

TFAW love you, visitors, but we get the same question every time you are in town.

“What’s your favorite place to eat in Boston/NYC?”

It makes us nervous cause we hate to pick favorites. And, we hate to give you a recommendation without putting some thought into it. So we did just that. In this two part series, we give you the best in Boston and NYC, according to us.

Boston favs according to Miss Niss:

For unique bar food: Five Horses Tavern
Five Horses found the secret to surviving a spot previously occupied by a revolving door of restaurants in Davis Square, Somerville: inventive bar food with healthy, vegetarian, vega, and gluten free options, and an extensive beer menu including 80 bottled beers and 30 rotating beers on draft. From the tater tots, mac and cheese, potato taco and chimichanga from the brunch menu, you can’t make a bad choice here. Closer to the South End than Davis Square? Check out their new second location there instead!

For the best Italian: Giacomo’s
Boston’s North End is so densely populated with Italian restaurants that picking one for dinner can be a daunting task. Let me pick for you. Giacomo’s, located on the main drag Hanover Street, is worth the likely hour wait you will have. The best restaurants don’t need to take reservations, and apparently don’t need a website either! You can’t beat the homemade pasta and fresh seafood.

I must also mention for the best Italian outside of Boston, Fiorella’s in Newton is my absolute favorite. Order anything with marinara sauce (eggplant parm is my go-to) and you will leave happy.

For Italian desserts: Modern Pastry
After dinner at Giacomo’s, skip the tourist line at Mike’s and walk a few steps to Modern Pastry, also on Hanover Street. They fill their cannoli to order with a choice of one of four fillings so you can be sure your cannoli shell is crisp and crunchy, never soggy.

For Chinese: Myers & Chang
Located in the South End, Myers & Chang have reinvented Chinese food. Enjoy the creative twist on your favorites, including the best scallion pancakes ever. For dessert treat yourself to, well, anything. After all, Joanne Chang is also the woman behind Flour, another not-to-miss bakery.

For Mexican: Lolita’s or The Painted Burro
While I may be partial to The Painted Burro in my Davis Square neighborhood, if you like to customize your margarita then this is your spot.  And if you don’t, it’s still a good fit. The cucumber marg is my favorite. In Boston’s Back Bay, Lolita’s serves delicious guacamole and the vibe here will get your ready for your night out, plus the cotton candy served with your bill is a sweet bonus.

For a wine bar: Spoke
New this year to Davis Square, Spoke has filled the hole for the only thing the neighborhood was missing. Wine for every mood, knowledgeable staff, and fun small plates to share (or eat yourself) make Spoke the best new neighbor.

For creative pizza: Za
Mac and cheese pizza. Need I say more?

Posted in Boston, Foodie Ramblings, Mexican, Pizza, Travel | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Good Eats in Phoenix

This year, Miss Niss spent Thanksgiving in the desert.  Her sister and brother-in-law moved to Phoenix over the summer and have been living in their new house for about three weeks.  With a few extra days off of work, I declared it the perfect opportunity to visit Phoenix. It wasn’t hard to get the family on board with spending the holiday in warm weather.

As usual with my family, the days revolved around food.  While some folks might pick an activity and eat a meal in the area of planned activity, my family picks the meal first and then picks an activity or two to fill the time between meals.  That means we eat a lot.  We ate a good balance of home cooked meals and meals out at restaurants during this trip.  We ate at home on Thanksgiving and ate most of our other meals out.  If you’re headed to Phoenix anytime soon, check out these restaurants:

Sauce
We had lunch here on our first full day in Phoenix.  Sauce is a local chain in the area, and we ate on the one at the Scottsdale Waterfront shopping area.  The waterfront is man-made of course, it being a desert and all.  The shopping center was just one of the many upscale shopping centers in Scottsdale with some familiar chain stores and some small boutiques on side streets.  I loved the food and the atmosphere of the industrial pizza shop.  It felt like it would fit in well in Kendall Square in Cambridge.

Vegetable Salad

Vegetable Salad

Wild Mushroom Pizza with Truffle Oil and Arugula

Wild Mushroom Pizza with Truffle Oil and Arugula

Caramelized Onion Pizza

Caramelized Onion Pizza

Portobello and Artichoke Pizza

Portobello and Artichoke Pizza

 

Sprinkles
I was so excited to finally go here!  We ordered just about one of everything.  These might be the best cupcakes ever.  The cake is light and flavorful with a moist crumb and the frosting is rich and thick without being too sweet or too buttery.  Every flavor really tasted like its name, from the Strawberry to the Milk Chocolate.

