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!

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Restaurant Review: Naco Taco!

Naco Taco was a food truck in Boston that recently took their success and transformed their ideas into a restaurant. Located on 297 Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge, Naco Taco is easily accessible by T (short walking distance from Central Square or Kendall Square stops) and buses. They opened their doors while I was working at Flour across the street so I couldn’t wait to finally check them out!

647The restaurant sports a large outdoor patio with the actual food truck parked right on the premise. While there was regular table-side service, the servers grabbed some of the food ordered from the windows of the food truck. Our waiter was super nice and attentive and did a great job at trying to up-sell the menu asking if we would want chips and salsa or second rounds of drinks.

646 648Their drink menu featured numerous Mexican beer, beer cocktails and a few wine/sangria options. What I really like about their food menu was that you can literally order as much or as little as you want. The pricing on the menu is based per taco so you can easily predict what you’ll be getting. I ordered an al pastor taco and a side of street corn to share with my friend.

The al pastor taco was made with spit roasted pork and burnt pineapple. It was the perfect size for a light lunch with my side of street corn. I think the taco could’ve been a little more flavorful or feature a sauce to keep it from being too dry. I would give the taco 3 Abby stars.

644The street corn is what got me. I love corn, especially in the summer. And I love nothing more than corn smothered in cotija cheese. Depending on the week, the street corn is prepared in different ways, but ours came with cotija, pine nuts and thin slices of peppers. I can dig it. 5/5 Abby stars.

645My friend also got their chips and salsa which was pretty good! I would definitely recommend this place as a meet up spot for after work drinks and light apps. The patio is awesome for the summer and the inside of the restaurant is pretty large with a cool, relaxed vibe. Definitely a great addition to Central Square!

As always, does anyone have a Boston restaurant recommendation? I’m always looking for new places to try! If you liked what you read, you can hit the follow button at the top of the page (for my fellow wordpress friends) or you can click follow by email on the right side of the web page to receive my posts weekly via email! Have a great weekend and check back on Tuesday to read about my first kayaking experience along the Charles River!

Treats and Snoozin’

I really do love brunch. It might be my favorite meal of the day. I think I’m the female version of Ron Swanson when it comes to breakfast. Gimme all the eggs, toast. bacon, sausage, cereal, pastries, grits, biscuits, fruit, etc etc etc you name it. GET. IN. MY. BELLY.

I don’t get to brunch very often, since I typically work on the days where brunch is conventionally served, but that doesn’t really stop me from seeking out some of the best brunch places near me. If you’re on the outskirts of Boston, get ready for my compiled list of best brunch places I’ve found (or am dying to try)!

Newton:

The Village Cafe–  We live fairly close to this cafe and it’s one of our favorite spots to hit up! It’s paaaacked with locals on Sundays but everything is homemade and cheap! You can get the “Village Special” or the “Hungry Man” which gets you a selection of a little of everything- my favorite!

Brighton:

Cafe NationThis place has a really cool and low-key vibe. It’s a great place to just sit and get some work done with a coffee and breakfast sandwich! It’s immediately off of the 57 bus line with plenty of shops around it for people watching!

Dash CafeI’d recommend this place if you wake up late enough to want a sandwich instead of more breakfast-y type foods. They have a killer lox bagel with cream cheese, lox, bean sprouts and more which more than fills you up!

Moogy’sThis was the first place my roommate and I went to when we moved into our apartment. The food is super cheap and the place is pretty informal where you have to sit yourself and order your food at a window. There are plenty of creative brunch options to choose from!

FuelI just discovered this place today! It is right next to Moogy’s very close to Brighton Center. They have tons of tables and different seating arrangements for casual dining, catching up with friends or even tables to get work done! Their wifi is free and easy to connect to so it made a really great place to work and write a blog post! They had some really excellent homemade pastries: muffins, scones, cookies, etc as well as a fun menu for different drinks and sandwiches. I tried the Hazelnut Nutella muffin- yum!

