Boston Eats

I’ve been living in Boston for a solid few months now, and I’ve managed to make some good food finds. My busy class schedule and decreased budget has led to me eating out far less than I was last year in Jerusalem, but Noah and I have still had the occasional meal out!

One of the most exciting food finds in the city is the newly-opened Boston Public Market. Opening just this past summer, the Boston Public Market is an indoor food hall featuring local vendors. There are produce, meat, and cheese vendors as well as specialty food shops and a variety of prepared food stalls. The inside of the Market is busy and colorful with seating areas smattered throughout the floor plan:

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It was hard to choose what to get for lunch, but eventually Noah and I settled on some top-notch items. Noah got a mac and cheese from the Cellars at Jasper Hills (from Vermont!) stall:

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I ordered a smoked bluefish roll from the Boston Smoked Fish Company:

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The sandwich was messy – but delicious! Noah and I also shared a brown-butter hazelnut crunch Union Square Donut.

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Union Square Donuts is based in…you guessed it!…Union Square in Somerville, and it is an extremely popular, local donut shop with lots of funky flavors. The donut was certainly good, although I don’t think donuts are my favorite sweet treat.

Noah and I also discovered a great diner in Watertown – the Deluxe Town Diner. We went to Deluxe Town Diner in a little bit of a pinch. Friends were in town visiting and we had ignorantly assumed that it wouldn’t be too difficult to find a brunch spot in Cambridge without a two-hour wait. Turns out reservations are a must, and we had to drive out to Watertown to find good food with friendly wait-times. By the time we were seated, our brunch had turned into lunch time, so everyone was hungry! We ordered coffees and milkshakes to start:

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Followed by an assortment of eggs, potatoes, toasts, and pancakes:

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So so so good. I would love to go back here from another brunch!

Speaking of brunch, after the failed attempts to go to a Cambridge brunch (as described above), Noah and I were eager to try one of the places we had originally intended to go to. On top of my brunch-planning game now, I made a reservation at Cafe Luna for a couple weeks ahead. When we eventually had a meal there, it was clear why it’s so hard to get in! The food is great, but the space is also pretty small so there’s not a ton of table turnover. Noah and I both ordered egg dishes and shared a half order of stuffed french toast (with lots of fresh berries!).

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Definitely another winner!

I’ve also had some great dinners in the area. Two of my favorites places so far are just around the corner from mine and Noah’s apartment. The first is Cambridge Common. It’s a very casual bar/restaurant with really high quality, homey dishes. Noah and I ordered a salmon and rice dish, cheese ravioli in a pesto sauce, and sweet potato fries to share:

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The other nearby gem is Giulia. Giulia is an Italian restaurant that is a bit more fancy but still reasonably priced. I would also generally suggest a reservation to eat there (we were lucky to get a seat at the bar!). 

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We shared pasta and fish (which was amazing!):

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And since we were celebrating (first week of the semester!), we splurged for dessert with a chocolate torte and affogato (ice cream and espresso):

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Giulia was an instant favorite for me – definitely a great date night locale.

Finally, City Girl Cafe in Inman Square was another instant favorite. The menu at City Girl is on the shorter side, but all of the dishes looked really good and it was hard to make an order decision. I went with a friend who recommended it, and we enjoyed sharing a few dishes: fried ravioli, a quinoa/vegetable bowl, and Nicoise salad:

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And…although it’s not really a restaurant, Noah and I had a fun date night at the Downeast Cider House cidery. We had a tour of the cidery (complete with samples!) and then enjoyed a couple glasses of classic and pumpkin Downeast Cider.

These are the fermentation barrels:

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And the bottling machinery:

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Enjoying cider! Can you spot the photo bomber??:

 

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Great times eating and drinking around Boston!

 

 

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Quick Trip to Montreal, part 1

Noah and I have wanted to take a trip to Montreal for months. Noah had some childhood memories from visiting there in the past, and I had never been, so we thought it would be a great spot for a quick, fun getaway! Plus, now that we’re in our new home, we are not that far from Montreal. The trip didn’t take much planning because we could just hop in the car and drive there (don’t forget the passports!). On the way to Montreal, we were also able to stop in Montpelier and see Noah’s parents which was lovely – it’s so great to live near family!

