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America's Hot for Hot Sauces

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, March 21, 2016

I have my moments with hot sauce. There will be months where I'll just completely hate it, and months where I'll put it in everything, even my cereal (I'm kidding, but I hear hot sauce and corn flakes is quite the delicacy). No matter how much I hate it, or love it occasionally, hot sauce is everywhere. At my favorite Mexican place in Miami, there is literally an entire rack of hot sauce. Who knew there was more than just Tabasco and Sriracha? Apparently not me. Hot sauce is such a thing right now, you'll hear about it in Beyonce's latest song: I got hot sauce in my bag, swag. Beyonce isn't even making that up, you can actually have hot sauce in your bag, with sriracha's new portable bottle. Find it here. You're welcome.


In spirit of the fiery condiment, and my on and off relationship with it, I decided to find some of the best ones for you. I'm going to relay them to you in order of spice level. If you're a wimp like me, and the simple thought of a jalapeno seed makes you want to cry, you should stop reading after the second or third brand.

Gochujang

Bear with me, I can't really pronounce this so let me spell it out phonetically: Goh - choo - jong. Okay, there we go. This hot sauce is essentially the Korean version of Sriracha. Made from dried red chiles, rice powder, and soybean paste, it's definitely the mildest out of the group - kind of like a chile based ketchup. Wimp away my fellow wimps, this one is for you.

Texas Pete

This one is like the frat star of hot sauces. It's extremely American and it's proud of it. Started in North Carolina, legend has it the prideful hot sauce was set to be named "Mexican Pete." Coming from North Carolina, the dad of the hot sauce's creator just wouldn't have it. So I guess after a few U-S-A's and beers,  Texas Pete was born. I'm including it here because it's kind of like a watered down Louisiana hot sauce, so I highly recommend putting it in your buffalo dip.

Frank's RedHot

I'd call this the older brother of the frat star above. They're both fantastic, but this one just has a little bit more experience in the hot sauce department. This is the tried and true Louisiana hot sauce you've been looking for. Fun fact, this was the hot sauce that was originally used in the first ever buffalo wing sauce. If you're a lover of spicier buffalo style hot sauce, I'd go with this one over his younger brother Pete.

Huy Fond Foods Sriracha

 This hot sauce is seriously legendary. The recipe came all the way from a small town named Si Racha, in Thailand, and most recently, it's made quite the impression in the US. The rooster branded LA based company makes its sauce with a blend of red jalapenos, garlic, sugar, salt and vinegar. It's far superior to the classic red hot sauce, it has a thicker consistency and a deeper flavor. This and tabasco are the two hot sauces I never grow sick of.


Tabasco

This is my absolute favorite hot sauce ever. I know, it's like the most basic of all hot sauces, but it's also the most delicious. Being the hot sauce wimp that I am, I love the green Tabasco more than anything, but the red one if just as fantastic. Every time I order a bloody mary, you'll see me kissing my green bottle, and immediately filling my drink with it. Don't just take my love and word for it, it also just happens to be America's numero uno hot sauce. Good job USA.


Cholula

Okay, I'm only including this one for you guys because I can't actually have it ever. The only time I've ever tried it, slowly turned into one of the most horrifying experiences I've ever had. Relay for Life, circa 2013, I decided to grab some Qdoba for dinner (what was I thinking?). I couldn't find my friend Tabasco, so I went for the Cholula. Everyone always told me it was WAY better than Tabasco - I stupidly believed them. I doused my chix burrito with the stuff, and about an hour later once I was back at Relay, I had an allergic reaction. I turned into Angelina Jolie's ugly younger sister. My lips were the size of Texas (sorry, Pete), and I could feel my face puffing up. I don't know what it is, but I just can't have Cholula. You, my dear reader, most likely won't have the same reaction I did because I have some weird food aversions (i.e. Cholula and bananas), so take the leap and try it for yourself. It's a little bit spicier than Sriracha, since its base pepper is 7 times hotter than a jalapeno, and it tastes like what a true Mexican hot sauce should. Who knows? You may end up looking like Angelina Jolie's hotter younger sister.

