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With family all over the place, we tend to travel for just about every holiday. While I love seeing family and mixing things up, it can also be a bit of a slog to always have to hop in the car for a traffic-laden ride or to deal with airport crowds during the holiday season. Making fun little stops along the way on road trips can make them feel a little less like a chore and more like an adventure.

On our way home from Christmas in New Jersey, we found ourselves hungry just over the border in New York state, and when I say hungry, I actually mean my blood sugar dropped and I needed to EAT now or harm someone. That happens to everyone, right?

We pulled off the highway in Newburgh, New York expecting to land at a Dunkin’ Donuts or diner, something that would be quick so we could be on our way again. Instead we drove right past North Plank Tavern, a sweet old house with a bright, friendly OPEN flag flying from its doorway.

 

North Plank Tavern

The cheerful outside against the gray December sky called to us, and since we had plenty of time before dinner plans in Boston, we decided to have a sit down meal and to take our time, something I am not very good at.

We walked inside and were instantly charmed by the narrow doorways and dark wood. We popped our heads in the dining rooms first and finally settled into the empty bar, where we were soon welcomed. My photos aren’t great as I was trying to not have my phone out during a meal, something I want to get better at, but they do give an idea of this historic tavern’s look and feel.

North Plank Tavern

North Plank Tavern North Plank Tavern historic tavern

According to our host and the North Plank Tavern website:

The Tavern has a storied past.  It was  originally built as a hotel along a plank road, and became a Tavern and boarding house.  During prohibition, the Tavern continued to serve alcohol and operated as a speakeasy.

The boarding house was owned by Mrs. Sauer, whose name and photo can be seen in photos above. The space was enchanting; I love history and trying to imagine what things were like in different periods. It also felt a wee bit creepy; I am a strong believer in lingering spirits and always hope to encounter them in old houses! Except my own that is. . .

I love the above photo from the restaurant website, a trap door with Prohibition-era liquor underneath.

North Plank Tavern old fashioned doornautical decor

For an old tavern, I expected the menu to match, with classics and pub-type food. We were pleasantly surprised at the gourmet aspect of the restaurant.

Burrata Tomato Salad

The brunch menu featured an INCREDIBLE truffled Burrata salad with oven-roasted tomatoes. It was absolutely to-die-for and even better because it was NOT what I expected when we stopped for food.

My husband had the slab bacon (naturally) with eggs and home fries, all also excellent. The North Plank Tavern has a big smoker out back, where the bacon was made, it the bacon was delicious. So smoky, meaty, tender, so much better than regular old bacon.

The service was lovely, and the vibe was relaxed. We’ll be planning drives around meals here in the future. I can’t wait to check out the dinner menu,

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Tags: Food, historic restaurant, history, New York, New York State, North Plank Tavern, speakeasy, tavern, Travel

It’s 13 days into the New Year, and I am chugging along with my 2016 goals. So far I have booked a trip to Puerto Rico, which I am counting as a new place, since I only had a six hour layover there the last time. I’ve added more movement into my life, including dance parties and planks when I get up to make tea. I’ve been sticking to a work schedule, saving two days a week for “off limits” for off-property meetings, which take up a ton of time to get to and from. I’ve pitched some new business and have an updated profile on the website for a PR agency I work with that works extensively with wine clients.

And I have most definitely been paying more attention to eating healthier food and sticking to a workout schedule! I have a few weeks of events and travel coming up, and while I know some weeknight dinners out will be less-than-healthy, I am just doing my best to take things one day at a time. Below you’ll find some of the healthy at home cooking I have been doing lately.

blood orange

1) I have changed up my daytime snacking to include more fruit, especially apples, blood oranges, and grapefruits. I always feel dehydrated this time of year, and delicious winter citrus and other fruits help make me feel like I am drenching my body with water and nutrients. I’ve also added in lots of decaf green tea to hold my appetite off until meals (And because I read that it helps with weight loss. . . it’s healthy so worth a try!). That said, there’s plenty of Nutella straight from the jar, along with almonds and pieces of candy. Balance!

 

 

Life Alive Goddess Bowl

2) Life Alive inspired veggie bowls. The top bowl is an actual Goddess Bowl from Life Alive, also known as a bowl of heaven. If I could eat at Life Alive every day, I would be healthy, happy, and broke. So I have been experimenting with my own bowls. The below didn’t quite look like a Life Alive bowl, but with brown rice, chickpeas, carrots, kale, and onions, topped with an incredible homemade dressing, it came close and made for a delicious dinner. The sauce was made of cashews (soaked in water for the day first), blended with warm water, sesame oil, fresh ginger, garlic, lemon juice, and miso. Really yummy.

Goddess Bowl knock off

white bean stew

beef stew recipe

3) One pot comfort food. Comfort food can be healthy. This Guinness Beef Stew recipe is versatile, and you can add even more veggies if you want. Lean beef that cooks low and slow falls apart and adds lots of nutrients and protein.

