Posted tagged ‘Coffee’

A Saturday in Portsmouth, New Hampshire

September 5, 2011

On Saturday my fiance and I decided to go to Portsmouth, New Hampshire– a supposedly cool city just an hour’s drive from Boston. We got there around noon, walked around for a few minutes and then stopped at the River House for lunch. Although the restaurant’s on the water, we decided to eat inside because it was so hot out. The highlight of the meal was certainly the seafood chowder, which is shown in this picture.

It contained lobster, scallops, shrimp, clams and haddock, and was so so good. I guess that’s no surprise considering it won first place awards at the 2009/2010 Portsmouth Chowder Festival. The above picture also shows my fiance’s tasty lobster roll and hand cut potato chips. I had a lobster Lorraine quiche with a house salad.

Everything was fantastic! And they even gave us a free bowl of chowder (sort of an accident, but we gladly accepted)! After lunch we got some coffee at Breaking New Grounds in Market Square. We vowed to return later in the day (they had tons of delicious-looking pastries and gelato), and we did. Look at these gelato flavor combinations we came up with.

Hazelnut chocolate and strawberry chocolate

It would have been nice to sit outside of the coffee shop and people watch, but alas it was too hot. These photos will give you a feel for Market Square:

We walked around for a while, went shopping and saw some cool things.

A mural

A bridge going up

A fountain

A church

A quaint restaurant nestled in a back alley

Frogs doing yoga

Nice streets like this one

A physic studio

I got a couple of shirts for super-cheap in this consignment shop.

And we discovered a beautiful garden area.

My fiance in the garden area

Me in the garden area

Turns out this area is called Prescott Park. It’s right near an old cemetery, with gravestones dating to the 17th century.

It’s not far from the water either.

On our way back to the car we came across the Oracle House, one of Portsmouth’s oldest homes (circa 1702).

And the Liberty Pole, a flagpole commemorating our freedom from British rule. At this location in 1766 colonists hung a banner reading “Liberty, Property and No Stamp” to protest King George’s Stamp Act (it imposed taxes on newspapers, stationary and documents).

We saw this just before leaving. It pretty much sums up our experience in Portsmouth.

Thank you, Amanda!

July 9, 2011

To thank my fiance and I for helping her edit her book, my friend Amanda sent us lots of goodies from Baltimore Coffee and Tea, a family-owned coffee roasting business in the Baltimore area. She said this is where she buys her coffee. I can’t wait to try all of this out!

These came with an almond biscotti but I already ate it-- yum!

Keeping my eyes open

June 12, 2011

I like to keep my eyes open for cool art. Here are a couple recent examples:

This old Life Savers ad is in the women’s bathroom of The Old Salt Restaurant in Hampton, New Hampshire (it says Life Savers are “a good rule to follow after eating drinking or smoking”). I went there last Sunday in celebration of my fiance’s parents’ wedding anniversary. They enjoy going to this restaurant, and we actually went there once together last year. Their specialty is seafood (I had a salad with fresh succulent crabmeat)!

This photo of a dog in Fenway Park (in the red Ted Williams seat!) is on display at the South End Buttery. I wanted to try it out a few weeks ago, and since then have gotten yummy coffee there on several occasions. My fiance ordered a burrito there on Friday, and although he liked it the waiter handed it to him on a steaming hot plate. I didn’t think that was too nice!

The Atomic Bean Cafe in Cambridge rocks

February 5, 2011

I’m always looking for new coffee shops with wireless Internet access. I’ve actually been going to the Atomic Bean Cafe in Central Square for over a year now (I mentioned the joint in this December 2009 post), but it was just recently that I tried one of their paninis. I had the Atomic Veggie panini, which is basically hummus, tomato, cucumbers, sprouts, and lettuce between two pieces of bread. Since it’s a panini, it was pressed in a grill just before service.

My Atomic Veggie panini meal

The sandwich cost $7.50, which is a big pricey. Still, it came with tortilla chips, salsa, and pineapple slices. Everything was scrumptious. I like the cafe’s coffee, and the banana mango smoothie I sampled wasn’t bad either (if anything, it was a little too sweet). Their muffins are to die for. Bite into one of their orange cranberry or pistachio chocolate muffins, and you’ll know what heaven tastes like.

Looking to save some money? One solution is making your own iced coffee.

January 31, 2011

My fiance drinks iced coffee pretty much every day, and he used to only buy it from Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, or another coffee shop. But now he’s primarily making his own. It’s easy to make, it tastes comparably good, and it’s clearly saving us money.

We put hot coffee in this thermos (after making the coffee in our trusty Mr. Coffee machine), place the thermos in the fridge, and after an hour and a half the coffee is ready. Just add ice and voila, you're set.

