Healthy and Sane

Entries Tagged as 'Challenges'

30 by 30: lobster roll at Towne

July 13th, 2011 · 19 Comments · 30 by 30, Boston

I’m feeling cranky so it’s high time to bitch tell you about a really disappointing restaurant experience Adam and I had at Towne last week.

I’m sure that all of you locals know it’s a new-ish spot by the Hynes Convention center established with Lydia Shire and Jasper White’s creative direction. I happen to live a few blocks away and have been eager to try the place for many months. Well, hesitantly eager actually.

The place has very mixed reviews. One of these reviews came from my friends Katie and Mike, whose opinions I trust. They are foodies from the South End (well Katie is a foodie and Mike just likes more traditional good food) and our conversations often turn to the latest and greatest (and worst, overhyped, etc.) dining spots around Boston. Mike and Katie weren’t impressed. So I put it off and off… until I figured I gave the place enough time to work out its “new restaurant” kinks (they didn’t used to have a lunch menu for example which is just silly being right next to several high rise buildings full of hungry business folks – they do now).

So last Thursday Adam and I were hungry for a dinner out. The restaurant was rightthere and also happened to be on my 30 by 30 list so we decided to go for it! [Not so coincidently, I read Daisy’s super positive review that very afternoon… I’m sure that had a lot to do with why Towne was on my brain.] We were there early since we just wanted to grab a bite to eat after work, and it was sort of dead in the dining room area. I wasn’t particularly impressed with the décor – I found it to be too close to something a chain restaurant would try to pull off – dark leather booths with quirky images on walls (I’ve read that the second floor is a little more impressive). Like I said we were mostly there to just grab a bite to eat so I wasn’t necessarily looking for a good “atmosphere” anyway.

The bread basket with an eggplant dip, butter and something unrecognizable arrived soon enough (the runner mumbled what the dibs were so apologies for not really knowing). The bread was cold and sweet and did not work with the dips provided.


The sangria was awesome though! I think the bread basket is an easy and cheap way to impress the guests from the start but good drinks can certainly score some extra points if needed. I loved that the sangria wasn’t very sweet. Very refreshing on a hot summer day!


Time to peruse the menu… whoa, expensive!! The fish entrees are all in the low $30’s with some meat items priced into the $40’s. That’s extremely expensive for a place of this caliber in my opinion. After being completely shocked by the prices (seriously, nothing about this place says high end except for the prices!) we made our choices.

I wanted to try their lobster roll since I haven’t had one this summer at all! It wasn’t actually on the menu (despite being on the menu online) so I got scared for a moment when I didn’t see it but the waitress informed us that they just brought it back today. Yay!


Lobster roll with sherry butter in a brioche bun, served with house-made chips


The moment of truth. The place is expensive and isn’t particularly inviting, the service is average at best… but how is the food?

The brioche bun was tiny (the size of a regular hot dog bun I suppose), overflowing with big chunks of lobster meat, which was delicious. It was warm, rich and buttery, slightly sweet – very flavorful (one of the best lobster roll fillings I’ve ever had!). BUT, the bun was not only small, it got soggy in seconds so a sandwich that was difficult to hold from the start, got impossible to pick up after the first bite. The bun seriously was inedible after a minute so I was picking at the lobster meat with a fork. For $27, just a few forkfuls of lobster meat were not satisfying enough. [For full disclosure, the waitress did ask how things were and I told her about the bun. She asked if I wanted the chef to make me another one but I was just over it at that point so I declined.]

Adam got the half order of fried clams ($21) which were no better than the stuff you’d get anywhere. Absolutely NOTHING special about them at all.

It’s safe to say this was a complete bust. We both felt cheated. The restaurant is in a great location and has very talented names behind it but the concept (or maybe just the price point) makes absolutely no sense… and even execution was clearly lacking. This was the most disappointing meal we’ve had this year and we eat out several times a week! I absolutely would not recommend this spot for dinner. The brunch seems to get better scores from the yelpers but it’s unlikely I’ll get to find out for myself.


For other restaurant reviews, check out my restaurant reviews page. Smile

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Diet free living: don’t get too comfortable!

