Last Meal at Beacon Grille

Beacon Grille in Woburn, MA closed at the end of June this year. I was so sad that my favorite restaurant was to be no more. It's now re-opened as a Strega's and I don't have a favorite haunt anymore. I'm mad. I really am. Anytime I find something that is truly special and that works beautifully, it always seems to be taken away from me.

Here are some photos from my last meal at Beacon Grille back in June.

Phantom Gourmet Food Festival

On Sunday, Carlos and I headed to Fenway Park in Boston for the 2013 Phantom Gourmet Food Festival. Carlos had purchased two tickets in advance and they were $30 each. The festival promised 100 different types of food samples as well as music, dancing and festivities. From their commercial on their website, I thought beer was also included but water, beer and wine cost extra (or maybe I just missed when they were passing out beer?!). Bars and restaurants along Lansdowne Street were open exclusively to Festival goers. The Festival was huge, running all down Lansdowne and onto Ipswich. There were hundreds of people there (thousands maybe?) and the festival ran from noon to 4 pm.

I had a mixed experience at this festival. I didn't want to go but Carlos really wanted to and was treating me to a ticket so that I could accompany him. Phantom Gourmet is a local TV show that reviews restaurants in Eastern Massachusetts (and sometimes in other nearby states) and also highlights locally made products. They have an enormous following and their episodes are incredibly popular. Just watching an episode will make you drool. They drive a lot of business to local restaurants so I really appreciate what they do.

The food they focus on is not really my type of food. I've been on more of a health kick recently and I like to try more ethnic and unique foods as well. Phantom Gourmet's typical cuisine is mostly high in calories, big on flavor and mouth-wateringly sinful. I used to be into that kind of food but haven't been in a long time because of my health problems and my focus on being healthy. Also, on Sunday I was two days into a nasty bout of flu so I wasn't particularly hungry or even happy to be outside. However, I tried to have fun the best I could.

There were lots of fans there at the festival and you could pick them out in the crowd because they were wearing purple, Phantom Gourmet's official color. We got there around 12:30 and the festival was already packed with people. They check your I.D. and your bag at the gate for security. Also because of alcohol consumption it's for ages 21 and over only so it was a nice kid-free event. This was a big plus for me! We didn't know how the festival worked and initially we tried to go to each individual booth from the outside. I realized later that the booths were all set up in one long line and you follow the long line and pass each stall one-by-one to get easier access. Each vendor/restaurant had one or two food samples they specialized in.

Types of food: Burgers, Hot Dogs, pickles, pulled pork sandwiches, clam chowder, grilled clams, soup,  pretzel bread, garlic knots, flatbread pizza, chips, meatloaf, meatballs, chicken pot pie, popcorn, sandwiches, etc.

Types of dessert: donuts, ice cream, cupcakes, brownies, frozen yogurt, etc.

My thoughts and tips: It was well-organized and the chaos was well contained. But festival goers were pushy, grabby and greedy. You'd get a better experience when the crowd has dissipated some.  I recommend going to the festival a good one or two hours after it starts. 

All the food I had was delicious. I came with a list of things I wanted to try but barely made a dent. You have to be open-minded and try what you can get your hands on. And be prepared to wait in a long line for what might be a very tiny sample. Lines move fairly quickly which is a bonus.

I wish the booths had better signage. These are mostly local businesses advertising their products and services and I wish I could have been able to identify better who was who. Some had great signs and gave out business cards which did help.

Overall, it was good and I'm glad I went. I think being outdoors made my flu symptoms worse but I still enjoyed it. Will I go again next year? Probably not. $30 is a lot for what ended up being not a lot of food and for being a bit overwhelming with such a big crowd. However, if you don't mind crowds, are patient and really like this type of cuisine, I encourage you to go! You will have a lot of fun and it's wonderful to be at Fenway enjoying the sunshine and eating lots of great food.

Carlos enjoying some pulled chicken on a piece of toasted bread

Gourmet Popcorn

An all-beef (no pork) meatball. This was the best meatball I've had in a very long time!

