Category Archives: Restaurants

It’s Only Tuesday?!! Ugh…


I went out during a break in the (awesome) rain with the intent of getting a cup of coffee.

 

I am currently drink an Orange Spice Iced Coffee, of the dreaded Starbucks variety. It’s certainly the most interesting coffee that I’ve had in a long time.

It’s not quite to my taste, that is, as something I would order again. It’s an interesting flavor experiment, but I prefer regular coffee or tea. It might be a good beverage, I can’t really tell.

I definitely wouldn’t call it good coffee though. But I generally only think Starbucks coffee is good if I buy the beans and brew it at home. So that could just be me.

I could probably write in detail about why Starbucks’ coffee is not actually good, why they’re inferior to the single-cup pour over places that charge like $3 for just a regular cup of coffee (as opposed to $1.95+tax for a grande). When I go to a local, independent cafe, I do in fact think the coffee tastes better.

But, you know what? I’m not a coffee expert. If you like Starbucks coffee, that doesn’t mean your palate’s just not as sophisticated as mine. (It might, but I don’t take it that way.) I just know what I like. And I still buy Starbucks coffee, if not as often as I did before. I’ve mentioned in at least one previous post how I feel about this leviathan chain. I don’t love them, for sure. But I don’t hate them either. As far as “evil” corporations go, I don’t think they’re that close to the top of the list. And they have done wonders for making coffee convenient, even if you have to spend more to get the REALLY good stuff.

So thanks, Starbucks…

Voting day breakfast


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This is the breakfast I got to have to reward myself for getting out to vote early enough to actually have time for breakfast afterward.

At Cafenation in Brighton. I ordered the Spanish Sunrise omelet, stuffed full of beans and cheese and a delicious salsa fresca. There was cilantro in my eggs! Perfect! It came with nicely ripe melon and a stack of buttered Iggy’s toast. I was so happy about the toast–so often when your breakfast comes with toast, they fail both to avoid burning it and to put the butter on before it’s cooled off too much to melt it. Cafenation, doing toast right! I almost never get to have this type of breakfast on a weekday.

And of course, an iced coffee because it’s a hot day! I considered chai, but coffee mornings are most wonderful. But if you don’t like coffee, Cafenation has really good iced tea, including one of their summer drinks, Thai iced tea (which I just have to get a few times every summer, it’s delicious but very sweet).

They also had tons of day old bread available, so I got one bag of baked goods (the scone will be either a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack) and one of ciabatta rolls. They aren’t hard at all! I love when the day old bread is still fresh and soft.

That’s my breakfast spiel. Did you vote? Did you have a nice breakfast? Are you thinking about iced coffee and/or tea? I need to know!

 

**By the way, that out-of-place clothing tag on the table is actually my bookmark.

Lonely (Relaxing) Dining: Life Alive, Central Sq.


This morning I scheduled a massage to use my living social coupon. It was at 10am, which is usually a time when I’ve just gotten up and am introducing myself to the weekend, on Saturday mornings. I rarely leave the house that early on a weekend day. Only if I have a specific reason.

Since I was so close I decided to go to Life Alive afterward, which is an organic vegetarian eatery with AMAZING smoothies. I had a “Sufi Poet” salad (I have no idea why they call it that), which was light but substantial enough for me, with really good flavors, and reminded me how much I enjoy dried cranberries on salads. I also got a Coconut Alive smoothie, and it was just perfect.

I know this picture is dark. The lighting is very dim in the cozy corner where I was sitting for this meal.

I know this picture is dark. The lighting is very dim in the cozy corner where I was sitting for this meal.

So, I sat on one of their little loveseat benches and read my book while consuming this delicious food. I ordered a demi salad, and it was still a pretty good size. I don’t even think I could finish a full sized one. I’ve been wanting to try their other, cooked dishes. I really want to get The Fool. Anyone ever had it? Did you like it?

It was rainy today, and a little colder than I was prepared for (I didn’t have any socks on–oops), but not too bad, since the rain was that misty drizzle type that gets you a little damp at the most. Not like Friday, when it was pouring down all evening. Glad I wore boots then. So as I was walking between the massage place and central square, I was in a really good mood, despite being kind of cold. After my nice lunch I was still in a pretty good mood, although it was starting to rain a bit more. Shoe shopping was really the only thing to do before heading back home.

