Boston Austin Foodblogger Swap

Once upon a time, food bloggers in Boston and Austin TX decided to swap goodies. The first swap was in 2011 but I somehow I missed that one. When I saw it come along again I was all over it.

Here’s the scoop, each blogger said they were interested and then were matched to an interested blogger in the other city. We exchanged a few emails about likes/dislikes and with a $30 limit we were off!

I forgot to snap a photo of what I sent. Luckily my swapping buddy is a more timely blogger than I, so enjoy her photos of what I sent (and her blog!) There was some pressure we both felt to share our region’s cuisine…well, that which was ship-able.

I got bean chips, popcorn, doggie treats for my pup, salsa, a marinade, pickled blueberries, cheese pins, stationary and a lovely cookbook. Yes. I got all that (and a bag of chips)!
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The chips are totally interesting. They were definitely tasty with salsa. I honestly had no idea why I wouldn’t want corn in my chips, but upon reading more, corns are linked to a few health issue, and beans provide lots of fiber, protein, omega 3s etc.
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I’m psyched to get something marinating in the new sauce and I’m totally intrigued by the pickled blueberries. I found the popcorn totally addicting. It has a serious kick and a lovely sweetness between the two popcorn flavors. I couldn’t stop myself. It is such a good combo.

The pup LOVED his armadillo & Texas shaped treats! (He hasn’t mastered the treat-on-nose trick or I’d have snapped a pic.

The cheese week buttons cracked me up. How clever are they?!
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She outdid herself. I was so impressed and thrilled to get such great swap items!

Boston Food Truck Throw Down Versus New York

A few weeks ago I popped over to the Food Truck Throwdown. Boston food trucks versus New York City food trucks. We voted with quarters and the winning city’s food bank gets the money. I was psyched! Check out Mr. J’s recap post too! (P.S. His photos are better)
The Three Bite Rule - Food Trucks
I went to a food truck event on the Greenway last May and thought it was the best food truck gathering I’d been to. This is one of my favorite spots in Boston and it was a beautiful fall day. Mrs. C was pumped to join Mr. J and me after we followed the Great Food Truck Race religiously.

Luckily we went early! It got pretty crazy busy when we left later.
The Three Bite Rule - Food Trucks
Mrs. C was most excited to see Roxy’s
The Three Bite Rule - Food Trucks
We shared a fall melt: sweet potato/grannysmith apple/cheddar/brown butter; a muenster melt: muenster cheese, quacamole, bacon; and some rosemary truffle fries.
The Three Bite Rule - Food Trucks
We also were pretty psyched about these waffles from Wafels & Dinges. Wow. I wish they were in Boston! Bacon in a waffle? Yes Please!
The Three Bite Rule - Food Trucks
It was great to split everything. We each munched these pork and chive dumplings from Big D’s Grub Truck. They were awesome. I loved that we could get smaller bites.
The Three Bite Rule - Food Trucks
The empanadas at Nuchas was another one of my favorite stops. Mine was portobello/spinach/mozzarella and was awesome. These were small and packed with flavor without being overwhelming.
The Three Bite Rule - Food Trucks I was impressed with their truck (and their website).
The Three Bite Rule - Food Trucks
We ran into two Ms. Ls and Ms. J and they recommended another Boston truck: Mei Mei. We got some beer mac & cheese which was fine, not overly cheesy. The beer flavor came through though.
The Three Bite Rule - Food Trucks
Mr. J got beef and bleu dumplings. He thought they were ok.
The Three Bite Rule - Food TrucksThe menu there is impressive. I love how focused they are on local foods.
The Three Bite Rule - Food Trucks
I got the ginger macaron and thought it was overpriced and kind of a letdown. I wish you could see how itty bitty it was.
The Three Bite Rule - Food Trucks
I didn’t stop by Bon Me, but will sometime since they’re often parked by my office. Obviously I skipped past Lobsta Love since I’ve had rough experiences with them in the past.

We grapped some cookies to go and that wrapped up our day. Literally. We didn’t eat anything again for the rest of the day. It was delicious and Boston won!! Of course! ;)

Pop Up Restaurant

I was invited to a pop up restaurant and just couldn’t pass on the opportunity. I hadn’t ever really heard of one up close and was psyched.

It wasn’t what I expected but it was a great night. I had fun meeting some new folks and I was so glad Ms. M came with me. She’s such a good sport and we were both happy to be fed.

