Thursday, November 13, 2014


Sicker than your average, Alden & Harlow, was one of the best meals we have had in, like, forever.

Succulents, sugar pumpkin and service. We are in love.

(photo courtesy of

Our waiter, who was ah-mazing, recommended 2-3 small plates per person. We did 2, and it was perfect. Well, not perfect because we were too full for deconstructed cheesecake. One of three regrets for the night.

We enjoyed:
Charred Broccoli and Squash Hummus
Brussel Sprouts, Gruyere Frico, Burnt Honey Crema
Honey Glazed Burrata, Roasted Pumpkin Caponata
Raw Sugar Pumpkin Salad, Xertoli Almonds, Dates
Pickled Verril Farm Corn Pancakes
Fried Baby Octopus, Honey, Soy and Citrus Glaze, Squid Ink Aioli

(For meaties, our waiter said the best thing on the menu is the secret burger, but it sells out fast! Something about Clams and Pig's Ear is the talk of the town, too!)

Decent beer list.

Regret #2 was not going to the Biggie Brunch in August. Why did we pass this up?? Who doesn’t love a t-bone steak, cheese eggs and welch’s grape or honey butter played toast.

If you know me, you know I’m more of a Biggie fan than Comic-Con fan. But if you love geek-ing out, don’t miss tonight’s Comic-Con themed industry night, with perfectly punned cocktails and snacks. Starts at 10:30, costumes encouraged.

We need more A&H  lunches, brunches and interviews by the pool in our life.

(Oh! Regret #3 was rubbing shoulders with Jonathan Clay at the Middle East and not asking for a photo! If you own a plaid shirt, you were probably there last night, but if not…you NEED to see Jamestown Revival live!)

Monday, June 23, 2014

"Here I go, Here I go, Here I go again..."

"Girls, what's my weakness? Men! Blogging!"
There were two places to be last Friday night. The Salt 'n Pepa concert or Salt 'n Ipswich.

Choo-Chew opted to satisfy our '90s thirst at SALT Kitchen and Rum Bar with debates on which lunch period was better. (I mean seriously, was anyone even in B lunch??)

A Choo-Chew plan was quickly thrown together with Andy already on the train from Boston. Matt joined up in Beverly, and met up with the rest of the group in downtown Ipswich. (The restaurant is a quick jaunt from the train stop.)

Our trip down '90s memory lane continued with a Kelly Kapowski . OK fine, it's really called a Kapowski, but who else could this possibly be named after?! It was the perfect, refreshing summer cocktail.

Other recommendations are: the Haymaker, theWhiskey and the Mutineer.

We may or may not have had a few apps while waiting for Laura and Evan. A delicious cheese plate from Appleton Farms, Pierogis and Chinese Meatball Sliders. They were so yummy, all evidence was removed from the table before they showed up!

Entrees were just as mouth-watering: Fried Chicken and Bacon Waffles, Strip Steak, Barley Risotto, Seafood Puttanesca and Lobster Rueben.

Laura requested "a chocolate-chip, honey dip, can I get a scoop?", so we contemplated taking a ride in the coupe over to Benson's, but instead stayed put for the Blondie Brownie Sundae and SALTed Caramel Ice Cream.

SALT was "born with the thought that our industry should not be just about food and beverage. It is about hospitality. It is about inviting people into your home, feeling comfortable and celebrating with great food and delicious drink." They have absolutely nailed it.

Jaime and I will be visiting again soon, accompanied by sunkissed noses and salty, beach waves.

And, yes, Choo-Chew is still rolling! Stay tuned for more posts about train-accessible restaurants and we are going to push it (push it real good) into other categories that suit our fancy!


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Minn, Minn

Never would I have thought I would ever celebrate my favorite holiday – July 4th – landlocked in the middle of the country with not a beach insight. But after having spent an amazing long weekend with old friends, I’m still laughing and reminiscing 2 months later.

OK – so it’s pretty safe to assume more liquids were consumed than actual solids that weekend – but if it weren’t for the libations, we wouldn’t have found this amazing breakfast stop.

A quick jaunt from our hotel was the most indulgent breakfast place I’ve ever been to – Ike’s. We knew we were at the right spot, when we walked up and found a line outside waiting for the doors to open.

So why is this Choo-Chew worthy? It’s simple: Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Any time you attend a sporting event downtown, you can take the LRT from Ike’s to the game and back for only 50 cents! John Candy would love it!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Food for the soul...

...and by soul I mean aching joints, smashed knee and displaced hip. After a crazy deep sea fishing trip, we needed to comfort our battered and bruised bodies.

