A Foodie’s take on Whisk Boston: A “culinary experience”

If I’m being completely honest, it takes a whole heck of a lot to impress me. It’s no easy feat just ask my boyfriend. But, when I had the chance to experience Wink and Nod’s new culinary experience, known as Whisk Boston, I was more than impressed..I was blown away. 

A little difficult to find, I practically stumbled upon it after walking down a flight of stairs into a dark room, searching for the nearest staff member and asked if I had arrived at Whisk. Certainly, I had, but being a pop-up restaurant, Whisk was located at their newest location, Wink and Nod in the south end. If you have ever been to Lolita in Boston, this will kind of remind you of an upscale Lolita. Kind of eclectic but quaint and fun at the same time!

Upon meeting and greeting the other guests, I noticed the cute arrangement on each of the tables, put together by Jill Kerri, our wonderful host for the evening. 

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We started out with a Caraway Sourdough bread paired with salted and peppered butter. The black pepper was such a nice touch to the butter!

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Whisk collaborates with different restaurants around the city, by “popping-up, and showcasing their innovative display of flavors and somewhat bizarre combinations. By doing so, they are able to have full control over their kitchen and creatively express their culinary genius. Jeremy Kean, chef and one of the owners, uses his idea to take students from prisons as well as the street and put them in a kitchen. It is also clear that through his work he strives to elevate the dining experience. 

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For our first course we had a Strawberry Gazpacho, paired with an island creek oyster, fennel, and smoke. Remember what I said about bizarre combinations? Yup- never would have ever thought of a strawberry gazpacho with an oyster, but of course together, it all made sense as the sweetness of the strawberry blended with the saltiness of the oyster. Whisk has partnered with Wink & Nod’s “cocktail/wine/booze etc” program, so I of course embarked on a wine pairing journey. With the gazpacho dish I had an Alma Negra Malbec- my favorite wine of the night. 

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For our Second Course, we were served a black bass with faro, orange, and ponzu. I had a chateau de labourons with this course. An incredibly fun dish overall!

Third Course: Foi Gras Torchon served with a white chocolate veloute, sea scallops, and lime, paired with a Fino Sherry. Again, taking the sweet and pairing it with the salty. I am not typically a fan of Foi Gras but this was hands down my favorite dish of the night. 

For our Fourth Course, we had a Kalbi short rib with cherry and tiny veggies (literally half the size of my thumb), paired with a Pecchenino-Dolcetto. Where they get the veggies I have no idea, but one of the things I appreciate and respect about Whisk is that they prepare everything in-house and use local food, seasonal ingredients whenever they can. I do apologize for the spelling of the wines as I don’t typically venture out of my Malbec comfort zone. Part of the fun of this whole experience for me was definitely getting to experience some news wines that you won’t generally see elsewhere. 

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Okay, onto the Fifth Course: Whipped Brie (yummy!), with chocolate, honey, morel, and a thin cracker. Another one of my favorites for the night. I have never had cheese with chocolate! With honey-totally! Chocolate- never! It was super tasty and a perfect pairing once again. 

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Lastly, for our final course, we are served a deconstructed rhubarb parfait with a pistachio base and cherries. Elegant and sophisticated- taking a common dessert from my parent’s era and making it over for the younger generations 🙂 With this course, however, I did think the jelly on top had kind of a weird texture and wish there was another texture element such as something crunchy or a smooth, cold ice cream. The cherries were also quite strong, which semi-overpowered the dish. 

Nonetheless the food was impeccable and it is quite clear the passion that these chefs have and the love they pour into their dishes. I am not sure how long they will be around at Wink and Nod, but you can join their mailing list on their website for news on the next spot! (Their website is here.)

Of course, the night did not conclude with just great service and even better food. Jill, our host, made sure we left with a goodie bag full of stuff and also put together a few raffles! To tell you a little bit about what was in our bags, we received a bottle of wine from Sweet Baby Vineyard, located in New Hampshire, a quote printed out by Kal Barteski, Sparkly Soul Headbands, and a candle that says OWP and is not just a candle! You can WEAR IT: It’s a solid perfume, MASSAGE IT: it’s warm massage oil, BURN IT: it’s a candle. Objects With Purpose are made from organic coconut, shea, apricot butter with essential oils.