Nando's Hot Peri-Peri Sauce

This hot sauce is so real, it doesn't even have any food coloring in it. I'm letting you know now, it's brown. So no, it's not expired. Piri piri, in Swahili, translates directly to pepper pepper, and refers to the tradition of scorching the African bird's eye chile. Hot enough for ya? Everything from the seeds to the stem are in this sauce, so it's ridiculously hot. But if you're looking for a hot sauce that leaves you with a citrusy aftertaste, post scorch, this is the one for you.

Huy Fong Chili Garlic

Similarly to my run-in with Cholula, I went into my short lived escapade with Chili Garlic with inaccurate expectations. I assumed that this paste would be similar to its sister sauce, Sriracha. Well, as you may have guessed, I was wrong. If you're trying to give yourself a heart attack, or entering a largest ulcer competition, I'd go ahead and try Chili Garlic. It's so hot, I actually started crying as I attempted to swallow it down. However, I will say that it cleared my sinuses quite beautifully. So there you have it, only try this hot sauce if you have a sinus infection and/or are seriously crazy.

Even though hot sauce eating competitions make me want to barf, and I won't commit to anything with an above mild label, hot sauce has become a regular at everyone's table. I'd say try these all on for size, but best believe I'll keep going through Tabasco bottles like it's no one's business. What can I say? I got tabasco in my bag. 


Everything Guadeloupe: A Little Bit About a Little Island

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, March 17, 2016

I've come across an extremely interesting piece in the Boston Globe, more specifically, the Sunday edition: " Beaches with an irresistible French Accent." As we prepare to welcome a group of Guadeloupian residents into our program, Christopher Muther, a writer for the Globe, has written a piece about their little-known Guadeloupe. 

A small island of 400,000, Guadeloupe is known for its pristine, white sandy beaches. I know, you're definitely picturing that beach in your head right now. But, is it filled with people? Are you irritated that someone else would have the audacity to take up your peaceful getaway? Well, luckily for you, as much as Guadeloupe is known for its beaches, not many people visit. Many of its beautiful beaches are virtually empty, mostly inhabited by local wildlife such as goats and the occasional chicken.

Muther spent a week in Guadeloupe traveling from east to west, spending little to no time in the capital city of Point-à-Pitre. He further discusses that until now, the only airline company offering direct flights from Boston to Guadeloupe, has been Norwegian Air. For as little as $49, one-way, you have the opportunity to lay in the Caribbean sands for less than the cost for a trip to New York.

Now, before you rush to the Norwegian Air website, let's catch up on some Guadeloupian facts. For one, before you jet off, you should catch up on your high school French. It is a French Territory, English is simply not spoken there. As Muther phrases it, English is the "abnorm." If you by chance speak Creole, that's also one of the island's main languages.

I'd say besides being stunningly breathtaking, the nice thing about Guadeloupe is its seemingly untouched feel. Devoid of large corporations and the American all-inclusive resorts, it inhabits the "what used to be's", the small local shops and bed & breakfasts. While you're in Guadeloupe, make sure to really indulge. As much as its developed a Caribbean flavor, it is part of France - a.k.a., there are some top notch seafood restaurants and bakeries. 

If this article for some reason convinces you to go to Guadeloupe, you're lucky I've gathered some "must-dos" while you're in Guadeloupe.

Grande-Terre:

Coming from the US, most of us just expect that drinking out of tap is perfectly fine. Well, I wouldn't take that mindset with me to the islands. Surprisingly enough, Guadeloupe has some of the best-tasting mountain water in all the Caribbean Isles, but most people don't drink it. Between the rusty city pipes, and the occasional taste of chlorine, the water isn't drunk often. If and when you go out to eat, restaurants will charge you for the bottled water, so be mindful.

