Pairing is Caring – Boloco, Burlington, Vermont


From top, clockwise: Happy Boloco people, Inspired Burritos, My buddy Matt hard at work, Happy Bloggers – me, Cheryl and Greg from CrankyCakes)

This week I attended my first foodie event in our new (again) home state of Vermont! Again and again I am reminded in subtle ways why we moved back to this great state, and this was no exception.

Pairing is Caring was held on Monday, August 16th and joined the forces of Boloco Inspired Burritos and Magic Hat Brewing Company . I was invited as part of the press pack on behalf of PMG Public Relations. PMG stands for People Making Good. PMG is not your typical PR firm, they are local to Vermont and focus on healthy brands. Brands that care about the environment, culture and responsibility. PMG has core knowledge of issues, goals and philosophies behind socially and environmentally responsible business and their targeted audience. So thanks PMG for a great night out!

The proceeds from Pairing is Caring went to, a leading online e-mentoring program that matches middle and high school students with adult mentors from all over the country. Funds raised from this event will be used to implement an mentoring program in one of Vermont’s public schools. It is easy to become a mentor with – it takes about an hour a week to connect with your “mentee” but can make all the difference in the world to them and the path of their lives. It all takes place online, making it all the more manageable for people with busy schedules. So check it out today!

We had the chance to sample all eight varieties of Boloco burritos as well as 4 Magic Hat brews – the goal was to see which pairings of burritos and beer were a match made in heaven.

Boloco is not just a burrito shop, it is a business that cares about people, both customers and workers. It cares about the environment by serving drink and food in corn cups and bamboo bowls. It’s about naturally-raised meats and organic tofu. It’s about composting and recycling and reusing building materials. CEO John Pepper in his presentation to kick off the night, discussed many of the goals for his shops. Mostly centering around being part of the community and about changing the face of the fast food world, where customer opinion matters and where employees can make a real living, and even career with their jobs.

This philosophy really shines through when you talk to the servers, the people behind the counter. Like my new friend Matt, who gave me the full menu run down, after I told him that this was my first time eating at Boloco. Matt was very well informed about the flexibility offered on the menu and clearly passionate about the ingredients and food philosophy of the restaurant. In one simple word, he was inspired, just like the burritos. I mentioned to John, the CEO towards the end of the night how impressed I was with Matt. He wasn’t surprised. He knows his employees and works closely with them to make sure that each person at Boloco is true to the vision. This is not your average fast food establishment, people.

As for the beer, well anyone who loves a good microbrew should be familiar with Magic Hat, whether you are in New England or not. Magic Hat is one of the pioneers of the microbrew movement, and has achieved much acclaim.

Now on to the Food and Drink section of this blog post! So as I mentioned, we were able to sample all 8 varieties of Boloco Burritos as well as a special burrito just for the event and 4 Magic Hat Brews.




Buffalo Chicken
Memphis BBQ
The Summer
Bangkok Thai
Yucatan Habanero
Classic Mexican
Spicy BLT (this was created just for the event, and will be featured on the menu in the coming months – it features local bacon, cheeses and veggies).

High PA
Odd Notion

My personal favorite pairings were as follows:

Memphis BBQ and Hex
Buffalo Chicken and Odd Notion

Disclaimer: I did not personally try all 9 burritos or all 4 beers. I didn’t sample Bangkok Thai or Teriyaki burritos since both had soy products in them, tofu in one and soy sauce in the other. But those who did try them really liked them. I also did not try High PA as I am not a fan of IPAs and I didn’t drink #9 either, since I am already familiar with the beer, and although I like it, it is not my favorite of the Magic Hat varietals.

The Memphis BBQ burrito was my over all favorite of the night. It was filled with all natural pork carnitas, sweet bbq sauce, cole slaw, pinto beans and rice. It had a wonderful bbq flavor and the pork was melt in your mouth tender. Not to mention it has coleslaw in it – and I am a known cole slaw fanatic. I have never met one I didn’t like, and that is the truth.

The Buffalo Chicken was nice and spicy, but not overwhelmingly so. If you like buffalo wings and all the traditional accoutrements, this would certainly satisfy the craving and is a lot less messy.

