D&N Have Exact Change Sandwich

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What it is: D&N Have Exact Change Sandwich

Where is it: Hi Rise Bakery, Cambridge, MA

Price: $10

What’s in it: Avocado, Monterey Jack cheese, roasted tomatoes, arugula, smoked serrano mayo, on sourdough

Why you need it: this is heaven in sandwich form, though frankly any sandwich sounds good at this joint. The smoked serrano mayo is what brings this sandwich together, plus some unbelievable bread.

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Reflections on Running [Part 1]

Nearly two years ago, I had a dangerously close call at the Boston Marathon. People who I hadn’t spoken to in years came out of the woodwork, wondering if I was okay. My professors called, saying they alerted the deans that I was running and “would you just call us back?”

My heart shudders when I think of this. Two minutes slower, my life would have been very different or non-existent.

I ran the following year as a member of the Tufts Medical Center team. My father works for the Dental School, for patients with developmental disabilities, and Tufts is the closest hospital to the finish line. The symbolism was incredible motivation, pushing me to raise thousands of dollars.

What is most interesting is- I don’t remember last year’s run, or at least not clearly. Sure, I have photographs. Family, co-workers and friends all cheered me on. I do remember the armed policemen on the roof of Hopkinton High School at the start, and I do remember meeting up with friends at a hotel near the finish. Certainly I remember the sunburn on my right arm, and my right arm only. But what lacks is any significant memory of this race. I didn’t run my fastest, though it was my fastest Boston run. I didn’t want to vomit as much as I had wanted to in 2012 when it was 80 degrees outside. I crossed the finish line and swiftly moved into the area to receive my medal, almost as if I were on a conveyor belt. Perhaps I was delirious, but I didn’t feel a thing. My muscles hurt, yes, but my emotions? Where were they?

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Climbing Heartbreak Hill in 2014

Fast forward to October 2014. I ran the best race of my life at the Chicago Marathon. I PR’ed but not only that, I felt great. I smiled the entire race, meandering through the different neighborhoods of Chicago, trying to soak it all in. I was healthy, fast, strong- and not in Boston. My boyfriend and I coordinated where we would meet up after the race – “not near the finish line,” he said. I think I have internalized this for more than he meant, but I couldn’t help but think he was just as scared as me to hang out near the finish line.

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Chicago Marathon 2014 – my face says it all

And now, I am currently preparing for the Vermont City Marathon in Burlington, VT on May 24th. Training hasn’t been easy with this winter weather (plus a sprained ankle, a head cold, etc.), but I’m doing it. For myself, my health, blah de blah.

The Boston marathon is approaching, though. April 20th. I can’t get that out of my head. It’s not that I wish I were running (I am actually glad to be taking a year off), but suddenly the emotions that I should have felt in my 2014 run are gushing out. Most likely this has to do with the press coverage of the trial. It’s hard to avoid it. I run through a crowd, and I can’t help but think, is that person on their phone about to detonate something? It’s unreasonable, irrational, and sad that I have these thoughts. I have told myself that I can’t watch this year’s race, even though I believe spectating is sometimes just as important as racing.

As I prepare for the Vermont City Marathon, I will try to flush these emotions away. I am scheduled to run the Chicago Marathon again in October. I qualified for the 2016 Boston Marathon, and pending that I get accepted into the race, I’m going to make sure that that race becomes the best race of my life. Perhaps I’ll be speedier, maybe just stronger, or perhaps I’ll finally be able to just let go.

Boston, My Love

As many readers know, I participated in the Boston Marathon this past Monday. I had an incredibly close call, crossing the finish line a mere minute before the explosions. I sit here, just miles from Boston, writing this from lockdown. Because of this, my blog is taking a brief hiatus until peace is restored. For now, you can check out my reflection on the marathon here.

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Mamma Maria, Boston

For Mother’s Day, I treated my mom to a wine tasting tour of the North End. My whole family ended the tour with a spectacular dinner at Mamma Maria, which is one of my parent’s favorite restaurants. This was my first visit and from the impeccable service, to the fabulous food, I can’t wait to go back. We were seated in a private dining room, since my mom had called earlier that week requesting a table near the window. They ended up seating us in a small room with just a four-person table–an awesome surprise.

The bread was fresh, and the pesto homemade:

We ordered the Antipasto Tower, which was a hefty $56, but oh-so-worth it. I tasted my first oysters ever, which were mind-blowing. The mozzarella is imported from a farm in Italy. The cheese was the creamiest, most delectable piece of mozzarella I’ve ever eaten.

Scallops cooked with blood orange were also a favorite part of the “antipasto tower.” Perfectly cooked, with a little crunch and citrus flavor.

My entrée was wild-mushroom ravioli:

My parents both ordered the Clam and Crab pasta:

The take-away message: wow.

If you are in the North End (and are willing to spend some dough on a meal), eat here. You will not regret it.

Continuation of my Mexican Food Binge

Back in December, I met with the CEO and founder of a site called Tasted Menu. The concept is simple: eat a dish, post a picture, give it a rating. Unlike Yelp and other review sites, this site helps consumers narrow down the best dishes at a restaurant or in a city. You can also search for “best dish” or “best pizza” (Seared Petit Strip Loin at O Ya and Brussel Sprout Pizza at Posto, respectively). Currently, Tasted Menu is for just the Boston area, though plans of expansion are in the near future. A mobile app is also about to be launched. I think this site will provide some very valuable data to restaurants, perhaps even more so than just a general rating of a dining experience. I’m asking you to take a peek at Tasted Menu because, even if you don’t live in Boston, it will certainly whet your appetite. One of my more recent reviews on Tasted Menu is about Tu Y Yo in Somerville, which was an eye-opening and delicious meal.

Part two of my Mexican food binge, which, as stated before, began when I decided to travel to Mexico over my spring break. My boyfriend’s last night in town before heading off to school was honored with a meal at Tu Y Yo. This, once again, is not a “TexMex” place but instead serves dishes based on family recipes that have been passed down through generations. In fact, the menu states which family member created the dish, and the year they were created. A unique menu, I would say.

We started out with the vegetable tamales. These corn husk wrapped appetizers were interesting to open, particularly as each held a different filling. Some had corn, others spinach, and some unidentifiable. They were all good, though it was the sauce and the excitement over opening each tamale that made this dish worthwhile.

My carnivorous friends enjoyed these chicken-taquito like appetizers:

I ordered the Salmón Criolla, which looked unassuming, but was delicious. The fish was a little dry but the sauce was fantastic. The best part? The shrimp and potato cakes. Dense, flavorful, and chicken-nugget-looking, they made the dish special.

The finale of my meal was perhaps the best part. The Avocado Cheesecake sounded different, so I gave it a shot. It might have a graham cracker crust and a very subtle taste of avocado, but I thought this was delicious. Avocado has such a great consistency, so I’m not surprised to find that it makes a good cheesecake filling. I wish I could have an entire avocado cheesecake–I would certainly eat the whole thing.

On my trip to Mexico, I will be on a search for avocado cheesecake and at the very least, true Mexican cuisine.

Flour Bakery + Café, Boston

Hand me a tomato, mozzarella, basil sandwich and I will gladly eat it. Hand me a tomato, mozzarella, basil sandwich from Flour Bakery + Café and I’ll eat three more, that’s how good the sandwich is. Fresh arugula and roasted tomatoes made this sandwich different, and better, than any other tomato mozzarella sandwich I’ve ever eaten.