Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Boston does Burgers

There is nothing that warms you up more than a good burger.  When it is blizzarding outside and you have been hopping from one closed (or packed) restaurant to the next, sometimes you just need to settle down at your local burger joint and enjoy some fried goodness.
As you can probably guess, I am speaking from recent experience, and this experience took place at the Boston Burger Company in Somerville.
I first heard about this place at the Phantom Gourmet food festival where they were giving tastes of the King creation, bacon, peanut butter and banana on a burger...yes you heard it right! Naturally, this taste ignited in me a thirst to try the place out for real.
You can imagine my excitement when our snowed path took us right to the Boston Burger Company. My friends and I were lucky to get the last four top table in the small diner-like restaurant.  The menu, although very simple, is difficult to choose from because every burger sounds better than the other.
After warming up with some delicious sweet potatoe fries and onion rings, we ordered three burgers to share between ourselves.

I selected the Run down, which comes complete with tomato, lettuce, cheese, deep fried pickles and potato sticks. It was so moist and juicy...and messy!

My friend, upon considerable encouragement from my end, went for the Mac Attack, which fittingly, comes topped with four cheese macaroni and bacon. Interestingly enough, once my friend bit into it, there wasn't much opportunity for me to help him along, I settled for one amazingly cheesy, crispy bite.

The monster below is something of a 'pièce de Résistance' in itself.  It is called the 'Kitchen Sink' and comes fully loaded with a fried egg, bacon, grilled onions, peppers, mushrooms smothered in american cheese, provolone and BBQ sauce.  It is something else...sounds a mess, but I have never seen such a beauty! The funny thing is, is that this baby takes a back seat to the Artery Clogger, another item on thei burger menu!

I am proud to say that between the four of us, every last bit of deep fried or grilled food was polished off...and dare I say it? I could have gone for more.
With 24 burgers on their menu and a whole slew of other menu options, it's a real tragedy the Boston Burber Co is located in Somerville.  At 8 dollars a burger, I would be there all too often!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas at the Boston Ballet

It is a curious line of work, being in the theatre business.  As a ballet dancer, we spend multiple hours a day rehearsing in our studio location in preparation for our performances staged at the Opera House. We don't have offices and especially around this time of year when all we do is Nutcracker, when asked what I am currently working on, my response sounds like something out of a story book, 'Oh well I am a flower, a snowflake and the Arabian dancer.'
Walking around backstage is probably even more interesting for someone who is not involved in the production.  Another thing one might find amusing is the amount of treats and goodies one can find within the dancers' reach.  I think the Nutcracker season is the most remarkable in terms of costumes and creatures as well as treats and goodies one might find backstage. 
Our chiropractor, Mika, and his wife, Christine spoil us with their decadent brownies and other treats like raspberry crumble and lemon bars.  Just yesterday, they brought us an assortment of oreo truffles and raspberry and peach filled shortbread cookies in all shapes and sizes:

 Luckily, Mika brings us treats every thursday, it is something that we have built into our schedule now and it he were ever to be sick on a thursday...goodness knows what would become of us!

Craig, our stage manager is an amazing baker and another one who spoils us here at the Boston  Ballet.  I think Christmas is one of his most inspired times of the year, we were all treated to an assortment of his delicacies ranging from cheesecake cookie bars, english toffee bars, mint chocolate chip cookies, coconut-seven layer bars and a special cookie I dubbed 'the kitchen sink' because of it used all of the odd leftover ingredients. 

He also makes these fabulous almond cake bars that are so moist with a perfectly crispy and top sprinkled with sugar...yummm!
Some of the dancers also bake up a storm during this holiday. You see, for us, it is more than Christmas, it is the final stretch of the longest production we have all season.  On Christmas eve, we just performed our 32nd show, we need a little something sweet to keep us happy and running! A corps member, Sarah, makes the best angel food cake. I was lucky enough to get a huge one just for me! Don't worry though, I will be sharing it with friends on Christmas day!

We were awarded with a few different kinds of fudge: 'Sucre à la crème' as per the Québecois tradition and expertly made by Orchestra conductor, Geneviève. (You can just barely see the few pieces that were left before I took the shot, it is surrounded by carrot cake cookies and little cinnamon twists as well as homemade donuts...she really does things right!)

 The head of the costume department, Heather, made us her famous 'penuche fudge', which is the sweetest, most decadent and delicious maple fudge with walnuts and sugar, sugar, sugar!

We were also endowed with some tasty South American treats, these bite sized pieces of heaven were handmade by Adi, one of our Soloists. They are scrumptious orange and pistachio shortbread balls covered in chocolate and dusted with pistachio crumbs...delish!

As you can see, we are very spoiled at the Boston Ballet. However, I can assure you that this is not the norm and is really only that extra special effort everyone puts in for Christmas.
I hope you all enjoy yours and that your Christmas' are filled with more than delicious treats, but laughter, love, friends and family!
Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Yummly in my tummly! (and just in time for the holidays!)

