I swear the weeks are flying by faster as each month passes, and I don’t know where the time has gone since my last blog post. My travel schedule has been pretty hectic, and my husband has also been traveling a ton for work. As a result, lots of other things have gotten put on the back burner. I miss my Boston blogging community!

One thing we have made an effort to do is to venture out of Dorchester for dining out, which can be difficult, especially when it’s dark and cold and Dorchester has so many great restaurants. Boston has such a great dining scene these days that it can be overwhelming, so we have been keeping a list of places to visit.

Where in Boston have I been lately?

Haley Henry

A catch-up date with an old friend at haley.henry wine bar was the perfect way to while away several hours on a blustery November night. The space is so cozy, and while our food was a bit hit-or-miss, I was a huge fan of the wine tots and pickled vegetables. The wine, however, is really where it’s at here. We went with staff recommendations for all of our wines, and they steered us in delicious directions.

While I don’t normally love Gamay, I have been thinking nonstop about one we tried from Isabelle & Bruno Perraud. It was the perfect suggestion, and it would be an incredible Thanksgiving wine.

Haley Henry

haley.henry is definitely a place I could see myself spending wintry afternoons, especially as a respite from holiday shopping.

Haley Henry

With all of our travel, fitting in date nights to reconnect have been more important than ever, and finding good places close to the airport has been helpful. I had been dying to visit Reel House in East Boston, and after a recent airport reunion, we fell in love with the beautiful space, great service, and delicious seafood.

Reel House

Tiki drinks and twinkling white lights and nautical decor won us over. Seafood charcuterie was a fresh and creative treat, perfect for sharing. The service was super warm and friendly and made us want to stay forever. This will definitely be a new favorite post-business-travel spot.

Reel House

anoush’ella in Boston’s South End is a place I now crave regularly. I kind of knew I would when I started to read the menus online, but it was truly love at first sight and first bite.

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I love the casual atmosphere of the space and the quick arrival of the food, which doesn’t take away from a relaxing experience. I sipped a delicious whiskey and grapefruit cocktail while devouring delights from their labne and m’anoush menus. I absolutely love yogurt in savory dishes, and this labne is super thick and tangy with perfect toppings.

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A sweet m’anoush to end the meal was stuffed with marshmallows and Nutella and was gooey and warm and perfectly delicious. I saw many people coming into anoush’ella for takeaway orders; if I lived in the neighborhood I would be tempted to go in several times a week!

anoush’ella

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Tags: Boston, Dining out, Food, food blog

For the past few weeks, I wasn’t sure if blogging about my September visit to Sonoma County would ever be appropriate. As the fires began to be put out and evacuations were lifted, however, it became clear to me that sharing a place I love, shouting it from the rooftops even, could be one tiny way I can help the region heal and move forward.

When it comes to dining out in Sonoma County, Stark Reality Restaurants  are some of my favorites. Sadly, Willi’s Wine Bar, where I have had many great meals, was destroyed in the fires, but the owners plan to rebuild.

On our September wine country trip, we dined at two Stark restaurants, including Bravas Bar de Tapas, which is a consistent favorite that I discovered on a Savor Healdsburg food tour.  I was excited to bring Healdsburg first timers to their patio on a gorgeous day for a delicious lunch.

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 Tapas with friends is one of my favorite ways to eat, especially when paired with a chilled Hanna Winery  rosé.

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Plate after plate of food made its way on to our table, a beautifully presented gazpacho, a Spanish and local cheese plate, to-die-for bacon wrapped dates with blue cheese, goat cheese toast, a classic tortilla. . . we just kept eating.

 

 

 

 

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Every bite at Bravas is delectable, and the dining experience is just what you would hope for on a wine country getaway, relaxed, coursed out perfectly, and difficult to leave.

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One Stark restaurant I hadn’t been to, Bird and the Bottle, was at the top of my must-try list for this trip, and again, it turned out to be perfect for our group of five. The only downside was that I was impossibly full when we left!

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I passed over the creative cocktail list in favor of a glass of bubbly since it had been a day of wine, but I would love to go back and make my way through the list.

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We shared cold and briny oysters on the half shell and hot and garlicky local Dungeness crab to take advantage of the West Coast’s bounty.

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And I will never turn down macaroni and cheese, especially studded with fried kielbasa and crispy kale. So good!

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Local corn with miso mayo and fried potatoes were our vegetables. :)

 

 

 

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If I could have eaten more, I would. Going back to Bird and the Bottle to sample the rest of the menu is a priority for our next Sonoma County trip, which will hopefully be soon!

Sonoma County is largely open for business and could use food and wine loving tourists’ visits or wine purchases to help boost the local economy and beautiful spirits.

 

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To read about family-friendly fun near the Sonesta ES Suites Andover Boston, head over to the Sonesta Hotels blog!

My recent travel blogging for Sonesta brought me close to home, just up the road from Boston to Andover, Massachusetts and the Sonesta ES Suites Andover Boston. It turned out to be a beautiful, warm fall weekend, and our friends who live in Andover were home for us to visit.

 

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The first order of business was to check into the hotel, which is an extended stay property conveniently located near 93 and a variety of businesses, but set off from the road making it a quiet place to relax.

There’s a real emphasis on guests feeling at home throughout Sonesta ES Suites, with welcoming areas for meeting and breakfast (which is hot, delicious, and included in your stay!) and suites that offer full kitchens and living rooms. Our one bedroom suite was larger than our last apartment! I loved that we had the ability to cook right in the suite or even just to grab a proper wine glass from the cabinet for a glass of wine.

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The setup of the rooms is perfect for family travel; not only can the kids be put to bed and the adults stay up, but two TVs in our room meant no fighting over the remote.

Since Sonesta ES Suites are often the home-away-from-home for many on business travel, a spacious work area is a welcome addition.

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We were excited to get out and explore Andover, which is  beautiful New England town with plenty of our favorite things, including hiking trails and places to eat.

Our first stop was the campus of Phillips Academy, which, on a perfect blue sky fall day, was very pretty and very classic New England. Right on campus is the cozy and historic Samuel’s, and since it was 5:00, we decided on cocktails and a cheese plate.

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My Old Fashioned was delicious, and a well-stocked cheese plate hit the spot and got us ready for exploring some more. The Addison Gallery was already closed for the day, and we decided to add it to our itinerary for our next visit to Andover.

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We took the daylight time to explore more of the campus and decided on the sanctuary for our hike the next day.

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Since we’re always up for a meal, we headed to the downtown of Andover, which is adorable, and again very New England. We’d heard of Elm Square Oyster Co. from a few people, and never ones to pass up oysters, grabbed bar seats and wine specials while we browsed the menu.

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My Gruener Veltliner was perfectly acidic, great pairing with the Pemaquid oysters we slurped down.  A homemade hot sauce made it all more delicious; I am a hot sauce fiend!

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We added the shrimp tacos and chilled lobster, which came in the most incredible lemony sauce, to our feast. The Gruener and the lemon sauce were heavenly together!

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Elm Square Oyster Co. is a definite must-visit if you are in Andover, and there were several other restaurants in the area I also wanted to try.

Andover, while to many thought of as just a Boston suburb, is a destination in itself, and it was nice to get away without driving forever or dealing with airport lines.

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My stay at the Sonesta ES Suites Andover Boston was hosted; all opinions are my own.

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Tags: Andover, Boston, cocktails, getaway, hotels, New England, oysters, Travel, wine

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