Posts from the ‘Farms’ Category

Hyper Local Somerville Saturday

I massively apologize for the hiatus. I moved (across town/in with the ‘man’), have about 2-dozen weddings (and related parties) to attend, and have just been too darn busy! Sorrrrryyyyyyy.

It was a ‘hyper-local’ Saturday for me in Somerville this past weekend! I attended the mid-day session of the first annual Hyper-Local Craft Brewfest held at the Arts at the Armory Building in Somerville. Apparently, the same people who brought you the Boston Local Food Festival put on this event with the help of the Somerville Chamber of Commerce/Sustainable Business Network. I tasted, networked, and enjoyed the atmosphere of this event – this will likely be a huge sell-out event for years to come!

Views of the upper tier breweries

Crowd shot from upstairs

Local brewery ‘Slumbrew’ may have shared some exciting news that they could be expanding operations in Somerville very very soon!

I love this company; I met one of the owners at the event and not only was she a doll, but you can tell they are incredibly passionate about their product and have a creative lilt that reminds me of successful big craft beer companies like Magic Hat.

Slumbrew’s logo is the ‘Tower’ in Somerville, perched above Union Square, where the first flag was flown in Somerville and the views of downtown Boston can’t be beat!

Nightshift Brewing – first off, so local (Everett), cool logo (it’s  a ‘late night owl’ shaped like a hops bud!), and tasty! The Pomegranate brew I sampled was one of the first (of several) fruity, flowery brews that seemed to be heavily prevalent in rotation throughout the event.

Bryce found his family ‘tree’

Even entertainment. The duo playing the early session sounded a lot like the White Stripes!

There were some great food vendors there as well but I left it to the guys to house some cupcakes from Kickass Cupcakes (they sampled the green monster!) on my behalf. SPOILER ALERT: a) they are delicious; b) Kickass is moving in across the street from my new place! I have never eaten a ‘designer cupcake’ so I am waiting for the shop or production kitchen (they aren’t yet sure how the space will be used) to officially open before I take the cupcake plunge. They already have a steady shop just a mile down the street from us in Davis Square; how many cupcake shops does one city need I ask?!

Tasty Taza chocolate! Mmm

You could make your own pretzel necklace along with the folks from for muchies later but I passed on that as well. I guess I’m kinda a bum when it comes to sampling; gotta step it up! I did try the guajillo chili chocolate from local company Taza, which was not really spicy, but had a mellow ‘heat’ to it. For me, brew samples that topped my list were ironically from Sam Adams (I know, I know), including their ‘Porch Rocker’ lemonade (so good!) and a blueberry summer beer that is only released in July. It may  have rivaled Long Trail’s ‘Bluebearry Wheat’, a long-time fav!

Earlier in the day, I hit up the Union Square Farmer’s Market as well. I’m waiting for the really great, early-summer produce to arrive!

Kombucha Man’s drink-mobile

In other, adorable local (as in, on MY block) news, check out this cute ‘home farm’, set up last year at the Cambridge Health Alliance hospital campus.

For the second year, it is already up and running! I never actually see anyone over there tending to these plants but they look incredibly healthy!

Are you planting anything? Got a hyper-local connection?


Friend of Harpoon Beer: Maple Catamount Wheat Tasting & March is Maple Month

A few days ago, I was invited to a Friend of Harpoon Beer Tasting! I have been to one other tasting for the 100 Barrel Series, when they made the Island Creek Oyster Stout and served Oysters out of a rowboat (I was loving it!), but this tasting was for the 100 Barrel Series Maple Catamount Wheat. The beer was named ‘Catamount’ because the Harpoon Windsor Vermont sister location used to be known as the Catamount brewery (GO CATS GO! UVM!). Made with real maple syrup from Vermont family farms it was delish! YUM! A few pictures were snapped:

Brewery is named 'Harpoon' for the whaling hook in their logo

During a 'Friend Tasting' there is open bar for about an hour, then the makers of the featured 100 Barrel Series beer talk about the creative and brewing process for a bit, then the bar opens back up for an hour while people mill around the tasting room

The Brewery is open for tours! The Brewing chamber smells ammmazing. I LOVE the smell of hops and apparently, hops are used aromatically for relaxation

This was my favorite sample of the evening, the Red Rye IPA. We took a growler home with us

Sail away (upside down?) with Harpoon!

