A Sunday in Richmond

Since I had been to London a few times before, this trip was really about seeing new parts of the city that were not the typical tourist attractions. My friend took me to Richmond, a cute little town in Southwest London. I loved seeing how the town was decorated for the holidays and what people typically would be doing on a Sunday away from all the hustle and bustle of the tourists.

We walked through the town and headed towards Richmond Park. The park is the largest of London’s Royal Park and is a deer park!

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Australian Brunch in London

After years of admiring ornately decorated department store windows and towering Christmas trees in New York City during the holiday season, I wanted to experience how another city celebrated the most wonderful time of the year. My travels took me to London to visit a friend that lives in South London, next to the Clapham Common.

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The Clapham Common is a large 220 acres triangular park with ponds and lots of walking paths. One of the best parts of London parks that I learned on this trip is that they are all dog friendly!

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High Tea at the Langham Hotel Boston

 

Here is a guest post from a fellow always hungry wanderer, my Sister! Enjoy!

After studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland this summer, I found myself craving that European charm in everyday life. From the accents, to the diverse foods, even how different the culture was in general over there, I wanted to bring some of those elements here to Boston. Out of the eight awesome people that I lived with in Dublin, my two friends Joe and Caroline shared my love for baking and high tea. There were days where we would come home from our internships and share the new bakeries we found on the side streets of Dublin. This transitioned into the topic of High Tea. I would describe to the girls how jealous I was of all the guests at the hotel that I worked at who got to experience the Alice in Wonderland high tea. As our time in Dublin ended, we all agreed we needed to find somewhere back in Boston to experience a true high tea.

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After doing some research and talking to my fellow hospitality experts, I stumbled upon the high tea offered at the Langham Hotel. Since I am in the School of Hospitality at Boston University, I often have assignments requiring me to work with various hotels around the city of Boston. This led me to already know the hotel, and it certainly was a perfect fit for afternoon tea. The Langham Hotel used to be a Federal Bank Reserve, but was converted into a hotel. The lobby is charming with chandeliers on the ceilings and soft pink and silver accents everywhere. Immediately to your left is a piano player, supplying music to the guests seated with cups of tea and tiers of finger sandwiches.

At around $50 per person, the Langham offers unlimited tea with three courses of finger foods. We started by selecting our teas, which took a while as the menu must of offered over fifteen different types of tea. I chose a peach vanilla tea, which I was very satisfied with. The first course consisted of various finger sandwiches, such as cucumber mint, a salmon whip with caviar on top, a chopped hard-boiled egg on white bread, and a chicken salad sandwich. Following the sandwich course was my favorite part: the scones. I was so excited for this part that I forgot to take a picture. The plate offered two scones per person with jam, butter and a lemon curd on the side. I was ecstatic! Joe, Caroline and I had been craving good English scones for months now, and we had certainly gotten our fix.

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Of course, the excitement didn’t stop there. The last course consisted of desserts that looked too pretty to even touch. The plate consisted of pumpkin cream puffs, apple crisp shooters, chocolate pecan tarts, and chocolate brownies with heaping amounts of frosting on top. I tend to favor more desserts without chocolate on them, so I selected a pumpkin cream puff and an apple crisp shooter. Both were absolutely delicious. Joe and Caroline tried each of the other desserts as well and took some leftovers home.

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After four cups of tea and satisfying our European pastry cravings, we were ready to call it a day. If you’re ever in Boston and have already gotten you’re lobster roll and Dunkin Donuts coffee, call the Langham hotel and make a reservation for high tea. You’ll feel as if you’re back in Europe!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After four cups of tea and satisfying our European pastry cravings, we were ready to call it a day. If you’re ever in Boston and have already gotten you’re lobster roll and Dunkin Donuts coffee, call the Langham hotel and make a reservation for high tea. You’ll feel as if you’re back in Europe!

Mike’s Pastry in Boston

One of my favorite parts of Boston is the North End. It has the distinction of being the city’s oldest residential community, where people have continuously inhabited since it was settled in the 1630s. Though small, only 0.36 square miles (0.93 km2), the neighborhood has nearly one hundred establishments and a variety of tourist attractions. It is known for its fine Italian restaurants.

