Valentine's Day at Beacon Grille

Carlos and I broke our Valentine's Day tradition of having dinner at Machu Picchu restaurant in Somerville, MA by making a reservation at one of our favorite spots for fine dining, Beacon Grille. I was particularly excited about their exclusive Valentine's Day menu especially their Aztec Hot Chocolate drink.

Joyce who handles the social media for Beacon Grille took our reservation request through Twitter @BeaconGrille . We even got to ask for Michael our favorite server! Awesome people, food and service keeps us coming back to this place.

We pored over the menus, wanting to chose everything but noting that we were on a budget too.

We were starving by the time we got there so we quickly devoured the complimentary basket of warm bread rolls, crackers and whipped butter.

 Our meal began with a kiss! In the form of a drink. First Kiss cocktail consisted of Prosecco, St. Germain and raspberry puree. It wasn't too sweet and they strained the seeds from the raspberries which I very much appreciated. The drink went down very easily and we had three before we realized what was going on!

For an appetizer, we chose the Valentine's Day special Chicken Ginger Pot Stickers. The flavors going on in this appetizer were strong. If you are not used to strong Asian flavors, you might be taken aback. The pot stickers were nice and hot and crispy and you could definitely taste the sesame oil they were fried in. The sauce was a delicious jalapeno-cilantro dip but I could taste the soy sauce and cilantro more than I could the jalapeno. It definitely wasn't spicy and while it wasn't all that great too look at, the sauce was deeeelicious.

 I convinced Carlos to get one of the Weekly Specials which was a Terikyaki Glazed Sirloin steak which came with Jasmine rice and he swapped out the broccoli rabe for sauteed green beans. Oh man. He gave me a couple of pieces of his steak and it was so incredibly delicious. They butterfly the steak so the sauce covers more of the meat. When you chew the steak it it melts in your mouth! I really wish I had ordered that for myself.

I got the Roasted Vegetable Ratatouille, a regular item on the Beacon Grille menu which I've had before and enjoyed. It comes with penne, eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini, red pepper, onion and a delicious sauce and is served with grated parmesan over the top. I picked this plate for several reasons. I really wanted to enjoy the appetizers and desserts so I didn't want to go overboard on calories or price, I needed something that I could reheat as leftovers for lunch the next day and also this was a dish I had tried before and really enjoyed. I ate half of my dish and asked for the rest to be boxed up for me.

Our server Michael, whom we've raved about before, folded Carlos' napkin for him when Carlos had left the table for a moment. Michael is a great server because of his attention to detail, his years of experience, his attentiveness to his customers, his knowledge of the menu and his friendly demeanor.

 For dessert, we tried the Valentine's Day special Chocolate Pecan Tart which came with a bourbon creme anglaise, chantilly cream and powdered sugar. It was delicious but we really needed a knife to cut into it and we didn't have one on hand. It would have been better as a slice of a larger tart, mini tarts or a pre-sliced small tart. Some of the chunks of tart went flying off our plate when we tried to break off pieces with our fork. While it tasted just fine, we wished we had gone with Michael's recommendation of the White Chocolate Crepe. (Note: I went off my "no baked goods" rule just for this one special night).

Finally, it was time for the Aztec Hot Chocolate. I reluctantly had to share one with Carlos who gave me much grief about how strong it was alcoholic-wise. I'm a weakling when it comes to alcohol and I was already buzzing from all those First Kisses. The Aztec Hot Chocolate was served warm in a glass mug (which is my favorite way to drink hot beverages). Michael was nice enough to get us two straws. The drink consisted of dark Taza chocolate, aged dark rum and three spices: cardamom, cinnamon, and Ancho chili. It had a thick cream on top which was slightly salted. That extra touch made the drink all that more special. It was worth it but I kind of wish I had gotten my own. Carlos' bad attitude soured my enjoyment.

That's Michael on the right. Shhh. Don't tell him that he ended up in one of my pictures.

At the end of the meal, patrons at Beacon Grille were handed a single long-stem rose which I thought was a nice touch.

