ArtVenue; An Artful Resurgence

Photo by Evan Smith

Artists of all genres, mediums and ages devote countless hours to their craft, their passion and their labor of love. Finding time to research venues and keeping organized with follow-up and follow-through proves to be a more daunting task that you would think. Three art-admirers put their heads together and created ArtVenue, a site that acts as a curating matchmaker between artists and local businesses. Whether it’s blank wall space behind the cash register of a clothing boutique, in a dimly lit entrance of a cigar shoppe, or next to a shelf full of hair products in a salon – ArtVenue gives more artists the chance to display their work and gain exposure and potential revenue from their sales. Businesses get a cut as well, but, most importantly, they become supporters in a reciprocal movement that is sure to gain momentum with every artist and business sign up at ArtVenue. This is the start of a grassroots art resurgence!

ArtVenue, a MassChallenge finalist, is currently inviting artists and businesses to sign up and create a free profile on their site which is currently in beta. Check out the video below to see how ArtVenue works!

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There’s a New Deal in Town

I endorse the business model under which sites like Groupon, LivingSocial, BuyWithMe and other deal-of-the-day sites follow. Enjoying a delicious meal worth $50 when I’ve only paid $20? Yes, please. Partaking in 12 yoga classes when I only needed to pay for one? Ommmm. I am a huge fan of deal sites but in my hectic life I often neglect checking them; I’m just too busy or it simply slips my mind. Thank goodness there is one ultimate site, DealGator, that aggregates deals from every existing deal site (Groupon, LivingSocial, etc.) and presents them to me at one place and one time. How convenient is that?

DealGator is stupendously time-saving. Instead of aimlessly browsing other deal sites and hoping for a specific deal, I can just select or deselect deal categories and watch the list of deals instantly reorganize before my eyes! The site will even send a personalized list of completely new deals to my email every morning, saving me yet another step.

Let’s say I’m browsing restaurant deals and want to filter out Mexican food due to my preexisting burrito habit, entering the keyword “Mexican” excludes Mexican food related deals from my list. It’s like having a Vegas buffet catered to my dietary needs, taste preferences and gluttonous cravings I can have modified even while I feast. The combination of customizable deals is infinite and the only way to discover them is to go to DealGator and see for yourself!

See ya later, alligator!

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Forever 21 on Newbury Street is Hiring

Our friends at Forever 21, the popular clothing store coming to 344 Newbury Street, have just informed us that they are currently seeking applicants for the following positions.

Positions available:

  • Store Manager
  • Co-Manager
  • Assistant Manager/s
  • Visual Manager
  • Visual Merchandiser/s
  • Sales Associate/s
  • Stock
  • Housekeeping

Open interviews will be held on 9/2/2010 and 9/9/2010:

Hilton Boston Back Bay
40 Dalton Street
Boston, MA 02115

11:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Please attend the open interviews to be considered.

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The Butcher Shop

One might not think it wise to mesh a fine dining establishment and bar with a butcher shop, let alone name a restaurant “The Butcher Shop”. Images of blood-tinged cleavers, fat-marbled bovine flesh and a chop-happy butcher who is all too eager to discuss his favorite parts of a cow flood the mind. It’s enough to send children and vegans* running. Fortunately, there are no signs of squeamishness anywhere in the South End’s carnivore-catering mecca of meat that is The Butcher Shop. Believe me, I checked.

Using a master-list of restaurants and the scientific method of “Shut-Eyes & Point Finger”, The Butcher Shop is deemed my first Restaurant Week Boston spot to experience. I opt for a weekday lunch and take my chances with a walk-in. There’s a light scattering of patrons which makes the mood relaxed and allows for a more personable experience. Black slate walls have handwritten chalk descriptions of their wines-The Butcher Shop’s wine list boasts over 100 different types. There is an actual butcher shop with an impressive assortment of game, meat, poultry, prepared foods, cured meat, and provisions, as well as a full-time butcher ready to assist you.

Here are the edible choices my lunch date and I happily made from their prix fixe lunch menu:

The Tomato Soup with smoked to-die-for croutons. Normally croutons aren’t my thing. I find them boring and rough on my tongue, but these are soft and soaked in flavor. My lunch date ordered the Panzanella Salad which looked pretty as a picture, and, judging from his empty plate, tasted even better.

Behold, the Hangar Steak with romesco and potatoes all drizzled with aioli, a perfect collaboration of savory taste and texture. Nothing beats the comfort of meat ‘n potatoes. I do wish, however, I was in the comfort of my own home so I could lick my plate clean without the scrutiny and judgement of strangers.

Chocolate Mousse, ’nuff said.

