Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Tasting of the North End

But first I'll start with this morning. This was the first morning I've woken up in my apartment all to myself since my "Christmas break" began!! I was so excited to go to the gym and then come back and have Oatmeal!! I've missed it so much!

I woke up around 8am (early enough for a non-work day), had a snack then headed to the gym...I was curious to use my new HRM on the treadmill.

A few things I learned:
  • I am still getting the hang of the HRM, I guess I didn't hit the button that one last time before I began because it never started my "workout" and therefore when I looked down I would see my HR but it wasn't recording! Dammit!! So I missed my first 1.5miles and it was definitely the most rigorous part of the whole workout so I am estimating based on the rest of my workout that I would of burned about 200calories. I did 40min total...about 3.4-3.6 miles? Can't remember, it was mostly running with a little walking. I recorded 256 cals, so total probably should of been 456!
  • I run faster/harder outside. When I first used my HRM for an outdoors run, as soon as I went from walking to running my HR went quickly up to the 170's, where as on the treadmill it stayed more in the 160's until I was running for a longer period of time. I'll have to start pushing the speed up on the treadmill a little.
I quickly stopped at Wholefoods after for some fruit...Had a few pieces from this, while working on my stovetop oats!

This morning my oats contained:
  • 1/3 c. oats, 1/3 c. water, 1/3 c. milk
  • salt
  • 1/2 of a ripe banana
  • 1 tsp pumpkin butter (stirred in at end)
  • 1 T ricotta cheese (stirred in at end)
  • sliced almonds and a few pieces of dried fruit (stirred in at end)
Topped with:
  • some chopped toffee leftover from Christmas
  • low fat simple cranberry granola from WF's bins
  • spoon of White Chocolate PB!
Food From Yesterday

My mom took off yesterday from work, and we decided to pop into the North End (Boston) for lunch. The North End is like Boston's Little Italy...and it's amazing.

I was CRAVING this particular salad from one of my Favorite restaurants...Antico Forno

I love this place, it's cozy (well they just expanded so there's more room now!), delicious, and the prices are reasonable!

Not to mention they make the most AMAZING salad EVER!!


Flat aromatic bread topped with mixed green salad, goat cheese, fresh roasted cherry tomatoes and grilled zucchini

Mom and I shared's big. The flat bread underneath is incredible, the goat cheese is the creamiest, most flavorful I've ever eaten, and everything about it just blends so well together. It was actually this salad that made me discover my obsession with goat cheese...thank you Antico Forno.

We both could of been completely satisfied after that...but we had more food on the way.

We were going to share both items...the appetizer of:


Rolled eggplant stuffed with ricotta cheese and basil, baked in brick oven with plum tomato sauce and parmigiano

And a pasta dish...


Homemade style rigatoni pasta with Italian sausage and sweet onions, in plum tomato sauce
topped with ricotta cheese

Seriously though...these dishes are incredible! We only ate a little of each (yay leftovers!), but the flavor is just absolutely delicious. My mouth is actually watering right now looking at the pictures...I wish I still had some!!

After our leftovers were packed up, we walked over to another North End Institution for dessert...Mikes Pastry. This places is always jam packed...and a lot of times its with tourists, but there's a reason for that. HOLY YUM DESSERTS!! Now I know many people have opinions on what the best place for pastries in the North End is...and to each his/her own, but they make my favorite cannoli and that's why we come here!

I had a cappuccino (served with an adorable rock candy stirrer) and mom had tea, and we both ordered a pistachio macaroon for dessert

Of course we got some goodies to go as well

More on those later :)

Now it's time to run errands and do all the wonderful things that you do when your home on a weekday...clean, organize, cook...etc.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Tea with the Girls

When I was trying to think of fun things my mom and I could do with our other days off, one of the activities I wanted to plan was to go into Boston for high tea! I love going for tea and I have taken my roommate for her bday and my mom for the past two Mother's Days at various places.

The first time I remember going to tea was when my mom took my cousin and I when we were little (I was probably 7 or 8), and we went to "tea at the Ritz". To me, it's the ultimate fancy fun girls get to dress up, go to these gorgeous old hotels, sip tea from beautiful China, and eat adorable little sandwiches and pastries! At that age at the Ritz, I ordered hot chocolate instead of tea...and let me tell you I still remember how it tasted! Like melted chocolate bars in my cup...amazing.

Now that I am older and LOVE tea (as does my mom...she hate coffee actually)'s become a fun thing for us to do together. When I suggested it for this weekend she thought it would be even better to get all her sisters and their daughters and my grandmother to all go together! I made a reservation for 16 people at the Park Plaza Hotel (where I took mom for Mother's Day this year).

Unfortunately my grandmother has been feeling sick all week, so she was unable to join in :(

We still had a great time though...

Afternoon Tea at the Park Plaza Hotel

The tea area is at the end of the large lobby which was beautifully decorated for Christmas (click on the picture to see it better)
Their tea service is done in 4 courses...starting with a seasonal cocktail, Holiday NogThis was egg nog, with a little tea infused Cognac....AMAZING!!!