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I’ve been to several different Italian restaurants in the neighborhood and I’ve enjoyed everyone one of them. The only thing I like more than good Italian food are great Italian desserts. My sister and I had dinner in the North End during my most recent visit and when I suggested ordering dessert at the restaurant, she balked at me. I thought maybe she was full from the heaping plate of pasta but actually, she really wanted to show me Mike’s Pastry. After living in New York and visiting Little Italy a few too many times, I’ve become jaded about these type of places. The ones you hear so much about but then they never really live up to the hype.

We walked in and there was no real sort of organization. People just wandered up to the counter after they reviewed the countless types of cannolis and walked away with a little box wrapped in string. When it was our turn to wade through the crowd, I saw an espresso cannoli calling my name. We paid and left with our own little box to be eaten back in bed at the hotel.

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I apologize for the hideous photo quality because the picture does not do this dessert justice. First of all, the cannoli was huge, it was bigger than my hand. But I managed to eat the entire thing and still wanted more! It was delicious. A perfect end to an evening in the North End.

Brunch at City Table and Sightseeing

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My sister is now in her final year at Boston University so I have visited her in Boston several times. One of the places she always takes me and the rest of the family to is City Table, and this visit was no different. The restaurant is located in Back Bay which is a great area to explore. It’s close to Newbury street, a great street for shopping, as well as other Boston attractions, including the Public Library.

The restaurant is attached to the Lenox Hotel, making it very easy to find. Inside is pretty swanky but the menu is very eclectic with various breakfast and lunch options. When we come with the whole family, Dad always gets a sandwich and my sister and I always get the eggs. This time, I opted for tea as well and that was delicious! Perfect for a chilly fall day.  

After brunch we had some time to kill so we wandered around the area and went into the Boston Public Library. I’ve walked by the outside many times and admired it but had never been inside. Inside is even more breathtaking than I imagined! The city of Boston has such a unique identity from many cities in the United States because it is one of the few with such a rich and long history. 

This location of the Boston Public Library was completed in 1895. In 1986, the National Park Service designated the McKim Building a National Historic Landmark citing it as “the first outstanding example of Renaissance Beaux-Arts Classicism in America.” Within the McKim Building are fine murals series, fine collections of rare books and manuscripts, maps, and prints, and splendid gallery space for displaying the numerous treasures assembled over the past 160 years. 

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 The Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel is across from Trinity Church and the Public Library. The hotel cost $5.5 million dollars to build and opened in 1912. The Copley Plaza Hotel has been host to many famous people. Every U.S. President since William Howard Taft, and royalty from Greece, Thailand, Abyssinia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Belgium, Denmark, and the United Kingdom have visited the hotel. Celebrities including John Lennon, Tony Bennett, Lena Horne, Dorothy Lewis, Frank Sinatra, and Luciano Pavarotti have also been guests. But I think one of the best parts about the hotel is Carly Copley, Canine Ambassador. Carly, a black Labrador formerly trained as a guide dog, warmly greets guests upon arrival to the hotel. She is also available for scheduled walks and runs with guests. 

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Trinity Church, directly across from the Boston Public Library was completed in 1877. Trinity Church is the only church in the United States and the only building in Boston that has been honored as one of the “Ten Most Significant Buildings in the United States” by the American Institute of Architects (AIA). In 1885, architects voted Trinity Church as the most important building in the U.S.; Trinity Church is the only building from the original 1885 list still included in the AIA’s current top ten list. The building was designated a National Historic Landmark on December 30, 1970.

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The Old South Church on Boylston Street was completed in 1873. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1970 for its architectural significance as one of the finest High Victorian Gothic churches in New England.

Brunch in Boston – Tatte

This is a very “basic” thing to say but I can’t help it – I love brunch. It’s a combination of my favorite meal of the day, breakfast, with an excuse to be decadent and linger over your meal. Luckily my sister shares a love for this perfect hybrid meal and whenever we are together, we make the effort to have an extra special brunch at least once. When I visited her in Boston in October, she picked another perfect spot for our special brunch – Tatte.

