Food Porn!

As most of you know, I’m a professional pastry chef and I’m obsessed with the food industry. I’m constantly on the look out for new trends, great restaurants and amazing chefs. Instagram is my go-to guide to  inspiration, without a doubt.

I follow almost twice the amount of people who follow me with at least half of them being food instagram accounts of people  I don’t know. I love waking up in the morning and drooling over delicious breakfasts, getting ideas about what to make for dinner or even inspire me to make something new at work!

If anyone is a self proclaimed foodie like myself, this is the post for you! Here are some of my top favorite Instagram accounts!

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And of course, best for last… Me! Follow me to stay up to date about what I’m up to at the Taj Boston!

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Thanks for reading and be sure to check back on Tuesday for another post!

 

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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: Deuxave!

There is just SO much I love about being in this industry, but I think what I love the most is the community. I’ve been finding that the world in general is a small place, but the culinary/food service world is even smaller.

When I started working at the Taj, we all I know I experienced the “its a small world” feeling with my awkward tinder moment (you can catch up by clicking here!)… But I also have connections with each of my co-workers! One of them used to work with my old Flour co-worker and the rest went to Johnson & Wales where our worlds somehow crossed from time to time.

I ended up going to Deuxave with two of my Taj co-workers to try the dessert menu by pastry chef Jamie Davis Schick (check out her instagram here!) before she moved on to the next step in her career. My friend April used to work for Jamie at No. 9 Park so we were treated as extra special guests at an extra fancy restaurant!

692Deuxave is located at 371 Commonwealth Avenue in the Back Bay area. It’s easily accessible by the T; its just a few minutes walk from the Hynes Convention Center on the green line. They also do valet parking for a pricy $18 or if you’re the luckiest person on the planet, you might find a free metered spot along Massachusetts Avenue. Deuxave is open for dinner 5 to 10pm on the weekdays and until 11pm on Friday and Saturday.

This restaurant is beautiful and definitely high end. Save your pretty pennies and dress up for a fancy night out! April and I waited at the bar for our friend Sarah and chatted with Jamie for a few minutes! I was definitely excited to try her menu and it was also really great to get to know her a little bit.

700After being seated, we were sent 3 glasses of champagne! We took a couple silly pictures, toasted and then reminded ourselves that we needed to behave in such a nice place. We perused the menu and picked one dessert for each of us to order with the intention to share.

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Also unexpectedly, we were sent an intermezzo. I’ts basically a pre-course to set the precedence for the rest of the meal. We were sent a fennel celery sorbet with compressed yuzu and tarragon. It was a really interesting mix of sweet and savory. The sorbet reminded me of chicken noodle soup- almost a little buttery!

696Our individual courses came out and they were absolutely beautiful. They were well executed with specific attention to detail. I’ll go through our courses one by one:

Local Peaches and Corn

691Corn panna cotta, hazelnut polenta financier, bourbon compressed peaches, peach sorbet and candied hazelnuts

Summer Berry “Trellis”

689White Chocolate Cheesecake, Summer Berries, Pistachio Pain de Genes, Blueberry Sorbet, Caramelized Puff Pastry, Pistachio Puree, Aged Balsalmic Glaze

Milk Chocolate Silk Ribbon

690Red Velvet Cake, Fresh Raspberries, Raspberry Sorbet, Cocoa Nibs, Malted Meringue

And again, we were sent EVEN MORE stuff! Jamie sent us the creme brulee with meyer lemon sorbet. The creme brulee was so creamy and rich and the sorbet was a nice change of pace from the fatty creme brulee. The sorbet wasn’t super tart because meyer lemons are small and sweet. YUMMM.

Jamie also sent us a new dessert in the testing phase!  It was yogurt panna cotta with a green apple gelee, chartreuse and apple sorbet, olive oil cake and green apple glass. The yogurt panna cotta was super super tart but I’m also not the biggest fan of yogurt. My friends were gobbling it up though! I really enjoyed the olive oil cake and green apple/chartreuse sorbet.

702Fat and happy, we were ready for our bill. We were sent little mignardise on the way out which are small bites (almost like mints that go with a bill). We each got a vanilla caramel, coconut macaroon and coffee bonbon. I WAS SO FULL AND HAPPY.

