It’s not “Goodbye”, it’s “See ya…”

Foodies! Hello! It’s been some time since I’ve written to you all and I hope your having fun going from city to city with utensils in hand!

Sadly it’s that time when it’s officially announced that I must take an extended break from blogging to focus on other joys of my life. I’ve recently finished my 200-hour yoga teacher training and I’m putting most of my attention on that. It’s been a pleasure sharing my love of food with you all and I hope to start writing again soon in 2015 in more “pescetarian” way.

That’s right! I’ve taken chicken and beef OUT of my diet since late April/early May 2014. It’s been an interesting yet tasty journey!

Stay belly full and happy!

Xo, Potbelly!

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Welcome BACK Brunch at North Street Grille!

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It’s been 2 months and 22 days since I’ve written about my love of food and I apologize for the wait (life…oy vey).

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Kicking off my return to writing I came prepared with a fork in the left and a drink in my right to tell you about a semi secret, yet not so secret spot in the bustling North End perfect for your brunch munch cravings, North Street Grille!

Opened back in October 2010 on North Street, dinner is served 5 nights a week from 5pm to 11pm and brunch from 8am to 3pm Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Holiday Mondays! A new addition to my Friday Brunch line up! On street parking around here is a bit tough, but there are lots close by or one can take the train in and walk from Haymarket.

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Whoop Whoop!

 

It’s the perfect, cozy location for a chill brunch; whether you’re coming from working out and wanted to grab a bite while unwinding with pals or you’re hungover and literally dragging your bum through the door.

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The menu is broken down into generous sections providing eaters to sample and indulge in some tasty treats. Prices vary from $5 to $17 for entrees with wine, beer, and cocktails varying from $5 to $10. Very inviting for many budgets!

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For my homecoming feast I went for the Banana Bread French Toast and washed it down with the Flirtini cocktail. Need I say I was also on a date (wink wink). I think I would have picked something different if I knew they gave you FRESH BANANA BREAD as a starter snack. So moist and chewy; a nice way to start off any brunch.

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My Flirtini was a blend of Cruzan Raspberry, Champagne, Chambord, Pineapple and Cranberry juice. Absolutely Re-Freshing! I had to have two, with no guilt! I must admit it’s been a while since I’ve had fruity drinks but this one was even blended and with the use of champagne it made the drink more like a punch, which I enjoyed.

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My Banana Bread French Toast was to die for! Sitting in it’s already soaked goodness of a caramelized banana sauce this lovely thick Texas toast style bread was decorated to the nines with fresh bananas atop, confection sugar, and whipped cream.

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This place Knows Bananas!

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Each bite better than the first, and with little need to add extra maple syrup, one can eat continuously unless needing a drink break. It happens.

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Sadly I couldn’t finish my plate 100% but I managed to get ‘er down to a solid 85% devoured!

 

Next time I visit for brunch I’m going with their ‘Benedict in Bed’, which is a French Toast stuffed with Canadian Bacon & Cheddar topped with Poached Eggs & Hollandaise Sauce. Sounds dangerous I know, but with my stomach up for the challenge I KNOW I’ll get to the bottom of it!

 

I can’t say the date was a hit, but at least my potbelly was visible. Xo.

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North Street Grille

 

229 North St.

 

Boston, MA 02113

 

(617) 720-2010

 

http://www.northstreetgrille.com/ordereze/home.aspx

Neighborhood Staple with Purple Cactus!

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The first time I EVER had Purple Cactus in Jamaica Plain was back in the Spring of 2004.  An ex-boyfriend took me there, raving it was his favorite burrito spot.  I remember the physical experience vaguely but two things stuck out:  my burrito’s size AND my burrito’s taste!  Flash-forward to 2014 and the eatery still stands remaining one of my FAVORITE burrito locations in all of Hub.

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Opened back in 1999 this healthy take on California style burritos has become a neighborhood gem, getting reviews from Boston.com saying, “this place is the bomb!” and “fast food worth waiting for,” from the Boston Globe.  When the first location opened in Provincetown or “P-town” in 1993 the menu had only 3 burritos, chips, guac, and salsa.  Currently the menu has 8 sections, including breakfast, as well as side options.  Normal hours are 9am to 10pm daily with the full menu starting at 10am and Winter Sundays are 9am to 9pm.

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I’ve tried the Vegetarian Chili, which was quite tasty containing a variety of Beans, Monterey Jack Cheese, and Tortilla Chips.  I was quite contempt with my small 8oz. cup.

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I’ve also done the Grilled Chicken and Grilled Steak burritos, but never the Shrimp.  Today was the day!  I ordered my Shrimp burrito with a Spinach tortilla wrap.  Other wrap choices are: white, wheat, none (in a bowl) or Red Chile (I want to try that next!).  I had to make it a “Super Burrito” so I added guac and sour cream on the side.  It was only $1.20 extra and VERY worth it!  For a drink I got my favorite, a Cabo Cooler, a.k.a Lime-aid.

