Life, style & food in the District
These past three days, I spent the majority of my time eating my way through my all-time favorite city: Boston!
My food-themed trip was all due in part to the American Dietetic Association’s annual conference. Working on a national childhood obesity program (and one that devotes much of its attention to childhood nutrition and healthy eating) for the last year-and-a-half really has me thinking about going back to school, yet again, to get an RD (a registered dietician degree). Those of you who know me know I love kids and I love food, so continuing to work in the field of childhood nutrition really interests me. And so I decided to attend this conference in order to get a peek into the world of dieticians. We Can! was also exhibiting at the conference, so I spent some time at our booth to field questions from interested conference attendees.
Unfortunately, I was deeply disappointed with the conference. First of all, it was not much of a conference. When I think of a “conference,” I think of several interesting sessions that one can attend to learn about the latest trends, programs, etc. in a respective field. The sessions at this conference, which I found to be dull and a bit dated, really took a back burner to the “expo,” or giant hall of exhibits. At the conference, hundreds of companies and organizations exhibited (most of which were food companies), passed out samples, and made cheesy pushes and presentations to promote their products. Now, that sounds kind of great right? Hundreds of companies sampling their products? Free food all day? Ummm, yes, please! But as someone who paid $400+ to attend the conference, I felt incredibly gypped. I mean, I can sample all the food in the world on any given Saturday afternoon at my local Costco… For free.
However, my main problem with the conference was the companies that exhibited. One would think that if you were to attend a nutrition conference, the food being exhibited would be, well, nutritious. Not so much. Companies and food conglomerates like ConAgra Foods, Coca Cola, Pepsi, Equal, KFC, and Taco Bell (yes – KFC and Taco Bell) all had booths that promoted their “healthy food options.” I am sorry, but isn’t KFC the company with the double down? Do they think ordering a grilled double down is really a healthy option?
I went into this conference thinking there would be a huge push for natural, organic, and local (farm-to-table) foods, since that is what comes to my mind when I think about healthy eating and proper nutrition: natural food sources, not processed foods. Don’t get me wrong, there were definitely some of those companies there, but they were overshadowed and out-spent by the bright lights and giant booths of the Fortune 500 companies.
However, there was a silver lining to it all. This Food Network junkie (ehhh hem, that’s me) met Ellie Krieger while she did a cooking demonstration at the expo (and I even got a FREE signed copy of her new cookbook! Yippie!). I also found some delicious organic and meat-free products from Gardein that I am going to try, and even learned about a great initiative called RECIPE For Growing Healthy Kids during a session I attended on nutrition in childcare settings.
My free time in Boston was also very food-focused, since I made sure to hit-up all of my favorite spots. After spending all day in Concord with Mr. Alex and Miss Viv, I arrived in the city on Sunday night. It was freezing cold–snowing, in fact–and so I was definitely in need of a warm spot and comfort food. Since I was staying in Beacon Hill, I decided to head to the top of Charles Street to one of my favorite restaurants, Bin 26 Enoteca. This neighborhood joint is an amazing wine bar with some of the best handmade pasta dishes I’ve ever had in my life. In fact, upon walking into the tiny establishment, the smell of fresh pasta hits you hard. It’s nearly impossible to resist their Cocoa Tagliatelle with Porcini Mushroom Ragout scented with Nepitella… Which is exactly what I had. Needless to say, a lot of places in Beacon Hill are pretentious, over-priced, and (sorry, for lack of a better word…) douchie. Bin26, however, is the exact opposite. It is fantastically warm, relaxed, inviting, and most of all, delicious. The owners actually own another place around the corner called Lala Rokh, which has the best Persian food ever. If you are ever in the Boston area, I highly suggest you hit up both–You will not be sorry!
When I am visiting Boston, it is unthinkable to start a morning without going to the Paramount for some chocolate chip pancakes. Like most of my favorite places to eat in Boston, this one was introduced to me by a (at the time) two-year-old: Alex! Also in Beacon Hill, and also on Charles Street, this diner-esque eatery boasts of a famous no-nonsense seating policy; meaning, you can’t save seats–even during its peak hours. This leaves many diners wondering (as they patiently stand in line to order food) if they will even have a seat in which they can eat said delicious food. But as I have found, it always works out! I have never been without a seat in which I can devour an enormous stack of steaming chocolate-chip-loaded pancakes (and have definitely been there during the busiest times).
Later that evening, I headed to my favorite Irish pub…. THE SQUEALING PIG! (I say it in all caps like that, because just even writing its name makes me so happy!!!) Home to the Mars Bar Toastie and Victory Golden Monkeys, this hidden hangout is one of my all-time favorites–and probably my most frequented bar while living in Boston…. (Especially when we lived a few streets over, I was at the Pig a couple of times a week, easily.) But it is at the Pig where I met up with two great friends: Nicole and Diane! In fact, we had so much fun at the Pig, that I had to stop by the Upper Crust on my way home to grab a slice of whole wheat pizza in efforts to (ehh hem….) sober up 😉
To round out my food-filled (and also fun-filled) trip, I needed one last thing… Sushi at Douzo, and thankfully, Diane was around for lunch and joined me! Also introduced to me through Alex (yes, he ate sushi as a two-year-old… so cool!), Douzo has that kind of “big city dining experience” feel. Its location in the South End/Back Bay, ultra-mod interior, overflowing sushi bar, and inventive cocktail list gives this Japanese staple an edge over its competitors… and its food definitely lives up to its image. Needless to say, Diane and I ate our weight in raw fish!
So that was my weekend in Boston…. My trips up there are never without a few laughs with old friends, a few apartment searches (still holding out hope to move back up there one day), and a few amazing meals! Can’t wait til next time!