While in Guadeloupe I know you'll want to steer clear of all the tourist attractions, but here are some I thought were worth taking a look at.

Aquarium de la Guadeloupe:

I know you might be coming from Boston, where the New England Aquarium is one of our most prized possessions, but this aquarium is seriously a great place to go. Besides their tropical assortment of fish and marine life, the Aquarium de Guadeloupe offers the unexpected half-day "eco tour." Alongside you and your guests, you'll have a biologist guide and diving instructor, ready to jump in the water whenever you are. You'll travel through the islands mangroves, reefs, and lagoon, from 8:30am - 1pm. Are you ready to take the plunge?

Vanibel

If waking up at 8am while you're on vacation doesn't seem like your cup of joe, maybe you just need some of it to wake you up; Guadeloupe happens to have some of the best coffee around. Joel Nelson, the groundskeeper of his Domaine de Vanibel, is more than happy to take you on a tour of his vanilla and coffee bean farm. Before you put on a summer dress to Instagram a photo of yourself at a Guadeloupian farm coffee farm, don't. Mr. Nelson will take you around the grounds, but he'll also have you picking vanilla and coffee beans, so dress comfortably. Before you leave though, make sure to buy some of his coffee. You'll be filling your re-usable K-cups with the stuff for months to come.

Plage de la Chapelle à Anse-Bertrand 

You might be sick of my touristy suggestions, so take a break at one of the whitest, sandiest beaches you'll ever lay your eyes on. Between the chapel ruins, the coco palm shades, and the little terrace restaurants at the far end of the beach, you may never want to leave. If you do decide to permanently reside on the beautiful Plage de la Chapelle à Anse-Bertrand, make sure to bring your own towel - there won't be anyone renting lounge chairs.

Basse-Terre:

  A little more untouched than Grande-Terre, you'll do a lot more exploring here. Basse-Terre is mostly known for its wide open spaces, so stop by if you're willing to hike, climb, and swim.

Ilet de Pigeon

If you didn't get enough of your scuba necessities during your aquarium visit, well here's another opportunity. Located inside the Jacques Cousteau Underwater Park, Ilet de Pigeon holds the island's best scuba and snorkeling site. If swimming among the reefs is your thing, I would make this part of your itinerary.

Cascade aux Ecrevisses

What translates directly to Crayfish Falls, Cascade aux Ecrevisses is part of the Parc Nationale de la Guadeloupe. Known as one of the island's most popular spots, people usually come here for the trails leading up to the breathtaking waterfall. If and when you decide to make that trek, be careful! The rocks can get pretty slippery. If you don't want any run-ins with other tourists, come early.

Domaine de Séverin Distillery

After all that climbing, walking, scuba diving, I think you'll need a drink. At the island's historic rum distillery, you'll be sure to be amazed. About 5 times per day, a "Petit Train" crosses the entire plantation, moving past its crayfish ponds, the sugarcane fields, the working waterwheel, and the former mansion of the Marsolle family (no big deal, just the family that's owned the distillery since 1928). The mansion is now the distillery's museum, with a tasting room and a gift shop selling everything rum. If you need to fill your stomach before you gobble down some rum, make a stop at their open-air dining room - you'll get a taste of the jumbo crayfish you just drove past.

Now, you may have just decided to read this piece for entertainment purposes, or you may be preparing to receive your Guadeloupian homestay guest. In the latter case, make sure to read our Guadeloupian Host Tips!

If you want to take a look at Christopher Muther's piece, take a look here




Cheese Whiz! Boston's Got Some Great Grilled Cheeses

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, March 03, 2016

I love cheese.

There I said it. Not that it's a load of my chest or anything, but sometimes I feel the need to express my obsession with its ooey-gooey-ness. Cheese goes well with and on everything. On pizza, on nachos, with wine, with a handful of almonds - I have never met a cheese pairing I didn't like. If I'm having a piece of cheese, or enjoying it in a sandwich - be aware, it is NACHO CHEESE (haha).

