I had an awesome time hosting another dineoutwith.us dinner a few weeks ago at Les Zygomates, an awesome French bistro in Downtown Crossing with live Jazz. My friends and I enjoyed a wonderful five-course dinner curated by Chef Guara Pimenta, paired with wonderful wines selected by their Sommelier, Ashley Compass.
For those who haven’t heard of dineoutwith.us yet or read about my previous dinners that I’ve arranged through their platform, it’s a recently launched service that works with restaurants to arrange dinner party experiences for small groups. Founder Adam Caper and his team do way more than just helping you set up reservations; they work closely with their restaurant partners to curate special experiences, like tastings, wine seminars, and more).
The service also makes sure that everyone’s allergies and dietary aversions are taken care of, and dineoutwith.us handles the payment for the dinner, including tip, so that there is no payment at the restaurant. Hosts have the option of paying for the dinner themselves or having attendees pay their share; regardless of what you choose, it’s always a blessing not to have to have an awkward payment situation at the end of a group dinner. With everything taken care of, all you have to do on the evening of the dinner is show up and enjoy yourself because every last detail is taken care of!
That’s what I did last week at Les Zygomates, and my friends and I had the best time. We started our dinner with Baked Oysters, topped with green apples, crème fraîche, and caviar.
Then, for our first course, we enjoyed an impressive looking and delicious Yellowfin Tuna Poké plated atop a block of Himalayan salt.
For our next course, a wonderful Creamy Onion Soup topped with a crostini with fresh figs and Forme d’Ambert cheese.
Next, one of my favorites of the night, were sautéed Georges Bank Scallops with a mint pea creme, Parisian gnocchi, peas, carrots, and an onion marmalade.
Then, Les Zygomates’s impressive 4 Hour Chicken Roulade, complete with succotash and a ramp vinaigrette.
For our last savory course, an amazing Pineland Farm Sirloin, with confit potatoes and chanterelle mushrooms.
To top it all off, the dessert course was a wonderful duo — Deconstructed Nutella S’Mores and an Eggless Cherry Mascarpone Cheesecake. The night couldn’t have ended any better.
If this sounds like fun to you, then enter the giveaway that dineoutwith.us is hosting — they’re giving away a free five-course dinner for a group of six to Les Zygomates. Click here to enter!
Thanks to the wonderfully talented Michael Malyszko who captured the event that evening (his photos have a watermark on them in the corner). You can check out more of his impressive work here.
I was so happy to check out the new menu at one of my favorite Southie Spots this weekend, Loco Taqueria & Oyster Bar. I always get so excited to eat there — they have awesome margaritas, tacos, guacamole, and so much more. And last week, they just added over a dozen new menu items that their new Chef de Cuisine Jacob Mendros and Executive Chef Matt Drummond collaborated on.
When I visited with my friend we started with some margaritas and a few of the new menu additions — the Crab Guacamole, the Burrata, and the Ronnie Mac’s Taquitos.
The Burrata was incredible. I didn’t really know what to expect because you usually don’t see Burrata on a menu at a Mexican place, but the flavors were just unreal — the dish was complete with a salsa verde-pesto, farm greens, shaved radish and onion, and warm corn tortillas.
The Ronnie Mac’s Taquitos were delicious too! They’re made with ground beef, Monterey jack, iceberg, Spanish onion, and sesame seeds.
Then, onto the most important part of any meal at Loco — Tacos! I really loved one of the new tacos the added to the menu, the Asparagus Taco made with fried cotija, buttermilk caramel, and coriander, on a green tortilla.
Check out Loco’s full menu here. They’re located at 412 West Broadway in South Boston!
One of the questions I get asked the most through DMs, emails, and all the other ways people reach me is about what apps I use for editing my photos. So I’m doing a round up here for all of the photo apps I use, and what I use them for. I hope you find it useful!
But before I get into the apps, I’ll let you know what I’m shooting on. Probably about 95% of the time, I’m using my Canon EOS Rebel T5i with an 18-135mm lens. To quickly put the photos on my iPhone, I just take the memory card, use an SD card reader, and import them to my phone.
That’s when I begin the editing process!
Snapseed - for spot brightening
This app was well worth the few dollars I bought it for a few years ago. It really comes in handy when I eat at a dimly lit restaurant and I want to brighten up the dish a little bit, but not brighten up the entire picture. I also use Snapseed to remove blemishes — like stains or crumbs — using their “healing” feature.
