For as far back as I can remember my family always loved cooking. This is especially true for my dad. Dad would have my sister and I on step stools in the kitchen covered in flour and baking pies. To this day we still get together often to cook and bake.
A few years ago I brought my parents to China Town in Boston. We of course went to the Gourmet Dumpling House specifically for their soup dumplings. My dad loved them and is always up for a serving of them!
For my dad's birthday Greg and I bought tickets to a Chinese soup dumpling class at Sur la table in Boston. We arrived a little early and so we wandered around the store. When it was time for the class we all checked in and put our jackets away. Next step was to put on an apron and wash our hands. We were broken up into teams of 4 and moved up to the counter area.
The first step was to show us how to make the pork broth (the chef already created set for class use). While the broth was brought to a boil we got the dough ready. While the dough was resting we mixed the aromatic pork filling. The third step was to create a dipping sauce for the finished dumplings.
Last was of course the hardest part of the preparation. We had to cut, roll out and fill the dumplings. The dough was a tad sticky which made rolling out somewhat difficult but interesting lol. Getting a round dumpling is definitely not easy. Our group had ovals, paint splatters, and even a rabbit shaped dough. We had an interesting time filling these pieces of dough and learning how to fold the tops of the dumplings. We handed off our basket of dumplings to the chef for cooking and as the dumplings were down we all devoured them!
A fun, informative, and delicious night out for all of us.
We chose to #OptOutside
This long weekend was perfect! On Thursday we spent the day making too much food for the 6 people at the table. We had everything from tomato tatin to turkey to 4 kinds of pies. We enjoyed our meal later in the day so that my sister who had to work could join in. Obviously we needed to work off all the food we ate so we planned two adventures.
On Friday Greg and I bundled up packed our day-pack and ventured to Crane Beach. The Trustees of Reservations was offering free entry to Crane Beach today which was great even though we are members. We parked our car and switched from sneakers to hiking boots. I wish my gators came before today but I would just have to live with sand in my boots. We hiked through the forest, the sand dunes, and finally the beach. There is so much beauty to see here. Overall we were there about 1.5 hours and hiked about 4 miles.
Saturday morning we decided Fred needed an adventure too. We packed up our day-pack for the three of us and headed to Halibut Point State Park and Reservation. We parked the car and made our way over to the trail. Fred was thrilled and so were we. Halibut Point State Park is beautiful. We walked along the quarry path and then proceeded to head down the other trails. There were so many picturesque spots to stop and enjoy! We spent about an hour here walked a total of 3 miles.
Getting outdoors with the family
We had another lovely weekend with some familiar and new sights. We drove down to Scituate to visit with family. Almost every year I take my cousins family holiday card photos. This year we decided to go back to Conservation Park. We had a gorgeous sunny day and a fun time taking beautiful photos and a couple goofy ones!
We grabbed some sandwiches and french fries from Crocetti's and made our way to Untold Brewing for some adult beverages. Oh how I wish I could drink beer! The beer menu at Untold Brewing sounds fantastic. They offer a beer for everyone's tastes. Greg opted for a flight and at the end declared he could easily hang out here all day. We enjoyed our lunch in the dining area and would love to come back when especially when food trucks are near. Next time we're in town we'll definitely stop by for a drink and to buy some beer to bring home.
The kids all had plans for the day so we left Scituate a little early and decided to meet up with my parents who were watching Fred for us. We opted to meet at Castle Island in Boston. This was our first time visiting but it's a favorite spot of my parents. If it wasn't so cold out or I was appropriately dressed lol I would have stayed for a long time. There are wonderful walking paths, Fort Independence (when open), and Sullivan's Restaurant if you're hungry.
Yes we just ate lunch a little while ago but Greg can't turn down a clam plate and I can't turn down a small basket of french fries. Gluttons I know! We ordered some food and dined in the car before heading home for the day. We will definitely come back for another visit!
Where to go - Rome 2017
This is my first post from my new Where To Go series!
Over the years I have visited Rome 4 times. Every time I visit Rome I have an amazing adventure while also feeling at ease. I have been researching new things to do and see in Rome as if we were planning a trip for ourselves.