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Culinary Dropout.
We stopped here for appetizers and cocktails before dinner one day.  We dined at the location at the Scottsdale Waterfront again; it’s just a few doors down from Sauce.  Everything was delicious.  We ordered classic comfort foods and enjoyed everything sitting outside with heated lamps.  Not pictured, we also enjoyed bread with olive oil and olives.

pretzel bites with provolone fondue

Room Service cocktail

Room Service cocktail – St Germain, strawberry simple syrup, sparkling wine

homemade potato chips with onion dip

homemade potato chips with onion dip

True Food Kitchen
True Food was located in another upscale shopping center called Scottsdale Quarter.  Sauce, Culinary Dropout, and True Food are all owned by Fox Restaurant Group, and it’s no accident that we ate at all three restaurants.  When you taste a bite of a good thing, you want more of it.  All of the Fox Restaurants have great reputations in the area and we chose to stick with a good thing.  Please come to the East Coast, Fox Restaurants!

Tuscan Kale Salad

Tuscan Kale Salad

Teriyaki Rice Bowl with Tofu

Teriyaki Rice Bowl with Tofu

I had so much fun celebrating Thanksgiving at my sister’s new house and eating delicious food with my family!

If you’ve been to the Phoenix/Scottsdale area and have any restaurant recommendations, please share them!  I hope to be a frequent visitor :)

Posted in Reviews, Travel | Tagged , | 1 Response

Barre to Bar with Exhale – Battery Wharf

Barre class has always been intriguing, yet intimidating to Miss Niss. Not offered at my regular gym, I was always hesitant to splurge on a class at a studio. When Blog and Tweet Boston posted a barre class event, I knew this was my opportunity to find out what barre is all about.

The plan was to first attend a barre class at Exhale Spa at Battery Wharf, and then to walk to Aragosta Bar + Bistro next door, inside the Fairmont Battery Wharf hotel. Exercise followed by food? I was totally on board.

Exhale Spa is more than an exercise studio; it’s also a spa, offering nail services, massages, and other spa services you can read about here. Since it’s a spa, the whole space feels luxurious and relaxing. Even the locker rooms are comforting. Lockers are free to use during your class and easy to operate with a chosen code. The barre class oom had beautiful hardwood floors and floor to ceiling mirrors on the walls with the barre. The room was set up with mats spread out across the floor and we could chose our own weights. Our instructor was welcoming, energetic and made her way around the class helping each girl get the most out of the workout.

Barre class really kicked my butt, in my a good way. I could feel muscles working that I don’t feel during a regular workout on the elliptical. The exercises were a lot harder than expected. My two pound weights felt so heavy after using them just a short time. My body was sore for the next two days. Exhale has me thinking their classes might be worth the $25 per class fee they charge.

After class, we were led to Aragosta. Exhale and Aragosta have a great relationship, helping each other share business since they are both located on Battery Wharf, off the busy streets of the North End in Boston.

We started with a Deep Cleanse cocktail, created for Exhale Spa, containing gin and aloe. It certainly was refreshing!

We started with a Deep Cleanse cocktail, created for Exhale Spa, containing gin and aloe. It certainly was refreshing!

We enjoyed veggie flatbread.
We enjoyed veggie flatbread drizzled with balsamic.

The bruschetta was fresh and delicious, and there was gluten free bread for the bloggers in our group with allergies. Aragosta confirmed they always have gluten free bread as an option.

The bruschetta was fresh and delicious, and there was gluten free bread for the bloggers in our group with allergies. Aragosta confirmed they always have gluten free bread as an option.

My favorite appetizer was the crispy artichoke fritter, made with truffle oil. Anything fried with truffle oil always wins me over.

My favorite appetizer was the crispy artichoke fritter, made with truffle oil. Anything fried with truffle oil always wins me over.

I’ll admit it never occurred to me to dine at Aragosta, but after tasting these delicious appetizers I would be happy to go back for more. I also learned they have outdoor seating on their terrace with fireplaces, which sounds like the perfect environment to enjoy the s’mores dessert.

I’m also really excited about the coupon we received for two-for-one afternoon tea. Blog and Tweet Boston seems to always put together quite the goody bag! Thank you, Blog and Tweet Boston, for organizing such a wonderful event!

The barre class, drinks, and appetizers were provided free as part of the Blog and Tweet Boston event. As always, all opinions are my own.

Posted in Blogger Event, Boston | Tagged , , , , | 2 Responses

Moksa – Cambridge

Last week, Miss Niss joined Blog and Tweet Boston for an amazing dinner at Moksa, a Pan Asian Tapas restauarant located in Central Square, Cambridge. We were invited to a four course dinner, and each course was served with a choice of either a cocktail or a glass of wine.

