Monthly Archives

June 2014

Sunning Ourselves in P-Town

June 30, 2014

Dear Reader,

This weekend I finally got to the beach, hitting up Provincetown with some of my best friends from college. We have been trying to find a way to get together again and somehow managed to all meet up and lay in the sun together. We got up at six a.m. to beat the traffic and were on the beach by 8:30, drinking mimosas and eating strawberries.Sunning Ourselves in P-Town

The water was freezing, so outside of some beach combing, we mostly lay around and soaked up the rays on the perfectly temperate day until around noon, when we started to get hungry and decided it was time to go forage for food in the actual town. Sunning Ourselves in P-Town

Sunning Ourselves in P-Town

Oh but we also discovered a dragon before we left. Just lying on the sand, waiting for us to pick it up. My friend Becca is particularly fond of dragons, so it was the perfect souvenir to take home. It also smelled like something very dead and fishy, but hey… it’s a dragon.Sunning Ourselves in P-Town
We drove into town, making lots of friends along the way since we were driving rather… cramped. I swear there are seatbelts back there!Sunning Ourselves in P-Town

P-town is so so lovely and if my camera hadn’t died, I would have about a million pictures of pretty houses and perfectly manicured lawns and gardens. I can only say you will have to check it out yourself because it is the most adorable beach town I have ever seen. We ate at a place called Local 186 that had really great American pub food. I had a crazy good burger, a very sweet milkshake, and some banging chips and guac. They also had a huge television I could watch the Brazil/Chile penalty shoot-out on with everyone else in the restaurant, who all got very invested in the outcome. I love being in a place with that kind of energy.Sunning Ourselves in P-Town

I do, however, have this picture of Diane and me to make up for it. We all headed back once the sun began to set and watched a lot of Boy Meets World together, ate brie and bread, tried to watch Girl Meets World without gagging (so so so bad), and then fell asleep exhausted and happy. The next day ended up being kind of a muddy nature trek through a whole lot of tick-infested wilderness.Sunning Ourselves in P-Town

And although that was fun, I prefer this part of the weekend:Sunning Ourselves in P-Town

All in all, it was amazing beyond amazing to get to see my girls again. We made a pact to do this at least once a year and I couldn’t be happier to keep that promise. After all, who wouldn’t want to be able to do this all day with your best friends?Sunning Ourselves in P-Town

Lone Star Taco Bar

June 27, 2014

Dear Reader,

I have found the best tacos I have ever eaten. It is decided. Too bad actually eating at the restaurant that serves them is next to impossible. Even though it may have been a weeknight when I went, the rest of Boston has discovered that Lone Star Taco Bar has the best Mexican street food for miles around. Unfortunately, Lone Star appears to have no idea how to handle their good fortune and boasts some of the worst service I have ever received at a restaurant. So this review is going to be a bit of a mixed bag.10375896_10202503165560297_8237144474619514802_n

The place I am talking about is called Lone Star Taco Bar and it is located in Allston, Ma.

Let’s start with the good: The menu is not huge, but it doesn’t need to be. They serve fish tacos, avocado tacos, carnitas tacos, and barbacoa tacos. You order them individually, like tapas, then when they arrive the first bite sends you into a world of delight. I ordered the carnitas and the barbacoa and though the carnitas was good, it was nothing next to the barbacoa. Spicy and rich, with red onion and avocado providing the perfect complement to the smoked brisket, I couldn’t get the thing into my stomach fast enough. The barbacoa is extremely spicy though, so be sure you have one of their tequila-heavy drinks on hand to wash it down. I had their Paloma and was in seventh heaven. They also have something called a Mexican Happy Meal, which includes a shot of tequila, a shot of sangrita (which tastes like super spicy V8) and then a pint of Dos Equis to wash it all down. A couple of those and the bad service will be a mostly distant memory.10394108_645671345516239_6330246823578111084_n

The chips and guacamole are another absolute must. Between five of us we polished off two big containers of it and a whole lot of chips. And by polished off I mean we practically licked the bowls. It is just exceptional and rich and the chips are fresh and as crispy as they should be. Now, price-wise the place is also kind of a mixed bag. The food is very decently priced and the drinks are pretty expensive, which is another thing that leads me to my main advice about this restaurant: order ahead and pick up your food, then go and eat it somewhere else. Thankfully they have this option, and it is definitely what I will be doing in the future.10366142_657135317703175_8636187894396790313_n

The place is so small that it is always busy and the environment is just not that wonderful that you have to eat inside the actual restaurant. And if you can get seated at a table in under an hour, you are a luckier person than I was. We were told when we got there that the wait would be twenty minutes. An hour and fifteen minutes later, we were seated. By this time all of us were so hungry that the food could have tasted like hot garbage and we would have wolfed it down. The wait also took a tiny bit away from my ability to enjoy the otherwise fantastic food. I was so hungry I wolfed down two tacos and a ton of chips and barely tasted what I was eating. I know I would have enjoyed it even more if I had been able to take my time and savor, instead of trying to prevent myself from fainting in the middle of the restaurant.10314000_648746355208738_2338883616631368458_n

