After having lived here for about one year I’ve just discovered something new the other week. And I am not making this up, even the Boston Globe reported about it a couple weeks back (see article here).
Btw, if any Americans are reading this, please explain this phenomenon to me. I’d LOVE to understand. Really.
What am I talking about? Let me set this post in context for you first. We are currently experiencing winter, I’m not talking about your average mild winter. I’m talking New England style type of winter, the wind chills are powerful (nicely said), the cold is bitter and the storms are never-ending. It’s February after all. They say a few more blizzards are coming our way.
Baseline: It’s cold. Real cold.
So, what is it that people (everyone except me) drink around here in the morning (or at any given time of day really) and that you will see everywhere, sitting on office desks, in classrooms, on construction sites, EVERYWHERE?
Iced coffee. With LOTS of ice cubes.
Yap. I am not exaggerating here. It is freezing cold but still a big part of the population deems it to be a good choice of drink. Why?
I tried to understand.
Is it the taste? Is it the fact that you can immediately start drinking it and don’t have to wait until it’s cooled off? Is it that your body doesn’t even care about the cold anymore (because you’ve evolved into a real Northeasterner with immunity to cold) ? I’d LOVE TO KNOW.
Dunkin’ Donuts (of course) also did a little study about this phenomenon back in 2011, check out their insights here.
Are there any interesting food or drink habits you see around where you live? Let me know.
Have a lovely day, wherever you are.
And whatever drinks you choose to go for, you DO YOU.
how is it already December? HOW? I wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on the past couple of weeks and since it’s getting really cold and wintery around here share my Autumn favorites with you.
#1 Halloween Madness
I had told you that I was living in Halloween Central (read post here), remember? But boy oh boy, I didn’t expect the actual Halloween evening itself to be as big, as fun and as lovely as it turned out to be. Beacon Hill (the neighborhood I live in) has a a bit a reputation of being a rich people’s place (I mean I live a few feet away from John Kerry’s humble aboad, which definitely doesn’t seem too humble).
Also it doesn’t mean we’re living in a fancy city house (the contrary actually, it’s a super old building with radiators making so much noise in every room that it almost seems like they want to communicate with each other (which weirdly also makes me think about the flickering lights in Stranger Things?!!! Are our radiators trying to tell me something? We’ll explore this in my second Autumn favorite later own).
But back to Halloween. I seriously LOVED it. I would never have expected to like it as much as I did. The Boston Police Department closed down a few streets in the neighborhood, which made for a nice opportunity to stroll on the streets and take all the house decorations in as well as indulge in some serious people watching (aka staring. But not in a creepy way) as some reallly went all out. Dogs wearing lion manes, babies dressed up as cute vegetables and fruits and countless little superheroes, princesses and Wonder Womans (that seemed to be a thing this year?) walking around having a great time made it an unforgettable experience. Also, two dinosaurs wearing the same costume finding each other and having a little dance-off was definitely a highlight. You don’t get to see that every day, right?
#2 The Crown
I mean Season 2 is EVEN BETTER I think than Season 1. It’s just bloody brilliant. Watch it!
#3 Stranger Things
Yes, this is not an original input but WOW, how good is season 2 (except for that one weird episode they threw in there, didn’t like that one. You’ll know, which one I mean if you’ve seen it I’m sure). I feel you get to know the characters so much better.
Also, can we talk about Steve for a little bit? I mean his evolution from being a meh character in season 1 to becoming a crucial and positive part of the team in season 2 is just great. And. His hair. How does this even work?!
#4 The Confession Tapes
Another maybe less fun to watch but still so insightful true-crime documentary is the Confession Tapes. You’ll want to watch all the episodes at once as you won’t believe how people get themselves in scary situations where they will say pretty much anything investigators want them to. Seeing the material will make you shudder.
#5 Leggins Addiction
I have to report that the American leggins addiction has gotten a hold on me.
Yap. I am the person that will wear sports leggings now on a weekend day just to go out and run some errands. Will I keep up this habit when I’ll go back to Switzerland over Christmas? I don’t know.
If you happen to run into me on the streets of Zurich wearing my lululemon pants, you’ll know what’s up. Oh and the Black Friday and Cyber Monday and all those bad BAD incentives to make you buy more leggins you don’t really need. Don’t get me started on those.
#6 Thanksgiving Gratitude
I can safely say after about a year in the US and having seen all the American holidays that my favorite holidays by far are Halloween and Thanksgiving. We had a Friendsgiving dinner (thanks Megan!) the weekend before and a more intimate Thanksgiving dinner on the the day of with a good friend and it was just so nice. I love the idea of gratitude and that you get to spend time with family and friends. And the food isn’t too shabby, either.