Tatte has several locations in Boston, but our visit took us to the Charles Street location. We wandered on cobblestone sidewalks under trees with red, yellow and orange leaves to this quaint spot in Beacon Hill. I personally think Boston is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever visited and Boston in the fall is truly hard to beat.

We were met with a line at the door but my sister assured me that it would be worth it. I honestly didn’t mind waiting in line so I could drool, figuratively and somewhat literally over the freshly baked pastries on display. I believe heaven is a heap of croissants like this one. Normally I am only interested in savory items for brunch but I couldn’t walk by all of these gorgeous baked goods without sampling one.

My sister and I split a cinnamon roll as well as an almond milk latte for each of us. I am slightly lactose intolerant, a fact I will deny when I am presented with gelato, so it is pleasing to see more coffee shops and restaurants offering lactose alternatives.

After our appetizer and coffees, the brunch entrees arrived. My sister had the vegetable tart tatin and I had the shakshuka. Everything on the menu looked incredible but it’s hard for me to ever pass up on shakshuka. Both dishes were delicious.

I would definitely recommend stopping by Tatte when you’re in Boston if you’re looking for a quick, delicious brunch. I can’t wait to go back during my next visit!

 

 

Fall Flavors Baking Class

My sister and I are really the chefs in charge when it comes to our family’s holiday meals. We start planning it weeks in advance down to the appetizers we are going to eat during the day while cooking. One of the most exciting parts for us is planning the desserts.

While visiting my sister in Boston in October, we took an Autumn pie baking class to get our creative baking juices flowing! The class was at the Sur la Table store in the Prudential Center.

The first recipe was for a rustic cranberry galette and the second was a traditional apple pie. We used homemade pie dough for each that was made ahead of time and then we got to make our own at the end of class.

My sister is really the master chef, I’m more of a line cook but a great taste tester. These galettes were straight out of the oven and I wish I could describe how incredible they smelled.

The class had a total of twelve people including two mother-daughter duos and a family so this type of class is perfect for all groups. Everything was simple and straightforward but still fun and informative. There are Sur la tables all over the country so I definitely recommend checking out a cooking class or even their online classes! http://www.surlatable.com/category/cat2211278/Find+a+Cooking+Class

 

Joe’s Shanghai

A friend of mine and I have been making the effort lately to explore more of our great city. New York is known for it’s numerous incredible restaurants across a wide range of cuisines. With a variety of cuisines, it can be very easy to slip into a rut and continue to visit the same, comfortable places over and over again. Over the next few months, we are going to make an effort to branch out and explore new boroughs, new restaurants and really appreciate all the variety in this city’s restaurant scene.

We kicked off this “Dinner Club” with a visit to the Joe’s Shanghai location in Chinatown. This restaurant is an institution in New York, with the original location in Flushing, Queens. In addition to this original location, another location appears in Midtown as well. In order to fill our desire for more of an authentic experience, we decided to visit the location on Pell street.

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After walking into the restaurant, I was immediately caught off guard by a simple yet distinct element. This element happened to be the very unassuming dining experience. My initial shock sprung because many people have spoken highly of this establishment, leading me to except something completely different. Upon entering, you are greeted at the door by an aquarium full of very large coy fish. We were seated immediately, but once again found ourselves surprised when we were seated at a table with four other people.

The drink menu was hilariously limited to four different types of beer. But that was not the focus of the evening. The soup dumplings were the stars of the night. This signature dish is something I’ve dreamed about trying for a while due to its combination for two of my passions: delicious soup and carbs. My friend taught me the technique for slurping the hot broth out of the dumpling before biting into the pork inside. One of the pairs at our communal table only had two orders of the dumplings and beer but I didn’t judge them one bit for that choice – these dumplings were delicious!

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The dumplings were served first, as a first course perhaps. What followed was just as excellent, and it happened to be chicken fried rice and beef with peppers. The only reason I stopped eating before these plates were clear was because the sodium was really starting to make me bloat but that is the cost you pay when enjoying some fine Chinese food.

The service was quick, the atmosphere quirky and definitely a unique experience to have in New York.