609Allston:

The Breakfast Club: I haven’t been here yet, although I see a long line wrapped around the store every weekend on my drive to/from work! It’s right near the end of Harvard stadium and seems to be a Harvard favorite! Can’t wait to give it a go!

Bruegger’s Bagels: yes yes, I know this is a chain. But I really enjoyed a salt bagel from this location and will definitely be stopping back here to buy half a dozen to freeze for the future!

Fenway:

Eastern Standard: I haven’t technically been here for brunch yet, but I was there for drinks and appetizers. This place is really classy and right next to Fenway so it’s always packed, day or night. This seems like an excellent place for a girls fancy dress-up brunch or a place to bring parents/in-laws!

Coolidge Corner area:

RibelleI wrote a review on brunch at Ribelle that you can check out by clicking here! I can’t wait to go back for brunch another day- SO delicious.

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Cambridge:

The Friendly Toast: Vegan/allergy friendly brunch place that is FULL of character. It has some very interesting menu choices and combinations but the decor almost gives you even more to talk about! In the summer, they also have a small area of outdoor seating!

607Flour Bakery + Cafe: Maybe I’m biased because I worked here for over a year making all of the pastries and bread, but Flour is hands-down one of the best brunch/lunch places I’ve ever been to. Everything is made in-house, fresh daily by people who are passionate and hardworking. Recommendations include: the french toast, an egg bacon sandwich, sticky buns, banana bread, breakfast pizzas, cinnamon creams, blueberry muffins and butter bretons. CALORIES DON’T COUNT IF YOU WISH HARD ENOUGH!

Downtown:

The Taj Hotel: Also perhaps another biased opinion since I work there currently, but Sunday brunch is well thought out and executed. All of the pastries are changed from week to week by the discretion of the pastry team but there’s also a hot line, a raw bar and other little samplings. Brunch is held on top of the 16th floor overlooking some of the most breath-taking views of the city. This is a perfect place to celebrate something: an engagement, graduation, baby announcement, etc. However, it does come at a price ($80 a person, eek)! Reservations need to be made in advance but it’s well worth it for a big life event.

470The Thinking Cup: I haven’t been here yet but I’ve heard nothing but good things! I can’t wait to spend a rainy morning before work here!

Any other suggestions out there?? I’m on a never-ending journey to find the best brunch in the city! Let me know what you think; I want to hear from you! Check back on Tuesday where I show you how I made a DIY succulent wall!! Eeeeeep who doesn’t like little baby succulents!? Thanks for reading and I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Book Club: Edition Biographies!

I’ve always been a pretty big fan of reading. Growing up, I didn’t have cable tv or any game systems. We only owned a couple movies: Annie, All Dogs Go to Heaven, Passport to Paris, Free Willy and a bootleg version of Cinderella that we accidently/tragically taped over. A lot of my time was spent playing outside, building stuff with Legos and reading anything and everything I could get my hands on. I’m actually really glad and feel really privileged that that’s how I was raised. Kudos, Mom and Dad.

Lately, my apartment has been having a gazillion and a half issues including my wifi and cable being out for 5 days thanks to a freak hailstorm in the middle of the summer. THANKS BOSTON. But also I’ve been taking the bus to work which gives me ample time to read again and I couldn’t be happier!

My favorite genre of books is biographies, hands down. I’m not sure how or why my attachment to them started given that I was the kid that had a reversible Harry Potter bed spread and like 30 mini posters hanging in my room… I WAS REALLY COOL OKAY? But there’s something I find so fascinating about just plain people. Everyone has a different story to tell with varying diverse backgrounds. I also like that biographies make me think. Our overall theme in 10th grade English was EMPATHY and I’ve never let that leave my side. I believe that if we all just listened, empathized and accepted one another for who we are, the world could ultimately be a much better place to live.

So without further ado (I FINALLY LOOKED IT UP GUYS! Apparently ado means hubbub or hustle), here’s a few biographies I’ve recently read and recommend!

