Sunday, August 2, 2015

Blue Apron

          I recently had the chance to try out Blue Apron, a meal delivery service that ships all of the ingredients you need along with recipes to prepare delicious gourmet meals.

Here's a quick overview:
  • Blue Apron delivers the perfectly portioned ingredients you need to cook delicious, chef-inspired and seasonal recipes at home. No trips to the grocery store and no waste from unused ingredients.
  • Blue Apron offers flexible plans. The classic 2-person plan will set you up to receive one delivery a week; you’ll receive three inventive meals for two people. The new Family Plan is perfect for feeding a family of four; you can opt to receive either one or two deliveries per
    week. Each delivery will consist of two meals to be served family-style.
  • Blue Apron is available nationwide - they ship to over 80% of the country. 
  • Blue Apron recipes are delivered in a refrigerated box so ingredients will stay fresh even if you're not at home when your package arrives. 
  • Each menu is between 500 and 700 calories per person. The ingredients are incredibly fresh and sourced from small family farms and artisans. 
  • All meals can be prepared in 35 minutes or less. 
Here's an example of what will come in the box:


 
          The sign up process was very quick and easy - I signed up online and chose a delivery day, number of meals, and entered any dietary restrictions or preferences. I opted for a Friday delivery and went with their standard menu for three days, including meals with a mix of meat, seafood, and veggies. 

          I ended up trying the stuffed poblano peppers, Vietnamese chicken wings with lemongrass rice, and squid ink linguine with shrimp and lobster demi.

          The food arrived mid day Friday, packed in plenty of ice so it would've been fine if I hadn't been home for several hours. Each component was labeled so that it was clear which entree it was for, and the recipes came on individual cards with detailed instructions and pictures.
 
 

          I really enjoyed all of the meals, and they were very easy to make. There was definitely some prep work involved (chopping veggies, cooking components in multiple steps, etc.) but the instructions were extremely thorough and it was almost impossible to mess up. 
 

          I think my favorite meal ended up being the squid ink pasta, although the peppers and the wings were also very good. 
 

          My favorite thing about Blue Apron was the opportunity to try something new; I never would have attempted these dishes on my own because they may sound complex or intimidating. That was not the case at all.

 Now for the best part - I have an chance for you to try Blue Apron! My first 50 readers get two free meals with their first Blue Apron Box - redeem them here before they run out!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Brunch at Abby Park

           I recently discovered Abby Park in Milton, and have been a couple of times in the past week. It's a short drive from Boston with amazing food, a fun atmosphere, and lots of great specials and events going on. The first time I tried them was for brunch with the fiance. When we arrived the band was taking a break, but they have live jazz music during brunch.

            I started with a cup of coffee while deciding what to order; it was a tough choice because there were so many things on the menu that sounded good.


          Whenever I go to brunch, I have trouble deciding between savory and sweet. Abby Park makes this easy because they offer a side of one pancake. I ordered the short rib and sweet potato hash with poached eggs and holladaise, and one blueberry pancake. The eggs were done perfectly - with soft yolks and the dish was well balanced so that it was rich but not too heavy. 


          The single pancake was a good size, and came loaded with fresh blueberries and plenty of maple syrup. 


           The fiance ordered the breakfast pizza, which was a traditional thin crust bacon pizza with red sauce and cheese topped with over easy eggs and hollandaise. We were both amazed at the portion size, and though he enjoyed it he didn't come close to finishing. This would be a great dish to share.

         
          I enjoyed the brunch at Abby Park so much, that I went back to check out the Girl's Night Out special (a $30 three course prix fixe menu) the same week. Check back soon to read all about it!

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Friday, July 31, 2015

Bob's Clam Hut

          I've always loved going to Kittery Maine for outlet shopping, but I only recently learned about Bob's Clam Hut - an iconic restaurant just a short walk from the shops. Of course I had to try them out, and highly recommend you do the same!