I also believe that the Yucatan Habanero is worth mentioning – filled with grass-fed humanely raised steak and pickled onions, with a spicy habanero sauce, it satisfied my spicy tastebuds. Although for some it was too hot, so bear that in mind when ordering.

As for the beer, I really loved Hex, and could see myself buying it. It is a seasonal beer, amber in color with hints of toffee, caramel and smoke, all flavors that I am looking for in my beer. I also enjoyed the Odd Notion, a Belgian style beer with flavors of coriander, bitter orange peel and a hint of green apple. This brew was really refreshing, and just a bit odd – in a really good way!

So to wrap up, all in attendance had a great night at the event – the food and drink were really good, and the passion of the people involved in all aspects of the event, from the hosts, organizers and charities it was funding, was infectious. What I brought away from the night is that people have a lot of choices when you find yourself out and needing to eat at a restaurant. So why not support the local ones who also support the local food shed, and the people they work with to make your dining experience unforgettable? Spend your dollars wisely. We all have a choice, and we can all make a difference by making small choices that add up. There are inexpensive places to enjoy food that not only tastes good, but is also trying to make the world a better place, one burrito at a time.

Bistro Sauce, Foodie Tour of Burlington, Vermont, Part 2

food tour burlington 030_bistrosauce

I have been wanting to sit down and write this post for days now. As I type this, we are experiencing our first rain in about a week, which means I can take time from the fevered pace I have been working at, enjoy a cup of teeccino (yes, I have finally made the commitment to quit coffee) and get typing! All the while out lovely little seedlings and plants are getting a nice watering!

Although it has been 2 weeks since I enjoyed this meal, the memories are still fresh in my mind. Maybe that is because Bistro Sauce is part of The Vermont Fresh Network, or maybe that is coincidental. I rather think not. Every single eatery I have been to from fine dining to order-at-the-counter places that are part of the Fresh Network have all been memorable.

I really must repeat what I have said before, Vermont is really ahead of the curve when it comes to local eating and the extremely important relationship between farmers and chefs. Without farms we would have no food. Vermont gets that, as do most Vermonters. Gosh, I love my new home state.

food tour burlington 034_sauce menu

(photo courtesy of CrankyCakes)

So to end our fabulous first Foodie Tour of Burlington ( if you missed the first leg of the tour, you can catch up here ) and to celebrate Restaurant Week, Cheryl took us to Bistro Sauce to meet up with Lara, who we had met earlier to kick off Restaurant Week, at one of my all time favorite places, Applecheek Farm .

food tour burlington 033_beers on tap

(photo courtesy of CrankyCakes)

We were really hot when we arrived from a day out in the sunshine, so we started with a local beer at the bar. I had nice and refreshing Switchback which also happened to go really well with my first course – a delicious baby greens salad with pears, aged cheddar and candied hazelnuts. Roberto had the olive plate with grilled bread and the ladies had the Caesar salad with anchovies. Everyone was pleased with their choices.


(grilled olive plate, brandade, baby greens salad, pork shoulder)

The next course was my absolute favorite – Brandade. It was a smoked haddock and potaotes mashed and then fried in a crispy crust, served with remoulade and greens. On top was a beautiful deep fried wild leek, or ramp. The smoked fish and potatoes had the perfect creamy consistency inside to juxtapose the crispy outer coating and the flavor was deep and delicious. Everyone else got the risotto with wild mushrooms and fiddleheads. It was good too, but I was so happy I chose the Brandade.

Third course was pork – Vermont pork shoulder laid on top of garlic mashed potatoes and local spring veggies with a pepita romesco sauce and jus. We all got the same course. Cheryl had some intel that this was the best dish in the course, and we all went for it, not regretting a single bite. The pork was absolutely tender, the potatoes perfect and the sauces divine. Very good course.