About our past visits -
When we visit Rome we walk everywhere (if we're exhausted we'll get a cab when heading back to our hotel). Walking everywhere gives you the opportunity to see and experience so much more including ruins, shops, and people. You will have so many photographs from random streets that are just as amazing as some of the main sights.
In Rome you will be surrounded by stunning art in museums, awed by ruins and historical sights. When you need to rest grab a glass of wine and some appetizers then people watch in one of the many Piazza's.
When it comes to dining in Rome we usually go for a mix of pizza stands, casual restaurants, upscale dining, gelateria's, and in winter some of the many roasted chestnut vendors.
If you would like to read about our past visits here are some links:
When we get back to Rome I would love to spend a full day getting lost in Trastevere. We wandered a little bit here during our last visit but definitely needed more time. I found this article from the Travel Channel very interesting for a new visit. http://www.travelchannel.com/destinations/italy/rome/articles/tour-of-trastevere
I love all kinds of art. Greg and I both paint a bit and when we travel we try to visit at least one museum (it kills me we didn't have time in Paris). On our last visit to Rome we visited the Galleria Borghese, the Vatican Museums, Castel Sant'Angelo, and the Vittoriano Monument. Here's my list for new sights to see:
Museums and Palaces (sculptures, paintings, courtyards)
For Churches I would definitely love to see:
To enjoy the outdoors and explore ruins I am dying to visit:
Whether we were at a small sandwich shop or a fine dining establishment I have yet to have a bad meal in Rome! I love grabbing a rectangle piece of pizza in between stops, sitting down to a full meal with wine, or ending the night with some gelato and roasted chestnuts.
If we were to return to Rome now these are the dining establishments I'd be interested in:
When it comes to Gelato I definitely have my favorite shops but these shops have piqued my interest:
Whether you local or a visitor to Massachusetts a visit to deCordova Sculpture Park is well worth your time. On Sunday we lightly bundled up and drove to Lincoln, MA to explore the pet friendly deCordova Sculpture Park. Since we brought Fred with us we weren't able to visit the museum. The Sculpture Park is more than enough all on it's own.
We spent about an hour and half wandering the beautiful ground. We read about, looked at and photographed all the unique sculptures. As you can imagine Fred also loved this visit. Dogs are allowed to roam the grounds as long as they are on leash and picked up after.
I stopped in quickly to the Cafe / Store and definitely need to come back and spend some more time inside. The store was filled with jewelry, home goods, toys, and so much more. Definitely a great place for unique finds. Once we were home we both agreed that we should become members.
As an added bonus for those who love to get outdoors in the winter time you can join in on snowshoeing in the park! We can't wait to return!
Girls relaxation day!
A friend of mine is a mother of 16 month old twins. Naturally this means she doesn't get a lot of time for herself. On her day off we finally made plans for pedicures and lunch.
We made reservations at Bliss spa in Boston for their Food Patrol Pedicure! When making a reservation be aware of their cancellation policy (24 hour cancellation notice). I've also heard that they aren't too easy on those who arrive late either. We both fought horrible traffic into Boston (accidents everywhere), parked on the rooftop of our usual parking garage and made it inside Bliss with 2 minutes to spare.
The staff were ready for us and offered us drinks (water and tea) or snacks from their buffet. We then sat in comfortable chairs and readied our feet for pampering. The water was a perfect temperature and the tub also had hot stones and rose petals in it. Our toenails were prepped, trimmed, and filed. Our cuticles were trimmed and our calluses were rubbed off. Next step in the process was a lovely warm paraffin wrap. Finally we had "flip flops" put on us and our toenails were painted. Our drinks and/or snacks were refreshed and we were given time alone to let our nails dry.
Checking out was very easy and tip envelopes were available. Overall the staff were professional, friendly, and the experience was wonderful.
For lunch we decided to go up the street to Davio's. We opted to sit at the bar and just have a casual lunch. We ordered the blackberry Marg and X (something) mule. Both drinks were delicious and didn't skimp on the alcohol. Our very nice bartender gave us some potato chips but once she heard that I have a dairy allergy (there's cheese on the chips) she also offered us bread. At this point I got the awesome surprise of seeing a childhood friend and her husband who was also dining at the bar. We haven't seen each other on years and it was awesome to catch up (sometimes FB isn't enough).
