Restaurant Review: Bistro Du Midi

This restaurant was listed on my Bucket List post from a couple weeks ago! One of my friends from college, Devon, is an assistant pastry chef at Bistro Du Midi and received an awesome employee of the month gift card in recognition of her hard work! She decided to share the gift card with me so we could eat our hearts out!

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Bistro Du Midi is located at 272 Boylston Street, Boston MA. It’s a 2 minute walk from the Arlington T stop on the green line so it’s very easy to find. The restaurant is two floors with the kitchen being on the second floor. The view from the second floor overlooks the Boston Public Gardens! This place is definitely full of class, so dress up! The food and drinks were amazing too so let’s not dilly dally anymore:

Devon and I each ordered a crudite, entree, two sides to share a la carte and one dessert. But since she works there, we ended up getting…

Amuse Bouche: Smoked White Asparagus Soup with Escargot Beignet

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Fluke Crudite with Fried Squid Ink and Bottarga Consomme

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Faroe Island Salmon Crudite with Parmesan Crisps and salmon roe

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Pate Plate with Crispy Pork Belly Pate

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Duck Breast with Sweet Potato, Artichoke, Almonds and Duck Jus

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Thyme Garganelli Pasta, Lamb neck, Morels, Spring peas, Manchego

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Spring peas, favas, crispy pork belly

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Mushrooms, trumpet royale, hen of the woods

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Earl Grey and Elderflower Souffle

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Ice Cream Flight with Black Sesame , Caramel and Ganache, Marshmallow and Red Velvet Ice Cream

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Wild blueberry cheesecake, hazelnut cremeux, lavender sponge cake

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Mascarpone beignet, citrus sugar, pear cardamom butter

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Everything was so yummy! My personal favorites were the Smoked Asparagus Soup, Salmon Crudite, Duck Breast and the Ice Cream Flight! Such a great experience and service was impeccable. We each got awesome drinks that were well balanced and tasty. I definitely recommend this place for a splurge night out! Devon’s gift card was for $150 so after that, her employee discount and the free plates that were sent to us, the bill was ONLY 12 DOLLARS! I literally couldn’t have asked for a better deal or experience!

I have a couple more posts planned coming up but I’ve been busy at work working 6 day weeks consistently so my time is tight! Stay tuned for more things to come!

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

 

 

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Restaurant Review: Kirkland Tap & Trotter

Boston has WAY too many restaurants. I feel like no matter how many places I try, my list doesn’t get any shorter. Perhaps this is because I keep adding new places to my list… ugh my poor wallet! This place was a particular brunch treat because I was able to share it with my boyfriend Nick and eat some  pretty fantastic food.

Kirkland Tap & Trotter is located on 425 Washington Street in Somerville, Massachusetts. It’s a 15 minute walk from the Harvard T stop on the Red Line. Tony Maws is the chef and entrepreneur of Kirkland along with another acclaimed restaurant Craigie on Main. Kirkland Tap & Trotter  used to be The Kirkland Cafe under different ownership and really embodied connecting with the community and being the best dive bar around town. Kirkland Tap & Trotter maintains some of that dive bar/neighborhood charm with innovative menu items.

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I won’t lie, but this brunch was on the pricier side but I can promise worth every penny. Nick and I started with their housemade donut with apple cider glaze. Service was very attentive and they were great at upselling their products hence us buying into a “brunch appetizer”. Not that donuts are ever a hard sell for us… Overall, perfectly sweet donut and fluffy. Perfect sharing size pre-brunch entree.

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I ordered the mushroom and reggiano frittata served with a winter vegetable salad and housemade foccacia. Despite being an avid olive hater, the salad and frittata were a great balance for each other. I especially loved the reggiano crusted on top of the frittata! I want more right now just thinking about it!

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Nick ordered the Crispy Fried Bone-In Pork Chop and it was the best decision of his life. It was served with a fried egg, parsnip puree and foccacia bread. I coudn’t not try a bite with Nick proclaiming how amazing it was. The pork chop was so tender and rich and was enhanced by the fried egg. The foccacia would be great to sop up whatever was left on the plate too! Ugh, I’m still dreaming about that bite.

