Fluff Festival in Somerville, MA

Can I interest you in a little light reading? Mostly pictures, nothing you have to think too hard about. A “FLUFF” piece, if you will?

On Saturday, I went to the Fluff* Festival in Somerville, MA (which is basically just Boston with a little bit more parking) with my saintly mother, Lynne. The hipsters and hipsters with children (apparently, their skinny jeans  have not cut off enough circulation to their genitalia to stop them from having children. Shame. Also, doesn’t Genitalia sound like something a hipster would name their kid?) were out in full force. We didn’t let that stop us, though. There was marshmallow creme product to be eaten, and we were all business.

The best of the food was the pumpkin fluff cannoli, which was essentially just a tube of fried dough. Another highlight was the coffee porter with fluff vodka and a Fluff floater, and the Shipyard Pumpkinhead with Vanilla Vodka and a Fluff floater. Both were delightful, and I can probably never drink or smell them again. 😦

{Follow me on Instagram: @daralaine}

But the best part of the day was when my mom won the baking contest with her pumpkin cupcakes with maple-Fluff cream cheese frosting!

I’m so proud!

*Does anyone reading this NOT know what Fluff is? I thought everyone did, but I think it’s just a New England thing, which means we are obnoxious about it. It’s marshmallow creme, made in Lynn, Mass… we use hot cocoa as a vessel for Fluff. Or we eat it by the spoonful. One time I made an eggo panini using two eggos, peanut butter, fluff, and a Mike Tyson grill. Is that an eating disorder? [Update: Mike Tyson doesn’t have a grill, it was a broken george foreman grill that didn’t heat up so I just smooshed the eggo’s together. Eating disorder?]

The Compulsive Bike Stealer

Our tale begins on a staycation with my friend, Caroline. If you’re unfamiliar with the term “staycation” it’s when people who are too poor or busy to go on a real vacation spend the night at a hotel nearby because there’s something special about sleeping on a mattress that thousands of other people left their dead skin cells on. STAY-CAY-SHUN!

{Just to be clear, this was a staycation, not a lovers’ gettaway, but I can see how this picture may have confused you}

After some flatbread pizza in the hotel restaurant –excuse me– BRASSERIE, Caroline and  I went out on the town with buckets–simply buckets–of red paint.

We ended up in line at Mija Cantina, where a gaggle of greasy men behind us started trying to engage us in conversation. I maybe talked to them for a second, but they were rude, and I wasn’t sure if that was a vile of GHB in their pocket or if they were just happy to see me.

One of the guys invaded my treasured personal space and whispered, “you’re giving off this whole bitchy vibe and I think it’s so sexy.” To which I replied,

and turned around before I spewed feminist vitriol all over historic Fanueil Hall, Boston.

Then the group of men in front of us commandeered our attention merely by looking less like sex offenders. They were nice, and we talked for a good 20 minutes, but when we got inside and they offered us a drink we pulled the trusty “bathroom escape” because 1. I just wasn’t feeling the guy who was talking to me and 2. I’m not saying he was as small as me, but in a pinch we could have probably shared pants.

I really did have to go to the bathroom, and on our way back into the bar on our quest for greener pastures, Caroline’s friend from college intercepted us. He was with a friend, who was cute, but it was no Wayne’s World “Dreamweaver” moment.

His friend and I talked, and it was fine. Until. UNTIL. We realized we had the same birthday. And then we started talking about astrology. And then he said something about how inappropriate men can be in bars and how he worries about his sisters, and then this, and then that, and then,

This could be it, you guys. This could be The One. The one that I would give my phone number to AND almost surely, probably definitely end up texting back.

As we talked more, it seemed like he had the soul of a hippie in the body of a distant relative to the Kennedy’s, which is kind of the dream because I loves me a hippy, but hemp jewelry is the adornment of Satan. At this point, it was all A-game. My voice was suddenly a full octave higher (and one octave lower than my waitressing voice), hair was being tossed in all directions, everything I said was through a freshly Crest white stripped smile.