And that leads me to the bad: Although it is not the staff’s fault that the place is so small or so popular, it would have been nice to have a more realistic time estimate. If I had known that I would be waiting over an hour, well, I honestly would have left. There are plenty of other great food joints in the Allston area within walking distance of Lone Star, including their sister restaurant Deep Ellum, which is right next door. It is also not entirely the staff’s fault that the people taking up the majority of the tables were content to sit for at least an hour after they had stopped eating or ordering anything new and just hang out. I completely understand the impulse to do this and I have done it myself. And if you are sitting in a restaurant that is of a decent size or has no one waiting for a table, then go for it. However, when the same five obviously starving women have been staring in the window for over an hour, along with a ton of other people waiting for a table, it is time to be considerate and give up your table. I saw people who were done eating when I first went in sit at their table and chat for an hour, something that deprives waitresses of their tips and other customers of any possibility of enjoying the same environment you obviously are.10298916_657990410950999_9001192875435559335_n

Once we were actually seated, our waitress came and was very nice. She got us our food and didn’t seem at all phased by how quickly we inhaled it. She was new, however, so she had another waiter who was also working with her on our table. This person was rude and obviously had no desire to make a favorable impression on anyone. He brought us things we hadn’t ordered, was annoyed when we didn’t want to keep them (and thus pay for them), constantly bothered our table by coming over again and again to pick up every stray bit of paper or empty plate he could find, and when we were taking care of the check, brought us one even though our waitress had already given it to us, even refusing to believe us when we referred him to her. Finally, when one of the drinks on one of our checks was incorrectly listed as being more expensive than it said on the menu, he got severely annoyed that we should want to get it fixed.1609963_643212299095477_3680638226533002464_n

I left the place full, but not quite happy, and with an intention to eat their food often but never to eat it in the actual restaurant again. And that is what I suggest you do too. I am not exaggerating about the quality of this food. It is fresh and delicious, they have a lot of specials that are mind-blowing, and it is all well well worth the nonsense we had to put up with to enjoy it. But if you can avoid the nonsense and still eat the food… why wouldn’t you?10487407_661238387292868_5300449911062991972_n

 

 

Lost in Boston

June 25, 2014

Dear Reader,

The weather has been a cross between unbelievably gorgeous and temperate beyond belief. So much so that I could almost forget the fact that we had a spring that lasted all of three weeks this year.  I took advantage of all this recently and took a walk around Boston. I actually ended up taking an eight mile walk around Boston when all was said and done and I was greedily slurping down a smoothie at Coldstone, unable to feel anything below my knees.

In my travels around this great city, I paused in such places as The Raven Used Books on Newbury street, some of the parks that make up the Emerald Necklace, the absurdly beautiful brownstone-lined streets of Back Bay, a really BAMF statue of Leif Ericson with Nordic runes carved into its base, a bamboo forest, and the longest-maintained victory gardens in the United States. All within the space of an afternoon. I might need new feet but I am even more in love with this city than I already was.

Here is a slight photo journey, in case you don’t believe I have indeed travelled to these places:

The Raven: as much wrought iron, bright windows, and creepy birds as you could wish for. Also cheap pretty books.

Lost in Boston

 

The Emerald Necklace: a series of beautiful parks that run through Boston and for which the green line is named (fun fact from Lauren).

Lost in Boston

 

Homes where I want to raise my cute and undoubtedly named after British literary characters children:

Lost in BostonLost in BostonLeif, son of Eric: I kind of wish there wasn’t a translation on the back. Then people would have to look up runes, which is a really worthy way to spend an afternoon. Also his pose is so cocky. I love it.

Lost in Boston

The bamboo forest I mistook for really tall corn at first: I’ve been a city girl too long.

Lost in BostonDoesn’t this look like a post-apocalyptic image of Boston?

Lost in BostonAnd finally, the victory garden. Which was so cool and I really want a plot a lot but I don’t really live near enough to take adequate care of it. Woe is me.

Lost in BostonLost in Boston

And that is what eight miles of good road… or sidewalks, gets you. So my advice for this weekend is to get lost in Boston and end your trip at a Coldstone. Preferably with their mango pineapple smoothie because it is really really good.

A Pro-Belgian Brunch

June 23, 2014

Dear Reader,

Ever since I moved to Boston and fell in with a pretty awesome group of people, I have wanted to feed these people. So this weekend I decided to play host to a little World Cup party for the Belgium vs. Russia game. I was born in Belgium so I’ve been pushing for them to go all the way. A Pro-Belgian Brunch

I prepared one of the appetizers my Belgian father always makes, prosciutto with cantaloupe. There is something about the combination of the salty, rich prosciutto and the sweet, ripe cantaloupe that makes it a mind-blowing combination. Popping a little roll of prosciutto and then a piece of melon in your mouth together is just the height of savory and sweet.

