Baby & Toddler · Restaurant Reviews

Bites in Brooklyn

Hey everyone ~ whew, what a yucky past couple of weeks this has been in our house. I thought we’d seen the worst of the back-to-school bugs, but apparently these germs weren’t quite done with us! Two weeks, two chest colds and a couple of very gross stomach bugs later, I’m back on the blog and ready to share some great fall recipe ideas and snippets from our life. This past Monday, Mark and I left Georgia with her grandmother and took a mommy-daddy day trip to Brooklyn. He was shooting an episode for the travel channel at Brooklyn Fire Proof sound stages, so I hung out for a couple hours at the attached gallery/cafe space, BFPEast. Boy, did I feel old and square killing time with the hipsters in East Williamsburg. But I had an awesome lunch and found the company pretty laid-back and friendly, especially considering how little I ate relative to how long I lingered:

IMG_5418

I overheard two climate change activists talking about their weekend, which included bfpeast’s $5 brunch. It sounded awesome. Personally, I tried the mac n’ cheese with jalapenos on top. omgdelicious.

We did the entire trip in one day, and managed this only because we avoided Manhattan, where the UN was starting their high-level meetings. We even made it through Connecticut in time to stop for dinner at our favorite road trip break spot, Rein’s Deli. When I was pregnant and suffering big-time with “morning” sickness, Mark stopped here to get me matzoh ball soup and pickles on his way back from a job in New York. I hated having him drive alone, but I was pumped that he brought home some amazing comfort food for me and our baby-to-be!

Speaking of which, guess who walked this weekend (finally)????

Of course, she squats whenever I try to take a photo of her walking by herself, but you’ll have to take my word for it. We took her to brunch Sunday and she made the waitresses practice walking with her up and down the middle of the restaurant! She also took off on her own when we went shoe shopping at Carter’s and she spotted the Lego table in the middle of the store. The cat has the same effect…poor kitty. I don’t think she’s gotten over the idea of Georgia crawling yet, and now this?

We took G for her one-year appointment last week, and she’s right in the 50th percentile for height and weight…everything except her enormous head. Have I mentioned this yet? Her head has been tracking in the 98th percentile since she was about 5 months old, and after ruling out any dangerous reasons for it at Children’s, we just have to laugh at the way she outgrows clothes “head first” and how we have to buy her hats meant for four-year-olds. We have a gorgeous winter hat from Restoration Hardware that a relative bought us and she wore exactly once before her potato head couldn’t squeeze into it anymore. Fed up with such difficulties, and fueled by the desire to own a trendy winter hat myself, I knitted us matching slouchy hats on the car ride to and from New York:

IMG_5436

Georgia’s hat has just a baby amount of slouch. The pattern is pretty easy — you just knit in the round in a 2×1 rib for however long you want the headband to be, then switch to seed stitch on larger needles (I used 11 and 13) until the desired size. I fit mine to my own head on the go, and then just used up the leftover yarn from one skein of Lion Brand Thick & Quick for Georgia’s hat. With no decreases (which would eliminate the slouch), you simply bind off after purling together three and then two stitches at a time and pull the yarn through the remaining loops at the top! It’s so easy. I want to go make a hundred more in different colors.

IMG_5272

Oh! Before I forget…is anyone else “going to” Alt for Everyone this weekend? I am super excited to be joining in this year! I can’t wait to translate lots of what I learn back to this community as well as the web family I manage at my day job. If you’re going, I’d love to connect online this Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I’ll be the one on a sugar high from the delicious lemon candies they sent in the swag bag!

Well, that’s all I’ve got for today. In my free time (ha!) I am already shopping for Georgia’s Christmas outfit (because, you know, booking holiday photos for the Christmas card has to happen in September these days…) and my strategy this year is probably going to be stalking ThredUP and Kidizen for fancy consignment duds. The thing gets worn twice at best! Seems smart to go second hand, yes?

Have a great rest of the week, everyone!

Baby & Toddler · Restaurant Reviews

Baby Shower Tea @ The Four Seasons Boston

My friend Chelsea had her baby shower last weekend at the Four Seasons. It was about 90 degrees out in Boston — kind of a harsh transition from all that cold and rain last week! — so I totally melted on the walk there, but once inside I had a Kir Royale in my hand within 5 minutes and all was right with the world.

20140613-123747-45467892.jpg

Here’s the best part. Five days later, Chelsea had her baby! It was definitely a surprise, but little Eloise decided 33 weeks inside mum was just long enough, and she made her entrance on Friday the 13th in the wee hours of the morning. My kind of kiddo! She’s also the second baby named Eloise that we know of this month alone, so we may have a sleeper hit on our hands for baby girl names in Boston! Our next door neighbors also chose Eloise, but they’re going to call her “Louie,” which I just love 🙂

Eloise the book: baby name inspiration for well-read parents?
Eloise, the book: baby name inspiration for well-read parents?