I. was. on.

It was all going so well. As the four of us walked outside in search of cabs, DW (Dreamweaver) mentioned something about stealing a bike, which was confusing. Surely, this happened one time, when he was drunk, and he returned the bike with an apology note the next day. We all do crazy things under the influence.

{Not exactly bike stealing}

Then the bike stealing came up again. But this time it was “bicycles.” As in plural.

Wait, wait, wait. HOW many bikes are being stolen?

A: “8… to 10… to 12…”

 {Rubber ducky from our staycation. This was the face I made in regards to the bike stealing}

With that, my voice dropped down 1.5 octaves, or into my Olivia Benson range, which I use to suss out potential murderers.

DW thought I was getting the wrong impression of him, but I don’t know. He sees a bike on someone else’s property, has an overwhelming need to take it, rides it away, and dumps it in a designated patch in the woods. Why was my impression wrong? Is he leaving out that he gives these bikes to orphans in need of reliable transportation and/or fun leisure activities?

These bicycles are chained to wood on someone’s porch, “wood that you could so easily snap, and then the bicycle would be all yours.” He said this with a dreamy look in his eye that somehow made the word “wood” sound like “human bones,” and also suggested that he might have a promising future as a staff writer on Criminal Minds.

We finally got to the hotel. For some reason they had ended up following us there, and as we walked into the lobby, I reassured Caroline in my dedicated detectives of the elite squad known as the Special Victims Unit voice that they weren’t coming upstairs because, “I got this.”

Then it was just three of us. DW was outside talking to the door men, which his friend said he does all the time. Like, he’ll just talk to doormen for an hour. Just out of curiosity I asked his friend if DW was crazy.

“Like, he’s fun and stuff,” he said.

“No, I mean is he unstable.”

“It sounds like you want to marry him or something.”

As if even after an hour of this kid telling me about his bike stealing compulsion, my dainty lady brain would be so awash with baby hormones that I would want to marry him.

How is it possible that after this kid went on and on about how he can’t help but steal bikes- nothing else, just bikes (which he referred to only as “bicycles,” which somehow makes it more insane) that I am still the crazy female?

This needs to be said to any male reading this blog. If you are not a male, please pass this message along to the nearest male: we don’t all want to marry you! In fact, I’m guessing, the vast, incredible majority of females do not want to marry you. Oh, and on a separate but related note, that gay guy isn’t hitting on you, either, so just calm down.

Tasti D-Lite – Boston

I made a little trip to the new Tasti D-Lite on 205 Newbury Street in Boston yesterday, which I have been looking forward to since I found out they were coming to Boston. Now, if you don’t know what Tasti D-Lite is it’s this low calorie, frozen yogurt-y, soft serve-y ice cream thing. They ate it on Sex and the City and 30 Rock, which is all the information you need to know.

The chain started in NYC, but this Boston one is way cooler because you can get any of the 5 flavors they have “on tap,” but if you’re really high maintenance you can have them specially mix a flavor for you if they aren’t serving it in bulk that day.

I’m pretty high maintenance when it comes to food, so I had them prepare for me the Nutella flavor (they use real Nutella to make it), which was 90 calories. Now, generally, if something is low-calorie I don’t care if it tastes like styrofoam… I’m just happy to be eating. However, this Nutella flavor was legit UNREAL (I forgot to take a picture before I ate half of it… enjoy the following picture of my dessert remnants). I also got the Strawberry Shortcake flavor, which was also really good. When you go, take your time, try one of the flavors of the day, but peruse the complete menu to take in all your options. Don’t do anything rash before you’ve made an informed decision on what flavor and topping you want. If you get overwhelmed, just ask for a Nutella with chocolate sprinkles, and I promise you’ll be fine.

Kickass Cupcakes

I’ve said before that I’ve become very disillusioned with the cupcake industry, lately. They’re just not stepping it up for their customers who have a refined palette for miniature pastries. A couple weeks ago I had a particularly bad cupcake and had sworn off them (I had another a few days ago but it was free so of course I ate it. I don’t think I’m better than everybody or something).

For graduation I got cupcakes from Kickass Cupcakes in Somerville, which I had really high hopes for. For one thing, they are pretty hyped up in Boston, and secondly, they have an abundance of cocktail inspired cupcakes and when someone tries to incorporate alcohol into any kind of food, I’m generally on board.

