The Crumbnut from Crumb’s Bake Shop, South Shore Plaza

crumbnut, crumbs, bake shop, cronut, cinnamon sugar, donut

I never craved a cronut.  I never stood in line for a cronut.  However, on my way out of South Shore Plaza the other day, I did stop by the Crumb’s Bake Shop for a sweet treat.  I settled on their cinnamon sugar version of the cronut, the Crumbnut…only because it was $2.50 & didn’t feel like paying $4.50 for a cupcake.  The verdict?  Meh.  It was light.  It was airy.  It was big.  It was fine for that mid-afternoon sugar break.  If I was in the area again, I might get another one.  Or I’d get a cupcake.  At least now, I don’t feel compelled to have to jump on to the cronut bandwagon…hahaha…which I’m sure has already long passed me by!

Daikanyama at Bloomingdale’s at The Mall at Chestnut Hill

daikanyama, japanese cuisine, bloomingdales, chestnut hill, ramen, lobster roll

Nestled between the fragrance & cosmetic counters at Bloomingdale’s in Chestnut Hill is an unexpected surprise…Daikanyama, a little Japanese restaurant that serves everything from lobster toast to ramen to pork belly sliders!  I just had to investigate :)

daikanyama, japanese cuisine, bloomingdales, chestnut hill, ramen, lobster roll

daikanyama, japanese cuisine, bloomingdales, chestnut hill, ramen, lobster roll

If you go, do yourself a favor, skip the traditional leather-bound menu & just peruse the iPad mini that your server gives you.  There are way more innovative items on that menu, so try something new!  I definitely did & will be back to sample everything else!

daikanyama, japanese cuisine, bloomingdales, chestnut hill, ramen, lobster roll

daikanyama, japanese cuisine, bloomingdales, chestnut hill, ramen, lobster roll

daikanyama, japanese cuisine, bloomingdales, chestnut hill, ramen, lobster roll

The Happy Grilled Cheese Food Truck in Jacksonville, Florida

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I was away in Florida for Christmas vacation & I had a hankering for some food truck action :)  Lucky for me, The Happy Grilled Cheese Truck was not yet on holiday hiatus & close to a shopping center that my family & I were already planning to visit that day.  Win-win!!!

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Some of our favorites were the California melt (because avocado makes everything tastier) & the no hangover melt (which contained my quintessential Southern food favorites of pulled pork plus mac & cheese).

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The favorite by far was one of their board specials…the chicken & waffles!  The “bread” was 2 waffles that surrounded breaded chicken & cheesy goodness with a hint of Sriracha.  Very tangy, not too spicy & a nice take on both the grilled cheese sandwich & the uber-popular chicken & waffles dish.  It definitely put a big ol’ smile on my face :)  Hopefully the next time I’m in town, I’d be very happy to be able to sample even more menu items!  I’ve eaten at many a food truck in my day, but none is so aptly named as Happy Grilled Cheese Truck ^_^

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New Year’s Eve Dinner, Social Restaurant & Bar, Newton, MA

social restaurant newton, social restaurant bar newton, american casual dinner newton, lobster slider grilled cheese, tomato bisque

I’ve lived in the Newton area long enough to remember when the hotel over the Mass Pike Exit 17 overpass was a Sheraton with an Applebee’s on the first level.  The chain restaurant has long been shuttered & the Sheraton has even switched to now be a Crowne Plaza, but the restaurant space remained vacant for a loooong time…until now.  So, instead of venturing into Boston for New Year’s Eve dinner, I decided to stay local & try out Social Restaurant & Bar.

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Prudential Center Au Bon Pain Holiday Menu Tasting Preview

au bon pain holiday menu, au bon pain sandwich, au bon pain soup, gingerbread man, cookies, granola, parfait

When I came up to Boston for college over 20 years ago, Au Bon Pain was a bakery/cafe franchise that I gravitated to during those long-gone crazy days of studying, coffee breaks & report writing.  I literally survived on their spinach & cheese croissant which during my younger years was the most delicious thing I ever had & I could afford outside of dorm life :)  Au Bon Pain has still remained a go-to place for me all these decades for easy sandwiches, soups, hot beverages & delicious sweet baked goods :)  So, I was extremely pleased & happy to attend (at the invitation of Boston TweetUp) an event being held by Au Bon Pain at the Prudential Center to preview their new holiday menu! 

au bon pain holiday menu, au bon pain sandwich, au bon pain soup, gingerbread man, cookies, granola, parfait

First up, we sampled the chicken, mushroom and Swiss sandwich (all natural chicken, spinach, Swiss cheese, sautéed mushrooms and tomato spread on a sprouted grain roll) & the egg white & mushroom frittata breakfast sandwich (egg whites, sautéed mushrooms, spinach and cheddar on a sprouted grain roll).  I like how the latter is for breakfast, but with the omission of the egg & then addition of the chicken & tomato spread, it easily transitioned into a lunch item :)

Next, we moved from the savory menu items to sweet, my favorite!  I very much liked the cinnamon walnut coffee cake (holiday mini bundt coffee cake filled with cinnamon spice and topped with walnuts), gingerbread cookie (a hand decorated cookie rich with molasses) & pumpernickel bagel (from rye flour and molasses) with plain cream cheese, but my favorite from all the offerings was the peppermint chocolate shortbread cookie (chocolate dipped shortbread sprinkled with peppermint topping).  The shortbread was nice & thick, so was soft, even chewy where shortbread cookies often end up dry & tasteless.  Nicely done! 