That being said, besides cheese, I also happen to really love sandwiches. I have one every single day. Whether it be a breakfast sandwich, or the humble yet always enjoyable BLT, I can't go a day without one. So let's put this together. If I love cheese, and I love sandwiches, what could be better than a grilled cheese (aka a cheese sandwich)?? That's right, nothing. Nothing could be better.

Luckily for me, and all of you Bostonians reading this, there are a ton of grilled cheese joints all over the greater Boston area. So let's get right into it.

Roxy's Grilled Cheese

When I first moved to Boston about 4 years ago, Roxy's was a food truck. They had recently starred in the Food Network's Great Food Truck Race, and had placed in second. I remember seeing the pastel yellow truck across the street from my dorm, and being instantly intrigued. So I went on over and ordered the Rookie Melt grilled cheese.

Needless to say, I haven't looked back since that day. Roxy's has completed nailed the art of the grilled cheese, with add-ons like pulled pork and guacamole. I've never tried it, but I hear the Green Muenster is the go-to order.

The best part about Roxy's now is its storefront. No longer will I have to chase down the truck, demanding my mayo-smeared sandwich (that's right, to make it extra delightful, they use mayo instead of butter). I can now walk up to 485 Cambridge Street, and enjoy not only their grilled cheese, but their new selection of juicy burgers.

Praise the cheese gods.

Cheeseboy

I'm basically always inside the Prudential Center. Not only is my spinning studio conveniently located there, but so is pinkberry and lululemon (can you say basic?). Before they decided to completely revamp and remodel, Cheeseboy used to be part of its food court. And boy, do they have some great (grilled) cheese(s).

You can go with the classic American cheese with a side of tomato soup, or you can be like me and try all of them.

If you've just had a crazy productive spin class, or are in need of some food lovin', go with their Mac 'N Melt. This is a PSA: there is mac and cheese INSIDE this grilled cheese - and better yet, it's mac and cheese with HICKORY SMOKED BACON. Be still my beating heart (could it be a possible cardiac arrest post binge?).

Allergic to nuts? Go ahead and skip this part. Like I've said, I love cheese and I love sandwiches. But here's something else I love: nutella. I love it so much I named my management class group after it. Remember when I said cheese pairs well with everything? This is a true testament to that: Cheeseboy serves a dessert-style grilled cheese. Sandwiched between two slices of cinnamon sugar bread, you'll find a slab of nutella and a slice of American cheese. Before you started rolling your eyes in disgust, I'll ask you a quick question. Wasn't Elvis judged when he mixed bacon, peanut butter, and bananas? Yeah, now everyone loves it. Maybe nutella and American cheese is the new Elvis, who knows?

Stonewood Tavern

Apparently, Peabody isn't as close to Boston as I thought. It's about a 45 minute drive outside the city, but 45 minutes is nothing if you get to indulge like there's no tomorrow. There are taverns that offer your run-of-the-mill flatbreads and beers, but then there's Stonewood Tavern. Stonewood has your classic spinach and artichoke dip, and the ever-changing soup du jour. But besides its traditional menu items, it has equal parts untraditional dishes too. Take its All American burger. It's exactly as it says it is: an all American burger with a juicy patty, strips of bacon, fresh tomatoes - but wait, where's the bun? THAT'S RIGHT. There isn't a bun. Instead of your typical seeded bun, Stonewood squeezes your patty and all the fixins' between two grilled cheese sandwiches. You will no longer have to go back and forth between having a grilled cheese or a burger for lunch. This is America, and in America, you can have both.

The three restaurants above are just a few of the places in Boston where you can snag some much needed comfort food. There are so many other places to indulge, but these might just be worth the schlep ( make sure to check out Phantom Gourmet for more ideas). So this one goes out to all the cheese-haters out there (I'm looking at you Santiago [jk I love you]), you're really missing out.