I went to DSW with a $10 coupon. I was looking for shoes I can wear to work, something fairly comfortable but nice and pretty, maybe a little different. The ones I found are bright green, so I think I succeeded there. I also got some stuff for play, because it was drastically reduced. There was a red leopard wallet the tag on which said “compare at $40.” I looked at it and thought, I would never pay $40 for this. You know how much I actually paid for it, according to my receipt? $7. So. Yeah.

Look for the red, 70% off tags in clearance, because DAMN.

Look for the red, 70% off tags in clearance, because DAMN.

 

If you think I saved that much and still paid a lot, think again…

As for cooking adventures, I haven’t been having them much lately. Nothing worth posting about anyway. I have a brief post to write about a stir-fry I made the other day, which was pretty good, but otherwise all I’ve been making is things like eggs, bagel sandwiches, salads, etc. No one wants to read about that. If you think you do, you’re wrong.

I’ve actually been feeling quite unenthusiastic about food lately. Not sure why. Every time I think I really want a particular thing, I usually decide not to because the more I consider it, the less sure I am that I want it. Most of my food choices lately have been solely based on money, and occasionally on going out to hang out with someone. The  only thing I’ve really been excited about, in general, is smoothies. I was really happy about going to Life Alive today, though, so that was something.

I got beans the last time I went shopping, intending to make chili before it got too hot to enjoy it, but then I lost interest. I think I’ll get more chicken and make tikka masala instead.

 

Eating All Over Town


As I commented to a friend earlier today, I have been stubbornly refusing to go grocery shopping for about two weeks now. That is not to say I haven’t been to the grocery store, but I’ve only picked up a few things while I was there. I haven’t done a full shop for quite a while. I’m going to try to force myself to do it tonight. If not, it will have to be tomorrow, because there are too many things I need.

In the meantime, I’ve been buying a lot of food out. Breakfasts, because I haven’t wanted to wake up in time for breakfast. Dinner once or twice. Otherwise, I’ve been scraping together meals from whatever’s around in my kitchen, but not too much worth posting about. I’ll update you soon on one or two of the things I’ve adventurously cooked.

Until then, I wanted to run down some of the foods I’ve been purchasing… or having purchased for me (I visited my parents last weekend, so of course they bought me food), with short reviews of the places. We’ll start with when I was in Worcester.

1. Surya – Indian restaurant – I have loved this place for a very very long time. They’ve changed a bit since we first started going there. New owners or new chef or both. Some of my favorite items there have been the Rose Milkshake, Mango Lassi, Shahi Paneer, Chicken Tikka Masala, and Nan. And my ultimate Surya dish, tandoori chicken. At other Indian restaurants, tandoori chicken is not really my top choice. But here, they do this amazing thing with the marinating or the cooking method that just makes it so incredibly flavorful and juicy. This time, I decided I wanted to try it hot. Let’s just say that was a mistake. I usually get it medium, and I can hardly feel any burn at all. Fully spicy, it was still good, but actually made my throat sore, which I have never had happen when eating spicy food before. So I won’t be doing that again. If the burn had stayed in my mouth, and out of my throat, I would have been fine with it. Not a fan of food that makes my throat hurt. It actually still hurt the next day. But PLEASE don’t take this as a negative opinion of the restaurant. They are my favorite Indian restaurant I’ve ever been to and I recommend that everyone go there.

2. Ronnie’s – Sea food and ice cream – This place was close to my childhood home, so I’ve been there many, many times. I never get to go there anymore, though. I miss it. It’s a seasonal place that is open from April to October, I believe, and they have really good, quality seafood. They also have standard burgers, chicken, etc. for people who don’t like sea food, but then why would you go to Ronnie’s? I had the expensive jumbo lobster roll, which is just the perfect item if you like lobster. The clam fritters are delicious but probably not very healthy. And if you go for ice cream, I’d suggest the chocolate-dipped soft serve.