Bossy Pants by Tina Fey

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Tina Fey wasn’t shy recounting all her awkward interactions growing up. From her first under the shirt-over the bra feel up to how she ended up meeting her husband are all in there. It also talked about her time on Second City and SNL! It’s a great read and full of laughs! 10/10 would recommend!

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

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I never imagined that Amy Poehler would be so crass and truthful and funny all at the same time. She talks about her past and how it finally lead to her successful career without focusing so much on her career. Rather, she focuses on the people and lifestyle choices that got her there, which really makes me see her as a person and not just a celebrity in the media. My favorite part of the book is when someone had asked her if she was surprised that she became so successful and she basically told them to fuck off. Essentially that it wasn’t good luck but rather hard work and dedication. Fuck yeah, Amy Poehler. You tell ‘em!

Seriously… I’m Kidding by Ellen Degenerous

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I love Ellen Degenerous. I love her positive attitude and dance moves. I didn’t, however, fall in love with her book. It’s filled to the brim with typical Ellen humor, quippy and light-hearted, however I definitely thought there were chapters that didn’t matter. If you’re looking for a really easy read, this would make a great beach book!

My Life in France by Alex Prud’homme

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Not directly written by Julia Child (MY IDOL <3) herself, but it’s a fairly accurate account of her life leading up to the climax of her fame. I admire Julia Child so much. Not only was she a BALLSY woman who was a spy in World War Two, but she also never gave up on finding her passion in life. She didn’t begin cooking until she was in France and attended Le Cordon Bleu where she was the only woman in her class with no experience. Immersed in the absolute BEST culture with the freshest ingredients, she came into her own having many adventures along the way.

Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs

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This was the last book I read and I was done in 3 days. I immediately got sucked into the plot from page one. Augusten Burroughs was born into a verbally abusive family causing each member to develop their own idiosyncracies. Once his parents finally separated, his mother allowed her abnormal psychotherapist to adopt him. Augusten then grew up in a house where 13 years of age defines adulthood, relationships with 33 year old pedophiles are normal and faking a suicide attempt to get out of school is just another day in the life. It’s definitely one of those “train wreck” type of book that is terrifying but you can’t tear your eyes away!

It’s also a movie, which I really want to rent and watch! Check out the trailer below!

Does anyone have any good book suggestions-biographies or other? I’m always looking for a great read to help fill my bus rides to work (and hopefully have cute boys notice how intellectual and concentrated I look).

Upcoming on Food for Thought Thursday, I visited and reviewed the newly opened, year round indoor market called the Boston Public Market! Check out my experience and what kind of goodies I brought home! Until then!

Providence Guide 4 of 4: Prov Bar Scene!

Providence is definitely a place I call home. I spent four years living in Prov/going to school there so once I turned 21, I couldn’t wait to check out their bar scene. From mixology bars to music venues and clubs, Providence has it all. So check it out!

Wickenden Street Area:

Whisky Republic– This is a total college bro bar. A lot of people like it when they’re in college or very newly post grad because it’s full of drunken people and dancing. It’s also got a cool location right near the restaurant Al Forno’s and Hot Club!

The Hot Club– This place sits right on the harbor and overlooks the water on their outside bar. They also do industry nights for anyone who works in food service and puts their drinks at a discount!

Piano Bar– So. Much. Fun. This place has a cover most nights which makes it a little on the pricy side but it’s awesome for a friend’s birthday! Follow them on Facebook too, and you can get a free shot of the night! They’ll play anything you want if you tip them and you can also pay to have a message written on the board aka throw your friends number up to “have a good time”. Occasionally throughout the night, they also have a wheel to spin which makes you feel like you’re on Wheel of Fortune or Price is Right. But it might land on “give a lapdance to a stranger” or “Win $20!”. I’ve tended to find that the crowd there is on the older side but it’s still a blast regardless.

Federal Hill Area

Ogie’s Trailer Park– This just opened a couples months ago! Totally kitchsy and themed, I can’t wait to try it out again over the summer. They have a huge patio out back with firepits and cutouts of trailers to simulate a 50’s trailer park. Their menu is really simple but you gotta try their tater tots! You can’t go wrong!

