Saturday, February 18, 2017

Easy Car Rental and Road Trip to Napa with Drive Maven

During my recent trip to San Francisco, I got the opportunity to try out Drive Maven, a car-sharing service similar to Zipcar. Maven is General Motors' service, and you can rent GM cars by the hour or day from various locations around the country. For cities where parking is notoriously difficult and expensive like San Francisco, services like Maven is really useful when you need a car just for a day trip.
Drive Maven in Napa
Unlike Zipcar, there's no annual membership fee associated with Maven. Just like Zipcar, gas and insurance are included in the hourly/daily rates. In SF, the cars are parked in various garages throughout the city. To book the car, you can search the map for that city and select the most convenient garage for you.

I picked a garage on Taylor St, and they had new red Chevy Volt! I've been curious about this plug-in hybrid, so I booked it.
Drive Maven in Napa
Drive Maven in Napa

The Volt was $8 per hour - again it includes gas and insurance. Did I mention this VOLT was wifi-equipped? A lot of their cars are loaded with the latest tech, including Apple CarPlay and free unlimited 4G LTE WiFi. You bet I was instagramming using the car's wifi!

Everything is done with the Maven app. When you go to pick up your car, you can just unlock the car with your app using bluetooth. The car will detect that your phone is inside and you can start the car without a key (only when your phone is inside the car). Everything was seamless and easy (minus the tight spaces in SF's parking garages, but what can you do about that?). After that, I was off to Napa!

It was around lunchtime by the time we got to Napa Valley, so we stopped at Oxbow Public Market for lunch. The Public Market has a variety of food offerings, including Hog Island Oyster and Ritual Coffee.
DSC00499

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Drink 1800 Wines at Boston Wine Expo (Feb 18-19)

This weekend is a good weekend for wine lovers in Boston, thanks to the Boston Wine Expo bringing 1800 wines from 200 producers to the World Trade Center.

Some well-known wineries will be there, including Duckhorn, Louis Latour, Martian Ranch & Vineyard, and Bonny Doon Vineyard.

This is also a great chance to try some unusual (for America) wines, including Georgian wines (which I fell in love with during a recent tasting), Lebanese wines, Romanian wines, and even one closer to home from Brooklyn.

In addition to more wines than you can taste, the Expo will also feature some fortified wines (think Vermouth and Sandeman Port) and spirits such as BarSol Pisco, Junipero Gin, and Glenrothes scotch. Some food vendors will also be there, so you can pair your wines with cheeses (like ones from Finland). Or cinnamon rolls, because why not? Local restaurants participating including Davio's, Del Frisco's, Doretta Taverna and Wine Bar, Babbo Pizzeria e Enoteca, El Pelon Taqueria, and more.

Tickets are $110 for the Saturday Grand Tasting ($160 for VIP) and $100 for Sunday ($150 for VIP). Seminars are priced and ticketed individually. Get tickets here.

If you need some guidance on which wines to taste / which booths to visit, fellow blogger Passionate Foodie has gathered a nice list to start you off with here.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Eat the Food from Trump's Banned Countries at These Restaurants in Boston

With all the political uncertainties that have been going on lately, we should stand together and not only show our solidarity by supporting local businesses from the affected communities, but perhaps also take this opportunity to learn more about the cultures of the different countries that are affected by the ban. Since we are all food lovers, why not do so by trying and supporting the Boston restaurants that are serving the wonderful cooking of these Middle Eastern countries? While I couldn't find Yemeni, Libyan, or Sudanese restaurants in Boston, you can try the food from the other banned countries at these restaurants:

Syria
Kareem's Restaurant
Kareem's
Kareem's is only open on Saturdays and Sundays and they only seat by reservation only, so plan ahead to try the refined Syrian cooking from Chef Ahmad Yasin. The menu offerings range from the Syrian national dish of kibbeh to Maqloubeh, a dish originating from the 9th century. Make sure you save room for the kanafeh for dessert. Yasin also offers Arabic cooking classes for those interested in delving more into the cuisine. You can read my full review of Kareem's here.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Erven Gives Los Angeles Its Best New Vegan Restaurant

I've always enjoyed Chef Nick Erven's cooking from his previous restaurant, the now-shuttered Saint Martha. I wasn't expecting him to open a vegan restaurant in Santa Monica, but I looked forward to it just the same, especially after hearing all the glowing reviews!

Erven is divided into two parts: the Marketplace side which serves sandwiches, cookies, juices, and such. Then there's the dining room which is open for a casual lunch, but the highlight is of course, the dinner service (although the vegan sandwiches are also great).