Facetune - for smoothing and color adjusting
I use Facetune if I need to smooth something, or if I need to adjust a color. For example, if I need to make an avocado a little more green, or a plate a little more white.
VSCO - for filters
VSCO is by far my favorite app to use for filters both because of the number of filters they have, as well as the quality. There are a few I really like — if you’re familiar with the app and the filters, I love: E5, E6, E7, E8, HB1, and HB2. I also like to use VSCO to sharpen or improve the clarity of the images, and brighten an image.
ColorStory - for filters and texture
ColorStory is another great app for filters. If I’m looking for something a little more fun, I’ll often use ColorStory instead of VSCO. But I use ColorStory most often for adding what ColorStory calls “texture” and “confetti.” The Textures are basically an assortment of filters you can use to apply things like speckles or light or coloring that makes your picture have a vintage feel to it. The Confettis are filters that allow you to add things like snowflakes or ice cream to your photos.
Unfold - for combining multiple pictures
I’ve started using Unfold in the past couple of months, and I’ve gotten so many questions about it. This app is great if you want to combine a bunch of your photos into one slide for Instagram stories. I’ll often use this app if I’m doing some Instagram story slides on a restaurant visit, and I want to show off multiple dishes in one slide.
Have any great apps you’re using? Comment below and let me know.
I originally authored this article for the Boston Patch. It has been slightly adjusted from its original version.
Whenever I'm out to eat, whether I'm on assignment or not, I'm always one of those people constantly snapping pictures. And while you're more likely to find me capturing pictures of my food rather than pictures of the space, sometimes a restaurant's interior can be just as beautiful as the cuisine it serves. Here are a few of Boston's most Instagrammable restaurants that will have you hashtagging #InteriorGoals.
You won't be able to resist pulling out your phone and snapping a few pics at this recently-opened spot in the former Liquid Art House space. This Back Bay spot boasts sky high ceilings, giant columns, beautiful wall murals and lots of plants. Nahita is a space unlike any I've seen in Boston, and so is its menu. They serve Nikkei (Peruvian-Japanese) style cuisine with Turkish influences. You'll find lots of ceviche, sashimi, tacos and more at this wonderful new spot.
Terra at Eataly
Terra is another Back Bay restaurant overflowing with greenery and impressing guests with their space. This restaurant, on the third floor of Eataly Boston, is complete with ceiling windows, beautiful tile floors and hanging plants. It's a great place to go on a cold sunny day in Boston when you want to imagine you're somewhere warmer.
You won't be struggling to find sunlight at Kendall Square's Glass House either. This restaurant, which has been recognized by interior design magazines and associations, is an impressively designed glass building with a central bar, tile floors, and an eye-catching green booth that wraps around two sides of the dining area. Its menu is complete with a raw bar and some American and international-inspired dishes like roasted chicken ramen, Thai beef salad, fish tacos and more.
When this restaurant opened in Downtown Crossing in 2015, guests and publications were calling it the most Instagrammable restaurant in the city, and it definitely still ranks as one of the best. Yvonne's library lounge features shelves full of books, hanging portraits and ornate ceilings. By the bar you'll find marble floors, decadent crystal chandeliers, and gold accents. Even the bathroom, complete with an orange velvet couch and a colorful chandelier, is an Instagram-worthy space!
Citrus & Salt
Citrus & Salt has been a hit since opening at the end of 2017 in the Back Bay. Guests can't get enough of their playful margaritas, colorful soft serve, and of course, their beautiful space. With pink walls, hanging lights, and colorful murals, the space will just make you feel like having fun — whether you've had a few margaritas or not.
If you’re anything like me, waiting in line is the last thing you want to be doing, especially during a weekday lunch rush. That’s why I’m so excited about Toast’s new app, Toast TakeOut, an online ordering platform that makes it easy to skip the line every time you order food. They’ve got so many of my favorite restaurants and cafés — Tatte, Jugos, Ebi Sushi, Dumpling Daughter, and so many more.
I’ve already placed an unhealthy amount of orders at Tatte. Their new Downtown Crossing location is right across the street from my office, so it’s hard to resist their sweet pastries. Also, their Crunchy Halloumi salad has become one of my go-to lunches, especially now that I have an easy way to order it.
Basically, I just pull up the Toast Toast TakeOut app, select the Tatte on Summer Street, and add my salad (and usually a pastry) to my cart and pay in advance. One thing I love is that the app makes it easy to customize your order so you don’t have to worry about the restaurant getting it right. The best part is I can avoid those famously long lines at Tatte, and just grab my lunch and head back to the office.