The final tasting courses were a Greek vanilla yogurt & triple berry parfait in which I loved the tartness from the Greek yogurt balanced with the sweet blueberries & a lovely surprise…a gluten free Thai coconut shrimp soup (a blend of petite shrimp, red peppers, carrots, bamboo shoots and lemongrass in a coconut and curry broth with a touch of spice)…very nicely flavored & not too spicy.  I can see this warm & hearty soup becoming a popular menu item over this already cold & brutal winter season!  

Au Bon Pain’s holiday menu is only available until January 12, 2014 at all US locations, so hurry in soon!  I personally will definitely be back for more of that peppermint chocolate shortbread!  Yum! Happy Holiday Eating everyone!!!

au bon pain holiday menu, au bon pain sandwich, au bon pain soup, gingerbread man, cookies, granola, parfait

Disclaimer:  I was invited by Boston TweetUp & Au Bon Pain to sample the new holiday menu & received a gift card for future cafe items, but opinions are 100% my own.

New England Seafood Dinner at Island Creek Oyster Bar

lobster roll, island creek oyster bar, new england seafood

I usually herald the beginning of summers in New England with a good ol’ fashioned lobster roll.  Well, maybe it’ll be a new tradition to also end summer with one ^_^  Just couldn’t resist all that lobster & other seafood goodness at Island Creek Oyster Bar!

island creek oyster bar, spiced maple daiquiri, cocktail, oyster slider, fried oyster

Cocktail:  Spiced maple daiquiri (light & dark run with warming spices).  Appetizer:  Fried oyster slider (with lime chile aioli on a brioche bun),

island creek oyster bar, clam chowder, new england seafood, crackers

Soup:  Classic New England clam chowder (with buttermilk biscuit crackers & house-cured bacon).  Dessert:  Chocolate pudding triffle (covered with whipped cream & fried ganache).

island creek oyster bar, dessert, chocolate mousse, chocolate pudding, triffle, fried ganache

Pikiaichi Tokyo Shoyu Ramen Bowl in Allston Village, Boston

pikaichi, ramen, soup, noodles, shoyu, miso, spicy miso, curry rice, takoyaki

Tokyo shoyu ramen (although the miso ramen is my favorite) served with an additional seasoned boiled whole egg at PIkaichi.  It doesn’t say it online, but on the in-house menu, you can get a small bowl of curry rice or char siu don (roast pork on rice) for an additional $2.50!  Heck yeah, I did it!  Also got a side of takoyaki (fried octopus balls)…you know, for good measure ^_^

O-Sushi Restaurant & Bar in Harvard Square, Cambridge

osushi, sushi, sashimi, harvard square, japanese restaurant, japanese bar

Scenes from the VIP opening of O-Sushi located in Harvard Square, Cambridge.  Complimentary wine & sake.  Waiters carrying platters of hot & cold appetizers one after the other after the other.  Thanks again to O-Sushi for the invitation!

osushi, sushi, sashimi, harvard square, japanese restaurant, japanese bar

osushi, sushi, sashimi, harvard square, japanese restaurant, japanese bar

osushi, sushi, sashimi, harvard square, japanese restaurant, japanese bar

Blogger Sunday Brunch Harbor Cruise Aboard the Odyssey Boston

odyssey, boston, cruise, harbor, boat, ship, dining, sailing, brunch, buffet, all you can eat, breakfast, champagne

As I wake up on this dreary, rainy, cold Sunday morning, I’m reminded of the spectacularly warm & sunny day just one week ago…the perfect weather for a cruise brunch aboard the Odyssey Boston.

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Flora Farms, San Jose Del Cabo, Baja Sur California, Mexico

About 20 minutes away from downtown San Jose Del Cabo in Mexico is this amazing green & fertile oasis in the middle of the desert called Flora Farms.  Imagine eating everything delicious & organic just steps away from where it’s all grown or raised.  This is a place I would expect in a foodie haven like Portland, Oregon…certainly not in Mexico!  

To say I was excited to eat here is the understatement of the year!  We started with their incredible olive bread & butter, washed down with a carafe of citrus grilled sangria.  I had their 3-course lunch menu consisting of tomato bisque with fresh oregano, a visually stunning edible flowers salad & chicken breast topped with vinaigrette-dressed arugula.  We rounded off our meal with their house white wine & truly, the most unforgettable pineapple sorbet I had ever had!  Of all the delicious places I had been to in Mexico, this was the most unexpectedly out of place, had that wonderfully relaxed feel & hopefully I’ll be able to visit again!

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