Now back to Boston:

3. Monte Cristo Mexican grill – Ok… so, I’ve ordered from this place before, and it always takes them a while to deliver, but it took them a really long time on Cinco de Mayo. I should have expected that. But I was ordering from Eat24 with one of their weekend coupons and they’re the only mexican restaurant on there that delivers to me… at least, the only one that didn’t also serve chinese food. So I got a carnitas burrito, which was tasty, but not life-changing or anything. (I have yet to come across a life-changing burrito. If you find one, let me know, because I WANT.) The service is friendly here but a little slow. The food is good, but not great, and sometimes just ok. I did get pork enchiladas from them one time and they tasted amazing, so maybe just go with the enchiladas, or a burrito if you’re not feeling too picky. But their fajitas aren’t served with tortillas. I was really confused…

4. Caffe Aromi – I’ve only been in this place one time before, just to get a latte or a chai or something. I stopped there for breakfast one morning last week because I was in a rush (unfortunately, it didn’t help me get to work any faster, but nevermind). I got a breakfast sandwich and a latte, and I wished I’d gotten a savory croissant and regular coffee instead. What I got was good, but my sense when I’m there is that I’m overpaying. I just don’t feel like you quite get your money’s worth. Also, the decor strangely makes the room look kind of empty, which is rather unpleasant to me. The food to me seems comparable to most other independent cafes, so maybe it’s just the weird tables and chairs I don’t like.

5. Grass Fed – I went there because I had been craving a burger. After debating going for quite some time, I finally determined that I didn’t feel like cooking so I headed out. I just got a standard cheeseburger, and I was what I expected. The draw of Grass Fed is being pretty much “gourmet” fast food. They claim to use local products as much as they can, which is a nice incentive, as it’s good to support local. The best way to describe their burgers; they taste like fast food, but good. It’s not a real, big barbeque burger, but it’s not a gross McDonald’s patty either. Worth heading out there once in a while.

6. Mr. Crepe – This place in Davis Square is a nice little treat once in a while. I used to go get coffee there on occasion when I went through Davis on my way to work. Their coffee is pretty good. Unfortunately they lost my order at first, meaning I had to wait for at least 15 extra minutes for my food to be ready. Of course. It was good. I got savory crepes with spinach, basil, and tomatoes, and I was fairly satisfied. As for the crepes themselves, I’m more a fan of the ones at Cafenation. These I think would be better with the sweet fillings. But that’s just me.

 

That’s all for now. I’m proud to say that I managed to stop myself from ordering a pizza, but I don’t know how much longer that will last. Pizza is wonderful and when you get the craving, how long do you really expect to hold out against the amazing power of pizza?

Lonely dining: smoothie time!


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Raspberry mango smoothie from Temptations Cafe in Coolidge Corner, Brookline. I didn’t ask what they put in it, but I assume raspberries and mangoes are two of the main ingredients. It’s very tasty.

Food Evening


Like “Good evening.” but with food.

Dinner tonight was a delicious bowl of leftover chili, made yesterday. I’ll do a full post about making it–that was a true no-recipe experiment! And it worked so well. Most delicious outcome possible. Probably. Anyway. I really wanted some good bread to go with it, so I stopped at Whole Foods on the way home, as it’s the most convenient store on my evening commute that actually carries good bread. They were having a sale on split chicken breasts, so I decided to buy them while they were cheap. They’ve found a nice home in my freezer with the mixed berries, chicken lime burgers, and shrimp. (And ice.) I decided on the durum rolls. I find them delicious. And one of them can make a great breakfast sandwich tomorrow, assuming I can wake myself up early enough to make one. I’m feeling pretty good about my chances, for once…

This past weekend I had a nice little North End experience with my mom. We went full Italian. (She’s half Italian… I’m 1/4.) I had a groupon for Piccola Venezia, where we had been once before. Of course we wanted to go to Little Venice! We were in Venice once about five years ago, and we both felt all nostalgic about it. Piccola Venezia has a great ambience, quite an authentic Italian family feeling. But also like a restaurant. You know what I mean… I had chicken and eggplant parmesan. SO GOOD.

Afterward we stopped at Mike’s for cannoli, although we had them boxed up to take home, as we were extremely full. Then, for the last stop, we stepped into a little cafe called Thinking Cup. It was a little dark but with cool decor, and they were playing a silent movie in the background. Pretty lattes there. I am thinking I will go back there sometime when I can squeeze it in (and have the spending money) and do a more in-depth experience for you. For now I can definitely say that I recommend it, although I don’t know what the crowds are like in general. Might be more crowded during the day.

I would like to close by saying that I’ve been getting SO sleepy by the end of the day lately… even during the afternoon sometimes. My desk chair at work is uncomfortable and it’s hard to feel awake when I can barely manage to sit up straight. What do you think–do I just need a protein-rich snack?