 About Bob's
          Since 1956, Bob’s Clam Hut has been serving up fresh, classic fried seafood with straightforward, award-winning simplicity as a beloved and long-standing spot for locals and travelers alike. This iconic roadside stand continues to preserve its history and charm while elevating the clam shack experience with quality seafood, original recipes and a welcoming atmosphere. A true Maine landmark open year-round, Bob’s employees often hear from guests that no trip to the area is complete without a meal at the clam hut. With a standout menu of New England shore classics, Bob’s carries out its mission of wowing guests with consistently great food and fast, friendly service.

 My Visit
          I had the chance to talk with the Manager Tim, and tried several of his recommendations including the clam chowder, lobster stew, lobster roll, clams fried two ways, and fried seafood platter.

Clam Chowder

Lobster Stew
Lobster Roll
Clams Two Ways
Fried Seafood Platter
          Everything was delicious, and it was hard to pick a favorite (or even a couple of favorites). The lobster roll was lightly dressed without a lot of mayo (exactly how I like it), the lobster stew had plenty of claw meat, and the clam chowder wasn't too heavy. All of the fried seafood was fresh and simply done; after talking with Tim I learned that one of their secrets is constantly rotating the oil (generally 6-7 times during a busy day) to keep it light, fresh, and tasting great.


          I enjoyed trying the clams two ways; the original Bob's recipe is fried with just flour while Lillian's are dipped in egg wash first. I never would've thought the egg would make such a difference, but eating them side by side I definitely noticed that Lillian's version had more batter and were a bit crispier. Lillian was an employee at Bob's who was so popular that customers would wait in line just to order from her. Though she recently passed away, her memory is honored by this window:


            The company's new bakery in Kittery is also named after Lil, and though I haven't tried it yet I hope to make it in for a cruller soon!
         

          After the huge lunch we were way too stuffed for a full sized dessert, but we did sample a few of the most popular flavors from Mount Desert Island Ice Cream including:
  • Belgian Chocolate
  • Salted Caramel
  • Madagascar Vanilla Bean
  • Toasted Coconut
          My favorites were the vanilla bean and salted caramel, but I don't think you could go wrong with any of this ice cream!



          After eating I had a chance to tour the kitchen and see the operations at one of the busiest times - Saturday lunch hour. I was amazed by how many people they were able to fit in the double line, and how quickly and smoothly they were able to get the food out!



 

          The owners of Bob's also have a sit down restaurant across the street called Robert's Maine Grill, which I definitely want to check out next time I'm in the area!

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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Fiorella's

          I recently had the opportunity to try Fiorella's in Newton for Sunday supper with Blog and Tweet Boston.  I'd been hearing great things about Fiorella's for a long time, so I was especially excited to try it with a group of bloggers I knew would eat everything!

          While there definitely was eating, we started first with this beautiful cocktail - a house specialty called the Blueberry Smash which included blueberry simply syrup, bourbon, and mint. Yes, it was as good as it looks. 

 
          
          Instead of bread, Fiorella's serves these garlic breadsticks which they're known for by regulars. They were amazing dipped in some of the home made marina sauce, which is also available by the jar.


           We shared several apps and flatbreads including an antipasto platter and mixed plate of some of the house signature appetizers before deciding on entrees.

Arancini:A large crisp risotto ball stuffed with mozzarella cheese & served with signature marinara sauce

Antipasto board with Salami, pepperoni, parmacotto~ham, imported prosciutto, provolone cheese, marinated long stem artichoke hearts & mixed kalamata olives
Sampler with fried calamari, toasted ravioli, and stuffed pepper parmigiana
Flatbread with marinated eggplant, goat cheese, grape tomatoes, artichoke hearts & fontina cheese
Flatbread with crimini mushroom blend, imported prosciutto & fontina cheese drizzled with truffle oil

          I enjoyed everything, but my favorites were definitely the mushroom and truffle flatbread and the Stuffed Peppers Parmigiana: Red peppers stuffed with DePasquale’s hot Italian sausage, pepperoni, risotto, a blend of ricotta, parmesan & pecorino romano cheese, topped with marinara sauce & melted mozzarella.