695They only charged us for the three plated desserts and our water (first time I’ve had that happen…) so our bill only came to $55 with tax. We each paid $25, leaving a healthy tip for our waiter and waitstaff who took such good care of us. I had an excellent time at Deuxave and was so happy to be able to experience someone else’s menu!

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On Tuesday, I divulge how to deal with crazy landlords and still walk away with a win! As stressful as adulting can be, it certainly isn’t boring. Have a great weekend eveyrone!

M

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!

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!

Guide to Providence: Part 1 of 4!

I went to school and lived in Providence for the last 4 years and already miss it so much despite really enjoying myself in Boston! Providence is truly an amazing city; it’s full of culture, art, and diversity. There are a couple must-hit spots on trip to Providence, especially if you’ve never been there! It’s such a walk-able city- you can easily get from place to place within 15 minutes without public transportation. If you ask any local, Providence can be split into a couple different sections: Thayer Street, Federal Hill, Downtown and Wickenden Street. Over the next two weeks of posts, I plan to break down the city little by little to recommend LA CRÈME DE LA CRÈME of Providence!
Thayer Street is a 3 minute walking distance from Brown University. Slated at the top of a GIANT hill, it offers a cool mix of college hipster and young adult. Without a doubt, Thayer Street is about 80% restaurants and 20% alternative businesses. Thayer is a great place to spend a sunny afternoon or even a wintry evening hopping from coffee shop to coffee shop.

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Amongst the restaurants are burger joints like Johnny Rockets and BBC, Froyo World, sushi restaurants and classic bar foods. One of my favorite places to go is a teeny tiny creperie called La Creperie! There’s barely any room for people to sit, but it has some of the best crepes I’ve ever had. You can get anything from plain sugar (powdered or granulated) to fluffernutter crepes or even savory crepes! SO delish.

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After eating a crepe the size of your face, you can walk down the rest of Thayer Street to window shop. There are plenty of interesting places to explore: used book and record stores, random consignment shops, Army surplus store, Berks for super cute shoes, the list goes on! I always like to take a spin around Pie in the Sky, Second Time Around, and Spectrum India for any kinds of knick knacks you never knew you needed- like henna paint for example!
There’s even a dated movie theater, The Avon Cinema, that plays a lot of indie films. I went to see Moonrise Kingdom there a couple years ago! While it’s not the most inexpensive theater, it’s got a lot of charm and that old-timey feel to make up for it in experience. Of course, no trip to Thayer is complete without pretending like you’re a student at Brown by lounging on their campus or running around trying to meet Emma Watson or James Franco (both used to go to Brown!).

378While spending your time on top of this huge hill, you’d be wasting one of the best ways to see Providence. Head to Prospect Park at dusk where you can watch the sun fall over the whole city. This has got to be my favorite spot in all of Providence!

375 376Federal Hill is another area that can be fun to check out! This area is 100% run by the Italian (aka the mob in this case) and is nothing short of a cultural experience. Tons of restaurants line the streets waiting for their customers to come. DePasquale Square is surrounded by a bunch of cool restaurants and hotels but what I most like is the open market called Venda Ravioli. I once got my bartending certification from the Bartending School of Rhode Island right near there and would frequent the market for something quick and delicious!
On Thursday, I’m going to explore the restaurant scene and give you my top recommendations! Then check back again on Tuesday for more Providence destinations! Until next time!

Staging- A Working Interview

Hi Friends!

So as I’ve explained in a past post, staging is an integral part to working/finding jobs in the food service industry. There’s no escaping needing to do a stage when looking for a hands-on job. Stages are used to help determine if you’re a good fit for the company and to see if they’re a good fit for you! Unfortunately, it is all time unpaid (usually many many hours) however, they can prove to be really incredible learning experiences! As I mentioned in my post on Tuesday, I recently was having an existential crisis on where I wanted my career to go next. Did I want to look for work in restaurants and learn plating? Did I want to move more towards food management? Was my learning experience really over in the bakery or did I have more to learn?