The star of the evening. The brewers told us that the maple syrup had to be added after the beer was brewed otherwise it kept evaporating out of the mixture and leaving behind the concentrated sugars, thus upping the alcohol content to unreasonable levels. By adding it in later, there was a subtle layer of taste within the beer; you taste the maple first, beer second, and then the maple again as a finish

Canned beer wall-o-fame

Proud to take my growler home

You can drink in the bathroom too I guess

Harpoon rides again

After, we were starved so we headed down the street to Atlantic Beer Garden. It was nearly empty and I was equally suspect about the food but ended up with a pretty impressive looking (and tasting!) Asian-inspired Ahi tuna salad. It was incredibly fresh with a multitude of textures like Wasabi peas, cucumber runway-length strips, and crispy tuna bites, which made it fun to eat. Thanks for dressing on the side also; although, I used it all up, I still appreciate having the choice to do so. Good job ABG!

Did you know that March is Maple Month? I have been doing my part to indulge in the liquid gold myself in my morning coffee and I’ve almost tapped out (no pun intended) my HUGE glass jug of syrup from David Marvin’s Butternut Mountain Farm in Vermont. In Mass., I’ve heard through farmers that the maple sugaring season was obviously brief this year because there were so few consistently thawing days and nights below freezing between mid-February and mid-March (ideal syrup ‘running’ conditions). I also learned from the Mass Maple Producers Association that the syrup on shelves and for sale right now, much of it is from 2010 when there was a phenomenal sugaring season. PSA: If you typically use sugar to sweeten your food, make the switch, BUY LOCAL and support your maple syrup producers. End of PSA.

Everglades – Birthday Bonanza Day 4

We ended our final day of Florida Birthday Bonanza trip with a visit to the Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge. We did a quick walk through the cyprus swamp in one part of the park. I am fascinated by ephiphytes or ‘air plants’, like Spanish moss that grow off of bacteria in the air to form long, stringy plants that have no roots and hang down from the upper canopy. I studied these same plants in Belize years ago; they are mysterious to me! Then we drove further into the refuge to walk along the canals in search of alligators! Yeah!

No ‘gators in sight! Crocs. either (did you know that crocodiles are found in parts of South Florida?).

Walking through the canals was so peaceful though, with or without ‘gators (mostly, without 🙂 ), watching the birds glide all around us.

These were some type of wading bird, possibly either snowy egrets or herons.

'Proof I went on vacation' photo

Then we came home 😦 Sad. My birthday week had actually started out with some treats from my mom. She first spied these chocolate truffles while in VT not long ago and then didn’t buy them at the time, but had them special ordered to be delivered to her instead (nuts! thanks Mom!). They are chocolate truffles from Laughing Moon Chocolates in Stowe, VT, and this particular style is chocolate mixed with Jasper Hill Farm’s legendary Bayley Hazen blue cheese! Drooling! Now, I realize only someone as unique as myself could really enjoy these, even solely as a novelty, but they are actually not very ‘stinky’ in a blue cheese sorta way (artisan cheese lovers, you know what I mean, right?!). I think they must melt the blue cheese into the chocolate to form the truffles rather than covering the cheese in a chocolate shell, which is what my mom and I expected when we sliced one open to split on Halloween. They tasted, as the website describes them – “salty and smooth”.

Someone else who knows me very well too got me this gift certificate to the very cool, very hip Sherman Market in Union Square Somerville. They carry tons of great, farm-fresh products from VT, as well as other locally-sourced goods, including meat, milk, cheeses, and of course, syrup! I love the goods in Sherman but it can be somewhat pricey and although I have window shopped many times, I rarely treat myself there (I’m sure they must love that!), so it was very thoughtful of the man to think of picking this up for me! Thanks!

Ah, well, back to the real world. Sigh. At least it looks pretty and autumnal out my window!

