Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Top 7 Eats in Maui, Hawaii

This past December, I took my mom on a trip to Maui - it was a trip that I won on an Instagram contest from Expedia. Yes, people do win contests! This is proof! But keep in mind you'd have to pay taxes on it ... that caught me by surprise this tax season. But hey, it was still a cheap trip to Maui, and of course I spent most of it eating (and driving The Road to Hana)!

Here are my top 7 picks on the island of Maui:

1. Ululani's Shave Ice
I had Ululani's for the first time on my previous trip to Maui and I was wowed by their shaved ice. The flavors of the syrups, made from real fruits, and the texture of the ice ... It was the best shaved ice I've had then. Now, after finally visiting Kauai, I would still say Ululani's is the best in all of Hawaii!

2. Leoda's Kitchen and Pie Shop
Leoda's is another popular spot, known for the pies and sandwiches. It's hard to tell you what the best pie here is - it all depends on your preferences, but all in all they make excellent pies! As always, my favorite is the banana cream pie, but I have an obsession with banana cream pies (I blame it on Apple Pan).

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Thirst Boston Celebrates New England Cocktail Culture on May 20-23, 2016

There are so many great cocktail bars in Boston, and what better way to explore them all (plus more New England bars) than at Boston's cocktail week, Thirst Boston? Well, lucky you, the next Thirst Boston is coming up soon on May 20-23 of 2016.

Hawthorne Thirst Boston
Thirst Boston took a hiatus but the last one in 2014 was a fun whirlwind of events! Here are some of what you can expect to happen this year, plus a recap of last year's events:

This year's opening night gala (dubbed The Thing) will take place at The Hampshire House. In addition to Boston's top bartenders, the winner of the Best Home Bartender competition will also get to showcase his/her drink here! If you're interested in entering this competition, you can still apply until April 1 (get the info here).
Thirst Boston
The gala is a night of extravaganza where cocktail lovers and bartenders don their finest garb and dance the night away - helped by live music and more than enough bar stations manned by the city's finest bartenders.

Another confirmed event is State Lines on Saturday evening, in which great bars from all over New England will hold pop-ups throughout the city!
Thirst Boston

Friday, March 25, 2016

Superstar chefs at the sixth annual Palm Desert Food & Wine Festival, April 8-10

by guest blogger @btsunoda

Superstar chefs Cat Cora, Ricardo Zarate, Valerie Gordon, and Suzanne Tracht are among the lineup for the sixth annual Palm Desert Food & Wine Festival, April 8-10, 2016

The three-day festival, held in the heart of Palm Desert’s famed El Paseo shopping district, is produced by Palm Springs Life magazine in conjunction with co-producers Tony Marchese and Dominic Peterson. The Festival begins Friday, April 8 with a four-course gourmet luncheon, expertly prepared by celebrity chefs and served in an elegantly-appointed tent. The luncheon is followed by two days of Grand Tastings, featuring delectable morsels from more than 40 restaurants, created by renowned chefs from all across California. More than 70 premium wines and champagnes will be offered. In addition there will be 20 live cooking demos.

I recently attended a media tasting event and was able to preview some of the tasty bites, wine and liqueurs that will be served.
A sampling of premium beer and wines were available for us to taste. The Kenwood Yulupa Cuvée Brut was a well balanced sparkling wine with hints of fresh peach. It was a great way to invigorate my palate for what I was about to sample.
Executive chef Engin Onural from The Venue Sushi Bar and Sake Lounge in Palm Desert prepared 3 offerings of common menu items: sunomono, ceviche and California roll. Last December, Best Chefs of America bestowed the title of “Best Chef” to Onural.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Going Berserk with The Rick Reuben Burger at Grill 'Em All

by guest blogger @iam_robot

By now I trust you all have heard of Grill 'Em All's extravagant burgers. Since its opening as a food truck 6 years ago, Grill 'Em All has been known to serve the masses with daily fix of beastly-looking burgers and loud heavy metal. A few years ago, I remember getting a Behemoth Burger (BBQ sauce, cheddar cheese, pickles, bacon and beer soaked onions on grilled-cheese buns) during Venice art walk First Fridays could be a 2-hour ordeal and it almost seemed like a miracle when its impresarios, Chef Ryan Harkins and Matthew Chernus, opened up a brick-mortar shop in Alhambra (of all places) sometime in 2013. I knew when I saw them won $50,000 from the first season of The Great Food Truck Race, they’d do something extraordinary.

