One of the best parts of being a blogger is the opportunity to learn about ways in which I can use this blog to promote good. The other night I attended a Hearth Shares dinner at Brasserie Jo. Hearth Shares kicks off today, and you can learn more about this initiative to end homelessness below.

Hearth Shares  Hearth Shares is underwritten by Citizens Bank


This holiday season, Boston diners can once again give meaningfully with as little as a $1 donation at area restaurants through Hearth Shares (, a local fundraising initiative to end homelessness.  The program offers restaurant goers the opportunity to easily add a voluntary donation of $1 or more to their bill. Launched in 2014, the program has raised $80,000 to provide support for the Boston area homeless community. Supported by Citizens Bank, 100% of proceeds from Hearth Shares will benefit Hearth, Friends of Boston’s Homeless and a select group of other nonprofits working to end homelessness in the Boston community.


Boston Chefs and Restaurateurs Ming Tsai, Jeffrey Gates along with Chef Chris Douglass, Chef Nookie Postal, Chef Jamie Mammano, Chef Jeffrey Fournier, Chef Nicholas Calias and many others have signed on to support Hearth Shares at their restaurants.  They follow in the footsteps of Fergus Henderson, Gordon Ramsay, Angela Hartnett and Ashley Palmer-Watts who support the program’s London counterpart, StreetSmart in their restaurants.  Since 1998, StreetSmart has raised over $10 million for homeless programs in London and has over 500 participating restaurants.


WHEN: November 20, 2015 – December 25, 2015


WHERE:       Participating restaurants in Greater Boston include 51 Lincoln, 80 Thoreau, 224 Boston Street, Aquitaine Boston, Ashmont Grill, The Backroom, Battery Park, Beat Hôtel Brasserie, The Beehive, Bella Luna & The Milky Way, Blue Dragon, Blue Ginger, Brasserie Jo, Cinquecento, Commonwealth, Estragon, EVOO, Gaslight Brasserie, Juniper, Isabella Restaurant, L’Andana, The Local Newton, The Local Wayland, The Local Wellesley, The Merchant, Metropolis Café, Mistral, Mooo…, Ostra, Sorellina, South End Buttery, Sweet Basil, Sycamore, Tavolo, Teatro, Waban Kitchen, and Za Restaurant Arlington & Cambridge.


Brasserie JoThe dinner was very special, in a private room at Brasserie Jo, and gave us the opportunity to learn from representatives of Hearth, Citizens Bank, and Friends of Boston’s Homeless. The commitment to making a difference for Boston’s homeless, and in particular the elderly homeless, was such a passion of these people, and I got to discuss the issue in depth with the President of Hearth, which houses homeless elders in Boston. The simple act of acknowledging the homeless as human beings can be life-changing, and the work these people are doing both made me feel incredibly grateful but also driven to do something to make the world a better place.

Everything we ate was incredible, starting with Pastrami Salmon, Dried Dark Rye, Sauerkraut Bon-Bon, Salmon Roe.

salmon amuse

Fresh butter and baguettes for everyone at the table added that bit of French flair and flavor that I love about Brasserie Jo.

Brasserie Jo

Brasserie Jo  My phone, may it rest in peace, failed for most of the meal, so I don’t have many photos. I now have a new phone and hope to not have any problems in the future. The wonderful menu created for us was as follows:

· 1st Course: Roast Beet, Pickled Shallot, Hazelnut, Goat Cheese Mousse Salad

· 2nd Course: Green Circle Chicken, Parsnip, Chanterelle Studel, Heirloom Carrots

· 3rd Course: Baked Alaska, Pumpkin Meringue, Apple Cognac Genoise, Cinnamon Ice Cream

beet sakad

Brasserie Jo’s chef came out to talk to us and to let us know how important Hearth Shares is to the restaurant. Getting guests to opt in is a bit of a competition, and Brasserie Jo really encourages its staff to promote the initiative.

Brasserie Jo chef

I am so happy that I was able to attend this dinner. I am hoping to volunteer at Hearth in the near future. With all going on in the world, this event and the Hearth Shares initiative is a true reminder that most of us are good and want the best for each other. If you are in Boston and planning on dining out in the next month, please consider one of the Hearth Shares restaurants!

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Tags: Boston, community, Dining out, events, Food, homelessness

I loved our trip to Chicago so much. It felt like the perfect mini getaway not too far away. The weather was great, we got to spend time with friends and family, we walked a ton, and of course, we did our fair share of eating and drinking. And with all of the restaurants in Chicago, we could go back many times to do much much more. Below is a round up of our eating adventures.

For more Chicago posts you can read about our Goose Island Tour and my Scenes from Chicago post.