#7 Korean Sheet Masks
Thanks to my friends Jiwon and Narrae for introducing me to Korean face sheet masks (like the real deal), I see why people everywhere get excited about them, they are AMAZING! If you can get hold of them, try it for yourself.
I love food and I love discovering new places. And once you found one you like, you should share it. That’s the right thing to do, isn’t it? If you’re not into restaurants, you’ll find my posts on my favorite Boston bakeries here and on my favorite Boston cafés here in case you missed them). So here comes my little list of spots that I love. And of course this is only a very small selection of personal favorites and never ever reflects all of the amazing places there are in Boston. Obviously.
I still want to go to so MANY restaurants (Oleana, Giulia, Eat by Chloe, … talking about you here). Also, if you have any other favorite places do let us know in the comments below.
Oh, the many many MANY times I went to Alden & Harlow. It was a LOT of times. When we still lived in Cambridge this spot on Brattle Street was a constant when friends and family would come over to stay with us. Birthday and Easter celebrations were had there and it’s a place that just won’t disappoint. It’s definitely also a place that will spark discussions about the food and will make you discover new flavors and combinations that are just great. Can you tell I like this place?
What they serve: Modern American cuisine, farm-to-table, great food meant to be shared.
This is one of my latest discoveries in the ever so beautiful South End. And to be honest I was a bit skeptical at first, as I am with lots of Italian restaurants here. But eating at Coppa definitely made me change my mind. This is a great spot, founded by local gastronomical heroes Ken Oringer & Jamie Bissonnette with a neighborhoody feel to it. Take a group of friends for a nice meal, you can share all the plates. The pasta is amazing as are the other dishes on the menu. Bonus: The music is great fun!
What they serve: Amazing Italian food, meant to be shared. WOW!
We’ve covered Italian and Modern American cuisine up until now, time to open up the stage for some Asian food. I am by no means an expert on the matter but I know that the food at Myers+Chang (another gastronomical power couple) is just delicious. The interiors are pretty cool, too and staff is really friendly!
What’s really cute is that they offer Cheap Date Nights every Monday + Tuesday from 5pm to 10pm. Each menu ($45 each) is designed to be a full dinner for two, but larger groups are also encouraged to order one or more date to share. Let us know how it was!
What they serve: An indie diner setting offering a mix of Chinese, Taiwanese, Thai, and Vietnamese specialties.
Little Donkey near Central Square is just all over the place. What I mean by saying that? The latest collaboration of Oringer & Bissonnette (see section about Coppa above) will take you on a trip around the world with a menu full of global small plates that are meant to be shared. Great place, great cocktails. A little dark in terms of lighting. But heyo that won’t stop us, right?
What they serve: International sharing plates. Go for the Charred Avocado, best thing E-V-E-R.
The moment you enter this space your mood will brighten up. I don’t know what they do or how they do it. But. It. Works. It’s a big and generous space near Kendall Square where you’ll find all the bagels, Rachels, Reubens, potato knishes, pastrami sandwiches your Jewish foodie heart desires. A great place for any meal of the day all week through from Monday to Sunday.
So this is NOT your regular salad place. It is much more. It is muuuuch better. There are three locations in Boston (Back Bay, Prudential Center and Downtown Crossing). If you ever find yourself in the area and want to go for a healthy yet filling option, this is the place! Bonus: They buy their produce and meats from local farms, they change up their menu depending on the seasons and also offer lots of veggie options. Also, their interiors are just #goals.
Voted one of America’s best new restaurants in 2016 by bon appetit Magazine, this beautiful space in Somerville near Union Square is just a great little spot for any time of day. Whether you’re looking for a small breakfast, a brunch at the weekend, a lunch or even a very unique dining experience, it’s the place to go.
What they serve: Great food! (very original I know).
I’ll be honest here. I’ve been to Loyal Nine’s Café several times and went for brunch and it always was amazing. However, out of the two times I went there for dinner, while one visit was great (great cocktails and beers selection), the second visit turned out to be a little disappointing. But hey, go there for great breakfast and café food and the best brunch, it won’t disappoint. The concept is interesting and it’s probably food you’ve never eaten that way before. Intrigued? Plus: It’s a beautiful space with beautiful tableware (seriously!) and super friendly staff.
What they serve: Seasonal coastal New England fare, influenced by the early settlers, meant to be shared.
