HI!!!! This weekend was a WHIRLWIND! I gave two wine tours in the North End, one Saturday and one on Sunday. The North End is Boston’s ‘Little Italy’. It is a part of the City that is rich in culture and history. It is Boston’s oldest residential community having been settled since 1630! It is said to be ‘the birthplace of the revolution’ as much of the planning and organizing for the American Revolution was done secretly in houses and taverns in the North End. Paul Revere’s house is also in the North End! It was built in 1680 and 90% of the structure is original. Pretty cool, right? At one point the North End was 100% Italian but as many areas of Boston, including the North End began to re-gentrify, immigrants moved out of these areas to more affordable spots. Today the Italian population in Boston’s North End is under 50% but the streets are still lined with some of the finest Italian restaurants in the country. Some famous products you may be familiar with such as Prince pasta and Pastene were started by Sicilian immigrants living in the North End.
The North End is certainly very close to my heart… not only because I grew up on my Grandmother’s incredible Italian cooking but also because I have very very fond memories of my Grandparent’s taking me and my Sister to a restaurant in the North End called The European. They closed down years ago but it was a classic casual Italian ‘red-sauce’ restaurant where I remember my Sister asking the waiters if they wanted to “see my Papa take his teeth out”! I remember falling in love with fried calamari there and my Grandfather ordering Grappa and espresso. <3
If you are ever in Boston…. GO TO THE NORTH END. You will not regret it and you will crave Italian food every day for the rest of your life. ;) Mike’s Pastry in particular is a go-to destination here. There is always a line out the door for their famous cannolis and other delicious Italian pastries. You’ll see flocks of people walking down famous North End streets such as Hanover and Prince, holding those ubiquitous blue and white boxes as though they were gifts from God.
So! Before I started my current job in march of this year, I have ALWAYS held a job where I was on my feet and had a varied schedule. Managing for a Hotel and working for Whole Foods kept me going and I was always able to fit in gym/run time! Now it is definitely not so easy working 9-5 M-F. Yes, the hours are GREAT because I get to spend more time with friends and family… but, sitting at a desk all day is killing my tookus and I am convinced I will get blood clots in my legs if I don’t get up and moving every now and then haha
But seriously, staying fit in the office is totally possible and important! As far as my regular work-outs go I usually walk in the morning before work and run afterwards for more intense cardio. For now I am using the gym after work until my leg is 100% healed but maintaining a cardiovascular work-out routine is essential to any training when injured in order to keep your endurance levels up.
But what about those 8 hours of being couped up in an office? I work alone, primarily so I know I have an advantage to getting up from my desk to get my blood flowing. I bring a small make-shift medicine ball to work every day. Andrew made it out of a volley ball he emptied and filled with sand. Cool, huh? It works great and there are some exercises you can do with it here.. even still sitting at your desk.
Speaking of SITTING down all day (which totally sucks… I know I am not alone!), many people actually use large medicine balls/stability balls to sit on rather than a standard chair. It is supposed to be SO much better for your back and engages your core :)
I also take advantage of any free time I have to use the awesome and slightly ghetto looking resistance band my physical therapist game me to strengthen my left leg. Though, this is a great tool for ANYONE to use in order to strengthen and exercise their legs.
Okay, back to the weekend! If you know me in person, you know very well that changing topics about every minute is very, very typical of me :)
Before I gave the North End tours over the weekend I met Christian, a co-founder of City Wine Tours at Aragosta bar and Bistro in the North End so we could go over the tours. This restaurant is located in the Fairmont Battery Wharf Hotel and is located directly on the water. Though I have never eaten there I am officially in love. They have an excellent cocktail list and a fabulous chef and bartending staff. Rob, one of Aragosta’s awesome bartenders made us each some of the most delcious and creative cocktails I have ever tasted. The green cocktail was was mine and had cilantro, a hot green pepper, tequila and a bunch of other ingredients I am completely blanking on. Christian’s cocktail had fresh watermelon juice, prosecco, agave… and again, a bunch of other ingredients that we have both forgotten about! In any case, Rob is the bomb and will tailor a cocktail just for YOUR tastes. How awesome is that?