The colorful storefront – located strategically on the busy streets of Alhambra between Main St and Valley Blvd – tucked subtly between Menchie’s Yogurt and Applebees. Walking inside the shop, my first impressions were of the loud heavy metal blares and the gluttonous smell of sizzling meat and bacon. I couldn’t help but notice the long chalkboard menu showing their eclectic burger offerings: Chili-topped burger, peanut-butter-jelly & bacon burger, waffle buns & fried chicken sandwich, champagne hollandaise burger, etc. 

But today, I’m not eating any of those – I’m getting something BIGGER and BETTER. Finally, I had the chance to devour The Rick Reuben aka Hornswoggle, a St Patrick’s Day themed burger with Beer Braised Kraut, House Corned Beef, Thousand Island & Swiss on a Half Pound Burger with Caraway Topped Buns. This burger is available throughout the month of March.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Cafe de Boston: A Boston Lunch Spot for Literally Everyone

Looking for a good lunch spot in the Financial District that will keep everyone happy, from your big group of friends or your coworkers? Make sure Cafe de Boston is on your radar. It's a big space with multiple stations, from salad station to prepared food buffet to other stations making pizza, pasta, crepes, sandwiches, and many more. There are desserts of all manners, coffee drinks, free wifi and power outlets at plenty of the seats in the cafe section!

Cafe de Boston
The owner had a couple other Middle Eastern restaurants in downtown Boston, so one of the most popular items at Cafe de Boston is the kebabs - from lamb shish kebab to chicken kofte kebab, which you can get both as a wrap and a plate. This restaurant is also actually halal, they do not use any pork - even the ham is made of turkey.
Cafe de Boston
The menu for the hot buffet rotates. You might find falafels, hummus, chicken wings. There is always something for everyone, no matter what your food restriction is.
Cafe de Boston
Cafe de Boston

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Best Tiramisu in Venice, Italy: I Tre Mercanti

I love tiramisu. I've loved tiramisu ever since I can remember having eaten tiramisu. Tiramisu is supposedly invented in 1969 in Treviso, near Venice, so I figured being in Venice got me close enough to hunt for a great one. An online search turned up I Tre Mercanti as a potential contender.

i Tre Mercanti

This cute little shop sells tiramisu, macarons, wines, olive oils and other sundries.
i Tre Mercanti

But of course, I'm here for the tiramisu. Multiple tiramisus, in fact. I Tre Mercanti has many flavors of tiramisu, from the classic (coffee), mango, amaretto, pistachio. They claim that they make them fresh every hour, and when they do you can actually see the action through the window.
i Tre Mercanti

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Inn At Richmond and Equestrian Center: A Place of Celebration

I've visited The Berkshires in the fall, but I finally made my first foray out here in the winter time. The Berkshires is quiet in the winter, but that also makes for a relazing, tranquil getaway. I love this winter sunset view.

Inn at Richmond
This time, I stayed at Inn at Richmond, set in a colonial style home dating back to the 18th century. This inn is close to Hancock Shaker Village and the Bousquet Ski Area.
Inn At Richmond
My room was a charming suite in the main building. The second room has a pull-out sofa bed.
Inn at Richmond
The inn has multiple rooms and suites, and even private cottages complete with a kitchen that are perfect for families.
Inn at Richmond

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Cooking with Community Servings, Plus: Touring Boston Public Market

Most Bostonians already know about Boston Public Market as a great place to shop for produce and prepared foods, but did you know about The KITCHEN that sits in the back of the market? The KITCHEN is a demonstration kitchen space that serves community teaching and learning. The Trustees have partnered with a number of partners to provide classes, workshops, and more. These programs range from baking classes, yoga classes presented by REI, and weekly seasonal tastings with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. I recently attended a preview of a cooking demonstration with Community Servings where we made a sweet potato lentil soup. 
Community Servings is a great non profit organization that prepares and delivers nutritious meals to critically ill patients (and sometimes the family they have to provide for). Each meal takes into account the patients' illnesses and the dietary restrictions that come with them.

Appropriately, the classes they will be holding at The Kitchen are titled: "Food Heals: Taste Your Way to Better Health with Community Servings". These classes will be on March 19 (11 AM - 1:30 PM) and June 23 (11:30 AM - 1:30 PM). These classes will teach how to prepare nutritious meals and how they can improve health.
Chef Kevin Conner came up with this sweet potato lentil soup when he had to make a meal for someone who was vegetarian, diabetic and in need of a high protein meal.
Boston Public Market

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