Then they brought out the first tea, Autumn Reverie...all their teas are specially created for the hotel and they even have an on site Tea Sommelier, one of only a handful in the world.

(beautiful china!)
With the first tea came an incredible scone with devonshire cream and jamThere's nothing like a warm scone with those two good.

The next tea was, Boston First Night, and this came with a tower of sandwiches and pastries. Two of my younger cousins got the children's tea which was very similar but with different sandwiches...

Children's Tea
And the regular tea...this was my mom's and my treat tower to shareThe bottom sandwiches were: egg salad, chicken salad, smoked salmon, and a tea rubbed pork tenderloin (amazing).

The pastries: choc. dipped strawberries, truffles, apple spice cake, pumpkin spice cake, and a petit four (the blue one!).

All of these little treats were starting to make me very full...luckily they let you wrap up any leftovers, and they place your food in tin foil with a twist!It is the "Swan Cafe" after all!

The final tea was the Swan's Grey, which came out with our tea infused creme brulee...creamy and so amazing...I scraped my little cup clean!
We then just sat and chatted for a while, sipping tea, and enjoying the atmosphere

Part of the with some of my cousins on the right and two aunts on the left!
I have such a fun family and feel very lucky!

We are definitely going to do this again so that my grandmother can come...she would of LOVED this. She collects tea cups and is very into this stuff.

Hopefully I can continue having tea reviews every so often, because there are a bunch of other places I want to try in the city.

This was the Park Plaza Hotel, and I would highly recommend it for tea.

Another great tea I went to a couple times was at L'espalier, however I can't comment on how tea would be at their new location. The restaurant used to be located in a gorgeous brownstone right off of Newbury Street...and now it's moved to the new Mandarin Orient Hotel, and I've heard it's much more modern looking. I'm sure the tea is still delicious, but there was nothing like the old atmosphere.

Everyone should experience high tea at some point :)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Amazing Christmas…and a Happy Day After

(note my HUGE stocking on the left side leaning up against the couch)

I am EXHAUSTED!! Mom, me, my aunt and 2 of my cousins were at the mall at 6AM this morning!! No worries though, this is like our favorite shopping day EVER!!! I seriously look forward to it almost as much as Christmas itself.

But let's rewind to Christmas Eve...

Traffic was HORRIBLE getting down to my aunts house, and I was really late and at that point just so mentally frustrated from being in the car so long...and I dropped a really nice bottle of champagne vinegar I got for my aunt so that just was the icing on the cake. Luckily I re-grouped and had some great food. Christmas eve is less dinner, more lots of random bites here and there. I had salad, meatballs, crab cakes, chicken wings, cippino (? - Italian seafood stew/soup), and random cheese and veggies...all delicious!!! Sorry no pics. Then there were presents and lots of family fun time...about 45 people (just my moms side). Then home to bed so Santa could come!! But first Santa had to wrap stocking stuffers for mom hehe.

“A Banana Christmas”

I'll explain the “Banana” in a sec, but first Christmas breakfast...aka Pie Making by products haha :)

Rolly=pollies! These are little treats made from leftover pie crust. My mom made two pies this morning then took the extra pie crust scraps, rolled them out, spread some butter, sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon, then roll up, slice, and bake!! YUMMMMM!

I probably had 3 or 4 over the course of the morning.

One of the pies was Chocolate Cream…you know what that means

A little bowl of extra hot pudding with a spoonful of vanilla ice cream.  There you have it, breakfast of champions…chocolate pudding and little pastries :)

Good thing I couldn’t wait to try out my new HRM!!  But first, PRESENTS!!

Starting with my HUGE stocking…the next three pictures are all my stocking stuffers

I heart my big stocking:)

This is what my mom meant when she said it was a very Banana Christmas for me…


Can you tell I love that store??  I have no problem with lots of clothes hehe…

A nice pair of grey work pants    IMG_2045
Cute green sweater

Black sweater dress, with grey bands on the bottom and the button details at the waist.

And two gorgeous scarves!  The one on the left is wool and so so soft and warm, the one on the right is like a thin linen material and is so colorful!


I also got a really warm long black winter coat..kind of like a down one with a fur rimmed hood.  I told her I wanted a REALLY warm coat. 

I also gave her the Anthopologie hints

Now I have BOTH “B” mugs they make!  Perfect, Brian can use this one :)  And she ALSO got my the same measuring cups Brian got me so I returned them today and got two more of those cute little bowls to go with the two from Brian.

All in all another great Christmas!! 

Good thing I had some “real” breakfast after my run…Chobani, banana, and Kashi U!


Because later there was the dinner celebration at my aunts…I definitely didn’t hold back here…SO MUCH AMAZING FOOD!

Shrimp cocktail, homemade guac, and delicious proscuitto and salamis from the North End in Boston… IMG_2051
Smoked salmon with the trimmings….yum! 
My aunt’s sister-in-law’s Vinegar peppers…I don’t know how she makes these things but they are out of this world!


