Wedding Prep & SNES

Weddings & video games are the theme for the year, no?  We also do some foodie things.  (Remember this?)  So, an average weekend.

Weekend vlogs are back on schedule!  I didn’t know if I was going to post this today, because it’s actually a very special day.  We got engaged one year ago today!  Instead of rushing a post for that, I’ll talk more about the engagement so far soon!


Littleburg Pop-Up

If you know me, you’ll know I love a good food pop-up.  If you know my fiancé, you’ll know that he will not eat at restaurants labelled “vegan.”  This weekend might have changed his mind, though!

Matt’s coworker’s boyfriend is a talented chef who hosted a pop-up at The Local Fare in Arlington this past weekend.  Littleburg Vegetable Kitchen offered veggie burgers, two sides, and two desserts.  We ordered everything and regret nothing.


They coursed the meal out for us and we started with the summer vegetable salad of heirloom beans, almond dressing, polenta chips, and herbs.  Man, this was so good!  It had such a satisfying crunch and fresh taste.  Along with that we had the broccolini in a blanket with cashew ricotta and spicy tomato sauce.  This was like a broccoli quesadilla and I was so impressed by the “cheese.”  It felt like I was eating dairy, which obviously I loved!  This was actually my favorite thing I ate, I think.  Matt ate the sauce straight out of the container after we were done with the broccolini in a blanket, so that’s saying something.


We then split the veggie burger.  I’ve never seen Matt eat a veggie burger, let alone enjoy one this much!  The spices gave it a bit of an Indian taste, and the vegetable toppings were super fresh.  I might have been obsessed with the thick slice of tomato.


Finally, we had two amazing desserts that blew my mind.  How were these vegan?!  There was the chocolate mousse and Kimball Farm blueberries with shortcake and whipped cream.  Usually, I’m not one to eat dessert without chocolate but I may have actually liked this blueberry dish better?  Honestly, I can’t tell.  I loved them so much and I would never have known these were vegan.

This is 100% a meal I need to repeat.  I’ll be on the lookout for more Littleburg pop-ups, as this was his first, and you should be too!

Restaurant Week: Bastille Kitchen

Okay, so I’m a little late on recapping my Restaurant Week Boston adventures.  The two weeks that were Boston’s summer “Restaurant Week” fell on either end of my San Francisco trip… but of course, I found time to go!

Matt chose our restaurant week destination, Bastille Kitchen.  I’ve been here for dinner before and have been mentioning the desire to have brunch here too.

The prix fixe menu offered three courses at $38 per person.

The first course offered three choices, but we both selected the tea-steamed mussels.  They came to the table scorching hot, but once they cooled we thoroughly enjoyed!

For the main course, we were again presented with three options.  I chose the steak-frites, while Matt went with the salmon.  The skirt steak was obviously inferior to the short rib Wellington I’d had there before, but it was cooked really well.  Matt, of course, cleaned his plate.

Dessert presented only two choices– I went with the chocolate torte and Matt got the crème brûlée.  The torte was seemingly equal parts mousse to cake with a tang of cherry throughout.  Of his crème brûlée, Matt said, “you wouldn’t like it; don’t try it” with shifty eyes and a full spoon… don’t worry, I manage to snag a bite!  The vanilla really came through.

Our busy travel schedules prevented us from dining out again (you might notice, we’re away again right now!), but what did everyone else try out for Restaurant Week?


San Francisco Travel Guide

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Well hello!  We just got back from a phenomenal trip to San Francisco.  Though we had originally intended to attend Pokémon Worlds, having all that free time in San Francisco really let us explore so many different neighborhoods and see so much in 5 days.  It was my first time there, and everything was so photo-worthy!  Even better, Matt’s been there a bunch of times and we were able to do things that were new to him too.  We love to explore, and we walked A LOT.  Here’s our trip!


Watch Day 1 – Exploring San Francisco!

  • What We Did: Walked to see the Painted Ladies, checked out the view at Buena Vista Park, walked through Haight-Ashbury and Golden Gate Park, stopping to admire the Japanese Tea Garden.
  • What We Ate: Sushi-Go-Round at Isobune in Japantown, Muracci’s curry
  • Step Count: 23,265 (9.27 miles)

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Watch Day 2: From the Bay Bridge to Golden Gate

  • What We Did: Walked to the Ferry Building, then the whole Embarcadero, and Fisherman’s Wharf, then Ghiradelli Square, over to Lombard Street and all the way to the Palace of Fine Arts and the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • What We Ate: a Nutella Belgian Waffle at Pier 39 with an apple cider from Biscoff next door, a sourdough turtle from BoudinIn-N-Out Burger for lunch, dinner with Matt’s friend at YakiniQ for Korean barbecue.
  • Step Count: 32,813 (13.24 miles)

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Watch Day 3: Japantown, Chinatown, & Coit Tower

  • What We Did: spent some more time exploring (& shopping in!) Japantown, walked through Chinatown  and to Coit Tower.
  • What We Ate: Tonkatsu in Japantown at Koji Osakaya, dinner with my cousin & his girlfriend at Hunan House in Chinatown.
  • Step Count: 23,317 (9.3 miles)


Watch Day 4: Eating Our Way Through the Mission!