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We also received little mesh bags from Blue Mercury filled with petite samples and $25 gift card! Annnddd adorable Kiel James Patrick bracelets, which I wear daily now, along with a plethora of other goodies! 

I am so grateful for experiences like these, and can’t thank Jill and the other bloggers enough for such a wonderful night!

Whisk is located at 3 appleton st in the South End currently. 

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The Handle Bar Opens Newest Location in Fenway!

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Last Saturday I was invited to try out The Handle Bar’s newest cycling studio in Fenway. Having recently checked out SoulCycle, I couldn’t wait to compare the two! Being a spin newbie, I must admit spin is not always my preferred exercise of choice ( I always have a difficult time locking those damn shoes in!), but nonetheless was excited for a sweaty cardio sesh. Spin studios are abuzz these days with boutique shops popping up all over the place, similar to Crossfit “boxes.” So, naturally I had to see what all the craze was about. High energy, high intensity are just a few words to describe this 45 minute dynamic spin class. The Handle Bar provides both new and experienced spinners with a place to sweat and spin without all of the bells and whistles of some of the other spin studios. Filled with passionate instructors, whose goals are to make you feel challenged and inspired, you are sure to leave with a great workout under your belt and a sense of empowerment.

Unlike SoulCycle, I didn’t really feel like our rhythm was set to a beat or that we were having a dance party or engaging in any choreographed moves on the bike. It was simple and straightforward. I did like that both studios incorporated weights with the Handle Bar literally using a weighted bar for arms! We incorporated an abs circuit as well but me +coordination= major fail. I can’t seem to figure out yet how to crunch and do pushups while also moving my legs…so I didn’t get much of a workout during these portions. The bikes were also a tad close together so every time I went to do a pushup I was hitting the girl next to me. Fortunately, the room was cool and the music wasn’t blasting, which I appreciated. I know others who prefer the deafening music at other studios and the heated rooms, but to each their own. This studio at The Handle Bar worked just perfectly for me.

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My class was also extremely challenging, with a huge focus on sprints and hills. I loved our instructor Jenn who’s got a crazy free-spirit about her that was uplifting and challenged me to push through to the end.

The Handle Bar offers a single class for $20 and 5, 10, 20 and 40 class packages, ranging in price from $95 – $640. Riders also have the option to purchase a 1 month unlimited class package for $175 or a 1 year unlimited class package for $1680. Bikes can be reserved online up to seven days in advance and walk-ins are also welcome.

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After class, I walked out to the reception area, which similar to SoulCycle, offers apparel and a wide array of products, including adorable T’s, drinks, and rental shoes. It was a tad smaller and cramped a bit in the front, but perhaps it is the location. I have never been to the one in Southie so I can’t compare. The lockers also were open cubbies so I hope you trust your neighbor when you go! I felt a little uncomfortable about just leaving my stuff out in the open, but again, I guess it is part of the “no frills” aspect of The Handle Bar.

In terms of pricing, The Handle Bar offers a single class for $20 and 5, 10, 20 and 40 class packages, with prices between $95 – $640. You can also  purchase a 1 Month Unlimited: $175
First-Time Month Unlimited: $100
1 Year Unlimited: $1680
AND Shoe rental is complimentary for unlimited riders.
It is recommended to make a reservation online and single rides and packages can be purchased in studio or online. Bikes can be reserved online up to 7 days in advance. Walk-ins are also welcome.

In comparison, your first class at SoulCycle is $20 at and a single walk in after that is $30.

All in all I enjoyed my experience at The Handle Bar. Even though I am TERRIBLE at spinning, I was excited to check it out and was pretty impressed. Ultimately, YOU have to find what you want out of these exercise specific studios. Some like it hot and loud with more a spa like feeling (soul cycle), while others like myself prefer the no-frills, chilled room, simple and basic spin class (The Handle Bar). I have yet to try out Flywheel but that is certainly next on my list!

Question: Have you been to The Handle Bar? What did you think? What is your favorite cycling studio?

Disclaimer: I received this class complementary. I was not paid for my review and all opinions are my own. 🙂

Soon Spoon Pop up w/ PHaDe Food Labs

There is something so stimulating about fresh seasonal fare hitting your nostrils and tastebuds on a rainy night, huddled in a warm apartment, amidst laughter and conversation. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spent my Saturday night, surrounded by 6 other bloggers and one rather famous “twitter-er” (if that’s what they are called). The occasion? A pop-up dinner hosted by a new Start-up referred to as Soon Spoon. Soon Spoon connects foodies with local fine-dining restaurants in Boston and helps YOU obtain a last minute reservation. If you sign up, you will receive a notification as reservations become available by either email, twitter, or text. Hmm– notifications about opportunities to dine last minute at Boston’s most-booked restaurants? Yup- count me in!