This was my second event with Blog and Tweet Boston and I must say that this is a fabulous group. Their events are well organized, special and worthwhile for the bloggers. The group attracts a diverse group of bloggers and I’ve enjoyed meeting every food, fashion or fitness blogger.

From the moment I arrived at Moksa, I was impressed with the service. I was offered a choice of beverage shortly after I sat down. I arrived late and everyone was already enjoying their first drink of the night. For my pre-dinner drink, I chose a glass of rose wine.

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The wine was smooth and tasty, a perfect start to the evening. Our first course was a roasted butternut squash soup with coconut infused curry and young soybeans.

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I was surprised to see butternut squash soup on the menu at an Asian restaurant, and I was absolutely delighted when I brought the first spoonful to my mouth. The roasted butternut squash flavor shone through the brightest, as it should with a squash soup, and the curry really enhanced the flavor, rather than overpowering it. The edamame was an inspiring addition.  I never thought to add edamame to soup, but now I am definitely going to try it at home. Perhaps the best part of this soup was that we all received the recipe on the back of our menus! Paired with the butternut squash soup was a choice of either a Fall Manhattan, or a glass of Sake. I opted for the sake, which was tasty but very strong! Everyone around me who ordered the Fall Manhattan loved it.

For our next course, I received a special vegetarian option when everyone else enjoyed spicy tuna dumplings.

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These patties made from chickpeas, potatoes, and peas were bursting with delicious flavors, and the texture lent itself toward the comfort food spectrum. Paired with this course, I chose the Peking Sailor, Hendrick’s gin, Campari, Elderflower vinegar, cucumber, and bubbly. Are you surprised it was absolutely delicious? If I wasn’t driving home and it wasn’t a Wednesday night, I would have enjoyed a few of those!

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For a surprise course between appetizers and the main course, we were served sushi. To be honest, I forget what was inside the vegetarian roll, but I remember it was delicious!

For the main course, I had paneer masala.

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No, those are not cubes of tofu. It’s cottage cheese! Paneer masala is a traditional Indian dish of cottage cheese cubes, peppers, onions, and Indian tomato sauce. I really loved this dish. Often Indian dishes are very spicy for me, and the paneer masala was not spicy. I loved the texture of the cottage cheese cubes; they were similar to tofu.  The ingredients seemed fresh, it wasn’t too oily, and the Indian spices were simply perfect.  I was so full at this point and I wanted to save room for dessert, so I took half of this generous portion home. My meat-loving Mr. ate my leftovers when I got home and he also loved the paneer masala!

Paired with the main course, I went back to wine.

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The full bodied red paired well with the main meal. And, lastly, my favorite part of any meal: dessert.

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Warm coconut rice pudding paired with Milk & Honey, a cocktail of cognac, rooibos, milk, and Boston honey, was a unique choice and delicate end to the meal. Plus, the rice pudding served in a tea cup was an adorable choice. I used to really not like coconut, and now I’m happy to say I’ve acquired a taste for it. I love rice pudding and I liked the addition of coconut and pumpkin. This dessert is really perfect for fall, and it paired really well with the Milk & Honey cocktail.

Throughout the meal, we were provided excellent service from the staff at Moksa. Good service is almost as important as good food, in my opinion. I am so impressed with both the delicious food, warm and inviting atmosphere, and attentive service at Moksa. I can’t wait to eat here again!

Thanks to Blog and Tweet Boston for organizing, and thanks to my fellow bloggers for the fun conversation!

This meal was provided free as part of Blog and Tweet Boston. As always, all opinion as my own.

Posted in Blogger Event, Boston, Vegetarian | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Bagels & Brew – Orange County, CA

A-Tooch has been doing a lot of traveling lately. A LOT.


Unfortunately (or fortunately?), living in New York means it is terribly hard to impress with food in domestic travels. It is almost impossible to impress with bagels or anywhere penned a “bagel shop” outside of NYC.

Welp, it happened. Behold the Sunrise Ole from Bagels & Brew in Lake Forest, CA. Quite possibly the best thing to happen to breakfast. Egg whites (for good measure), bacon, avocado, salsa cream cheese, pepperjack, tomato and lettuce. A true California item.

Posted in Breakfast, Brunch, Cheap Eats, Travel | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Prince Pasta’s 100th Anniversary

Prince Pasta, born in Boston’s North End on Prince Street, is celebrating its 100th anniversary. Prince’s slogan is “Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti day.” Well, that’s a slogan we can stand behind. Everyday is pasta day in Miss Niss’s home.