And my white bean and sausage stew is a delicious, easy mish-mosh of ingredients: white beans, chicken andouille sausage, crushed tomatoes, kale, garlic, onions, all cooked together and topped with salty feta. This is an easy dinner for any night of the week and makes for great leftovers.

tomato and pomegranate salad 

4) Choosing vibrant salads whenever possible – This one, Ottolenghi’s Tomato and Pomegranate Salad, was a beautiful start to a dinner party we attended last week, and I filled up on it before diving into the other courses. If salad can always be like this, I am in.

kale pesto

5) Kale Pesto – Winter pesto never gets old. I crave the bright green, garlicky paste on shrimp, chicken, and vegetables (pasta too, but we’re trying to avoid it. . . ). This one is a blend of kale, good olive oil, parmesan, walnuts, and ALL the garlic. Yum.

Do you have any healthy eating inspiration lately?

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Tags: comfort food, Food, healthy, healthy recipes, nutrition, recipes, salads, weight loss

Branch Line is one of the Boston area’s hottest new restaurants, with city folks flocking out to Watertown to get a taste of their rotisserie-focused menu. Right before I left to go home for Christmas, we got together at Branch Line with great friends to celebrate the holidays. It was the perfect choice for such an occasion; it would be perfect for just about any occasion though. This is definitely a restaurant you need to visit soon.

Branch Line Watertown

The space is beautiful, with high ceilings and an open kitchen, which we were seated right next to,  making for a warm and cozy dinner and a show. We couldn’t help but watch the kitchen action, including the rotisserie chickens rotating and getting golden.

Branch Line

Branch Line

 

When I first heard the Branch Line concept, I was a little skeptical about whether or not the menu would appeal to me, but in the end, I wanted everything. This is a good place to go with a bunch of friends who don’t mind sharing because there are a lot of small plates, sides, and meat dishes that come in good-sized portions, and you will want them all.

Branch Line menu

porchettta at Branch Line

The porchetta . . . you have to get the porchetta. I first caught sight of it and had to grab this photo, which doesn’t do it justice. It was so beautiful, sitting right there in that open kitchen, just waiting for me to run away with it. . .

 

Bubbly

But first there were drinks. Our friends’ friends surprised us with a bottle of delicious bubbly, 2004
Château Tour Grise Brut Non Dose Gourdon, a sparkling Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley perfect for celebrating.
cheers

Cheers!

rotisserie drippings

We started off the meal with appetizers, including fresh bread and a bowl of drippings from the chicken rotisserie. Um, amazing.

fried cheese

We also shared the fried cheese as well as the heavenly grilled oysters with bagna cauda butter. I am more into grilled or roasted oysters these days, and these did not disappoint.

roasted oysters

And then there was dinner. Plates were flying around the table as we dug into our own meals as well as each others’, along with the sides that we ordered to share. I had at least a bite of everything; it was a true feast!

mushroooms

Grilled mushrooms came wading in more of the rotisserie chicken drippings, because, why not?

porchetta Branch Line

The porchetta was the best dish of the night. It wasn’t mine, unfortunately, so I had to be satisfied with a few bites, but it was absolutely insane – tender, juicy, and rich pork with a pop of flavor and crunch from mustard,  greens,  and pickled onions. Out of this world.

Branch Line chicken

 

The chicken was another star of the dinner show, as we dreamed it would be. Branch Line specializes in rotisserie, and the chicken is really a must-order.

 

roasted garlic and steak

 

My entree, the Prime Bavette Steak with an entire head of roasted garlic was a tender, mouthwatering treat with gooey, caramelized garlic to spare. Can you ever have too much garlic though?

 

roasted garlic

Pescatarians will be happy with the Baked Sicilian White Fish in a scrummy tomato sauce with olives and basil. I loved the simplicity of this dish; it’s something similar to what I make at home, only better.

fish carrots with yogurt sauce

My two favorite sides of the night were the roasted carrots which were resting atop a tangy, incredible yogurt sauce, a side that I would happily eat as a vegetarian entree. Brussels sprouts are always a favorite veggie of mine, and these were, like the rest of the meal, devoured by our group.

Brussels

I could have easily stopped at dinner and rolled out of the restaurant, but we stayed the course for espresso and desserts. The milkshake is one I would pass up next time. I found it too soupy and not much like a milkshake at all.

milk shake dessert

 

The olive oil cake and this ice cream sundae, on the other hand, were well worth the extra calories even to someone who isn’t a huge dessert fan, like me.

Service at Branch Line could not have been better. We felt relaxed and at home as each dish came out. The list of wines and beers is interesting; note that Branch Line doesn’t have cocktails, but the wine and beer selection more than make up for that. Branch Line is a definite must-visit in the Boston area, and we will definitely be back soon.

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Tags: Boston, Boston blogger, Dining out, Food, food blog, Restaurants, wine

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