Experiencing The Butcher Shop for the first time during Restaurant Week was a dangerous venture because now I’ve had a taste, can confirm the integrity and deliciousness of their food and must return to conquer their regular menu. It also didn’t help bringing home a quarter pound of their spicy sopressata because I typically hoard Costco-sized portions of cured meat. I’d have to return in a few hours for my fix or viciously undergo meat withdrawal. This is the risk we all face partaking in Restaurant Week and is, of course, the strategy behind every participating restaurant. If you haven’t already, take advantage of Restaurant Week in Boston. The prix fixe menus are designed to provide a culinary summary of that restaurant and impress your taste buds in hopes of forging a symbiotic relationship. And what a tasty one it would be.

*Vegans, and people with all types of dietary beliefs, will be surprised and delighted to find a variety of meat-less menu items, just make sure you speak to your server so they can inform you exactly how a certain dish is prepared!

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Restaurant Week in Boston

Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe

I like to write, I like to make art, and I sure do love to eat. I’m entering a point in my life where I eat to savor, not just to nourish. And, depending on the hour, I also eat to [over]indulge. In my figurative mind, a delicious meal is like an engaging painting. A clean empty plate is like an untouched blank canvas and ingredients make up the subject and focus of the piece. Taste translates into sight and each hue of flavor provides color, depth, contrast and reason for that work of art to be. A chef is a taste artist, a painter is a visual chef, you get the picture.

I personally lean towards being a visual chef (artist) and food’s biggest fan, and I won’t accept this “starving artist” role. There are ways around this cliche and I couldn’t think of a better time to be here in Boston. Boston Restaurant Week is just around the corner, which means I have a few days left to spend some quality time at the gym before it’s August 15th and I turn into a glutton for Boston Neighborhoods‘ sake, or so I tell myself. It runs August 15th-20th and then the 22nd-27th.The alphabetized list of restaurants participating in Restaurant Week with their menus and restaurant info are just a click away. At this point I’ve thoroughly memorized the prix fixe menus from restaurants A-through-Dante. There’s a ‘Wild Salmon & Crab Burger’ from Bambara with my name on it.

When making your own dining itinerary, be sure to follow the six Restaurant Week Tips as mentioned on the site:

  1. Make reservations for Restaurant Week as early as possible, they tend to go fast.
  2. Do not make reservations at more than one restaurant for the same meal period, as it prevents others from getting the reservations they want.
  3. If you need to cancel your reservation, do so with as much notice as possible so restaurants have the opportunity to rebook the table.
  4. Look for specially priced wine pairings to accompany your meal – some restaurants offer wines by the glass or pairings to accompany the whole meal at reduced Restaurant Week prices.
  5. Some restaurants extend their participation in Restaurant Week by offering their prix fixe menu for an additional week, so ask your server.
  6. Tax and gratuity are not included in the prix fixe price. Be sure to show appreciation for good service by tipping generously…it’s good karma.

There will be more blogs entailing all the miraculously delectable foodie adventures to come, so keep an eye out!

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Scooter Parking on Newbury Street

Thank you Newbury Street and Boylston Street for converting some car street parking into scooter street parking! Besides scooting being contingent on favorable weather conditions, there is one conundrum scooters and their owners face on a daily basis; street or sidewalk parking? Scooters are too small for traditional parking spaces yet too bulky against a regular bike rack. There are now six spots allotted to both scooters and motorcycles, it’s only 25 cents per hour and there is no time limit; this is a step in the right direction for easing the parking tension between scooters and cars. I’m sure we’ll start to see even more green scooter-friendly signs and scooter-only spaces popping up throughout Boston.

Thinking about obtaining pragmatic, 50cc freedom and mobility? Stop by Scooters Go Green, where I purchased my first scooter that’s kept me happily scooting all over Boston for a year now!

Check out The Boston Globe capturing the moment the signs went up!

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SoWa Sundays

Sundays might warrant laziness but resist the urge to flip your pillow to the cooler side and drift off into the late-afternoon. During the summer months, the South End hosts the wonderful SoWa Open Market. SoWa Sundays will invigorate your senses and leave a lasting impression that will have you planning a return visit on the following Sunday.

Between brick walls and bathed in sunlight is an eclectic collection of antique items waiting for that special owner to admire them as if they were new. From furniture to rotary telephones, lamps to Japanese paintings, and teacup sets to suits of armor, the SoWa Vintage Market has a bit of everything to fulfill your sentiment.

The Open Market is outdoors, and under the 10-by-10 feet tents you’ll discover a multitudinous array of handmade gifts and the people that made them. It’s an amazing shopping experience that trumps any you’d have in a mall. I thought I was going to be a responsible and detached journalist with a story being my only objective, but I couldn’t resist Liz Ryan’s incredibly thoughtful and one-of-a-kind jewelry. Check out her online Esty store!

It takes a lot of concentration browsing the SoWa Market, you don’t want to miss a thing, but luckily there are food and produce vendors that offer nourishment and refreshment. Sip on iced lemonade while picking out fresh herbs or baked loaves of bread, or indulge in a scrumptious brownie as you take a third look around SoWa. Be sure to check out the SoWa Food & Produce Market so you can take a piece of SoWa home and relish in its merriment!