Keys Snorkel Adventures – Birthday Bonanza Day 2


The adventure starts on Florida’s Turnpike South towards Key West. As we cruised south, I remembered a place I visited on a grad. school trip to the Everglades a few years ago that was a MASSIVE farmstand/farm that served as the gateway to the western edge of the park called Robert Is Here! It was a great pit stop at the time back in the day and as I looked it up on my gps, I saw we were right outside Homestead, the city where Robert Is!, so we made a quick detour west a few blocks to take a look. This place seriously ROCKS! The story is that Robert, as a small child, stood on this major intersection of two state roads throughout his childhood everyday selling fruits to people driving either into or exiting the ‘Glades, and it is a major trucking route so he slowly grew some tiny empire to result in this massive stand almost fifty years later! Cool, huh? There have tons of native fruits there and other fun oddities such as…

Sea Sponges

Alien species…?

Nope, it’s jackfruit! Kinda wish I bought some b/c I don’t believe I have ever had it (what does it taste like? Now I am dying to know).

They also have all kinds of Florida and southern grown citrus, figs, peanuts, potatoes, watermelons, you get the idea. Out back there is a cute little petting zoo/farm set-up with ducks, geese, goats, ostrich, pigs…

and tropical, rainbow eucalyptus trees (it is where rainbow sherbet comes from! Just kidding)…

    The bark is so cool and pretty!

Yup, I do.
I was hungry for breakfast so I headed to the smoothie bar, which they blend up right there. I wanted a key lime smoothie and the nice girls working the bar told me that would be weird? So I took Robert’s advice and got a key lime milkshake that was strange-ly…refreshing? Tangy? BOTH!We hopped back in the car, pulled a U-ie, and burned out of the parking lot (not really) back to the Highway 1 South – Destiny Bound!* (For your Phish lovers out there 😉 ). Check out that sweet blue sea! Water on both sides, nothing but the skinny highway between the islands all the way south for over 113 miles to Key Largo! Even the highway barrier walls are painted a pale azure to blend in between endless blue sea and sky.  We made it to the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park! The real  Florida.   

Our seaworthy vessel the Encounter

Strangler fig tree

TRAVEL ADVISORY TIP: There are an overwhelming number of snorkeling/dive cruise outfitters all throughout the keys and the further you travel south, the more expensive they become (because you are further away from the mainland gas supplies). We chose to snorkel out of the State Park in Key Largo because I would rather spend my tourist dollars there than a private tourist trap snorkeling outfit (often overpriced) and I felt that we could trust the knowledge of the Park’s trained wildlife guides, who also served as the boat captains. I have been on some bad snorkeling adventures before and I think it is important to feel comfortable with the boat organizers, and especially trust their sensitivities to the natural environment, to have the best experience in the water as possible, so the State Park was a clear choice for me. 

We* (*I) had the best time snorkeling! I think I was the last one to get back on the boat. I got stung at least once by the moon jellyfish, which were enormous but really beautiful and somewhat mesmerizing to watch, but I’ve lived to the tell the tale! On our way back ‘stateside’ we hit up Alabama Jacks, which I randomly have been to now at least four times. It is literally straddling the toll bridge of the Keys back onto the mainland on the Card Sound Road (locals only!) and is not much more than a roadside shack on a barge, but they serve awesome fried seafood and cold cold brews. After our sunned out day that was exactly what we were craving. I lost my picture of this, but I had the special fish o’ the day, Red Snapper, with slaw and sweet potato fries. It could not have been more fresh and perfectly crisp! Washed down with a Corona Light (or two ;)), we made our long drive back north.

My sundrenched profile

View of the sunset through our balcony overlooking the golf course. FORE!

The man was restless so we headed out that same evening to the Bamboo Room in Lake Worth to check out a band called Dave Alvin and the Guilty Ones. No, not the chipmunks, this band plays heavy hitting R&B, roots rock with a guitar legend at the helm. The inside of the club was gorgeous, with glowing backlights of vintage musical instruments adorning the walls and a glowing, huge 20′ bar stretching to the rafters. They jammed hard! Loved them and even bought the cd, which as a chronic iTunes downloader, is extremely rare for me, but hey, the artists deserved the royalties.  The club said this ticket booth was from an original Greyhound Station in Chicago, circa 1950’s!

Stay tuned for Day 3 of Florida birthday adventures!

