Brunch on the Towne

My goodness, it has been a packed couple of months. So much has been going on! Travel for work, travel…travel…and more travel.

Anyway, so let’s talk brunch. It is one of my favorite things. Ever. I mean, where can you combine all the carby goodness of the most important meal of the day with a solid cocktail?! I’m not really a “breakfast” person, per say, but I LOVE breakfast foods. Just not in the 6-9am timeslot.

Not that long ago, I was able to attend a brunch at Towne Stove and Spirits in Back Bay with a bunch of other awesome people (bloggers, Yelpers, and all around great people) courtesy of Boston Brunchers, and I have to tell you I was super impressed. I’d only been to Towne for drinks before (they do those well, too), and I hadn’t ever set foot beyond the bar. I’d never set foot in the restaurant section, let alone know they have an absolutely stunning upstairs!!

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Our group got there at 11, and was seated at a huge round table (perfect for getting to know each other and scoping out what other people put on their plates!). Minus another couple, we were the only ones there (the brunch starts at 11 so we beat the crowds) so we all rushed to get some pictures in of the untouched buffets….yes, plural. They have EVERYTHING. There were carving stations, hot stations with HUGE cast iron skillets full of eggs benedict, potatoes, salmon…yum!!…an omelet station, a raw bar (yes, I helped myself to plenty of oysters), a dessert bar (we’ll come back to that), fruit selections, and – saving the best for last – a HUGE cheese bar.

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Towne was kind enough to pour us all a little prosecco and we sat down, plates full, to sip and stuff ourselves with tons of amazingness (I never said I’d be breaking out the SAT vocab here…). My first round was mostly raw and cheese bar items. Humboldt Fog and Brie spread with honeycomb… to my face.  Maybe cheese and oysters don’t seem like a natural pairing, but pshhh. Whatever. It was delicious. Round two included a waffle, eggs benedict and various other carbohydrates. Priorities.

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We all ended on the dessert bar. Ate a little bit of everything. However, the consensus was the the chocolate chip bread pudding won brunch. And rightly so. It was delicious…warm, buttery, gooey and just seriously sinful. Oy. I think I gained 5lbs just thinking about it.

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So yes, it was really delicious – however, the buffet, at $38 per guest ($14 for kids under 12) is not necessarily realistic for everyone. It was a fantastic treat (would be great for special occasions!), and if you’re considering it, I’d absolutely recommend it. I definitely ate $38 worth of food…probably in oysters and cheese alone. haha

Disclaimer: I received brunch free of charge as part of the Boston Brunchers, with the exception of gratuity. As always, all opinions are my own.

Blog post back up – Part 2: Cruisin’ and brunchin’ with Odyssey Cruises

A few weeks ago, I had the awesome opportunity via Blog and Tweet Boston to hop on board the Odyssey Boston yacht and cruise around Boston Harbor all while boozin’ and brunchin’ with blogger friends (I was so tempted to say “buds” just for the alliteration…say that 5 times fast =)).

My friend Katharine and I arrived at Rowes Wharf just before noon on what was a seriously gorgeous day in Boston. We hung out, caught up (she just moved back up to Boston from Florida) and waited to board the boat.

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We joined my fellow blogger friends – Stacey, Rachel and Jen (plus, guests) – and a bunch of other bloggers and …well, tweeters… and quickly made our way to the bar. I mean c’mon what’s brunch without a little bit of booze. Champagne, anyone? We worked our way through a wedding party and made our way up to the top deck of the boat to enjoy a little sunshine and –of course – take pictures. After that we managed (not gonna lie, we struggled a bit to find where our group was) to find our way to our little section and settled in for the buffet.

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This was not a diet brunch (what fun would that be, really?). I fully embraced it and piled my plate with French toast, bacon, eggs, home fries, and my FAVORITE smoked salmon – though I was bummed that their bagels weren’t anything to write home about. I honestly can’t remember the last time I had French toast so I was a super happy (and full) camper.  They did have a bunch of lunch options (pasta, chicken, etc) but I skipped out of those in favor of a few more servings of smoked salmon. My obsession knows no bounds.

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I digress. The food was good, and it was nice to sit by the windows and watch the city roll by from the water. Boston’s just beautiful. No denying it.

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After we’d stuffed ourselves, we made our way up to the top deck where we finished out cruise out with some fun Boston facts that I never knew about (did you know they turn Castle Island into haunted houses at Halloween – one for adults, one for kids, and that Nix’s Mate isn’t just a bar in the Hilton in the Financial District but an island that “legend-has-it” they used to hang pirates off of as a “warning” to other sailors?).