Before the drama of baby’s early entrance, we feted Chelsea with a classy afternoon tea, complete with fresh fruit, scones, clotted cream, miniature cupcakes, tiny sandwiches, cakes and more:

Gotta love fresh fruit served in a martini glass.
Gotta love fresh fruit served in a martini glass.
Delightful scones!
Delightful scones!
Mint and hydrangeas on every table. I got to take one home!
Mint and hydrangeas on every table. I got to take one home!

She got some great gifts for her little one (which, at the time, was a mystery gender) including a few of Georgia’s favorites: these blankets, these soft blocks, a Sophie the Giraffe teether, and all kinds of accessories for her stroller. Miss Eloise is going to be traveling in style!

We got her a starter set from the Honest Company, including newborn and size 1 diapers, baby wash, the all-essential stain remover (critical for getting diaper blowouts, throw-up and nose bleeds out of cute fabrics), along with wipes and diaper cream. I was nervous about gifting such small diapers, even though she specifically requested them, but obviously I needn’t have worried, since she ended up having a 4 1/2-pound preemie:)

I thought I wrapped this up good, no?
I thought I wrapped this up good, no?

We can’t wait to meet the little gal. Georgia is so excited to have a new playmate! As for the tea, I still think my trip to the Boston Harbor Hotel tea time wins out for experience and deliciousness (plus, that view!) but this was a really festive shower idea and I’d definitely go back. Next up: afternoon tea at The Langham; the French Room at the Taj Boston (formerly the Ritz), where they also do a Teddy Bear Tea and a traditional Holiday Tea at Christmas time; and finally The Courtyard at the Boston Public Library, which hosts a weekday afternoon tea that is supposed to be excellent. Then, I’ll have hit all the tea times Boston has to offer!

How about you — do you like afternoon tea? It’s definitely not for those short on time or money, as a typical afternoon tea costs between $35 and $55 per person before gratuity, and can last two hours or more. But I think it’s an elegant diversion from regular life, and you’ll leave surprisingly satisfied despite the daintiness of the menu. I know my mom is dying to take Georgia for tea when she gets big enough. Sounds like something really special for them to enjoy together!

As we head into that season of summer babies and the baby showers that precede them, here’s to health and happiness for all the new little ones coming into the world, and rest for their parents. I can’t believe how fast a year goes by, and that I’m soon to have a 10-month-old on my hands! Time really does fly with these babes 🙂 seems like just yesterday …

Looking for gifts for a shower this summer? Check out my list of newborn essentials, plus my guide to eco-friendly baby gifts and the wish list of things I would have bought myself just after having Georgia.

Restaurant Reviews

Review: Tornado in Malden

Since I had to work a night event on my birthday, a friend and I decided to check out the new Tapas bar near our meeting for an early dinner.

20140501-211554.jpg
Outdoor seating: coming in the warmer weather.

Tornado opened just a few months ago in Malden, which is apparently gaining a reputation as the next culinary hot spot. (Woohoo for our property values!) I really hope this place can stick it out, because lots of new apartments are being built nearby, and it’s right next to the subway. There should be plenty of foot traffic around this corner. Plus, the city of Malden itself is just getting more and more popular with young families and urbanites; every time I turn around, someone I know is moving here or neighboring Melrose (another foodie haven with top-notch downtown restaurants).

Anyway, here’s what we ate:

Oyster shooters with soy sauce and hot pepper flakes, with a guava sangria
Oyster shooters with soy sauce, sake, tabasco and fresh chive, with guava sangria.

 

Corn on the cob with sweet BBQ glaze, soft goat cheese and cilantro
Corn on the cob with sweet Asian BBQ glaze, soft goat cheese and fried garlic

20140501-211625.jpg

Key Lime pie bites with fresh berries, tart whipped cream and pistachio gelato.
Key Lime pie bites with fresh berries, tart Yuzu whipped cream and pistachio gelato.

20140501-211601.jpg

My birthday surprise: fried tiramisu ice cream!
My birthday surprise: fried tiramisu ice cream!

We also had edamame topped with sea salt and grated lemon zest, and bread with cinnamon-sugar butter (yum).