Public Hotel Chicago

We stayed at the Public Hotel, which had two elegant, old school bars, the Pump Room and the Library and Coffee Bar, both offering incredible cocktails. The craft cocktail menu, small bites, low lighting, and general ambiance added so much to our hotel stay.

mimosa Our first morning in Chicago found us walking for miles along Lake Michigan then finally sitting down to brunch outdoors at LuxBar. Mimosas, Salmon Eggs Benedict, and a gigantic breakfast burrito were all delicious and enjoyed while people watching. Brunch on vacation is just the best.

salmon benedict

breakfast burrito

stuffed shells

My friend who was running the Chicago Marathon wanted to carb load the night before, and of course we joined her. Carmine’s was the place to be the night before the marathon. The red wine was flowing, and classic red sauce Italian dishes like my stuffed shells were being served up to noisy tables. The atmosphere was festive and perfect for the exciting weekend that was in it.

Pops Champagne Bar I couldn’t miss the opportunity to taste Champagnes by the glass at Pop Champagne Bar. It’s so rare to have the chance to taste several Champagnes in one sitting, and we took full advantage of the menu!

Pops Champagne Bar Finally, there was the post-marathon celebratory dinner at Hugo’s.We originally set out for Gibson’s but they were completely full, and the kind hostess had someone escort us to their sister restaurant Hugo’s, which serves the same steaks and great food. We felt so taken care of right off the bat; the hospitality all throughout Chicago was remarkable, and we really felt it the most at Gibson’s and Hugo’s.

We wanted the Chicago steak house experience, complete with giant cocktails, meat, and sides.

cocktails in Chicago There were martinis and Manhattans and wedge salads, one of my favorite steak house dishes.

wedge salad When the entrees started to arrive, my husband’s steak was way too rare, so they whisked it away and while it cooked brought him a complimentary shrimp cocktail so he had something while he waited. It was only a matter of minutes, and this little extra touch meant so much. The shrimp were so yummy too!

shrimp cocktail

While my plate doesn’t look very appetizing here, it was simply amazing. I had the steak and crab cake combo, which came with two phenomenal sauces including their pink spicy mayo. 

steak and crab ccakes

My husband’s steak came covered in crab meat and asparagus and was out-of-this world. We also all shared chipotle corn and asparagus.

Hugo's Chicago 

This meal was special, decadent, and so much fun, one of those must-do things if you get to Chicago. It kind of felt like dining in a bygone era, where we really slowed down to enjoy ourselves.

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Tags: Chicago, Dining out, Food, Restaurants, Travel, travel blog

I wrote the below post before the horrific terrorist attacks on Paris on Friday. I have been thinking about all of those affected  by the attacks all weekend and still, like so many others, have no ability to make sense of what happened or the state our world is in. I spent much of the weekend anxious and sad.

I thought about not posting today, but ultimately, I can sit around and feel sad or I can share my love of life with blog readers, people who have, through technology, become friends over the years. I hope that continuing to share things we love and to keep an eye on one another and to connect can help us to keep the love and light in the world when there are some determined to take it away.


I’ve mentioned it a few times, but our dining habits lately have been leaning sharply toward Dorchester. We’ve visited Tavolo, Ester, and Ashmont Grill quite frequently, and they are so good and so close that it’s hard not to  pull ourselves away.

Last week after drinks with friends we found ourselves in the Fort Point area of Boston and suddenly starving. We were parked by Bastille Kitchen, so we decided to go in and grab a couple of appetizers.

I instantly fell in love with the space and the buzz of energy and activity. The restaurant was busy but had a nice noise level and lots of smiling patrons.

Domaine Augis "La Rosée"

They had a nice by-the-glass wine selection, and I of course went with pink bubbly, Domaine Augis "La Rosée", which added to the already celebratory Friday mood.

I had started the week off with a terrible 36 hour bug and as a result hadn’t eaten much more than soup all week, but at Bastille Kitchen my appetite came back with a vengeance. Their bread basket is not just bread, but warm, buttery mini croissants, which I basically attacked. They were flaky and heavenly. If I could have a warm basket delivered every morning, I would be all set.

warm croissants

Date night always includes oysters, and we polished these off in no time. Fresh, cold, perfect – I love oysters this time of year!


Now, the plan was to share some appetizers and then to head home, but my ravenous post-illness body saw the Porterhouse for two, and that was all I could think about.

Sides It came with asparagus, potato gratin, grilled tomatoes, and sauce bordelaise, and we got a bit of horseradish on the side, and it was all simply dreamy. The meat barely needed a knife. It was so tender and flavorful, and all of the vegetables were the perfect accompaniments. We ate every bite; I definitely took the lead on this endeavor!

Porterhouse for Two It felt so good to want to eat after feeling so miserable, so we ordered dessert. Profiteroles, light, fluffy, another pastry win, were stuffed with caramel chip ice cream and had a warm hazelnut chocolate sauce for pouring.


The service at Bastille Kitchen was as exquisite as the food and ambiance. Our server and everyone who cared for us were so pleasant and attentive and smiling all the while. It was just a lovely experience. I can’t wait to return.

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Tags: Boston, date night, Dining out, dinner, Food, Restaurants, wine

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