 Eat some cheese, let it brie.

Leap Year: It's Not Just a Movie

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, February 29, 2016

I've seen the movie Leap Year, so in my eyes, I thought I knew everything I needed to know about the once-every-four-years leap year. But in the spirit of February 29th, I went ahead and researched it. Turns out, I know nothing about leap year.

(Here's a pic from the movie - such a guilty pleasure)

The truth is, I never really knew why we had leap years - and it's actually pretty simple (well, not really but I'll summarize it). Apparently, a complete orbit of the earth takes exactly 365.2422 days to complete - not 365 days as the Gregorian calendar states. Because of this pretty precise anomaly, leap years are added to the calendars to keep our seasons, and the earth, in sync.

That's the most basic explanation of leap years, but who really wants to talk about orbits of the earth? Let's talk about something a little more interesting - the tradition of women proposing on leap year. We all know that men usually struggle with taking a hint, but apparently this notion dates all the way back to the 5th century. Thanks to an Irish nun named St. Bridget (maybe the OG Bridget Jones?), we have the chance to pop the question every four years. Legend has it, she approached St. Patrick, telling him she simply couldn't keep waiting for her suitors to propose - you go girl.

St. Bridget wasn't the only one fed up with men, Queen Margaret of Scotland also wasn't having it. In 1288, she drafted a law that allowed unmarried women to propose during leap year, and get this: any man who refused, was handed a fine. I guess she was taking Queen Bey's "if you liked it, then you should have put a ring on it" pretty seriously. I know this seems a little crazy, because our assumption is that as soon as we get down on one knee, our man will flee (I'm a poet and I don't even know it?), but it's not all that true. According to the UK's The Telegraph, more than half of men, would not only be pleasantly surprised, but would accept the proposal (I always knew the Brits were great). There's some bogus research out there that says Leap Year proposals are more likely to end in failed marriages, because women proposing is "against human nature" (scoff) - but I'd like to beg to differ. If you have the confidence to propose to your man, all the power to you (YAAS QUEEN YAAS).

Proposals aren't the only things to celebrate on Leap Year, but birthdays are pretty important too. Yes, everyday marks somebody's birthday somewhere, but Leap Year birthdays are particularly special. September 29th (my birthday) is obviously the most important birthday day of the year, but February 29th is kind of cool too.

If you're a leap year baby, according to the internet, you should be in Anthony, a small town that borders Texas and New Mexico. What a bore, you may think. Well, you're wrong. Anthony is the leap year capital of the world. Every four years, on February 29th, people from all over the world (I'm not kidding, people come from like Australia, India, even England), meet up. This year, leap babies will be indulging in wine tastings, cowboy reenactments, and a leap-tastic parade.

Taking a trip to the Texas/New Mexico border today may be a little last minute, so if you're reading this and you're a leap baby, there are some real deals you can take advantage of wherever you are.

Caribou Coffee (who knew they sold more than just k-cups?) does it right. It doesn't matter whether you're a leap baby or not, today you can go in and buy one beverage at normal price, and get another for 29 cents. Bear with me, I couldn't figure out why they were charging 29 cents for a coffee - I got it about 15 seconds later.

A large portion of my family is Italian, so saying that I absolutely love Olive Garden is probably sacrilegious. But really, who can resist unlimited salad and breadsticks? I'll tell you who, nemmeno gli italiani (not even the Italians). If you're a leap baby, you can get not only one, but FOUR free desserts on your birthday. Andiamo leap babies!

I'm a dunkin girl. As you know, I love my strawberry frosted donut and caramel-coconut iced coffee (medium with almond milk please!), but I'd switch to Krispy Kreme any day for a box of donuts at $2.29. The only catch is you'll have to first buy a box of donuts at regular price. But come on, 24 donuts for $10.29? Worth it.