  • What We Did: ate our way through the Mission, soaked up some sun in Dolores Park and walked down Valencia Street, which was closed to traffic and a total party.
  • What We Ate: The Rebel Within at Craftsmen & Wolves, a sandwich & a tart at Tartine, two scoops of ice cream at Bi-Rite, and sushi at Amasia in Noe Valley.
  • Step Count: 18,606 (7.47 miles)

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Watch Day 5: Academy of Sciences & Lands End!

  • What We Did: A museum visit to California Academy of the Sciences just in time to watch the penguins get fed and chase butterflies in their rainforest exhibit, walked through Inner & Outer Richmond to Sea Cliff, then the breath-taking hike of Lands End and the Sutro Baths.
  • What We Ate: breakfast at Pinecrest Diner, lunch at Lou’s Cafe, and dinner with Matt’s friends at Iza Ramen where I finally got my takoyaki!
  • Step Count: 16,047 (6.4 miles)

Stay tuned to see much, much more of this trip!


MasterChef: Easy as Apple Pie

Ahh, I can’t even  explain how happy I am to have MasterChef back in my life.  Two words, friends: food pictures.  Get ready for ’em.

Now, if you’re new to MasterChef the show has an alternating format.  (Find out what that means over here.)  This week’s episode started with a Mystery Box Challenge.  This mystery box had a bit of a twist, though!  Instead of all using the same ingredients, each home cook got a different mystery box.  Yup, 22 boxes of different ingredients.  Everyone seemed super happy because these ingredients were the things they left in their fridges when they left for MasterChef!  Veronica is the only one not excited, because she cooks a lot of different things at home and her ingredients didn’t quite go together.  Anyway, the home cooks get to work.  Gordon, Graham, and Christina taste as they cook and choose their top three for a final taste.  They select:

Katrina, Dan, and Hetal

Katrina, Dan, and Hetal

Out of those three, they pick a winner: Dan!  He gets a major advantage in the Elimination Test.  In the pantry, Christina has prepared an elaborate and drool-worthy display of desserts, but explains that she will be asking each home cook to bake an apple pie for its technical merits.  Dan doesn’t have to cook, but gets another advantage.  He comes out with a bag of apples and hands them out to some of the home cook– these people also don’t have to cook and are safe!  Only nine home cooks remain to bake apple pie.

Results are fairly good, especially for a baking challenge!  Here’s how the 9 do:


(L to R, top to bottom)

  • There were initial doubts about Veronica’s pie with it’s graham cracked crushed into the crust.  She calls it a simply apple pie, eliciting a laugh for Gordon.  It turns out to be delicious!
  • Christopher used 5 tbsp on corn starch to make his bourbon thick.  He talks himself in circles, gets defensive, borderline insults Chef Ramsay until Ramsay finally tells him he’s funny and he was trying to get him to lighten up!  His pie is absolutely delicious.
  • The same can not be said for Olivia’s pie.  The goat cheese was a bad choice.  Christina suggests it could’ve worked with ricotta or mascarpone.
  • Derek’s pie is delicious, but there aren’t enough apples.
  • Steven’s pie has a delicious apple filling, but the crust tastes raw.
  • Charlie too has a good filling and a lovely crust, but lacks technique.
  • Mateo’s pie crumbles as Gordon cuts into it.  The slice falls apart on the fork.  The apples are too thick and crust too thin, and the flavor isn’t about the apples.
  • Graham calls Sarah’s pie a slice of autumn!  Other words he uses are “textbook,” and “delicious!”
  • Brianna’s pie is very, very watery.  Christina likens it to apple soup.

The winner of the apple pie challenge is Christopher!  Remember this for next week, kids.  Then of course, there’s bad news too.  Olivia, Mateo, and Brianna are called out for the bottom three.  Mateo and Brianna are eliminated.

With 20 home cooks still in the kitchen, it’s anyone’s game!  We really haven’t even met everyone yet.  I can’t wait for more!  Who’s with me?