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Stacey, me, Rachel

Overall, I had a great afternoon cruising around Boston on an absolutely gorgeous day with awesome people. The Odyssey would be a great option for special occasions. Like I mentioned, there was even a wedding party on board when we were there, so plenty of space!!

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Just a lil’ bit of wind

Thanks to Blog & Tweet Boston and Odyssey Cruises for the complimentary ticket/meal/alcohol. While I was provided the ticket for free, in exchange for a blog post, my opinions are my own. 

Blog post backup! Thai yoga with Bodywaves Boston

Ohhh my gosh. How did it get to be October? The past month has been absolutely crazy – so crazy that I haven’t had a chance to tell you about a couple of awesome activities that I got a chance to try out courtesy of the Blog and Tweet Boston group!

One of those awesome activities was a Thai yoga class in the North End Greenway with Bodywaves Boston. If Bodywaves sounds familiar, they’ve been a part of a couple of events that I’ve gone to in the last year or so – including both of the Wellness by the Water events that I attended. I already knew they were amazing – so I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to learn Thai yoga.

We had an absolutely gorgeous morning on the Greenway and I was paired up with Adam (@conciergeboston) and the ladies from Bodywaves walked the group the partner Thai massage/yoga.

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Adam and I quickly introduced ourselves, and then we all learned all about pushing and pulling each others limbs in a bunch of different directions.

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Oh, hey! Seriously though – my hamstrings hated this stretch (they’re the farthest things from flexible). Mwahaha.

In all seriousness, the Thai yoga instruction was awesome. Via Bodywaves – Thai massage is a” wide variety of stretching movements combined with gentle rocking and rhythmic compressions are applied. In essence it is a combination of yoga and acupressure.” It increases flexibility, promotes relaxation and is great for injury prevention.

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I walked away feeling stretched out and relaxed.

If you’re in the market for a massage and in the Boston/North End/Faneuil/Government Center area, I’d hiiiiighly recommend checking out Bodywaves. I’m already planning my next appointment with them.

Massage. needed.

 

 

 

Thanks to Bodywaves and Blog and Tweet Boston for the opportunity. I received this class free-of-charge in exchange for blogging about the experience. Opinions are my own.

 

(em)Power Hour

Okay – so I’d been hearing a lot of buzz about The Studio Empower for a while now – a LOT of bloggers I know had the opportunity to try them out (and then host awesome giveaways….more on that later!) so I’d seen a little bit about the Newton Centre-based hotspot before Blog and Tweet Boston announced they were holding a blogger event there. So I jumped at the change to challenge myself with something different.

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I mean – I was coming off of vacation…it was needed. So I hopped on the T on a Saturday morning and joined Shelby, Kerrie, Lucie, and Janelle at a 10 a.m. class with Bobby to sweat it out.

Annnnd sweat it out I did. Not pretty. haha

No – you’re not blasting yourself with traditional cardio, but you are seriously upping your heart rate and you  work muscles you didn’t even know you had with controlled, sustained movement on their Megaformer machines. Controlled is key…getting the hang of the machine is a half the battle! They’re really good at making sure you’re using the machines correctly and safely…minimizing chance of injury – which is always, ya know, good.

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We worked arms, abs, glutes, legs….and man, by the end of the 45 minute workout I was spent….and drenched! From the beginner to the advanced, this class is for anyone, any level. Everything can be adjusted, and it’s really cool to see the difference in moves, coordination, weights – as you grow stronger.

Grow stronger? How would I know this – it was a just one class right? Well – I was lucky enough to find out after this class that I actually won a free month with them from Jen’s giveaway!! It’s a quick T-ride from my current apartment so getting there is a breeze for me (half the battle)! I’ve been to now a total of 3 classes this week (in addition to the free blogger class) and I’m loving it. I’ll be honest, some stuff is a little tough being tall on the machine…but I can always move to the floor if I’m too long for certain moves (plaaaanks). I can feel myself getting stronger – even after just three classes – and I will be using this free month to my full-advantage before I move!

I’m hooked and I’d highly recommend you try it out! If you’re near Newton – classes are small and the instructors are fantastic. Super supportive and really have your best interest (and safety) at heart.

So now you know my newest addiction. What’s your current fitness obsession?