Hard Rock Cafe's nachos are my jam (I'm punny aren't I?). Out of pure interest, and definitely stupidity, I decided to look up its nutrition facts. You can indulge in a plate of nachos for a minuscule 1,886 calories, 45 grams of fat, and 65 grams of total carbs. My mouth is watering, so I'll just go ahead and tell you why I'm bringing up their nachos in the first place. If you're a leap baby, you can go into any Hard Rock and devour a free meal. Do yourself a favor: order the nachos and ignore the post-binge stomach pains and regret.

(Had to show you how amazing these are)

The Leap Year deals are pretty never ending, so if you want to drool through them, find them here.

Between some deliciously fattening deals, and the ability to propose, I petition to make February 29th a national holiday.

Gotta go pick up my donuts and find someone with a February 29th birthday now. 


Boston's Chili(ly) Takeover

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, February 25, 2016

I did say in my latest blog post that I would be talking about the 7th Annual Boston Chili Cup - so here I go. You may or may not have realized that part of my job here is to keep up with all things Boston. I need to constantly be aware of what's trending here, what's happening there - but I'm really not complaining. On one of my online expeditions to feed my foodie needs (oh, and also for work), I found out about the Chili Cup. I found it on eventbrite, so I really pictured it to be something small - something hardly anyone knew about. I was wrong (this doesn't happen very often, so listen up).

The Chili Cup was easily one of the coolest things I've ever been to in Boston. First of all, it was at Ned Devine's. If you're like me, you probably have no idea what Ned Devine's even is. Turns out, it's quite the bar. It's in Faneuil, but not just like every other bar there. It's inside Quincy Market, overlooking the food court from above - yeah, it's awesome. So yes, you do have to be 21 to attend the Chili Cup; if you're underage, it's well worth the wait.

So you walk in, show your ticket, your ID, and you immediately receive a spoon, a list of restaurants, and a chip. Not a potato chip - like a chip to place your vote for best chili. That's one of the best parts of this whole event, there isn't some superstar panel voting for the best chili. It's all on us. It's definitely not an easy choice though, with 18 restaurants competing for the title, it's pretty dire to hand it over to the right one.

I'm not going to lie, I didn't love all of them. At one point, all the chili blended together, and between the spices and the super rich pork, I couldn't really tell the difference. Just a quick PSA over here: if you're not a fan of spice, this might not be the event for you. I'm not obsessed with spicy food, but I can roll with it. Eventually, between the simultaneous gulping of fluids (props to the event for being sponsored by Corona) and fanning my mouth to get rid of the chipotle after taste, I found some I really loved.

Tasty Burger

Wow. Not only have these guys completely nailed the classic burger, but they're taking over the chili cheese dog market too. At the Chili Cup, the restaurant booths were all pretty similar, except for theirs. They had a mini hot dog cart, and a chili cheese dog assembly line. Let me repeat that: they had a MINI hot dog cart, and a chili cheese dog ASSEMBLY LINE. Just at first glance, I wanted to hide behind the cart and snatch all the hot dogs for myself, while simultaneously dunking my face into the vat of chili. But to not embarrass the friend I had gone there with (you're welcome Alex), I asked for "the works" dog, and awaited patiently.

When you picture a chili cheese dog, I'm sure you see chili flowing over the bun and cheese running down between your fingers. Well erase that picture, and place this one in its place. This dog had the perfect bun to meat to cheese to chili ratio. And instead of having a pound of cheese on top, swallowing the entire hot dog, they used powdered cheese. That powdered cheese is the same kind that you'll find in a Kraft mac and cheese box. Just let that sink in.

It's truly crazy that out of all the restaurants, I loved the one with the most common interpretation of chili. I didn't vote for the chipotle dusted, chocolate infused chili. I voted for your typical, run of the mill, chili cheese dog. But in my mind, if a restaurant can completely nail the most common kind of chili, and beat out the overly executed ones - they're doing it right.