I just came upon a fabulous tool and just in time for the holidays, introducing, adverstised as a google, but for food! (How ingenius!)

You can now use this site to look up recipes for any occasion, it's the perfect cheat sheet!
Too bad we didn't know about this for Thanksgiving...but at least now we have a perfect ressource for any last minute meal ideas and we can give off the impression of being very well prepared!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Hurray for spontaneity and eight layer cakes!

There are always those plans you make time and time again which never end up following through...those seemingly great ideas you bounce back and forth with friends but for some reason or other, you never make it to the restaurant, or that movie and next thing you know, you find yourself out of opportunities.
I have been faced with one such plan for about a year now and I am proud to say that, thanks to a twist of faith and a spontaneious rush to the head, it became a reality!
A good friend of mine and I had been trying to go to PF Chang's on one of the days her husband was working as a waiter.  About two months ago, my friend and her husband moved out of the South End to JP and I thought we had lost our chance for good.  Just the other night however, we found ourselves feeling rather peckish after Nutcracker performance #22 and, as if by magic next thing I knew we were waiting for a table at the PF Chang's located in the Prudential Center.
All I can say is that it is a real pity it took us so long to finally do this as it was the perfect post-performance treat.  Once we were seated, we each got a glass of wine, PF Chang's conveniently offers half glasses (for half the price), I got a Riesling from Château St. Michelle, which was delicious with a peach-y taste, Corina, my friend got a Chardonnay - La Crema which was indeed quite creamy.
We then ordered their Szechuan Chicken Flatbread (which, as you can see was more of a quesidilla, but a very tasty one at that.)

We decided that what made it however was their 'green bean' sauce, a mixture of Japanese mayonnaise, sirracha and scallions.  It was the perfect zing and spice.

We also ordered their Mongolese Beef which came nicely cooked in a sweet-ish sauce and scallions. (and one wayward brocoli, which was a treat), and the Chang's Spicy Chicken, quite spicy but off set by a comforting sweetness often characteristic in Chinese cuisine.

PF Chang's is a chain restaurant, and it is american Chinese, so these things are reflected in the pricing of the items. For instance, if you were to order a Mongolese beef dish at a restaurant in chinatown, you would get probably twice as much for twice as less. However, you might also get twice as much sauce, which sometimes is less than appealing to me. So you win some you loose some.

What I was most excited about however, and this was even before the meal began, was their dessert tray, conveniently on display near where we were waiting to be seated. It is the most beautiful assortment of desserts, with a queen of chocolate cakes which you can barely take your eyes off of.

We opted for the Great wall of Chocolate, which indeed, is a huge, eight layered wall of chocolate cake which comes surrounded by a raspberry sauce and berries.

We got it à la mode with their pineapple coconut ice cream which really rounded the whole dish off nicely.
By this point, we were the last ones in the restaurant and Corina's husband joined us so we could polish off the remainder of the chocolate challenge. I must say, I think we did it justice.

The cake could have been a little moister, finding a good chocolate cake is like finding a good chocolate chip cookie...much more difficult than you would think!
All in all, PF Chang's did a good job for being a large chain in a corporate world. I do believe however that most of the night's success rested on the attentiveness of our server, and the satisfaction of finally going through with a plan set in motion a year ago with good friends. That's always worth something in my book!
For information regarding PF Changs restaurant, visit:

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Spreading joy and sugar for the holidays!

As promised, here is a review of the Drop in and Decorate Event we held this past Monday.
It was a great success, we had about 175 cookies to decorate and given the turn out and the sheer speed at which we little elves worked, we had them all beautifully and colourfully decorated within the first two hours.
It was such a fun way to spend our Monday afternoon, whenever I looked around I would see my friends with their heads bent over their work, frosting tube in hand, it was like we were all kids again!

I think the winners as far as innovative designs went go to Emily and her cow pig:

Paul and his cartoon/frog creature:

and the special sprinkle technique and innovation behind making this upside church bell into a tulip: (this one was mine!!)

Every single one was done with care and joy and I truly think the receivers will feel these things as they sink their teeth into these deliciously festive sugar cookies.

The charity we chose to donate to is Casa Myna Vasquez which is a local shelter for domestic and date violence. I really hope they enjoy the cookies as much as we enjoyed making them.
This event is a perfect way to have fun and give at the same time, I know it lifted my spirits for the week!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Drop in and Decorate Event!

There is nothing better than spreading cheer and joy during the holiday season.  Most charities have special Christmas events and activities and many other organisations hold fundraisers to help disadvantaged groups in society so that they too can enjoy some of the things we have come to associate with Christmas time.
I am very glad to introduce a relatively new organisation called 'Drop in and Decorate' which is a non for profit that bakes and decorates cookies for donations towards individuals and other charitable organisations in the community.