Another order I placed recently was at one of my favorite dumpling spots, Dumpling Daughter in Kendall Square. I was in Cambridge for a meeting, and I wanted to pick up some food on the way home, so I pulled up the Toast TakeOut app to see what was available near me, and when I saw Dumpling Daughter, it was hard to resist. I’m about as obsessed with their dumplings as I am with their super delicious crispy Brussels sprouts. So I ordered a bunch of dumplings and Brussels sprouts, and then I just dropped in to pick up my order on the way home. It couldn’t get much easier than that!
If you love sushi as much as I do, the idea of All You Can Eat (AYCE) sushi is like a dream. Fortunately, Boston has a growing list of restaurants offering AYCE menus. Before visiting, here are a few things you should know about AYCE sushi restaurants:
At restaurants serving AYCE sushi, the AYCE menu is usually different than the a la cart menu. More expensive rolls like ones with lobster aren’t usually included.Most restaurants serving AYCE sushi have pricing that varies depending on the day of the week. Weekends are more expensive than week days.Most places have a policy where you have to pay if you have leftovers. The intention here is to reduce waste and over-ordering.Pricing and availability of AYCE changes, and isn’t always updated on restaurant websites or social media. I recommend calling first to confirm the price and availability before visiting.
A few Boston-area restaurants serving AYCE sushi:
Yamato I and Yamato II | Brighton & Back Bay
Yamato is probably the most well known of the AYCE sushi restaurants in Boston. Their original location is in Brighton, and they have another in the Back Bay. Their Back Bay AYCE dinner pricing is $29.99 from Sunday to Thursday and $31.99 on Friday, Saturday, and Holidays.
5 Spices House | Malden
5 Spices House in Malden is a great spot in Malden that I just tried a few weeks ago. They serve AYCE sushi and AYCE hot pot. Pricing for weekend (Fri, Sat, Sun, holidays) dinner is $25.95 for sushi, $25.95 for hot pot, and $31.95 for hot pot and sushi.
Nijiya Sushi | Medford
Nijiya Sushi is an AYCE sushi restaurant in Medford. Their price for weekend dinner is $23.99.
Sushi Factory | Allston
Sushi Factory is another AYCE sushi spot that opened up in Allston at the end of 2017. They charge $21.95 for AYCE.
Empire | Seaport
On Wednesdays, Empire serves their “Sushi Unlimited” menu. You can order as much as you want from a select list of rolls for $29 per person.
Red Lantern | Back Bay
Red Lantern, sister restaurant to Empire, also does a special “Sushi Unlimited” menu. On Tuesday nights, guests can order as much sushi as they want from a select list of rolls for $29 per person.
Sushiemon | Symphony
Sushiemon, located on Mass Ave by Symphony Hall, serves AYCE sushi for $22 per person.
Last weekend I had an awesome time with my friend heading to Hudson, MA to have dinner at Less Than Greater Than and ice cream at New City Microcreamery. If you’re a Bostonian, you might be familiar with the New City Microcreamery that opened up a few months ago in Cambridge. It’s an awesome ice cream shop with some seriously delicious scratch-made ice cream, sauces, and toppings.
Well, New City Microcreamery actually got started in Hudson (about an hour outside of Boston). Their team also has two restaurants in Hudson, Rail Trail Flatbread and Less Than Greater Than, which is actually located at the back of New City. That’s where we started last weekend during out trip out to Hudson. Less Than Greater Than is a speakeasy style restaurant, so you have to find the “secret” entrance at the back of New City, and turn on a light to wait for someone to come let you in.
Once we entered and sat down, we started out with some cocktails including one of the ones that they make with liquid nitrogen — they basically take the ice cream base, add alcohol, then whip and freeze the combo with liquid nitrogen. How awesome is that?! We went with the Black Palmetto, which is a vanilla base with Filipino rum, Averna, and chocolate funk.
Then, some starters — their Farm Egg with roasted hen of the woods mushrooms, and their super delicious crab cakes.
For our entrees, the Bolognese and the Faroe Island Salmon. Perfection!
It was hard to resist their dessert menu, but we knew we were heading to New City afterwards so we had to hold out.
I was so excited for ice cream. I’ve been dreaming about New City ever since I tried it when they opened their shop in Cambridge. And while I don’t know a lot about making ice cream, I have tried my fair share of scoop shops throughout the state, and New City was just beyond — so smooth and creamy. I learned that part of what makes their ice cream so good is that they make it using cold liquid nitrogen, and that process apparently makes smaller ice crystals, giving the ice cream its super smooth texture.