Farmstead Table, Puritan & Co, Tupelo, Stir, Menton, Clio, and Uni are just a few of the restaurants Soon Spoon has partnered with
for reasons such as, they are highly creative, small, and special. These restaurants focus on hospitality above all as well as focus on detail and seasonal ingredients to provide their customers with the best dining experience. You certainly won’t find Legal or Morton’s on their list ( not that they aren’t special too, but you know what I mean.)

People who frequently book with Soon Spoon will have the opportunity to receive points as a reward that they can use to attend pop-up dinners- which are completely free! However, cancel a reservation? Bye-bye points!

So, I was invited to attend one of their pop-up dinners, catered by PHaDe Food Labs who served us 6 courses with 6 wine pairings. What’s not to love about that? Plus, the food was spectacular! We arrived around 6:30pm for assorted amuse bouches and wine.  Dinner was served at 7pm, with the first course featuring an Arugula + Beet + Goat cheese salad- a perfect pairing of flavors, textures, and colors. The menu had been thought over for days, tweaked, and finally cooked and served to perfection. Each meal was intricately designed and artistic, such that it pleased both the eyes and palate. Our second dish was a Nantucket Bay Scallop “Sea and Sand” dish that was my absolute favorite. It was my second experience with gastronomical cooking, which includes cooking with modern tools and manipulating ingredients so that they are presented outside of their usual form. This dish in particular included a sea “foam,” and brown butter powder as the sand. It was spectacular and incredibly unique.

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Next came out the Maccheroni and Lamb Ragu with Cacao nibs. A perfect balance of sweet and savory, soft and crunchy. What I loved most about the chefs were that they paid particular attention to colors on the plate as well as flavor combinations. I especially enjoyed the 2011 Barbera/Croatina – Cordani La Magia, that accompanied this dish.

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Slices of tenderloin sat over a blue cheese puree for our fifth course, paired with smoky asparagus and topped with tidbits of sea salt. This was paired with a 2012 Merlot/Cabernet Calluna from California.

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Lastly, what meal would be complete without dessert? Caramelized banana + Miso Chocolate and something known as “shroombread,” rounded this meal out. Although everyone but me couldn’t seem to get enough of the dessert, it was a little to savory for my tastebuds and I found a heavy mushroom flavor coming through. Nonetheless, I appreciated the synergy of the sweet and savory dish and overall the entire experience was one I will never forget. I can’t give enough credit to Soon Spoon for their innovative idea, generosity, and the chefs at Phade who cooked such a lovely meal for us all.You can book PHaDe for a private event in your home using Kitchensurfing  and follow them on Twitter.

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On our way out, as if we weren’t already treated like royalty, we all received a parting gift of chocolates wrapped in a petite brown box and sealed with a pink ribbon. Inside were the most delectable truffles provided by Chocolee and handcrafted by Lee herself.

Between the cozy brownstone apartment, foodie enthusiasts, endless glasses of wine, generous hosts, and a few incredible chefs, I had one of the most enriching experiences of my life. One that cannot be understood unless experienced for oneself. So, if you want in on this secret feeling provided by such an experience, I suggest you sign up for Soon Spoon because you can expect many more dinners like this one! You can also follow them on twitter! Here’s to spontaneous dining!

 

Homemade Low cal Paleo Pasta!

Happy Almost-Monday!

This weekend was a complete whirlwind and diet disaster for me. Saturday I attended Reebok’s Fitness Instructor networking event, complete with brunch, mimosas, and one sweaty kick-butt workout. Elspeth Polt flew in to teach the class, which consisted of a 45 min circuit training workout! The class completed plank-ups, burpees, lunges, jumps, and reverse-crunches to name a few. I don’t think any of us expected to sweat as much as we did. Not having had any time before to grab something to eat, I nonetheless was tempted by the assortment of bagels, potatoes, quiche, and fresh fruit. Ugh- major downfall!  The class was intense and I was craving something starchy, but definitely knew I should have eaten a little something before the class to prevent that. Bai, Hint, and Motto were also kind enough to provide refreshments for the event, which helped us all cool down and wash down our bagels and quiche 🙂 I adore healthy thirst-quenching beverages.