Turkey and Cheese Panini with a Brownie Shot. Mmm! I love the addition of a little dessert. Felt more like a mini meal than just a sample.

I was waiting in line for some mushroom bisque which was delicious with a bit of bread from the neighboring booth.

S'Mores Ice Cream from Daddy's Dairy. Oh my goodness this was so good I came back for seconds!

Pretzel Bun. Yowzah! This was so good I gobbled it up.

Fuddruckers Burger. Not too glamorous looking but that beef patty was divine!

Chicken Nachos

Flatbread Pizza

Sweet Potato Fries with Cinnamon and Brown Sugar 
Fried Calamari. Score!

Summer Shack's Grilled Clam with a bean and corn salad. Best thing at the festival! The line was long and I wish I could have had more than one sample. 

Not a lot of people were out in the crowd passing out samples. It was a bit crazy. One brave lady was passing out a tray of tiny cupcakes and we grabbed a couple.

Bag of Sweet Potato Chips

Utz was there handing out potato chips two bags at a time.

I ended up getting 4 of these Kind Bars to take home. The healthiest thing at the festival!

Dining in Newport, Rhode Island

On Tuesday, Carlos and I headed to Newport, Rhode Island on a day trip. We have both been to Newport before but it had been a while and we had never gone together. It was a fun trip filled with food, drives, walks, mansions and beautiful sights.

We had lunch at The Red Parrot on Thames Street. I had been to this restaurant before. It's in a great location and gets a lot of business because of it. They were packed and we got some pretty crappy service. I was incredibly hungry by the time we got there so I was very impatient. It took forever for us to get service and to get our food. It felt like we were there for 2 hours!

We ordered a half dozen local oysters as a starter.

I'm so happy Carlos has developed a taste for Oysters. He dislikes most seafood but gave raw oysters a try and discovered that he likes them. These were pretty decent.

Carlos got a Greek Salad.

I really wanted lobster so I ordered a Lobster BLT with sweet potato fries. The basil focaccia was supposed to be either toasted or grilled but was neither. It was cold and not very tasty. The insides were delicious though. There were lots of large chunks of lobster, strips of crispy bacon and slices of tomato along with field greens. On the side there was a dipping sauce for the fries and mayo for the sandwich. I skipped the mayo. I'm not a big fan of sweet potatoes but these sweet potato fries were the most delicious ones I have EVER HAD! Perfectly fried, sweet, crispy on the outside, soft in the middle and overall heavenly! If you ever go, you must have these as a side. Even Carlos, who also isn't a fan of sweet potatoes, enjoyed them.

For dessert, we split a slice of coconut cake. It came with fresh pineapple, mandarin oranges and mango puree. The cake was a bit stale and dry but overall it was tasty.

We did a lot of walking an exploring along the wharves, up and down the different streets in the touristy part of town and down some side streets.

Later on, we went down Ocean Drive to see all the glorious sights and headed to the famous Bellevue Avenue. We went to two mansions: Marble House and Breakers (above). I had only ever seen the mansions from the outside and had never been inside so this was a treat.

We went back to the wharves and had dinner at The Wharf Pub & Restaurant.

We had a long journey back home so we ordered iced tea and had plenty of refills.

For an appetizer, we got the house tater tots. This restaurant had different tater tots with all sorts of toppings and sauces. We went with the plain ones which were only $5. It came with rosemary ketchup and whole grain mustard. I can't stand rosemary so I mostly had the mustard. These tater tots were hot, crispy and mighty tasty.

Carlos ordered a Greek Style Turkey Burger. The toppings included tzatziki sauce, tomatoes, Kalamata olives, cucumbers and parsley. It came with a side of potato wedges. Carlos devoured this plate of food!

I had the Beet & Green Salad with Blackened Local Cod. The fish was an extra add on for about $5. The salad had mixed greens, local ricotta, red onion, toasted pine nuts, pickled beets and croutons. Everything was tasty but the croutons were a bit burnt and they could have been more generous with the beets. I only say this because this was advertised as a beet & green salad. 