Cozy Eating at The Squealing Pig


Last weekend I had a great meal with friends at the little Longwood area pub, The Squealing Pig. It’s a place I had heard mentioned for a while, but never managed to go to myself despite living near it for over a year. I’m so glad I finally went! It’s a very nice atmosphere. Not quiet enough to be a good date spot, but good for a gathering of friends, or perhaps a casual date. They feature a wide selection of drinks and good, simple food.

Beer-wise, it seems they have some you’ve heard of and some you haven’t. I’d personally go for a Magner’s cider, which they have on tap. I find many brewed drinks taste better on tap. I’m not much of a beer person anyway, but there are many options for those who are.

The food is their spin on pub food, so they’ve got the usual appetizers (quesadilla, fries), soups, sandwiches, burgers, fish and chips, pizzas, etc. I had to go with the lobster toastie when I saw it on the menu. A toastie is like a panini. This one had bacon and cheddar cheese I ordered the soup of the day to go along with it, which was a smoked haddock chowder. I guess it was a seafood night.

I would give my meal a three out of five (this may or may not be my rating system for reviewing restaurants in the future). The flavors were all very good, but the soup was very hot and I, of course, couldn’t wait five minutes, so I burned my mouth a little bit. The toastie was a little bit dry. It was clearly not pressed with any sort of butter or oil on the outside of the bread, and none of the fixings inside had much moisture to release. I enjoyed both the soup and the sandwich, but it was not 100% satisfying. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures, because I was not thinking at the time about making a blog post. By the time it occurred to me, the food was gone.

My friends ordered the fish and chips and the asparagus pizza. I tried a little bit of each. I have to say, the cod was amazing. The batter was very light, and the fish was so moist and flaky. I almost wished I had ordered it. The fries were very good too, but they’re only fries, so I don’t have much to say about them. I remember thinking that the pizza had good flavors, but I only had a small bite, not enough to get a good sense of it. I want to try a pizza myself when I go back there. I’m thinking the shrimp and chorizo.

I can’t end without commenting that our table was right next to a lit woodstove, so my legs were very warm and comfy. However, there was also a large group of people having some sort of party, and I was extremely tired, as it was a Friday night. For me, if I had more energy or went on a quieter night, I think it would be a great place to come back to.

On the way home, my hands were freezing, and it felt like too much effort to get out my gloves. I stopped at the Green T Coffee Shop to get a nice warm beverage instead. It’s located right on the E train of the Green line (hence the name). Looking at their special drink menu, I noticed that they still advertised pumpkin spice lattes. IN MARCH. My answer to that was “yes, gimme.” I ordered a small–this was my first time in this coffee shop, and I was still pretty full anyway. The barista was very nice and friendly. There were no other customers to wait on, so we chatted a bit while he made my latte.

I found the “spice” part of the name to be a little lacking, but the flavor overall was very good. I suppose I could always get one, take it home, and sprinkle some pumpkin spice seasoning on it… unfortunately, my mouth was still angry with me for eating such hot soup, so the experience was not as pleasant as it should have been. I am intending to go back and try another of their beverages on a day when I have not done something stupid to my mouth or tongue.

*I realize that this is not a very professionally presented restaurant review. I’d rather it have the personal touch instead.

Blog Thoughts


Today I met up with someone from my study abroad program who I haven’t seen for about 5 years. It was really nice to hang out and reconnect, although we never really hung out in Ireland, so I don’t know if that “re” really makes sense. That’s not important. It was fun.

I stopped at Panera for lunch, using a gift card for FREE FOOD! I love free food. I ordered from the “hidden menu,” and I have to say I was pretty happy with the Mediterranean chicken salad. It had bacon and eggs in it, so it’s almost like a breakfast salad. I think this was the first time I’ve ordered a salad from Panera, and they are pretty large. Of course, it came with a side of bread, which was delicious.

 

I might start talking about clothes soon. I don’t think I want to be a fashion blogger, because I’d feel like I’m inviting people to judge my style… but I inadvertently will start talking about my clothes to my friends sometimes, and although I usually talk for longer than they care to listen, I kind of like it. Who knows, maybe you’re interested in hearing about what I wear, and maybe you REALLY don’t care. This blog will still be mainly comprised of food/life adventures, so don’t worry. I’m just thinking of throwing another ingredient into my recipe-less blog.

Squealing Pig review coming soon. I promise!