A lil’ chocolate therapy

Okay – so if you’ve read even the tiniest amount of my blog or remotely know me in any capacity…you know chocolate is sort of my thing. That…and cheese. Cheese is my other addiction. But this post has nothing to do with cheese. haha

So, considering my absolute love/borderline addiction to anything and everything chocolate, I jumped at the opportunity to take a chocolate class at Chocolate Therapy in Framingham with Boston Brunchers – an awesome group of food-obsessed individuals like myself.

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What was even more perfect? The timing. It was going on the week after I came back from vacation…and I knew with work I was going to be going at a mile-a-minute pace – so a lil’ chocolate therapy was definitely needed.

So, Chocolate Therapy is located in Framingham, MA (anyone familiar with the area – it’s right by Legal Seafood on Route 9) and they also have another location at Legacy Place in Dedham, MA. In their Framingham location – you walk in the door and chocolate greets you. The chocolate (along with their cranked AC – it was 95+ degrees out that day) was a welcome sight.

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Pam – one of the owners – warmly greeted all of us….and brought us back into their class/party space. We met her husband David and their chocolatier, Rick – and got to try some of their awesome chocolates. Check our Pam and David’s story – they’re awesome!

I’ll let the photos do the talking….

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We sampled their Pom Balm, Buzz mallow, Sea salt caramel, Chocolate Fix truffle and The Cure – spicy – loved!!

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How gorgeous is the Pom Balm … equally delicious!

So after sampling, we all packed into their kitchen to see how it’s done. Rick gave a great demonstration on ganache and importance of tempering chocolate correctly – and then we were able to get our hands dirty!! We made chocolate bark, put truffle’s through their coater – aptly named Lucy!, made raspberry filled chocolates and pistachio and cocoa coated truffles.

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In the immortal words of Rachel Zoe: I.Die.

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At the end of the evening we each walked away with one of everything we made and a lot of chocolate bark! I totally would have made some purchases but my house was like 85 degrees at the time…sooo they all would’ve melted. Immediately.

I will definitely be back though – especially to try those French macarons…my fave!!– and if you’re in the area…check them out. Lovely people. Local business. Chocolate. Homemade marshmallows. Drinks. Ice cream….and by the fall they’re hoping to have their beer & wine license so that they can serve up some adult beverages with the chocolate. Yes. Please!

Check out Chocolate Therapy on:

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

As an FYI – I received this class at Chocolate Therapy, free-of-charge through Boston Brunchers in exchange for a blog post about it. Opinions are my own.

Ultimate Bootcamp kicked my…

So – I’ve come a long way.

I have never been a runner. Correction. I had never been a runner. Ask 7th grade me how much I loved Cross Country and you would have heard crickets. I think a part of this might have been due to comparing myself to people who had been running for ages…on top of being too hard on myself…and well, in 7th grade…but still. I’ve had breathing issues since birth…legit… and my knees have just always sucked. Regardless. Here I am…now, a runner. Not a great runner. But a runner nonetheless. 7th grade me would’ve laughed at the fact that I’m currently signed up for two 10ks. Woops. Haha

However, I took part in a bootcamp a couple of weekends ago that reminded me…that while I’ve come a long way…I’ve go a long way to go. And that’s not a bad thing.

I had the opportunity to take part in an hour-long bootcamp-style workout on the Boston Common with a bunch of other bloggers through Ultimate Bootcamp. Let me put this out there in advance…I knew it would kick my ass going in.

We met with Kim – our trainer – in the Common, and she immediately got us moving. Running. Check. I can do this. Doing a couple of laps around the Common – weaving our way around tourists – I felt good. Then…somewhere between the sprinting, jumping jacks and the squats…yeah. My body revolted.

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Let me say this. I kept going. I did the sprints, the jumping jacks, the squats, the squat jumps, the curls, the presses, the mountain climbers…..just slower…and sometimes not as many, and when I couldn’t do things…I walked, jogged, paced…whatever you want to call it.

Maybe it was the heat. Maybe I hadn’t eaten enough. Maybe I hadn’t had enough water beforehand. Maybe I was just that out of shape. Plain and simple, my body wasn’t quite ready for it all…or at least for all of it at once. I struggled. A lot.

But Kim was awesome. She kept me moving, but didn’t push. There was no – I don’t care if you throw up, just keep going.  She got it.

While I wasn’t a freaking rockstar, I really enjoyed my experience…it showed me how far I’ve still got to go…and the competitor in me wants to be better.  And it was fun…despite my own issues…I still had a smile on my face.