My verdict? I really liked this place. It’s owned and operated by graduates of Malden High, and I’m really rooting for them to succeed. They describe the food as a “mashup” of Eastern and Western cuisine, and I’d say that’s about right. There were other things we would have tried with unlimited time and stomach space: the Caesar kale salad, seared avocado with truffle salt and furikake, steamed pork buns with hoisin glaze and pickled vegetables, and crab cake fritters with wasabi-cucumber dip. I mean, right? Lots to pick from here.

And that’s just tapas! You can see the full menu here, but there’s a whole side of dinner entrees that I didn’t even sample. The sangrias we had were excellent, so I’m dying to try some of their other concoctions as well. And the fact they even call out a fancy mocktail on their drink menu earned huge points with me — I learned that you can almost always gauge the level of service you’re about to experience by how enthusiastically the bar crafts an alcohol-free drink for you when you’re visibly pregnant. (I had one place flat-out refuse to make something for me! Not so much as a cranberry juice. But I love the place, so I won’t call them out here).

The service was OK. Not inattentive, just not overly informed about ingredients we asked for, which I’m sure will come in time. We also came at a slow hour (5-6 p.m.) and they’ve only been open a few months, as I said. The decor is really cool; we enjoyed the modern vibe and can imagine it being really nice for drinks or a late dinner. The bar looked good too.

All in all: had a lovely time, definitely coming back.

Oh, and if you were hoping for a Cinco de Mayo recipe, you’re in luck! I posted these ideas last year, and then this weekend I spotted this handy recipe for restaurant-style Mexican rice. Last but not least, since it’s Monday and we all need cheering up, I give you this: an 8-legged octopus my brother made for Georgia’s 8-month birthday. Enjoy.

20140504-214552.jpg

Baby & Toddler · Restaurant Reviews · Uncategorized

Georgia in Florida

Daddy is working two overlapping projects right now, so Georgia and I decided to get out of that snowy, icy old New England and head south to visit the family in Florida. It’s been at least 80 degrees in Sarasota all week, and we are doing some seriously good eating (both out and at home!) For instance:

This was “Fish Taco Friday” at The Lucky Dog Diner in Venice. AMAZING. I won’t mention the teeny bathroom situation which left me changing a diaper blowout on the hot asphalt (what can I say, Georgia got just as excited about fish tacos as mom). We also hit the 2014 “Parade of Homes” this weekend, and on our way back stopped for fish n’ chips with slaw, cheesy grits & lemonade at Snook Haven on the Myakka River.

This place calls itself a “back woods smokehouse” and it’s about as Old Florida as I’ve seen. There was a country music cover band, line dancing, picnic tables, counter service and absolutely no one telling you to leave if you finished your meal (or never ordered anything but beer in the first place!) Georgia sat outside on my lap, had a bottle in the shade and even danced with the band leader.  We stayed for almost two hours! Let’s just say she went to bed early that night 🙂

As you can see, she’s been enjoying herself, sitting out by the pool every day and sporting lots of cute summer outfits. She’s such a good traveler — great on the plane, sleeps through the night (and naps!) in a strange house, lets me schlep her all over the place shopping and eating out, and goes along for the ride with lots of smiles. Plus, she took her first swim and has already picked up on the fun of splashing her hands in the water. Daddy, I know, is jealous and missing his girls.

We aren’t looking forward to returning to the cold, but I am anxious to try out some healthy food after a week of restaurant food, gelato, wine with dinner every night and weekend-style breakfasts every day. I’ll get back to sharing recipes when we are back in Boston and cooking away again!

Restaurant Reviews

Restaurant Review: Muqueca in Cambridge

Oi! As some of you who are friends with me on Facebook know, I recently took a Portuguese Class at the Boston Center for Adult Education with a group of co-workers. We were interested in learning how to speak this language that’s becoming so prevalent in our region, both to make us better at our jobs and to be able to interact with the many people moving to Boston from Brazil, Portugal, the Azores, Cape Verde and beyond. It was a great class and I’m eager to keep learning.

To cap off our last class together, we hit Muqueca Restaurant in Cambridge’s Inman Square (where my roommates and I used to live just before I got married). I never made it to any of the Brazilian or Portuguese restaurants in the square, if you can believe it, because there are SO many amazing restaurants to try on and around Cambridge Street! If you’re in the area, even as an out-of-town visitor, Muqueca should be on your list.


So what did we eat? We did what I suspect most groups do — they split a slew of appetizers, moquecas (their signature dish) & mariscadas topped off by drinks and desserts (because they’re inexpensive and really good).

Appetizers

For starters: calamari in passion fruit sauce.
Coconut shrimp.
Brazilian crab cake.

Drinks

Brazilian cocktail; brandy and fruit in a snifter. Delicious.
And the price is right.

