Bacon and Beer Fest 2012: Probably Not Going Again

April 29, 2012 at 11:47 PM (Events, Food) (, , )

Yesterday was what was supposed to be one of the happiest days of the year – right up there with my birthday, Christmas and the first day that Oktoberfests hit the shelves – EAT’s Bacon and Beer Festival 2012. I was lucky enough to attend last year, and it had been about three hours of pure bliss, filled with bacon-inspired dishes from some of Boston’s greatest eateries and some uncommon beers from local breweries. Brittany, meet your element. This year, I wish I could hold that same enthusiasm.

While both concept and goal (benefiting local hunger relief organizations Lovin’ Spoonfuls and Community Servings) remained unchanged, two deal-breaking details did: attendance and venue. I anticipated that there would be crowds and lines. I did not anticipate so much of both that the overall experience would suffer. After 45 minutes of waiting in line to get in to House of Blues, my foodie friend and I were eager to make our way to the first station. If only we could find it: it was hard to tell with all the other attendees trying to figure out what was a line and what was just a mess of people. Earlier in the day I had entertained dreams of taking pictures of every station so I’d be able to blog about my favourites later. I now look back at that dream and have to laugh at my ignorant optimism. Half the time I was lucky when I realized what I was even waiting in line for.

While downstairs was a train wreck, upstairs was nothing short of a death wish (and at least 10 degrees hotter), with masses of people crammed along the walls trying to score some bacon, beer or fresh air. I wouldn’t describe myself as claustrophobic, but there had to be some break in fire code, if nothing else – wouldn’t that stress you out?

I was tolerant for a while until I learned of an offense even greater than fire code violation: exhaustion of provisions. Not even halfway into the event, and already at least three (that I knew of, maybe more) vendors were out of bacon. Unacceptable. There was plenty of bacon ice cream, but tough noogies if you wanted meatballs, beer-zpacho or nachos. Bacon ice cream was a cool idea the first time. Afterward, it just got annoying (especially if you didn’t realize you were waiting for it again). once I found out that food was disappearing, I didn’t stick around long afterward. I had experienced enough disillusionment for one day.

Last year had been hectic, but Royale had proven to be less of a death-trap venue-wise, and I don’t recall as many vendors packing up and leaving so early there, either. Like SXSW, the Bacon and Beer Fest may have become too popular for me to fully appreciate attending. Unless the venue changes and/or fewer people attend next year, you may be hard-pressed to find me among the masses.

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January Networking Events: Where Will You Be?

January 2, 2012 at 4:10 PM (Events) (, , , , , )

We all (should) know by now how much I love talking to strangers about public relations and the like, and what better way to do that than via industry networking events? Below is a rudimentary list of goings-on this month that I’d consider attending. For some reason I don’t hear about most events until a few days beforehand, so if you know of any others, send them my way and I’ll see about adding them here.

Beantown Social, January 16 – Boston
http://www.eventbrite.com/event/2536095530/esearch?srnk=8
A free mix-and-mingle for social media folks at Sonsie, in Boston’s Back Bay. 21+. UPDATE: This event is booked, but there’s a waiting list. Who knows? If I don’t go maybe you’ll get my ticket.

Bruins Pre-game Meet-up, January 19 – Boston
http://bit.ly/xwQw1F
The Social Media Club of Boston and LPP are partnering up at the Greatest Bar for a little pre-game networking in advance of the Bruins/Devils game. Go B’s!

Boston Media Makers at NIGHT, January 22 – Boston
http://bostonmediamakersatnight2012.eventbrite.com/
Back at Sonsie for some schmoozing, pizza, and an optional regifting-tastic Yankee Swap extravaganza.

BostInno Meet Up, January 24 – Boston
https://www.eventbrite.com/register?orderid=64380364403&ebtv=C&eid=2557144488&client_token=noqueue
Like beer, networking and BostInno? Of course you do. Swing by, rub some elbows and have a good time.

Boston’s Media Best, January 24 – Boston
http://www.pubclub.org/upcoming-programs
Details TBA from the Publicity Club of New England.

