Great Eats North of Boston

My parents were in town (from Hawaii) last week, and while they’ve visited me on the East Coast twice before, this is the first time they’ve come since I left the city. Since we’re a family that loves food, I took them to a few foodie gems we’ve found closer to home, as well as a couple of great places in the city. If you’re visiting New England, I highly recommend stopping by any of these dining establishments to grab a bite.

Blue Fin

Good Eats North of Boston

We live just outside of a forest and within a stone’s throw of several farms, yet somehow we also have a fabulous Japanese restaurant in our neighborhood as well. Asian restaurants here are often fusion, with Chinese places serving sushi and Thai restaurants serving Chinese food (confusing!), but at Blue Fin you’ll only find real homestyle Japanese food and incredible sushi. The sashimi is always fresh. The sushi chefs are artists. And they serve up a pretty mean martini. Insider tip: the bar is the most comfortable, relaxed place to sit.


Good Eats North of Boston

Just down the street from Blue Fin is Richardson’s dairy farm, which is a New England institution. I can’t tell you how many times James and I have finished off our sushi, only to drive two minutes down the road for dessert at Richardson’s. My favorite is the cherry vanilla ice cream, but I haven’t had a bad scoop there yet, and I’ve tried a lot of them! Mini golfing and batting cages are on the premises, but the real excitement is that there are cows! The ones that make the milk that goes in the ice cream! I mentally thank them every time we drive by.


Good Eats North of Boston

My dad’s number one request: New England clam chowder. James pointed us to Shea’s, which is a cozy restaurant on the water with award-winning chowder. I’m not sure if we’re just lucky, but we’ve never had to wait there, despite the fact that the fried clam place across the street is always insane and the food here is awesome. The chowder is perfect, and the sandwiches and salads are equally mouthwatering. You can easily get to the beach or to a bunch of antique stores from Shea’s, so it’s a perfect stop on the North Shore.

Mill River Winery

Good Eats North of Boston

Before heading to Shea’s, we stopped at this gorgeous little winery on the North Shore, in Rowley. The space is relatively new–airy and bright. They produce a wide variety of wines, and for just $5 you can taste them all. Although the chardonnay is award winning, our favorite was their crisp, dry Riesling. We might not be Napa, but this is a definite must for wine lovers. (Find a more comprehensive review, complete with actual wine vocabulary, at The Eats.)

I’m considering featuring more local places here on Frock Files with first-hand photos. Let me know if this sounds interesting to you. There are so many good ones; this is just a start! Where do you take people when they’re visiting your hometown?

Photo Credits: Blue Fin | Richardson’s | Shea’s | Mill River Winery



Three Days in New York

Back in March, when it was still snowing and I was desperate for spring, I started planning a little trip to celebrate James’ birthday. Last year, we went to Portsmouth, NH for a couple of nights, and while that was relaxing and fun, I thought I’d go for something a little more exciting this year. We’ve both been dying to see The Book of Mormon for years now, so I booked seats to the musical, bought train tickets, and reserved two nights at the Refinery Hotel.

Quick Visit to New York City | Frock Files

We hopped on the train and got into the city in the late afternoon, with enough time to get ready for the show. It was sprinkling outside but I curled my hair anyway, and even though I’m generally anti-selfie I took a picture to document the fact that I did a decent job for once. By the time we got to the theatre, we were damp and frizzy haired but so excited. And for good reason–the show was hilarious, sweet, and full of the most talented people! And, yes, also full of all the profanity and thinly veiled lewdness you’d expect from the creators of South Park. We loved it.

Quick Visit to New York City | Frock Files

Most of the rest of our trip revolved around roaming and eating, so  you won’t see a lot of pictures of landmarks or museums here. Since we only had one full day, we decided to spend it exploring Greenwich Village.

James found a walking tour published by the New York Times, which we followed loosely, stopping in to say hello to the puppies at a boutique pet shop and to have the best cupcakes ever at Molly’s Cupcakes. Crème brûlée cupcakes, so moist and perfectly spongy and slightly crisp on top with a custard center. I would be in trouble if this place were within a 50 mile radius of our home. Also, the bar seats there are swings and now I want to put swings everywhere!

Quick Visit to New York City | Frock Files Quick Visit to New York City | Frock Files

We found a great little cafe called The Grey Dog, which has a big menu, a few craft beers, and lots of options for those of us who can’t drink a drop during the daylight hours unless a nap is in order immediately afterward. A friendly server showed us a colorful handkerchief, which she put on a table to save our spot. We played the “If we lived in Greenwich Village” game the entire time we were in the area, and The Grey Dog made it into our “If we lived in Greenwich Village, we would have brunch here all the time” spot.

Quick Visit to New York City | Frock Files

Later that afternoon the rain started again, but we were pooped from walking all over the place anyway. The Refinery has a great restaurant called Parker Quinn, so after relaxing for awhile, we had a big dinner and got cozy in the hotel bathrobes for the night. I should point out here that The Refinery is a little oasis in the Garment District. As soon as you come in off the street, it’s quiet and welcoming, with a really friendly hotel staff, super comfortable beds, and an overall aesthetic that feels, to me, like a mix of Brooklyn-hipster and Paris-chic. Black, white, gold, and wood.

Quick Visit to New York City | Frock Files

The next morning, we had breakfast at a restaurant called The Shop, which is in the Andaz 5th Avenue hotel, directly across from the New York Public Library.

Quick Visit to New York City | Frock Files

I’m working on a little summer travel project for work featuring the school’s mascot, so after breakfast James shot this photo of me holding the stuffed mascot up to one of the NYPL lions. (The mascot’s next stop is Greece – so lucky!)