The only way I knew to help clarify/answer any of these questions was to start applying for jobs and then spending time staging. I’ve done stages at places that are SO dirty and gross so not only do I NOT want to work there, but I also never want to eat there! Ick! At this point however, I have staged a few different places that I think are worth sharing!

My first stage was at Ribelle, a restaurant I previously reviewed and loved! I could tell that the food quality was very important to the business and all of the staff was so nice that I wanted to spend some time there and see what a typical day was.

A stage can sometimes precede an interview because when you work with someone for 5 or 6 hours, you tend to get a pretty good feeling about the type of person and worker they might be. Upon showing up, I was able to meet the staff and chat a bit about the type of work they do. Finally, I was able to get my hands dirty and help them out! I ended up shaping bagels and bread, scooping cookie dough, prepping thyme milk that would be used as a foam, supreme-ing oranges and grapefruit (this is something that can show your knife skills and attention to detail), and then assisting another pastry cook in prepping other components that they would need for that nights plating. I stayed through the beginning of service and watched them in action as the night began. The pastry cook as helped make the pizzas for order so that was pretty fun to watch! But the best part of the night was plating up different desserts for me to try! It was cool to be able to do a myriad of projects but I was surprised at how laid back the atmosphere was. My current job is so busy all of the time and I constantly multi-task which is what makes my shift fly by. While this was a really fun restaurant, I want to make sure that there’s never a moment where I’m bored or slow. I’m a worker bee and need to be kept busy all the time!

Another more recent stage was held at a place called Commonwealth Cambridge. This place was pretty cool because they weren’t only a restaurant but also a market where people can come and grab anything like sandwiches, coffee, ice cream, local meats and cheese, pretty much any kind of snacks on the run! The restaurant at night basically has a glorified ice cream bar as their dessert menu where you can mix and match different hot and cold components. I wanted to explore here to gain more experience in making ice creams but also the use my creativity to come up with new grab and go items. I went to a stage there for 3 hours where I helped decorate sugar cookies for a catering order. While I liked the staff there and the whole feel of the restaurant/market, it seemed more of a lateral move in career. And at this point, I want something to really challenge me and make me work for it!

The last stage I went to was for a restaurant called Harvest in Harvard Square. This restaurant is full of history- plenty of world renowned chefs spent some of their career there and it has a reputation that can’t be beat! Their current pastry chef, Brian Mercury, has recently been named one of the best pastry chefs in Boston so I couldn’t wait for the chance to spend some time learning from him for the night.

As soon as I arrived, I was put to work making a chocolate cremeux. I also had the opportunity to help mix and shape their house bread, prep some of their items for plating but best of all, actually plate up some desserts for order. There’s such an art to plating and it really is focused on making things beautiful as well as delicious. Here are a couple plates below!

Taza chocolate cremeux with salted caramel center and cookie base, housemade granola, homemade sea salt, malted chocolate sauce and marscapone mousse

Taza chocolate cremeux with salted caramel center and cookie base, housemade granola, homemade sea salt, malted chocolate sauce and marscapone mousse

Citrus Cheesecake with poppyseed biscotti, hibiscus marshmallows, grapefruit gel and meringue shard

Citrus Cheesecake with poppyseed biscotti, hibiscus marshmallows, grapefruit gel and meringue shard

Cheese plate with crostinis, bar nuts, honeycomb, vanilla mango jelly

Cheese plate with crostinis, bar nuts, honeycomb, vanilla mango jelly

Apple and Manchego pie- golden raisin puree, pink peppercorn soaked apple slices, manchego crisps

Apple and Manchego pie- golden raisin puree, pink peppercorn soaked apple slices, manchego crisps

Harvest was such a great place to learn! I’ve decided to continue learning at Flour as my position is changing soon and I’ll be able to learn many of the other stations. But in my free time this summer, I want to practice my own plating and be really creative with things that I find at the market! Maybe I’ll even stage at places for fun just to add to my learning process. I’ll always be a student to this industry!

Thanks for sticking through this lengthy post, but I just get so nerdy and fan-girly about the food industry! Check back on Tuesday for a post about my top favorite bars in Boston! Have a great weekend!