Let’s see about how much we’re saving. I would say that an iced coffee, on average, costs $1.80 at a coffee shop. Let’s hold that thought for a minute. Now, yesterday I bought a 33.9-ounce container of Chock full o’ Nuts coffee for $7. According to Kmart’s website, 33.9 ounces of coffee can make up to 270 cups of coffee. Well, since we like our coffee fairly strong, we’ll say the canister makes 200 cups of coffee.

Seven dollars divided by 200 is 3.5 cents. So making our own iced coffee costs us 3.5 cents per cup, compared with $1.80 at a coffee shop. That’s a savings of about $1.76 per cup, and a savings of about $642 over the course of a whole year (provided you drink one iced coffee a day). That’s fairly significant, I’d say. While making your own iced coffee requires you to think ahead, you also save gas money (by not having to drive to a coffee shop), and help out the environment (by not using and throwing away a plastic coffee container).

Asmara: A restaurant where it’s OK to eat with your hands

November 28, 2010

I joined some friends for a meal at Asmara Restaurant in Cambridge’s Central Square the other night. I thought the restaurant was Ethiopian, but upon conducting some research I learned it’s Eritrean. In 1992, following 30 years of war with Ethiopia, Etritrea became an independent country. Though the two countries have the same cuisine and culinary traditions, this restaurant has ties with Etritrea. Asmara is actually the capital of Etritrea.

We all had mango juice to drink. It was so tasty and refreshing! And it went well with some of the spicy dishes we sampled. We actually ordered a large platter with numerous meat and veggie dishes.  The “meat combination” was called Sega Bebaynetu and included:

  • boneless chicken
  • spicy lamb
  • sautéed beef
  • mild vegetable stew
  • mild lentils
  • a house special salad

The “vegetable combination” was called Ahimilti Bebaynetu and included:

  • cabbage
  • yellow split peas
  • spinach
  • chick peas
  • lentils
  • tomato salad

It was awesome to have such a variety of foods at our disposal. You eat everything with your fingers with bread called Injera (made out of rice flour). It’s just like a sponge, soaking up sauces and flavors.

For dessert my friend Katie and I had some Etritrean coffee (it was similar to Turkish coffee– very strong with coffee grounds you’re not supposed to drink at the bottom). Here’s a picture of Katie enjoying her beverage:

The mango juice, food, and coffee cost me about $35 with tax and tip. Kind of expensive, but everything was very good.

A nice day in Boston

November 20, 2010

I just got a new camera so I thought I’d post some of its first pictures. Today I went to Beacon Hill to have breakfast at Cafe Vanille.

My boyfriend spotted the bakery’s croissants a few weeks ago and said they looked delicious. So he brought me along to try them. The cafe was so crowded we had to eat outside. I got a regular croissant and coffee and he got a chocolate croissant and iced latte:

Everything was amazing. The croissants were crispy on the outside and soft and moist on the inside. Usually I have to dunk my croissants in coffee for them to taste delicious but with these there was no need for that. When we were done we gave our crumbs to all the birds eying our breakfast. This is them having a feast:

Here are a few other pics I took today:

Boston Common park

George Washington statue

Galleria Florentia on Newbury Street putting up holiday lights

John Hancock Tower

Trinity Church

Outside The Shops at the Prudential Center

For lunch I ordered a McGreevy’s Cuban at McGreevy’s pub on Boylston Street. My roasted pork, ham, turkey, Swiss cheese, pickles, and chipotle mayonnaise were supposed to come in a baguette but they did not:

That was disappointing. When a girl wants a baguette she wants a baguette!

Pretty good experience at Met Back Bay

November 16, 2010

Met Back Bay is located on Newbury Street in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood

Last week my boyfriend and I dined at Met Back Bay for our two-and-a-quarter-year anniversary. We didn’t realize the restaurant had only been open for a couple of weeks. Our waiter was EXTREMELY knowledgeable about the wine list and food options.

We didn’t want to spend a ton on wine so we settled for a 2008 Napa Valley Chappellet red (specifically the Mountain Cuvee). It was a mixture of several grapes, and oh so smooth. Our waiter was a sommelier, and very apt at helping us choose the appropriate bottle. Within a minute of sitting down at the table we were served complimentary bread sticks with cheese. The cheese, which sort of tasted like a fancy version of cheese whiz, was served in a cute see-through jar. This was a nice touch.

The waiter also helped us decide on our main courses. I ordered the Long Island brick duck with foie gras and spiced crusted sugar pumpkin, and my boyfriend ordered the Lobster Fra Diavolo (lobster with hollow spaghetti). Our food was very good, especially my duck and his lobster. The duck was moist but not greasy (I find that duck meat is often greasy). I think the waiter said the duck was cooked with some sort of citrus juice.

I was surprised to discover that the foie gras was actually very sweet. It tasted like it had been mixed with maple syrup or something similar. This actually worked out really well, however, as it effectively complemented the savory duck and neutral-tasting pumpkin. All in all I was pleased! And so was my boyfriend. He asked the table next to us how their lobster New England pot pie was. They gave us the thumbs up, though they said it was too much to finish in one sitting. We certainly didn’t have that problem!