The Avery– This place is one of the most hipster bars you’ll ever encounter. A little dark and a little speakeasy-esque, it’s got a real secretive kind of feel which is cool. Also, it’s right across the street from a North (a super great restaurant!) so put yourself on the waiting list there and grab a craft cocktail at The Avery!

Downtown

The Eddy– Hands down, my all-time favorite craft cocktail/mixology bar. This place is so great despite it being super small. The bartenders are really knowledgeable so if you’re adventurous, try the bartender’s choice! You might get a drink that used egg as an emulsifier but trust them, it’s bound to be delicious! Or you can try their house punch for a cheaper drink!

G Pub/Providence G Rooftop– I have mixed feelings about this place. G Pub is underground and hidden which makes it pretty cool with the exception that when it gets full, you can’t hear shit down there. They do have a couple private rooms where they do parties or karaoke, so overall it’s pretty popular! G Pub is in the basement of an apartment complex but they also have a rooftop bar! It shows a beautiful view of the city and has tons of lounge chairs and couches however it’s on the pricy side. I almost felt too young for the crowd there but it was still a cool experience.

Congress– Across the street from G Pub, Congress is super low key and a definite spot for people in the industry to hang. It’s got good vibes with good people! Definitely a place I’d check out right in the middle of Provi.

Trinity Rep– This place has a great craft beer selection. It’s also two levels with billards in the basement. Food is decent too, so it makes a great place for a casual dinner!

Aruba Steve’s– Oh Lordy, this place. Across the street from the JWU downtown campus, this place is always crazy on the weekends but especially on Tuesdays. They do karaoke there every week and it’s so popular! The same old crazy man comes week after week to sing “New York New York” and he’s hilarious. Aruba’s also is known for their fishbowls! You can get individual fishbowls for about $14 and it probably equals 2 ½- 3 drinks worth of booze. Don’t order anything off of the menu though! I don’t trust their kitchen!

The Dorrance– OOOH YOU FANCY HUH. Never technically went to this place yet, however I’ve walked by it a thousand times. You always see bridal showers or just people dressed in suits there. Maybe I’ll go one day and pretend to be a real life adult who has their ish together.

Thayer Street

Shark– This is a super trendy place up on Thayer Street which is right near Brown. They used to do hookah there but I’m not positive that they have the permits to do so anymore thanks to state ordinances. But they also do GIANT fishbowls but those are definitely to share!

The English Cellar– I’ve known the cellar to be packed wall to wall with all the “of age” college kids from RISD, Brown, JWU, etc. They also have pool tables and such in the back, but overall I’d consider this place to be semi-hipster. It’s definitely one of the bars that we considered one of our watering holes.

Tortilla Flats– Now this place brings back SO many memories. This was what I would’ve considered our real watering hole. We’d always snag a corner table, order pitchers of margaritas and get tons of nachos to share. I also went on a first date here once and sat around the bar which was also great because you can watch the tvs or people watch if it’s really dull! Their margs are really strong- so take that as a good or bad thing depending on your style!

I hope you enjoyed my incomplete list of bars around Providence that I frequented back in my college days! Providence will forever hold my heart so it’s great that it’s just a short drive from Boston! While you’re there, maybe you can hit up Allie’s Donuts like I had previously suggested! Have a great weekend and check back on Tuesday for another (non-Providence) blog about my post grad life!

Providence Guide 2 of 4: Restaurant Scene!

Being that I went to school for baking and pastry, I thought it was extremely important that I was surrounded with really excellent food and drink. While I was living there, Providence was named #1 in the country for food destinations! Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that it’s teeeeny tiiiiiny and there’s more restaurants than any other area per capita, or perhaps it has to do with the fact that it’s surrounded by people who are passionate about the craft whether it’s production or consumption!

That being said, here is my compiled list of recommended restaurants while visiting the city!

