Monday, August 24, 2009

Zebra print and pre-fixe fun

In support of this Summer’s Restaurant Week R and I made reservations for a three-course pre-fixe adventure at Upstairs on the Square in Harvard square.

The food was as inventive as the restaurant’s décor. If Paris Hilton and Cindy Lauper had a love child on a zebra rug this is where they would have done it. Gilded mirrors, animal printed carpet, colorful chandeliers and purple floors compliment the zaniness of the restaurant’s Monday club bar, where we ate.

I was excited nibble on tasty rosa bianca eggplant cannelloni with fiore di nonno mozzarella and sungold cherry tomatoes for my main course. R was daring enough to try quail for the first time.

Despite barely making it through the first and second courses with any room left in our bellies, the desert course was not to be missed. And, so it was that R ordered the Spiced churros with Mexican chocolate dipping sauce and I ordered the crema catalana with orange, cinnamon and honey pirouettes.

The churros, lightly covered in cinnamon and sugar were crisp and light on the outside while still being fluffy on the inside. R and I excitedly dipped the little Latina finger doughnuts into a dark pool of bittersweet chocolate.

Crema catalana is the Spanish version of crème brulée. With a tap of my spoon, the sugar crust cracked and the smooth cinnamon and citrus kissed crème said hello. Complimenting the creamy vanilla flavor of the “pudding”, the chef served two small cookies perfect for dunking and adding a touch of salt and crunchiness.

Not only was this a lovely evening out with a girlfriend, but Restaurant Week supported Community Servings. A charity that I love dearly and will be hitting you all up to buy pies from this Thanksgiving.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Ta-da Taza!

Courtesy of Taza Chocolate

Taza is the only chocolatier in the states to produce 100% stone-ground organic chocolate and then presses it in a cute little circle to make their Chocolate Mexicano disk.

The shape is what first attracted me to the chocolate on the shelf, but the taste and texture have made me a fan forever.

In a pure magically simple process the chocolatiers at Taza grind their beans with Oaxacan stone mills the way your chocolate-loving Abuella used to…that is if I had one. Mine just ate the stuff.

The grinding is what sets the chocolate apart from the endless rows of bars at the drug store. The millstone process leaves the sugar and cacao in the chocolate creating a sandy and surprising texture. The disks are segmented to easily beak apart. The tiny triangles are extra tasty when melted into milk to create hot chocolate.

The Mexicano comes in salted almond, vanilla bean, cinnamon, yerba mate, cacao puro and guajillo chili. Keeping with a true Mexican-chocolate palette, I love the chili flavor the most.
I’ve been stocking up on the disks during my morning coffee run at Bloc 11, but you can order them online.

I am dying to tour the factory. When they do open their doors at another event look out for a giggling recap. I’m very proud to support the small chocolate maker in my little hood.

P.s. not only does the chocolate taste good, it is fair trade!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cookie in cup...with a morning shot

Vanilla, chocolate and a kick of caffeine is exactly what the Black and White latte at Bloc 11 in Union Square delivers. Reminiscent of the famous cookie, this latte has been kick-starting my mornings lately.

Hidden away in the construction zone of Union Square, Bloc 11 serves not just yummy coffee, but a laundry list of vegan and vegetarian-friendly (yea!) sandwiches, soups and salads (yea!). But let’s not deviate from the real important stuff like the sugar content.

Bloc’s baristas bustle about steaming, squeezing and pressing out beautiful drinks. Each drink I’ve received is presented on the counter with a swirl of late art. The foam hearts and leaves garnish the cup and any of the moist muffins and scones on their menu.

In addition to the beautiful cappuccinos, Bloc is located inside an 87-year old bank building. You can even eat your muffin and sip your coffee within a vault.

Bloc is owned by the same creators of Diesel café in Davis and has the unique hipster vibe that Somerville offers. They are definitely doing something right, in addition to always having customers, Bloc has been named a 2008 Food and Wine New Star and received rave reviews from other news sources.

I’m so excited that I found a Starbucks alternative, and a way to get a cookie in a cup.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Concession Cotton Candy

On Tuesday, we surprised a friend with a birthday outing to the Sox game and while they got drunk on overpriced beer I giggled my way through a bag of electric pink cotton candy and popcorn.

There is nothing that makes a carnival, festival or baseball game better than eating a dinner of spun sugar. According to the Gourmet magazine, William Morison and John Wharton invented the first electric sugar spinning machine and aptly named it “Fair Floss.” Indeed, only flirty fairies could be responsible for fluffy clouds of pure sugar.

I’m in love with the sweet scent that the spinning machines weave, the stickiness left on your fingers and the slow dissolve from fluff to sugar rush when eating.

When I first moved to Boston, I explained to my parents that rather than giving me a blender what my apartment needed was a cotton candy machine. I stand by this argument…every day should be a celebration. I am also proud to say that almost all of cotton candy-machines manufactured today are made by Gold Medal in Cincinnati.

Despite my love for fairy floss, I am not a fan of cotton-candy flavored things. I think this is due to their tainting by blue coloring. Cotton candy ice cream is usually blue and pink…and not so good.

