Boston bloggers

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Being a Boston food and travel blogger as well as  a publicist/social media consultant has always been an interesting combo for me. It’s definitely helped me to grow my circle of blogger friends and contacts, allowed me to stay in the loop on local media and events, and it’s helped me craft how I want to interact with (and how I DON’T want to interact) other bloggers.

It’s always fun when the two come together in one place, and on Monday that’s exactly what happened. A bunch of Boston bloggers came together at the Olive Connection Brookline ( client of mine since summer 2015) to taste Nautical Gin cocktails and an array of wines that a colleague of mine works with.

Olive Connection Brookline

The event was a casual get-together that allowed bloggers to check out the beautiful gift items that the Olive Connection has for the holidays and to mingle in a festive setting. It was fun!

cheese and charcuterie

Olive Connection is a beautiful store offering so many different artisan food items like charcuterie, pastas, sauces, coffee, tea, and of course olives, olive oil, and vinegar,

rainbow pasta gift  

pasta and sauce They put out a delicious spread of snacks that featured ingredients from the store such as bruschetta, shrimp with amazing artisan cocktail sauce, crudite with a beet horseradish dip, and more.

holiday food spread

And my favorite, brownies made with their blood orange olive oil.

blood orange olive oil brownies

Nautical Gin was on hand with their beautiful bottles of craft American gin, making their signature Gimlet cocktail as well as a festive Gin and Jam cocktail made with local Doves and Figs jam.

For the cocktail recipe, visit the Nautical Gin Instagram page.

 

gin and jam Nautical Gin cocktail

Nautical Gin makes a great holiday gift! Find it in a store near you: http://www.nauticalgin.com/where-to-buy.html

 

Nautical Gin cocktails

All of the wines we tasted were delicious and perfect for holiday entertaining.

Don Melchor

Trivento Golden Reserve

Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem

Peter Zemmer Pinot Noir

St Urbans-Hof Wiltinger

Ferraton Pere et Fils Samorens White

Peter Zemmer Pinot Grigio

Trivento Amado Sur Torrontes

Gran Reserva Serie Riberas Sauvignon Blanc

Grazing on small bites, cocktails, and sips of wine while mingling with really interesting and fun bloggers was a wonderful way to spend a chilly December evening!

Thank you to all of the Boston bloggers who attended and to our hosts the Olive Connection, the wineries, and of course Nautical Gin for the cocktail gin-spiration.

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Tags: bloggers, Boston, Boston bloggers, Brookline, Food, food bloggers, gifts, gin, gourmet, lifestyle bloggers, PR, small plates, social media, wine, wine bloggers, wine tasting, work

I kind of hate the expression “Nom, nom, nom”, but it’s just what comes to mind when I look back on a recent dinner at Happy’s Bar and Kitchen.  From cocktails to dessert, every single dish (and glass) was spot on, delicious, and fun. Happy’s is a place that certainly makes for happy diners (at least in our group), and it could be my new favorite place for going out with a group of friends.

Happy's Bar and Kitchen

Starting with its neon sign, the décor  of Happy’s is bright, fun, and funky. I wanted to capture that better in photos, but by the time I arrived the restaurant was quite crowded. I hate making people feel like I am taking their photo!

Happy's Bar and Kitchen

Our visit to Happy’s was on a very hot day, and when I arrived, I needed refreshment. The very first cocktail on the list was a sparkling wine cocktail, so of course I ordered it.  That’s a bitters-soaked sugar cube in the bottom of the glass. I loved this drink.

sparkling wine cocktail

Later in the evening I enjoyed the below cocktail, which I believe was called Oh Bloody Hell. . . I could be wrong. It was delicious!

blood orange cocktail

There were seven of us at the table, so we decided to order a few appetizers to share, and Happy’s also took great care of us, sending out appetizers and a dessert at the end.

The DIY nachos may have been my favorite. Ever since I was little, I have loved toppings bars or any place where you can make your own salad, sundae, etc. Making my own little plate of nachos meant they were fresh, not greasy, and I could layer on the toppings perfectly.

Happy's DIY nachos

Shrimp tacos, light, fresh, and flavorful, were perfect for the summery day we were having. I like that Happy’s does not fry the shrimp for the tacos.

shrimp tacos

They do fry the fried pickles, of course, and these were hot and crunchy on the outside with tangy pickles on the inside. These are definitely some of the better fried pickles I have had.

fried pickles

Crunchy meatballs with tomato and basil sauce were delicious with a nice hint of spice and bit of crunch on the outside.

crunchy meatballs

House made potato chips and dip, the perfect party food even if it’s just a party for one.

house made potato chips

The mac and cheese made its way around the table more than once. I think just about everyone grabbed a second bite. While Savin Bar + Kitchen still has my heart when it comes to mac and cheese, this was a close second.

macaroni and cheese

Creamy ricotta and crunchy bread made for another addictive appetizer, and I would say this is a must-order at Happy’s.

