Healthy and Sane

Entries Tagged as 'Boston'

The Cottage Chestnut Hill–brunch review

September 13th, 2011 · 27 Comments · blogger meetups, Boston, Eating out, restaurant reviews

If you’ve been reading Healthy and Sane for a while, or have had a chance to check out my restaurant review page, you know I eat out a lot. I love to cook – yes, but eating out at quality restaurants is absolutely one of my favorite pass times (Quality is key. Since I cook and eat out a lot, I have high standards). I love the anticipation before the actual event, then the excitement for the meal after reading the menu and making a selection and of course being pampered by waiters and chef. But my favorite part of all is the ability to disconnect from all the other obligations and really be in the moment – with the people you’re with, enjoying a (hopefully) wonderful meal.

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Luckily, Boston has a lot of foodies with the same love for eating out… and brunching. We even have a Boston Brunchers group, which meets monthly for… you guessed it, brunch. Since it’s inception less than a year ago it grew to over 300 bloggers. And this is why it’s the very first time I got to finally join them. Clearly, the seats at these brunches go fast!

This past Sunday, The Cottage in Chestnut Hill hosted 16 of us bloggers to an amazing brunch. If you’re familiar with Chestnut Hill, the Cottage is located right in the strip mall by the newly renovated Shaw’s, the movie theater and Macy’s (which used to be a Bloomingdales… also known as my mom’s second home Winking smile ).

The restaurant space is absolutely gorgeous. It has gigantic windows which just shower the rooms with natural light. Everything is so clean, fresh and inviting. It definitely had a very modern cottage feel (the original location in La Jolla was in fact a cottage, that’s how the name came about).

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I just loved the little details like flowers on each table and little knickknacks throughout (see the shelving units in the next picture).

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Bloggers chatting it up… we never run out of food related topics! Smile [I also spy my Bloody Mary there. It was solid.]

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Chef Todd (below) and the owner John came out for a bit to say hello and welcome us to brunch. They talked about their other locations in La Jolla, CA and (surprisingly close to the Chestnut Hill location) Wellesley, MA. All are in affluent cities with demand for high quality restaurants.

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Chef Todd shared a story about the executive team’s semi-yearly trips to California where they stuff themselves silly doing “research” for future menu planning. He admitted it actually gets painful towards the end, but it’s absolutely the biggest inspiration for the restaurant’s ever-changing menu (hey guys, I wasn’t joking when I said I’m willing to endure the pain. Call me!). The focus is always on freshest ingredients, and as often as possible – local (you can see from the menu it’s definitely seasonally appropriate!). I was also happy to hear that they work with local and sustainable meat suppliers (I noticed in their dinner menu duck from Crescent Farms and Brandt Farms beef – both committed to humaine treatment of their animals).

Since the restaurant hosted us bloggers for brunch and everything was taken care of (except for tax and tip), obviously I can’t review “normal” service. We were all treated like queens! I can, however, tell you about the food. I’m sure you’d get the same quality even without camera in tow.

Truffled tater tots

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Need I say more? They were mentioned as a side to bbq tenderloin tips and caught our attention right away. Luckily, the server was happy to bring us a few plates to share sans the beef (and was even kind enough to swap the fries for tots for a few ladies). Under a wonderfully crispy layer, were creamy truffled mashed potatoes. I admit that truffle oil can feel like cheating but man oh man, that’s my kind of cheating. These were incredible and got 2 thumbs up (or something less geeky Winking smile) from everyone at the table!

For my entrée, I was *thisclose* to ordering stuffed French Toast with strawberry compote + marscapone cheese (Liz did – smart girl!). Doesn’t it look and sound incredible?!!

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I sort of OD’ed on sweets the day before so I went with a savory option instead.

Maine Lobster Cobbmixed greens, applewood bacon, egg, spring beans, tomato, great hill blue cheese, hass avocado, tarragon vinaigrette

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[sans the blue cheese]

This salad was fantastic. Every ingredient on its own was super fresh and I just loved the citrusy tarragon dressing covering the greens. And what is better than fresh Maine lobster on a beautiful summer day? Nothing! If (correction: when) I come back to The Cottage, I will make sure someone at my table orders this salad so I can steal a few bites (there is no way I’m not ordering the stuffed french toast twice in a row – let’s get real!).

Some other gorgeous eats a few other ladies ordered…

Quiche of the day with broccoli and caramelized onions

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Maine Lobster BLT+A with hass avocado, applewood bacon, lemon aioli, butter lettuce, tomato, toasted brioche bread

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Um, I think I need this Lobster BLTA  in my life right now!

Every single plate was licked clean when we were done. It’s safe to say this brunch was a great success (say it like Borat!).

It was really fun to catch up with a few of my blog friends and meet some new ones! Smile Thanks again to Renee for organizing this event and to The Cottage for hosting us! I am certain I’ll be back again. Open-mouthed smile

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Making crepes at Dore Creperie (and at home!)

September 6th, 2011 · 32 Comments · blogger meetups, Boston, vegetarian meal

I can’t believe it’s Tuesday already. TUESDAY!! [Sorry for shouting.] Looks like I took the whole “long weekend” thing very seriously, which included time away from the blog. What can I say, when I take time away, I am really away. I think it’s healthy and sane (yes, I went there!) – don’t you?