Here I am with the rose, giving Carlos the evil-eye for ruining my Hot Chocolate experience. Overall, we had another amazing night at Beacon Grille. Thanks to Michael, Joyce and everyone at Beacon Grille who made our Valentine's Day dinner a special event.

I'm still here!

I've been MIA from this blog for the entire month of January! But that doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about food. In fact, lots of stuff has been going on since I've been on my blogging hiatus. Here are a few things:

Wedding Diet - My wedding is 5 months away and I'm trying to lose the 30 pounds I gained during first couple of years of my relationship with Carlos. I doubt I'm going to lose all that weight but I'm working on going to the gym, eating healthy snacks, reducing my portion sizes and eating healthy in general as much as I can. Reading Twitter and health magazines has been helping to motivate me and Carlos was willing to take on the role of being my personal trainer.

10 foods I'm avoiding - As part of my wedding diet, I'm avoiding these 10 foods until after the wedding. They are 1) Baked Goods 2) Pizza 3) Hot Dogs 4) Burgers (except for B.Good's veggie burger!) 5) French Fries 6) Soda (I don't drink it anyways but always good to avoid) 7) Sour Cream 8) Ice Cream 9) Breakfast Bacon & Sausage 10) Anything from a fast food restaurant chain. I don't really indulge in most of these on a regular basis (except for baked goods and sour cream) but crossing them off my list is easier for me than to try to portion control. Who can eat a few french fries when the restaurant gives you a huge pile?! Best not to order them in the first place.

Have I mentioned how much I love b.good and their fabulous veggie burgers?!

Whole Foods - I have been spending a lot of time at Whole Foods, eating lunches from their salad bar, picking up organic herbal teas, dark chocolates and different health supplements. I've been learning a lot about food from the book What to Eat by Marion Nestle and all things organic are on my mind lately. Whole Foods is a certified organic grocer and I'm wondering if I can change my grocery shopping habits and meal planning enough to be able to buy all my groceries from Whole Foods. I'm definitely not going to become a Healthy Living Blogger but I do want to makeover my diet and be healthier overall.

I'm also in love with Allegro's Nilla Nut Dream tea. Whole Foods serves it at their coffee bar but they don't sell the tea by the box. It's a wonderful black tea with hints of vanilla and hazelnut and none of the acridness that black tea is known for. Delicious with a splash of soy milk and some raw agave nectar.

Utilisima - My favorite new television channel! Unfortunately, I don't have Comcast's digital cable with the Spanish language package but my parents do. Whenever I visit them, I try to watch the channel with my mom. Utilisima is a Spanish-language channel full of shows about cooking, decorating and home improvement. It's wonderful! The cooking shows are my favorite and I'm getting a lot of recipe ideas from them while practicing and improving my Spanish. I'm trying to cook one Receta/Recipe from the Utilisima site each week. If you love to cook and speak Spanish fluently, watch their free recipe videos!

Losing my Freelance Food Writing Gig -  For all of 2011 and a few weeks of 2010, I was writing recipes and restaurant reviews for a local online newspaper. I lost the gig in the new year. The gig itself was quite a bit of work but it was also a lot of fun. I got to explore restaurants around the city and in the neighboring towns and write about it. I also pushed myself to come up with my own unique recipes, ones that were easy to make, didn't require a lot of fancy ingredients and would be of interest to locals. While it was really nice to have a freelance job, I'm glad for the extra free time I have now. It's also helping my waistline not baking so many desserts and also not visiting a new restaurant each week to review! The gig did help me pay for my wedding dress and for that I will be forever appreciative.

So what is there to expect from Thoughtful Eats from 2012? Fewer restaurant reviews but still some, absolutely no commissioned product reviews (I hated doing them anyways and big-time bloggers get the good stuff anyways), more healthy recipes, more about Latina cooking and more thoughts about cooking, eating and food in general. And perhaps I'll even write a blog post in Spanish! :: fingers crossed::

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