The chef Wheeler del Torro hosts a few of these occasionally. This was all I knew before joining, Wheeler’s email said: “I am hosting an intimate group of invited guests for a sneak peek at Pharmacie’s new fall menu celebrating classic Southern dishes with an Asian flair. Pharmacie is my latest food venture: an experimental fusion test kitchen to explore flavors, textures, and sensations.”

I left to meet Ms. M with a warning from Mr. J not to enter if this was in some guy’s basement. I was thinking the whole time what happens when you mix Asian and Southern? General Tzo’s Chicken & Waffles?

The pop up was held in an ice cream shoppe in my old ‘hood. The name of the hosting venue would have been helpful. We showed up for the third sitting and they were running late. We squeezed in and were served promptly. Introductions got us going at communal tables as we began munching.

The first dish was watermelon with blue cheese. I was expecting feta and honestly thought the freshness of the watermelon didn’t pair well with the moldy cheese.
The Three Bite Rule - Pop Up Restaurant
We had a salad too.
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Next was a tomato bruschetta. I loved the tomatoes but wasn’t into the caviar.
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Our next dish was pumpkin ravioli with tomato sauce. Again, I think the flavors didn’t mix. I would have liked brown butter, or really good olive oil, or a light cream. The tomato sauce was super acidic to me.
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Then they served lasagna. I couldn’t eat it because it was beef. I was asked dietary restrictions before the meal (where I emailed) then I was asked again before we sat down. They were super sweet to offer me a sundae instead of the ice cream cup served afterwards, but I declined. It kind of annoyed me. Don’t ask if you’re not going to do anything. I felt like an imposition. I might have passed on the dinner if I knew what I’d be eating. I would have been happy with a double serving of raviolis instead.

We got a cup of ice cream which was good, but the meal was so long that I had one foot out of the door.
The Three Bite Rule - Pop Up Restaurant
The food was fine and I’m sure some people enjoyed it more than me. I thought it should wow me. I thought I should be shouting from the rooftops. I thought this meal would rock my world and make me their unofficial spokesperson when a restaurant opened. I was underwhelmed.

I wasn’t impressed with the how the event was run since I showed an email chain to get us in, they didn’t include the venue name, there wasn’t any explanation about what they were serving, and the dietary restrictions info wasn’t passed along. I also think they should have done 2 sittings if the food was going to be reheated and if they weren’t going to be able to accommodate the overlapping crowd three times that day.

Did you notice this has absolutely nothing to reference Asian or Southern? Yeah, me too.

Sometimes I’m brutally honest and I feel badly, but I owe you the good, the bad, and the ugly. This was a disappointing dinner. Maybe I was too hyped about it. It makes me glad we hadn’t bought a ticket to it. My invitation with a guest was complimentary but if I liked it I would have raved about it so it only seemed appropriate to be so harshly honest.

Full 3 Bite Rule Disclosure: My invitation for myself and a guest  was completely complimentary but my thoughts, opinions, and words are entirely my own. 

Chocolate Buffet

I have a lot of catching up to do. I just got back from a wonderful anniversary weekend away and I have quite the backlog of posts for you. Here’s one from a few weeks ago, but not to worry. You can still catch it.

I was lucky to join Ms. L for the Langham Hotel‘s chocolate bar at Cafe Fleuri. It was delicious and I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking. There were so many amazing treats. Everything I had was great and I was sure to choose wisely since there was sooo much to chose from.

The Three Bite Rule - Chocolate Bar
The Three Bite Rule - Chocolate Bar

The Three Bite Rule - Chocolate BarThese macaroons were amazing…one of my favorite items of the day.

The Three Bite Rule - Chocolate Bar
The Three Bite Rule - Chocolate Bar
The Three Bite Rule - Chocolate Bar
The Three Bite Rule - Chocolate BarThis was hands down my favorite item. There was something about Peanut Butter Bomb in the name. The tan part was soft peanut butter dough with a peanut butter center on some dark chocolate with a milk chocolate mousse.
The Three Bite Rule - Chocolate Bar
Thankfully they had some salty treats to keep us going. They make their own potato chips!
The Three Bite Rule - Chocolate Bar
I felt a bit wasteful since anything I deemed unworthy I didn’t go beyond the initial bite. There were too many good things to eat! We did a good job and left full without being sick, but  it was overwhelming. I loved it for the price tag (free!) but I would be hesitant to pay $40 for one sitting of chocolate. The desserts were really great, and there was an impressive spread of choices, but I’d only spend $40 on a box of chocolates I could enjoy until empty. I worked a gourmet candy store in high school and college so it isn’t lost on me, but free was fantastic.