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Kirkland Tap & Trotter is fun for drinks at night as well as they have a fairly creative drink menu. Perfect for casual drinks where you can sit at a table and actually converse with friends. I would definitely recommend KTT to friends!

Thanks for reading and of course, I would always love more restaurant suggestions! Enjoy your weekends!

Restaurant Bucket List: Boston!

It’s no secret that I love food and experiencing a great restaurant or new dish. Boston has so much to offer and despite being here for two years, my list is still long! So without further adieu and in no particular order, here’s my Boston Restaurant Bucket List!

Sweet Cheeks Q

Mistral

Craigie on Main

Bistro Du Midi

Alden and Harlow

Harvest

Sarma

Oleana

L’Espalier

Cutty’s

Island Creek Oyster Bar

Toro

Central Kitchen

Fairsted Kitchen

Neptune Oyster

Bronwyn

Lumiere

The Beehive

Highly recommended:Tiger Mama
Deuxave
Ribelle
Posto
Deep Ellum
Lulu’s

I’m 100% open to suggestions to beef up my list! What kind of restaurants are your favorite? Thank you for visiting and be sure to come back on Tuesday for another post grad blog!

Restaurant Review: Amada!

To kick off the beginning of my trip back to Pennsylvania to see my family, my sister and I spent a night in Philly during Restaurant Week! My sister is a graphic designer for the University of Pennsylvania, and so when I flew into the PHL airport, I just grabbed a train into Center City to meet her! Knowing that I’m a foodie, Steph and I planned on picking a restaurant from the list that most interested us. The winner was a place called Amada!
Amada is a Spanish tapas place created by Chef Jose Garces opened in 2005. Perfectly tucked away in the Old City neighborhood, Amada is located at 217-219 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia PA. It’s less than a 5 minute walk off of the subway stop at 2nd Street.
Upon entry, we were pleasantly greeted and they graciously stored my luggage in a separate room for safe keeping throughout our meal. We were lead through half of the dining room that accommodates both large and small parties and sits adjacent to an open kitchen where 6 lucky diners might sit during service. The décor was simple but rustic and while the seating arrangements were close together, each party still felt private.

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Being that it was restaurant week, their menu was limited but still offered a variety of choices. For our 3 course meal, we each had the option of 2 small plates per course, which meant that my sister and I could share 8 plates and 2 desserts. We were SO stoked. The sangria came strongly recommended by two of her staff members and we weren’t disappointed.

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Let’s dive into the meal!

First course:

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Aged Manchango Cheese with truffle lavender honey
Garrotxa Cheese with Garlic Dulce de Leche

These cheeses were SO delicious. I don’t know if it’s because we were both starving but it was the perfect opener to our meal. I also loved that they served granny apple slices with the bread, cheese and dips because it really elevated the cheese plate!

819Tortilla Espanola: Spanish tortilla and saffron aioli

This was probably my least favorite course of the meal, but it was still pretty tasty! The inside tasted sort of like a potato which I wasn’t expecting but it paired great with saffron aioli.

820Croquetas de Jamon: Ham Croquettes

These were outta this world! Small but mighty, they were served with a red pepper puree and I could’ve devoured an entire platter of them by myself!

Second Course:

815Coca de Costillas de Ternera: Flatbread with Beef Short Ribs, Horseradish, Parmesan, Bacon

This flatbread was perfect for sharing between two people. The beef short ribs were tender and the parm and bacon really blew its flavor out of the water!

816Hanger Steak Brochettes: Grilled a la Plancha

817Esparragos Con Trufas: Grilled Asparagus, Poached Egg, Mahon Crisp, Truffles

This had to be my FAVORITE course of the night. I’ve really been digging asparagus lately and this dish was tender and served in a garlic butter sauce. Once the poached egg was broken, the sauce became even more rich and dynamic! I would’ve even loved to have a piece of bread accompanying the plate so I could sop up all the delicious aftermath.