The frosting was really good, but the cake was the driest I’ve ever had. Seriously, how hard is it to make a moist cupcake?! Boxed cake mixes can keep it together, and my mom’s scratch cupcakes are consistently nailing it. It wasn’t just some of them, either. It was all of them and we got about 15 different flavors. I’d be willing to give them another shot, but I’m still just very upset about the whole ordeal.

Boston Bucket List: Wine Riot

Wine Riot Photo Booth

A couple weekends ago I knocked another item off my Boston Bucket List: to go to the Second Glass Wine Riot. I’ve been wanting to go to a Wine Riot for a while, and it ended up being a lot of fun.

So, Wine Riot is a wine tasting festival, but it’s edgy and cool and better than other wine tasting festivals because they have a temporary tattoo station and a photo booth.

Gaga Wine Booth*

I highly recommend going to a Wine Riot (they now have them in LA, DC, NY, and Chicago) if you are someone who legitimately appreciates drinking wine, a 20 or 30 something who appreciates getting wine drunk, or a single man (I fall somewhere in between categories 1 and 2).

Seriously, single guys, this is a great place to find dates. The majority of people who go to this are couples and packs of single girls who figure that any single man she meets there must be really mature and cultured. Just wear khakis and a blazer and you’re in like Flynn. Maybe memorize some NY Times best seller titles that you can pretend you’ve read recently. Your prep work really depends on how desperate and lonely you are. Good luck!

*Side note: I just want to put on record that I’m not some Lady Gaga obsessed fan. I just found an over-sized pink wine bottle and saw a photo op. I like Lady Gaga in the sane, normal person amount.
Also: Gaga Wine is the worst. Really terrible. I will say, however, that their marketing ploys appears to be successful.

Graduation

In a little over a month, I will be graduating college, and I am definitely stressing over this. Not because I’m having some quarterlife crisis or I don’t know if I’ll have a job when I graduate (I totally know that I will not have a job). I’m stressed because I know that graduating means my family will be going out to a dinner of my choosing. It also means I get a cake. My mom has been asking me where I want to go and where I want to get my cake/what kind. This is a major source of anxiety in my life.

I was thinking the lemon-rasberry cake from Flour Bakery in Boston (lemon pound cake brushed with lemon syrup, filled with lemon curd, crushed raspberries, and buttercream), but this is so non-traditional! It’s such a risky choice. Maybe they’ll let me try it first like I’m picking a wedding cake (sidenote: I’m sure that the most exciting part about getting married is getting to try cakes and foods you’re considering for the reception).

Flour Bakery

I’m at a loss as to what to pick for a post graduation dinner. Do I pick a place I’ve never been to before? What if I don’t like it? Then it’s a complete waste of a free and expensive dinner, and it’s all my fault.

Does anybody have any suggestions for cakes or restaurants in Boston? Does anyone else get this worked up over food?

Thinking Cup: Boston

I have to commute into Boston every week, and since I can’t go home between classes/rehearsals, whatever, I have no where to go during down time. I end up looking like a homeless person in February, aimlessly wandering about the mall or camping out in the corner of a coffee shop all day.

I’m getting pretty sick of Starbucks, so I tried out a new place called Thinking Cup in downtown Boston that opened up a few months ago. I’m guessing the employees there think I was studying for some sort of really important test because I was there twice in one day for an extended period of time.

They would be wrong about the test, though. I mean, I’m an acting major….so….

I was just there all day because it’s a great place to hang out! For one, their iced coffee is amazing. I got one before class, and then after a discussion with a classmate, I was told to try the hazelnut latte.

I went back after class and got the hazelnut latte and a chicken, brie, and apple on cranberry bread sandwich. Okay, first of all, they do those little latte drawings, which now that I’ve experienced beverage art, I feel that drinking a latte without it borders on barbaric. Not only was it pretty, it was unreal deee-ricious, and I’m pretty sure it had little pieces of hazelnut in it. Sandwich? Double dericious. They also had an assortment of mini cupcakes. I would have partook, but I felt like a cupcake on top of a sandwich full of brie and cranberry mayo would just start a shame spiral.