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If you’re more on the no meat or fish side they also offer salads and other vegetarian options, including TOFU burritos!

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What really works for me here is that the customer isn’t skimped by any means with their food.  When your paying the extra for steak over chicken your getting good HUNKS of steak in your burrito, not thin strips.  Prices here vary with the highest priced item being $8.75 for the Carne Asada (Grilled Beef) with Peppers Quesadilla.  My total came to about $9.50, which for the size of these burritos isn’t too shabby.  I wasn’t worried about my shrimp quantity or quantity at all.

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Turns out my Shrimp burrito was Fantastic!  The shrimp were as juicy and poached as described with about 4 nice sized shrimp in each burrito half! Sooo good!  My cabo cooler was refreshing as always.

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Next time I think I’ll switch it up and order a Smoothie.  I wasn’t even aware they had those.  A Classic Blonde – Apple Juice, Bananas, and Strawberries- sounds good, with a Turkey Avocado Wrap.  Yea, that sounds sensational!

With Love and High Recommendation,

Potbelly Tara.  Xo!

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The Purple Cactus

674 Centre Street

Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

617 522-7422

http://www.thepurplecactus.com

Get SatisFi’d at BurgerFi!

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With attempts to bring some sunshine and warmth to the cold Boston University area BurgerFi – the new burger-joint on campus – hails from Delray Beach Florida serving up a mix of meals, desserts, and libations in an environment suitable for both students and families.

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Opened Monday thru Wednesday 11AM to 11PM and Thursday thru Sunday 11AM to 1AM BurgerFi pumps out healthier food options for their guest in an earth friendly environment much like a Shake Shack from the south with, “chairs that are made from recycled Coke bottles, tables made out of compressed recycled wood, and large fans that use 66% less electricity”. In addition they also maintain a low carbon footprint through other sustainable practices.

Prices for this new eatery vary from $5.57 to $9.97 for one of their signature burgers, including a veggie!  If your more creative they have a “Build Your Best Burger” option starting at $3.97 for a single-stack with toppings costing extra.  Next up are the Hot Dogs between $3.67 and $4.97.  Sides or “accessories” range from fries or onion  rings OR Both from $2.97 to $4.97.  Desserts consist of Frozen custards or Frozen Concretes.  You can have them in multiple ways starting with shakes at $4.47 to concretes at $5.57.  Beer prices vary, but wine is served by the glass at $4.97 or by the bottle at $19.97.

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To be health conscious the restaurant listed clearly it’s calorie content for their guest on their menu.  I love it! No guessing here.

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This new addition the Commonwealth Ave line of restaurants in Brighton was a refreshing burst of change for the area, giving customers more options on where they’d like to dine, and also making it possible to grab a beer without being in a bar atmosphere.

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Wanting to start with the basics I ordered the BurgerFi Cheeseburger and Vanilla Frozen Custard with Carmel on top.  To step on the ‘wild side’ I tried out the Crispy Onion Rings with, get this, Parmesan Cheese and Herbs!

There was bit of a wait for my meal, but once out I wasted no time.  My double-decker Angus burger containing two slices of American Cheese, Lettuce, and BurgerFi Sauce was satisfying.  I LOVE the grill branding atop the bun.  I was able to eat the entire burger with ease, and that left me happy.  Next time I go I’m getting the Brisket Burger (double natural 28 day Dry Aged Ground Brisket, Swiss Cheese, Blue Cheese, Lettuce Pickles and BurgerFi® Sauce) or maybe a Chicago Style Dog (All-Natural Dog topped with Mustard, Neon Relish, Diced Onion, Tomato slices, Sport Peppers, Celery Salt, and a Pickle spear served on a Poppy Seed Bun) to remind me of my favorite city in America.

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My frozen vanilla custard was quite yummy.  Smooth and creamy.

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My FAVORITE takeaway from this meal however was indeed the crispy onion rings!  O.M.Gee!!!  True to it’s name, these crispy delights tasted like Funyuns Onion Flavored Ring Chips!  The Amazing difference being that I was eating REAL onions with massive flavor!  Heaven!  I MUST get a LARGE order next, even if it’s 980 calories in a serving.

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Maybe next time I’ll get the Urban Fries from the “Secret Menu” that contains Parmesan and Herb Fries topped with Garlic Aioli.  The secret will be OUT if they top the onion rings and they might get swarmed and have to give up all their secrets.  But hey, it’s good for business, right? Xo!

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BurgerFi

961 Commonwealth Avenue

Boston, MA 02215

617-254-4200

http://burgerfi.com

Love With Food!

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Boston has been SUPER cold this winter.  So cold that I’ve been unable to get out of my house to enjoy a meal under city lights in any eatery in comfort.  Nevertheless that didn’t stop Potbelly Tara from finding food readily available.