For dessert, we all decided to go light with homemade ice cream or sorbet. I went for the bay leaf. I remember how amazing this bay leaf custard was and knew this was a taste I would love. Roberto got vanilla bean, which he felt was not very impressive. Cheryl went for, I believe mango…but the craziest choice, was the cucumber sorbet that Lara opted for. It was totally refreshing.

food tour burlington 049_group shot

(photo courtesy of CrankyCakes)

All in all it was a very nice night. For $25 per person, I also believe it was very much a steal. We had a 6 PM reservation, and by 7 PM, the place was packed full of happy diners with smiles on their faces. I would say it was a successful event for Bistro Sauce and a great evening for foodies!

Holy Smoky Pile O’ Ribs!


I said something to that effect when we got our takeout home and opened up the package to see what you see above. We are heading out soon on our annual New England trip, and I had gone through all of the leftovers, and stuff in the fridge. So we decided to call our local BBQ joint and have someone else do the cooking for us!

We have been to Smokin’ D’s a few times in the past and each time, they had always been out of ribs. This little BBQ joint, and by little, I mean little – all they have are big wood burning smoke houses lining the pack wall, a kitchen prep area and the cash register. No seats. Just BBQ. This little BBQ joint is housed in a small shack next to a gas station. It has a huge resin pig sculpture on the outside to greet you, and basically they start cooking in the morning, and close once all the food is gone. They do pork, brisket, chicken and turkey. Their pulled pork sandwiches are heavenly, served on thick slabs on garlic toast with one side (cole slaw, beans, or yellow rice) and a beverage for only $5.95! And really, it is some of the best BBQ I have had in my life. DE-licious.


(My brother-in-law, Davide in front of Smokin D’s, hangin’ with the piglet).

This time we called ahead, to make sure we had a chance to get their ribs, and we figured since they are hard to come by, we should get extra, to last us a few meals. So we ordered the rib special which is supposed to feed 3 people! So imagine our surprise to see this pile of ribs when we opened the bag!!! Not only did we each have two meals out of it, I also put at least 8 ribs in the freezer to use later this winter in soups and stews and beans!

If you ever find yourself driving through Saint Augustine, we recommend Smokin’ D’s!

110 State Road 206. St Augustine, FL. 32086 . 904-797-2050

FYI – My posts may be more sporadic over the next several weeks. We will be in New England, and also San Francisco for the FoodBuzz Food Blogger’s Festival! But I am bringing my laptop and will be working, just maybe not as much on a regular schedule! Look forward to seeing many of you in San Francisco in a few weeks!

One Year Anniversary!


That is right folks, the Leftover Queen and her King celebrated one year of wedded bliss yesterday. It is hard to imagine that our wedding, and Jamaican honeymoon were that long ago.


Seems like yesterday in some ways, but after reminiscing last night about all that we have accomplished in this year, it is amazing how much has happened in such a short period of time. This is one of the things I have enjoyed about getting older – how an event can seem both long ago and really recent depending on the angle you see it.

We spent the day re-living our wedding day as much as possible by going to the beach where our wedding ceremony took place, collecting sand and shells, and taking a 4 mile walk. The weather was gorgeous and we feel so blessed because looking out the window as I write this, it is dark and raining.

That walk came in really handy a few hours later, because we had dinner at the same restaurant where we had our wedding reception and we had an amazing meal, guilt free! The restaurant is called La Cocina and it is located in the Castillo Real Hotel right on the beach in Saint Augustine, Florida. We have been to a lot of the restaurants here in Saint Augustine since moving here almost 2 years ago. But La Cocina has always been good to us. These guys are masters at food styling and presentation. Every dish that comes out looks gorgeous…but how about the taste? The taste is also top notch. Their menu is varied and sophisticated, but also not the ordinary, which makes it such a great place to go.


Last night we enjoyed Shrimp and Scallop Ceviche as an appetizer. I fell in love with ceviche when we were in Jamaica, eating it at every opportunity. So last night, Roberto ordered it in my honor! Not only was it beautiful, but so fresh tasting. A great way to get the taste buds going!


For an entrée I had New Orleans Salmon with was a salmon steak on top of a potato cake, topped with shrimp Étouffée and a chive cream sauce. I don’t even know where to start with this one. Everything was cooked to perfection, and all the flavors worked together like a magical symphony, right out of Ratatouille, the movie (if you don’t know what I mean, go see the movie)! It was served with grilled asparagus. Since a baby greens salad comes with all entrees, I only ate half. But I also only ate half so that I could enjoy it again today! 🙂


Roberto loves sea scallops. So he had Sea Scallops wrapped in Orange Roughy and grilled topped with Beurre Blanc and served with a side of mashed potatoes, that were served piped in a beautiful tower formation. Again, the dish was delicious.