Now let's talk about that cod. Oh my heavens. That was one of the best pieces of cod I have ever eaten. It was well-seasoned, perfectly (and I mean perfectly) cooked. The cod held together really well and it was blackened just right. I would go back just for that cod. I told the waiter how good I thought it was and I hope he passed that compliment on to the chef.

After, we got some cookies from the Cookie Jar which is right across from The Wharf Pub & Restaurant. No pictures though! For $5, we got an oatmeal raisin cookie, snicker doodle cookie and a peanut cookie. The snicker doodle cookie was the best of the three!

We had fun in Newport, RI and will definitely be going back.

Chicken & Leek Pot Pie

Oh hey there! It's been a while. I have been focused lately on exercise and healthy cooking. And much of what I have made or eaten hasn't really been blog-worthy. I plan to change that and update here more. Another issue I have been having is food photography. Our kitchen is dark and we have no windows there. We had to get rid of our kitchen table too so we have been eating off of a rickety old coffee table. Not the best circumstances for good food photography. I hope to be able to pick up this blog back to it's old glory when we move out into a new home with a better kitchen. Until then, expect some posts here or there.

Now this Chicken & Leek Pot Pie is the best chicken pot pie I have EVER MADE! Leeks are much tastier in this pie than onions. I don't add herbs or celery but feel free to add them in if you want. This is simple and delicious.

Chicken & Leek Pot Pie


Extra Light Olive Oil
1.25 lbs of Chicken Tenderloins, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1-1/2 lbs of baby tricolor potatoes, halved or cut into thirds depending on size
2 leeks halved, sliced and rinsed
salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsps of flour
2 cups of Chicken Broth
Pie crust dough
egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp of water)

Makes 6 servings

Preheat oven to 385 degrees

Heat a couple tablespoons of oil in a dutch oven or a wide bottomed pot. Once the oil starts to sizzle, brown the chicken. I brown the chicken in two batches. Take the chicken out and set aside.

Add another drizzle of oil and add the potatoes and carrots. Cook for about 5 minutes.

Then add the flour, leeks and chicken. Stir so the flour covers all the ingredients Slowly pour in the chicken broth. Stir well.

Cover and bring to a boil. Uncover and cook for 10 minutes. Shut off heat and cool for 10 minutes.

You basically want to do all the cooking of the filling on the stove top. The baking time is really for the crust.

Add the filling to a baking pan. I use a 9-1/2 inch oval one.

Cover with your pie dough, stretch and cut off extra bits.

Cut a few diagonal slits along the top. Brush the top with the egg wash. Bake for 20 minutes in your preheated oven.

I forgot to add the egg wash to this one in the photo above. Oops! Otherwise the crust would have been a lot glossier and not as dry.  It was still good though.

The filling is a bit light on the chicken but I like it that way. You can always reduce the amount of potatoes and add some more chicken if you want. Fresh herbs would be nice too but since they are expensive and don't keep well in our fridge I skipped them.  

It's important to let the pie cool for 20 minutes. Or 10 minutes in front of a fan! Cooling time is crucial so you can serve the pie without it completely falling apart. Enjoy!

Graze Box Openings and Review

Graze is a new healthy snack subscription service that delivers a box of 4 different snacks to your home or office once a week. Each box costs $5 and when you try the service you get your first and fifth weeks for free. It's so new that right now it's invitation only. There are lots of invitation codes out there but each member is limited to how many invitations they can give out. I think I have one left at my invitation code: 9V1G62J

What I like about Graze is that you can customize your boxes. They have over 100 different types of snacks in categories such as Dips & Dippers, Flapjacks (Granola bars essentially), Savory Snacks, A Touch of Chocolate, Healthy Treats, Pure Fruit, Whole Nuts, Pure Fruit Nuts & Seeds and Super Seeds. You can vote on each snack by choosing Trash if you don't want it, Try if you want to try it, Like if you think it's okay and Love if you adore it and want it again.