Earlier this summer, Prince sent us 100th anniversary packages including Prince spaghetti, an apron and a recipe book. The recipe book is full of old fashioned pasta recipes I can imagine families making for big family gatherings. Think cheesy casseroles and pasta bakes. I’ve yet to make a recipe from Prince’s book, but I finally opened a box of Prince spaghetti for my own recipe.

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First, let’s talk about directions – I really like the directions on Prince pasta boxes.

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They make it easy to customize your pasta based on how many servings you are making and how firm you like it.

I decided to use one of our favorite sauces for my pasta. Rocco’s Healthy Alfredo Sauce has become a go-to sauce in this home. It’s been featured several times on this blog. I love it because it’s full of rich cheesy flavor, yet I know it’s light and I can feel good about eating it because it’s made with Greek yogurt.

I sauteed some chopped broccoli and peas and tossed together with the spaghetti and healthy alfredo sauce.

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Rocco’s Alfredo Sauce with Prince pasta can help create a an easy weeknight meal. I made enough to have leftovers for a few days, too.

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And I’m not joking about this sauce being my go-to. I recently made a pasta bake with it also.

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For this Healthy Alfredo Pasta Bake, I made a double batch of the alfredo sauce and tossed it with about 3/4 of a pound of bow-tie shaped pasta and sauteed leeks, mushrooms and broccoli. I spread the mixture evenly in a baking dish, topped with more Parmesan cheese and Panko breadcrumbs. Then, I baked at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. It was like an alfredo spin on mac and cheese – creamy, dreamy, delicious!

What easy weeknight meals have you made lately?

The Prince spaghetti was complimentary.

Posted in Healthier Option, Italian, Recipes, Vegetarian | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Piattini Wine Cafe – Boston

At the beginning of the summer, Miss Niss was invited to experience the menu at Piattini Wine Cafe, located on Newbury Street on Boston.  I knew my answer immediately.  Did I want to indulge in wine and cheesy plates of pasta? Absolutely.  Should I wait until after my wedding when the “diet” was over so I could fully enjoy dining at an Italian restaurant?  Absolutely.

A few weeks ago the Mr. and I finally were able to accept our offer of dinner at Piattini.  I love the concept of offering small plates of homestyle Italian food.  Until Piattini, I’d only had Spanish tapas.  I love having bites of several dishes, and I love pasta, so naturally I love the idea of ordering a few small plates and sharing different dishes.  Piattini also offers full size portions if you don’t want to share your small plates – but I think the small plates are what make Piattini unique.

We enjoyed glasses of wine and a bread basket while we perused the menu.

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I chose a white wine that, according to the menu, paired well with pasta dishes I planned to order.  The menu lists wine suggestions for each dish.  I used to drink red wine all of the time, but this summer I got into whites.  This white wine was crisp and refreshing.  The Mr. ordered a red wine, as usual.

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See my shadow on the wine card?  The lighting in Piattini is dim and romantic which is perfect for a dinner date, and not so perfect for picture taking!  I appreciate the wine cards Piattini offers.  It’s the perfect way to remember which wine you ordered.

We ordered appetizers first, planning to go slowly and pace ourselves.  We started with the Arugula Salad, topped with tomatoes, artichoke hearts, Parmigiano reggiano, and lemon-oil dressing and Misto di Oliva, mixed olives with imported cheese.

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The salad was lightly dressed and full of fresh ingredients.  It was quite large for the piattini size, so it is definitely big enough to share with at least one person.

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Even though we ate our share of olives in Greece, the Mr. can never get enough!  We liked these olives, especially the kalamata olives.  A piece of toast topped with the fig jam, cheese, and an olive was a delicious combination of flavors.  Since the dish came with just a few pieces of toast, I enjoyed some cheese and olives with the table bread also.  The table bread was a soft and chewy white bread served with olive oil.

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Next, we tried the Arancini.  Three perfectly fried balls of mozarella and risotto served over a bed of marinara sauce called my name.  These were a bit too full of cheese for my personal taste, but I think most people love that ooey gooey cheese in the center or arancini.  I loved the risotto and sweet marinara sauce.

Gnocchi baked in cheese was my favorite dish of the evening.

Gnocchi baked in cheese was my favorite dish of the evening.

The gnocchi could handle the generous amount of cheese. We both loved the flavor pairings of this dish.

Tortellini in rich, creamy tomato sauce was quite decadent

Tortellini in rich, creamy tomato sauce was quite decadent

Melanzane Affumicate - Layered eggplant, smoked mozzarella, sundried tomatoes, truffle cream sauce

Melanzane Affumicate – Layered eggplant, smoked mozzarella, sundried tomatoes, truffle cream sauce

The manager insisted we try this eggplant dish.  This was the Mr.’s favorite dish of the night.  He loved the smokey mozzarella.  I loved the crispy eggplant.