We arrived to Montreal in the mid-afternoon and immediately headed to the Biodome. The Biodome is in the Olympic Park and is basically a zoo that is structured around different habitats. The first habitat is a tropical rainforest:

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The tropical rainforest featured a lot of fish, birds, alligators, frogs, and this pretty funky looking capybara:

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FROGS:

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The next habitat was the Laurentian Maple Forest – it was pretty brisk in the forest! There were otters, beavers, and this very active lynx:

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Plus, more birds:

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The other two habitats were the Gulf of St. Lawrence (lots of fish!) and the Labrador Coast (penguins!). I must have been so enthralled by those exhibits that I didn’t take any photos…sorry!

After the Biodome we walked around the Olympic Park a bit.

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The highlight of the park exploration was going to the top of the Montreal Tower (pictured above). Noah and me waiting for the funicular to start moving:

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…and we’re off!:

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Awesome views of the city:

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Photo op:

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After leaving Olympic Park, we checked into our hotel and then did some research to figure out where to go to dinner. We stayed at the Auberge Bonaparte – a lovely inn that Noah found. The room was spacious, clean, and comfortable, and the stay included a delicious breakfast each day at the hotel’s restaurant. Based on Yelp reviews and a guide book that Noah and I borrowed from his parents, we decided to go to Holder for dinner. Holy cow, this was a DELICIOUS meal! It was a little on the expensive side…but – hey – vacation, right??

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I ordered salmon and Noah had steak – we both loved our meals!

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And we couldn’t say no to dessert:

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Overall, a pretty decadent meal, but so very worth a splurge.

Our first night in Montreal was also the last night of Chanukah, and we discovered this public menorah in a square near our hotel:

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Happy 8th night!

Stay tuned for another post about the second half of the trip soon!

 

Traveling to Amsterdam, staying at the ‘t hotel

Sorry for the break in blogging…I’ve been out of town! First, I was on a tiyul to the North with Pardes for three days (posts about that trip coming soon), and then Noah and I took a trip to Amsterdam for 5 days. We were extremely busy – rushing around to see lots of sites, visit museums, and enjoy exploring. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t great during our visit to Amsterdam, and most days it was fairly cold and rainy. Nonetheless, we had a great time!

We left last Friday morning bright and early. Noah wasn’t feeling well so he tried to sleep during most of the flights.

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After a fairly full day of travel, we arrived to the Amsterdam airport shortly after 5:00pm.

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The Amsterdam airport is fairly unique in that it is very close to the city center. In fact, it takes slightly under 15 minutes to get from the airport train station (Schiphol) to the Amsterdam Centraal station in the Old City Center.

That is if the train is working….

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We waited for about 15 minutes by the tracks until someone came and told all of the would-be passengers that the train wasn’t running. After trying to figure out the bus system, we gave up and ended up taking a taxi into the city. The ride wasn’t too expensive though because two people behind us in line (a couple of travelers from Spain) asked if we wanted to share a cab!

I will say that the public transport train system in Amsterdam was pretty terrible from our experience. During our 5 days, we tried to use the train 4 times. 3 out of those 4 times the train wasn’t working (!!!) – something we discovered after buying tickets and spending time waiting around for the train. Fortunately, the train service desk was always very willing to give us a refund. Still, I hope our experience isn’t reflective of standard transit service, or I imagine it would be very frustrating to be an Amsterdammer.

After an unfortunately long amount of time, we finally made it to our hotel: ‘t hotel. Noah found ‘t hotel online while he was looking for a canal house we could stay in during our trip. The hotel is also a tea/breakfast shop, and the adorable sitting area greets you upon walking in the door:

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Our room was lovely – fairly spacious with a hot water station and comfortable bed (although there was some pretty gaudy wallpaper). The only downside of the room was that there was very little lighting (hence why the pictures are blurry/dark). I will, however, take full responsibility for the mess. 🙂

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To get to our room, we had to climb two extremely steep sets of stairs, a typical feature – we would soon learn – of canal houses:

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After dropping our stuff at the hotel, it was time to PLAY!!