MasterChef: 40 Home Cooks & 1 New Judge


MasterChef premiered this week with 2 hours and a crop of 40 new home cooks to kick us off!  We’re all eager to meet them and see them cook, but if you’re anything like me, you may have been anxious about a new judge replacing dear Joe Bastianich.  I’ll really miss him!  We meet Christina Tosi, and I must admit I’m delighted to have a female judge with Gordon and Graham.  Hopefully she can bring something to the table, but this Italian girl will always love Joe!

In true Gordon Ramsay fashion, he tricked one group of 20 home cooks into thinking they’re the top 20, only to bring in another 20 home cooks to compete with them.  Here’s the really mean part: they’re going head to head to compete for the 20 jackets.  I hate this, because it doesn’t necessarily mean the best 20 home cooks make it through.  You have to be better than the other person you’re against.  That’s it, really.

Each home cook is paired to compete against a similar signature dish.  Some of the battles are featured:

  • Claudia, a signal mom with Mexican roots, and Andrew, a southerner and political fundraiser, do battle with shrimp.  Though the judges are split, the apron goes to Claudia.
  • Next up, we meet Steve, an urban gardener.  He battles Tommy, a flashy fashion designer and the most fabulous man I’ve ever seen.  Pork is their weapon of choice and there is no shortage of personality with these two!  Steve’s near raw veggies seal the victory and apron for Tommy.
  • To keep things interesting, and like, slightly more fair, the lamb battle is between four people for two aprons.  Monzia, Derek the drummer, Amanda, and Nate are all vying for those two aprons.  Derek’s is so good and everyone knows it.  Graham basically just tells him to take the first apron.  Monzia serves raw lamb, so she’s getting that second one.  It’s Amanda who wins that one.
  • After the first of two montages, it’s time for battle salmon!  Two Milwaukee natives face off: Katrina, an admin, and Taylor, a former college football player.  This one kind of broke my heart because Taylor is so warm and engaging.  Katrina lacks a lot of confidence.  The judges were torn, but Gordon thought he could mold Katrina more so she gets the apron.
  • Then it’s the battle of fruit desserts.  Hetal, an Indian baker with a biochemistry degree, faces off against hot-pink-haired Jill, a stay-at-home mom to four boys.  Hetal makes an apple tart, more or less, with cardamom whipped cream.  Though I definitely want to eat that, I agree with Gordon that it seemed a bit safe.  Jill made Danish aebleskivers which are, roughly, spherical apple pancakes.  So cool!  I’ve never seen them before and now I want one.  Hetal wins the judges’ favor, though, and an apron.
  • The second montage happens, and suddenly it’s the last battle: chicken.  Christopher wins the apron over Shelly, a Jamaican immigrant with a Bachelor’s degree but making $10/hr.  Honestly, her American dream story was gripping.  Gordon fought for her, though he was the only judge who did.  He announces that they’ve made a mistake.

Surprise!  Two more aprons are up for grabs.  Each judge picks two people to compete again: 6 home cooks, 2 aprons.  This makes things slightly more fair, again.  Graham picks Taylor and Steven, Christina picks Andrew and Demetria (who had gotten lost in the montage), and Gordon picks Jill and Shelly.

The challenge is in honor of our new judge: Christina’s essentials.  They basically cook with things she picked for them.  The results are mostly good, with the exception of Demetria’s risk that didn’t pay off.  It’s hard to lose people so early when you’ve already started to connect with them (Taylor!) but we say goodbye to apparently my first favorite, Jill, Andrew, and quite obviously Demetria for making something with chicken, chocolate, and cheese.  No.  Steve, even more animated this time, and Gordon’s girl Shelly join the group of now 22 chefs competing for the title of Master Chef.

Top Chef Boston: Finale

I’ve honestly been dreading this episode, because that means this wonderful season of Top Chef is over!  However, I’ve been dying to see who will take this title… especially when it’s down to Gregory and Mei, who, as the episode notes, have traded wins all season.


It starts off with a lovely hot air balloon ride over San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.  Though Mei seems a bit nervous (“We might die today!) both she and Greg get to take is some breathtaking scenes.  As they come down, they see a more familiar scene: Tom and Padma.

They know and we know: this is the start of their final challenge.  It’s a simple one, according to Tom: Create the best four course meal of your life.  No pressure, right?

It’s time to pick their sous chefs!  Since Gregory won last time around, he gets first pick.  He choses Doug.  Mei is happy that leaves her the opportunity to pick her first choice, Melissa.  Gregory then selects George to round out his team.  Mei grabs Rebecca with the intentions of making a dessert.