A Tale of Two Taverns – Nashville

As a huge fan of country music, Nashville to me is my ideal city but even for non-country fans, Nashville is an awesome place to visit. There is a reason one of Nashville’s nicknames is Nashvegas because there is so much to do and a lot of fun to be had! I’ve been to Nashville two times before but this trip was the first time for a few friends that I was with so we definitely hit the honky tonks on Broadway in Downtown Nashville and experienced what it is all about: Live music.

I don’t have many pictures of the bar crawling on Broadway downtown because like the saying goes, What happens in Nashvegas, stays in Nashvegas. But I do have photos of the other best parts of the trip: the food!

As soon as my friend and I arrived in Nashville, we had our friend that was picking us up, take us straight to a BBQ joint. We were hungry from the early flight and we were ready to the taste of the south.

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All BBQ is technically fast food because it all is slow cooked for hours ahead of time so typically the time from ordering to eating is short. Jim and Nick’s is an interesting BBQ spot because we were in the suburbs, surrounded by other fast food spots and this location even had a drive-thru. Once you walked in the doors though, you were welcomed by the aroma of BBQ sauce.

As usual, my eyes were bigger than my stomach so I started off with a salad (trying to get a few greens in before an indulgent weekend) and we shared a plate of nachos. The cheese could have been a bit more melted on the nachos but the chicken on them was incredible. Then came the cheddar biscuits. Usually I try to stay away from the free bread at the restaurants because they are just filler and I want to enjoy the meal I ordered; these were so worth it! At the end of the meal when I thought I was too full for one more thing, I had the final biscuit.

My friends and I all ordered different meals so we could all try the different meats. I’ll give you one guess which plate is mine – the one that is just meat and carbs of course.

Overall, I think the meal was good, especially how quick it was and the service was great! But I wouldn’t say this was the best BBQ I’ve had, even just that weekend!

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Since this was the first visit to Nashville for a few friends of mine, we wanted to experience another type of BBQ restaurant, something bit more ~authentic~. We stopped by Edley’s BBQ in the 12South neighborhood. Aside of the incredible BBQ, this neighborhood would be a great place to visit during a trip to Nashville. Right next to Edley’s is Reese Witherspoon’s boutique, Draper James and the “I Believe in Nashville” mural.

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Edley’s interior is charming and once again the aroma of BBQ gets me every time. Once you order at the counter, you take a number to your table and your food is brought to you. Even with all 6 of us ordering separately, our food was served in less than 20 minutes! I would definitely recommend a visit to Edley’s and the 12South neighborhood.

Something that most visitors to Nashville wouldn’t know about is Pinewood Social. My friend that has been living in Nashville for five years told us about it as an alternative to sit down dinner and a great way to start the night. The space itself is part lounge with a coffee bar, part bar and restaurant with a huge wrap around bar and table seating, and also a bowling alley. We ordered some light appetizers at one of the lanes and this is not traditional bowling alley food! We had some great cocktails and played a few games. The music was great and the vibe was very Nashville: traditional with a twist.

Finally, the reason for the title of this post, A Tale of Two Taverns. One of my favorite restaurants in Nashville is Tavern in Midtown. The space is huge and light, there are tons of TVs for watching football and most importantly, the food and drinks are excellent. We wanted to go for brunch but the restaurant fills up so fast that we had to be waiting at the restaurant when the doors opened at 10am.

The brunch drinks were two for one and I love the system they have at Tavern. I got one awesome bloody mary and then the waitress gives you a chip to claim your second. If you find yourself at Tavern, you must, must order the “white trash hash”. My friends were a little apprehensive at first but when they had their first bites, they were sold. Especially since there were three different hot sauces available on the table.

For my entree, I always, always order Huevos Rancheros when it is on the menu. At Tavern, they have a little twist on the classic. The meal was the perfect size and a great start to a great weekend in Nashville!

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The second Tavern of the weekend was the Peddle Tavern. These peddlepubs have become very popular in many different cities as a spin on a bar crawl. Since our group was only 6 people, we were paired up with some other groups. We had the best “guide/driver” Dan and it was definitely the most fun I had the entire weekend! Once again, no photos from the actual Peddle Tavern but here is a group shot early on in the evening. I demand that if you are in Nasvhille, you do this before your night out at the Honky Tonks!