We walked around and looked at some fun shops including this store which seemed to be one big, hot-food vending machine of sorts:

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We also stopped into a candy store and saw this funny display of American “candy:”

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Eventually we went to dinner at an Indonesian restaurant called Puri Mas. Indonesian food is very popular/common in Amsterdam (Indonesia used to be a Dutch colony), and we read about the traditional rijsttafel dinner in our guide book. Rijsttafel is a Dutch word that literally means ‘rice table,’ and it’s basically a sampler dinner of sorts – small servings of different meat and vegetable dishes accompanied by rice. We ordered the rijsttafel dinner at Puri Mas and it was delicious (although some dishes were a bit spicy):

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Post-dinner included a little more window shopping and a walk through Leidseplein – a square in southern Amsterdam with lots of shops, restaurants, and entertainment. The area seemed to be very popular among tourists, and we spotted one of these pop-up urinals:

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Exactly as it sounds, this urinal pops up from the ground at night to provide a place for people to relieve themselves that is more pleasant (for others) than the ground. We also saw these warning signs all over the place telling people to be careful about what drugs they buy (apparently some people were sold heroin as cocaine and died):

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I guess the rumors about people going crazy in Amsterdam are true…

Not everything in the square was so edgy though…such as this Mini Cooper store:

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Eventually, we were exhausted from the early start to the day and headed back to the hotel for some sleep.

In the morning, we got up fairly early to have breakfast before our 9:00am pre-arranged ticket time at the Van Gogh Museum. Breakfast was provided at the hotel and included juice, yogurt, coffee or tea, and – Noah’s favorite breakfast! – bread and cheese:

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While good, the breakfast got a little redundant after 5 days…I sure missed my yogurt and oatmeal. 🙂

Check back soon for the first day’s activities such as the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum, and Keukenhoff Gardens!

Other Amsterdam Posts

Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, and Keukenhof Gardens
Canal Cruise, Museum of the Canals, and the Old Jewish Quarter
Anne Frank House, Amsterdam City Museum, and Oude Kerk
Day trip to Rotterdam, architecture tour

Eucalyptus and the International Book Fair

Last week, Noah and I celebrated Valentine’s Day by going out to a fancy dinner at The Eucalyptus. Eucalyptus is a restaurant in Jerusalem located within the artist’s row on the outskirts of the Old City. I had read about Eucalyptus a few times since being in Jerusalem, and it was often listed as among the best restaurants in the city.

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Eucalyptus is a kosher meat restaurant, and I saw online that they did a few different tasting menus. Noah and I were excited at the prospect of ordering a tasting menu since in the U.S. we usually can’t do that sort of thing since the tasting menu typically includes some sort of trefe (non-kosher) food. It’s sooo nice not having to worry about that sort of thing here in Israel! 🙂

We settled on ordering the Shir HaShirim feast which was the mid-level tasting menu, including assorted appetizers, three entrees, and a dessert platter.

This was one extravagant meal – definitely an experience for a special occasion!
Side note: the lighting in the restaurant was dim (ooooh, how romantic) so the photos aren’t very high quality

The meal started with some breads and dips as well as a wild kale dish:

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The next round of dishes included roasted eggplant and roasted cauliflower with tehina:

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The last round of the ‘appetizers’ course was a trio of soups, including lentil, tomato, and artichoke soup as well as figs stuffed with chicken and something that vaguely resembled an egg roll (unpictured):

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The entrees were roasted duck with mashed potatoes, lamb neck in a stew with a pastry top, and a chicken and rice dish (which was served upside down in a pot and the waitress told Noah to make a wish on it before we ate!). This is the lamb stew:

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The meal ended with a dessert platter that included sorbet, chocolate souffle, something that vaguely resembled flan with a berry sauce, tiramisu, and roasted pears:

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Wow! What a meal. 🙂

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On our way home, we stopped by the International Book Fair which was a cultural event happening all of last week in Jerusalem. The event was hosted at the Tahana Rishona, and the book spread was even larger than I had anticipated.