Going out in 6 foot chop on a 21’ center console probably wasn’t the smartest idea, but when your sister-in-law (“former” friend) says “go big or go home”, you have no choice! Love you, Sar! (Side note: if you are looking for the best fishing charter on the island you must give Capt. Tom’s Charters a ring and request Jason! Weather is unpredictable and Jason kept the jokes coming, even though we almost went overboard.)

Nothing says comfort food more than Italian. Sarah made a reservation for us at Ventuno, which opened this summer where 21 Federal used to be. After coming home to find out all of the accolades it has won, we were not surprised. We gave the Galley our own award of best atmosphere, but Ventuno takes the cake for best dishes. We sat on their cute outdoor patio – perfect for people watching after dinner!

Friday, August 26, 2011

All aboard!

Nantucket is my favorite place in the world. Hands down. Forget Maui. Forget Dublin. Even Paris doesn’t beat Nantucket.

Ok - I can hear the gasps from here.

Disclaimer: I love all of those places as well (probably in that order behind good ole’ ACK), but nothing gives you that satisfying home-away-from-home feeling than docking at Straight Wharf as memories of adolescence come flooding in. Nothing beats letting air out of the tires, and driving on every possible sandy road with the windows down and the radio up, as you pass one gorgeous grey-shingled house after another, on the hunt for the next hidden beach. And for me, there isn’t a 5 star hotel in the world that beats renting a house with your best friends, stocking the fridge with cold ones and waking up every morning to the salty, damp Nantucket air. Ahhhh – heaven!

So we took to the Steamship Authority (the train of the sea – ehh a stretch, I know!) jeep and all, and enjoyed every minute of our week of summer freedom.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

June 18th!

June 18th! June 18th! Being reminded incessantly by your family that your last blog post was June 18th is both encouraging and frustrating. Yes, it means people are constantly checking our blog and anticipating our next mouth-watering review, but finding the time to share our latest culinary adventures is difficult  - especially in the summer. Who wants to be typing away when there are waves to ride, sun to bask in and courses to golf! (Not to mention floors to dance on!)

So where have we been the last 2 months? Traveling both near and far! Over the next couple of days we will share a few highlights from our summer escapades. So if you find yourself in Nantucket, Maine or even Minnesota – you will know where to score a to-die for meal!

Oh – and for those pessimists out there, there are still 6 fantastic beach weekends left according to Choo-Chew!
Summer is not even close to being over!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

10:00 - Hours: Covert Sunday Brunch...

Sunday Brunch was the last outing of our 24-hour trip in NYC. And this is where things really get interesting (read with shifty eyes.)

Clearly the brunching options in the city are as plentiful as sand on the beach, but we may have stumbled on something special here folks. I was a little taken aback at first by Laura’s hush hush-ness surrounding this place on the Upper East Side. Maybe she was afraid I would blog about it and tell the world (whoops!)?

I mean, I get it. Once you find the Hope Diamond of brunch places in NYC you may want to keep it to yourself. It’s not necessarily that no one has heard of this restaurant, but it seems that it might not be your first thought for brunch. For the sake of preserving the best meal of the weekend for our NYC buddies, it’s with great discretion that I report about our final culinary locale: the Parlor Steakhouse. Now that I uncovered the name of this top secret place - how many people have been here? Is this like asking someone from Topsfield if they’ve been to THOP? Either way, what a great choice for brunch.

We checked out of the Paramount, taxied it up to the Upper East Side, and settled in for the long haul at the Parlor Steakhouse.

The Parlor Steakhouse offers a great brunch prix fixe: your choice of a brunch item (great selection), coffee, and a brunch cocktail for only $25 a piece. But, if you ever make it to the Parlor Steakhouse for the brunch prix fixe, please read the fine print. Each guest is allowed a maximum of five cocktails if she desires, for this one set price. Now this is getting exciting and pretty amazing considering NYC prices. Mimosas, Bellinis, Bloody Mary’s…oh my!! If your plan is to go for a long leisurely brunch, just remember one thing: NYC law dictates that bar service starts at 12:00 PM. This may be one case where the early birds DO NOT get the worm.

Arriving slightly before go-time, we sipped bloody Mary mix and OJ while we enjoyed the first half of our brunch – with one eye on the clock of course.

Jen chose the Malted Buttermilk Pancakes which were topped with bananas, walnuts, and raisins. I never would have guessed banana pancakes for Jen :) .

Nicole and I both had the Eggs Benedict on a biscuit. Wow, something I had to try. The biscuit was quite large and slightly dry, but the eggs were perfectly poached and the hand-cut bacon a tasty change from the more traditional Benedict-style Canadian bacon.
Laura enjoyed the Brioche French Toast with caramelized apples, mascarpone cheese, and vanilla.