Quick Visit to New York City | Frock Files

And then we were whisked out of the city on the train! Taking the Amtrak into the city is one of my favorite parts about the trip. It’s definitely more expensive than the bus, but it’s so peaceful and pleasant. And after a couple of days in the busy, busy streets of Manhattan, it’s a welcome reprieve.

I hope you had a great Memorial Day weekend, too! Now that we’re refreshed and relaxed, we’re excited about getting back to all of our summer plans. Do you have any travel on the horizon?


Give Me More Altitude

Headed to Alt Summit 2014 | Frock Files

Today is the day! Depending on the time of day you read this (and your time zone), I’m either flying to or getting lots of hugs in Salt Lake City. Going to Alt Summit this year is a completely different experience than it was last year. Last year, I was so nervous about not knowing anyone. This year, I’m chomping at the bit to see so many of my friends for real, live hugs and long chats and shared meals. Google Hangout and Skype are great, but nothing beats the real thing.

If you couldn’t make it to Alt this year, don’t fret. I’ll be swamping my Instagram and Twitter feed with photos of everything from the panels to the parties to checkout – so come along! There may even be a little competition happening, say, around 10:00am mountain time on Friday. If I could, I’d carry you around on Facetime for the entire event so you could feel like you’re right there in the action, but sadly, my battery would die and you would probably get a little motion sick.

Want to read more about Alt Summit and my thoughts on blogger conferences?

Getting the news about teaching at Alt
Forget fashion; what really matters at conferences
My nice smelling + tasting business cards
The best part about Alt Summit
Tips for growing your blog from Alt Summit (with two of my favorite ladies, Kristen and Erin)
Photography advice from (king of photographers) Justin Hackworth
Being the truest version of you by Jasmine Star

See you next week, for the scoop on everything that happened at Alt!

Lovely Things in Hawaii

Frock Files in Hawaii 2013Frock Files in Hawaii 2013Frock Files in Hawaii 2013Frock Files in Hawaii 2013Frock Files in Hawaii 2013 Frock Files in Hawaii 2013

Now that we’ve been home for a couple of weeks, I finally sat down and pulled together some of the photos of our time there. These are a few of my favorite things, including the chapel outside the Wai’oli Tea Room, dessert with the Professors Dawson at JJ’s, flowers in the gardens at the Spalding House, and breakfast with my family at Town. Of course, my niece Jolie ranks at the top of that list!


More Oahu Treasures

Frock Files: Oahu Recommendations

We’re back! If you’ve been following along on my Instagram feed, you already know that we had a wonderful trip full of time with my family. Going home always gets our wheels turning about how we could spend part of the year (say, January through April?) in Hawaii, if only we could figure out a way. Does anyone have a couple mil to spare? We’ve got our eye on the cute neighborhood where we rent our vacation cottage.

Quite a few people have asked for Oahu recommendations, and I remembered that I listed a bunch of good places to eat in this City Guide when I got back from my annual pilgrimage last year. I have even more places to add this time around. Hawaii just gets better with age!

Frock Files: Oahu RecommendationsHoliday Palms Cottage: We loved staying in this little cottage on the Windward side of the island. The area is the definition of lush, with unbelievably green mountains and to-die-for views of the ocean as you drive in.

The cottage itself is cozy, clean, and bright, with a comfortable bed and, perhaps most importantly, air conditioning! There is also a great little private outdoor patio with a table and a grill. We loved the neighborhood, which is a five minute walk from the beach and just a couple of blocks from lots of restaurants and shops, including the brand new Whole Foods. Not to worry, lots of independent boutiques and eateries are scattered in with the bigger stores.

Frock Files: Oahu RecommendationsHo’omaluhia Botanical Gardens: I feel like I’m letting you in on a secret here, because the gardens are almost always empty when I visit them but they’re one of the best things on the island. These gardens are my idea of Eden. The land is divided by the geographic areas from which the plants hail. There really aren’t any words to describe how beautiful it is there. Camping is allowed, so if you’re adventurous (I’m not), you could even pitch a tent and skip the cost of accommodations all together!

Sugarcane: You may remember that we bought a mirror from Sugarcane last year. Over the course of the year, owner Jill and I became great fans of each other’s Instagram feeds, and I’ve fallen even more in love with her shop. Let me tell you, if I hadn’t already finished most of my Christmas shopping, I could’ve done it all at Jill’s boutique. Vintage teacups, cute t-shirts, and bright pillows line the shelves here. You can even take home a little beach in a jar for your friends who can’t make the trip themselves. My favorite: seeing an array of Ten Things jewelry in real life. I’m such a big fan of Kerri’s! I bought one of her turquoise bracelets and I’m positive it’s good luck.

Frock Files: Oahu RecommendationsThe Spalding House: Up in hills above Honolulu sits this magical piece of land. The 3.5 acre property (almost unheard of in Hawaii) was once owned by the Cookes of Castle and Cooke. Today, it’s owned by the Honolulu Museum of Art. The home was turned into a gallery which houses rotating exhibits of contemporary artwork. But the real treat is the beautifully manicured garden, the sloping lawn, and the view of Diamond Head that is perfectly framed by two Banyan Trees.

We enjoyed all these places and some of the ones from the City Guide before flying out last Tuesday night. On the way home, we stayed in LA for a day to decompress and break up the trip, and most importantly, to have dinner with my oldest friend and his completely lovely girlfriend. Now we’re home and somewhat surprised to find ourselves preparing for Christmas!

And in case you’re wondering, yes, we’re already preparing for the next visit.

P.S. Want more Oahu recommendations? Check out my City Guide for Honolulu.

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