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The fair was held indoors in an extremely large tent, and the book displays were divided up according to country or topic:

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In addition to books, there were also some stands selling various types of art, posters, etc. Unfortunately, we were there shortly before closing time, so there wasn’t much of an opportunity to look around and find something to buy. Nonetheless, I’m glad we went! I love that Jerusalem has so many cultural festivals and activities year round (and that so many of them are nearby to my neighborhood!).

 

Jerusalem Cafes: Round 5

Continuing my Jerusalem Cafes series, here are a few more places I’ve been to in the last several weeks. Enjoy the pictures of delicious food…where do you want to go out to eat next?

First, I tried a cafe on Emek Refaim called Ben Ami. I had heard several times that Ben Ami serves allstar drinks and desserts and also has a nice ‘real’ food menu. To drink, we ordered sahlab (an Arabic drink made with flour from a orchid, rose water, milk, often topped with coconut, cinnamon, and nuts, and popularly sold during the winter months in Israel) and a hot apple/wine cider.

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For the meal, we shared toast (in Israeli menu jargon, this means an open-faced sandwich) with pesto and mozzarella and a potato dumplings dish:

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Next up was Colony. Colony is a restaurant tucked off of Derech Beit Lechem near the entrance to the rekevet. The burgers coming out of their kitchen looked amazing, but I ended up ordering homemade gnocchi instead. How could I resist this?!

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My dining partner ordered a pesto stuffed chicken breast, and we shared a dish of mushrooms in puff pastry:

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Since I’ve been living here long enough to have some *favorites*, I also returned to a couple places I’ve posted about before.

Kalo on Derech Beit Lechem is only a few short minutes from my apartment, and it is delicious for any meal of the day! You can see my post from a previous visit to Kalo here. Their outside patio area is bursting every Friday morning (and most mornings besides!), and I am personally a huge fan of the delicious grain bread they bring to the table with every meal. Noah and I went to Kalo for dinner a few weeks ago and ordered an eggplant focaccia and salad (with fried cheese, beets, apples, and walnuts) to share:

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I also returned to Caffit on Emek Refaim. I think Caffit is now tied with the Grand Cafe for my most-visited restaurant. I posted about Caffit before here, and Noah and I liked it so much we went there for Noah’s last breakfast before he left for a big trip a few weeks ago (yes, I have been ALONE!!!). Noah went for the Israeli breakfast:

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Classic.

I ordered a toasted bagel sandwich filled with hard-boiled egg, cheese, zaatar (a mediterranean spice with a distinctive green color) and veggies:

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I also ordered a lemonana (a blended lemonade and mint beverage that’s popular in Israel – nana means ‘mint’ in Hebrew):

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If you missed them, check out my other Jerusalem Cafe posts here:

Round 1
Round 2
Round 3
Round 4

Wonderful Weekend

People often ask, “what was something fun you did this weekend?” Sometimes the question puts a lot of pressure on because if nothing immediately comes to mind I think, “oh no! Did I do nothing fun?!?!”

But, right now I would love to hear the question.

you: What was something fun you did this weekend?

me: EVERYTHING!

Yes, I had an absolutely phenomenal weekend. Not only was the trip to Stillwater great, but the rest of the weekend continued to be full of fun shenanigans with the love of my life, man of my dreams.

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Yes, I made that meme and am very proud.

The man in question planned a surprise outing for Sunday that I was looking forward to with great anticipation. I hopped on my bike without too many questions and followed the leader until we got here….

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Paint Your Plate is a make-it-yourself studio where you can select from a variety of dishes, figurines, and trinkets what (and how!) to paint. When we walked in, the average age of people in the store went up by about 10 years. But, no matter!