3rd Annual #MegaTweetup, January 24 – Cambridge
http://megatweetup3.eventbrite.com/
A tweet-up celebrating tweet-ups. This thing is probably going to be monstrous, taking place at the Microsoft NERD Center.

How to Use Rich Media to Create Winning Campaigns, January 24 – Cambridge
http://prsaboston.org/meetinginfo.php?id=10&ts=1324659383
Head over to the Microsoft NERD Center to hear about how important it is to liven up content with media to tell a compelling story, courtesy of PRSA.

Where will you be this month?

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Follow-up: Savored (Formerly Known as VillageVines) Now in Boston!

December 21, 2011 at 2:17 AM (Food, Uncategorized) (, , , , )

In June 2010 (I know, it seems like forever ago), I blogged about a company that I described as “Gilt for Restaurants,” at the time known as VillageVines, closing with the hope that the New York start-up would eventually come to Boston. In June 2011 (goodness, I have to get with the program here), my wish came true.

Along with a little re-branding, the artist formerly known as VillageVines, now Savored, is in Boston at last, currently offering insider pricing at 16 area restaurants. As a refresher, in case you don’t feel like reading my original post, Savored partners with restaurants to give diners solid discounts during off-peak times. In most cities, the discount is 30 percent, but due to Boston’s laws against discounting liquor, the discount is 40 percent on food only. After paying a $10 fee to reserve your table, just show up, remind your server you booked through Savored and enjoy your budget-friendlier meal. Pretty rad, right? Oh, and if your discount doesn’t cover the reservation fee, Savored refunds it for you. Win!

Restaurants Currently on Savored
Artbar
Blu Boston
Central Kitchen
Da Vinci Ristorante
Gran Gusto
Lumiere
Mantra
Mumbai Chopstix
Nubar
Skipjacks (Both Newton and Back Bay)
Temple Bar
Tomasso Trattoria & Entoteca
Tremont647
Woodward

Check it out and sign up. Or if you’ve already signed up, let me know what you think in the comments!

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A Night of Delicious: Taste, from Boston Magazine

November 22, 2011 at 1:02 AM (Food, Happenings) (, , , )

Have I mentioned that I love the fruits borne to me by Twitter recently? No? Well… I love them. Most recently, I scored a pair of VIP tickets to Taste, “Boston’s premier tasting event,” brought to you by Boston magazine by way of a @BostonTweet freebie (woohoo!!). Given my love of almost all things edible, this was definitely something for me to salivate over. Last  Monday, I was lucky enough to sample bite-sized delights from 28 of Boston’s “hottest restaurants”* at the Museum of Science, and all I have to say is that I wish I was capable of eating more so that I could have stayed and enjoyed longer (being fun-sized does have its occasional disadvantages).

The munchables ranged from octopus to foi gras to borscht to frozen custard to bagels – no palate was left unsatisfied. I wish my phone battery hadn’t been drained at the event I attended earlier that evening, as educational as it was (thank you, PubClub), because it’s impossible for me to connect every noteworthy morsel to its respective restaurant, but at the very least, I can give you a list of the restaurants that participated in this fancy-pants event.

It’s okay to be green with envy. It was awesome. My only advice for next year’s event is to add high-top tables, because balancing a drink and a snack in a pair of heels is difficult without some assistance. Other than that, a pretty killer event, thanks to Boston magazine and for me, the magic of Twitter. God bless the Interwebs.

*Atlantic Fish, I don’t care if you weren’t there. I still love you.

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Ages Later . . . #AskBostonTweet Lives!

April 21, 2011 at 2:36 AM (Happenings) (, , , , , , , )

Remember that post I had stickied to my blog not too long ago, asking you very nicely to tweet your questions for @BostonTweet using the hashtag #AskBostonTweet? Well, you did tweet your questions, and Tom O’Keefe/ @BostonTweet was nice enough to to answer most of them – I would have asked all of them, but Twitter ate a couple.