Eventually we were served our drinks. Now we’re under the gun – our bus home was scheduled to leave at 1 pm. What’s a girl to do? It would only be natural to wonder: Jaime, did you have enough time to finish your drinks? Was it really the deal of the century? Were you able to keep your composure as you always do ? Did you make your bus home? All good questions and the detailed answers will have to stay within our inner circle. Let’s just say that we may have quite literally dove into a cab and were driven “professional driver on a closed course - style” back downtown.

And we’re back in Boston today. What a trip!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

21:30 Hours - Never too many cooks in Hell's kitchen

An easy walk from the Paramount Hotel is Hell’s Kitchen’s 44 and X , located on the corner of, you guessed it, 44th and 10th street.  This restaurant, another great suggestion by Laura, was a perfect choice for a late dinner close to the hotel while avoiding the chains located near Broadway and Times Square.
The menu at 44 and X is described as “New American,” with many comfort food items up for grabs.   Even though buttermilk fried chicken and waffles along with mac and cheese make an appearance on the menu, I wouldn’t call it a traditional comfort food place.  The theme at 44 and X is heaven and hell…like a little bit of heaven in hell’s kitchen….get it?  The interior of the restaurant has a modern, clean feel and is decked out in white - floor to ceiling.   There was also a beautiful (and spacious) outdoor patio section.   So, pretty much heaven in NYC!  And the food and wait staff would suggest the same!
I was tempted to try the fried chicken and waffles, but there wasn’t a meat eating buddy to be found.  For some reason it only seems right to eat comfort food in groups.  Power in numbers I suppose.  But honestly, the fried chicken and waffles are better saved for Hen House Wing ‘n Waffles.   There were so many dishes on this menu that a little fried chicken and waffle match-up couldn’t hold a candle. 

We started with a couple of salads and appetizers.  I had a fried oyster salad that was absolutely divine.  Yes, when you have something like this, the one and only word to describe it is divine.  The perfectly fried oysters were served on a bed of frisee salad mixed with pancetta and smothered with a sweet and rich buttermilk ranch dressing.  The bitter greens were an amazing pair with the rich pancetta and ranch.  My mouth is watering just talking about it. 

Laura and Nicole went with the Mediterranean Chopped Salad:  Boston lettuce, hearts of palm, avocado, feta cheese, chick peas, cucumbers, tomatoes, roasted red AND yellow peppers, and shredded mint.  Wow.   The 44 and X webpage also shares recipes, including the recipe for the chopped salad, so give it a try!

Jen went with the goat cheese and pistachio soufflé starter with Asian pears and pomegranate jus.    

What a decision when it came to dinner.  As always, I could have had almost anything on the menu.  I opted for something a little lighter after the fried oyster bonanza:  the spring split pea bisque.  The bisque was topped with crispy salsify, Japanese rice crackers, and a carrot crème fraîche.

What is salsify you say? I don’t blame you.  I asked the waiter myself.  It’s a vegetable.  Well, for those interested, it’s technically a vegetable in a genus of flowering plants called Salsify, Tragopogon   or GoatsbeardFor those REALLY interested, well, this is where my Wikipedia reserach ends - appologies.  Overall, sounds pretty appetizing, huh?  Well, I'm not so sure about that.   Unfortunately, I didn’t find the salsify and Japanese rice crackers as tasty as they are interesting.

Nicole and Laura both ordered the mac and cheese with Vermont cheddar.  Always a good choice.  The portion was absolutely huge which gratefully lent to sharing.

Jen went for the spinach and wild mushroom raviolo with gruyère cheese and coconut poblano emulsion.  This dish is also offered with a Maryland crabmeat option.  The raviolo is like an unsealed ravioli.  It was more like two stacked pieces of flat pasta with filling in between.  The coconut poblano emulsion gave the dish a bright yellow color.    

As usual, too stuffed for desert, we called for the check.  To our surprise, we were rewarded with a complementary piece of chocolate cake.  Despite our previous resistance to desert, this one was gone in 2 minutes flat.  The desert was so unexpected, so delicious, and gone so quickly that we didn’t even think of snapping a photo for the blog.   

If you do anything after reading this post, please just do me one favor.   Check out the 44 and X menu online.  You’ll certainly be day dreaming in culinary heaven.  And then if you get a chance, get down to Hell’s Kitchen and try out this little bit of heaven for yourself. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

