Dundee VIII + the Boston Spirit

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What gets you up and out and about in the coldest days of winter? When the blankets are feeling extra warm and extra hard to pass up, it takes a destination well worth the switch to some coat and boots and get out there.

So when our friend asked us a week prior if we were free February 19th to help him eat 12 pies with a beer (or five), the only answer was YES.

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I couldn’t have expected anything less even as a first-timer at Dundee VIII. It was a great mix of fun, casual, and community under one roof. Harpoon Brewery housed the event for KO pies to challenge creative Boston chefs and benefit a great cause. The task: create their own mini meat pies and earn the coveted Dundee VIII title by majority vote.

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The atmosphere was electric and offered plenty of opportunities to be up close and candid with some of the best chefs in the city. I heard many of the teams say, “this is fun!” from behind the scenes. Some have done this event in years past and were back. A few of them were newcomers. But all of them seemed happy to interact with patrons between servings and offer the same level of service as they would from their own restaurants. Personally, I was especially thrilled that Dundee VIII was championing an early childhood program this year.

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I think part of a city’s identity is most certainly its food. For creative minds and talent to be accessible to Bostonians is such a great value, and to turn it into a vehicle that can advocate for great causes sends such a powerful message to the community. I’m so grateful to see that passion and camaraderie open doors for people of various walks of life to participate in, including me!

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With our group of 4, this was an amazing deal and an excellent way to stay adventurous in a season that might not be conducive to much exploring. And in what could be the coldest time of the year, I feel as though I was able to warm the heart and connect with the city in a whole new way.

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If you have tips or favorite ways to explore your own city or hometown, I’d love to hear!

Thanks for reading and following along!

Valerie

 


For more information on this past Dundee VIII, click here, or find out more about Harpoon Brewery and KO pies on their websites: harpoonbrewery.comkocateringandpies.com

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Angela’s Cafe

img_3831In the heart of East Boston’s historic Eagle Hill neighborhood is Angela’s Cafe, a delicious taste of (and arguably one of the best restaurants in) the area. It’s not the easiest places to find, but so worth it. Fortunately for me, I live right around the corner from this gem and the only challenge lies in resisting the scents from this place every time I walk by. I don’t get to eat there as often as I would like.

Angela’s reputation precedes itself. As soon as Alex and I looked into living in Eastie, friends often brought up or asked about Angela’s, thanks to a feature from Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. It has been one of our go-to recommendations for local dining spots that showcase our neighborhood’s character and growing food scene.

It was a lucky accident that we were looking for off-season housing in Boston and Eastie came under our radar. The neighborhood has slowly but surely captured our hearts (see more from our most recent snow Eastie escapade here). So, for Valentine’s Day, we felt Angela’s was the perfect way to pay homage to our Boston journey thus far and the home we’ve come to love here.

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We were greeted by chips and salsa and of course had to get our hands on their famous guac. It is dreamy and the perfect amount for two hungry Mexican food fans to share. There’s my flirty martini V-day special right next to it.

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Alex ordered the chilaquiles (above) and I got their seafood paella special for the day (below). It had the works including lobster! Talk about marrying this family restaurant’s cuisine with local goods. We’ve tried other dishes from their menu on previous visits and always left daydreaming of the food for the next few days.

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And why stop there? For dessert we had the Tres Leches instead of the Chimi Cheesecake this time. Both times we scraped the plate squeaky clean.

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Having Angela’s for a neighbor makes the decision to move far too difficult! Now we have TWO of them to choose from, and the other site off of the Orient Heights T station offers outdoor seating too. Perfect for warmer days ahead!

If you’ve been to Angela’s before or plan on going in the future, I’d love to hear about your experience or other dishes to try!

And if you’re hailing for somewhere else, feel free to share about your hometown and your favorite taste of home 🙂

Thanks for reading and following along!

 

Valerie


To learn more about Angela’s Cafe, go to angelascafeboston.com

If you liked this, you can also follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Top 5 Most Memorable Al Fresco Moments of 2016

Ah, yes, the first Monday of the month. How awesome is it though that we have a more pleasant, easy start to the week!? One less “Monday blues” for the year.

It’s been a little quiet around these parts. With my parents back in VA after a week-long visit with us, there’s a lot less buzz in our home to keep it warm and cozy. I’d keep the holiday spirit going forever if I could, but the peace and normalcy that follows a lovely time with the family, and the craze from the end of the year, can offer a sense of comfort too.