We started with a bowl complimentary fried chickpeas - the amuse bouche seems to rotate based on the other reviews.
Erven
The savory portion of the dinner menu is divided into "Snackables", "Shareables", and "Principles".
We tried a couple of the snacks including the Black garlic chickpea fritters with yuzu and Aleppo pepper ($5)
Erven
The chickpea fritter is a good way to start and gives you an idea of Chef Erven's cooking.

Purple sweet potato rice roll with avocado and Korean chili ($5)
Erven
Vegan kimbap, anyone?

From the Shareables section: Tiny Beets with avocado mousse, curry-almond streusel, and cilantro ($12)
Erven
The beets weren't really "tiny" but regardless this was a wonderful and interesting take on beets, with the crispiness of the streusel, combined with avocado mousse.

Friday, January 20, 2017

City Tap House Opens in Boston's Fort Point with 60 Beers on Tap

Boston's Fort Point neighborhood just got another new spot for beer lovers. City Tap House is now open for dinner and brunch (weekday lunches start next week!) with sixty beers on tap.
City Tap
The beer list was divided by styles and they carry a lot of great beers, both local and beyond. Among the beers I tried during the opening party were Anderson Valley Blood Orange Gose and Clown Shoes Chocolate Sombrero,
City Tap
If 60 beers aren't enough options for you, they also have bottled/canned beers as well as a selection of cocktails.
City Tap

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Brook Kitchen and Tap Brings Good Food and Beers to Holbrook, MA

When I got invited to try out the new The Brook Kitchen and Tap in Boston's South Shore (Holbrook, MA), I have to say I wasn't sure what to expect since I hadn't explored the South Shore much, but I was pleasantly surprised when I got there! The Brook Kitchen and Tap offers some great food at a value and a nice craft beer list to boot.

Among the things to get here are the Mango Habanero dry wings - they have a number of wet and dry sauces/rubs for the wings, but these were the ones the chef recommended for us.
The Brook Kitchen Tap
We were pretty obsessed with these wings. The mango habanero rub was superb! It packed some heat, and the sweetness and tartness added a really nice layer of flavors. We would definitely return for these!

In general the food at The Brook was not only good, but a great value as well given the price and the large portions. Take, for example, this appetizer of Crispy brussel sprouts with sriracha ranch ($8)
The Brook Kitchen Tap
Not only were the they crispy and delicious, this is perhaps the largest portion I've seen for $8!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Exploring Senegalese Cuisine at Teranga (Boston, MA)

Tucked in Boston's South End is an OG Senegalese restaurant called Teranga. Teranga means hospitality in wolof, a Senegalese language. The restaurant first opened in 2009 and closed down temporarily but reopened in December. I've only had Senegalese food once before and didn't remember much, since it was a long time ago, so I welcomed the chance to give it another try at Teranga.

We started with some Fataya. These are similar to samosas, or pastels, basically a fried dough pie filled with minced meat and vegetables. The ones at Teranga are served with a sriracha aioli.
Teranga
The fatayas are common street food in Senegal, and it is thanks to a big Lebanese presence and influence!

Next, we had some nems. Yes, these are Vietnamese fried spring rolls. What am I doing eating Vietnamese food in a Senegalese restaurant?
Teranga
As it turns out, there's a big Vietnamese influence in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, due to all the expat laborers there! Nems (sometimes also called rouleau de printemps - literally, "spring rolls") are very common there. Who knew!

Next, we had some attieke, which is a couscous made of cassava root. This was prepared simply with onion, mint, tomato, and served with lime. Simple yet perfect!
Teranga

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Ti Bouchon: A Dining Experience to Remember in Saint Martin (SXM)

Ti Bouchon is hard to get to. Nestled in the French Cul-de-Sac in Saint Martin, it's not near most of the tourist areas and hotels, but it's well worth making the trip. To be honest, it took One More Bite Blog some finagling to convince me to go here, because the round trip taxi fare was going to cost us $50-60. But I must say it was definitely the best meal I had in St Martin (and Sint Maarten)!

Soup amuse bouche. I unfortunately lost a whole year's worth of notes, somehow, so I couldn't remember what this was.
Ti Bouchon
Fresh tartare medley of crab meat and cantaloupe (16)
Ti Bouchon
A nice and light treatment of fresh crab meat.

Terrine of foie gras, chocolate seeds, starfruit chutney, brioche (22)
Ti Bouchon

Gourmet Pigs   © 2008. Template Recipes by Emporium Digital

TOP