The Living Room

I know I just threw some shade at the overly fancy chili recipes, but this place did it really well. Like Ned Devine's I had never heard of The Living Room. I remember sitting at the bar, eating away at my sample, and not being able to read what the name of the restaurant was. What a cool name it turned out to be.

Their sample came in a little hammock, with a small piece of cornbread, to pair perfectly with their mole-inspired chili. Mole, for those of you who don't know, is primarily made with Mexican chocolate. The chili wasn't overly chocolatey, and the cornbread wasn't overly sweet - so in the end, it wasn't their take on a dessert chili of some sorts (thank goodness).

Pier 6

Okay, so I didn't actually try this place's chili. First of all, it was labeled as spicy. When something is so spicy, they have to signal you before you try it - I just won't try it.

But, as much as it was spicy, and I didn't get a taste, I'm including it because: 1. it won the championship, 2. this was Alex's favorite. Their chili was different because instead of pork, they used lamb. If you're not a fan of lamb, or you just haven't ever tasted it, I highly recommend doing so. For years, I kept myself from tasting the sweet, gamey goodness that is lamb. If it's done right, which I'm assuming Pier 6 did, it's incredibly buttery and delicious. Although pork is my favorite cut of meat, lamb is quickly climbing onto number 1.

I'd say go to Pier 6, and try out their lamb for yourself. I kind of regret not trying it, so you'll probably spot me there, and at every other chili cup in the coming years. 


Boston Gets Marketed

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, February 22, 2016

If you haven't noticed, I'm a major foodie. In high school I had my own column in the school paper named "The Moodie Foodie." As you can tell, nothing has changed. I'm still moody, and I'm still a foodie. I try to explore Boston as much as I can, but this semester I've really stepped up my game. Thanks to my sister for always sending me tips and tricks to survive and thrive in Boston, I'd like to think that I'm pretty savvy when it comes to all things (mainly food) Boston. Seriously, it's all thanks to her. She basically keeps a file cabinet of events and restaurants in her brain, and just sends some my way when she finds necessary (always).

So because of my sister's ever evolving encyclopedia and my nonstop googling, I came to find out about the Boston Public Market - aka, my new favorite place, like ever. I found out about it a couple of weeks ago, and made plans to visit ASAP. Between my alarm not going off (or just my not setting it), and just being incredibly lazy, I hadn't made it there yet. Luckily, my friend and I attended the Boston Chili Cup (don't worry, I'll talk about this a little later on) on Thursday. The Boston Chili Cup was at Faneuil Hall, right off the Haymarket T Stop. Little did I realize that the Haymarket T Stop is basically the Boston Public Market. Had the Government Center T Station not been under construction (seriously, will it ever finish?), I would've missed my opportunity to visit the market. Now, we still had our event to go to, but to be completely honest, we were there for 45 minutes before we ran back to the market.

(I apologize for the terrible quality, I was just too excited)

I can't even put into words how absolutely amazing this place is - especially for a foodie like myself. Now , whenever I picture heaven, I picture the Boston Public Market. Look, it's not like I've never been to a market before. I've been to the Ithaca Farmer's Market, I've been to Chelsea Market, but I'm telling you, this place beats them all. Yes, Chelsea Market is great because who doesn't want a Sarabeth's Biscuit while walking across the High Line? But I honestly think I may be in love with the BPM.

I'm going to start with the simple fact that the BPM is basically a high end Costco. No, you can't buy in bulk and go home with 300 rolls of toilet paper. But picture Costco on Sundays. Samples galore, right? Well yeah, that's the BPM always. But instead of sampling frozen pizzas and mini pigs in a blanket, you're sampling true Italian mozzarella (pronounced  moz·za·rel·la with a thick Italian accent), local IPA, and Swiss style pretzels. I had just come from an all you can eat chili competition, and I couldn't control myself. I was lightheaded from all the spice and beans I had just gobbled down, but I made room in my poor belly for all those samples - that's how good they were.