As I look back, I see how hectic yet somehow more organized, trying but oftentimes enlightening 2016 has been for me. I can easily come up with a wishlist, a bucket list, AND a “conquered” list to enumerate all my desires as I look on with hope every new year. I find myself, however,  enjoying a nice night-in for NYE this time around, and most inspired by the places and the memories that truly stayed with me. They’ve been my ‘happy pill’ and they’re mine to keep forever shared with people that, in those moments and beyond, touched my life.

What’s been the most rewarding and exciting about my little passion project here is the story behind every photo I get the share with you all. A wise friend once told me that the journey is the destination. On top of the wonderful food and places I’ve been fortunate enough to experience, I can’t forget about everything and everyone that have led me there. So inevitably, I’m sharing with you Al Fresco moments that brought me a lot of joy, usually in the form of happy-dancing tastebuds, a full belly to carry me through the next week, and sore cheeks from smiling ear to ear and laughing (never) too much.

With that, I give you my most memorable Al Fresco moments of 2016:

1. The Black Pearl, Newport, RI (see my post here, or their website here)img_3167

The hubby and I found the Black Pearl by chance, on a stroll around Bannister’s Wharf while in Newport over Christmas, and it was love at first sight. It’s hard to beat a view like this, a “Magic Elixir” concoction, and award-winning clam chowder. A source tells me that they’re not only closing for winter break but also demolishing the 40-year-old outdoor bar for renovations. Now we have this photo for keeps and are eager for a chance to go back!

2. Old Angler’s Inn, Potomac, MD (see my post here, or their website here)img_2722

Old Angler’s Inn in October was a scenic drive and would be a worthwhile post-hike reward through Great Falls Park which just happens to be its friendly neighbor. We could catch a glimpse of their outdoor garden from our patio seating, though it was closed that day. Everything from the butter, the salad, the seafood and the desserts were tastefully and thoughtfully done. They also have an excellent service team that moved our table inside as smoothly as they could when it started pouring on us mid-meal. It turned out to be the perfect opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and the charming, historic interior at Old Angler’s Inn.

3. The Ruby Slipper Cafe, New Orleans, LA (see my post here, or their website here)dsc00505

I don’t think I gave the Ruby Slipper Cafe enough credit in my original post for the mouth-watering food my girlfriends and I were able to enjoy. Because of its popularity, it is common to wait in line for seating at the restaurant, at either location, but our experience with their Magazine St. location was excellent. We were able to easily access their “no wait” feature and keep track of our place on their list in real time and be notified once our table was ready. I’m a sucker for chicken brunch dishes, and their Chicken St. Charles did not disappoint (wish that was the picture I could show you!). Instead, this is a glimpse of my mimosa that I was sipping with the girls as we were getting ready for our table. New Orleans is awesome. The Ruby Slipper Cafe (and the mimosas/bloodys) is certainly worth the wait .

4. Buz and Ned’s Real Barbecue, Richmond, VA (see my post here, or their website here)img_2710

As part of our trip back to VA, the hubs and I made it a point to have as much good barbecue as we could get our hands on. Our friends who grew up in the Richmond area highly recommended Buz and Ned’s – for good reason. Richmond’s Best BBQ has been put to the test by ‘Throwdown with Bobby Flay’ and ‘Man V. Food,’ and local foodies. The best part is the deliciousness and serving side that you get for the price. It was so get a real taste of home.

5. Boston Winter, Boston, MA (see my post here, or their website here)img_3263

Some of my favorite forms of eating “al fresco” are street style. There is no lack of that at Boston Winter, with a variety of ‘themed’ food and all the enticing smells to reel you in. It’s the perfect, and surprisingly delicious, way to get your belly warmed up as you pick your poison: mulled wine, or other varieties of wine, or your choice of beer. It should keep you warm as you stroll around, drink in hand (yes, sip and stroll within the premises), right in the heart of Boston.

 

And because I feel like it deserves it’s own category in my book, my favorite almost Al Fresco moment of 2016 is:

Pickety Place, Mason, NH (see my post here, or the website here)

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Hard to compare this sweet setting with anything else I’ve experienced before. And if not for a friend’s invitation, Pickety Place would still be completely off my radar. It’s kind of what I like about it. I felt as stuffed as the big bad wolf by the end of my meal, but also totally in heaven. Now I’m up for the challenge of maintaining VIP Lunch Club status for a free lunch after 6 visits within 12 months. Sounds like a good 2017 resolution to me 😉

 

What are you looking forward to in 2017? I hope that this new year brings you lots of adventures and memorable moments to last you a lifetime!

 

Valerie