818Panceta: Crispy Pork Belly, Cauliflower Puree, Rioja Shallot Jam, Boquerone Salsa Verde

This pork belly was very tender and fatty, but in a way that it melts in your mouth. The cauliflower puree mellows out the fattiness of the pork belly and the shallot jam added a dash of sweetness.

Dessert:

814Tocinillo de Cielo: Citrus Vanilla, Pistachio

This dessert was peculiar but awesome! It was almost like a custard or yogurt but sweet. A citrus foam laid nicely on top with a dash of cocoa nibs. It was a nice light dessert after a heavily flavored meal!

813Tarta de Chocolate: Dark Chocolate Tart, Orange

This tart was small but mighty. The chocolate in the tart was intense and rich but was cut by the orange segment and sauce on the plate.

As always, there aren’t many restaurants I meet that I don’t like, but this one really took the cake! I’m glad to have been able to experience a great restaurant during a discount week and share so many unique dishes with my sister!

Hopefully you aren’t drooling too much! Have a great weekend and I’ll meet you back here on Tuesday for another post! Thanks for reading!

Sausage Potato Kale Soup!

Tis the season for perfectly cozy nights with a hot howl of hearty soup to warm you up! Practically overnight, Boston went from a warm-ish winter to bitterly cold and awful. It’s time to buckle down for the rest of the season and there’s no doubt about it that I want this soup by my side! And if you’re cooking for one, like me, this soup is perfect for freezing! Now you can actually stick to your meal prepping for the New Year!

Let’s get to it!

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1 large pot of boiling water, 2/3rds full
1 chicken bouillon cube
3 medium russet potatoes
1 large onion
6 slices of bacon (or more, I won’t judge you)
3-4 sausage links
1 large bunch of kale
1/2 pint of heavy cream

1. Begin by boiling the pot of water with a bouillon cube.
2. Wash, peel and cut your potatoes into small cubes and place into the boiling water. Cover the pot with a lid and cook potatoes until soft and you can pierce them with a fork.
3. In the meantime, chop and sweat the onions in one sautee pan.
4. Start cooking your sausage in another sautee pan. Ground sausage/pork/turkey would also work really well as a variation! When the sausage is fully cooked (very very small amount of pink or 165 degrees), slice and add into the onions draining off the excess fat.
5. Using the same pan as the sausage (just trying to save you an extra dish!), quickly cook your bacon without getting it too crunchy. Once cooked, cut into small pieces and also add to the sausage/onion mixture.
6. Once the potatoes are cooked, turn down the heat to a simmer and add the meat/onion mixture.
7. Slowly add heavy cream to the soup and mix just to taste.
8. De-vein the kale and cut into small pieces.Add while the soup is on low heat, stir in and cover the pot. Let simmer for another 10 minutes.
9. Serve and enjoy or save for another day!

Coming up on Tuesday is another deliciously hilarious guest blog post by my dear friend, Lexy! She last wrote about her horse girl trauma… Read up over the weekend and I’ll see you back here on Tuesday! You won’t want to miss it!

I’m back!!

Hey friends!

I’m finally back from my hiatus and I missed blogging and being a member of this community SO MUCH. I’m going to make this post a short re-cap because I have a lot of fun (and embarrassing and awkward) material to share with you guys in the upcoming weeks.

I’ve been working 6 day weeks since Halloween at the Taj Hotel constructing this GIANT gingerbread scene-scape of the Boston Tea Party. With a team of 6, we were each able to construct one business and at least one house to be placed along the dock  with a ton of miscellaneous details to recreate a piece of  Boston history. It took us over 300 hours to build and probably 100 lbs of gingerbread and other decorating material. But it’s done and on display in the lobby! To anyone who lives in Boston- feel free to visit! Come back on Thursday to see an extended post (with plenty of pictures included!) of our gingerbread masterpiece!