They’re cooking for a panel of intimidating chefs including Michael Cimarusti, Donnie Masterton, and Gavin Kaysen.  They are also cooking, of course, for our fabulous judges Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons, Hugh Acheson, and Richard Blaise.

On a couple courses, Mei and Gregory are going head to head.  Mei is doing dessert and Gregory is not.  They are both bringing their A games and they are both bringing influences from their experience in Mexico.

Mei makes:

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Greg makes:

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Both first courses go well, though Mei’s octopus is noted to be a bit chewy.  Gail likes it, but Richard calls it the biggest technical mistake of the dinner.  Greg seems to win this course.

The second course winner is Mei’s congee, as the shrimp heads in Greg’d didn’t go over well with Padma.  The third course winner is Mei as well.  Gregory made a mistake in his sauce and couldn’t correct it in time for service.

The final course was the best for each chef, majorly impressive all the judges!

After deliberation, Mei and Greg stand in from of Padma, Tom, Hugh, Gail, and Richard.  All of their Boston competitors standby to watch the big moment.  “Mei,” says Padma, “You are Top Chef!

I am so excited for Mei!  Though I think both she and Greg (and a lot of the other cheftestants) deserve to be there, I was really cheering Mei on!  She had so much drive to make her family proud and to live up to her chef, Top Chef Michael Voltaggio!  She call him at the end of the episode overwhelmed, and it’s a very sweet moment!  Can you believe she’s only the third woman that has ever won?  Hopefully we can see some more female Top Chef winners soon!

What did you think of Mei’s big win?!

Top Chef Boston: A Lit Major’s Dream

Every episode of Top Chef Boston reminds me how much I love living here.  I think Bravo may have made this season just for me…  I’m going to gush all the way through this recap, so let’s get to the Quickfire!

The cheftestants walk in to see Rob Gronkowski, who has partied with my high school friends and yours, standing with Padma Lakshmi.  The challenge is to make sausage for Gronk.  “I need a big sausage,” says Gronk in an awkwardly overt innuendo.  “Me too,” says Padma adorably and hilariously.

Here’s what the chefs make:


On the bottom, we have Melissa whose sausage came out quite small, and Gregory for too many spices and toppings.  The top two are Doug and George.  George wins!  Even though he told Gronk to his face that he’s not a fan of his, the food won him over.  George gets immunity for the win.

Guest Judge Tony Maws (of Craigie on Main, for you Bostonians) comes out with a book case.  The elimination challenge is to make a dish inspired by one of the New England authors on the shelf.  “Make your high school English teachers proud,” Chef Tony says.

  • Gregory chooses Edgar Allan Poe (who was born roughly between the Steinway Building and the Boloco on Boylston street, next door to my former dorm) and uses The Raven as inspiration
  • Katsuji chooses Stephen King (who my high school English teacher actually knows! from sitting next to him in their college classes at U Maine) and selects Carrie as inspiration
  • George goes for Dr. Seuss (I’m out of local girl fun-facts now) and opts to use One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish as inspiration
  • Mei goes for Henry David Thoreau (and Nicole says, oof transcendentalism) and finds inspiration in Walden
  • Melissa chooses Nathaniel Hawthorne and is inspired by The Blithedale Romance
  • Dougie kind of gets stuck with Emily Dickinson, but after a quick flip through the supplied book he finds inspiration in the line “bring me sunset in a cup”

Tom & Tony check on the chefs who have all been successful in their creative inspiration.  Mei even impressively sketches her plate out, inspired in part by her boss Michael Voltaggio’s attention to plating.


Frances Lam joins Tom, Gail, Padma, and Tony at the judges’ table.  Here’s what the cheftestants make this time around:


Everyone gets such good comments!  The only negative thing we hear is that Greg didn’t take Seuss far enough, and he has immunity.  With the bar so high, the elimination makes me nervous.

On top this week: Mei, Melissa, and Doug.  The big winner is Mei!

And who’s eliminated?  Sadly, Katsuji.  This was hands-down the saddest I’ve been this season.  I think Doug summed it up best at the beginning of the episode when he says, “He’s probably my favorite person in the house… I don’t know why.”  Katsuji has been a constant source of laughter and you know his heart goes onto his plates!  I’m hoping he makes a comeback in Last Chance Kitchen!


So, sad news.  Next week, though, my alma mater Emerson College gets a little shout out!  Of all the colleges and universities in this city… I told you this season was made for me!

Enough of my gushing… what did you think?!