July 12th, 2011 · 19 Comments · 30 by 30, diet free living, food issues

*Time for another diet free living update since this topic is a lot more relevant for me today than what I actually planned to write about.*

Since my last diet free living post things have eerily been going smoothly. I think I have the weather gods to thank for it because just the knowledge of warmth and sunshine for a while there made my days in the office better. Adam and I have also been sneaking in nights on the patio as often as we can (sometimes with a bottle of wine – why not?). Honestly there was just no room for the food/body obsession in this life. I felt an almost out-of-body experience where I was watching someone else; someone I couldn’t really recognize because things weren’t perfect but she was just so happy and thankful for the things that were good, the other ones didn’t matter. I was happy. I was glowing. I could really get used to this life!

feetup Image source

They say what comes up must come down but I was hoping physics didn’t apply to diet free living. Why should they? I was so happy not dieting! So in love. And that sun was still shining. And then something (an old demon) came up. And the sun was still shining and I still had the most amazing husband in the world, and I was employed. But I broke down. And I got the food shakes. And I let myself have some (I have learned that food can be comforting and sometimes it’s ok to let food “take care of you” for a little while there because no one/nothing else will fill that void quite the same. You have to be ok, really ok with letting food do that for you though, otherwise you’re opening up an old can of guilt inducing warms.) And then I tried to breathe and calm down but I still wasn’t ok and I bounced around between feeling not ok and going through the motions and numbing that feeling with food.

I snacked the night away last night and I’m not okay with it. I knew what I was doing. I chose it. I’m still not ok with it.

Crying-baby-cartoon Image source

I have a food hangover this morning and I still don’t feel fixed. The same issue, the same sense of helplessness, is still there. I just added a stomachache to the list of thing to worry about.

It’s easy to feel defeated but I’m not letting this black cloud hang over me any longer. I’ve reached out for help (Christie is letting me join her Feelings eCourse last minute – super nice!) and I will work through this stuff. This is nothing I can’t handle and food is not the answer!!

That’s all I have for you today, folks. Just wanted this to be another reminder that there are always ups and downs and we can never get too comfortable. It’s a lifetime of a work in progress and I personally still believe that it is a very worthy journey to take on! Hope you are all doing ok and enjoying your summers!!! Open-mouthed smile

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30 by 30: making gnocchi

July 8th, 2011 · 38 Comments · 30 by 30, favorite recipes, Italian

There is a good amount of non-food related items on my 30 by 30 list but it’s pretty clear from my recaps so far where my heart is. I’ve made challah bread and marshmallows so far, have checked off East by Northeast, Foundry on Elm, Sportello and Towne off my restaurant list (posts on the last 2 coming soon) and have hosted a few dinners (like the vegan feast last month). I’ve also attended the volunteer training session at Cooking Matters but no positions have materialized out of that yet. Eventually I’ll get to pushups and building a lightbox (among others) but for now chilling in the kitchen (and enjoying someone else’s kitchen creations while out) is just fine by me.


I’m going to pat myself on the back for picking the things I did to include on my “to-make” list because these are all kind of basic (almost staples… well maybe not marshmallows) that I’ve purchased numerous times pre-packaged yet had absolutely no clue about what goes in to them or how they become what they do.

Take gnocchi for example. I knew they were made of potatoes. Sometimes I’ve seen the whole wheat variety sold, sometimes the “fancy” sweet potato kind. But what else is in those babies… and how do potatoes (and flour? seriously I had no idea) turn into pillows of goodness? I needed to know… and well, now I do Smile

All right, in case you have been wondering how gnocchi actually becomes gnocchi, here is how it went down for me. Upon Beth’s recommendation, I used Heidi’s recipe for how to make gnocchi like an Italian grandmother (who wouldn’t want that?!!)

All gnocchi is is potatoes, flour and eggs. It never seizes to amaze me how delicious and inspired things are created out of almost nothing. This is all you need to make gnocchi!!


Boil potatoes…


Peel those babies…


… and run them through a ricer (easiest for smooth mashed potatoes).


[Yes I bought a ricer just to make gnocchi and I am happy with that decision. A ricer is pretty cool.]


Nice and fluffy!


Work in egg and flour!


Kneed lightly



Mine came together quite easily without a lot of flour. I guess the gnocchi gods were smiling at me that day. Open-mouthed smile


Mmm, gnocchi dough Smile


Once I cut these up, I realized they were quite tender inside… so I tossed them in extra flour before shaping.



Mine didn’t look as perfect as Heidi’s… but I’m not really into perfection these days Winking smile




Why hello. You look like real gnocchi. Nice to meet you Open-mouthed smile


SO, this is where I think I made a small mistake. I wasn’t ready for dinner quite yet so I covered this pan with a towel and went on to do some errands around the house for maybe an hour. Then I went to boil them!


They were really gooey when I went to pick them up. Really gooey. I’m guessing it was too hot in my apartment so they kind of melted. I think I should have put them in the fridge if I wasn’t going to cook them right away.


A few minutes of boiling produced very light and pillowy gnocchi though. I think we have a winner on our hands!!

In the meantime, I fried some pancetta and grape tomatoes and once they were all ready, added the boiled gnocchi to the pan to give them a quick sear. Some garlic scape pesto to finish and dinner was ready!



Wow, guys. Just wow. I have never had lighter gnocchi in my life! These were just so airy… so delicate. This meal was ridiculous. Seriously. I can’t wait to do this again. Like tomorrow! Open-mouthed smile



Have you ever made gnocchi?

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