At the end of our dinner, we were brought out a special surprise from the kitchen, a nice piece of cheesecake with the words “Happy Anniversary!” written on the plate with raspberry sauce (which was exactly what they did when they served our wedding cake – except on that day it said “Congratulations!”). It was a wonderful way to end the evening…except that the evening wasn’t over. After dinner we had to slice into our year old wedding cake!


A rum cake with custard filling – and it was still good. The only thing that didn’t really keep to its original flavor was the icing, so we didn’t eat that part. But the rest of it was great. Our cake was made by DeFores Cake Design which is phenomenal!

So now onto our second year of bliss….”They” always say “Find your Bliss” and I feel very lucky to have already found mine! 🙂

Stay tuned, more Italian Adventures are on their way!

Restaurant Review: Fair Hill Inn, Fair Hill, MD

Thank you to everyone for all the wonderful birthday wishes! I had a wonderful day with Roberto and my mom and was able to speak to many loved ones that were not able to be with me. So it was a success! 🙂 This post is about another success – that of a very successful meal out. I hope you enjoy.


We had a wonderful dining opportunity while we were visiting my Dad and Stepmom over Thanksgiving at the Fair Hill Inn in Elkton, MD. It is not often that I get to enjoy a meal of this caliber, a true work of art, created by people who have a real passion for good food that is local and seasonal. It is like my dream meal come true. Top that with the ambiance of a 1700’s Inn and I am sold. When someone asks me what I “like to do” – this is going to be my answer. You can’t eat like this everyday, but if you get the opportunity, I recommend going for it, as it is a memorable experience and something everyone should do at least a few times in life.

Of course my Dad and Stepmom know how much Roberto and I love food, and so they planned a really nice day for us the Saturday after Thanksgiving that really stimulated all of our senses. They live in Annapolis, MD which is less than 2 hours from where the borders of MD, PA and DE intersect and that area is rural, full of farmland and hills and is a great place to explore.

We spent the morning at Longwood Gardens which is located in Kennet Square, PA. It is a beautiful botanical gardens with many outdoor gardens and exhibits as well as an indoor conservatory which was all decked out in holiday splendor. Here is the mission statement of the Gardens: “Longwood Gardens is dedicated to preserving the spirit and beauty of the early 20th century gardens of Pierre S. du Pont. Longwood is a display garden promoting the art and enjoyment of horticulture for the public, while providing opportunities for research and learning. We are committed to excellence, good management, and fiscal responsibility”.

We spent an enjoyable afternoon at the gardens, but the real highlight of the day trip was to take place a few miles away at the Fair Hill Inn. My stepmom, Kayzie is a wine distributor, in MD. She has been doing this work for a long time and is very knowledgeable and skilled in her trade. So much so, that even when her clients move to another area, they still keep her as their rep. Such is the case with the owners of the Fair Hill Inn, Phil and Venka Pyle.

Everything at the Fair Hill Inn is made from scratch. Not only do they bake their own bread and make their own pastries, but they butcher their own meat and make their own cheeses. Chef Phil Pyle attended Le Cordon Bleu and studied culinary, pastry, bread baking and chocolate. Food really is their passion and the restaurant is a true labor of love. Every month their menu changes so they can base their dishes on what is in season and can be obtained locally. The area surrounding the Fair Hill Inn is rich farmland, and so this is a feasible way for the restaurant to be run. Guests at the restaurant can also chose to order a la carte or they can chose the chef’s 7-course degustation menu.