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Other than spending my life at work, I’ve managed to hold onto a bit of my social life. My apartment had an epic Halloween/birthday party for my roommate filled with plenty of snacks, candy and jello shots. I was Spinelli from the kid classic cartoon, Recess. I had a lot of fun being a drunken idiot with all of my friends and managed to scrape through the night without throwing up. PERSONAL WIN.

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I’ve been Zumba-ing my butt off and am considered a regular at the classes now. I was actually forced to be in the front row today, so maybe I’m finally starting to get the hang of it! I’m really loving that it keeps me moving and motivated to remain healthy especially through the holiday season where I just want to stuff cookies and donuts down my throat. Speaking of food…

I have a couple new recipes and restaurant reviews to share!! Be sure to check back on Food for Thought Thursdays to check out some of my favorite holiday/winter recipes and cool Boston hotspots!

On a more somber note, my roommates dad passed away recently and we made a trip down to New Jersey for the funeral and wakes. This was really tough on our apartment but managed to bring us closer to one another. It definitely reminded me to tell those close  that I love them and not to take any of my relationships for granted. Be sure to tell your friends and family you love them! Go do it!

But as much as life is fleeting, new life is brought into the world every day. One of my best friends from college had a baby October 16th! I’ve visited Logan Joseph twice and am more and more in love with the little nugget. Isn’t he the cutest squirmy little baby!?

Also coming up in the next few weeks, I have plenty of awkward and embarrassing stories to share… especially when it comes to my dating life. EEK, spoiler alert- it may include another run in with Chris from the infamous post Tinder Meets Real Life! AHHH MY LIFE IS WEIRD!

Happy Holidays, friends! I’m so happy to be back and share my life with you! Don’t miss out on the action every Tuesday and Thursday!

Bitte Chocolate!

As most of these stories go, I met Mike Hoffman in college through friends of friends. Mike ended up graduating a couple years before me and moved to South Carolina to pursue his dreams. After working for a few years, he turned one of his hobbies of making his own chocolate into a budding business, Bitte Chocolate!

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I’m always looking for things to fulfill my life; finding my passions and making them prevalent in my day to day life. I think it’s really brave that Mike has taken this leap of faith to follow his passion. Check out the interview with him below!

Tell me about Bitte Chocolate! Where did the name come from?

Bitte Chocolate started my senior year of college. My friend Sarah and I started messing around with making chocolate. Well… it was more like she was watching while I made it but nevertheless she was there. I I started out by using different kind of beans and  a small food chopper to chop up beans and sugar. I had a hard time with texture/grittiness because I was using a mortar and pestal. Professionally, this process (called conching) takes about two days. My chocolate was very gritty, almost like Modica Chocolate  where they do not conch and the sugar is still big and gritty. 

After graduation I moved down to Charleston, SC and didn’t  make much chocolate at the time. I worked for a French Chocolatier for 6 months but became bored doing the same things over and over again. In the beginning of 2014, I bought equipment to really make chocolate. At first, I  was just playing around when my boss encouraged me to turn it into a business. I was skeptical; I didn’t want to ruin my love for making chocolate by turning it into a business and having to do it all the time. So I took it slow and never let it overwhelm me. It has slowly formed into what you see today after a year of formula testing and packaging design.


The name was the hardest part of the entire process. I wanted something  strong, classy, and not cheesy. I came up with a hundred different names but couldn’t decide on one. I always pictured something  that was short, sweet and too the point but could never quite put my finger on it.  I would dream about it, wake up and write the word but nothing seemed to fit. After about 3 months of brainstorming, I was bouncing ideas off of my roommate and she recommended something like bittersweet. It was too cute and nice; it wasn’t me. Then a light bulb went off! Bitte (bit-tah) is the German word for ‘you’re welcome’ or ‘please’. After researching, testing the word on friends and chatting with a german exchange student from high school, I settled on the official name Bitte Chocolate.I find that the word Bitte is a perfect fit for my chocolate as I produce chocolate with strong flavors uninhibited by vanilla or other flavorings. 