Prior to my long weekend break (during which, in case you’re wondering… Adam and I hosted a bbq gathering for all of our friends, and then spent a full day lounging around the house – watching tv and eating leftovers, not bad… not bad at all), I did do something blog related and very fun. I took a crepe making class at the local pop-up creperie in Boston.

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Dore Creperie was founded by Greg just a few months ago and will be at its current location downtown for the next 5 months… until they move and pop up at another spot. I don’t frequent Boston’s downtown often but I have heard buzz about Dore and was very excited to be invited to a crepe making class there, especially since I just learned how to make Russian crepes. Wanna see what making crepes entales? Come, come!!

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Elizabeth organized the whole thing and Megan and Lindsey also attended the class with me. We started the class with a quick history of crepes, while tasting historically inspired combos like honey and figs

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… and fried egg and tomatoes

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We also tried the very early crepe batter from buckwheat flour and water. I actually thought it was interesting in its own way (earthy for sure!) but the more modern buckwheat crepe (which has eggs and butter) I am sure is a lot tastier and less “crunchy granola.”

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We fast-fowarded to the current classic dessert crepe with nutella and strawberrries.

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Drooooooool

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Oh yeah, while listening to Greg talk, we sipped on banana and nutella milk shakes. So indulgent. So incredible.

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Let’s just say I wasn’t hating this. At all. 😉

Time to get our hands dirty!

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Megan felt way too comfortable with a gigantic bag of flour. Lindsey was a little more apprehensive…

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Oh, Megan also taught me how to crack eggs with one hand. Very exciting. I put those skillzzzzzzz to use already and feel like a pro every time (I’m going to get to 3 at once at some point, Megan, just give me time!)

Here is how you make a basic crepe batter:

 1. Whisk eggs, then slowly add milk

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This was 10 eggs + 10 cups of milk… in summary: a lot!

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2. Add the egg/flour mixture to all-purpose flour (1 cup of flour to each egg and a cup of milk)

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3. Whisk it all together, then add melted butter (2 T/egg)

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Let rest for 30 minutes.

Basically the proportions are 1 egg to 1 cup of milk, 1 cup of flour, 2 tablespoons of melted butter. This would make a few crepes. Definitely make at least 2 or 3 times that!

Ok, time to use the fancy crepe pans… pour some dough in the middle of the pan, then spread around the pan.

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I failed at life at this step miserably. Look at attempt #1:

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Attempt #2 (you can actually patch up the whole with a few more drops of batter – much needed in my case)

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… there are a few more undocumented ones. Luckily I had help (and making them at home is waaaaay easier – see my picture tutorial here).

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Much better! [That means I didn’t make it, ha!]

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Filling them with every imaginable combo was definitely the best part! :)

Brie, fig spread and prosciutto

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Egg, feta and sundried tomato

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Chocolate, graham crackers and stawberries…

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We made dozens of combos – these are just a few!

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I could really get used to this job 😉

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Before going home, we got some of our batter to-go. I had dozens of crepe filling combos in my brain but decided to finally try the mushroom crepe cake Shannon blogged about a few months ago (I made 1/2 a cake as you can see).

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Cheesy mushrooms between layers of herbed crepes… buttery, rich. Delicious!

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I had such a fun time learning about the evolution of crepes and trying my hand at using those crazy crepe pans. What should I use my sweet batter for? I’m thinking of sauteed peaches and salted caramel. How does that sound??

How did you spend your long weekend? Did you have a chance to unplug?

PS – Just noticed that LivingSocial has discounted crepe classes at Dore. Funny coincidence – if you’re local, I’d recommend it!

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Being a tourist in your own city

August 31st, 2011 · 23 Comments · Boston

As a (sort of) food blogger (I don’t like pinning myself to a category), I take food pictures on almost daily basis. Shopping is a rare occurance, but when I do shop, it’s often for cute dishes, napkins, ribbons and other food related accessories. It’s for the blog, I tell myself. Helps me sleep better at night, I guess. lol

When I’m out – whether it’s going out with friends to a new restaurant or traveling, most of my pictures are of food. It’s happened more than once that I even forget to take pictures of people around me. I guess I have a one track mind at this point, after blogging for nearly 3 years and having 2 blogs. The thing is – there is a life outside of food. So much beauty surrounds me, all of us, every day. Wouldn’t it be amazing to capture some of it on camera?

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A little while back I saw a Groupon for Boston Photo Walking Tours and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to become a tourist in my own city and finally take the time to notice the beautiful details all around Boston. There are 5 different tours offered. This past Saturday I chose to attend the Beacon Hill tour because in my view it is the most picturesque area of Boston. What can I say… I wanted pretty pictures!

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Saba – the founder of BPWT, walked us through the area and gave historic commentary as well as random bits about certain places and then suggested certain pictures with instructions on how to execute them.

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It was such a blast!!! I never noticed so many fun details… like this boot scraper!

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See… cool, no?

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I also loved her suggestions on taking pictures from untraditional angles. What a blast!

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See the face? Cute, right?!!

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I have never been more excited about living in Boston. I actually plan on taking future tours with Saba and Boston Photo Walking Tours, as well as go out on my own on occasion and see if I can find my own treasures around town to photograph.

Have you ever tried pretending like a tourist in your own city? If not, I highly recommend it :)

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