The official video for RaceTalk is included below, but stay tuned for the director’s cuts, which will include bloopers (mostly me laughing hysterically and losing my place) and the questions that weren’t included on the agency blog. Enjoy!

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Now’s Your Chance to #AskBostonTweet

April 4, 2011 at 7:51 AM (Happenings) (, , , , , , )

I recently started writing for my agency‘s blog, RaceTalk. Following my first post not too long ago, I eagerly sent my mother a link to show her that yes, my college degree wasn’t going to waste. She Emailed me a short while later to say that she learned a lot from my post, and oh, by the way, she found a typo.

Thanks, Mom!

I haven’t been discouraged from contributing to RaceTalk, though. Rather, I figured I’d just work around my flawed typographical skills, and switch to a new media platform: video. Onto the meat of this post.

Many of you who read my blog are active on Twitter, or are at least familiar with it. Either way, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Tom O’Keefe, or more likely his Twitter persona, @BostonTweet.

BostonTweet was created […] as a way to create awareness for local business in a down economy.Got questions for @BostonTweet? Tweet 'em to #AskBostonTweet! Tom developed BostonTweet in November 2008 when the financial markets were at a precipitous decline and his two former startups had become worthless after the crash. Fearing that Boston would become a 1929 ghost town, O’Keefe created BostonTweet to make sure everyone knew that our favorite restaurants and bars were still open and needed our business for survival. Needing a very economical platform to promote local business, Twitter was hands down the best application to talk about everything Boston.
— Gotta love “About” pages, right?

Anyhoo, over the last couple of years, @BostonTweet has developed into somewhat of a hyper-local Twitterlebrity, with almost 30,000 folks following him on Twitter for updates on Boston goings-on, including special events, Boston city-living, food and drink deals, burritos, and his whereabouts. While we have oodles of social media gurus telling us how businesses can benefit from social media, we’ve got a guy in Boston who is demonstrating it before our very eyes.

Now, if you’re at all like me, you may have a couple of questions for this guy: how was the idea of @BostonTweet conceived (why not Facebook, or a blog or forum), and what made it take off the way it did? Can a man truly live on burritos and beer alone? What’s next for social media-fueled citizen journalism? And seriously, what’s with the burritos?

I have wonderful news for you: the man, myth and legend behind BostonTweet has agreed to a video interview (see, there was a point to the beginning of this post) on Thursday evening, April 7. Between now and then, tweet your questions for BostonTweet using the hashtag #AskBostonTweet. We’ll pick out a few gems to answer on Thursday evening, then post his answers to your questions – and a couple of mine – on Friday, April 8. Start tweeting!

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Learn to Ballroom Dance without Slaughtering Your Wallet

January 9, 2011 at 9:05 PM (Dance) (, , )

I’m going to start this off with a disclaimer: Vladimyr Derisier is a friend of mine, and we both performed on the RLJ Formation Team back in days of dance yore.  That said, I still think this is a pretty good deal.

It all started when a friend of mine sent me a link to the latest CBS Boston Deal, saying “These names looked familiar, thought you may know them.”  It was a coupon for three private ballroom dance lessons for $90.00.  Sure enough, I did recognise the names, and quite well.  I knew Lilia through the dance realm, and I was so close with Vlad that I dragged him to a holiday party as my date once (Thanks, Vlad!).Vladimyr Derisier Lindsay Norton ballroom dance rhythm Giddy about the deal simply because I knew the people associated with it, I messaged Vlad to call him a coupon.  Once we established that I did not have Turrets Syndrome and briefly caught up, he asked me a small favour to “wag my tongue” about a new deal at his studio.  Commence shameless plug!

In addition to their CBS deal, Ballroom in Boston is trying out a new package deal: unlimited group classes and a social pass for $40.00 a month.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the financial requirements of taking ballroom classes, allow me to crunch some numbers for you:

Group classes typically cost between $10 and $15 each (they are $10 at Ballroom in Boston).  Socials cost about the same.

If you want to be conservative and only take one class a week and two socials a month, you’re spending at least $60 a month already.