What inspired you to start your own company? How have you broken into the market?

Ever since taking a chocolate class in college, I fell in love and  knew I wanted to be a chocolatier. I feel like most great pastry chefs are great at chocolates. Chocolatiers are always seem very confident. I think I started this company because I saw a void in the market here. Charleston has such a great food scene- it’s impossible to come across a bad meal.  I figured that if there was any time to do it, it was now! It was perfect- I love to make it and market needs it. I have had a very soft opening for the most part, and I am just starting to sell to local businesses.

Explain the chocolate making process. How long does the entire process take?

Once I receive the beans, I roast them. I make sure to test the beans by eating a couple to double check they are up to my standard. I then winnow/ grind them. Winnowing is the process of separating the bean from the skin.  After grinding them, I add cocoa butter, sugar and sometimes milk depending on the kind of chocolate I am making. After, I put the mixture in a melanger which are stone rollers that crush the sugar small enough so it creates a smooth mouth-feel. This part of the process takes about two days. Once the chocolate is ready, I temper** and mold them. I let them sit, wrapped in foil for about 3 weeks to mellow out a hard acidic flavor from the beans. Once they age, I package and sell them! So the entire process takes a little over three weeks.

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(**Side note: tempering is the process of creating a balance in the chocolate so it hardens quickly, can resist slight changes in temperature and moisture, and keeps fat from rising to the surface on chocolate)

Where do you source your ingredients? Any particular reason you pick that location to source from?

I get my beans from Peru. I’ve tried dozens of different beans but prefer the ones from Peru called Criollo beans. Criollo beans make up 1% of  cocoa beans in the world, but have the best flavor! I also get beans called Tumbes.They have a malty fruity flavor that really helps bring out the chocolate flavor!

How did you get started in the industry? What keeps you passionate?

I don’t know exactly how I got into the industry but I think I can speculate. As long as I can remember, I wanted to be a chef besides the usual pipe dream of astronaut or baseball player. Being a chef was the first real job I wanted to do. I hear from my friends that they got into the industry because they loved making things with the mom/grandmother or something cheesy like that but I just had the love of food in me.. In high school, I had figured out that I liked baking more than cooking which eventually lead me to pick the four year pastry program at Johnson & Wales University.

What keeps me passionate? What doesn’t keep me passionate is the real question. I love everything I do. Everything about chocolate is amazing. I love that I can be artistic as well as scientific. It’s hard to put into words the way I feel about my craft. I commit so many hours to my job and it can really wear on you but it’s still amazing to be able to produce these lovely works of art.I was sitting at a chef’s table, watching the wonderful ballet that is a kitchen and my heirloom tomato came out. Before I took a spoon and destroyed it, I stopped and took a step back and admired it’s beauty. I took a bite and savored every moment of that delicious tomato. I thought about everything that it had been from the farm to mouth. I feel like people need to see that food isn’t just a way to survive.

What’re your future goals for Bitte Chocolate or otherwise?

My future goals are just to grow. Right now, I am just doing it in the back of the bakery but would like to open up my own place when the right time comes. I have a couple of ideas brewing at the moment. I don’t want to get too ahead of myself or give away any of my secrets!

I have noticed in my time making chocolates, that some people are afraid to admit milk chocolate is there favorite. Milk chocolate shouldn’t just be related to Hershey products or other products loaded with sugar and vanilla. I’m confident I have a milk chocolate bar that people won’t be afraid to say they like! My milk chocolate uses high volume cocoa liquor and milk to give it a high end taste and a less sugary taste.

If you are in Charleston,  you will start to notice Bitte Chocolate popping up in local shops! We hope to start shipping this fall. You can go to our website at bittechocolate.com or follow us on instagram bittechocolate or on Facebook!

632I hope you guys enjoyed another inside view into the industry! I wish Mike the best of luck and I can’t wait to order chocolate bars from him! Check back on Tuesday for a new post!