65% Sonoma County, 35% Napa County = a little vacation for my palate. If you’re a long-time reader, you know that we try to visit Napa and Sonoma twice a year. Travel recaps can mostly be found here.

This year, due to visiting new places and traveling for weddings and the Chicago Marathon, we have no trips to Sonoma planned, and while I am a little sad about this, I know that a little piece of me can visit through old photos, great memories, and of course wine. This is one of the reasons I love wine; pouring a glass and breathing it in can transport you back to a place in time that’s warm and sunny and gorgeous.

 

Ghost Pines Cab Sauv

This Ghost Pines wine will forever make me think of colder climate memories; I enjoyed it recently at a dinner at my sister’s house, Sunday night in winter with the family all around. My mom made an incredible roast prime rib with coconut shrimp, baked potatoes, kale Caesar, and other veggie sides.

The wine is rich and spicy with jammy blackberry and cocoa notes to balance it out. It was great with the roast meat, complementing the slight saltiness of the marinade perfectly, but it would also be great with a warm berry pie. It drank nicely long into the night, its long and lovely finish the perfect winter warmer.

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Tags: Cabernet, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, Sonoma, Travel, wine, wine and food pairing, wine tasting, Wine Wednesday

When it comes to making it to blogger events, I have been a big slacker lately. Being up to my ears in work and working from home make it easy for me to work into the evening and beyond, and even if I do finish a bit early, my tendency has been to either take a virtual Barre & Soul class (client) or sink into a hot bubble bath with a glass of wine and a book for a few precious moments. 2016 has been a crazy year.

But I love and miss the networking that goes with blogger events, and when I was invited to Ocean Prime for a social media tasting, I jumped at the chance and am so glad I did.

truffle popcorn

I arrived early (always) and snagged corner seats at the bar for me and my handsome date. We had a spot right next to Ocean Prime’s excellent live music, reason alone to make a return visit. The bar itself was just gorgeous, and the service super friendly. To go with my glass of Chandon bubbles, I received a complimentary bowl of truffle popcorn; I love a good bar snack, especially with sparkling wine!

Ocean Prime Boston

Once it was time to head to one of Ocean Prime’s private rooms for the main event, I coveted their wine walls and wondered what it might be like to have this in my house. Love.

wine wall

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The event itself was “Eat, Drink & Be Social” and a chance for us to mingle with other social media fanatics while sampling cocktails and seafood.

martini glassesketel one

We enjoyed a cocktail demonstration, learning how to make Ocean Prime’s most popular cocktail, Berries and Bubbles, which was just slightly too sweet for me, but tasty nevertheless.

Ocean Prime cocktails

And it’s pretty! Dry ice adds a dramatic flair. I could see this cocktail being the perfect signature drink for an event. If Sex and the City took place in modern day Boston, the Berries and Bubbles cocktail would be the new Cosmo.

berries and bubbles

Every inch of space at Ocean Prime was gorgeous, and if it had been less busy I would have taken more photos. I did love this fireplace in the private room; what a brilliant idea in this cold and windy city of ours!

Ocean Prime Boston It was the food that won me over the most. We were spoiled with towering mountains of fresh, delicious seafood paired with perfect sauces. The crab legs and oysters were my favorites.

seafood tower I am not usually a calamari fan, but one of the servers said it was a must-try item, and I found that it was to-die-for delicious. Sweet chili sauce and tender calamari, not rubbery like it so often is, were mixed with candied cashews and veggies for some great flavor.

calamari

This truffled Deviled Egg was one of the best I have ever had. I could have eaten the entire plate of them, and since it was set down on my table, it was a possibility for a few minutes. Don’t worry, I shared.

truffle deviled egg A beautiful sushi display was also part of the feast, and every piece I had was amazing.

