Browsing articles from "January, 2014"
Jan 20, 2014

Drinking our way through Boston

Not gonna lie, if the winters in Boston weren’t so brutal, I would pack our bags and head up north! Last September, Jared and I celebrated our 3-year wedding anniversary in Boston. We’ve never been that far up north before, and have always wanted travel there. Trust me when I say, this will not be our last trip to Boston.

Boston is beautiful, historic, fun, entertaining and quaint. A place where big feels small with all the surrounding neighborhoods. We did everything and anything during our 4-night stay in Boston. We were the typical tourists. We walked the Freedom trail, took a tour of Fenway Park (a must!), ate a cannoli at Mike’s Pastry, drank our way through all the brewery tours, and so much more.

This post isn’t really about every single detail about our trip, but a fun part of our trip entailed drinking our way through Boston. If you find yourself in Boston, do what we did and check out both Sam Adams Brewery, Harpoon Brewery and grab yourself a local beer at a neighborhood bar. Here’s what to expect along the way.

Our first stop on our first full day in Boston was the infamous Sam Adams Brewery. We’re huge Sam Adams fan so this was a must. Sam Adams Brewery is off the beaten path. We took the T to the stop and walked a few blocks through a neighborhood. Use your tour book to get you there because it’s easy to get turned around if unfamiliar with the location.

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Sam Adams Brewery

We arrived in the tail end of the hour, and was able to get on to the next tour group surprisingly because apparently it gets crowded. Just arrive early if I were you. We donated some money and got a golden ticket. I felt like Charlie from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.

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Sam Adams Brewery

The tour started in a separate part of the brewery. The guy in the photo below was our tour guide. He was a little dry during the “lecture” portion of how beer is made and how they brew their beer. He passed around some hops and barley that they use to make their beer and encouraged us to try some. No thanks. Haha. After the 20-minute lecture, we moved to the room where the beer is actually made. It wasn’t as grand as I imagined, probably because I learned they only do test batches at this brewery. The bigger manufacturing/distribution center is located in Ohio and Tampa (i think).

Sam Adams Brewery

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Sam Adams Brewery

Now, on to the reason why we came. Tasting time! They moved us once again into the tasting room that had several long tables. They gave each of us a souvenir tasting glass to keep and drink out of during the tasting. We tasted about 3 or 4 different beers in a 20-minute time frame. With a few sips in, our tour guide was much more funnier and comfortable at this point :)

Sam Adams Brewery

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Lets just say, by the end of the tasting, Sam and I were BFFs :)

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After the brewery tour was over, we didn’t get on the party bus that you will be asked to at the end of the tour. If you decide to go on the party bus, it’ll take you to the first bar that served Sam Adams (allegedly). We decided to skip it and go back into the city to continue our quest for more beer. This time we found ourselves in the North end of Boston, and stopped for some wings and Harpoon’s Oktoberfest with a cinnamon sugar rim at a bar called Vito’s Tavern. The bartender introduced us to the cinnamon sugar rim, and we were hooked. And just so you know, there are no happy hour specials in the state of Massachusetts. We sadly found out that day.

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The next day, we didn’t tour any breweries. We walked all the live long day and did the Freedom trail walking tour on our own. With no tour guide, we were able to go on our own pace and even speed past through some sites. This Freedom trail is no joke. You will be walking for several hours throughout Boston. So wear some comfy shoes. After the trail, we wanted to check out Harvard in Cambridge. I found the school itself not so impressive, but Cambridge was very impressive. Tons of neighborhood restaurants, shops and people! We randomly found an affordable restaurant to grab some dinner and beers called Grendel’s Den. They had a wide selection of beer, which made us happy. Come to find out later that night, a scene from The Town was filmed right on the patio!

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Our last full day in Boston, we woke up bright and early to travel far and away to Harpoon Brewery. Not the most convenient place to get to, we took the T to our stop and continued to walk for what felt like to 2 miles or so to the brewery. It was a hike, but totally worth the long trip. We learned after our tour there was a bus to take us back to the T, and so that was helpful for the way back. Just a head’s up, Harpoon’s tours get booked up fast, so arrive early! They usually sell out by early afternoon. When we arrived for the first tour at 11am,  there was already a line forming.

Harpoon Brewery is definitely not the prettiest on the outside. It’s a warehouse since they brew and distribute their beer here. However, they also have this beer hall inside that overlooked the water. It’s a great space to hang out with some friends and enjoy some quality beer and homemade pretzels.

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Harpoon Brewery

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We had two tour guides that described the process of how their beer is brewed. They took us through certain areas of the the brewery. It was vast and enormous. Now this is a brewery! Both tour guides were super outgoing and informative. This part of the tour took roughly 30 minutes.

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Now onto the fun part. Literally all you can drink in the time left over. Each tour was an hour long, about 30-35 for the lecture and the rest for the tasting. They take you into a separate room with all their taps. They give you a tasting glass and you can literally have a healthy sample of every single beer if your stomach allows. It was unlimited tasting in that time frame. Totally worth the $5. This was by far the best tasting of any brewery tour.

Harpoon Bewery

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Look! Jared made a friend! Jared’s wardrobe in Boston consisted of Manchester United jerseys so it was definitely a conversational starter with other tourists. He made a lot of friends that week. Haha.