Broads, Brews, Beards, and Bakeries

Moo! Aren’t these Texas Longhorn babes just the cutest! I snapped this while visiting a farm last week and learned from the farmer that there are two primary breeds of the Longhorns; one where the horns grow outward and the other where the horns grow out and then turn 90 degrees upward. Fun Farm Fact!Friday night was date night and we ventured to a place that I have been dying to eat at but only had a chance to pop in for a spirit many months back. Trina’s Starlite Lounge serves up cozy, retro comfort food and upscale creative cocktails, and while it looks like a total dive on the outside, with pouring rain Friday night and it’s (slightly) remote location (ie. lack of public transportation nearby), we figured we could get right in. This is the type of spot that locals stay parked at from after-work until wee-bar hours, and it is small, so you could wait, oh, all night before snagging a table but we tried our luck and got in like Flynn!

That’s right folks, CHICKEN & WAFFLES. A Southern meal for my southern gentleman. 🙂

I am on a fall food kick lately (who isn’t, right?) so I ordered the pumpkin raviloi with arugala and walnuts. It was incredible; I licked my plate completely clean. The ravs were made in house so each had a fun, hand-made shape to them – love that. The combination of the spicy arugla and crunchy nuts gave the dish some heat and texture, and the light cream sauce melded all those flavors together in all kinds of good ways. I was over the moon. I snuck a piece of chicken too; it was pretty good also.

I had to take a requisite bathroom shot to give ya’ll a feel for the vibe of this place. There is a hipster, 50’s throwback theme running throughout both the decor and the menus. The bathroom wallpaper was totally chic and classy pinup ladies from magazine ads dating back to the late 40’s! I should also mention that the staff were great there on our visit; very accommodating and thankful that we stopped in on a super bad weather night.

Next we headed west to meet some friends for a pint at Watch City Brewery. Why is it called Watch City, you ask (I asked; I’m perpetually curious/must ask questions of everything) – well, according to the city website, “historically Waltham is probably best known as the home of the Waltham Watch Factory, a pioneer company of the Industrial Revolution.” Who knew?!

The casks and barrels

On tap

So friendly!

I’m not sure if Socrates really said this but I’ll look into it. I’m not gonna lie – I didn’t like the beer here. I have an aversion to small scale breweries that only serve in house because I always have an experience where the beer isn’t very ‘effervescent’ aka bubbly enough; breweries that bottle and distribute their libations don’t seem to have this problem IMO. My first pour of a Red Ale unfortunately tasted a lot like ‘flat juice’; that is the only way I can describe it. They poured me a second glass just to see if it was the first pour but I sense that the taps just didn’t have enough oxygen in them. Hmph. More importantly than the beer though, look at this line-up of facial hair on the bros:

Line 'em up!

On Saturday, after a quick trip to the Subaru dealer, I felt compelled to take a side trip to a local bakery in Belmont Center to check out the rave reviews of the MAPLE FROSTED DONUTS at Ohlin’s Bakery. I heard about this historic, hole-in-the-wall spot via a recent issue of the Improper Bostonian where they featured the donut as a ‘must-EAT’. This place is old school, perfectly preserved in time, along with some classic bakery treats.

Frosted cookies, lemon meringue pies, eclairs, and danishes stretched for miles, but alas – the maple donuts were sold out! Imagine my sad face and disappointment to hear the sweet high schooler behind the counter deliver me with the bad news. “It’s ok….”, I lamented, “I’ll just get a….”, when suddenly the owner (?) popped her head out from around the corner and asked what I was looking for, clearly hearing the tones of despair in my voice. She turned back to the kitchen and I heard her holler out to the baker to pop some more donuts in the fryer JUST FOR ME! I ordered four 🙂

Danish heaven

This place has been in business since 1915!!! That is before the Great Depression, history buffs. 😉

Do you think 'butter rings' are what donuts were originally called?

Oh boy, who knew that service like this even existed! My guy and I were very impressed. She pulled together a sweet little box, all for me, and reminded me to “let the frosting cool” before devouring them. GASP. Like I need a reminder (translation: I TOTALLY needed a reminder).

Check these babies out – old fashioned, air-puffed donuts straight out of the fryer with a generous helping of frosty, maple goodness topping each delectable ‘butter ring’. OMG. Needless to say, after a busy weekend running around to work, catching a show, and a few gym sessions, they are sadly gone now. I had some help too 🙂

On the lighter side, I made some super crispy parmesean stuffed chicken on Thursday following a recipe from Great Food Fast, An Everyday Food Cookbook, so I used the leftovers to cut up and top of big pile of baby spinach salad with dried cranberries, pecans, and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese with some left-over crostinis from catering the night before for my Sunday supper.