So. Massachusetts is known for the Red Sox, the Patriots, notoriously bad (LIKE REALLY bad) drivers, their infamous Boston accents and last but not least Dunkin’ Donuts.
It was time we had a little chat about Dunkin’ Donuts. It’s such an iconic brand from New England. America runs on Dunkin’ also seems to be a pretty accurate statement when you consider there are more than 10,000 Dunkin’ Donuts locations in the U.S. and 60 percent of their annual revenue comes from coffee. Also, can we just take a moment to look at this interesting logo?
Dunkin’ Donuts History in a Nutshell
It all began in 1948 with a donut and coffee restaurant in Quincy, MA called “Open Kettle.” Founder William Rosenberg served donuts for five cents and premium cups of coffee for ten cents. The place was renamed “Dunkin’ Donuts” in 1950.
Since 1950, the number of Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants has increased to more than 12,000 worldwide, with locations in 45 countries making it one of the biggest fast food giants. The company serves approximately 1.9 billion cups of hot and iced coffee every year. Over the long-term, the company plans to more than double its U.S. presence, which will put the total number of restaurants above 17,000.
A Few Things I’m Sure You Didn’t Know About Dunkin’
#1 The company’s executive chef, Stan Frankenthaler, is a three-time James Beard Award nominee (in other words, a real food professional)
#2 Dunkin’ Donuts is all the rage in Korea
The chain’s largest international market is the Korean one with nearly 1,000 stores. Unlike in the US, patrons are allowed to pick donuts themselves off shelves, cups are paper (not Styrofoam), and the most popular drink is a shot of espresso and hot water (called an Americano).
#3 The sizing is pretty unique (aka big)
Compared to their competitors Dunkin’ has pretty unique cup sizing. Their “Medium” is a whopping 24 ounces while their “Small” is 16 ounces. Starbucks’ equivalent of a medium, “Grande,” is 16 ounces and its small (“Tall”) is the standard 8 ounces. Considering that Dunkin’ is still cheaper I know why lots of people choose to go there.
# 4 New York is obsessed with Dunkin’s
The chain has more locations in New York’s five boroughs than Starbucks, McDonald’s, and Papa John’s combined. That’s around 600 stores in NYC alone! Crazy, right?
What to get at Dunkin’ Donuts
Should I add if it’s your only option? Ok that’d be mean but being honest with you, despite walking by a million Dunkin’s every day I might only have stepped a foot into a store one or two times. Still, I’ll go into one this week and will let you know. You know how I feel about doughnuts, so I just might have to give them or their munchkins (mini doughballs) a try. Let me know if you have any recommendations of things you really like at Dunkin’s?
it’s going to be Halloween next week and let me tell you one thing:
People here LOVE Halloween.
Tell me something new Sandra you’re thinking. I know. Still, we have to talk about it, since it’s my first time experiencing the whole thing in the US. You can book graveyard ghost tours, pirate harbor cruises or go to Halloween pub crawls. Everyone loves to decorate their houses with weird decorations (I saw tombstones people and dog skeletons wearing sports tricots?!) and spiders and I don’t know…is it just the skeptical European in me that doesn’t really get all the hype around the witches, vampires, pumpkins and weird candy stuff related to Halloween?
Still, I volunteered at the Pumpkin Float at the Boston Common last week and went to a Halloween party (one of the many many this weekend). I’ll admit it, I love seeing all the pumpkins on display out in the streets and I get the fun part about it. Which other holiday allows you to dress up as Princess Leia, Eleven from Stranger Things (whoa, seen the new season?), your favorite M&M, as a mermaid or even your favorite action hero or animal? I see it, I appreciate the creativity in it. But other than that, Halloween doesn’t really appeal to me (other than maybe the fancy limited candy editions in stores, ha).
Anyhow, as I live in a neighborhood that is famous for its decorations I thought I’d take you along for a little stroll. Apparently, it gets super crowded on October 31st, as everyone comes to see the decorations.
What do you think about Halloween? Do you love it? Let me know in the comments below. If you are celebrating, have a happy Halloween everyone!
If you know anything about me it’s that I LOVE bread and pastries. Like REALLY. So if I find a place I like I’ll be sure to let everyone know around me. Without further ado, here comes a list of my favorite bakeries in Boston and around.
Don’t miss this one! This place is absolutely worth the trip out of town to Cambridge/Watertown. They have excellent coffee, creative drinks (try the orange blossom lemonade, absolutely stunning), baked goods, and food (all with that delicious Middle Eastern flare). It can get crowded during peak hours as the place isn’t huge, there’s a nice outdoor seating space though, weather permitting. You can also combine a visit to Sofra with a walk around the beautiful Mount Auburn Cemetery.
