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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

Summer Fridays. The phrase is one of the sweetest in the English language, I think, and I have been trying to take as many as possible this year. My schedule is such that I work Saturday and Sunday mornings and into the night many evenings, so finishing work by 1:00 on Fridays is often my goal.

Recently I enjoyed a summer Friday in town that included lunch AND dinner at Doretta. It all started with lunch plans with a friend who also has summer Fridays. We both wanted to try a restaurant we hadn’t been to yet and wanted somewhere with a patio. Doretta Taverna & Raw Bar fit both of those requirements and was also close the red line, perfect for us.

NV Domaine Spiropoulos Ode Panos Organic Brut, Mantinia Summer Friday patio lunches call for bubbly, and I was absolutely delighted with the wine list at Doretta.  I don’t have a ton of experience with Greek wine but loved this NV Domaine Spiropoulos Ode Panos Organic Brut. It was nice and dry, a rose gold color with brioche, lemon, and green apple notes, a perfect pairing with the feast we shared.

zucchini chips {Crisp Zucchini Chips with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce}

Zucchini chips are pure heaven, light and crunchy, dunked into cold and refreshing yogurt. Our Village Salad felt very traditional; I could picture myself sitting outdoors in Greece, surrounded by whitewashed walls and blue sky. This is definitely one of the most delicious ways to get vegetables.

village salad

{Village Salad}

 

crunchy eggplant { Crunchy Eggplant with Smoky Yogurt, Tomato-Harissa Compote, and Crushed Pistachios}

The Crunchy Eggplant was on the opposite spectrum of the chips and salad. It was warm and hearty, and we dug into the rustic, smoky tomato with abandon.

When lunch was over, we went our separate ways, and I met other friends for coffee and then cocktails, where we started talking about how much I loved Doretta. They work in the neighborhood and insisted we go back and try the Espresso Martini. How can I say no to that?

espresso martini {One of the best Espresso Martinis in Boston. . . my other favorite is at dbar!}

By that time it was dinner, so of course we ate again.

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{Oysters with Cucumber Mignonette}

We ordered a bunch of items, but I only caught photos of two. I absolutely loved the cucumber mignonette with the briny local oysters, and the shrimp were lovely, with a nice hint of dill and great crunch from the bread crumbs.

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{Warm Shrimp with Lemon, Dill, and Crunchy Bread Crumbs}

Doretta instantly became a Boston favorite and a place that I could definitely enjoy dinner out while still staying somewhat healthy.

Happy Summer Friday!

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Tags: Boston, Food, food blog, food blogger, martinis, oysters, Restaurants, summer

Tucked into the Greenport, NY waterfront down Bootleg Alley  is the cutest little oyster shack you’ve ever seen. Little Creek Oysters was part of the incredible itinerary on my North Fork press trip a couple of weeks ago, which started on the Cross Sound Ferry and with a trip to Sep’s Farmstand. Greenport is an adorable seaside town, perfect for  getaway, with tons of shopping and eating, in addition to plenty of lovely waterfront for wandering. You’ll want to make Little Creek Oysters part of your Greenport itinerary too.

Little Creek Oysters

The building itself has a fun history. It began as the wheelhouse of a whaling ship that was eventually cut off and brought ashore in 1880. After spending time as a gathering place for the men who worked the sea, it became a bait and tackle shop and is now home to Little Creek Oysters, who have kept the iconic bait and tackle sign.

Little Creek Oysters

The oyster shack features eclectic nautical decor in a bright, cozy little space with the influence of oysters on just about everything.

Little Creek Oysters

There’s plenty of gift shopping to be done; our group left with all sorts of new items, including oyster shucking platforms, shucking knives and gloves, and my favorite, branded little glasses, perfect for a cold beer on a hot summer day.

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Little Creek Oysters

Little Creek Oyster While we browsed and learned all about Little Creek Oysters from co-owner Rosalie Rung, oystermen dropped off fresh deliveries off local oysters. Josh Clauss hauled in bags of Harvest Moon oysters; it doesn’t get much fresher than that!        

Greenport oysters  

Long Island wine

Rosalie had set a beautiful table for us, complete with wine from local winery Bedell Cellars, perfectly iced on the very hot day.

oyster menu The table setting also including Holy Schmitt’s horseradish from Riverhead, NY and small batch A & B pepper sauce, which we learned, were both delicious for topping oysters.

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Cold glasses of wine were poured, and we tucked into steaming bowls of homemade clam chowder, one of the offerings on the simple menu at Little Creek Oysters.

Bedell Cellars wine  

Rich with plump local clams and in a creamy but light broth, the chowder hit the spot. Rosalie explained that, unlike the chowder we might be used to in New England, this was made without flour, so the broth is a little thinner. It was the perfect start to a sea-kissed afternoon of oyster shucking.

clam chowderConfession: I had never shucked an oyster before. My husband has done it for us a few times at home, but we mostly go out for oysters. I was a little nervous but also excited to have Rosalie’s expertise as we learned together, some of us novices and others seasoned shuckers.

oyster shucking These wooden platforms definitely helped to stabilize the oyster and to provide leverage for prying open the shell. We dug into buckets of iced oysters from Peconic Bay, donning our shucking gloves and knives for a delicious lesson.

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Little Creek Oysters Shucking oysters seems simpler than it is, at least for me. At first I had some trouble getting the knife into the hinge, but I got the hang of it and proudly opened about six oysters, which I slurped down with horseradish or hot sauce.

oysters I’m a lover of small, briny oysters, and these definitely fit the bill. They were delightfully salty, like kissing the sea, and the act of shucking made for a ton of laughs and camaraderie in the group.

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shucking oysters

Empty bottles of wine and empty oyster shells soon graced the table, making for a fun contrast to the way it looked on our arrival; clearly we went to work on things!

Little Creek oyster is the perfect spot for getting together with a group of friends, a bucket of oysters, and some Long Island beer or wine for a tasty day by the sea. There’s no need to be intimidated; Rosalie and her husband Ian are happy to help you learn to shuck, a skill that is a gift that keeps on giving. Oyster and wine lovers definitely don’t want to miss out on this exceptional coastal living experience.

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Tags: coastal living, Long Island. food, North Fork, oysters, Travel, travel blog

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