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Post-class, I was invited to brunch with a good friend at L’Andana, out in Burlington, MA. L’Andana is quite similar to Sorrelina and Mistral and Boston, but resembles an old-school Tuscan farmhouse that is luxurious and warm. The restaurant was serving light fare to the public, and a huge fan of Mistral, I could not pass up the opportunity. We arrived around 130pm to a room full of people!  L’Andana fortunately has a large space as they primarily serve as a wedding venue, because boy was it packed! The lines moved quickly though and we were soon greeted with smells of their famous pasta bolognese, steak tips, caesar salad, and charcuterie and crudités. If you ever make it up to Burlington, stop by this place and PLEASE order the bolognese. I never eat pasta ( and I’ll talk about that more below), but their bolognese is the best I’ve ever had.

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L’Andana does offer gluten free options and has quite the selection of wood-fire dmeats and fishes. The prices are a little on the steep side, and needless to say we were the youngest ones there, but the dining is meant to be upscale, decadent, and unsurpassed.

Naturally, I tried everything, with a glass of prosecco, and of course left feeling fuller than full and even more guilty than my morning fare left me. It was a lovely meal though and a perfect way to spend the afternoon.

Attempting to make up for the larger part of the day, and be healthy and “good,” I decided it was time to make one of my favorite meals: Spaghetti squash pasta! My inspiration actually came from my mom because she makes a delectable squash with heavy cream and butter. Not wanting to go that route with my squash, I chose to season it with pasta sauce, shrimp, and mushrooms, with a side of broccolini. It’s real simple to make and low calorie! I add in a touch of salt, pepper, and olive oil, and you have one of my favorite dinners! Spaghetti squash “pasta,” is such a great alternative to regular pasta, is loaded with nutrients and provides about 42 calories and 10 grams of carbohydrates not to mention fiber. I love recommending it to those looking to watch their weight but still need their “pasta and sauce.”

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So have you ever tried spaghetti squash?  If so, how do you like to season it?

Recipe for 6-pack: Studio Empower Review #Lagree Fitness

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As as personal trainer and food blogger, I thrive on the days I actually have time to workout and blog, today being one of them. I also get really excited when I am invited to try a new workout that promises to “sculpt, tone, and define.” Through one of the blogger groups that I am a part of (Blog and tweet boston), I was invited to partake in a pilates reformer class at Studio Empower, located in Newton. And boy was it reforming! When you first walk in you are greeted with this alien-like machine (that is the Mega reformer M3 that you use throughout the class- not a traditional reformer). There are all sorts of gadgets and pulleys attached to it, and they only thing I can think of is, what the heck am I going to be doing on THAT?

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For those of you who have never tried a  Megaformer class, you are in for one heck of a sweaty workout. While low impact, you hold poses on a four count for 1-2 minutes, using resistance and your own body weight to tone and sculpt. Every muscle is worked to fatigue, with an emphasis on core throughout the entire class. (I think I grew a 6-pack in 45 minutes I swear)! It was a great class to enjoy with the other bloggers as we sweated our butts off and worked to tone our physiques. The class is perfect for anyone hoping to tone, increase endurance, while also improving flexibility. It can be modified for all levels as well and honestly leaves you addicted and wanting to come back for more.

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Katelyn, one of the owners, also took the time to email me and see how I enjoyed the class! The instructor we had was upbeat, energizing, corrective, yet stern. I didn’t want him to catch me with my form off that’s for sure! But I had a blast and can’t wait to come back for more. The classes are small so you never feel lost or confused and each class is a tad different so you can be sure that you will keep your muscles guessing if you sign up for a membership.

When I was finished with the class I was sweaty, energized, and ready for some food. I always try to get some type of carbohydrate, protein, and fat into my diet post workout and what better snack to come home to than protein bars! My bf surprised me with these homemade bars as I am always complaining that I can never seem to find an all natural low sugar bar that doesn’t use sugar alcohols. Well ladies and gentleman, I introduce you to the POWER BAR 🙂

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I couldn’t help myself and took a bite 🙂Image

Phew, now time for a nap 🙂