There were a lot of items to choose from, so we took some time decided what we wanted to paint:

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Eventually, I settled on a bowl and Noah chose a mug. We chose a seat at one of the tables and lightly cleaned our pieces to wipe off any dust:

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Next, it was time to choose paint colors, select stencils and stamps if we wanted, and sketch the outline of what we wanted to paint on the outside of our piece with a pencil. While we were there, we hardly talked because we were both so engrossed in our work. 🙂

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Noah put a geometric diamond design on his mug and it looked great:

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I decided to cover my bowl with stars, flowers, and polka dots.

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And since I am planning to use it for breakfast in the morning, I put a sunny message in the bottom:

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We couldn’t take the bowl and mug home with us because Paint Your Plate will glaze and fire the pieces over the course of the next week. When they’re ready, they’ll give us a call to come pick them up. I can’t wait to see what the finished product looks like!

By the time we were done at Paint Your Plate, it was past 6:00 and we were ready to bike home and go for dinner. Since we are leaving the Twin Cities soon, we are eager to go back to some of our favorite restaurants one more time. We settled on The Lynn on Bryant which we visited about a year ago and loved. As we remembered, the food was great. We even saw the Vermont-born head chef and owner sitting and talking with some customers!

We ordered the gnocchi to share as an appetizer and it was fabulous:

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The sauce was creamy and smooth, and we both especially liked the bread crumbs on top. For my entree, I ordered the Bryant Burger (veggie burger with chickpea fries).

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This is the same dish I ordered last time we visited the restaurant, but it was so good I knew that I had to get it again.

Noah ordered a lamb dish that came with a small pot pie as a side. He also thought it was excellent!

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Our eyes were a little bigger than our stomachs though, and we ended up ordering dessert even though it meant we left pretty stuffed.

Noah ordered an affogato (vanilla ice cream topped with espresso) and I ordered the warm chocolate cake:

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The chocolate cake was very dense – almost more like a thick mousse – and the ice cream on top was the perfect compliment to the warm chocolate.

This restaurant is SO good! It can be quite expensive or affordable depending on what you get. The burgers and sandwiches are $15 or less, but the regular entrees are closer to $30. So, you can definitely come on a smaller budget but be conscientious about what you order! Either way, I would say this place is worth a splurge. 🙂

The treacherous outdoors and Black Sheep Pizza

Finally, yes FINALLY, winter seems to be coming to an end. The snow is melting off of the sidewalks, and the road surfaces are nearly entirely visible. While the snow melting is a welcome development, it has led to a dangerous development. BLACK ICE!

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Noah recently shared this comedy sketch about black ice by Key and Peele with me, and I thought it was very funny…so check it out!

Anyway, as the snow has melted, a thin layer of black ice lays hidden on the sidewalk. In fact, I took a pretty nasty fall on the ice pictured above. I fell so hard that my keys flew out of pocket. I didn’t notice until I made it to the gym (where I was headed when leaving the apartment). I walked all the way (super cautiously, of course), and found the keys sitting at the scene of the crime:

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Since the snow and ice are melting more and more each day, I got the winter tires taken off of my bike on Wednesday. I biked to work on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and I had an awesome time.

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Even though the snow is melting, it’s still pretty cold outside, so I need the winter biking face essentials: balaclava and goggles. The helmet is an anytime must-have. 🙂

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One of the places I biked to this week was Black Sheep Coal Fired Pizza. I’ve known about this pizza place for a while since it gets positive buzz within the Twin Cities food scene, and I was excited to finally try it. There are two locations: one in St. Paul and one in Minneapolis. I met a friend for lunch at the Minneapolis location on Washington Ave N.

We both ordered build your pizzas. I got mine with goat cheese, mushrooms, and fresh tomatoes. My friend ordered hers with feta, green olives, and roasted red peppers:

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The pizza was great! It was a thin crust and the toppings were flavorful. There were also a lot of great looking salads and side dishes on the menu that would be great for sharing with a larger party.