Then it was off to see Jackie Greene at the Paradise, or “the ‘Dise” as we locals say. What an awesome performer he is! I have loved his voice and original songs for years but never had a chance to catch him live until now. He used to be the frontman for Phil Lesh’s Grateful Dead touring reincarnations and he had a mighty sound. Go see him if he comes round your area.
What are you looking forward to this week? Do you have a favorite donut flavor?

Two Weddings and a State Fair!

Whew – I have been a  busy lady lately. So busy in fact, that I wound myself up very sick today and have wayyyyy too much time on my hands. I thought I’d share some foodie fun from the past two weeks, including shots of delicious, beautifully presented food at not one but TWO weddings, and from the Big E Fair (Eastern States Exposition).

The first wedding was my best girlfriend’s Jessi’s on the South Shore at a gorgeous barn. I’m kicking myself because I wish I had taken more pictures of: 1. the interior and exterior of the building because it was so rustic yet classy; and 2. myself with my date 🙂 I was so busy catching up with all my high school gf’s that I sorta forgot to capture more visual moments but here is what I could salvage. Their salad was so creative, with two cucumber strips wrapped around a light caesar salad – loved this!

I had the veggie meal for dinner and before you think, “ew, how boring”, let me tell you it was awesome! The bride’s mom is a vegetarian so they had a thoughtfully tasteful dish for her (and me :)), which was cannelloni pasta with a light cream sauce and roasted veggies.   The cake was chocolate with alternating layers of vanilla and raspberry? cherry? some tasty fruit 🙂 We danced our butts off at this wedding and I couldn’t be happier for the new couple Jessi & Evan! Congrats!

All the ladies! We are looking at the multitude of paparazzi, hence looking in different directions!

On to the fair, can you see an important person cooking away at the revised ‘Kitchen Stadium’???

Can you see Governor Deval Patrick cooking up a storm?

That’s him, the Gov’n, whipping up some healthy veggie-inspired meals for kids visiting from some city schools. It was so fun to watch; the Gov’n loves to cook apparently! As anyone who goes to the state fairs knows, (Kristin knows what I’m talkin’ about!) the food choices can be overwhelming and plentiful, and we aren’t talking about the healthy options here. There is a lot of food at the fair that I would NEVER eat, including, fried oreos, the ‘crazy burger’ (a burger between two glazed donuts), or a fried stick of butter but I’m not that good either, so the best option for me was the tempura fried sweet potatoes! They were awesome with a side of ranch dressing, washed down with some fresh apple cider.

I checked out a few of the fair’s key attractions:

Butter sculpture of a man shearing a sheep

Cute black & white sheep; love the 'just sheared look'; he looks amused

Award-winning pumpkin wine from Mass. vineyards

Hanging out at the Opa Opa Brewery Saloon

I picked up some goodies too; kettle corn (YUM!) and a sweet little trivet and cheese spreader with the words, “spread peace” that originated from some Maine craftspeople.

Now on to the final wedding. This was a great wedding because it took place at the groom’s parents’ HUGE backyard. Love backyard weddings. They had a great spread of food and beverages (help yourself!) at the entrance to the tent.

I ate about, oh…ten of these babies! While a typically normal party food (mozzarella, basil, and tomato skewers), these were covered with such a sweet balsamic glaze, that they truly were addicting.

The groom’s family did much of the cooking for this weeding with a lot of help and it had a very classy vibe for a backyard bbq-type wedding. The tablescapes were so gorgeous! I loved the French blue runners and the color was found throughout the wedding.I managed to snap this picture before the cupcake tower was DEVOURED; by the time I got over to them at dessert time, they were so few left! I think the family made them by hand (heart) and dang, were they good! The vanilla cupcakes had an orange jelly on them and they were completely moist. I’m not a huge sweets person so they were perfectly sized for me 🙂
And guess who was at this wedding?! None other than Chloe from 321Delish who was the maid of honor! It was fun to catch up again after our last meeting at Katie’s wild bachelorette party earlier this summer. After too many flashmobs and glow sticks wars, it was time to call it a night. Congrats Katie & Sam! I had, ahem, a little too much fun! Next day I wove my way home through the backroads of New Hampshire, checking out the gorgeous fall colors, and even doubled back to a farm stand right near the state line to pick myself up a pumpkin and fresh cider! Note to New Englanders: pumpkins are scarce this year for a few reasons. The wet extended periods of rain didn’t help the growing season for pumpkins and Hurricane Irene flooded many farmland areas across the Connecticut River Valley north to south. The woman at the farmstand told me my choice pumpkin was a “rescue pumpkin”, because originally it was swept downstream during the hurricane and farmers had to chase them down to logjammed areas and pull them back out!!! Backbreaking work, I am sure!