One negative thing was our cheesy flaky crescent rolls didn’t arrive until we were done with dinner. They were supposed to be the appetizer! The manager came out to apologize, and our waiter apologized numerous times. He clearly felt bad about the situation. They said there had been some sort of miscommunication and they are still working out the restaurant’s kinks. The rolls were really tasty, albeit a tad greasy.

For dessert we had coffee and apple cider donuts with vanilla ice cream. Once again, I wasn’t doing my body any favors, but the dessert was certainly yummy!

Overall we liked the restaurant’s decor, which included cushy red chairs, red padded walls, and a lovely bay window overlooking Newbury Street. We were lucky to score a booth right up against the bay window. We also liked the dark wood beams above us. According to my boyfriend, they “sort of gives it (the room) a traditional New England appeal.”

Being my journalistic self, I asked him to give another quote about the decor. He said: “They sure could use some art on these walls.” I personally liked the art-free walls, thinking they contributed to the room’s modern and clean-cut feel. But he thought a couple of small works of art would have done some good.

Here’s the dinner menu in case you’re interested in checking out this restaurant. I didn’t take any photos because my camera is broken:-(.

Kelly’s Diner in Somerville has good food, not-so-good service

October 1, 2010

Kelly's Diner in Somerville

At least that was my experience. I went there on Saturday for breakfast, and had a tasty grilled bagel (grilled bagels are amazing!) with cream cheese, yummy ham, potatoes, orange juice and coffee. Everything was scrumptious but our waitress was kind of out of it. Maybe she was having a bad day, but still.

One of the first things she asked us is if she had makeup on her nose. She had all this blue eyeshadow and glitter around her eyes, so I think she was afraid it had spread to other parts of her face. We told her she was in the clear, because she was. We ordered coffee and orange juice and got it without a problem.

Ordering our food was a little more difficult. She didn’t seem to know the menu and had to ask us a few time to repeat our orders. That was fine– I’d rather she take her time getting it right than us getting the wrong thing. We ended up getting our food pretty promptly so that was good, too.

But after that she didn’t seem to remember we were there. I asked her for water, and she said she’s bring one. She totally didn’t, however, and was instead talking to the elderly gentleman next to us (we were seated at the counter) about her aspirations of owning a hair salon. She said that her dad supported the idea, too, as he could then retire.

I though it was good she was making small talk with customers, but not at the expense of my thirst! I was dying for that glass of water. I tried to catch her attention but she was in another world. Each time she walked by us she was looking in another direction. Basically she just seemed out of it. Maybe she had had a rough night or something.

The one moment I was looking the other way, she came by and refilled my coffee mug to the brim. I looked over and she was already gone. This is actually a pet peeve of mine– servers who top off your coffee without asking your permission. I only wanted one cup, and it was perfectly flavored with sugar. By giving me more coffee she not only wasted coffee, but upset the beverage’s balance of coffee and sugar. I had to add more sugar, which meant sugar was also wasted.

One other thing I noticed was she was continuously adjusting her undergarments. But at least the food was good! And it’s cool the restaurant is inside one of the largest dining cars every manufactured in the 1950s.

How often do you see people dunking at Dunkin’ Donuts?

June 16, 2010

I’m a huge fan of dunking things in my coffee. I mean, I love coffee, and yummy treats taste even yummier when they are soaked in it.

The picture above shows one of my favorite breakfast treats for dunking– Stella D’oro Margherite vanilla cookies. They are sold at most grocery stores.

The package of cookies isn’t too expensive (between $3 and $4), and you can make it stretch for a little while if you have about three cookies per breakfast.

I also really like Stella D’oro’s almond toast and almond biscotti. And sometimes I buy the Margherite combo cookies, which are a combination of chocolate and vanilla cookies.

Here are some other things I love to dunk:

  • Madeleine cakes
  • Chocolate croissants (Panera has really good ones called “chocolate pastries.”)
  • Regular croissants
  • Chocolate chip cookies
  • Plain donuts

I prefer dunking plain donuts to donuts with more flavor because they absorb coffee better. Also, coffee gives the plain donut a better taste, whereas flavored donuts already taste really good. Additionally, plain donuts are much healthier.

The title of this post is “How often do you see people dunking at Dunkin’ Donuts?” I was thinking of this a couple of weeks ago when I was in a Dunkin’ Donuts. The first thing I realized is not a lot of people actually eat their coffee and/or food there. The second thing I realized is no one was dunking.

I think that Dunkin’ Donuts probably doesn’t emphasize the dunking aspect of its business in its ads because that would prompt people to buy plain donuts and regular hot coffee instead of the more expensive fancier donuts and coffee drinks.

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