A Pro-Belgian BrunchI had also been eyeing some pretty sweet strawberries at Whole Foods for a while so I made strawberry shortcake for the main brunch course. I used buttermilk biscuits and let the strawberries soak in their own juices (with a little added sugar) overnight, then whipped up some cream in the morning for a fresh and fine meal.

A Pro-Belgian BrunchAll that was left was to pour the mimosas, turn on the tv, and let Belgium do their thing.

A Pro-Belgian BrunchAnd, of course, to have seconds once the second period rolled around.

A Pro-Belgian Brunch

 

For the Algeria vs. South Korea game I opted for some homemade pizza. Nothing really matched up there, but it was pizza, and thus is always acceptable under my roof. I bought dough, sauce, and cheese and tried my best to toss and shape my own perfectly round smooth pizza. I think I pretty much nailed it.

A Pro-Belgian BrunchNo complaints were heard as we munched and shouted at the television. So I’ll take that as a win on all fronts.

We headed to the bar afterwards to catch all the action from the U.S. vs. Portugal game. But, if you’ve been paying any attention to every social media outlet ever this morning, you know the kind of soaring joy and vicious heartbreak that were in store for us there. But at least half of my heritage had something to be very happy about today. And all of my stomach certainly did.

 

 

 

Working For that Back to School Bod

June 18, 2014

Dear Reader,

A lot of people try and slim down and get healthier in the spring/summer months. The cliche is to prepare that “beach body” for recreational bathing in public. However, I prefer the idea of preparing that “back to school body.” Either way, chances are a lot of you are working on having a better diet and getting more exercise. I am doing this myself and I have discovered some tips and tricks that work for me. My disclaimer for this post is that they work for me. What works for you might be something entirely different. But here is my advice, take it or leave it as you will.

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1. Count your calories and measure your food:

I am getting this one out of the way first because it is both fundamental and a little obsessive on my part. The majority of my diet has been based around this. I use an app called My Fitness Pal, in which I record every last calorie I eat (with as much accuracy as possible). You can add in your exercise for the day and it will calculate how many more calories you can eat to make up for it and it has a wide library of foods to find your meal in. I love it and I couldn’t do this without it. Now in order to make using this the most effective, I also measure most of my food. So I don’t just pour out my cereal in the morning, I measure to make sure it is exactly a cup and then I measure half a cup of milk into it. Honestly, I do it by eye now because I know what level it should be in my bowl, but still. This method ensures that you actually know and can control how much you are eating. When you guess, believe me, you are often going to be wrong. I also just can’t measure anything by eye really all that well so this is a necessity for me.

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2. Lick your plate:

Once you have allotted out how many calories you can eat a day and what you are spending those calories on, eat everything you can within those bounds. Being on a restricted calorie diet already sets up the framework for losing weight. So if you have a plate of pasta, eat every noodle. Obviously, if you are truly full then you don’t have to keep eating, but once in this framework try to take advantage of really finishing your meals. It will save you money, too, because you aren’t wasting any food.

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3. Have a midnight snack:

Don’t make dinner your last meal of the day. Unless you are asleep by nine, eating around six isn’t going to be enough to tide you over for the whole rest of the night. Make sure you have a few hundred leftover calories to spend on a snack around nine or ten. I know they say snacking late at night is bad for you but falling asleep hungry and compensating the next morning by eating twice the breakfast isn’t going to be good for your diet either.

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4.Don’t eat broccoli:

Or anything else that you really really hate. I am not a huge vegetable fan. I freely admit to liking almost none of them. And I really don’t eat them. But I am careful to watch my nutrition and I do my best to replace what I would get from some horrid foods with the same nutrients in foods I like better. Diets fail when they become a chore. If you sit down to eat and it’s a terrible experience of you trying to force yourself to eat something that you just don’t like, then chances are you are going to eventually say “screw it” and grab a Snickers instead. Similarly,

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5.Eat some french fries:

A lot of people would refer to this as a “cheat.” The truth is chocolate and fried food are a part of our lives. French fries are a wonderful invention. Don’t give them up. Cheat. Just make sure you are keeping a good balance. And balance is really what this whole crazy world is about. Or prosciutto wrapped truffle fries. It might be about that.

Believe me when I say this actually works. I have tried dieting before and just never been able to lose more than five or six pounds because I either gave up or wasn’t really paying enough attention to how much I was eating. I’ve lost thirteen pounds and counting now, I don’t mind saying. And I hope this helps anyone out there who is looking to find a way to be healthier by September 🙂

All photos courtesy of the massive amount of food porn on Pinterest.