I usually bring lunch to work, and even though the meals are solid, finding snacks to accompany it the can be challenging.  What if I don’t want a “big grab” bag of lays everyday, or if the 25¢ peanut butter crackers isn’t satisfying?  Thankfully I came across “Love With Food”, a snack box filled with, “new organic, all-natural snacks delivered to your door every month”.  Not only is this a variety box but every box purchased donates a meal for a hungry child to several food banks such as, “Feeding America Network and Share Our Strength”.  What a great mission.  So great Andrew Zimmern of “Bizarre Foods” will work with the company this April!

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So about my box…

Each box is themed around the current season.  Being it’s February this month’s theme was, “A Kiss to Build a Dream On”.  This box had a “kiss” of chocolate, honey, and salt.  With 8+ snacks to choose from this gave me about a week’s worth of options with my lunch.  Cool!  I’m a big fan of the list given with each box describing the products.  This reference can be used if you wanted to purchase any of the treats in their online shop in bulk.

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First up was the Restaurant Style White Bean Chip by Beanitos.  I’ve had their Original Black Bean and Chipotle BBQ before so I was excited for this “chips with dip” style.  Although I wasn’t in love with the restaurant style I blame myself for not pairing it with salsa or guacamole.

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I fell in love with the Snack Olives by Mario Camacho.  No brine, just loads of flavor and moderate salt.

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The Dark Chocolate Crepe Dentelle by Gavottes was delicious.  These crispy crepes coated in French dark chocolate were perfect bit sizes of heaven and gave me enough pep to get my head back in the game at work.

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The most ingenious product was the Dark Chocolate Covered Blueberries by Emily’s Chocolates.  I never knew such a product existed.  Their like advanced Raisinets!  Chewy and sweet.  I can see myself buying this product in retail stores and become addicted.

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Honey Graham Sticks by Back to Nature were as tasty as Honey Maid, except it’s free from artificial preservatives and flavors.  I wish I had them with milk.

TCHO offered two chocolate square products perfect for coffee lovers.  The first was PureNotes Dark “Chocolatey” which was a rich, intense pure dark chocolate, and the second was, “Mokaccino” Serious Milk Chocolate + Blue Bottle Coffee.  Yum!  I felt like I went to high-class café and ordered up a cold coffee induced drink!

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Last but not least in this box was the Chocolate Chip Biscotti by Biscotti di Suzy.  I usually don’t like biscotti, and so I haven’t tried it yet, BUT I’m probably gonna give it a go at some point by the end of this week with a drink from Starbucks.

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If I haven’t sold you on this “fulfilling” buy, maybe the price will.  For the “tasting box” there are three options:  $12 a month, $120 for the year, or $66 every 6 months.  If you think your way past the idea of tasting, there’s a “deluxe box” that’s DOUBLE the tasting amount of 8+ items, as low as $17 a month.

Either way you do it, your helping feed a child in need, and for me, being able to do that through purchasing is not only convenient but also heart-warming.  Xo.

Love With Food

https://lovewithfood.com

Warming Up With Pho Pasteur!

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It’s been so cold in Boston going out to eat is becoming a minor hassle.  Whether you drive or “T” it either option is a drag, especially when it’s a whopping 15-degree’s out.  Yea.  Yikes.

Fortunately cold weather brings on warming meals, which is what lead me to do a quick stop at Pho Pasteur in Chinatown.  And what would be the meal of choice in this establishment you may ponder?

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I’ll give you a “hint”: pho.  But what is “pho’?

Pho is a popular Vietnamese street food consisting of broth, thick veggies, meat, and noodles.

I started drinking the soup back in high school around 2004.  Something about the size, even when a small, and quality keeps me returning.  It’s also the perfect meal when tight on a budget.IMG_3465

Opened 7 days a week from 9AM to 10:45PM Pho Pasteur is has a chill cozy set up with reasonable prices.  Appetizers are between $3.75 and $10.25, while pho is between $7.25 and $7.95.  Other items on the menu include salad, rice plates, seafood options, and desserts.  There’s also wine and beer options for guest over 21.

Although it was my second time visiting this popular destination near the heart of the city it was my first trying an appetizer.   Usually I go straight for my bowl, but this time my friends sparked my interested and I thought, “why not”.  My pho of choice was Bun Nuoc Ca Ry Ga (Chicken Curry Vermicelli Soup).

I wanted to try something different to drink so to “spice” it up I went with the Chanh Muoi (Salty Ice Lemonade with Sugar).  Although I’m glad to say I tried this beverage I can say I’m all set with it.  As cold as the glass was every time I drank it my body warmed up.  It was quite an experience.