It was hard to pass up the 7-course menu, but it was only 2 days after Thanksgiving and the day after the Leftover Queen Thanksgiving Leftovers Dinner. So I needed to take it easy. I think we were all feeling the same way, so we decided to order from the a la carte menu. I am glad I didn’t order the 7-course meal, because Chef Pyle had some “in-between” treats in store for us as well.
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Foodie Friends and Good Food: Present Moment Cafe


Friends and food seem to go hand and hand, don’t they? At least that is true if you are a foodie. Roberto and I had the opportunity to spend a lovely evening last month with Ingar from Taste Memory and her husband Bill at The Present Moment Cafe here in Saint Augustine, FL. We had already been there once before and really enjoyed it. So when Ingar suggested it, we were all for it.

Present Moment is a Raw, Vegan, Livefood, Gourmet Restaurant that is certainly something to experience. I have often talked about my fascination with the raw food movement here on my blog. It is not a lifestyle that I can fully embrace, but I do believe that it is extremely creative and can be very delicious, and I welcome to opportunity to enjoy these types of dishes, whenever possible.

We went on a Friday night, so it was fairly crowded by the time we arrived. The moment you enter the restaurant, you just get a good feeling. The place is relaxed, yet elegant at the same time. Clean, yet cozy. Ingar had made reservations earlier in the week which landed us prime real estate seating- the table at the window which has two comfy couches on either side of the table, instead of chairs (you can see the spot on the front page of the restaurant’s website). Score.


On Ingar’s recommendation we all started out with the Maki rolls. Each roll was full of crunchy vegetables and creamy avocado and it was a great way to get our appetites rolling. Ingar enjoyed a coconut water with her food, while, Roberto, Bill and I all sipped on organic beers by Samuel Smith.

Next were the main meals. Roberto decided to get lasagna. If there is lasagna on the menu, it is a sure bet for him. His lasagna “noodles” were fashioned from thin strips of zucchini. The “cheese” was made from nuts, macadamia nut, I believe and it was served with tomato sauce and a nice side salad. He enjoyed it.


I went for the Indian style Samosas (Ingar got the same thing!). The wrappers were created from dehydrated coconut and the inside was filled with curried vegetables and lentils and served with a delicious yogurt drizzle. They were really excellent. I think Bill got the Pad Thai. It was a huge portion and looked delicious and crunchy.


In a place like this it is difficult to say no to dessert, because it is guilt free. I am not a huge fan of “chocolate”, but when it comes to pure cacao, that is a whole other story and it is hard for me to say no. I got a delicious pure cacao flourless chocolate cake and Roberto went for a scoop of dairy free cashew ice cream. It was a perfect end to the meal. We had such a great time that we didn’t want to leave once the meal was over. So we were lucky when a live band started playing. The musicians were playing music from the African nation of Guinea, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Much of the beats sounded reminiscent of Reggae and for a time Roberto and I felt like we were on vacation. It was so relaxing.

Thanks Ingar and Bill for a great evening!

Great Green North Chronicles: The Importance of Eating Locally



Well no post today from an American can be without a few words about the profound change that has taken place in this country of ours. Coming from someone who had all but given up on national politics, I must say that I do feel a sense of hope. For once, in a very long time, I feel proud of my country, proud that as a people we rose up and were heard. Proud that so many of us knew that change was needed and we got out there and made it happen. Like the saying goes: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”, and it is in the spirit of that saying that I write this post.

I talk a lot about local and seasonal eating on this blog, and that is because I believe that it is so important to the health and well-being of this planet to sustain itself. I believe that we must have a deep and profound respect for nature and her bounty and follow her example to keep the balance and our bellies filled and nourished over the long haul. To that end, I believe that it is vital to support local agriculture. Having a direct connection between consumer and producer fosters trust, the understanding of what goes into food production and how the mass production of food will never work forever. It also leads to better products and accountability on a local and personal level.

I have been so inspired this past year, since I started my own quest to eat seasonally local, to see so many others taking up this cause and doing the same. I like to avoid politics as much as possible, but it seems near impossible not to be involved when we see what is happening in our world. So I always start small, where I feel I can make the most difference. Roberto and I decided the best way to make a change was to start voting with our money…even on vacation! We support farmers markets, local businesses and local economy as much as possible. This has become a new way of life for us, a life that I can feel good about. I am no where near perfect, and I am not sure that I ever will be, but I have a new consciousness and awareness about who I am, what I believe and what is important.


