Jaime Caldwell on Foodista

Heifer International

Sunday
Oct092011

"Tuesday's Child is Full of Grace..."

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Katherine Luisa Sasher Caldwell

Born: September 27, 2011 at 12:08 p.m.

6 pounds, 14 ounces

19 3/4 inches

We are so blessed.

 

Photo: Kerri Green, Kerri Green Photography

 

Monday
Sep262011

Maternity Portrait

Baby in Tummy

 

My sweet buddy Gabriel (age 5) drew this picture of me, complete with little girl in belly and high heeled shoes. I think it's the perfect maternity portrait, don't you?

Friday
Sep232011

Boy on a Bicycle - Thinking Cup 

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Thinking Cup : 165 Tremont Street : Boston: 617.482.5555

The first thing I experienced during my recent visit to the Thinking Cup was frustration: I couldn't find anywhere to lock my bike. As you might have learned from these reviews, I visit these local coffee shops by riding my bike to them; but I only travel with a U-lock, not a cable lock. After about ten minutes of searching for some pole on Tremont Street around which my lock would fit, I was finally able to shove it around a small tree trunk outside the cafe and be done with it. Seriously -- where is there a bike rack around here?

Thankfully, the rest of the experience -- especially the coffee -- at Thinking Cup made it worth my frustration.

 

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The interior is clean and classic. Dark brown banquettes line the left wall. The tables are made out of light wood; many are covered with old snippets of the pages of the Boston Post or Boston Globe from the 1930s and 1940s. The chairs look like some dark reddish brown. Some old black and white photos of classic Boston buildings hang on the walls. Still, there was something about the interior that felt like they were trying to incorporate an "old" feel, but stopped short. The decor is classy, but by tossing in some old newspapers and old photos here and there, along with a faux -- a fake! -- "old" tin ceiling, it felt...well, fake. It was as if they had aimed for old world authenticity, but hit banality instead.

While there's no outdoor seating, they do the best they can: some bar stools along a long table letting patrons look out the front of the cafe onto Tremont Street, with wide views of Boston Common. (But seriously: Why isn't there any outdoor seating on Tremont?) Lots of light comes in the front of the cafe, but the rest is fairly dark.

The staff was particularly friendly -- I ordered from a nice cashier who also explained their coffee offerings. Thinking Cup made news for being the first (possibly still the only) coffee house in Boston to brew exclusively Stumptown coffee for everything; they use Stumptown's Hairbender for their espresso. When I walked over to the far end of the cafe to pick up my beverage, the barista manning the machine greeted me first before I said hi to him. Seems like a great group of people working here. If you're interested in purchasing bags of Stumptown (as I always am), they sell bags of Hairbender (blend of Latin American, East African, and Indonesian beans), Holler Mountain (blend of Latin American and Indonesian beans), Indonesia Gajah Aceh, and Ethiopia Mordecoffe. They also had a Latin American single origin in stock, but wasn't out on display at the time.

 

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The iced latte was the best I've had. They poured all the milk in first, then dropped two shots of espresso down simultaneously without shaking or mixing. Within a couple of minutes, on its own, it mixed, leaving a brown, cream, and white froth on top. It was the perfect balance.

I didn't want to eat anything too savory, since dinner wasn't too far off. So I figured I'd spoil my dinner by trying two sweet pastries.

 

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The first choice was a brioche. It was so good that I ate about half of it before I even took a picture. It had a very soft texture with a slight chewiness, and, of course, chunks of sugar crystals on top.

 

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Second, I decided to try something I've never seen anywhere else: a whole wheat chocolate chip cookie. The texture was soft, with a bit of a firm crust on the outside to bite through. Delicious. A bit heartier than a normal chocolate chip cookie. Other than that, I wouldn't have noticed that it's made with whole wheat.

Great coffee and great food make Thinking Cup a must-visit for any Boston-area coffee aficionado.