17:00 Hours - A pop into Bobo

After the Standard Hotel we took a stroll into the West Village to digest.  Stopping into Magnolia was not an option.  Even though we may have overdone it earlier at the Standard Grill, we still declined due to the line wrapping around the corner.  This has been going on consistently for how long now?  Amazing.  I mean their cupcakes are good, but are they that good?  Discuss…
The weather was spotty and a quick-onset rain storm found us seeking shelter in Christopher Square’s Bobo.   Maybe we were attracted to the pretty multi-tiered brownstone nestled among a bunch of rather normal looking storefronts? Maybe it was the name - Bobo - Matt's old-school nickname? Or maybe it was a tip from Nicole, as this has become one of her favorite NYC destinations.   Either way, we loved it.  Still completely stuffed, we weren’t able to eat; however, we had to partake somehow.  Not doing so would be downright rude, not to mention completely uncharacteristic :).   So, we ordered some drinks.   No arm twisting involved.   We made ourselves comfortable in the dimly lit "Den".  The bar staff was more than accommodating and were quick and spot on with creating the “lemonade with a splash of vodka” that I ordered.   They got right to the point:  “Do you seriously want a ‘lemonade with a splash of vodka?’…or…” Ok they got me there.  They served me the opposite  and I was quite happy with the result.  I was also happy with their eagerness to please and make us feel comfortable. 

After a quick Internet search, it seems like the reviews of the food at Bobo are mixed.  But one thing seems consistent, the upstairs dining room is beautiful and the ambiance charming.   I may have ventured upstairs for a looksee, but I was just too comfortable.   If you’ve eaten at Bobo and have thoughts, let us know!  We’ll certainly head back and make a more complete review of our own. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

14:00 hours: The Standard Hotel

Jaime here and finally getting around to writing about our adventures in NYC.

Our first stop was the Standard Hotel in the Meatpacking district for a late brunch.  The Mod-style architecture doesn’t resonate with some, but if you’re the Mad Men-loving, Manhattan-drinking, Beehive-sporting type, this might just be the place for you.    Personally, I do find the vast amount of concrete hanging in the sky an artistic and engineering marval, but I think that the interior décor of the hotel trumps the exterior design.    This is one of those places where I would choose to live.   Like that movie with the little girl that lives at the Ritz – well this would be my choice for a home – not that I would turn down the Ritz – but I think you get the point.    

photo from

In true NY style we had a bit of a wait getting into the Standard Grill.  With about an hour or so to burn we started walking down the street.  It was with great surprise that we stumbled upon the Standard Biergarten.  Seriously ?  This is amazing!  This pretty authentic Biergarten was a treat and reminded us of our trip together to Munich years ago. 
Back then: we could hardly finish two sips of a beer/lemonade mix and were more interested with finding the closest H&M (they were only in Germany back then.)
Now:  Well, the beer went down much easier and with great pleasure and even though there was likely an H&M within a couple mile radius (after all, it is NYC ) we were too excited about the company and atmosphere to care.   
Once you're in the Biergarten, each eight dollar ticket gets you a beer, a pretzel, or a sausage – your choice.   Heaven!  One cautionary note: think twice before ordering something other than the Standard trifecta of Beirgarten fare.  You know you’re in trouble when the bar tender rolls out financing options for a glass of vino.

We were so deep into dreams of lederhosen and spaghetti ice that we missed the cell phone call announcing that our table was ready over at the Standard Grill.  The hostesses were tall and model-esk.  And with that typical runway nonchalant-ness, they gave very little mind to our argument that giving away our initial table was completely and utterly unjust.  They calmly sat us at the next available table in the indoor café-like section of the restaurant.  The Décor is fabulous and feels rustic French bistro.   The ambiance alone was enough to quench the collective fire about losing our first chance at a table.  It was love at first sight for me and I hadn’t even laid eyes on a menu!   We found the waiters to be great and the food out of this world.   Talk about having to make some tough meal choices  - everything looked great. 

photo from:

We started with a couple of drinks from the Brunch Cocktail menu.  Most cocktails were a mix of fresh fruits and vintage liquors.  Notice the Bloody Mary.  That was mine.  Bloody Mary mix muddled with fresh hand-cut  rosemary, thyme, and sage.  Now my typical Bloody Mary mantra is "go big or go home",  but the top gun here was Bloody Mary mix with beef bullion.  I just couldn’t up the ante this day folks.  Yech. 

For brunch I chose the creamy polenta with broccoli rabe, fried egg, and sausage.   All the best things in my world. Loved it. 

Other choices include:
Baked eggs Florentine with gruyere cheese in a cute cast iron dish with a side of toast;

Chilled Carrot Soup with cardamom and orange-maple yogurt (sweet china, right?);

And last, but certainly not least, the Vegetable Panini with grilled eggplant, roasted tomato, and smoked mozzarella cheese.  

We skipped desert but opted for a selection of artisan cheeses and home-baked, sea-salted rolls for the road.  Together with the bottle of champagne that we brought along for the ride (here’s hoping oversize bags will never go out of style!) we took our take away desert on a High Line adventure.  We took in the city and the Hudson at bird’s eye level as we feasted on savory cheese and bubbles.   

Doesn’t get much better than that!