I discovered while we were in Vermont that there are places that are just light years ahead of our corner of the country when it comes to local produce and products. Where sustainability is a common goal and where people as a whole have made this a priority in their community. Where “Green” isn’t just a buzz word, but a way of life that has become ingrained into everyday living. It made me realize how living in a place where people share the same values can be so fulfilling and so it didn’t surprise me in the least when Vermont was the first state to go blue last night for Obama, giving him his first 3 electoral votes in his path to victory, or when looking at our local stats this morning the revelation that our county supported McCain, at least the rest of Florida made up for it. But enough about politics and onto the food!


In Vermont there is a wonderful grassroots movement happening called The Vermont Fresh Network which is an alliance and partnership between local farms and chefs. In the mid 1990’s Vermonters got together and coordinated a series of events to bring together local producers and chefs to see how they could best work together to support local agriculture. To be part of the network, farmers must partner with at least one restaurant and restaurants must have working connections with at least 3 farms.
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Great Green North Chronicles: Foodie Friends From Our Home Away From Home…and the Fiddle Playing Queen


As you may have guessed I am back from our almost month long vacation and trying to re-establish my regular blogging routine and all that entails. So here we go, the first installment to the
Great Green North Chronicles. I am calling this series of articles about our trip to New England,
Great Green North, because we decided to focus much of our trip around as many Green opportunities as we could discover while on vacation. In some places is was easy, in others a little more challenging, but we did the best we could!

Although this event happened towards the end of our travels, it is one of great interest because it is about hanging out with food bloggers , which is always a favorite 🙂

Now, the interesting twist to this story is that Roberto and I met valleywriter and mr. valleywriter, not through food blogging, but while in Jamaica on our honeymoons. We met them during a honeymooners event at the resort where we were all staying and had the wonderful experience of dining with them at breakfast one morning.

We found that we had a lot of things in common. We used to be neighbors and didn’t know it. Living in the same town, blocks from one another. We all met our spouses in the exact same way, valleywriter and I are both writers (duh!), we both have black cats…with asthma… and I used to take my cat to the same vet…it was uncanny and seemed like we were just meant to meet each other. We thought that we would see them again after that breakfast, but it never happened and we were sad when we left to go back home that we didn’t exchange info.

Fast Forward….

Two weeks before we were about to leave for this trip, I get a surprise email from valleywriter. We had talked in Jamaica a lot about blogging and it turns out that she decided to start a blog, about food, joined Foodbuzz and found my profile! So we exchanged several emails and decided to meet up for breakfast while we were there! 🙂


We met at The Lone Wolf, in Amherst, MA. I had been there several times when I used to live in the area and had some really fond memories of the food, especially the Chili Rellenos and Huevos Rancheros. There is a Southwest theme to this restaurant, but you can also get the regular egg and pancake breakfasts as well. This place serves real and local maple syrup, organic and delicious coffee and a lot of their specials are using seasonal veggies. I wouldn’t say this establishment is totally green, but the food is certainly above average in terms of variety, amount on the plate and taste.

I got the Chili Rellenos


and Roberto had the Lox and Bagel platter


Both were really good.

But the best part about the breakfast was hanging out with valleywriter and mr. valleywriter (who is a budding photographer for their blog)! 🙂

It felt like spending time with old friends and although it was a short visit it sure was sweet! We look forward to spending more time with them next year! Check out VW’s post about our breakfast together here .

As a side note, after breakfast, Roberto and I decided to check out a violin store, Luthier’s Co-Op and Easthampton Violin Co. in Easthampton, MA that was going out of business. I have wanted to learn to play the violin (in fiddle style) for as long as I can remember. The owner of the store, Dameron Midgett, has been collecting and selling violins (with a focus on violins made in America and specifically New England from the 1890’s to the 1930’s) for the past 20 years. I learned so much about the history of violin playing in New England and America and it was wonderful to chat with him. I ended up purchasing a violin from him and getting my first lesson right there in the shop! I am happy to report that my first note and all those after have actually been musical! 🙂


I have also posted an article in the Great Green North Chronicles, on Travel Closeup about a wonderful hike we took in Vermont.