I went through all of the snacks before I got my first box and trashed anything I knew I didn't want to try. For example, I don't like Pistachios so I got rid of any Pistachio treats. I tried to keep an open mind and want to try as many as possible. As I get each box, I go back to my box's page (yes each of your boxes has it's own page, sort of like Birchbox) and I rate if I Liked it, Loved It or don't want it again, aka Trash. So far I have Liked or Loved everything I tried.

You can also customize your deliveries by choosing a Nibble Box or a Light Box. A Light box would only include low calorie treats whereas a Nibble box could include everything. If you are Vegan or have allergies to Gluten or Dairy, you can also customize based on your diet. Each box is a surprise but the customization helps for sure.

Below I am sharing my first boxes and each of the snacks and what I thought of them. I hope you'll give Graze a try! I am NOT sponsored by them and I only got some discounts based on their starter promotion and getting $1 off a box for each person I invite who joins the service. So basically these opinions are my own.

My only complaint about these boxes is that they take a while to arrive and there is no tracking because they are shipped via USPS ground. They are packed over the weekend and you have to set your ratings by Friday if you want to Trash anything and don't want it showing up in your next box. I usually get them on a Thursday or the following Monday.

 This is how the boxes arrive. I peeled off the label with my address for privacy.

 Each box comes with a nutritional pamphlet, invitation codes and a 100% recycled napkin!

 Summer Berry Detox: Blueberries, Goji Berries, Golden Raisins and Cranberries


Cookies and Cream: Mini chocolate cookies, Roasted Hazelnuts, White Chocolate Wafers and Sunflower Seeds


 El Picante: Jumbo salted corn, hot chili peanuts and mini paprika breasticks


 Fruit & Seed Flapjacks

I almost trashed all the flapjacks as I assumed they would they would be dry and bland granola bars. To my surprise they are really moist and quite decadent in flavor and texture! These are my favorite. The sealed boxes help keep the snacks fresh.


 Herby Bread Basket: Mini Garlic Croutons, Mini Basil Breadsticks and Oregano Rice Crackers


Garden of England: Mini Strawberries, Blackcurrants and Apple


I was skeptical but ended up loving this one. It's such a deliciously tart mix of dried fruit.

Hot Cross Yum: Mini Meringues, Cinnamon & Honey Almonds and Orange Infused Raisins


This one was okay. Wasn't too terribly impressed. I might try it one more time and trash it.

Natural Vanilla Seeds: Vanilla Sunflower and Pumpkin Seeds


I was convinced I would hate this one but the vanilla coating made them crunchy and sweet and delicious!

My Thai: Sweet Chili Sauce and Baked Soy Bites

Like or possibly Trash

It was tasty and spicy but not worth the money in my opinion. Too much dip too few bites.

Nacho Libre: Salsa Almonds, Cheesy Sombreros and Jumbo Chili Corn


 Apple Cinnamon Flapjacks

My favorite of all the snacks I have tried!


 Honeycomb Crunch: Milk Chocolate Coated Honeycomb, Raisins and Plain Almonds


It was way too sweet with the raisins but the honeycomb and almonds were a good match.

Cheddar Gorge: Cheese Cashews, Baked Herb Bites and Salsa Corn Sticks


 Marvellous Macaroon: Amaretti Drops, Almond Slices, Coconut Flakes and White Chocolate Wafers


Perfect mix of crunchy and smooth!

Mango Lassi: Yogurt Coated Peanuts, Pumpkin Seeds and Dried Mango


My favorite of the snacks are the ones that aren't too sweet like this one!

Tutti Frutti: Blueberry Infused Cranberries, Pineapple, Cherry Infused Raisins and Golden Raisins

Like or Trash

I'm confused by this one. I feel like infusing one fruit with another is kind of strange. The raisins seem more like filler. It was tasty though so I'm torn.

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