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PROOF. SMILE. (I’m far right…bright orange)

So just like how I was never a runner…I was never a bootcamper…but who’s to say that I won’t be?

Did Ultimate Bootcamp kick my ass? Yes. Handily.

Would I do it again? In a heartbeat.

Check out more on Ultimate Bootcamp on their site – if you’re in Massachusetts/Greater Boston area…chances are there’s one near you! You can try one workout for free, too. Seriously…do it …challenge yourself!

Check them out on Facebook and Twitter, too.

Have you ever taken part of a bootcamp workout? What was your experience like?

Photos courtesy of Ultimate Bootcamp.

Who You Callin’ Cupcake?

Undeniably, there has been a large amount of baked goods on this blog in the last month. I promise – the main staples of my diet are not butter, sugar and flour! Though maybe I wish they could be.

As I’ve mentioned before – May = birthdays. Yesterday was my mother’s, and I knew that making a cake or an entire batch of cupcakes for three people (Mom, bro, me) wasn’t really a good idea. Sure, lots of extra…but that means that I’d just keep eating it.

Self-control is not exactly my middle name.

The remedy – get to a bakery stat!!

I had been in Salem, NH earlier in the week, and had noticed a new (to me) lil’ cupcake shop called Who You Callin’ Cupcake? and decided to do a little research – after some Yelp help I decided that it was worth the drive, and got my butt over there before the schools all let out for the day and traffic was ridiculous.

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Very easy to get to – the parking lot was a little packed with people getting pizza and subs at a place next door, but they had a couple of reserved spots just for the bakery. Nice touch. I was surprised that the windows looked really dark when I pulled up; I actually wasn’t sure if it was open – but there was that open sign beckoning me to the front door.

I was inititally surprised by it’s darkness – but I took to the more “industrial theme” pretty quickly. It went with the snappy attitude of the name, and quite frankly it was kinda of refreshing to not walk into a pearly, pink bakery full of miniature cakes. Kinda badass.

The case was full of fun looking flavors (the pistachio immediately caught my eye), and the prices were absolutely incredible compared to Boston pricing. $2 – $2.50 per (normal, baked them in your own oven-sized) cupcake (apparently $3 for some that contain liquor). That’s a $1 to $1.50 less than cupcakes (of smaller stature) in Boston! WIN! The girl behind the counter was so nice. I could see some more…traditional individuals… being put off or maybe intimidated by the “Rock N Roll” nature of the place and staff, but judgement gets you nowhere…and in this case you’d be missing out on awesome cupcakes.

After scoping out the case and counters, I settled on 4 cupcakes: Pistachio (one of my mom’s favorite flavors), Red Velvet (I felt obligated 😉 ), White Chocolate Raspberry, and Cookies and Creme.

Packaging and logo – adorable, right? Love the corset on the cupcake – I’ll need one of ’em soon if I keep eating like this… haha

Alright, let’s get down to business – first off, ALL of the cupcakes were incredibly moist and light. Major points in my book.

The Pistachio.

By the time we dug into this, the nuts on top had gotten a little soft, but that didn’t take away anything from the cupcake. It was light, airy and moist, and the frosting was like air. It was ever-so lightly flavored of sweet pistachio – enough for you to enjoy it and know it’s there, but not overwhelming, and the green color made it a fun one! The scent of the cake was incredible. I’d never seen a pistachio cupcake before, and I would get this again in a heartbeat.

The White Chocolate Raspberry.

This was a vanilla cake, filled with a bit of raspberry jam and topped with, I believe, a white chocolate type frosting and raspberry sauce. Again, a moist and light cake, and the jam in the middle was fantastic – naturally sweet and sour. It was like they just put a raspberry in there. So great. The frosting was great on this one, too – but the jam in the middle stole the show, for me.

The Red Velvet.

Props to them for this one. A great cake, but for me, red velvet is all about the icing – and they hit it out of the park. The icing is a really great, smooth and light cream cheese. I can’t say much more other than they do it better than most other red velvet cupcakes I’ve tried.

The Cookies and Creme.

This was great. I had never seen the whole – cookies in the batter – thing done before. Awesome.

It was still super light – even with the cookies all mixed in – and the frosting was so good.

We shared them all – and they were all fantastic. I think the pistachio was my fave – simply because the flavor was new to me!

All in all – if you’re ever in the Southern NH/Rockingham County area – check this place out. Awesome cupcakes and a badass (but nice!!) vibe.