Since their ice cream is so tasty, picking flavors wasn’t easy! My friend went with a fall inspired cone — Apple Crisp and Pecan Pie, and I went with a sundae of all of my favorite things — cookie dough ice cream, cake batter ice cream, caramel sauce, hot fudge, crushed waffle cone, and walnut blondie crumbs. Talk about a sugar high. But totally worth it.
Check out New City Microcreamery’s menu here. You can visit them in Hudson or Cambridge. Check out Less Than Greater Than’s full menu here.
If you’re looking to make a better BLT sandwich, I’ve got three suggestions for you: 1) add avocado, 2) use high quality, fresh bread, and 3) make it with North Country Smokehouse bacon. North Country Smokehouse is one of the country’s few remaining family-owned smokehouses, and they’re based locally, right up in Claremont, New Hampshire.
North Country Smokehouse provides a range of smoked meats including bacon, sausage, ham, and more. Their products are handmade in small batches by their team, and they offer traditional, certified humane and organic varieties. The products are also free of added growth hormones and antibiotics. Long story short, I know I’m getting great meat and I don’t have to worry about all of the dangerous additives that you can find in other bacons.
North Country Smokehouse also just released a new sugar-free bacon line. I used their Organic Applewood Smoked Sugar Free Uncured Bacon, along with some fresh baked bread, crisp lettuce, tomatoes, and avocados to make some Avocado BLTs for lunch last week. I loved how the smoked flavor really added to the sandwich.
So next time you’re assembling your favorite sandwich or cooking up some bacon for breakfast, try North Country Smokehouse. You can find their products at Whole Foods Market, Stop & Shop, Hannaford’s Supermarket, and Big Y. You can search for retailers selling North Country Smokehouse products here; you can also shop their store online here.
Thanks to North Country Smokehouse for sponsoring this blog post. All opinions shared are my own.
Nachos, anyone? I don’t know about you, but nachos are my go-to snack. Whenever I’m watching a movie or hanging out with friends, they’re one of the easiest things to make, and they always just hit the spot. And I’m sure you don’t need a recipe for nachos — it’s like the one thing we all could make in college, right? But, if you’re interested in seriously stepping up your nacho game, let me introduce you to Riceland Food’s Leftover Turkey and Cheesy Rice Skillet Nachos made with Riceland Long Grain White Rice. Trust me, rice will take your nachos to the next level.
And these were pretty simple to make. All you have to do is cook the rice (I used Riceland Long Grain Rice!), and set it aside. Then combine a bunch of the ingredients in a large bowl: the rice, some leftover turkey (or chicken, that’s what I used), salsa, corn, beans, sour cream, and cheese.
Then, take a giant skillet, line it with tortilla chips, and layer and spread the rice mix in the chips. After, sprinkle shredded cheese on top and bake for 20-25 minutes.
You’ll have a beautiful plate of nachos with perfectly melted cheese, and you can top it with whatever you’d like — I went with guacamole, sour cream, olives, and onions.
For the full recipe from Riceland, click here. Put this in front of your friends next time they come over for movie night, and I promise they’ll be impressed!
Also, if you're looking for a gift that gives back this holiday season, check out Riceland's gift box. With every purchase of their gift box, $5 is donated to Feeding America. The boxes come with Riceland products, a kitchen towel, a pot holder, and a cooking spoon. I'll be giving away a few of them on my Instagram page later next week!
Thanks to Riceland Foods for sponsoring this post. All opinions shared are my own.
I was so happy to check out District Kitchen in Malden this weekend. I had heard about their extra extra large soup dumplings, and I was dying to check them out. Plus, I only live about five minutes down the road.
My friend and I ended up popping in this weekend and we were so impressed! I loved their modern space, the friendly staff, and their dumpling selection.
When we sat down we ordered a drink, an order of the juicy pork buns (aka “Xiao Long Bao” or “XLB” or “soup dumplings” — these are dumplings that are steamed and filled with broth), and of course, one of their XXL pork and shrimp juicy buns. We also wanted to try one of their noodle dishes, so we went with the beef brisket noodle soup.
We loved everything, and I was so impressed with the XXL soup dumpling. It came out steaming, and we needed to use a straw to drink up all the juice.
I’ll definitely be returning soon. Check out District Kitchen at 2 Florence Street in Malden. It’s right next to the Malden Center T stop, or if you’re driving there is a big parking lot around the corner. Definitely check this place out!