Full 3 Bite Rule Disclosure: Our invitation from Google+ Local to the chocolate bar was completely complimentary but my thoughts, opinions, and words are entirely my own.

Lobster Walk n’ Roll

Google+ gave some spots away for a Lobster Walk n’ Roll event a few weeks ago in Harvard Square and I was lucky enough to get one. Liz from Eating Places joined me and we happily munched the lobster slider and cocktail tastes they offered up along with some photo tips while meeting other Google+ reviewers.

We began at Upstairs on the Square. I was psyched since I hadn’t been inside there. We were in a super cool pink zebra room. It was a bit pink for photos so bear with me.
The Three Bite Rule - Lobster Roll

We got a small lobster roll and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. This was a great way to start the afternoon.
The Three Bite Rule - Lobster Roll
The lobster roll was really simple and filled a buttery roll. I was so happy to see the big chunks of lobster meat with very little dressing.
The Three Bite Rule - Lobster Roll

Next we made our way to Russell House Tavern for a slider and choice of cocktail.
The Three Bite Rule - Lobster Roll

This slider reflected their mission to keep food from being pretentious. They kindly provided some fries as well, which were addicting to say the least.
The Three Bite Rule - Lobster Roll
These sliders were my favorite of the day. I again LOVED that they were lightly dressed but had a touch of a kick.
The Three Bite Rule - Lobster Roll
Gobs of mayo and miniscule chunks of lobster give lobster rolls a bad name…that isn’t how they’re supposed to be.
The Three Bite Rule - Lobster Roll

I got their house St. Germain cocktail with sparkling wine and soda water. It was flowery and bubbly making it an ideal pairing with a very filled lobster slider.
The Three Bite Rule - Lobster Roll

I’ve never been there for brunch but would love to. I need to get on that. Their breakfast sandwich is the stuff my dreams are made of. I might need accompaniment to get the bfast pizza or biscuits and gravy so I can try those too. I don’t know their restaurant Park , but I love Grafton Street.

Next we made our way to The First Printer. I hadn’t been here before (I hear it had been Herrell’s Ice Cream). The interior is homey and charming.
The Three Bite Rule - Lobster Roll
We cozied up in booths with platters of lobster rolls.
The Three Bite Rule - Lobster Roll
They offered us 3 custom cocktails but everyone went with the same one! The crispy cuke stuck into it was show stopping.
The Three Bite Rule - Lobster Roll

I have to say that their lobster rolls were my least favorite. The lobster meat was deliciously tender and I was pleasantly surprised by the orange zest. Their rolls were dry and stale. I think after having 2 other/different rolls these seemed lackluster. That didn’t stop me from eating the insides of other sliders though.

Their ice cubes are crazy perfect squares. We were impressed and I mentioned it to the waitress who thought a) I was nuts, and b) that I was asking where ice comes from. It was awkward and couldn’t have been over fast enough.

It was so nice of these restaurants to host us for this lovely summer Sunday funday.

Full 3 Bite Rule Disclosure: The Lobster Walk n’ Roll was completely complementary but my thoughts, opinions, and words are entirely my own.

Pizza Rumble Recap

It is almost too late to post this now that it is August, but hey, I make the rules so here you go! Ms. L and I went to a pizza rumble. SO good!

The rumble was a taste-off amongst 4 pizza places hosted by Parlor Sports. We paid for the tickets and then got to taste all 4 and vote for our favorite. There wasn’t any criteria but we heard from each pizza joint about what they were serving us.

Emma’s Pizza in Kendall Square gave us what the kitchen staff most often make when they themselves are hungry. It had a paper thin crust topped with, in their words, “crispy smoked bacon/scallions/gorgonzola/house roasted tomatoes/garlic olive oil/light mozzarella”. Wow, right? Well, I was underwhelmed. The toppings weren’t evenly distributed. I was thankful that the toppings were sparse given that gorgonzola isn’t my fav.
Emma's Pizza

Eat at Jumbo’s cracked me up. I lived across the street for years and don’t remember eating their pizza. Mr. J thinks we didn’t love the pizza…who knows. Their pizza seems MIA from the menu but from what I remember, it was Jamaican Jerk chicken, roma tomatoes, bacon?, and banana peppers. This one was really good. It had the right amount of cheese and was so flavorful.
Jumbo's Jerk Chicken