If you go on their website - go ahead, you know you want to click it - you'll see a lineup of not only all their vendors, but also their cooking classes. So before you buy all the ingredients and burn your apartment down - make sure you know how to use them. The classes range from mixology to Baking 101, but let me go ahead and talk about their vendors. They have a total of 38 vendors and they're all great. You can get the freshest kale ever while munching on a mini cider donuts, all at the same time. I stopped and looked at all of them, but I can't go on and on about all 38 (you'll probably stop reading) - so I'm going to talk about a small few that you just can't miss. Seriously, if you miss them, I'll come hunt you down.

Nella Pasta

I take my pasta very seriously. I come from a pastavorous (not pictured: dinosaurs eating pasta) family, so I know when it's not done right. I can't even tell you the amount of times I've eaten out, and sent my pasta back. So when I put a pasta vendor at the very top of my list, I mean business.

This weekend my sister was visiting (yes this is my encyclopedia of a sister), and I knew I would be making her pesto pasta on Saturday. So when I walked past Nella's booth, I did a double take and admired from an incredibly close stance. I'm sure the vendor grew concerned by my wide eyes and drool, so she asked me if I wanted to try a sample. This pasta is so fresh, she could literally give me a piece of it without cooking it. She gave me the lemon pepper pipe rigate and the sriracha radiatori (told you I took my pasta seriously). Needless to say, I took a pound of both home.

(I took this with my phone - isn't it beautiful?)

On Saturday, the pasta couldn't have been more of a hit. My pesto was obviously great too, but the pasta itself was the star. I like spicy food, but my sister loves it. So while I devoured the lemon pepper, she did the same with the sriracha variation.

Nella Pasta you are the pasta gods.

Soluna Garden Farm

Not to be basic, but I love my chai lattes. I have one almost every day. But seeing as I live by not one, not two, but three Starbuckses, I tend to get my lattes from there. For a true chai lover, this is sacrilegious. Their chai is the tutti frutti fake stuff that shouldn't even be called chai. Yes, it's sweet and creamy - but that's not what chai is supposed to be. Chai should be spicy and subtly sweet. So if you're a chai fiend like me, then look no further. Soluna Garden Farm is your new go-to.

I had the Smoky Vanilla Chai, and I haven't been able to appreciate any other chai latte since then. I remember seeing my barista pull out her homemade chai blend, and being in awe. Didn't chai blends come from boxes? It took around 6 minutes for her to make my latte, but it was totally and entirely worth the wait. I should've gotten more than one.

swissbäkers

For some reason that is completely foreign to me now, I hated pretzels when I was a little kid. I don't know if I was delusional or just missing out on the world's greatest snack food, but I just didn't like it. Thankfully I've come to my senses and absolutely love pretzels now. Soft, hard, stuffed - I eat all of it. Well, wake up pretzel fanatics - and run on over to swissbäkers.

My parents lived in Zurich for a year and a half, and I was lucky enough to go visit them for a week. I ate a lot, walked a lot, and came to a sudden realization: Swiss pretzels are literally God's gift to earth. They are oh so chewy and not overly salty - truly the perfect pretzel. Swissbäkers has those pretzels. We're not even in Switzerland, and somehow they've managed to replicate the mind blowing experience I had there.

I was just perusing the aisles, when they made the mistake of putting out their sample tray as I walked past their booth; I singlehandedly finished the entire tray. Somehow, they were totally cool with it, and put out some more. Again, I devoured them.

My suggestion is to eat a few samples, and take some pretzel rolls home. And hey, leave some for me!

These are just a few of my favorites at BPM. But like I said, they're all great. Besides the ones I've highlighted, you can grab some Union Square Donuts, and have a bite of the spicy Taza chocolate. If for some reason you feel like you might enter a food coma, there are stands with fresh produce - that'll probably ease your overly stuffed stomach.

Any place that offers an enormous array of food and closes on Mondays (because really, who does Mondays?), is a place to be.

Now go be there. 



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