The atmosphere was really nice when I came in the morning, not overwhelmingly busy, and the little booths looked like a nice place to do your homework. When I came back at 2pm, though, it was a zoo. If the zoo had a hipsters and young professionals exhibit. At that point, it’s kind of uncool to do your homework there hours after you’ve finished your $2 coffee because you’re taking the seats away from people who actually just want to eat and go. Sure, today I was that person hogging yo’ seats, but at least I felt sort of bad about it. Plus, I had no where else to goooo (because I’m really sick of caramel macchiatos so Starbucks wasn’t an option, y’all)!

Anyway, I’m a big fan of Thinking Cup and highly recommend it, if not just for the teeny tiny little spoon they put on the saucer with your hazelnut latte.

Boston Bucket List: Original Boston Cream Pie

As a senior at Emerson College in Boston, I have a limited time left in the city. I am also a huge procrastinator, so I have put off a ton of essential Boston experiences that I now have to fit into the last 2 months or so of school. If we’re being honest here, I’d say 90% of my list consists of food or restaurants to try.

Sunday I was able to check off something from my bucket list: Go to the Omni Parker House Hotel and try the first and original Boston cream pie.

I had only ever had Boston cream pie once. I was pretty young at my grandmother’s house and someone offered me Boston cream PIE. Rightly, I assumed that I was about to get a cream pie, so when I was handed something that can only be described as cake, I felt cheated and decided I didn’t like it. Years later I couldn’t remember if I actually didn’t like it or if I was just very disappointed and was actually just spiting it.

Turns out, I just don’t like it. Sunday was a very rough day for me in terms of pastry consumption. At Curly Cakes they tried to pass off flavored Cool Whip as frosting, and then my Omni Parker House Boston Cream Pie was not even worth eating. I gave it a couple bites and that was that. The cake was pretty dry, and I have a feeling it was not made fresh. Plus, I truly don’t think custard filling belongs in cake. Custard filling, I will eat you in my eclairs, but I will not, cannot, eat you in my cake.

Curly Cakes Cupcakes in Beacon Hill

I like to think of myself as a bit of a cupcake connoisseur. I have tried cupcakes from all over, so if I tell you I’ve found a good cupcake you can trust me, because I have a resume full of cupcake experience.

I have been waiting for Isabelle’s Curly Cakes to open on Charles Street in Beacon Hill for two years, starting when I used to live a few doors down. The store just sat there, vacant, taunting me with a huge picture of a happy little cupcake and the Curly Cakes logo in the window. Every day I would walk by and prayed that today would be the day they finally opened.

Curly Cakes in Boston's Beacon Hill. EHHHHH bleck.

TWO YEARS later it opened, and I finally had the chance to try a cupcake from Todd English’s 17 year old daughter’s shop (okay, can we all stop pretending this girl actually owns the place and her dad didn’t just slap her name on the awning? It’s kind of like how when I was 17 my parents “gave” me a car. Really, they just let me hang my high school graduation tassel on the rear-view and don’t contradict me when I tell friends it’s my car).

Anyway, I finally was able to try a couple cupcakes. I had the triple chocolate, and I had a bite of my mom’s chocolate peanut butter cup cupcake. All that needs to be said here is they have this useless whipped creamy frosting. This is not frosting people!!! Once I realized this is what I (my mom) paid over $8 for, I shut down. The cake was pretty good. Whatever. Whipped creamy, bland frosting does not a good cupcake make.

So far, the best cupcake I’ve had in Boston is the red velvet from the much overlooked South End Buttery. Everrrrybody just looooves Sweet. Sorry, but I’ve had Sweet cupcakes, and South End Buttery’s cupcakes are better. It’s REAL frosting, lots of it (but not TOO much), and this crispy little top, moist cake, just lovely. Better than Sweet.

South End Buttery Cafe- Best Cupcake in Boston

Sweet Cupcakes...It's not that they taste BAD, they're just overrated. I'm tellin' it like it is, people!