Let’s be realistic, though: dance is awesome, and you get sucked into taking three classes a week and four socials a month.  Now one week costs you $40, and at the end of the month you’re out $160.  Where did you find that money tree, and was there another one??

Okay, so now let’s go above and beyond: Ballroom in Boston offers 16 classes a week (give or take), and you love them ALL, and of course you have to show off your moves every week at the social. That’s $170 per week, and $680 per month.  Perhaps I should have looked into a career in brain surgery.

But wait!  What do you mean you can save $660 and still take all those classes!?  Now go ahead and tell me a $40.00 unlimited pass isn’t an excellent purchase decision.

Today’s Tunes
“Careful Where You Stand,” Coldplay
“Lover Lay Down,” Dave Matthews Band
“King of Pain,” Alanis Morissette

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Strike Three, Jacob Wirth

October 18, 2010 at 3:39 AM (Food, Musings) (, , , , )

At this point I would like to point out that Jacob Wirth features a stunning beer selection, tasty rosemary chicken burgers and a nifty interior.  And that is every nice thing I have to say about it.  Too bad my one negative thing – in my opinion – far outweighs those three nice things:

The service sucks.  So much.

As a former Starbucks barista, I know that everyone in customer service has their bad days, and as a result, it takes a lot to irritate me as a customer. That said, Jacob Wirth has succeeded not once, but thrice in getting under my skin, and not in that enjoyable Frank Sinatra way.

A friend and fellow beer-drinker didn’t have to try very hard to convince me to check out a German beer house boasting countless brews that I couldn’t pronounce properly if you held a gun to my head.  We got there and at first glance, I thought I had found my metaphorical Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory, only better because, well, beer.

After sitting down at a bar table, it took a solid 15 minutes for a server to show up.  If only we had a menu to figure out what we wanted to drink first while we were waiting for her: once our server left to “give us a minute” to decide, we had another 10 minutes to pore over our options, and it really only took us two.  This process of our server being MIA for unreasonably extended periods of time repeated itself over the course of the evening.  My buddy was visibly irritated, but I withheld judgment.  As I mentioned earlier, I’m all for second chances.

But the service didn’t improve the second time.  Or even the third time.  In fact, I’m pretty sure the quality deteriorated with each visit.  Even when we got the “good” server – or so I was told (my fellow beer enthusiast has spent more time there than I) – I was amazed by not only the poor service, but how unapologetic it was.  The only time we saw our server more than once in a ten-minute window was when they were rushing us away from the table to another party could suffer.

It’s a shame because Jacob Wirth does have one of the most impressive beer lists I’ve ever seen in my short lifetime, but for me, it’s just not worth the frustration. If you have loads of time and patience, do stop in for a weisbier.  Otherwise, venture elsewhere.

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New Desserts at Atlantic Fish Co.

September 7, 2010 at 2:42 AM (Food) (, , , )

Last week I was faced with the torture of sampling four of the new desserts that Atlantic Fish Co. has added to its menu.  I know, my life is so wrought with tribulation; I can sense your preemptive pity as I draft this post.  Seeing as they were all pretty delicious, I thought I’d share so you’ll know why you should save room for dessert when you go.

The brownie sundae. Your typical decadence dish features two large brownie slices sandwiching a couple scoops of vanilla ice cream, a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkling of chopped walnuts.  Top that with a drizzle of hot fudge and caramel, and it’s no wonder the gentleman sitting next to me observed, “I’ve seen people spend thousands of dollars trying to buy happiness: it would seem you have accomplished that for $9.00.

The warm chocolate and macadamia nut cookies. While tasty, I wouldn’t make a special trip to Atlantic for these.  That said, the two cookies (one chocolate chip, one macadamia) are freshly baked and arrive with a dose of chocolate sauce and are great for the less adventuresome eater post-dinner.