This mini mini tiny tiny bakery tucked away in a sidestreet in Brookline claims to make European bread and pastries. Being the critical European you are you go in with a bit of a skeptical attitude. But you know what? Clear Flour really does make great bread, baguettes, ficelles, croissants and pastries. You got my European stamp of approval. Go folks!
Founded by local gastro superstar and Harvard ’91 graduate Joanne Chang this bakery is an option like Tatte where you simply can’t go wrong. Also a great option if you’re out and about with a group of friends as it offers a lot of different options like the best sandwiches I’ve had in town, salads, sweets and coffee.
We used to live right across a Hi-Rise Bread Company café and it just really is a great neighborhood coffee shop with irresistible pastries, great bread and creative sandwiches. There’s no wifi, which is either a pro or a con depending on what you’re there for but other than that it’s a great quality breads and overall just a nice place for a down to earth breakfast or brunch outing.
Another amazing local Cambridge hero is Iggy’s Bread. I first got to know about Iggy’s Bread as I was volunteering at a Food Shelter where they always donated fresh bread. I always ended up volunteering to cut up the bread as it just smelled and looked SO delicious (#truestory). I was curious to find out more and went to their store close to Fresh Pond. It is a great spot for any bread lover! Let me know what you thought!
Americans, you definitely know how to put on a show.
We went to see two basketball games over the last 7 days. One at TD Garden (Boston Celtics against the Milwaukee Buicks) and the other one was the Crimson Madness at the newly renovated Lavietes Pavilion. After seeing two baseball games in Fenway Park and a NBA and a College Basketball game it is pretty clear to me (Red Sox fans close your eyes or stop reading) that basketball is just SO SO MUCH more interesting and fun to watch. If you want to know more about our basketball adventures you may read on.
What is Crimson Madness you ask? I didn’t know either, so let’s get that out of the way first. Crimson Madness officially kicks off the 2017-18 Harvard Men’s Basketball season.
And, let me tell you, it was a very entertaining evening.
As images always do a better job at conveying a feeling or atmosphere I’ve included the official little recap that the HarvardAthletics account posted on Youtube a couple of days ago.
So here’s what’s happened as advertised before the game:
Special welcome from Coach Tommy Amaker
Pregame dunk contest
FREE team photos and rosters
Post-game autograph session
It was really impressive seeing how professional the set-up with all the analysts, team assistants, journalists, screens, cheerleaders, dance teams, athletes and trainers looked. I almost don’t wanna say it but seeing the whole thing made me realize that many European professional teams would have a hard time competing with that. Ok that might be a bit exaggerated but still, you get the gist. Harvard Basketball have their s*** together.
Overall, it was an interesting American experience, with the national anthem playing at the beginning, an inspirational address by coach Amaker, new and current players were introduced as if they were super rockstars entering the arena, free shirts were thrown into the audience, cheerleaders and dance teams presented their choreographies, food and snacks and you get the picture. After a short intra-squad game people would even go down to see the players and ask for their autographs.
If any of you are local readers, check out Harvard Athletics schedule here, it’s worth taking your friends and family out to a game as it was great fun!
A phenomena that I’ve come across here in the US over and over again, no matter where I go, is that food trucks are incredibly popular. Way more than in Europe. They literally are everywhere on university campuses such as Harvard or MIT, actually on any bigger place in downtown in the midst of all the office buildings and spread around the city. Heck, the city of Boston even has an official food truck map and a schedule sorted by neighborhood on their website (check it out here if you’re a local reader and wish to know when you’re favorite food truck will stop nearby you). There are food truck festivals basically every weekend. Yes. We take our food trucks seriously around here.
The popularity of Food Trucks in the US
After the recession the popularity of food truck has gotten a huge boost as many people that got laid off decided to take the risk of running their own business. These mobile restaurants are more affordable than a “real restaurant” and as they run on volume they can reach high sales pretty quickly. What type of food would you serve up in your own food truck if you ever were to open one? (I looooved the Cookie Monstahfood truck, AH-MAZING cookies).
moving house in the US is an adventure. We will move house by the end of the month and the apartment hunt was definitely quite different from what I’ve experienced so far in Europe. Let’s dig a little deeper.