Equally as awesome is Chef Daniel. He blends modern Italian cuisine with the local flavors of New England. From the website: “Located on Boston’s Harbor Walk in the North End, Aragosta offers a warm, social atmosphere in a stunning Waterfront setting, featuring an open kitchen with Chef’s Counter and an outdoor terrace with views of Boston Harbor and the U.S. Coast Guard. With influences from Marseille to Genoa, the contemporary Italian cuisine by award-winning chef David Daniels gives signature flair to hand-made pastas, prime meats and New England seafood, using quality, local farm-raised ingredients.”
Though I didn’t have a bite of that scrumptious looking meatball Chef Daniel so graciously treated Christian and myself too… I DID have a bite of his famous truffle rigatoni with warm goat cheese fondue. Let me just say the goat cheese fondue blew my mind and I am so very saddened there is no picture for you all. Booo :( When I asked Chef Daniel how he came up with such a hedonistically delicious treat from heaven, he told us it was actually a mistake! I forget all the details (seems like I forgot a lot of details that night, huh!?) but essentially he had to make a dish last minute for a very important event that he wasn’t prepared for. Needless to say it was a hit and is a dish he is now ‘famous’ for ;)
Christian was telling me that supposedly for $100 a person they will go out and grab a lobster right there… Aragosta is on the water where many lobstermen have their boats. I think I just butchered that info but eh, you get the idea. Hopefully ;)
The second stop on the tour is Davide. If you’re familiar with Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares… you may have seen the episode that featured Davide! Anthony, the co-owner is hilarious and a true North End character. The story is rough but the restaurant is gorgeous now and incredibly romantic with all its exposed brick and stone.
The third stop is Salumeria Italiana, a Italian specialty food shop on Hanover Street. On the tour we taste olive oils, cheeses and balsamic vinegar. Believe it or not olive oil varies in taste and quality JUST like wine. It varies from region to region, olive ripeness, variety and grower. Olive oil tastings are super fun events to go to or even do at home! Most speciality food shops offer tastes of their fine olive oils and balsamic vinegars.
The last stop is at the Wine Bottega. Kerri, they incredibly knowledgeable, beautiful and very pregnant owner bought her store in 2008. The concept is unique in that EVERY SINGLE wine is very purposefully chosen. She reiterates that every wine has a story to tell and she and her staff have tasted them all. They have tons of unique wines and nearly all of them are ‘organic’ meaning the vineyards from which they come from have not been sprayed with pesticides and there are no chemicals/artificial ingredients in the wine. Wine is inherently ‘organic’… it’s the mass produced stuff that has veered from the real deal. GO HERE! You will get spectacular service :)
Today I actually did have some real stuff on hand at the office for lunch. Breakfast was my usual green oats.
I bought these crackers weeks ago and they are awesome.
I actually ended up putting the peanut butter in my yogurt :) SO good.
I always cut up my apples. I got braces in my early 20′s and ever since getting them off I have been petrified of biting directly into an apple! Weird, but cutting them up works for me ;)
After a smallish lunch I had a milk chocolate Adora calcium supplemnt. I like dark chocolate but I love milk chocolate in all its dreamy milkiness.
We had a busy weekend and friends over nearly every night! I am loving that I am able to incorporate my knowledge of and passion for wine and entertaining on the weekends! It keeps me on my toes and in touch with what’s going on in restaurants and speciality shops all over the city. I have met some pretty amazing people and I get to talk about wine for a few hours! Doesn’t get better than that;)
I am looking forward to a good work-out at the gym and then a relaxing evening with Andrew… as of now the plan is to make eggplant parmesan. It is SO easy and it’s even better the next day! I also plan on scouring the web for restaurants in Aruba! We are going in November and I have heard the dining scene is excellent. Any suggestions?? :)
What were some highlights of your weekend?
If you’re a wine drinker, what are some of your go-to wines?
How do YOU stay fit during the work week?