The New York cheesecake. Served with banana foster skirting the plate, the one word I can use to describe this dish is “rich.”  The second word I can use is “ridiculously.”  I’m not a huge fan of super-heavy desserts, so this one wasn’t my favourite, but it’s definitely made right, and another gentleman who ordered was clearly in a state of culinary bliss after his first bite.

The seasonal fruit crisp. Oh.  Em.  Gee (That’s “OMG,” or “Oh My God,” for you folks who a) don’t really follow my thought process or b) don’t use the Internets very much – in either case, why are you here??).  This saintly crumble was perfect on a late August evening, featuring mangoes, blueberries, probably some sugar, and a torched top.  Unfortunately my culinary prep vocab is incredibly stunted, so I’m not sure how exactly it’s prepared, but I’ll get back to you on the details.  Suffice to say for now that it’s freakin’ incredible.

Salivating yet?  Get thee to Atlantic Fish Co.!

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Dining at Atlantic Fish Co.

August 14, 2010 at 8:36 PM (Food) (, , , , , )

To say I went to Atlantic Fish Co. in search of the best seafood in Boston would be a bold-faced lie.  In truth, I really just wanted a beer.  After a long shift at Starbucks, it doesn’t take much to improve your outlook on life.

atlantic fish co logo bostonI strolled in one early weekday afternoon to find myself the only person at the bar (may it be known that I had stumbled in during a rare window of time: on weekends and during dinner time there’s rarely a seat in the house).  As I studied the draught  options, I saw a label I didn’t recognise: Hoegaarden.  Luckily, the bar manager is a walking encyclopedia when it comes to beer, wine and spirits.  He told me it was the beer that Blue Moon aspired to be (only more eloquently; I’m no good when it comes to describing beer) and I was sold.  Mission accomplished: it was the perfect thirst-quencher on that warm spring day.  Ladies and gentlemen, ask for Joe if you’re at Atlantic’s bar and need a drink recommendation.  He hasn’t failed me yet.

Given my positive first experience at the Fish, I figured I should revisit to check out the dining options.  It’s not like it was a difficult commute, being two doors down from Starbucks, and I’d been craving some fish for a while, conveniently enough.  I won’t bore you with the world’s longest narrative of everything I’ve tried and loved there, but I will tell you that I haven’t had a bad dish, yet.  Some details, however, that may be of interest:

oysters atlantic fish coThe food is a little pricey (entrees range anywhere from $24 to $32, on average), but well worth it.  Atlantic prints its menus daily, featuring several “Catch of the Day” options, which can be prepared almost any way you could want, along with a variety of specialty entrees, appetisers, side dishes and meals to share.  A couple of my favourite specialty dishes include the pan-seared seabass (served with a delectable lobster ravioli) and the lemon sole, served in a white wine sauce(? Not entirely certain on that) and pancetta.  If you’re not into the fancy-pants side of seafood, no worries: the fish and chips are pretty darned good, too.  Full menus are available for download on Atlantic’s site.

The service is the real reason why I keep going back (PR intern’s hourly wage really doesn’t justify the price).  However, while most (99%) of my visits take place at the bar, I often chat with a couple of the servers during the course of my meal.  Not a single person who works for Atlantic is rude or condescending – something I can’t say for several restaurants on Newbury St. that have similar price tags attached to their menus.  All of the hostesses and managers are incredibly warm and accommodating, and the entire bar staff has not only tolerated my incessant sarcasm and commentary, but has perhaps even encouraged it.  A little.  I always receive my drinks and meal in a timely fashion, even during weekend rushes.  These folks know how to keep their bustling establishment running smoothly.

Other small pros: two television sets that are ALWAYS broadcasting the current Boston sports game, nice interior with the suggestion of a nautical theme, great location on Boylston street.

Stop in and check it out!  They’re participating in Boston’s 2010 Restaurant Week, so take advantage of their 3-course lunch special!

Today’s Tunes
“The Middle,” Jimmy Eat World
“Never Let You Go,” Third Eye Blind
“How’s It Going to Be,” Third Eye Blind
“I Miss You (acoustic),” Incubus
“Alive with the Glory of Love,” Say Anything

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