Harpoon Brewery

Harpoon Brewery

Harpoon Brewery

After the tour, we went to the brew hall and helped ourselves to more beer and pretzels. Mind you, we started before noon. Needless to say after the brew hall, we were pretty toasted. One of the most fun and best experiences ever.

Harpoon Brewery

Harpoon Brewery

Harpoon Brewery

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After a morning of beer and pretzels, we took the T back to Chinatown. If you can imagine, we were starving so we tried dim sum for the first time and loved it. Since our bellies were full of beer, pretzels and dim sum, we took a much needed nap in Boston Common. Overall, a great finale to an amazing trip to Boston. Thank you Boston for being so awesome and tasty.

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Jan 12, 2014

Creamiest Mashed Potatoes

From the kitchen of: Bob!  Makes: 4 servings
Total time: 5 min to prep, 25-30 min to cook

Maybe I’m new or something, but I’ve never heard of adding cream cheese to mashed potatoes. Have you? My first and most unforgettable experience was over the Thanksgiving holiday. Jared and I were invited to a dear friend’s house for his annual ‘bangers and mash’ dinner party. Boy, were we in for a treat. Bob’s mashed potatoes were undeniably something special. They were just the creamiest mashed potatoes I have ever had in my life. I think I ate my weight in mashed potatoes that evening. So of course I asked him for the recipe and learning that the secret to these creamy mashed potatoes was cream cheese, I was floored. Other than the cream cheese, it’s a pretty basic and simple recipe, which is even better. I am forever a fan and I hope you will be one as well! Thank you, Bob!

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Ingredients:
5-6 medium potatoes (preferably yukon gold or red skin, but I used russet)
4 oz. of cream cheese (half stick)
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
water for boiling

Directions:
1. Boil water and prep potatoes.
First, bring a large pot of water to a boil on high temperature. Meanwhile, peel potatoes and rinse them under cold water. Pat dry. Dice the potatoes in generally the same size, roughly 1-2 inches wide.

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2. Boil potatoes. Add the potatoes to the boiling water. Lower the temperature slightly to medium high. Cook potatoes for 20-25 minutes until fork tender. Once tender, drain the potatoes in a large colander and then add potatoes back into the pot setting the temperature to low. Allow all the steam to escape, a minute or 2, before adding the remaining ingredients.

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3. Add flavorings. Into the cooked potatoes, mash in the cream cheese until smooth. Lastly, add the butter, salt and milk and continue to mash well until you’ve reach your desired creamy consistency. If you like it more thin, add a touch more milk. Keep warm over low heat until ready to serve.

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Jan 5, 2014

Baked Chicken with Soy, Honey and Sriracha

From the kitchen of: Isabel  Makes: 9 pieces
Total time: 10 min to prep, 45 minutes to bake

Well helloooo Pretty Tasty Things readers! I’m baaaack! It’s been a while since I posted a recipe, I think it was back in September with my Billy Bread French Toast. If you haven’t tried it yet, you should! So, lets start off my New Year’s resolution with this childhood dish: baked chicken with soy, honey and sriracha aka the holy trinity…haha! This recipe reminds me of a dish my dad makes at home. He bakes chicken wings with a similar blend of sauces. I just tweaked it slightly by using chicken legs and thighs, and adding sriracha for some kick while keeping the same flavors as my dad’s recipe. The Filipino way is to eat this chicken dish with rice. Just ladle the heavenly sweet, salty and spicy sauce over the rice, it’s seriously my favorite part. Thanks dad for the inspiration! Enjoy, all!

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Ingredients:
1 package of chicken legs and chicken thighs (9 pieces total)
salt + pepper
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon sriracha (or more if you like it spicy)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350° and prep chicken.
Remove chicken from packaging and rinse under cold water. Pat dry. Place chicken legs in a 9×12 oven safe pan. Meanwhile, trim off the excess skin from the chicken thighs and add it to the pan. Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper.

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2. Flavor chicken. Drizzle the soy sauce, honey, sriracha, brown sugar and Worcestershire over the chicken. If you like it spicy, feel free to add more than one teaspoon of sriracha. With hands, mix the chicken well to ensure everything is covered with the sauce.

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3. Bake chicken. Place uncovered chicken in the preheated 350° oven for roughly 45 minutes. Every 15-20 minutes or so, remove the chicken and base the chicken with the juices. By doing so, the skin gets nicely caramelized. The chicken is ready when the internal temperature for thighs reaches 180°.

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Jan 1, 2014

Best in 2013

Okay folks, 2013 wasn’t the best year for Pretty Tasty Things. I wasn’t updating it on a regular basis. I was slacking, busy, tired, whatever you want to call it. I just wasn’t on top of it. So, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to post more in 2014 starting today. As you may know, my “Best in” is one of my favorite posts to do. I get a chance to look through all my photos I’ve taken with my SLR, G10 and iPhone (too many cameras!) and remember some of the best moments of my life. I’ve done it for the past two years, Best in 2011 and Best in 2012. 2013 blessed us with trips to NYC, Corolla Beach and Boston, my 30th birthday in which I celebrated 80’s style, and lots of laughs with family and friends. So, in no particular order, here are my favorite moments in 2013:

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