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We started with Cha Gio (Fried Egg Rolls).  The rolls contained ground pork, egg, carrots, onion, rice vermicelli, and mushroom wrapped in a rice paper and deep-fried golden.  Very good rolls; a nice start to our dinner.  I haven’t had an egg roll in some time.  My only regret is not trying them with the fish sauce that came on the side.

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When the server placed my soup on the table my eyes lit up!  The bright gold of the curry, the chunky veggies, the thick pieces of chicken throughout; this was a soup of champions and I was determined to retain my status.  I became full so quick I had to take the rest home with me.  The curry powder was used JUST right, giving off the spice I think most broth soups need.  Lovely.

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Anytime your feeling the chill in the city, consider a nice bowl of pho at Pho Pasteur. Trust me, once you start, you’ll never wanna stop!

Pho Pasteur

682 Washington Street

Boston, MA 02111

617-482-7467

617-542-8543

http://phopasteurboston.net/

Celebrations at Cinquecento!

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The South End is home to many amazing local favorites for dining.  With a nice blend of old and new eateries, patrons can choose between sticking with what they know or dining at the areas newest hot spot.  Since I’m always up for a challenge for my sister’s birthday her best friend and I surprised her with Cinquecento!

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Now, if you haven’t been to this new addition…

Stop Everything and check it OUT!

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Business hours for dinner are 5pm to 11pm Monday thru Wednesday and 5pm to 12am Thursday thru Friday.  As their site states, Cinquecento offers, “this edgy community [South End] a contemporary, casual and energetic Roman Trattoria, perfect for a spontaneous night out or your go-to spot for dinner and brunch”.  Agreed!  This restaurant definitely fills the void of an Italian cuisine meeting scene.  Affiliated with the fabulous Aquitaine Group, this new addition since November 2012 is as aesthetically pleasing as its sister restaurants with not only a main dining room and bar but a private function room equipped with a bar.  With on street parking and a free parking lot adjacent to the restaurant patrons can drive in knowing they won’t have to fight for parking or pay a ridiculous fee.

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I heard the brunch here is fabulous (I will try it soon), served from 10am to 3pm Saturday and Sunday. I can’t wait for the patio in the summer!

Dinner menu items start from $8 and go as high as $30.50 not including sides that start at $6.50 and salumi (cured sliced meats) starting at $5.25.  Cocktails are either $10 or $11, beer is between $4 and $28, while Amari (Italian liqueur with bitters) range from $6 to $11.

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To get our party started we began with the Cozze in Brodo.  This appetizer consisted of Steamed Mussles, Red Onion, and Basil marinated in a Spicy Broth.  For my main I got the Bucatini alla Carbonara containing Pancetta (pork belly), Pecorino (Italian cheese from sheep’s milk), and Black Pepper.  My sister had the Vitello Milanese con Gorgonzola e Rapini or Fried Veal with Gorgonzola Cream and Broccoli Rabe.  Her best friend tried the Taglaiata alla Fiorentina; Char-Grilled Bavette (fan-shaped cut) Steak, Toasted Sage Oil, Garlic Spinach & Roasted Potatoes.  Since I had to get a cocktail due to the occasion I drank the Autunno, made with Vanilla Bean Infused Apple Cider, Rye, and Fresh Lemon Juice.

First out was our drinks and I loved mines.  It wasn’t too harsh and I loved that you were able to taste the rye within as well as the vanilla notes.

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Following our whistle wetters were the yummy mussels.  These we’re some of the yummiest mussels I’ve had mainly because of the spicy sauce they were swimming in.  The nice and thin broth definitely made this appetizer stand out!

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In a reasonable amount of time our entrée’s arrived.  For a busy Friday night the wait was not long.  My carbonara was lovely!  I’m so glad I didn’t add chicken; the pork was plenty meat for me.  The cheese clung and melted throughout the pasta, distributing nicely through each bite.

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I had a bite of my sister’s veal and her friend’s steak.  The veal was nice and lean!  I enjoyed how the young beef was breaded.

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The steak was delicious on it’s one but was fantastic when combined with the toasted sage oil.  Two thumbs up!

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To end our “tour di roma” for dessert we went with the Lemon & Riccota Torta which I wasn’t too excited about…but then I changed my mind.  This treat contained a Ricotta Pound Cake with Lemon Crema & Blood Orange Sciroppo (syrup).  First bite and I fell in love!  The pound cake was light, while the cream and syrup both were refreshing additions, turning the traditional everyday pound cake into a celebratory dessert.  Great choice made by sissy.

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I’m glad that not only did my sister enjoy her Birthday present but we were able to bond over good food and conversation in a new, sleek atmosphere.  Shouldn’t that always be the case? Maybe I’m just fat, ha-ha. Xo.

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Some of the lovely staff. Thank you!

Cinquecento

500 Harrison Ave.

Boston, MA 02118

617-338-9500

http://www.cinquecentoboston.com