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And finally, there was the tuna tartare. I always love to check out the tuna tartare at restaurants, and this one did not disappoint, with spicy avocado and cool cucumber. Very refreshing.

tuna tartare

Once we chowed down on every appetizer on the menu, our entrees came. I had a hard time deciding between a few dishes, but as a lover of fried green tomatoes, went with the Southern BLT with fries. After all of the amazing appetizers, I was full and could only eat half of the sandwich. I loved the tomato and the idea of the pork belly on the sandwich. As is often the case in restaurants, the pork belly was a little dry, my only complaint of the entire evening.

southern blt

After all that, I did not need dessert. At all. My stomach definitely protested, but with dinner being so much fun, we soldiered on to try the Nutella tart and strawberry shortcake, with some crisp, minty chocolate cookies sent out as a special treat.

nutella tart

The Nutella tart was a little too sweet for me, but I would imagine true dessert-lovers would devour it. The strawberry shortcake was definitely the highlight of dessert for me with its light, buttery shortcake and pool of strawberry sauce.

strawberry shortcake

cookies

On our way out, we all got to meet Chef Michael Schlow and to tell him how great our experience was. For me, the only real downside of Happy’s is its location. We avoid the Fenway area during baseball season, so there will definitely be times we’d like to stop in and probably won’t. But, that’s what the other seasons are for.

For a  really great review of our dinner, check out Beantown Eats!

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Tags: bloggers, Boston bloggers, cocktails, Dining out, Food, Restaurants

Did you know that the Financial District restaurant Nix’s Mate is actually named after a tiny Boston Harbor Island of the same name?

The island Nix’s Mate has an interesting history, one that involves pirates (arrrrrrr), including pirate chief, William Fly. The restaurant Nix’s Mate happens to have a private dining area named after Fly. Fly, along with two other pirates, is buried on Nix’s Mate, the island, which appears and disappears with the tide. Being a lover of the sea and the islands, I thought the restaurant concept was pretty cool, and I was excited when Lin brought plans together for a bunch of Boston bloggers to have dinner there. My fun dining companions for the night included Daisy, Erica, Lin, Lisa, Megan, Meesh, and Jacki.

Nix's Mate

I arrived a little early to Nix’s Mate and decided to get out of the humidity and to have a cocktail. I instantly loved the restaurant’s décor. Light wood, high ceilings, lots of light, and my favorite, various shades of grey, give it a soothing, relaxed feel.

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Nix’s Mate has a nice cocktail list, but what really jumped out to me was the Ginger Collins. (I’d also like to see them add a Champagne cocktail!). A friendly server took my order, and I was left to relax on one of the comfy leather couches by the window while I waited for the group to arrive. The lounge area is really a great space.

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Candied ginger. . . yum! I can’t say that I loved this drink though. I was hoping it would have a kick of ginger spice, but it was overpowered by gin flavor. It was good, but not what I expected, and I don’t think I would order it again.

Ginger Collins

Once everyone arrived, we took our seats at a large, round table in the corner. Surrounded on two sides by big windows and lit from above by this cool chandelier, our table was a great space for group dining.

Nix's Mate

As food bloggers often do, we ordered a ton of small plates and shared them all.

bacon wrapped scallops

Bacon-wrapped scallop skewers, maple butter – I thought that these scallops, while deliciously salty and sweet, were a little on the small side, and I definitely wished that there were more on the plate since they were so good.

veal cheek

Braised Veal Cheek “POT AU FEU” Roasted baby vegetables, bone morrow – I actually didn’t try this, but the table seemed to like it. It looked like a nice dish for fall or winter and had a pretty, rustic presentation.

flatbread

Harbor Island Flatbread – Salami & pepperoni, tomato gravy, mozzarella, leeks, spicy fried rock shrimp – I really wanted to love this flatbread, but I thought it was pretty bland. The shrimp were standard fried shrimp, not spicy. The most flavor came from the pepperoni, which helped, but it didn’t really taste that different from a regular old pepperoni pizza.

fried lobster and caramel

Fried Maine Lobster Caramel! – Warm Vermont cheddar, green onions, chilis – Everyone raved about this dish. Fried lobster and caramel? It’s kind of difficult to even describe, but it was amazing. It’s worth visiting Nix’s Mate for this alone!

Boston Bibb Salad with Blackberries

Boston Bibb Salad – Pecans, blackberries, caramelized onion dressing, cornbread croutons – This was a nice, light, and fresh salad, and I love the blackberry and croutons. I didn’t notice much flavor in the dressing though, unfortunately. I love caramelized onions and dips/dressings made with them, and I hoped for that wonderfully sweet flavor.

We also shared the Tuna Carpaccio Nicoise and the Polpette Vignole (meatballs in clam sauce), and while the tuna was definitely a group favorite, I just didn’t find it very memorable. I did love the meatballs; they had a little bit of a kick, and I found the meatball and clam combination to be interesting.

Food bloggers pretty much always order dessert, so we decided to split four of the items on Nix’s Mate’s dessert menu. Dessert actually impressed more than dinner!

Bananas Foster Bread Pudding

Bananas Foster bread pudding – This was a table favorite. Bananas with crunchy caramel tops, toasted marshmallow, and brioche. Yum.

strawberry shortcake

For me, the prize for best dessert was a tie. I loved the abundance of strawberries and the buttery shortcake in the strawberry shortcake and the homemade cookies and ice cream in the ice cream sandwiches. The cookies were nice and soft, with chocolate chips giving a great texture.

ice cream sandwiches

The fourth dessert we ordered was a hazelnut chocolate torte which was too sweet for my taste buds.

Dinner with a group of food bloggers is always fun, and I am glad I had the chance to dine with this group. My feelings about Nix’s Mate are mixed. I’d love for them to jazz up their by-the-glass wine selection a little with some more interesting options. As far as the food goes, nothing was bad, it just seems like they might be playing it safe with seasonings and other flavors. It is a restaurant in a hotel, so that would make some sense. I think their hearts and minds are in the right place, and there is definitely creativity behind the menu and the space. I’d return for a cocktail at the bar and to try some of the other dishes on the menu that we missed. There are a lot of options!

Nix's Mate on Urbanspoon

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