          Since the peppers were so good, I decided to try the veal parmigiana as my main course. I substituted the fresh pasta with this dish, and I highly recommend ordering it this way! It was a huge portion, and I ended up taking half of this to go which made for an excellent lunch the next day as well!



          This is the seafood fettucini, which I was tempted to order. It was a very popular dish at the table, and everyone for ordered it seemed to enjoy it.



          We had two choices for dessert, a chocolate chip cannoli or tiramisu. I chose the cannoli which was delicious, but both desserts were a big hit!



          Fiorella’s Restaurant is celebrating its 15th anniversary throughout the month of August and customers are encouraged to join in the celebration via a special anniversary menu with a variety of dishes for only $15. The $15 anniversary menu will include rotating selections including Lobster Ravioli Florentine, Chicken Lemoncello, Pork Chop Madeira and more.

          For those that want to celebrate at a later date, Fiorella’s is offering guests an additional $15 gift card for every $100 gift certificate that is purchased during the month of August 2015.

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Thursday, July 16, 2015

A Night With Niche at Bocado Wellesley

          I loved Bocado in Wellesley the first time I tried it,  so when I saw the facebook contest I had to enter... and I won! Last night I not only enjoyed another amazing meal at Bocado, but I also got to tour the restaurant, meet several of the incredibly talented staff members, and learn all about the concept from Owner Mike Covino. What struck me most was Mike's energy and passion for the business, serving delicious authentic food and creating a culture of hospitality at all of his restaurants (there are currently three different Bocado locations, as well as six additional concepts through Worcester, Leominster, and Providence). Before starting the tour, I enjoyed a glass of cava and some marcona almonds at the gorgeous bar.






           Next I got a full tour of the space including the bar, dining room, patio, wine room / private dining area, and kitchen. They design the space and  shelving / storage units themselves so everything is highly functional and helps to keep operations running smoothly.


          They even have an in house artists who designs all of the artwork for each property, as well as the chalkboard art.


          The kitchen was impressive, and included a Spanish charcoal grill - everything that came out of that grill looked and smelled amazing!


          The best part may have been watching all of the dishes come out - at first I thought this would make it easier to decide what to order but it only made it more challenging. Everything looked so good!

Meat and cheese board

Fried goat cheese with honey & almonds

Mozzarella stuffed crispy rice balls with basil allioli
Battered manzanilla, kalamata & black olives, saffron allioli

Sautéed shrimp with garlic, parsley and olive oil

Grilled lollipop lamb chops with rosemary mustard oil

Mussels tossed with garlic, sun dried tomato, basil, cracked black pepper, white wine and cream
Paella Clasica with saffron rice, chicken, calamari, shrimp, chorizo,  mussels, little necks, peas, tomato

          I ended up trying the meat paella, duck leg, scallops wrapped in bacon, stuffed clams, stuffed piquillo peppers, stuffed eggplant, and a sampler of several different types of ham.

Piquillo peppers stuffed with veal and manchego

Clams stuffed with chorizo, kale, and cape cod potato chips

Slow roasted duck leg with apricot-pistachio glaze

Scallops in bacon with truffle honey
           They were all delicious and I would definitely order everything again, but the dishes that really stood out were the paella, stuffed piquillo pepper, and iberico ham. The paella was loaded with chicken, chorizo, veal, and duck confit tossed with perfectly cooked rice that was just a little crispy. The iberico ham was some of the most tender and flavorful I've ever had, and the peppers were stuffed with veal and mahon cheese.

          Not pictured here are the desserts, specifically the brownie sundae and churros -  both were amazing and chocolate-y (my only real requirement for dessert). You can't go wrong with either, but for the more authentic experience, I would go with the churros!

          I've dined at Bocado and enjoyed it before, but being able to see all of the effort and attention to detail that goes on behind the scenes really made the experience special. If you ever have the opportunity to tour the kitchen or chat with the owner of one of your favorite restaurants, I highly recommend you take them up on it!