Unfortunately as fun and quick as cotton candy is to eat, it is that quick to shrink in the bag. There is no such thing as a to-go bag for freshly spun candy. You can buy it pre-purchased, but the fun is in the carnival experience and watching the stand attendee hypnotically whip around the machine. I can’t wait until the next fair and game!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Kraft, sure does know how to get a girl’s attention.

Imagine fluffy marshmallows propelled and puffed up in the air on an explosion out of jet airplanes.

Sure they don’t exactly say that’s how the tiny marshmallows in the Jet-Puffed Mallow Bites get their oomph, but it is a logical theory. They do say that the mallows are made with a … “patented process that infuses air into the marshmallow during manufacturing.”

Marshmallow’s are cheery and happy, whether they are in hot chocolate, rice crispy treats or on their own. The white pillows practically spring out of the bag and dance when you eat them. Kraft has figured out a way to make a good thing better. While at Target (I know that’s really hard to believe) I stumbled upon a lone bag Kraft’s Jet-Puffed Mallow bites. The milk chocolate covered miniature marshmallows screamed my name and I obliged.

It is about time that someone combined the well-known successful combination of chocolate and marshmallow into bite size pieces and in a convenient snack size (the bag is resealable...but lets be honest).

The chocolate coating was creamy and only slightly melted on my fingers while popping the pieces into my mouth. I imagine these would be great to include in brownies or crispy treats because the chocolate would add a little something extra to the recipe.

Any marshmallow is pretty much bound to be amazing if it is made with jet power or covered in chocolate.

A Year to Celebrate Chocolate

Last Wednesday was National Milk Chocolate Day…I hope you celebrated!
My apologies for not notifying you about the holiday but my fingers were covered in chocolate…just kidding.

Milk chocolate has always been seen as second class to chocolate connoisseurs, however according to the National Confectioners Association (NCA), Sixty-five percent of American chocolate eaters prefer milk chocolate.

Every day for me in National Milk Chocolate Day, but here is a list of places I think are the best for satisfying that craving

Taza Chocolate – Run out of Somerville, this organic chocolate company creates chocolate treats by grinding their beans with stone, the Mexican way

Aroa – When work has driven my stress level through the roof, I give the acupuncturist a call. I am not sure if it is the calming and recentering of my qi or the visit to the neighboring chocolate shop that helps…but it is working. Aroa not only makes decadent truffles but also thick fruit jellies and fluffy homemade marshmallows. Chocolate + marshmallows = peace

L.A. Burdick – I consider myself one of the chosen few to have the honor of living so close to this famous shop. In addition to a full café menu with drinking chocolate that coats your insides till they look like Willy Wonka’s, Burdick’s also sells handmade chocolates rich with fruits and nuts. Their adorable penguins, mice and now bees are hand-crafted and give smiles to the faces of party guests, wedding guests and my family during the holidays.

Chocolee ChocolatesChocolee’s truffles are handcrafted and without a doubt made with love and at a level of craftsmanship that only the founder of the New England Pastry Guild can do. Lee Napoli, the shop’s owner, is the muse and backbone of Boston’s desert community. I highly recommend the Spicy Pepper, a dark chocolate truffle with poblano peppers.

As so not to miss next year’s holiday and others like it, below is a listing of the best-chocolate themed holidays around. Celebrate them all!

January 3: National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day
January 10: Bittersweet Chocolate Day
January 27: National Chocolate Cake Day

February 5: National Chocolate Fondue Day
February 10: Cream Cheese Brownie Day
February 11: National Peppermint Patty Day
February 14: National Creme-Filled Chocolates Day
February 19: National Chocolate Mint Day
February 25: National Chocolate-Covered Nuts Day
February 28: National Chocolate Soufflé Day

March 6: National White Chocolate Cheesecake Day
March 19: National Chocolate Caramel Day
March 24: National Chocolate Covered Raisins Day
March 28: National Black Forest Cake Day

April 3: National Chocolate Mousse Day
April 21: National Chocolate-Covered Cashews Day

May 1: National Chocolate Parfait Day
May 5: National Chocolate Custard Day
May 12: National Nutty Fudge Day
May 15: National Chocolate Chip Day
May 19: National Devil's Food Cake Day

June 2: National Rocky Road Ice Cream Day
June 7: National Chocolate Ice Cream Day
June 11: National German Chocolate Cake Day
June 16: National Fudge Day
June 22: National Chocolate Eclair Day
June 26: National Chocolate Pudding Day

July 3: National Chocolate Wafer Day
July 7: Chocolate Day
July 8: National Chocolate with Almonds Day
July 25: National Hot Fudge Sundae Day
July 28: National Milk Chocolate Day

August 4: National Chocolate Chip Day
August 10: National S'mores Day
August 20: National Chocolate Pecan Pie Day

September 12: National Chocolate Milkshake Day
September 13: International Chocolate Day
September 22: National White Chocolate Day
September 27: National Chocolate Milk Day

October 18: National Chocolate Cupcake Day
October 28: National Chocolate Day

November 7: National Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day
November 29: Chocolates Day

December 8: National Chocolate Brownie Day
December 13: National Cocoa Day
December 16: National Chocolate-Covered Anything Day
December 28: National Chocolate Candy Day
December 29: National Chocolate Day

* To purchase T-shirt above and wear on all chocolate holidays click here

Thanks to for the dates