 

Coffee Quality: 5/5

Food Quality: 5/5

Outdoor Ambiance: N/A

Indoor Ambiance: 3.5/5

Staff Friendliness: 5/5

Staff Knowledge: 5/5

Monday
Sep192011

What I Eat When I'm Expecting, Part II

We are fortunate to have several farmer's markets throughout the week in our neighborhood and we enjoy going this each week and seeing what's in season, buying it and making a weekly Farmer's Market Salad out of our findings. I usually assemble this on a Tuesday after a market run and we munch on it until the weekend. 

Note: I shot these pics earlier in the summer, so some of these ingredients are past their peak, but there's always a good replacement in season. 

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I almost always start with onions or garlic, chopped up and tossed into the bowl.

 

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For protein and fiber, I'll throw in 2 cups of beans or lentils. I have a super stash of dried beans in my pantry, but you can feel free to use fresh or canned.

 

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Then I add a couple cups of a cooked whole grain like red quinoa, wheat berries or in this case buckwheat groats.

 

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I chop up whatever tomatoes look good that week - cherries, heirlooms, etc.

 

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I LOVE veggies that add different textures like kohlrabi (pictured above). It's no longer available at our market, so now I'm on a beet kick. 

 

 

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There's never a lack of greens at the market. These are pea shoots which were especially good but I'll also use baby spinach or arugula, whatever works!

 

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Using fresh herbs adds extra zing. Here I used basil and parsley from my fire escape garden.

 

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There are always great local cheeses available at our markets. This feta from Naragansett Creamery is one of my favorites. 

 

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Lately, I've been adding summer corn and even chopped up apples. I toss everything together with olive oil and lemon juice or red wine vinegar and keep it in a big bowl in the fridge. So easy and so fresh and packed with protein and fiber so it stays with you for a long time. It's great for a snack or a meal and the longer it sits, the more the flavors meld together.  

 

 

 

Thursday
Sep152011

Boy on a Bicycle - Wired Puppy

The latest from David (and Linus)...

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Wired Puppy Specialty Coffee and Tea : 250 Newbury Street : Boston : 857.366.4655

No, Wired Puppy is not a boutique dog store. It's actually a great place to grab coffee from some knowledgeable folks. They've also got a great outdoor patio on Newbury Street.

Upon entering the sub-street level cafe, I passed all the goodies before getting to the counter: t-shirts, a wide selection of tasty energy bars, cookies (including 3 kinds of gluten-free, almond flour cookies by Gloria's: pistachio, blood orange, and rose (rose!) cookies), some more fresh baked cookies, and what looks like 15 different kinds of prepackaged oatmeal varieties from Umpqua Oatmeal. And, perhaps as a nod to the cafe's name, some orange dog leashes and dog collars.

The rest of the fresh-baked goods selection looked slim, but I overheard one barista explain that they had a busy Sunday afternoon, and he assured the patron that, at one point, they had a full case of muffins. By the time I got there, I saw the following: a Portuguese bolo muffin, a "Scone of the Day," chocolate chip muffin, and a honey corn muffin. I went for the honey corn muffin.

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The interior of the cafe had the kind of cool, bare aesthetic that many javaheads appreciate: almost exclusively brick walls, along with some brick archways over the cash register and the espresso machines. There's plenty of seating inside, and free wi-fi as well. Oh -- and the coffee's pretty great, too.

The iced latte I had was a bit heavy on the coffee taste, which might have taken away a little bit from what could otherwise have been a pretty creamy beverage; so, for the minor imbalance, I have to dock a point. But it was still delicious, and had a little layer of frothiness on the top. It went well with my honey corn muffin.

The staff told me that the espresso -- called "Best in Show" -- comes from some roaster in Wareham, Massachusetts; but I couldn't discover much else about where, geographically, it came from. There was a large selection of drip coffee the day I went: Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, Costa Rican, Colombian, Sumatran, and some proprietary blends. But the really cool thing is that you can pick one of four ways to brew your coffee: French press, aeropress, siphon, or pour-over. The siphon method is awesome, and a friendly barista was kind enough to take a few minutes to explain it to me. You can read about it here. He recommended trying it with their Bitches Brew blend: a very dark roast with "high nutty notes and a smokey finish." The idea behind the method is to bring out deeper flavors that you otherwise wouldn't taste.