I love that Ocean Prime has a sushi menu and that it’s really good sushi; sometimes I am in the mood for sushi but also for other types of food and feel limited by sushi restaurants’ menus. Ocean Prime gives you the best of both worlds.

sushi

 

sushi    sushi

I had a great time meeting some new bloggers and the team at Ocean Prime. Everyone was genuinely nice and welcoming, and I loved the vibe at the restaurant, which felt special but not stuffy. It wasn’t as loud as some of the similar restaurants I have been to, and it felt like a place that could both be a regular stop for after-work cocktails or a destination for a birthday or anniversary. The live music several days a week is an added nice touch, and you can bet you will see me at the bar again soon.

Thanks to Marlo Marketing for the invitation and to Ocean Prime for hosting us!

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Tags: Boston, Boston blogger, Boston Food Bloggers, cocktails, events, seafood, wine

Welcome, new readers! You can read all about my travel here. http://traveleatlove.com/travel/

My perfect Massachusetts getaway in Hampshire County of Western Massachusetts included just a fraction of the amazing restaurants and cafes in the region. It’s the most productive farmland in New England, and Hampshire County is a foodie paradise.

After I checked into the beautiful Lord Jeffrey Inn, I decided to check out Amherst Coffee, which I had heard great things about, for a cocktail. Amherst Coffee isn’t just a coffee shop; it’s also a whiskey bar after 3:00 p.m., making for a space that is multi-use, and it is one of the coziest places ever. I loved all of the dark wood, the friendly and warm staff, and the craft cocktail menu.  I ended up visiting two days in a row, opting twice for the Walnut Old Fashioned, the perfect balance of sweet and bitter.

Amherst Coffee

I had a hard time deciding on dinner, because Amherst has so many great restaurants, but since The Lumber Yard was new-to-me, I decided to wander  in the cold, starry night down to this cozy restaurant, located near the railway station I used to travel through as a student at UMASS. It was the perfect choice.

The Lumber Yard Amherst

The Lumber Yard Amherst

The Lumber Yard mixes Amherst country charm with everything a cocktail lover and foodie would want, including a full bar with great wines by the glass, charming service, and delightful locals at the bar.  While sipping a penicillin at the bar and chatting with some local ladies, I felt the need to move to Amherst ASAP. Truth be told, I feel that every time I visit. There’s a relaxed free feeling about the place, and at my core, I am the nose ring decorated, backless shirt wearing, Phish following hippie I was in college, molded into a more conventional life in the city.  I like the old me, and that nose ring may make a reappearance.

penicillin cocktail

But back to the cocktails and food. . . everything at The Lumber Yard was SO good. The cocktails were so perfectly made, and my fries with dips and the warm lentil dip I had were both amazing. The Lumber Yard was one of the best dining experiences I have had lately, and I wish it wasn’t two hours away. It is well worth a visit.

perfect fries

The Lumber Yard Amherst On my way back to the Lord Jeff, I spied a live music session happening at one of my favorites, The Black Sheep Deli.  I had plans to have breakfast the next day at The Black Sheep, but I couldn’t miss the music so stepped inside for some toe-tapping fun for a few minutes.

Black Sheep Amherst

The Black Sheep has always been one of my favorites, and I loved seeing their window signs welcoming refugees and got a kick out of their Brooklyn Bernie sandwich.

Black Sheep Amherst

I only made a few stops in Amherst due to the limited amount of time I had there, and I am so grateful I get the chance to work with Hampshire County and to visit the region on a regular basis.

bueno y sano amherst

And of course, no visit to Amherst is complete without a stop at Bueno y Sano for a taco fix and Atkins Farms for their famous cider doughnuts and other local products.

Atkins Farm Donut

In the interest of full disclosure, I do PR  work for the Hampshire County Regional Tourism Council, but I chose to arrive early and stay in Amherst after my work was done and paid for all of that myself just because I love it there so much.

It’s a special place, and I am thrilled I get to share even a little bit of it with my blog readers.

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Tags: Amherst, Dining out, Food, food blog, Hampshire County, Massachusetts, Travel, travel blog, Western Massachusetts

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