Founded by food blogger extraordinaire, Lydia Walshin, Drop in and Decorate is a great concept because it allows any group of interested people to participate.  You bake your cookies, decorate them and send them off to any group from a list provided on their website:
The ballet will be participating in a Drop in and Decorate event this coming Monday. It is our only day off during the Nutcracker season, so why not spend a couple of hours decorating some cookies for people who will truly appreciate them!?
I agree with Lydia when she says that 'money is great, but cookies are something special' - and it really is, because I know we will put a little bit of joy, love and festive spirit into every cookie we make! And as you can guess, I am a huge proponent of food being one of the best ways to spread joy for the holiday season!

Check out their website for more information and be sure to check back here, I will be documenting the entire event!

Monday, December 6, 2010

It's begining to look a lot like Christmas!

Welcome to December 2010! December represents many different things to different people.  To me, it means the count down to Christmas can officially begin, the mad shoppers multiply as they suddenly realise the time is a ticking and certain things are permissible, for instance, I will not feel badly about taking out my winter coat, I will also not be angry when we get our first snow. (When the first snow is in November...I am none too pleased!)
I do love the Christmas feeling that encompasses almost every aspect of the city, I love the holiday decorations, I love the holiday cups and specialty drinks that come out at's all such good fun! Speaking of holiday specialties however, I must let you in on some of the limited edition cupcakes at Kickass Cupcakes.  The last Monday of November, Kickass cupcakes hosted their usual happy hour from 5-7.  They were sampling three different kinds of cupcakes:
At the top we have the Yule Nog: Gingerbread cupcake with Brandied Egg Nog icing and a touch of nutmeg. To the right we have the Choc-o-tini: chocolate cupcake with vodka, whipped cream center, godiva liqueur frosting, chocolate shavings and to the left we have the Lemon Fizz: lemon cupcake with a limoncello curd center and meringue on that is a happy hour!
Of course that wasn't enough for my two friends and myself, so we bought two more and were actually given a third as a bonus!

To my utmost excitement, they had 'The Oink', which is a limited edition cucpake: chocolate cupcake with whipped cream center, maple frosting and candied bacon on top. (Oh yea!!!)

Their Great Pumpkin is probably their best cupcake in terms of moistness (sometimes theirs are a little on the dry side, but you forgive them because of their delicious frosting).  The Great Pumpkin is a carrot cake cupcake with nuts and raisins, an amazing cream cheese frosting and candied orange peels on top.

Of course, all of this would have been impossible to digest without some whole milk from a glass bottle which we procurred from the Dairy Bar conveniently located right next door.
Kickass Cupcakes, located in Davis Square is really worth the trip out their all by itself, but it is also important to note that this area is really up and coming in terms of restaurants and cool new boutiques. ENJOY!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


For those of you who were not following this blog during the summer months, the Boston Ballet went on tour to Spain for five weeks. It was a great tour, full of theaters, planes, buses, luggage and hotel rooms.  More importantly however, the trip was also filled with Sangria, tinto de verrano (summer wine) and great tapas. It's hard sometimes, to come back to reality and realise that you can't just nip down the street for some fabulous bocadillo con jampon y queso...or aceitunas in olive becomes even harder when you are aware of the fact that you live in proximity to Toro - a great tapas restaurant which happens to be among one of the busiest restaurants that doesn't take reservations.
Having been to Toro once before, I know that the tastes you will encounter at this restaurant live up to (and in some cases exceed) much of the food I experienced in Spain.  This weekend, it was a good friend of mine's birthday and I figured we should go the extra mile and head back to the tastes of the summer... I also figured that if we went after our last performance on Sunday evening, we wouldn't be greeted by the usual 2 hr wait time. I was still surprised however at how busy it was; we ended up waiting about 30 minutes...but as you will see, it was well worth it.

By the time we were seated with our tinto de verrano, we had our order planned out and ready.  We got the 'Datiles con Jamon', medjool dates filled with Marcona almonds and Cabrales blue cheese, wrapped in Jamon Serrano - in other words, bite sized pieces of heaven.

Maíz Asado con Alioli y Queso Cotija is also a must have at this place, it is their house special grilled corn with alioli, lime, espelette pepper and aged cheese - I failed to get a picture of this, they disappeared too quickly!

Garbanzos con Chorizo: chickpeas with chorizo, greens and hard boiled egg - delicious when soaked up with bread.

Also delicious was their 'Costilla de Bourguignon', Red wine braised beef short rib with bacon, mushrooms and pearl onions

And lastly, their 'Ensalada de Otoño' : Heirloom squash and maitake mushrooms with crispy jamon, fried brussels’ sprout leaves, pumpkin seeds and Valdeon...sublime!
Everything was delicious and just the right amount.  That is the art of tapas, you can order many little plates and share them all.  The tricky part about tapas restaurants is that you forget how quickly the price can rise, most dishes range from 8-12 dollars, pincho plates are cheaper and some of the heavier tapas are more costly. It is not a cheap place, but it is certainly much cheaper than a flight to Espana!