The Cost of Sandwiches


*I’m just going to start off by saying: No, this is not a post about why you shouldn’t eat sandwiches. The only reason I’d ever say that is because it would mean MORE FOR ME!! I love sandwiches and when people say they are just “not really a sandwich person,” that’s weirder to me than when people say “I’m not a dessert person.” They just have to be crazy, right? Sandwiches are delicious. That’s the only logical explanation for not liking them.

This is, in fact, simply about how much money it costs to buy a sandwich.

You used to be able to get a pretty good sandwich for about $5. I don’t remember details, but I remember it happening. It was a really long time ago – which is my point, but we’ll come back to that.

Add a beverage, and you had a meal for 6 or 7 bucks. Not bad, really. And, like I said, I love sandwiches, so for me it was GREAT!!

If you wanted a really fancy sandwich, the most you were likely to pay was 7 or 8 dollars. I never went to REALLY fancy places, so I don’t know, could have been more there.

…Now, if I go out and buy a sandwich, it’s usually closer to $7 for a basic one, more for a more complex one. So, add the price of a drink to that, and you’re approaching $10.

Let’s be honest here. A sandwich is only as good as its ingredients. Fresh meats and veggies and really good bread are the most significant aspects of this. Now, just think a minute. Usually, if you’re ordering from a place that’s using really top quality, fresh ingredients, All but the most simple sandwiches are going to be upwards of $8. Local businesses are often more expensive, presumably because they aren’t getting super-bulk discounts on their ingredients… (you’d think buying locally would cost less, but for some reason it often seems to cost more.) And if you decide you want a latte or a fancy tea with that, that’s $2-5 more. Get a smoothie as well, and congratulations, you just spent too much on lunch.

This is not laid out in the simplest way, so I’ll just say it outright: when I go to some of my favorite cafes and delis for a sandwich meal, I’m spending almost $10 without any extras. Add a drink, it’s about $11-12. Leave a tip in the jar, it’s $12-14 (I usually give no more than a dollar for counter service: delivery guys and waitress/waiters get way more). That is approximately twice as much as what it used to cost.

I’m not including fast food in this account, because I really don’t eat at fast food places much anymore. It wasn’t even a conscious choice. More of a simple lack of desire to eat at places like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Subway, etc. I know you can get pretty cheap meals at those places, but since I don’t want to go there, I’m not even thinking of it as an option for anyone else. Just, ew.

Even at Au Bon Pain, which I still like, if you get a sandwich and a coffee it’s usually $8 or 9. Not as high as the delicious places I like to go to, but still a few dollars more than what a meal used to be. It seems the only cheap sandwiches these days are breakfast sandwiches, which I tend to only want for breakfast.

There is still one option for cheap sandwich-based meals, of course – diners! And diner food is ok, often even good, but how many diners do you know that are using the best quality bread and all-local ingredients? …probably not many. If they are, their prices are probably higher.

The takeaway here, in case it’s not clear, is that sandwiches cost more now. Deal with it.

Post-Thanksgiving


In which “post” has two meanings. Get it?

Nothing particularly exciting happened for Thanksgiving. Nothing really noteworthy about cooking, unless you consider the sheer amount of food for just three people. Turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, green beans with almonds, parmesan asparagus, butternut squash, apple pie, pumpkin pie, chocolate pecan pie, Newton’s Folly cider, apple pie moonshine (which I will never have again), wine. I, of course, drank ate too much and got sick.

After dinner we watched The House of Yes, which happens to take place on Thanksgiving, but otherwise was not exactly a festive choice. Really weird movie. Parker Posey is cool.

On the way home, I just barely missed the train at each stop and had to wait another ten minutes or so. I was only thinking, “Come on, guys, it’s Thanksgiving. Can’t you wait an extra minute?”

Now, a brief story:

Trying to plan a time to refinish the wood of the kitchen floor is, to say the least, frustrating. Unless you’re going out of town, there is no such thing as a convenient time. The time we decided on was Friday after thanksgiving/Saturday, with the plan of having a working stove and fridge again on Monday.

Being kitchenless is also frustrating.

Can’t prepare food, and don’t have the ability to refrigerate leftovers, so you either have to buy non-perishable things that don’t need to be prepared, or go out. I of course did the former because it’s cheaper, but having the perfect excuse to go out, I wasn’t going to pass it up… Read the rest of this entry

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