Needless to say I made many trips to this area for various appetizers.

Oh but then there was the main courses…

IMG_2057  Turkey, of course





IMG_2058Turnips…kind of like scalloped style!






Mushrooms and sweet potatoes!






The most incredible caramelized baby onions you will EVER have.





Squash :)





Ham!  I was so excited!  I haven't had this kind of ham in what feels like ages.






And then there was my plate…OVERLOAD ALERT!! 


Why of why do I end up with such a full plate…I was STUFFED!!!!  Like painfully stuffed…I hate when I do that.  Then just when I was starting to feel better…dessert came out.

Pumpkin pie

Pecan pie, chocolate cream pie, mince meat pie (no one but my grandfather actually likes that), and various cookies…

I ended up with tiny slivers of pumpkin, pecan, and chocolate cream.

My pastry chef aunt didn’t show up til later, and I did not have any of this but this is the cake she made for my cousin who’s birthday is Christmas!! 

The ribbon is real ribbon but the rest is cake!!

IMG_2070 IMG_2071

She also brought a Buche noel (Yule log), of which I stole a meringue mushroom…mmm!


Well that was my Christmas day!  I hope yours was filled with as much great family and food as mine!

I think I need a nap haha…I’ll have to post today’s shopping purchases later :)

Was Santa good to you too???

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas with the Fiance!

Last night was pretty much Christmas for my fiance and I. We won't actually be seeing each other tonight or tomorrow on Christmas Day...and this will be the last year for that since next Christmas we'll be married!! We had an amazingly Christmasy night!

It all started with dinner at Bonfire!

Brian ordered a Dark and Stormy (ginger beer with some sort of rum, layered).I decided to try the Pomegranate Champagne Martini which had a type of pomegranate vodka, apple cider, champagne, and splash of lemon...rimmed with cinnamon sugar (my fav part).It was REALLY strong, this reminded me why I don't order martinis...I hate a strong vodka taste. I took a few sips and nicely asked our waitress if the bartender could add something to it to make it less strong came back nicely re-chilled and re-rimmed (!), and much less strong...phew!

I think the bread basket may have been my favorite part of the evening...those Madeleine looking things were amazing warm corn bread, and the other bread was my palette for the INCREDIBLE garlic butter they served with the bread...seriously that butter was one of the most amazing things I've had! I had to stop my self...1 corn bread and 1 slice of bread with a good amount of butter :)

Next, Salad!

We both ordered salads as appetizers...I decided on the Pop Over Salad, which had green and red leaf lettuces, tomatoes, bacon, and radish, with a creamy peppercorn dressing (on the side). I was expecting a salad with a little popover on the side, BUT instead I was served this!A salad INSIDE a popover! How cool does that look! I only ate the top of the popover though...already had enough bread. You can kind of see Brian's salad in the background...his Bonfire Steakhouse salad, which had baby iceberg, blue cheese dressing, Serrano ham, figs, walnuts, and crispy onions...YUM!

Then came our entree...we got the Paella to share!Spicy Chorizo, Lobster, clams, mussels, white fish, shrimp, chicken, and saffron risotto! It really had a strong chorizo taste, but there's nothing wrong with that! I think the clams were my favorite part.

Since we were going straight to the Theater afterwards, no leftovers :( And that also meant I probably ate more than needed.

Off to the Grinch!

This was the stage before it started...pretty!I almost bought a t-shirt with the little dog, Max, on it...but then came to my senses that I'd be wasting $25 on a shirt I'll wear to bed or the gym.

The show was SO Fun!! It was very whimsical and Christmasy and the guy who played the Grinch was amazing! Very Jim Carey-like!

The Theater lobby looked beautiful decorated for the holidays:
When we got back to my apt it was PRESENT TIME!!!

Brian did a VERY good job :) He doesn't have the greatest memory, BUT when it comes to present ideas/hints...he always somehow remembers.

First: Giada's new Cookbook!
how good does that sound!! I can't wait to make some recipes.

Next was a bunch of fun Anthropologie things...and this was what I mean by the remembering little hints...we were in there ONCE last month and I mentioned how I love all the little fun kitchen things...

Owl S&P shakers...SO cute!!2 fun little bowls
And the little tea cup measuring cups I've had my eye on foreverThe next three gifts all tie into my new desire to run more :)

A lightweight "wicking" long sleeve shirtThe Nike Ipod attachment to keep track of my distances, speeds...etc. I also need new sneaker so I may just have to get some Nikes :)

And last but certainly not least...a Heart Rate Monitor...a PINK one!
The Polar F11! I am SO SO Excited to try all this stuff out...probably tomorrow :)

I have such a great future husband! It's not even Christmas yet and I feel like I've made out like a bandit.

I hope all your Christmas present wishes come true too!

Merry Christmas Eve everyone!!!! I'm all done work, have a few errands, then off to the family Christmas Eve celebration at my aunts.