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A great, environmentally conscious final touch: compostable cold cups and lids. Wired Puppy both composts and recycles. Very progressive.

Coffee Quality: 4/5

Food Quality: 4/5

Outdoor Ambiance: 4/5

Indoor Ambiance: 4/5

Staff Friendliness: 5/5

Staff Knowledge: 5/5

 

Thursday
Sep152011

Watermelon Baby

I have a What to Expect app on my iPhone that tells me what size fruit or veggie the growing baby is compared to. In our 38th week, we've hit the watermelon stage. I was having a hard time imagining that she's that big until today when we bumped into the watermelons at Trader Joe's and I thought, "yep, that looks about right!"

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Monday
Sep122011

Boy on a Bicycle

I have a part II to my "What I Eat When I'm Expecting" which I'll post later this week. In the meantime, I thought we'd try something fun and new...

It's good to be David.

After 3 years spent toiling in law school and a summer of super-intense studying for the New York Bar Exam, he's enjoying some time off before he begins his job this fall. Life is pretty sweet for our little family right now as we're getting to spend a lot of time together before Baby Girl arrives, we move back to NYC and the grind begins again. 

Meet Linus, David's new bestie.

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David and Linus are pretty much inseparable. On nice days, he's riding the bike all along the bike paths and trails of Boston and beyond. On rainy days, he tinkers with Linus and conditions the saddle with the same potion he uses on his cowboy boots. That's true love for sure. 

See the book strapped to Linus's rack? It's Lonesome Dove. My Texas-lovin' hubby has been working on reading this book for 3 years now and finally has solid time to devote to it, so he takes the book along on his rides and stops at various coffee shops to read and sip. He's had such a great time exploring indie coffee houses, that he offered to write some reviews for you all to enjoy the next time you're in (Coffee)Beantown. 

This is the first of what David hopes to make a regular feature at least for the next few weeks until things get really chaotic around here!

 

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L'Aroma Cafe : 85 Newbury Street : Boston : 

As you walk past the outdoor patio on your way to the front door of L'Aroma Cafe, you'll likely hear a foreign language or two. On a single sunny Sunday afternoon, I heard Arabic, French, and Amharic (the language of Ethiopia). Between the cafe's Italian name and the din of foreign languages inside and outside, there is certainly an international feel. I thought to myself: Are these people coming here for the coffee, or the patio? Or is this just a Newbury Street tourist trap?

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There's certainly a draw to the outdoor patio, which has umbrellas and about ten or twelve tables. And it's great for people-watching on Newbury Street. And downstairs in the cozy indoor part of the cafe, there was a decent selection of cookies and cakes (though only one kind of scone that day: currant). On a previous visit, I tried a hearty Take 10 cookie (looks similar to a King Arthur Flour recipe online), which I enjoyed mightily. I was pretty disappointed, however, with the coffee.

L'Aroma Cafe uses Caffe Umbria for its espresso; interestingly, it's imported from England, not Italy. The iced latte I had tasted a bit watered down. And I'm not talking thin versus creamy -- it tasted more watery than milky. Not a good thing. There wasn't even much of a coffee taste going on. I probably owe it to L'Aroma to go back at some point and try their espresso bare, but given that a latte isn't a hard drink to make, the fact that it was so underwhelming might prevent me from going back again for the coffee.

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The staff seemed quite friendly, if not the most knowledgeable. I overheard one staff member stumbling to explain whether they had an Oolong tea. Nevertheless, they were quick to help me figure out where their espresso came from.

Coffee Quality: 2/5

Food Quality: 4/5

Outdoor Ambiance: 4/5

Indoor Ambiance: 3/5

Staff Friendliness: 4/5

Staff Knowledge: 3/5