We completely indulged in our pasta dishes and to everyone’s surprise, I was too full to order dessert!  I can’t remember a time that’s ever happened in a restaurant.  Dessert is my favorite part of dinner any meal, but after filling my belly with bread, cheese, and pasta, there wasn’t any room left.  I know what I would’ve ordered though – the  Tartufo Al Chocolata for me, and I would’ve had my Mr. order the Creme Brulee so I could try both!  

We really like the Italian comfort food served in small plates at Piattini and would dine there again.  But next time, I’m saving room for dessert!

 

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

 

 

 

Posted in Boston, Italian, Reviews | Tagged , , , | 3 Responses

New England Dessert Showcase 2013

For the second year in a row, Miss Niss was lucky to be invited to attend the New England Dessert Showcase. Last year, TFAW attended the event together and completely enjoyed our morning sugar high. This year, A-Tooch was unable to make the trek to Boston so I attended with Michelle from The Economical Eater. Michelle and I met early Saturday morning to eat our way around the room.

Hosted by The Anthem Group, the New England Dessert Showcase was at the Westin hotel on the waterfront, a great venue for the Dessert Showcase. The room seemed a bit larger than the space last year and was able to accommodate dessert vendors and dessert lovers very comfortably.

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Desserts bordered the room, and there was a smaller square of dessert tables in the center of the room. We methodically began in one corner and made our way around the room. Our first stop was the CoffeeMate station. New this year, I thought coffee was a great addition to the Showcase – especially since we began eating desserts at 10:30 am.

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CoffeeMate had a few new flavors to try and the girls at the station were making hot and iced coffee to pair with the CoffeeMate. I opted for the hot coffee and the low fat chocolate flavor creamer. It tasted like hot chocolate! I admit I’ve never purchased CoffeeMate, but the chocolate variety might just end up in my shopping basket during my next trip to the grocery store. Michelle chose iced coffee and the same chocolate CoffeeMate and also enjoyed it.

Next, we dove head first into the desserts.

assorted whoopie pies and truffles from Community Work Services

Assorted whoopie pies and truffles from Community Work Services

I chose the eggnog truffle. It was a very sweet with the white chcoolate, and the center definitely tasted like eggnog.

I chose the eggnog truffle. It was very sweet with the white chcoolate, and the center definitely tasted like eggnog.

whoopie pies from Boston Whoopie

whoopie pies from Boston Whoopie

The mini original (chocolate cake with vanilla filling) was my favorite dessert at this point.

The mini original (chocolate cake with vanilla filling) was my favorite dessert at this point.

I loved the adorable frosting shots from VCVC Cupcakes.

I loved the adorable frosting shots from VCVC Cupcakes.

The chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel frosting were so tasty - definitely the best cupcake in the room!

The chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel frosting were so tasty – definitely the best cupcake in the room!

A spin on desserts, these jellies are made with wine. The chocolate one was delicious!

A spin on desserts, these jellies from Plymouth Bay Winery are made with wine. The chocolate one was delicious!

From Bite Me Bouquet, "teacups" made from lemons full of fresh fruit. The best part? The to - go container!

From Bite Me Bouquet, “teacups” made from lemons full of fresh fruit. The best part? The to – go container!

A watermelon tea pot completed the "tea time" theme.

A watermelon tea pot completed the “tea time” theme.

The s'mores cookie from the Cookie Lady was very chocolaty.

The s’mores cookie from the Cookie Lady was very chocolaty.

In my top three favorites of the day, rich chocolate mousse from Finale.

In my top three favorites of the day, rich chocolate mousse from Finale.

Giant cookies from Boston Baking, Inc.

Giant cookies from Boston Baking, Inc.

and giant whoopie pies from Boston Baking Inc. Is your stomach growling yet?

and giant whoopie pies from Boston Baking Inc. Is your stomach growling yet?

Cannoli chips with ricotta dip

Cannoli chips with creamy dip

And my favorite dessert of the Showcase two years in a row...

And my favorite dessert of the Showcase two years in a row…

molten chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, and Heath Bar crumbles from The Chart House. I can't wait to use my coupon at the restaurant for a full size dessert!

Molten chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, and Heath Bar crumbles from The Chart House. I can’t wait to use my coupon at the restaurant for a full size dessert!

Thanks for the invitation, Anthem Group, and thanks for indulging with me, Michelle!

What’s the best dessert you’ve had lately?

Posted in Boston, Chocolate, Dessert, Events | Tagged , , | 3 Responses
  • Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie. ~Jim Davis
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