For our meal portion we ordered the La Quercia Americano Prosciutto Pizza, Fig Jam, Arugula, Caramelized Onions, Shaved Parmigiano (sans cheese) and the Truffle fries (sans gorgonzola sauce). Obviously we weren't considering calories today lol! Everything was delicious and oh so satisfying!
I definitely will return to both Bliss Spa and Davio's for more experiences!
On Saturday we drove to Crane Beach in Ipswich, MA for a full moon hike with The Trustees of the Reservations. We pulled up to the gate right when the staff was letting people in. After a quick stop at the bathroom we met up with the group and made our way into the reservation area. Unfortunately the evening was pretty cloudy and while some used flashlights or headlamps there really wasn't a need for them. Our eyes adjusted pretty quickly and we could see just fine.
We hiked through the forest area first, made our way up and down small sand dunes, and then decided to push on down a very large dune. As we started to go down the staff reminded us what goes down must come back up (we were given the choice to stay behind if necessary). Oye! We went to a lookout where we could see multiple cities and sights in the distance. Back up the dunes we went and hiked back towards the start until we deviated and headed towards the beach. Soon we could hear the ocean waves and suddenly we saw the bonfire waiting for us.
After a 2 hour hike on sand in 45 degree weather the bonfire, cookies, lemonade and hot apple cider were a lovely sight!
It definitely isn't an easy hike but if you are looking for friendly people, wonderful sights, and a great workout be sure to sign up for one of these outings. As an added bonus, if you are a member of the Trustees of Reservations you will receive a discount.
Pagu - Cambridge MA
We had a reservation at Pagu for 2 at 8:00 p.m. We arrived a little early and were going to just enjoy a drink at the bar but the hostess was able to seat us right away. We opted to sit at the chef's counter (we don't mind sitting side by side and we always love seeing the staff cooking).
To start our evening we ordered cocktails along with a few small dishes. The first dish was the oyster shooter. The shooter is a little intimidating at first but it wasn't actually too much liquid. A very refreshing start. Next was our favorite charcuterie.... Jamon Iberico de Bellota (acorn fed, 36 month aged ham). Greg loves anchovies so we ordered Pan Con Tomate with Boquerones (fresh anchovies). The Jamon was delicious as always and the portion size was generous. The anchovies were a delicious couple of bites. Our waitress came by and asked if we'd like to try a glass of Sherry (they were offering a promotion to try Sherry to anyone who ordered Jamon). We said sure we'll try it! I ended up liking the Sherry but Greg didn't. I felt it had a strong alcohol scent and yet a subtle earthy taste. Greg felt it tasted like he was licking a piece of wood lol!
After a little while we ordered the rest of our meal. For drinks we opted for the Sake flight. The exciting part of our tasting was the locally made Sake (that we previously enjoyed at the Tasting Counter). Otherwise the Sake was a let down it was very basic Sake's that you can buy at any store. We chose the steak tartare, brussel sprouts, octopus, and fried rice. The steak tartare was served with potato chips and was good although it was a little on the bland side. The brussel sprouts were amazing! I usually like my brussel sprouts to have more color on them from being roasted but these were so flavorful and we both loved them. The octopus dish was surprising! On one hand the octopus was cooked perfectly and in the mojo rojo sauce it was delicious. My 2nd bite included the fresh herbs especially the mint and it was outrageously good. Savory, bright, and tender - perfect. We liked it so much we ordered a 2nd one. The fried rice was very good. The addition of Taiwanese sausage reminded us of our friends moms fried rice which is our favorite ever!
At this point we knew we over ate so we skipped dessert and asked for the check. The staff thanked us for coming and we walked back to the parking garage. We both agreed that we enjoyed the meal and would return.
Where to go - New blog post series
I have been thinking of ways to share more with everyone while we aren't traveling. Where to go is a new series of posts that will feature destinations that are new to us. It will also be about destinations where we've been before but restaurants and sights we'd go to today. Of course I'll still be sharing my reviews for places we visit locally too.
I will be spending a lot of time researching destinations and the details that go with traveling. I'll find hotels, restaurants, sights, shopping, customs and more. Then I'll share my thoughts, tips, favorites and what we would use as an itinerary.
Hope everyone enjoys the upcoming posts!!