Downtown

Luxe– AW YEAH GOOD BURGERS YEAH! This place is SO excellent. Whether you’re going to have a beer and watch a game at the bar, play trivia or just have dinner, the food is super quality. They have a BYOB (Build Your Own Burger) menu where you just check off the type of meat, burger buns, toppings, sides, dressings, etc and then the waiter reads it back to you. An average burger with a side is only about $9! Then for dessert, I recommend getting the Smores hard shake. They use Godiva liquor and it’s suuuuper good.

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Haven Bros– One of the oldest stationary food trucks in Rhode Island! Best place to get drunken mozzarella sticks after a night out! (Or at least I thought they were at the time…)

Birch– One of the most gastronomically inclined restaurants in Providence. You can order a la carte but my recommendation is to bite the 70 or 80 bucks a person and get 4 courses. The food is SO good and full of flavor. Even if you think you won’t like something, you will. Still one of the best meals I’ve had to date!

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Wickenden Street Area

Al Fornos– Talk about typical Italian food! It’s really well prepared there and everything comes in decent portions. There are two levels for seating inside, but when the weather is nice you have to sit outside! It’s right along the water too so the views are beautiful. Al Forno’s is also known for their wood fired pizzas making it a must have appetizer to share!

OV’s – Is trashy hangover breakfast your style? This place is the PERFECT hangover food. The omelettes are great and come with a side of hashbrowns for super cheap.

Seaplane Diner– Seaplane is the other choice when OV’s is too busy. This place is a little nicer and dare I say it, cleaner? But I think I’d still recommend OV’s over Seaplane any day.

Olga’s Cup and Saucer– This place is actually run by a chef that teaches at JWU. It’s the perfect place to bring your mom for brunch! Really cutesy and sweet; for example some of the seating inside looks like patio furniture and on warm days they keep the windows open that look into the garden. There’s a pretty big focus on bread there too!

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Brickway on Wickenden– Oh wait, you want another great brunch place? This restaurant is FULL of character. The walls are painted like crazy and it gives you plenty to look at and talk about. Pancakes are excellent here and if you want to walk around afterwards, you can hit up India Point Park or a bunch of coffee shops to walk off your food baby!
Duck and Bunny– It’s claim to fame is calling it a “snuggery”. This used to be a house that was then converted into a restaurant. You can choose to sit in any room of the house, each room with different character, or even sit in the backyard garden on warm days! They’re known for their crepes, truffle fries and teeny tiny cupcakes! Worth it for the experience!
West Side/Federal Hill

North– Asian American fusion restaurant with a serious twist on textural and flavor manipulation! They use a ton of fresh ingredients and go to a local farm each week to stock up. All of their plates are handmade too which the foodie geek in me thinks is pretty cool. Menu can change whenever based on what they have in house and they often have guest cooks too! This place is really small though so you might have to put in your reservation and walk across the street to grab a drink at The Avery!

Kitchen– With seating for less than 20 people, this brunch place is a must. They have an open kitchen and really cutesy seating for only up to 4 people. The croissant French toast is TO DIE FOR.

Harry’s Burger Bar– This place comes second to Luxe Burger Bar to me, but is also a great burger place! Their burgers come as sliders and are pretty cheap- YUM!

Julians– Sooo I’ve never been here unfortunately BUT I’ve heard that this place is AMAZING. A friend of mine is actually their pastry chef! When I visit, I’m adding this to my list!

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Nicks on Broadway– Nick’s has an open kitchen and is packed for brunch week after week. I love being able to watch my food being made for me so A+ on atmosphere! I don’t even know what it was, but their pancakes are like no other! They’re thin and sugary and so so good. Doesn’t even need maple syrup!

Mediterraneo– Classic Italian! Well-made and flavorful pasta dishes and you’ll get enough food for two days. It’s a bit on the pricier side but a good choice for a graduation dinner or some type of celebration!

Thayer Street

Shanghai– So I’m not a sushi eater, but this was the place where I tried sushi for the first time. Everything is really fresh and clean and my friends think their Chinese food is killer! If you sit in the restaurant, grab a seat by the window because it directly overlooks Thayer Street and is great for people watching!