#1 More people are involved in the apartment hunt
While you usually have an interested renter and a landlord in the mix in Switzerland, you’ll most likely have a a broker, a landlord, an owner and an interested renter talking to each other when apartment hunting around here. Many people use a real estate agent to find a place, which usually comes with a 1-month fee, which you will pay in addition to first, last, and security.
#2 Most apartment leases begin on September 1st
With such a large student population, it makes sense for the Boston rental market to operate on a September 1st schedule. Still, moving day is organized chaos it seems (I’ll see it in a week and will report back). The streets become parking lots for trucks and vans, the sidewalks become homes for unwanted furniture. In one part of the city called Allston there’s so much chaos going on that people lovingly call it Allston Christmas. It basically means that everything that renters don’t take with them ends up on the streets. Yum. It looks a little bit like that. Still, people from other parts of town know about Allston Christmas and will show up to get the things for free.
#3 You might have to sleep with your furniture for one night
What sounds like a weird exaggeration might actually be true for some people. As EVERYONE’s old lease ends on August 31st and EVERYONE’s new lease starts September 1 you basically have a problem. If possible, contact the current tenant of your new apartment to schedule moving times. Sometimes you’re lucky and you’ll be able to move in earlier. If not you’ll have to find a storage or pod for storing your furniture for a night. YES. Weird, right?
#4 You don’t have time to “think about it”
If you’re buying something like a couch, you get to shop around, take a while to think about which one you like, go see a few more and then make the best choice for you. If you’re looking for apartments, you do NOT get that luxury. You should assume 4 or 5 other people are trying to rent any apartment you see. You have to pretty much decide on the spot if you want a place or not. That was definitely a new experience for me. Apparently, most apartments in Cambridge are usually only on the market for less than a week.
We were basically standing in the kitchen of an apartment we liked and after 10 minutes of looking around were already talking to the broker about the deposit and application process. We went home (it was 5pm in the afternoon) and filled out all the forms that night and also had to wire them the deposit. It went pretty fast to say the least. NO comparison to the slow process in Switzerland.
#5 Don’t touch anything you find on the street in Allston
Going back to #2, Allston Christmas might sound like fun, but it’s not. In fact, Allston Christmas is the least sanitary time of the year.
How was your weekend? Mine was pretty pretty AH-MA-ZING. Why you ask? Because I kind of met someone really special. I met Adriene. Adriene from Yoga with Adriene. YES, I know. It was just such a beautiful day. But. Everything in order.
Wanderlust 108 – What it is
Wanderlust 108 is full day celebration in support of the mindful movement, featuring a triathlon consisting of a 5K run, an outdoor yoga flow class, and a guided meditation. Following the triathlon, you can take one scheduled activity, such as acroyoga, walking meditation etc. There are also local vendors offering organic food and crafts, and charitable organizations making an impact in your local community.
Photo: Scarlet Roots
My buddy Sophie and I started off the 5K along the Charles River feeling strong and motivated, which led me to finish at my PB of around 25 minutes. Thanks for the great vibes, Soph!
We then had a quick wonder around the market, tried some foods, chilled and had a coffee before going to the yoga class that I was looking forward so much to (see further explanation down below as to why I was excited for it). While the morning had been a bit cloudy and fresh the morning and afternoon turned out to be sunny and warm.
Adriene and me (insert heart eyed emoji here)
Awww, where to begin. So first off, if you’ve been around from the veeery early beginnings on you might remember my American Bucket list (if that doesn’t ring a bell, check it out here). I stated in said list that I would love to get a photo with Adriene and if you scroll down you see exactly that. A photo of Adriene and myself. Still can’t believe it. She is genuinely just the nicest person and I want to be her friend.
She did such a good job, she was funny, kind, intelligent and generous. Just an awesome yoga teacher and an even more amazing person in real life.
I was really sweating after all day spent in the sun, running and doing yoga so I think I first apologized to her for being sweaty (cool move, Sandra…NOT). Some ‘how to…not small talk’ insight for you right there.
Do NOT talk about how sweaty you are.
Still, the amazingly kind and warm-hearted person she is, she asked me about my name, how my day was going so far. I must have said something (everything is a bit of a blur to be honest because I was so E-X-C-I-T-E-D). Anyways, that’s boring for you. What I’m trying to get across though, always believe in achieving your goals or dreams, someday they will become a reality. Would I have thought 6 months ago that Adriene would hug my sweaty self? Nope. See?
Wanderlust coming to Europe?
Fellow European readers, I’ve got good news for you. There will be Wanderlust events coming to Switzerland and Europe as well, check all the details out here and be sure to let me know how it went! You’ll enjoy it I’m sure. Let’s go!