Easy Pie served us Mac Daddy pizza. I could have this one because there was beef on it, but what a great idea?! Everyone loved this one! It was ground beef, special sauce, onions, pickles, and shredded lettuce. Spoiler alert: I recreated this one at home. Quite Tasty!
Mac Daddy Pizza

We rounded out our sampling was All Star Pizza Bar. I was psyched to see them there since I hadn’t made it to the famous sandwich bar’s latest pizza shop. They gave us a dessert one which was welcomed after our savory pizzas. It had hazlenuts, banana puree, roasted plantains, chocolate covered bacon. I don’t know what happened after chocolate covered bacon. It was amazing. Ms. L and I both thought it was going to have too much banana but we loved it.
All Star Dessert Pizza

I asked if Parlor Sports knew what the next rumble would be. They’ve done nachos, hot dogs, and something else. I suggested wings, or bar food, or cookies. Pizza was a good one and now I have lots of pizza ideas to add to my collection…watch out!

Beantown’s Food Truck Fun

Way back when, I saw that Boston’s Rose Kennedy was having a food truck gathering. Unfortunately Occupy Boston meant that the food truck festival has to be postponed. Something like 150 protesters were camping out (I’d have a real stat if Occupy Boston’s own website actually worked).

My beef with this was that they were not only vague with their mission, but they destroyed the park, lived in unsanitary and unsafe conditions, spent taxpayer dollars on police details, and refuse to recognize altering views. I feared when I attempted to obtain a permit for the park at work (by following the regulation, paying the fee, and leaving the park in perfect condition) that Occupy Boston would have ruined it for everyone. Thankfully I got my permit.

Ok, I’m off my soap box. The food truck gathering was rescheduled and I just happened to be working in my office that Saturday. It was perfect timing and Ms. M met me for some lunch.
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It was better than other food truck festivals I’ve been to. It was great to see so many out I hadn’t had before AND there wasn’t an entrance fee. We scoped ‘em all out and then chose randomly.
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I saw Staff Meal and was psyched to try it. I was pretty drawn to the bacon jam and the truck made chorizo. These two items were dictating my choice. I couldn’t pass on the bacon jam.

I got the chicken paprikash taco with bacon jam and French’s onions. It was the most interesting taco I’ve ever had. I loved the tender chicken with the paprika. The salty bacon jam was to-die-for. It had a lime to squeeze on top for freshness and crunchy onions.
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Ms. M got the truck made chorizo taco with lime crema, radish, and lettuce. It looked really good too. I just didn’t want to spend $10 on just 2 tacos. They were pretty special and significant but still a touch pricey.
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Then we were onto the sides. I saw the menu at Mei Mei Street Kitchen. They had some fun looking items and I hadn’t heard of their truck before.
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I got the fiddleheads. They were really lightly battered and fried. I looooved that they weren’t greasy and the freshness really came through. I wasn’t into the wasabi mayo though.
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The Greenway is expanding their mobile eats in a big way…and I’ll be there!

Blogging Better

I recently attending a Boston blogger conference a few Saturdays ago at Google. It was so great to see some bloggers I don’t get to see all the time and to meet some new ones at Blog Better Boston.
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I have to admit, I didn’t loooove everything. I think the conference was really well organized and attendees were really well taken care of (aka, free breakfast & lunch, goody bags, give aways etc). I loved that there were so many talented people in the same room! I think I just wasn’t all the way into shamelessly promoting my blog or meeting hundreds of new bloggers…feels like the first day of college to approach groups of people already in conversation. I was also tired from a busy couple of days at work so maybe I just wasn’t in the mood/mindset. I loved seeing some Boston Brunchers!
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Twitter was trending all day but I would have loved more digital examples from the speakers or highlights etc. It would have been cool to see what super skilled bloggers like, or look for, or are inspired by, how far their blogs have come, etc. The food photo session had great examples of food photos with her own critique/notes. That was awesome coming from a professional.
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I can’t say every session was perfect for me. I think there were good ones to choose from and there was a variety. The speakers were great, but I think sometimes it was a bit too distant for  the diverse crowd of food, fashion, and mommy-bloggers to relate. I mean, everyone can use info on building traffic/community and everyone benefits from discussions on monetizing your blog, but since it had to apply to pretty different writers it sometimes missed the mark because of concrete details or examples missing. Working in events I truly believe you can’t please all people all the time though and I can be a tough critic.

