In the 13+ years we’ve lived in Northern New England, there have been quite a few changes to the food and drink world in the area. On the food front, Vermont has had a substantial improvement in the dining scene, with additions such as The Farm House (which was a McDonalds when we moved here), Worthy Burger, Kismet, and Tuckerbox being notable new additions over the last decade (and the first of these are also great examples of the substantial improvement in Vermont’s beer scene as well). And a few places that unfortunately are no longer with us, such as Five Spice Bistro in Burlington. But a recent trip through the Green Mountains led us to Waitsfield, where we happened across one of our old favorites that’s still with us, mostly unchanged, since one of our first visits to Vermont in 2001: American Flatbread Waitsfield Hearth.
While I occasionally make a few exceptions to this rule, I generally don’t review cocktail bars that are just cocktail bars. And indeed, that’s the case with Drink. Located in Boston’s Fort Point neighborhood, downstairs from Sportello (which I reviewed in 2012, and is owned by the same folks), Drink is primarily a cocktail bar, but they do have a limited bar menu. And while that bar menu has a few gems, that’s not why I’m reviewing them; instead, it’s one particularly off-the-menu item that drew my attention.
Several years ago, we bought a Mini Cooper from Mini of Peabody in Peabody, MA, and as a result, had several trips down to the area (until recently, they were the nearest Mini dealer). And along the way, we discovered quite a few gems down that way, including Kelly’s Roast Beef in Saugus, Billy’s Famous Roast Beef in Wakefield, and Richardsons Dairy in Middleton. But one of our greatest finds was a small place on Route 1 with a giant 7′ sausage on their sign, Karl’s Sausage Kitchen. Inside Karl’s was a European wonderland of both excellent sausages and European groceries, and they became a regular stop of mine (indeed, they became my primary suppliers of Curry Ketchup and Feuerzangenbowle zuckerhuts). But I never wrote them up here, since they didn’t serve food onsite. Until a magical event happened in 2012: the packed up and moved from their old shop in Saugus up to a brand new location just off Route 1 in Peabody, MA. And, more importantly, now included a cafe with German food and beer. So when I was in the area for work, I had to make it a point to check them out.
I recently found myself doing a lot of testing for work down in the Northwest Boston suburbs. Driving down there from NH generally, well, sucks, unless you can time things to avoid rush hour (which is actually the better part of three hours long). This means that I have to time things to arrive either before approximately 7am, or after 10am. For those times that I need to be someplace at 8am or 9am, that usually means getting down there early, and finding someplace interesting to get breakfast. In this case, the place was Vic’s Waffle House in Tewksbury, MA.
As I’ve mentioned a few times on here, I generally prefer not to review a place if the reason I went there was a special event. However, some places (like the Cabane a Sucre a few months ago) are special event only, and in other cases (like the The Corner House Inn), the nature of the special event isn’t directly food related, and I’ve got a reasonable expectation of being able to have a similar menu item on a regular visit. In the case of PINE, we went there for a special Friends of Laphroaig Scotch Dinner, and ended being very impressed with the food as well.
I had one firm recommendation for a meal in Grand Junction from my friend Ariane (whose wedding I was attending): that I go get breakfast at Las Marias, and in particular try their tamale. Apparently, the place has been a favorite of her and her brother for quite some time, so we decided to check it out. Like a lot of smaller cities, Grand Junction has a downtown that’s been through an initial heyday, a contraction as people move out to the suburbs and transitioned their shopping from local stores to large box stores and shopping malls, and finally some redevelopment. Grand Junction has done a good amount of development, and seems to be really pushing to make downtown an eating and entertainment destination, and they’ve also installed quite a bit of artwork. At the East end of Old Town Grand Junction is the latest location of Maria’s, across the street from the old (and currently being renovated) Avalon Theater.
The whole purpose of our trip to Colorado was going to a wedding of two of our friends. However, they aren’t exactly traditionalists, so one of the activities planned for their informal wedding was a hike up nearby Mount Garfield. Well, it’s a short hike (~2 miles), but it’s also a steep one (~2000 feet), with most of the elevation gain in the first third of the trail. I enjoyed both the hike and the view from the top, but by the time we got back to Grand Junction to get ready for the wedding, I needed a bit of a snack. Cruising through the west side of Grand Junction, we happened across two places: a Sonic (I don’t really care for their food, but I love their cherry limeade), and in a little parking area right next door, Loncheria Rubi, a taco truck.
Last month had us visiting Grand Junction, Colorado for a friend’s wedding. Aside from (many) trips through the Denver airport, and two trips to Golden, CO for work, I haven’t spent a lot of time in Colorado, despite many childhood trips there, so I was rather enjoying the chance to fly into Denver, drive through the Rockies via Loveland Pass and Glenwood Canyon, and check out some of the scenery in Western Colorado. It was a lightning fast trip, but after arriving in Denver extremely late on a Thursday and crashing in a hotel. The next morning, the first order of business was, of course, finding breakfast. Seeing that we had pretty much the entire Denver metropolitan area between us and our destination, I figured I’d try for one of the better places in the area, Snooze.
My usual approach for getting to DC involves simply flying to DCA (the now cumbersomely-named “Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport”) since it’s generally pretty affordable, on the Metro, and walking distance from Crystal City. But for this trip I had a bunch of Southwest points to burn, so we booked our travel through BWI. BWI is reasonably good for trips to DC, although there’s a bit of “planes, trains, and automobiles” involved, with taking a bus to the train station, following by taking an Amtrak or MARC train to Union Station. But one notable feature of this trip is that you get to visit Union Station. Originally one of the more majestic train stations in the US, like most major train stations by the 1950s it was in massive disrepair, although a major effort in the 1980s resulted in a restoration (I’ll spare you much of the history here, and simply refer you to Wikipedia). Part of that restoration involved converting part of the old baggage handling level into a large food court to go along with the other retail in the station, so the bottom level of Union Station has almost 20 restaurants crammed in. Now, like the food court at your local mall, most of these places aren’t really any great shakes, since most of these are places like Burger King, Subway, and The Great Steak and Potato Company. But hidden amongst those food court stalwarts are a few local small business gems. One of them that caught my eye was Sunrise Caribbean Cuisine.
As a celebration after completing our Washington, DC Death March (10 hours walking, 22.9 miles), we decided that a celebratory brunch was in order the next morning. It’s not particularly easy to score brunch reservations for a large party, but one of our Marchers, Jeff, recommended LIA’s in Chevy Chase. Part of the Chef Geoff group of restaurants, LIA’s is one of the places focusing on “Posh American” cuisine: American classic dishes done up with quality ingredients and with interesting twists. But, most importantly, they were easily able to hand a group of 12 with last minute reservations, so we found ourselves traveling up to Chevy Chase for brunch.