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Nice Slice– This place is pretty hipster as far as pizza goes. Super good pizza and they also offer a lot of options for vegan/vegetarian/dietary restrictions!

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Antonios– Only reason I’m mentioning Antonios is because they do Dollar Slice Night on Thursdays! Best drunken pizza ever. I may or may not have instagramed about said pizza before… I LOVE PIZZA OKAY GUYS

Thanks for reading and I hope this might help finding good eats on a visit to Providence! Check back next week for another great area to visit and again on Thursday for my Providence bar suggestions!

My Foodie Netflix Recommendations!

I only have a couple loves in my life at the moment- my bed, pizza, sleep and Netflix. I’ll binge watch almost anything as long as it grabs my interest. I watched all of Gilmore Girls, Friends and now I’m currently most obsessed with Parks and Rec (SO FREAKIN’ FUNNY). But on occasion, I want to watch something that’s a little more serious or even just in my wheelhouse of interest in food service. My sophomore year of college, I watched my first food documentary about a pastry competition in France and I was HOOKED. So without further adieu (ADO? A-due? WTF WHY HAVE I NOT LOOKED THAT UP YET!), here are some of my top favorite food recommendations on Netflix!

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Kings of Pastry– This documentary made me fall even further in love with pastry. In France, the best pastry chefs compete for the title of a MOF (Meilleure Ouvrir de France) in a competition that only happens every four years. Out of hundreds of chefs, only a handful get awarded the title each competition. Although highly stressful, this documentary follows the journey of pure dedication in four candidates through the process. This is my number 1 recommendation!!

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El Bulli– El Bulli is a restaurant in Spain run by Chef Ferran Adri that opens and closes with the season. During the slow winter months, the entire menu was re-vamped to exceed the expectations from the year previous while testing the boundaries of texture and flavor manipulation.

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Jiro Dreams of Sushi– Such an interesting and heartwarming doc! Jiro and his family have been involved in the sushi practice and have people from all over the world come eat his award winning bazillion course menu. This documentary has Jiro and his co-workers retell stories of their past leading up to their current success.

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A Matter of Taste– Paul Liebrandt was an up and coming chef who struggled his way up the ladder. The documentary starts with him in the midst of his career where he’s pained from lack of creativity and movement at a restaurant. A restauranteur later invests in Liebrandt and his talents to open a restaurant together in New York City later earning Michelin stars!

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Inside Chipotle– Who doesn’t love Chipotle? This short video interviews the CEO of the company and examines how Chipotle quickly rose to success.

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The Mind of a Chef– A TV series on PBS, Anthony Bourdain narrates as they follow a myriad of chefs and their passion. One of my favorite episodes is the first following David Chang and his thirst for the perfect Ramen.

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Forks over Knives– Definitely a more informative-think-about-your-eating-habits-and-how-they-affect-other-people documentary. Still interesting though!

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Chef– Not sure if this is on Netflix yet, but it was an excellent fictitious representation of owning a food truck and understanding what the food service industry can look like! A lot of fun to watch!

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Somm– A Sommelier is an expert on wine. Given that there are about a trillion wines in the world from millions of different regions, being a Sommelier is EXTRAORDINARILY hard. You have to train your palate to recognize wines, scents, and pairings in an instant. This documentary follows a couple men who are striving to pass the official Sommelier test.

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Fed Up and A Chef’s Table– These are currently in my queue for me to watch! Fed Up is supposed to examine how sugar has become America’s drug and A Chef’s Table is a short season following the life of a chef that I can’t wait to watch!

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I’m sure there are so many more on Netflix that I haven’t even touched! Do you have any good recommendations- food related or non? Almost all of my free time is spent in the depths of Netflix. I’ll probably be spending a good bit of my weekend cackling at Parks and Rec so I hope yours is filled with as much enjoyment as mine! Check back on Tuesday when I kick off two weeks of posts about my past home sweet home- Providence. Hasta la pasta!