Entrees

Feijoada completa, the Brazilian national dish. I didn't eat this and you'll see why: it's a black bean stew with fresh & dried meat, including pork, sausage & bacon. It is served with a side of collard greens, fried plantain, farofa & orange (I did eat that stuff).

Since everyone shares, the foundation of your plate is the rice, which sops up the juices from the moqueca and mariscada.
The Mariscada! Shrimp, crabmeat, mussels & squid with cilantro, tomato, onion & coconut milk. Served with rice, farofa & plantain moqueca.
Plantain moqueca. YUM.

Dessert

Mango Mousse -- light and just sweet enough. You could also get passion fruit flavor (next time!)
Flan (delicious).

Muqueca has authentic Brazilian fare in a festive yet relaxing atmosphere. Great for groups, it would make an excellent choice for your next birthday celebration or any other special occasion.

THE DETAILS

Muqueca Brazilian Restaurant: 1008 Cambridge Street, Inman Square, Cambridge.

  • Phone: 617-354-3296
  • Hours: 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Tues-Fri, Noon to 9:30 Sundays (closed Mondays)
  • Ordering online: Yes, at mixmenu.com
  • Accepts reservations: Yes, by phone
  • Accepts credit cards: Yes
  • Parking: Yes, on street (metered) and in nearby municipal lots at night
  • Transit accessible: Yes, via the Red and Green lines, as well as bus
  • Kids Menu: Yes
  • Veg Friendly: Not really; more like pescatarian-friendly

Browse the menu here. Connect with Muqueca on Facebook, Yelp and Orkut.

 ***

If you’re visiting Cambridge, Inman Square is the place to be. It’s a little less crowded than Harvard and Porter squares, but it still boasts plenty of cute stores, coffee shops, ice cream places and restaurants, along with more parking options (and just as many hipsters as the rest of Cambridge). It’s a 10 minute walk north from Central Square, or a 15-minute walk from Lechmere Station on the Green Line in East Cambridge.

Going to Inman? Don’t miss:

  • Muqueca, of course, as well as Midwest Grille for authentic Brazilian BBQ.
  • Ryles Jazz Club (they do a mean brunch with live music on Sundays)
  • 1369 Coffee House (located, very helpfully, at 1369 Cambridge St.)
  • Ole Mexican Grill (this place is UNREAL — guacamole made fresh at your table-side and sangria to die for).
  • The S&S Restaurant & Deli — this place has been around forever, and for a good reason. It is one of my favorite places to meet for breakfast or lunch, and the desserts are not to be missed.
  • East Coast Grill — Consistently rated one of the best places for fresh seafood and BBQ. Don’t miss “hell night!”
  • Bukowski Taverngreat beer selection, awesome burgers & snacks, super hipster vibe.
  • All-Star Sandwich Barhands down the best sandwich shop around.
  • Christina’s Ice Cream (& spice store next door) — this is my favorite ice cream place in the entire Boston area, with Toscanini’s in Central a VERY close favorite (and I know my ice cream). 50 flavors, including fresh rose, honey lavender, coconut butterfinger, ginger molasses, pumpkin, adzuki bean, lychee sorbet…I could go on and on.

There’s something for everyone!

Restaurant Reviews

Afternoon Tea @ the Boston Harbor Hotel

The last day I was at work before Christmas (Friday the 23rd), I was lucky enough to be invited to a FABULOUS 30th birthday celebration for a coworker & friend at the Boston Harbor Hotel. It made for an amazing interlude between the workweek and the holiday weekend. The hotel offers regular afternoon tea in the Rowes Wharf Sea Grille Restaurant; on the evening we went, the menu included special holiday selections, including a champagne toast and a party favor for everyone at our table. The entire hotel was decorated festively for the holidays. At more than three hours, this fancy tea is worth the indulgent price. (I might even steal the idea for my own 30th birthday this spring!)

The dining room, with a nautical decor and views overlooking the harbor.
Served with champagne: strawberries, brown sugar and Devonshire cream.
Served with the berries & cream: warmed scones and breakfast bread.
The tea menu came tied with ribbon, on a table of scattered rose petals!
We toasted with Piper Heidsieck Champagne (expectant mothers received sparkling cider!)
Each guest enjoyed their own tea service. My choice: organic rooibos.
Next came finger sandwiches.

Selections included caviar, smoked salmon and creme fraiche, Maine lobster salad, Vermont cheddar and spinach, & egg salad mousse.

We did a pretty good job on those sammies and pastries!
A gorgeous Christmas Tree in the lobby on our way out.
And a gorgeous view of the hotel's famous outdoor arch, decorated in all its glory for the holidays. What a lovely sight before my windy walk to the train!