Hopefully I will bounce back from sickness quickly – I have the MOST exciting event to work this Saturday (if the weather cooperates). I’ll fill you in later. 🙂

Fruits of our Labor, Lobster 5 Ways Accomplished, and Storm’s a Comin’



There has been a lot of fruit on the trees in the backyard! I headed out of the city to help pick fruit for the weekend (oh, and to go to the beach and eat lobster!). Pre-hurricane winds and rain caused some of the top branches on the larger peach tree to snap so my dad propped up the tree with various landscape implements (a la shovels and rake handles) so I hurried to pick the fruit. I picked 2/3 of the trees by twisting the peaches at the top of the stem and if they ‘released’ easily, I knew they were ripe.

I left about ten pounds of fruit behind for my mom to get started on (I plan to help this weekend!) and then headed off to the beach. Stay tuned for samplings of the fruits of our labor later! And – I completely my Lobster 5 Ways Mission! Whew! I was worried that I wouldn’t complete it before the end of August but I did it two ways last weekend: 1. boiled lobster dinner & 2. lobster bisque. I was SO excited to eat my boiled lobster that I didn’t

take a picture (whoops!). I also picked up a delicious batch of lobster bisque from Mullaney’s Seafood in Cohasset, MA and I managed to stretch it across a few days (barely), paired with grilled whole wheat toast brushed with EVOO and sea salt. Mmmm.

Hunks of lobster love!

In other news, these were the beautious skies awaiting me on my day off Friday as I prepared for my big camping trip to VT! Looks perfect right?

Well, unless you have been living in a cave for the past week, you know that a MASSIVE storm was headed up the East Coast…but mysteriously, not pointed to VT (at least not initially). So I happily packed the day away, stocking

up on yummy camping food (smores! trail mix! veggie burgers!), buying new fun gear (camping chairs = $6! new cooler!), and I took off without (much) of a care in the world Saturday morning…only to reach VT, twenty minutes from the campground, and have them inform me that they had decided to shut down the entire park system!!! Boohoohoo :(. I wasn’t totally surprised because the State of NH had determined the same course of action, evacuating all parks, canceling reservations for huts in the White Mtn. National Forest, the works. However, they had made this determination days earlier…so major disappointment ensued. Before I turned around in Quechee, VT however, I stopped to gaze into the Gorge and discover the meaning of life, and then I did a wine tasting flight (don’t worry, I had help ;)) at a favorite VT winery that recently set up a remote tasting room in Southern

VT. Snow Farm Winery is on South Hero, a small island in a larger island chain located on the northern end of Lake Champlain, and is VT’s oldest winery. I went there for a school field trip to learn about VT-made sustainable businesses years ago and have since taken friends and family up there when I was working on a land conservation project in the area. They hold summer concerts, sit upon acres of conserved land, and gaze right out over the vines into the lake. I bought a bottle of the 2010 Vidal Blanc and they gave me this cute tasting glass too! So I got a souvenier at least on my trip to VT!





On the way back to the city, I stopped at my aunt’s lake house and tried out her new boat…

and I did some backflips off the dock.

The photographer couldn’t catch my remarkable speed so the shot is only half my body but I included the picture just to prove I was swimming. The water was perfect – so still and cool enough to lower your body temperature on a super humid day, which it was. Once I returned to the city, the storm hit pretty hard so I made the most of it watching the surf from Castle Island in Southie, playing Scrabble(!), and eating ‘smores…sorta: 

With that, I’m glad my friends are all safe and accounted for in VT. Even though I was super bummed about the trip being cancelled, it is better to be safe than sorry. And I’ve already picked a reschedule weekend. 🙂
How did you ride out Hurricane Irene? Did it wash away your weekend plans (or was I the only one naive enough to think I could get away with camping?!!!)?