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Morse Fish Company

An old woman, slow moving and assisted only by a cane, walks into Morse Fish Company and takes a seat in a plastic chair. It’s a stifling summer’s day and even I at 25 years young am drained from the heat and have sweat lightly trickling down my temple; I couldn’t possibly fathom a discomfort amplified by age. The old woman gathers her breath and orders a Haddock Sandwich to no Morse Fish Co. staff-member in particular. Immediately, a man wearing a greasy apron and heavy water-resistant boots comes up to the woman to clarify her order as he opens up a bottle of water without her even asking. He returns several times to deliver her lunch order, take her money when she’s ready to pay and to see if there’s anything else she could need. He never once feels bothered or shouts at her from a distance, and his assistance is more than obligatory, it is genuine. This is customer service at its best.

Morse Fish Company, as they say, has been serving the South End since 1903. And it shows. They have a nice selection of fish, shellfish and seasoned ready-to-cook seafood. There is no fishy odor, just the mouth-watering aroma of hot oil deep frying fresh seafood. During my visit last week, I placed a sit-down order of clam chowder, calamari, fried haddock and rice. It was perfection. Perfectly tasting, perfectly fried, perfectly breaded and perfectly complemented by perfectly pickle-y tartare sauce. I had enough leftover for another meal which perfectly suited my tummy and wallet.

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Gelato is [eat first, research later].

Gelato is Italian for Ben & Jerry’s.

Gelato is scrumdiliumptious.

Gelato is this and that tempting picture to the right.

Lately in this heat and mugginess, I feel like I’ve been swimming through the Boston air, and judging from the damp states of people’s shirts they might feel that way too. Glacial ice chunks taking a plunge into the iciest glass of Arctic water couldn’t cool us down. We can’t help but succumb to the sun’s wickedness but luckily there are ways to obliterate our discomfort-and from the inside out.

While I love and appreciate a frosty milkshake, sometimes the dairy sits a bit heavy in my belly. Not the best feeling in the middle of a summer day in the city. Today while ambling down Hanover Street, I decide I need to try a gelato shoppe I’ve walked by numerous times when I lived in the North End a few years ago. Gelateria is always bustling with customers flowing through their double-ended street entrances, a tell-tale sign of popularity.

Gelateria’s atmosphere is a playful tug-of-war between the past and present. Old photos display antique Vespas and Italian landscapes, but the bright red counters and waffle cones wrapped in American flag paper signify the “now”. The two main counters contain rich flavors like tiramisu, espresso, Stracciatella, Limoncello andcoconut. You can choose up to three flavors in one dish; I went with watermelon, strawberry and orange. If I had the budget and gall, I’d have sampled all of the flavors. Gelato is denser in texture and flavor but is a bit more healthier for me, a nice change from creamy yet airy ice cream I’m so used to. I would recommend going to Gelateria with ten friends, getting a tri-flavored cup per friend and enjoying all the deliciously cold treats that Gelateria has to offer.

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Two great summer cocktails in the South End

The Boston Globe has selected 10 of the best summertime cocktails from 10 restaurants in the Boston area.  Two of the cocktails chosen were from two spots right here in the South End, the first being the “Cantaloupe Mojito” from Pops Restaurant.

(Wendy Maeda)

Cantaloupe Mojito

In the mix:
- 1 ripe whole cantaloupe infused in a bottle of Bacardi rum over night
- 6 fresh mint leaves
- ½ a lime
- 1 ounce simple syrup
- Soda water
Muddle mint leaves, lime juice, and simple syrup. Fill rocks glass with ice and pour infused rum over ice. Shake and top with soda water, then garnish with a cantaloupe slice.

“The flavor of juicy cantaloupe with the freshness of mint and underlying fragrant citrus of lime, for me, is a perfect hot summer thirst quencher,” says chef/owner Felino Samson.

Pops Restaurant, located at 560 Tremont St, specializes in creative American cuisine made with organic ingredients.

The second cocktail highlighted was “The Coney Island Strong Man” from Coppa Enoteca.

(Essdras M Suarez)

The Coney Island Strong Man

In the mix:
- 1 ounce yellow chartreuse
- 1 ounce green chartreuse
- ¾ ounce lemon juice
- 1 Miller High Life pony
Served on the rocks in a tall novelty mug.

“It’s something that people haven’t seen before,” says general manager Courtney Bissonnette. “We saw a little bit of a surge with Micheladas, another version of it. A lot of people squeeze lime or lemon into their beer anyway. This does all of that for you, but we mixed a little extra booze in there to get the job done.”

Coppa Enoteca serves scrumptious Italian food prepared with local and seasonal ingredients.  It’s a great feeling to know that I can get such inspired cocktails right here in the South End. I’m off to get a drink!

Check out the other cocktails selected: Seasons Sippings: Summer 2010 from the Boston Globe

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