I loved the session on traffic & community and liked the food photography session a lot too. Even the list of attendees and their blogs was helpful to be introduced to some new local ones.
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You could spot the fashion bloggers right off the bat but I was really interested to see how many there are since that whole topic is wayyy outside my realm of knowledge.

It was impressive that the space, breakfast and lunch were all donated…something I didn’t really need to know as a paying attendee, but the price wasn’t out of reach for most people. I also learned that it sold out.
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I think I got a lot of resources out of it and I know the work it takes to put on something like that. I know some new blogs to check out and have a short list of aps, books, websites, etc. I hope there are more in the future or even short programs that are more specific. I took an amazing class at BCAE before I started my blog and that 2 hour class was very targeted and honestly more helpful than this one was.

It makes me think about my blogging identity. I don’t know where I’d fit between blogging pros & new blogs. I track my traffic but don’t market the three bite rule to expand readership. Hmm. Lots to think about.

Multiple Birthdays

My birthdays are the best. I pluralize it since I usually try to ensure that it is several days/meals long.

I had to work on my birthday. I know, bummer. I knew it was coming so at least I could mentally prepare. To work’s defense, my birthday did fall on a Saturday this year. I’m just a baby and consider my birthday to be a national holiday. (It is a holiday in Japan! Doll Day!)
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I came home from work and Mr. J’s presents began! He designed my business cards! Woohoo! Wait till you see ‘em…they’re amazing. He also planned, shopped, and was ready to blog dinner. AND THEN he made dessert. All before we left on our date! He’s the best. For dinner we had pork with a balsamic strawberry topping over wilted spinach. Ohh so good. Then he made molten lava cakes! What a keeper. Stay tuned for his post.

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The next night I had my family birthday at my parents house with my parents, Sis, Gram, and Mr. J. Usually I request Coq au Vin, but since I got Mum’s recipe I have to make it myself.

We had pork stuffed with boursin and apricots. It was funny they each thought of pork for me. Love those pigs. Unfortunately the pictures are MIA :-(

At work, Ms. K made me a pirate themed ice cream cake. Yay! I had a pirate hat and everyone else had eye patches. I’m pretty psycho at work right now so there wasn’t much time to celebrate but the cake was delicious. She remembered that a) I love pirates and b) that ice cream cake is my fav!

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In an effort to extend my birthday celebrations (and to be reasonable in not trying to host after working all day) I celebrated my birthday again the next weekend. If last year was any indication there are a lot of photos so hold tight. Just you wait for the theme.


Boston Brunchers Benedict

What seems like forever ago, I went to a brunch hosted by the Boston Brunchers at Landsdowne Pub. I left in a food coma so maybe that’s what’s taken me so long to post this! Hope this brunch is just in time for the weekend.
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I arrived and was warmly welcomed as other attendees showed up. We had already perused the menu but began by ordering drinks. I had a coffee and a liquid caramel coffee that was delectable.
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Their breakfast menu had a good assortment of traditional brunch items…many of which had an Irish twist. The buttermilk pancakes with strawberries and Bailey’s whipped cream caught my eye. I think it was the booze in the whipped cream that had me at hello.
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I went with the crabcake benedict. It was so good and I was really glad I got something I wouldn’t be making at home.
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The crabcake was flavorful with big crab chunks- not completely filler. I might have liked the hollandaise to be more lemony but it was good, and rich. The eggs were cooked perfectly!
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A few folks at the table got the Lansdowne Pie (Irish Ham, eggs, potatoes, spinach onions and cheddar served w/ home fries). It looked even better than it sounded. It was piled high and stayed together. Yum.
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One of the best moments for me, besides the fun conversations, was that when the food arrived everyone at the table started snapping photos. There were no “pardon-while-I-reach-over-your-food-to-take-a-picture” moments. Everyone snapped away. There were even iphones for additional light. It was ahhhhmazing.
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Our server was a gem. Serving a group is never easy, especially since we ordered drinks every time she came back to check on us. What a trooper.

There was live music and they were ready to serve the crowds. I wouldn’t think of Fenway as an area to head to for brunch, but if you’re in that ‘hood, you should!

Full 3 Bite Rule Disclosure: Brunch was completely complimentary but my thoughts, opinions, and words are entirely my own.